Book Showcase: CONFESSIONS ON THE 7:45 by Lisa Unger



Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger
ISBN: 9780778310150 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781488069079 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488210273 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781799935414 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B087QM8SRM   (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B082Q4Q1MZ   (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Park Row Books
Publication Date: October 6, 2020



From master of suspense Lisa Unger comes a riveting thriller about a chance encounter that unravels a stunning web of lies and deceit.

Everyone has a secret… Now she knows yours.

Selena Murphy is commuting home from her job in the city when the train stalls out on the tracks. She strikes up a conversation with a beautiful stranger in the next seat, and their connection is fast and easy. The woman introduces herself as Martha and confesses that she’s been stuck in an affair with her boss. Selena, in turn, confesses that she suspects her husband is sleeping with the nanny. When the train arrives at Selena’s station, the two women part ways, presumably never to meet again.

But days later, Selena’s nanny disappears.

Soon Selena finds her once-perfect life upended. As she is pulled into the mystery of the missing nanny, and as the fractures in her marriage grow deeper, Selena begins to wonder, who was Martha really? But she is hardly prepared for what she’ll discover.

Expertly plotted and reminiscent of the timeless classic Strangers on a Train, Confessions on the 7:45 is a gripping thriller about the delicate facades we create around our lives. 






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Read an Excerpt **Mild Profanity Alert**


Chapter Two

Anne

It had been a mistake from the beginning and Anne certainly knew that. You don’t sleep with your boss. It’s really one of the things mothers should teach their daughters. Chew your food carefully. Look both ways before you cross the street. Don’t fuck your direct supervisor no matter how hot, rich, or charming he may happen to be. Not that Anne’s mother had taught her a single useful thing.

Anyway, here she was. Again. Taking it from behind, over the couch in her boss’s corner office with those expansive city views. The world was a field of lights spread wide around them. She tried to enjoy it. But, as was often the case, she just kind of floated above herself. She made all the right noises, though. She knew how to fake it.

“Oh my god, Anne. You’re so hot.”

He pressed himself in deep, moaning.

When he’d first come on to her, she thought he was kidding – or not thinking clearly. They’d flown together to DC to take an important client who was considering leaving the investment firm out to dinner.  In the cab on the way back to the hotel — while Hugh was on the phone with his wife, he put his hand on Anne’s leg. He wasn’t even looking at Anne when he did it, so for a moment she wondered if it was just absent-mindedness. He was like that sometimes, a little loopy. Overly affectionate, familiar. Forgetful.

His hand moved up her thigh. Anne sat very still. Like a prey animal. Hugh ended the call and she expected him to jerk his hand back. 

Oh! I’m so sorry, Anne, she thought he’d say, aghast at his careless behavior.

But no. His hand moved higher.

 “Am I misreading signals?” he said, voice low.  

Stop. What most people would be thinking: Poor Anne! Afraid for her job, she submits to this predator.

What Anne was thinking: How can I use this to my advantage? She really had been just trying to do her job well, sort of. But it seemed that Pop was right, as he had been about so many things. If you weren’t running a game, someone was running one on you.

Had she subconsciously been putting out signals? Possibly. Yes. Maybe Pop was right about that, too. You don’t get to stop being what you are, even when you try.

They made out like prom dates in the cab, comported themselves appropriately as they walked through the lobby of the Ritz. He pressed against her at the door to her hotel room. She was glad she was wearing sexy underwear, had shaved her legs. 

She’d given Hugh – with his salt and pepper hair, sinewy muscles, flat abs — the ride of his life that night.  And many nights since. He liked her on top. He was a considerate lover, always asking: Is this good? Are you okay? Confessional: Kate and I – we’ve been married a long time. We both have – appetites. She couldn’t care less about his marriage.

Anne didn’t actually believe in the things other people seemed to value so highly. Fidelity – really? Were you supposed to just want one person your whole life? Marriage. Was there ever anything more set up to fail, to disappoint, to erode? Come on. They were animals. Every last one of them rutting, feral beasts. Men. Women. All of society was held together by gossamer thin, totally arbitrary laws and mores that were always shifting and changing no matter how people clung. They were all just barely in line.

Anne neither expected nor encouraged Hugh to fall in love. In fact, she spoke very little. She listened, made all the right affirming noises. If he noticed that she had told him almost nothing about herself, it didn’t come up. But fall in love with Anne he did. And things were getting complicated.

Now, finished and holding her around the waist, Hugh was crying a little. His body weight was pinning her down. He often got emotional after they made love. She didn’t mind him most of the time. But the whole crying thing — it was such a turn off. She pushed against him and he let her up. She tugged down her skirt, and he pulled her into an embrace. 

