Alyssa’s Reviews – Perfect Little Children by Sophie Hannah

Welcome back to Reading, Reading, Reading!

I apologize for the lack of posts this month. I have been very busy at school, specifically trying to get settled in all of my classes this semester. I have only read two books in 2020 thus far, but my reading pace has been picking up over the past week! I was able to complete Perfect Little Children by Sophie Hannah in just three days, and if that doesn’t explain how much I enjoyed it, I don’t know what does!

Synopsis (

All Beth has to do is drive her son to his Under-14s away match, watch him play, and bring him home.
Just because she knows her ex-best friend lives near the football ground, that doesn’t mean she has to drive past her house and try to catch a glimpse of her. Why would Beth do that, and risk dredging up painful memories? She hasn’t seen Flora for twelve years. She doesn’t want to see her today, or ever again.
But she can’t resist. She parks outside the open gates of Newnham House, watches from across the road as Flora and her children Thomas and Emily step out of the car. Except… There’s something terribly wrong. Flora looks the same, only older. As Beth would have expected. It’s the children. Twelve years ago, Thomas and Emily were five and three years old. Today, they look precisely as they did then.
They are still five and three. They are Thomas and Emily without a doubt – Hilary hears Flora call them by their names – but they haven’t changed at all.
They are no taller, no older… Why haven’t they grown?

This book was really, really excellent. I had never read anything from Sophie Hannah before, and I was very pleasantly surprised by her writing. It was easy to follow and straight to the point. Since the characters are English, I enjoyed the small touches of typical English lingo.

The characters in this novel were really interesting to read about. Throughout the novel, I was constantly struggling to determine if the main character, Beth, is an unreliable narrator or not. Near the middle of the novel, we figure out the definite answer, which was enjoyable to read. I also really enjoyed the other central characters, especially Suzzanne, Beth’s teenage daughter. I thought her character added a lot to the story overall, and her development throughout the novel was fantastic. I would have loved to have read more about the side characters, specifically Thomas and Emily and other people in their household (no spoilers here!).

This book took many twists and turns, however, I found the ending to be quite anti-climactic. There was nothing about it that shocked me, and there were a few twists I had personally thought of that would have added a little more suspense to the ending.

While reading this book, I was surprised that this novel was not more popular on bookstagram. Even though I haven’t been super active on Instagram lately, this seems like this book would have a lot more discussion if it was released from one of the more “mainstream” thriller authors. This one was definitely up to par with some very well-established thriller authors, including Ruth Ware, Riley Sager, Sarah Pinborough, and others. If you enjoyed books from those authors in the past, I highly recommend this novel to you.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and gave it 4/5 stars. It is not one of my new favourite mystery/thriller novels, but it is definitely one of the best one’s I have read recently!

Good Night Book Owls!

Q&A with Mystery Author Gayle Carline

Welcome back to Reading, Reading, Reading and Happy Valentines Day!

If you have been following my blog for a while, you will know that my absolute favourite genre is Mystery/Thriller. While I cannot find time to read every single mystery/thriller book ever published, I still have fun finding them and checking in to see what they are about. Gayle Carline is the author of Murder Bytes, a mystery series featuring a female P.I. (Peri Minneopa), and her adventures set in and around Orange County and Southern California. Throughout the following questions, Gayle chats about her new book and other mysteries she plans to write in the future! Enjoy!

Q: Murder Bytes is your fifth Peri Minneopa mystery. What can you tell us about Peri, and how does this book continue the traditions established by the other novels in the series?

A: In the last book, A More Deadly Union, Peri was left traumatized after solving the case. In the latest story, she just wants to stop investigating crime, settle down, and marry her longtime boyfriend. Unfortunately, that’s not the way her life works. Her brother needs her help, to prove he did not commit murder. She is reluctant to help him, both because she is still feeling the trauma of the last case and because her brother does not want any kind of relationship with her—he is only using her to get out of trouble. To me, it is a classic question of the thickness of blood and water, and how much you are willing to go to bat for ‘that relative.

Q: In Murder Bytes, Peri re-opens her practice to help her estranged brother. What keeps Peri from simply referring him to another qualified detective?

A: At the end of the day, Dev is her big brother. She wants to believe that he considers her his little sister, that someday, somehow, he will realize his familial love for her. There’s a piece of advice, to ‘raise the child you have and not the one you want.’ In Peri’s case, she wants the brother who wants to be close to her, and has a hard time accepting the brother that he is.

Q: Peri’s boyfriend, Detective Skip Carlton, is now her official fiancé. They have bought a home together, and are selling their houses. Because Peri’s house sold and Skip’s is still on the market, she is living in the new place while it’s being remodeled. How is this affecting their relationship?

A: The continual stream of workers and noise in their house has Peri’s stress dialed up to 11, on top of her PTSD. It creates conflict for them, in that he wants to defer remodeling decisions to her, so that she will be happy, and she would like him more involved, to take the pressure off. In addition, he wants to help her with her brother’s problem, but would like her to just sit on the sidelines and watch—something she’s never been good at.

Q: There are a number of familiar characters in Murder Bytes that readers will recognize from the earlier novels in the series. Who are your personal favorites, and what happens to them in this particular story?

A: I like them all, for individual reasons. Blanche is always Peri’s rock as her BFF, and I appreciate her good advice. I admire Police Chief Fletcher—he is the right man for the job. Of course, Benny Needles will always be my favorite. In this book, he gets his own chapters, and even has a ‘special friend.’ He and Peri have a lot of warm, connecting moments, and I’m very pleased with his growth.

Q: Murder Bytes takes place in Southern California, in the Orange County area. How integral is this setting to the Peri Minneopa mysteries, and why did you place the series in this environment?

A: When I started this series, I wanted a small town feel, but not so small that I wouldn’t kill off all the residents! They say to write what you know, and I know Southern California. My hometown of Placentia has a very small-town feel, even though it is locked into the vast Orange County. That made it perfect—nonresidents are constantly coming in and out of town, giving my stories lots of victims. Plus, I’m very proud to live in Placentia (we sometimes call it P-Town). I might as well do my part to put it on the map.

Q: Are you working on another Peri Minneopa mystery? If so, what can you tell us about it?

A: I am advertising this as the fifth and final installment of Peri Minneopa Mysteries. I think I’ve taken her to a place where the next book would be such a completely different flavor, it will have to be a new series of mysteries. Don’t worry—I’ll start writing them! In the meantime, I have a sequel to my romantic suspense, Murder on the Hoof, to write.

Be sure to pick up your own copy of Murder Bytes, as it hits shelves today!

Good Night Book Owls!