The Assistant

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Member Reviews

This is by far one of the best books that I have read this year. Jo is a an optimistic and happy woman, fresh from a divorce and living with her best friend - her life is perfect! Until, the assistants get involved in a plot to ruin her life.

I genuinely didn't have a clue what was going on, every time I thought that I had worked out the plot twist - I had it wrong - time and time again. I truly felt incredibly sorry for Jo and the mess her life was in as it spiralled out of control. Its also reassured me that I am right to not have any sort of technological assistant in my home :) It made me question - who is watching us? 

The only critique I had was during the big reveal at the end - I felt that it feel a tiny bit flat and was wrapped up very quickly. I think I needed slightly more. But, it absolutely did not take from the brilliant writing and the brilliant development of the plot and characters throughout the book.

This is a definite 5 star book for me and one I will remember for a long time - definitely in my top 5 books of 2019!
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The main character of this book is Jo Ferguson, who is divorced and staying with her best mate who is always working or staying at her boyfriends. The flat has smart device (Electra) which is The Assistant. 

The book starts quite slow as Jo Ferguson is the only character to start with as we learn about her past and how she arrived at her current situatiuon of living in her best mates flat. As the story develops we are introduced to new characters including her ex husand and his new wife who have a baby. 

When Jo starts to think about the decisions she has made in her past. the smart device Electra starts talking to her, she knows her secret. This terrifies Jo as only two other people know the same secret but none of them would tell. 

Throughout the book Electra starts talk to Jo more and has her terrified revealing more about her past and making threats. Electra will stop at nothing to ruin Jo's life when it starts to ruin her friendships and causing chaos and tradegy with her personal life. Jo becomes scared of entering the flat but also starts to seek comfort from Electra. 

The book starts to gather pace when Jo tries to work out who is behind Electra revealing her secret and ruining her life, losing friends and her job. When Jo works it out and reveals who the villian is you are hoping for the best. 

I enjoyed reading this book as you left wondering who has done this as Electra is targeting Jo through her friends and turning people against her. It has been one of best thrillers I have read this year.
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I've never read a book quite like this one! It's a very fitting novel for our modern age when those ubiquious gadgets that you can ask do things for you are appearing in so many homes. The main character in this book, Jo, is down on her luck, living with a long time friend, Tabitha, in her luxury flat which seems to have an 'Electra' in every room. Initially all is well but when Electra starts speaking directly to Jo and seems to threaten her by telling her she knows what she did the plot starts to unravel..  In her past Jo has a dark secret  - one that she thought only a couple of other people knew about, so how does Electra know? The author skilfully manipulates the story so that the reader finds out Jo's father suffered from a mental illness that caused him to commit suicide and there's an underlying feeling that maybe Jo too is suffering from the same mental illness. Is she imagining Electra talking to her?
It is,  of course, a human, not a machine, that is behind the torment Jo suffers but the book leaves the reader guessing until near the end.
This is a clever book, often disturbing, often thought provoking,  but nevertheless a good read and must surely place S K Tremayne amongst the best authors in this genre.
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This was a very clever book,  but the cleverness of the plot was not quite matched by the cleverness of the outcome.  It was almost as if it got so complicated that the author then had a little trouble unraveling it all.   That said it was a tense read which did make me want to finish it.
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I love psychological thrillers and this is right up there with the best I've ever read.  I hardly know how to put into words what I thought of this book, because I literally just finished it and my head is spinning!

I don't do spoilers, and that is particularly important in this case, you need to dive in with no clue what is happening.   So I will share my thoughts without giving the plot away.

This is an exceptionally well written thriller that after a few slow chapters, reeled me in and I was totally hooked.I was left guessing the entire time - is our protagonist, Jo, going mad, or is someone targeting her, and if so, why? What happens to Jo is extremely unsettling, decidedly creepy, and to be honest, a bit worrying, particularly as it involves technology which most of us willingly have sitting in our homes, so it has the ring of truth to it.  Social media also plays a part, and as well as being an exceptional psychological thriller, it also makes you wonder about whether our use of technology and social media has crossed a line, and who is really in control?  I am definitely thankful that I have always been somewhat suspicious of the Alexas and Siris, and don't use them at all!  