She held him for a while, then wiped his eyes, kissed his tears away. Because she knew that’s what he wanted. She had a special gift for that, knowing what people wanted — really wanted deep down – and giving them that thing for a while. And that was why Hugh – why anyone – fell in love. Because he loved getting the thing he wanted, even if he didn’t know what that was.

When he moved away finally, she stared at her ghostly reflection in the dark window, wiped at her smeared lipstick.

“I’m going to leave her,” Hugh said. He flung himself on one of the plush sofas. He was long and elegant; his clothes impeccable, bespoke, made from the finest fabrics. Tonight, his silk tie was loose, pressed cotton shirt was wilted, black wool suit pants still looking crisp. Garments, all garments – even just his tennis whites — hung beautifully on his fit body.

She smiled, moved to sit beside him. He kissed her, salty and sweet. 

“It’s time. I can’t do this anymore,” he went on.

This wasn’t the first time he’d said this. Last time, when she’d tried to discourage him, he’d held her wrists too hard when she tried to leave. There had been something bright and hard in his eyes – desperation. She didn’t want him to get clingy tonight. Emotional.

“Okay,” she said, running her fingers through his hair. “Yeah.”

Because that’s what he wanted to hear, needed to hear. If you didn’t give people what they wanted, they became angry. Or they pulled away. And then the game was harder or lost altogether.

“We’ll go away,” he said, tracing a finger along her jaw. Because of course they’d both lose their jobs. Hugh’s wife Kate owned and ran the investment firm, had inherited the company from her legendary father. Her brothers were on the board. They’d never liked Hugh (this was one of his favorite pillow talk tirades, how Kate’s brothers didn’t respect him). “We’ll take a long trip abroad and figure out what comes next. Clean slate for both of us. Would you like that?”

“Of course,” she said. “That would be wonderful.”

Anne liked her job; when she’d applied and interviewed, she honestly wanted to work at the firm. Numbers made a kind of sense to her, investment a kind of union of logic and magic. Client work was a bit of a game, wasn’t it – convincing people to part with their cash on the promise that you could make them more? She also respected and admired her boss – her lover’s wife — Kate. A powerful, intelligent woman. 

Maybe Anne should have thought about all of that before she submitted to Hugh’s advances. He wasn’t the power player; she’d miscalculated, or not run the numbers at all. She made mistakes like that sometimes, let the game run her. Pop thought it was a form of self-sabotage. Sometimes, sweetie, I think your heart’s not quite in it. Maybe he was right.

“Ugh,” said Hugh, pulling away, glancing at his watch. “I’m late. I have to change and meet Kate at the fundraiser.”

She rose and walked the expanse of his office, got his tux from the closet, and lay it across the back of the couch. Another stunning item, heavy and silken. She ran her fingers lovingly along the lapel. He rose, and she helped him dress, hanging his other clothes, putting them back in the closet. She did his tie. In his heart, he was a little boy. He wanted to be attended to, cared for. Maybe everyone wanted that.

“You look wonderful,” she said, kissing him. “Have fun tonight.”

He looked at her long, eyes filling again.

“Soon,” he said. “This charade can end.”

She put a gentle hand to his cheek, smiled as sweetly as she could muster and started to move from the room.

“Anne,” he said, grabbing for her hand. “I love you.”

She’d never said it back. She’d said things like “me, too” or she’d send him the heart-eyed emoji in response to a text, sometimes she just blew him a kiss. He hadn’t seemed to notice, or his pride was too enormous to ask her why she never said it, or if she loved him. But mainly, she thought it was because Hugh only saw and heard what he wanted to.

She unlaced her fingers and blew him a kiss. “Goodnight, Hugh.”

His phone rang, and he watched her as he answered. 

“I’m coming, darling,” he said, averting his eyes, moving away. “Just had to finish up with a client.”

She left him, his voice following her down the hall.

In her office, she gathered her things, a strange knot in the pit of her stomach. She sensed that her luck was about to run out here. She couldn’t say why. Just a feeling that things were unsustainable – that it wasn’t going to be as easy to leave Kate as he thought, that on some level he didn’t really want to, that once things reached critical mass, she’d be out of a job. Of course, it wouldn’t be a total loss. She’d make sure of that.  

There was a loneliness, a hollow feeling that took hold at the end. She wished she could call Pop, that he could talk her through. Instead her phone pinged. The message there annoyed her.

This is wrong, it said. I don’t want to do this anymore.

Just stay the course, she wrote back. It’s too late to back out now.

Funny how that worked. At the critical moment, she had to give the advice she needed herself. The student becomes the teacher. No doubt, Pop would be pleased.

