Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The Safe Place by Anna Downes

The Safe Place
by Anna Downes
Published July 14th 2020 by Minotaur Books
Genre: Suspense, Thriller

Emily is a mess.

Emily Proudman just lost her acting agent, her job, and her apartment in one miserable day.

Emily is desperate.

Scott Denny, a successful and charismatic CEO, has a problem that neither his business acumen nor vast wealth can fix. Until he meets Emily.

Emily is perfect.

Scott offers Emily a summer job as a housekeeper on his remote, beautiful French estate. Enchanted by his lovely wife Nina, and his eccentric young daughter, Aurelia, Emily falls headlong into this oasis of wine-soaked days by the pool. But soon Emily realizes that Scott and Nina are hiding dangerous secrets, and if she doesn't play along, the consequences could be deadly.

Superbly tense and oozing with atmosphere, Anna Downs's debut is the perfect summer suspense, with the modern gothic feel of Ruth Ware and the morally complex family dynamics of Lisa Jewell.

Welcome to paradise...will you ever be able to leave?

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3.5 Stars
Emily has lost it all; her job, her flat, her acting hopes, and finally her family's faith in her. She feels out of options, she needs money, and somehow her old boss holds the key to her future. Scott Denny is a successful businessman and an even more successful career in keeping secrets. He's been watching Emily and she's perfect for a job at his remote French estate. Taking care of a beautiful home and the handsome Scott's wife and daughter sounds like the perfect job, the perfect solution, but there's something lurking under the surface and Emily doesn't realize it until it's too late.

Creepy, atmospheric, and at times quite predictable, The Safe Place is a fast-paced thriller that I zoomed through in one sitting. It was quite a fun read, especially with the alternating perspectives. Emily's would have bored me, Scott's was mysterious, and Nina...she's completely bonkers. Anna Downes engaged me instantly with Scott and Nina's perspectives, especially the flashback chapters. I really liked this book initially, Emily is so gullible, but I knew immediately something was off and I just really wanted to know what it was. I loved the setting, I loved the creepy, big house, and I loved that Emily was enticed with the idea of wealth and freedom without ever noticing she really had none of that.

Like many thrillers, The Safe Place pulls from what's popular in the media right now and that made it fall a bit flat. I so wish Emily had been a more engaging character and I definitely needed more of her past history to understand how she connected so much with Scott and Nina's daughter. While I found it predictable and I wasn't attached to the main character, I found the story suspenseful and interesting all the way to the end. The Safe Place had an excellent set up, but the final execution ended up being too simple and I felt like it was tied up too quickly, it needed just a bit more and it would've pushed my enjoyment and rating just that much further.

Despite it's pitfalls, The Safe Place is the perfect summer domestic thriller read, I only wish I had been reading it next to a gorgeous pool like that featured on the cover.

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