The atmosphere the author weaves into this book is spellbinding, I really felt I was in a snowy London watching Jo being tormented.  The twists and turns and shocks keep coming, and like Jo, I had absolutely no clue what was happening to her.  I think I was holding my breath for the last half of the book, it is absolutely relentless, the phrase "the suspense is killing me" comes to mind, because the suspense here was almost unbearable - everything had to stop so I could carry on reading and find out what was really going on.  I think my kindle needs a rest because I was flipping the pages so quickly in my frenzy to find out what was going on!

If you enjoy atmospheric psychological thrillers, I can't recommend this fantastic book highly enough.
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I read and enjoyed The Ice Twins by SK Tremayne in 2015. I know the English author and journalist (Sean Thomas) has released a couple of books since but haven't heard a lot about them here in Australia, though I know The Fire Child in particular, was well-received by overseas authors and bloggers I follow.

Tremayne's latest release is very timely in the age of Siri and Alexa, Google Home and automation in general. It takes things a little further however (well, I've not heard of some of the technology so it 'may' exist!) and things turn ugly. Of course the big question is whether it's artificial intelligence (AI) and 'the machines' taking over or if humans are still the main source of evil.

Jo has had a run of bad luck, with a marriage breakup and (when we meet her) is trying to get back on her feet.

She's lucky to have reconnected with an old college friend however - one who's well-heeled with a wealthy fiance, so rarely at home.

Tabitha's house is overloaded with tech. Jo simply has to ask Electra to do something and it'll happen. Until the day the 'Home Assistant' talks back. And knows things about Jo's past it shouldn't.

Jo's father had schizophrenia and she worries that speaking about what's happening puts her at risk of sounding paranoid herself; so she delays it. Until emails are being sent on her behalf and all sorts of stuff is hitting the fan.

It's an interesting scenario. I'm conscious computers (AI) are / is capable of learning. Of extrapolating from information received. The director of the company I'm doing contract work with has recently spoken at conferences about the 'personalisation' of data and information collected, and this a reminder that computers (and those who write their programs or own the company) can trawl through our lives for information.

But... of course here readers are forced to consider whether a computer program is able to intentionally victimise someone; or if we're talking about human intervention. About a living and breathing being? And in Jo's case we (she) realise it would be someone setting out to ruin her life. Someone with a grudge.

There are a number of suspects and, though she initially appreciates the low-human maintenance household, Jo becomes concerned with the level of control / access others have to the house and the actions and movements of those within it.

This well-paced psychological thriller serves as a timely reminder of the technology we allow into our lives, sometimes with minimal thought to its implications or repercussions. I have an iPhone complete with Siri but I've actually only used it accidentally when I've pushed the home button for too long.

I've not got any 'home assistants', though as someone who lives alone I kinda like the idea of issuing instructions to an obedient being. Or anyone at all really.

This is another enjoyable and thought-provoking read from Tremayne.
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I’m a huge fan of S K Tremayne and whilst this one didn’t disappoint me, it’s definitely my least favourite book written by Tremayne. It’s still a 4 star read for me, but the others have all been 5 stars. I really enjoyed this storyline and it definitely freaked me out at times. I love the technology side of it, but at times it felt really unrealistic. I liked the characters but did find Jo a bit annoying at times. The whole book has you continuously trying to work out what’s happening and I had no idea. I was really surprised by the twist at the end and definitely couldn’t predict anything. However I just feel like this book is missing something compared to the others by this author. With Tremayne’s previous books I’ve been desperate to pick them up and keep reading, whereas this one took me surprisingly long to read. I found I wasn’t as hooked. Overall it was a great read and I do still recommend it - it will definitely keep you guessing the whole time!
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SK Tremayne's latest novel is a terrifically creepy and thought-provoking psychological thriller.

