By: Mary Burton
Narrator: Erin Bennett
Publication Date: 09/05/2023
My Rating: 5 Stars + (ARC)
A tragic accident or something more sinister? A woman’s buried memories put her life at risk in a novel of shattering psychological suspense by New York Times bestselling author Mary Burton.
Lane McCord wakes up in a hospital having survived a near-fatal fall at a North Carolina beach cottage. Her boyfriend, Kyle, wasn’t so lucky. A senseless tragedy on their first romantic getaway. All Lane remembers is lying at the bottom of the stairs in Kyle’s pooling blood.
Confused and grieving, Lane plans to return to the cottage, collect her personal belongings, and get out. Until a winter rainstorm leaves her stranded and vulnerable, but not alone. A concerned neighbor, who claims he heard a violent argument before the accident, has come out of the storm. So has a suspicious detective on the trail of a missing woman, whose diary deepens the mystery—and raises more questions that fill Lane with dread.
How well did she know Kyle? How well does she know herself? What really happened at the cottage on the beach? And when the answers come, who can Lane trust to get out of this waking nightmare alive?
Master storyteller NYT bestselling author Mary Burton returns following The Lies I Told with her latest captivating psychological thriller, THE HOUSE BEYOND THE DUNES —a complex multi-layered tale of suspense when a woman barely survives a near-fatal fall, as the web of mystery, deceit, and dark hidden secrets emerge as the past and present collide in this edge-of-your-seat riveting thriller.
Lane McCord lives in Norfolk, Virginia, and has not had an easy life. She grew up in foster care and is working toward her Ph.D. in psychology while working part-time at a coffee shop. She wants to eventually counsel broken, lost girls who live in society's cracks.
At the coffee shop, she meets Dr. Kyle Iverson, a prominent psychologist. He is rich, intelligent, and charming. They have been dating only a few weeks when he asks her to go away with him. A romantic beach weekend getaway at his Outer Banks beach cottage, located on a remote barrier island.
Lane is a little nervous about the trip since they do not know one another well, and this will be the first time they are together alone. She thinks what would an intelligent, sophisticated man want with a would-be social worker?
Not an hour after they arrive at the NC cottage overlooking the dunes of the northern Outer Banks and the Atlantic Ocean, they are tumbling down 21 stairs. They have known each other for only three and a half weeks. 25 days. Now he is dead, and she winds up being airlifted to a Norfolk hospital and cannot remember what happened.
Memories of the trip and the house are vague. She cannot afford to stay in the hospital and wants to go home and forget this nightmare. However, when the EMTs arrived they failed to collect her wallet, sleepwalking pills, phone, or clothes.
So now she must return to this nightmare, but hopes it will trigger her memory. However, once she returns to the cottage, a storm comes in, and she is trapped.
The PLOT thickens.
Detective Becker is on the case. Was Kyle pushed or an accident?
Then Lane starts receiving mysterious Diary entries from a journal via her phone from a woman named Stevie Palmer. Lane cannot figure out why she would send them to her. Who is Stevie? It appears Stevie worked a local Outer Banks/Nags Head bar, Joey's Bar, sleeps in her car, and is looking for a missing woman, Nikki. I love the baseball bat weapon. She is fearless and tenacious.
Stevie knows things, and now Lane is intrigued. Strange things start happening at the house. She meets Devon, the property manager, and Reece, a construction worker across the street. He said he heard loud voices and arguing before he called 911 and the fall that day.
Lane slowly starts learning more about Kyle, his family, and his childhood (Jeb, Zeke, Kyle, Reece, Devon). Things are not as they appear. Then, she discovers the house in the woods beyond the dunes where Kyle grew up. Lane gets terrible vibes from this creepy house and the cottage. Was Kyle, his brothers, and friends responsible for the missing girls?
What does Stevie and Nikki have to do with Kyle and herself? Something that happened fourteen years ago in Nags Head? The ongoing mystery.
Told from POVs: Lane and Stevie Palmer's Diary. Trust no one! People aren’t as they seem, loyalties run deep, and secrets are closely guarded.
Mary Burton is a master and literary genius! She is one of the top thriller writers out today. I have been a fan of hers for many years and have read all her books from thrillers (Mary Burton) and her contemporary books (as Mary Ellen Taylor). Few authors could pull this type of story off superbly and with finesse. I loved this book! Multi-layered, there are pieces of the puzzle that need to fit together, and I was glued to the pages, dying to find out how.
With shocking twists, a superb remote barrier island setting, and a claustrophobic atmosphere with mystery and intrigue. Never a dull moment with this cast of characters.
Lane and Stevie were well-developed, highly relatable characters and survivors. There are some terrible men here, and each page had me guessing with multiple twists. Themes and topics: Sexual abuse, kidnapping, foster care, memories, trauma, sleepwalking, nature vs. nurture, and more.
Look no further if you are looking for an engrossing, intelligent, and clever psychological thriller. I highly recommend THE HOUSE BEYOND THE DUNES and all Burton's thrillers. Binge-worthy and movie-worthy.
Thanks to Montlake and NetGalley for a gifted ARC for an honest opinion.
@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks
Pub Date: Sept 5, 2023
My Rating: 5 Stars +
About the Author
Mary Burton is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than thirty-five romance and suspense novels, including The Lies I Told, Don’t Look Now, Near You, Burn You Twice, and Never Look Back, as well as five novellas. She currently lives in North Carolina, with her husband and three miniature dachshunds. For more information, visit www.maryburton.com.