Anne glanced at the phone. The little dots pulsed, then disappeared. The girl, younger, greener, would do what she was told. She always had. So far.

Anne looked at her watch, imbued with a bit of energy. If she hustled, she could just make it. 


Excerpt from Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger. 
Copyright © 2020 by Lisa Unger. Published by Park Row Books. 
All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.





Meet The Author


Lisa Unger is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of eighteen novels, including Confessions on the 7:45 (Oct. 2020). With millions of readers worldwide and books published in twenty-six languages, Unger is widely regarded as a master of suspense. Her critically acclaimed books have been voted “Best of the Year” or top picks by the Today Show, Good Morning America, Entertainment Weekly, Amazon, IndieBound, and others. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, and Travel+Leisure. She lives on the west coast of Florida with her family.



Connect to the author via her website, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, and Twitter.




This excerpt brought to you by Park Row Books

Book 366: THE WHISPERS Review

The Whispers (The Whispers #1) by Lisa Unger
ISBN: 9781476797786 (ebook)
ASIN: B00L6C37YM (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 27, 2014
Publisher: Pocket Star


Eloise Montgomery discovers her amazing gift in the wake of tragedy in this first of three captivating e-novellas from award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Lisa Unger.

It’s a day like any other for Eloise Montgomery—until tragedy strikes. While she is recovering from a horrible accident that takes the lives of her husband and oldest daughter, and as she works to help her younger daughter move forward, Eloise experiences her first psychic vision. Though she struggles to understand her newfound gifts, Eloise finds a way use them to save lost women and girls—for whom her help may be the only way out…



Eloise Montgomery considered herself quite ordinary before the accident. She was a devoted wife and mother of two daughters. A routine car trip with the family ends in tragedy. Eloise awakens in the hospital after the accident to learn that her husband and one of her daughters died. Now she must deal with her surviving daughter’s guilt as well as her new found “gift” — psychic whispers from the lost.

The Whispers is a fast-read novella that provides the backstory for Eloise Montgomery. A devastating car accident leaves Eloise with the special ability to hear “whispers” of the lost. She learns to heed these whispers and save lives or deal with the consequences of inaction. Quite a bit of The Whispers deals with the Montgomery family dynamic and the changes wrought by the accident. It was interesting to read about Eloise and the development of her paranormal gifts. This short story packs a punch with family drama, tragedy, survivor guilt, paranormal aspects, and an underlying sense of mystery-suspense. If you’re looking for a quick mystery-suspense read or just something a little different, then you may want to grab a digital copy of The Whispers to read. Eloise’s story will continue with more of The Whispers series with The Burning Girl and The Three Sisters

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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Book 7: IN THE BLOOD Review

In The Blood by Lisa Unger
ISBN: 9781451691177 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781451691191 (ebook)
ASIN: B00APJ0XNK (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 7, 2014
Publisher: Touchstone


SOMEONE KNOWS LANA’S SECRET—AND HE’S DYING TO TELL.

Lana Granger lives a life of lies. She has told so many lies about where she comes from and who she is that the truth is like a cloudy nightmare she can’t quite recall. About to graduate from college and with her trust fund almost tapped out, she takes a job babysitting a troubled boy named Luke. Expelled from schools all over the country, the manipulative young Luke is accustomed to controlling the people in his life. But, in Lana, he may have met his match. Or has Lana met hers?

When Lana’s closest friend, Beck, mysteriously disappears, Lana resumes her lying ways—to friends, to the police, to herself. The police have a lot of questions for Lana when the story about her whereabouts the night Beck disappeared doesn’t jibe with eyewitness accounts. Lana will do anything to hide the truth, but it might not be enough to keep her ominous secrets buried: someone else knows about Lana’s lies. And he’s dying to tell. 


Lana Granger is not your typical college student. She has friends, goes to the occasional party, and even joins in on the occasional pub crawl. What she doesn’t do is date . . . ever! Lana is a senior at Sacred Heart College in The Hollows, New York. Her major is psychology, she’s somewhat androgynous in appearance, not really a nerd or geek, but she does have a perfect 4.0 grade point average. She avoids opening up to anyone, including her suite mates. Lana’s background is filled with horror. Her maternal grandfather was a convicted mass murderer. Her father is a convicted murderer and is on death row. Not many know these details of Lana’s past, except her best friend – Rebecca “Beck” Miller, her college advisor – Prof. Langdon Hewes, her family, and her psychologist – Dr. Maggie Cooper. Now that Beck is missing, Lana is targeted by the police as a suspect if not key person of interest due to the lies of omission she has told. It also appears that Lana’s family secrets are about to be revealed. If that’s not enough to deal with, Lana has an afternoon job taking care of an emotionally troubled, highly gifted, and potentially violent eleven-year-old, Lucas “Luke” Kahn, and she’s just been informed that her father wants to have contact before his execution. Lana feels that she can help Luke, but he seems to be keeping secrets not just from her, but from his mother, his educators, and his counselors. Everyone has secrets, but Lana’s secrets might be hazardous to her health.