Journalist Jo Ferguson is ecstatic to be offered a home in a luxury Camden flat by wealthy friend, Tabitha, at a very good rate. It is equipped with all modern conveniences and state of the art technology, overseen and managed by a meticulous home and personal assistant, called Electra. Jo's life has fallen apart, she has recently divorced, and financially, she is in a bit of a pickle. In this story which is told mostly from Jo's perspective, the reader gets to see how her life slowly descends into a darkness where she finds herself in dreadful danger.

Sean Tremayne's writing style was delightful, and I appreciated the narrative and the vivid imagery he conveyed. The pacing was comfortable, and the tension soon escalated to a nail-biting, suspenseful levels. This was an absolute cracker of a thriller that, in addition to being riveting and absolutely compulsive, served as a warning of what the future might well hold. With no disappointments, this was a cleverly plotted page-turner with a jaw-dropping twist leading up to an exciting, electrifying conclusion. 

Horrifying and timely, and full of harboured secrets, I would recommend this unsettling and unpredictable novel for anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers.

This review was written voluntarily and was not influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from HarperCollins via NetGalley.
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3.5 stars rounded up to 4

Joins currently living in Tabithas apartment.  It's full of electronic devices and gadgets. Electra starts talking to Jo telling her she knows what she did to the boy. Only two other people knew this secret. Electra keeps revealing more and more about Jo's life. Is Jo going crazy? After all, her dad had just before he committed suicide. 

I found this book to be a bit of a slow burner. Thankfully the pace does pick up after you've read about a third of the book. Just when you think things cant get any worse for Jo, they do. Is being alone most of the time playing with her mind? It gets more tense the more you read. The last quarter of the book is by far the best part. This book is the reason why I would never have these modern devices in my home. They frame out, just like parts of this book did.

I would like to thank NetGalley, HarperCollins UK HarperFiction and the author S.K. Tremayne for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins UK for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

"The Assistant" is the very definition of unputdownable

"The Assistant" has everything you would expect from a top-notch psychological thriller: excellent characterisation, convincing dialogue and a narrative so taut you keep expecting it snapback in your face like an overextended elastic band. Indeed, unlike many psychological thrillers I have read recently, where the tension builds slowly, S.K. Tremayne's latest offering grabs you by the throat from the first page and won't let go. It begins with a bang when Home Assistant Electra utters the words 'I know what you did' to Jo Ferguson, freelance journalist, house sitting for wealthy friend Tabitha. Very quickly we learn that Electra's bombshell has to do with the death of someone called Jamie, and only two people close to Jo are aware of precisely what she did - ex-husband Simon and friend Tabitha. The very fact that the eerily prescient Home Assistant is called Electra provides us with a significant clue that someone is out for revenge for Jamie's death. For the uninitiated in Greek Myths, Electra the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra and she persuaded her brother Orestes to kill Clytemnestra and Aegisthus (their mother's lover) in revenge for the murder of Agamemnon. The question of course is who? Could it be Simon or Tabitha; Tabitha's fiancé Arlo, or someone else entirely? There is also the added concern, for Jo, that Electra's utterances are all in her mind, when it is revealed to us readers that Jo's father Robert suffered with schizophrenia. Is Jo hearing voices just like her Dad, or is the agency involved definitely 'real' and not the product of a fevered imagination. Well, I'll let to you discover that for yourself, because trust me you won't want to put "The Assistant" down once you start reading. Whilst many authors have tried to incorporate some element of social media or 21st technology into their novels, it sometimes feels like a sop to the modern reader, a 'USP', rather than a meaningful plot device. Not so with S.K. Tremayne's "The Assistant". The Home Assistant Electra plays on our very real fears over the gradual erasure of our privacy  - not only in the public realm with cctv etc., but also in the home - the private realm, with the advent of smart technology. There are also the concerns - sometimes prophetic, and popularised by the likes of Phillip K. Dick and more recently, Robert Harris in "The Fear Index", that technology is evolving to such an extent that one day it may mimic us as sentient beings, with the terrifying implication that whereas once we were the masters of technology, technology could one day master us - ruling over us like some benevolent dictator. These musings are wonderfully realised in "The Assistant", to such an extent that I have not utilised my own smart technology for days! I dare you to use yours after reading S.K. Tremayne's triumphant tour de force, "The Assistant".

