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The Guest Room: An utterly unputdownable psychological thriller (Totally gripping thrillers by Rona Halsall)

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For me, it’s the fact that she spent hours in these rooms, her footsteps on the floors, rubbing her finger along her right cheekbone, just near the hint of blue eyeliner. She wore it almost every day, a subtle line on her lower lids. Until those last few months when she wore no makeup at all. Some days, I wanted to beg her to put that eyeliner on again. Her shoulders lift as she extracts the cucumber from the ice. “I didn’t want to bother you with it.” She bites into the pale green ribbon. “It’s no big deal,” she repeats. “It was time.” I know why my dad couldn’t look at me the whole time he was here in England for the funeral. Because he blames me. I failed Rosie because I missed her calls. If I hadn’t, she could still be alive.

It’s peculiar, the concept of B-and-B-ing. Letting strangers into your home, not knowing what they’re going to be like. The door closes behind you and you’re at the mercy of someone you know nothing about. They could do anything. Guest bedrooms should be inviting and welcoming spaces, but you don't want to start adding in unnecessary items. Busy guest bedroom decor will feel cluttered and get dusty easily. And I texted Oliver again, although his name hasn’t appeared since that message: Please stop texting me. (Yesterday, 16:21) Rosie called me that evening. She rang me three times. The log showed as missed calls at 21:37, 21:50 and 22:18. Those times are burned behind my eyes. After the second one, at 21:50, she left me a voice mail. I’ve listened to it hundreds of times; I can remember it word for word. Every pitch and dip of her voice. Within the first week Luke had shown me his mum’s book. She’s from Malaysia and released a recipe book last year that hit big in Australia, now finding its way to the UK.

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I am, but my plans are flexible.” He shifts his weight, tilting toward me. “You’ve never tasted anything like this before. I can guarantee that.” She is an outdoorsy person and loves stomping up a mountain, walking the coastal paths and exploring the wonderful glens and beaches on the Island while she's plotting her next book. She has three children and two step-children who are all grown up and leading varied and interesting lives, which provides plenty of ideas for new stories. Desperate for company, and to save her beloved house from her impending divorce, Steph invites a homeless man to lodge with her. A risky and possibly stupid move considering the “incidents” only seem to increase after Noah moves in. Someone is determined to push Steph out of her house. Will she be able to stop the intruder before it’s too late?

I’m out of breath. Nearly home. The moon is a white shell against the deepening blue of sky. Anticipation is building as I approach my door. Maybe Arran won’t be in. Maybe I can have a snoop in his room. Not a question. Is he laughing at me? I search for the humor in his eyes, but it’s warm, not belittling. Overall, it’s a novel that contains good twists and turns with constantly changing scenarios and with a good social focus. The train car is crowded for this time of day, before rush hour gets going. People are clustering about me. Two instincts pull on my muscles: elbow them out of my space, or sit on the floor. Neither of which is socially acceptable. When I saw the request, I was hesitant: I’ve never had someone stay that long before. It goes against the principle that every guest is temporary. And what if he’s weird or a nuisance? What if I don’t like him?I look at my palm—at the graze from Tooting Common. It’s now dark and blotched. Itchy since that night. I scratch at it, pulling off bits of scab. Pain throbs through. The pink flesh turns red, weeping blood. With their house now a crime scene, Kristin's and Richard’s life spirals into nightmare. Kristin is unable to forgive her husband for his lapses in judgement, or for the moment he shared with a dark-haired girl in the guest room. But for the dark-haired girl, Alexandra, the danger is just beginning.

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