Ms. Unger has crafted an amazing psychological thriller with In the Blood. The reader is provided a glimpse into the psychology of a psychopath, especially a child psychopath with Luke. He comes across as highly intelligent, but he’s also very manipulative and vindictive in his outlook. The reader is also introduced to an anonymous journal kept by the mother of a highly disturbed male child. As the story unravels, the volatile relationship between Beck and Lana is revealed. It is also revealed that another classmate of Lana’s disappeared and was found dead two years ago. Is it possible that Lana had something to do with both disappearances? Why does Lana’s college advisor seem to pop-up whenever Lana goes out after Beck’s disappearance? Why is Luke so interested in Lana and her past?

I found In the Blood to be a gripping, emotionally stirring, and fast-paced read. I liked Lana and felt empathetic toward the problems she was enduring in college. I felt sorry over the fact that she couldn’t really open up emotionally toward her family or friends. I never really liked Luke or Professor Hewes, as I felt they were both playing mind games with Lana. (Were they in reality doing this, read the book to find out?!) Beck has a history of running away, so at first I wasn’t quite sure what was going on with her disappearance. It is clear that Lana really liked her suite-mate, even though they didn’t agree on everything. The ending is quite a surprise and neatly ties up all of the “loose-ends” throughout the storyline. I felt the characters were realistic and well developed, and the action quite plausible. This was one read that I didn’t want to end. If you enjoy reading thrillers with a twist, then In the Blood is definitely one you’ll want to read.


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from NetGalley and Edelweiss. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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Book 31: TWICE Review

Twice by Lisa Unger
ISBN: 9780307953179
Publication date: February 7, 2012 (first published in 2004) 
Publisher: Random House

Acclaimed artist Julian Ross has just been found standing over her husband’s bloody corpse in their New York City apartment. Julian claims that she slept peacefully beside him while he was violently stabbed in their bed. But police are skeptical, especially since Julian’s first husband was killed and mutilated in exactly the same way. Julian turns to the tough-as-nails crime writer Lydia Strong, who plunges into the case with her signature grit and the help of her partner, P.I. Jeffrey Mark.       

Meanwhile, Lydia learns that Jed McIntyre, the serial killer who murdered her mother, is on the loose in New York. McIntyre is out for Lydia’s blood, and his presence forces her to confront the evils of her past while solving her toughest murder case yet. 


Lydia is being cautious now that she knows Jed McIntyre is in New York. Jeffrey Mark, her fiancé and business partner isn’t taking any chances, especially since they just learned she’s pregnant, and has hired a bodyguard, Dax Chicago, to shadow her at all times. Lydia is slowly getting used to idea of impending motherhood, and has doubts about her abilities to be a good mother. She has a serial killer after her, a wedding to consider, a baby on the way and now a high-profile murder case to investigate . . . what more could a woman want?

Lydia and Jeffrey are hired by Julian’s mother, Eleanor, to prove Julian’s innocence in her husband’s murder. With her second husband murdered in bed beside her, Julian suffers an emotional breakdown and is hospitalized. Detective Halford McKirdy knows that second murder done in the exact same manner with only Julian as a “witness” or “innocent bystander” is a bit much to swallow. Julian was found not guilty in the murder case of her first husband, and now the stakes have been raised.

As Lydia and Jeffrey launch their investigation, they find that there are numerous loose strings to the information provided by Eleanor. She conveniently forgets to inform them that her husband was killed in a manner very similar to both of Julian’s husbands. She also neglected to tell them that Julian has a twin brother that escaped from an upstate mental facility and is presumed dead or that she also had a twin brother. Lydia gravitates toward Julian’s artwork to help uncover clues in their investigation. Meanwhile Dax and Jeffrey head underground in a search for Jed McKinley.

Twice, the third in the Lydia Strong series, provides great suspense and thrills as Lydia and Jeffrey basically search for two serial killers. The search takes them to a small town upstate and a shadow city underground. The investigations aren’t neat and bloodless, but as the body count grows their determination also grows. The tension and suspense gradually build until the very end. This is one page turner you don’t want to miss if you like a bit of psychological suspense thrown in with your thrills and chills.
   
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”