5 Stars
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The Assistant is the fourth book written under the nom de plume S. K. Tremayne; it is by far his most compulsive and chilling yet and serves as a stark warning about the perils of permitting our devices access to our very essence and precise, in-depth and eminently sensitive data on not only our lives and loves but our families and close ones too. It is a cross between a technothriller and a psychological thriller and is the perfect creepy story for the modern technological era in which we live. It revolves around Electra, a personal assistant, who is present in the home in which Jo Ferguson is currently living and helps with menial tasks such as turning on the lights and adjusting the heating. But soon the electronic assistant starts taunting her repetitively until she is left doubting her sanity. Jo made a pact not to ever talk about what happened to Jamie Trewin so how can Electra know of it? Surely it isn't sentient? How is it sending her ominous messages stating it knows her deepest, darkest secret? Is someone playing a game and trying to frighten her out of her wits? Could it be the result of someone hacking the system to make a point?

This is an absolute cracker of a thriller but not only is it riveting and absolutely compulsive, but it also serves as a warning of what the future could hold. I literally devoured it and didn't want it to end as it was the very definition of an exhilarating page-turner. Sadly, I feel strongly that the cover artwork and the synopsis will lead many others to incorrectly conclude that this is merely just another run-of-the-mill hybrid with no extra pep or pizazz about it. It's a dark, intriguing and thought-provoking read for the digital age and will have you questioning just how much we rely on tech to get by and the possibility of information our devices gather being used for nefarious purposes. An entertaining, well written, pacy and impossible to put down tale which also happened to be timely and relevant. This is almost like a technological commentary in the form of an explosive work of fiction. Highly recommended. Many thanks to HarperCollins for an ARC.
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The Assistant in the title isn't a person but an Electra (a certain online store's misnamed home hub device). Electra in Greek tragedy sought revenge..
There have been several thrillers I have read this year involving smart tech that terrorises individuals. It's a definite trend and one that lends itself so well to thrillers. I certainly won't be rushing out to buy a Home Hub or similar device after reading S.K. Tremayne's nightmare scenario. It highlights that we have become so vulnerable to intrusion and manipulation by having all our transactions online and is reflected in social media trolls and bots today influencing general opinion and trashing reputations.
The author does take things to the extreme with this story and when you don't think it can get any worse for Jo, it does! The suspicions and moving finger continuously and cleverly waver between any of her friends and the possibility that she is having the beginnings of a hereditary mental illness. 
A great winter read that will keep you turning the pages, hoping that Jo overcomes her demons whether real or imaginary.
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This is a great read that had me gripped throughout the book. 
Jo is grateful when her friend Tabitha offers her a place to stay when she needs it, but she can’t get used to all the Smart technology there. 
She has ‘Assistants’ that turn the lights on and answer questions and are called Electra. This is very similar to Amazon’s Alexa so freaked me out a bit. 
Electra says something that takes Jo’s breath away and she becomes worried about what these devices are capable of. 
They soon start talking to her without her asking a question and Jo becomes scared. 
They know things about her life that not many people know and soon start to threaten her. 
Other things start happening to those around her, so Jo is determined to find out what’s going on. 
This is a real edge of your seat read and I really enjoyed it. 
Thanks to Harper Collins and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book.
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I loved this book, couldn’t put it down, a real page turner and so different. Lots of twists and turns, a very modern story with all the technology: made me want to switch off my Alexa! 
A great read, thank you
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Loved it! This book kept me up late on the night I finished it, and had me pick up my kindle many chance I had while I was reading it. 
Great plot and well executed,  and had me guessing right until the end. I loved the character of Jo, and felt I really got inside her mind as the world fell apart around her. This was my first book by this author,  and I very much enjoyed it. Thank you to netgalley SK Tremayne and the publisher for the arc in exchange for an honest review.
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This is a very contemporary psychological thriller, with a warning about what could happen if technology were to go rogue.  An extremely engrossing story with some real suspense and creepy moments.  Probably my favourite book from this author so far.
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I’ve previously read The Ice Twins by this author and that book really unnerved me but still I couldn’t resist grabbing a copy of The Assistant as the premise sounded so unique and so prescient. I’m so pleased to say that I loved this book!

