During my childhood, my mum worked for a while in a geriatric psychiatric ward. The hospital had been an asylum and a workhouse before that. A couple of the residents had been there their whole adult lives, having been put away for being unmarried mothers and therefore ‘morally deficient’, before the second world war and never leaving. A few of the male residents came with a warning to not be alone with them, nor to have them between yourself and the door. The residents ran the whole gamut of problems from sexual deviancy to pica. I was always fascinated by the tales she told and a little scared too.

Literature has always been able to mine a treasure trove of stories and characters in relation to mental illness. From Wilkie Collins and The Woman In white, a novel I read for my English literature O level, to the iconic, One flew Over the Cuckoos nest and Shutter Island, it seems the asylum and treatment of mental illness sufferers has ignited our greatest fascination and touched our darkest fears.

The hit of 2020 so far has been The Silent Patient by Alex Michealides, the story of Alicia Berenson who hasn’t spoken since the murder of her husband and Theo Faber, the psychologist who has a particular interest in finding out what she remembers . I read it at the start of Lockdown. I’ve also recently read a non fiction account of mental health treatment by Kerry Daynes (reviewed on here in February), a real life Forensic psychologist, which looked at memorable cases from her career.

I was delighted then to be able to get the opportunity to read this month’s second book review, which is Cracked by Louise McCreesh and published by Hodder & Stoughton ( in August.

louise McCreesh

The cover suggests that it is perfect for fans of The Silent Patient. Whilst there is a similarity in the setting within a psychiatric unit, this is much more a classic detective thriller.

Jenny Nilson hasn’t seen Dr Philip Walton since she left Hillside Psychiatric unit, eight years previously. She’s kept her time there a secret, even from her police detective husband. When Dr Walton is murdered, she becomes a suspect. Unknown to the police, Dr Walton was keeping a dreadful secret for Jenny and his was not the first death. Can Jenny contact old friends and enemies from the unit and clear her name before the secret is unearthed and her new life is destroyed?

I felt this was a classic detective story in style, as there a limited cast of characters, all with motives. As the modern story of Jenny’s investigation proceeds it is interspersed with the slow reveal of the back story. There are various twists and turns and you are kept guessing as to who the killer is and why they did it. I did feel that McCreesh used a predictable cast of mental health conditions. It seemed unlikely they’d all be mixing together. They weren’t even of the same age. The stock characters didn’t take away from the enjoyment of the story however.

Again, if I was picky, I would doubt that Jenny could have hidden her issues, continued with her medication and any appointments, for the whole of her relationship with James without him detecting something. However, their marriage was a useful device for Jenny to get inside information and move the story forward.

This is English author and Journalist, Louise McCreesh’s (@loumccreesh),first book. When not writing, she is a freelance journalist in London. She studied creative writing on the Curtis Brown Creative Writing Course and as a result received a scholarship from them to continue her work on her debut novel.

Overall, I felt this was a little cliched but nevertheless a thoroughly enjoyable thriller. So get on down to your local bookshop and buy it or download a copy.

Reviewed by Georgina Murphy

This review is part of a blog tour, to see what the other reviewers thought visit their blogs listed below. Then if you get a copy and read it, comeback and tell us what you thought, we’d really appreciate the feedback.



Its amazing, and in some respects quite scary, how much life has changed in the past six months. All because some guy in a little known Chinese province ate a bat purchased from a very unhygienic market (by Western standards. Over here we think breaking the 5 second rule is living dangerously) and now the world is struggling to contain a pandemic on the scale never seen in our lifetime, and until a few years ago only imagined in a Hollywood blockbuster starring Matt Damon and Kate Winslet (Contagion 2011).

I can remember vividly going out with my wife to a local bar in mid-February (probably our Valentines date night), running into friend, and dancing the night away till the wee small hours to eighties music. Now in late August, I wonder when I will be able to do that again, along with a lot of other things. One of the most talked about pieces of literature in the early stages of the worldwide lockdown was Dean Koontz’s 1981 novel The Eyes of Darkness, which supposedly predicts a pandemic originating in Wuhan , so it was with some excitement that I looked forward to this months second book review. It is probably the first of a glut of Covid related thrillers to come our way over the next couple of years. It’s The Apocalypse Strain by Jason Parent and is published by Flame Tree Press ( in August.

When Dr Clara St. Pierre, a medical genomics expert with MS, and her team study an ancient pandovirus at a secret research facility in Siberia.They name the virus Molli . It soon starts to display some worrying characteristics, that in the wrong hands could lead to the end of life all together. But Molli wants out of the research lab. After some industrial espionage, Clara and her team and members of ASAP, the private security firm tasked with maintaining the integrity of the facility, find themselves running for their lives . They are trying to escape a building which is designed to be inescapable. Can Clara, along an Antipodean security contractor called Monty, plus Dante, a mysterious mercenary for hire, escape the facility and stop Molli getting beyond its walls…

I recently discovered, while listening to the Ologies podcast with Ali ward, my own personal Lockdown panacea, that Small pox was killed off by Cow Pox and that the word vaccination comes from Vaca, the Spanish for cow. In the same vein, The Apocalypse Strain could be the ideal cure for your Lockdown  boredom, because what Jason parent has delivered in record breaking time is an engrossing read that will deliver you from the day to day worries about your job, health or the future of the world its self.