The Assistant is all about Jo. She’s a freelance journalist and struggling to manage financially. She’s renting a room in a luxury apartment in London owned by her best friend Tabitha, the whole place is controlled by a Home Assistant called Electra. Tabitha spends a lot of time at her boyfriend’s house so Jo is often on her own in the apartment for large spans of time. One day Electra suddenly says ‘I know what you did’ and Jo’s life begins to spiral!

As someone who has voice controlled gadgets through my home this book was terrifying! It made me want to rip them all out and throw them away!! Jo is really unnerved but she wonders if she imagined it, or if she’s over tired but Electra doesn’t let it go. It becomes clear that Electra knows about Jo’s past and it seems determined that she’s going to pay.

I was engrossed in this book from start to finish, I read it in just two sittings because I simply had to know what was going on. We find out what happened to Jo in her past but you’re then wondering who would want to drag it all up now all these years later. There are people in Jo’s life that I was suspicious of all the way through the novel but I could never put my finger on who exactly could be behind the horror. Alongside this Jo is over-reliant on sleeping pills and she’s not always careful of the dose she takes so there is an element of wondering if what is happening is some kind of hallucination. I love that this book kept me guessing right the way to the end.

This is the first novel I’ve read where home assistant technology is a large part of the plot and I loved it. It was so different and terrifying because we all have technology in our homes that potentially could be used against us. I found this such a good read and I definitely recommend it!
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I have read S. K. Tremayne before and this one was the best.  An absolute belter. 
The story is based in Camden Town, London and the central character, Jo, is a freelance journalist struggling for money and is lucky enough that her best friend, Tabitha, has a beautiful flat which Jo rents a room at a rock bottom price.  Tabitha is seldom there and the flat has all the high-tech gadgets, which turn on lights, heating and many more things. 

Jo has a sad family background and her loneliness is extenuated by the cold, snowy London of mid-winter.  When the high-tech ‘assistants’ start to ‘mis-function’ the reader is introduced to Jo’s past, some of her friends and ex-husband.

At one stage I had no idea if Jo was imagining all the mis-functions, somebody was trying to scare her or even worse.  This is truly a book I could not put down.  It is original and brilliantly plotted with some weirdly interesting characters.

Thanks to NetGalley, HarperCollins UK and S. K. Tremayne for my ARC in return for my honest review.

An absolute exceptional read that I could not put down.  Highly recommended.
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The Assistant is a story that could very much happen in real life - scary thought! While I enjoyed the premise of this story, and it’s originality I wasn’t enthralled as I have been by other titles from the same author. In saying that though, it is still a good read.
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After reading multiple contemporary romance one after another [no idea why!] I'm glad to be back in the land of thrillers. 

A gripping and chilling read; why chilling specifically? Because it can happen to any of us, with the tech advancements these days. As if we aren't paranoid enough already, this book really makes you think how easily things can go down the drain for us. 

I didn't want to stop reading, and I didn't till I finished it. Give it a go!
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