Jason Parent

Yes, at times this book is light-hearted. Considering what is running amok on news channels and social media on a daily if not hourly basis, we all need a little light relief, mixed with a large dollop of adrenaline fuelled suspense. Here we get it the form of a group of co-workers trapped and running for their lives like human lab rats from a seemingly unstoppable virus.

Yes at times there are hints of Alien and Cocoon, along with a computer game feel to the story telling too. However, Parent is a dab hand at this sort of storytelling and keeps this 230 page book, on the good side of surreal and far from fantasy to keep the reader turning the pages.

This is American author Jason Parent’s ( 9th book. His others include What Hides Within (2012), Seeing Evil (2015), Unseemly (2016), Where Wolves Run (2016), Wrathbone (2016), People Of The Sun (2017), A life removed (1017), They Feed (2018) and Hearing evil (2018). He has also contributed short stories to four other compilations: Bad Apples, Bad Apples 2, Bad Apples 3 and Dead Roses. Jason grew up in fall River Massachusetts and currently lives in Rhode island.

So having returned from an essential trip to the UK last week, to attend a family funeral, I must now self isolate here in Ireland. This book has turned out to be a timely read. I recommend this light but gamey and gripping Horror thriller. Therefore order it online or with mask in hand and while being socially distant at all times, head to your local book shop and pick up a copy. Then prepare to run for your life with Clara and her team and  try not to have nightmares!



The Truth in a Lie CoverWe often have complex relationships with our nearest and dearest. After a death or the end of a relationship we are sometimes presented with secrets and with new perspectives of the people we thought we knew. So much is never said or discussed, leaving questions unanswered and feelings unresolved. I love the genealogy programmes on TV. Its funny how delighted the people are to find a ‘bad un’ in their family tree. With the distance of time, their unsavoury exploits are thrilling and amusing rather than shocking. The Long Lost Family programmes, which now have their format duplicated in the US and Australia, show the search for more immediate family and we see understanding and forgiveness shown to those who made brave decisions in what could be scandalous events for the period.

Having read Sally Rooney’s Normal People, prior to Lockdown, I was interested to see a cover recommendation on this month’s first book, which stated it is a must read for Sally Rooney, Maggie O’Farrell and Ann Patchett fans. The book is The Truth In The Lie by Jan Turk Petrie and published by Pintail Press (  back in June.

When successful writer Charlotte Preece moves into a new riverside apartment with following the breakup  of a relationship. She starts to feel guilty when the upheaval, that the move causes, impacts on her daughter Kate’s first year exam results. Shortly afterwards she is called by the hospital to go to her ailing mothers bedside, she has to battle through heavy snows to get there, only to find on her arrival that her ex-husband Duncan has already braved the treacherous conditions to be there too, but why? Is he being supportive, is there an ulterior motive, what else will the two of them discover about themselves when they are snow in together in the wild of the north of England.

I must say, I spent most of Normal People wanting to bang the two lead characters heads together and make them have an honest conversation, rather than pussy footing around each other. So frustrating! The suggestion of secrets and complex relationships in the Truth in a Lie, engaged my interest. I hoped for a similar intensity but more resolution.

I found this book a pleasant and engaging read. The narrative carries you along. Charlotte is a well-drawn, sympathetic character. Some of her actions in the plot would make you consider her selfish but her back story allows for sympathy. For me though, we didn’t go enough into the secrets. A secret stash of letters, which Charlotte is asked not to read, so she doesn’t! Don’t mention them, then! Its possibly my love for thrillers that made me want more with this family drama but everything worked out a little too easily. There was certainly resolution. There was a slight fairytale aspect to it. I wouldn’t wish to spoil the ending for other readers, but I, personally, had a sense of going backwards in terms of Charlotte’s growth as a person.

Jan Turk Petrie Author Pic

Jan Turk Petrie

This is English author Jan Turk Petrie’s (  sixth book, the others are Until The Ice Cracks (2018), No God For A Warrior (2018), Within Each Others Shadow (2019) – which are part of the Edisvik Trilogy. Then there’s Too Many Heroes (2019) and finally Towards The Vanishing Point (Jan 2020). She is a former English teacher with an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Gloucester, Jan has also written numerous prize winning short stories, she currently lives in the Cotswold’s in south west England.

The Truth in a Lie, explores everyday dilemmas and inter-generational lack of communication which may lead us to regrets and missed opportunities. For those of a less suspicious and detective nature it will offer a comforting journey into love and loss. A great book to snuggle down with on a wet day.

So get yourself a virtual hug with a family drama and pop down to your local book shop or download a copy The Truth in a Lie soon.


Reviewed by: Georgina Murphy


This book review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour, to see what the other reviewers thought of it, visit their blogs listed below. Then, if you go out and get a copy, come back and tell us what you thought, we really appreciate the feed back.

Truth in a Lie BT Poster