As the fall weather settles in and Halloween approaches what better time to discuss thrillers? The kind of books that make you settle into a favorite chair with a hot drink while it’s grey and rainy outside. Given that new releases have been a bit flat this year, I’m mixing up my reviews with three backlist books that are guaranteed to keep you looking over your shoulder. Extra points for the fact that all the authors are women (which always makes me happy).
And don’t be nervous that today is Friday the 13th. Seriously. Don’t worry.
Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent
Published by Gallery/Scout Press
Publication date: August 22nd 2017
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense
When a novel opens with the line: I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her, you know the author is banking on shock and surprise to keep your attention. It can be a mistake if the rest of the novel falls flat, but in the case of Unraveling Oliver, author Liz Nugent never slows down. Oliver is a world famous children’s book author and Alice is his docile and loving wife. She also illustrates his books. As shown by the first line, he hits her. Not too far into the novel he has beaten her into a coma, leaving everyone around them to wonder what could have provoked him into such a rage?
From this brutal beginning Nugent begins the process of, yes…unraveling Oliver. She goes back to his lonely, painful childhood and how he translated that childhood into a beloved series of children’s books. While the many twists and turns of Oliver’s life stretch the fabric of Unraveling Oliver a little thin, it is still a good fall thriller read.
In the Blood by Lisa Unger
Published by Pocket Books
Publication date: July 22nd 2014
Genres: Childhood, Mystery, Suspense
This is one of those books where try as I might, I could not figure out where it was going. And I mean that in the best way possible. This is creeptastic reading. Click here for my full review.
Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm
Published by Viking
Publication date: January 22 2015
This novel is similar to Unraveling Oliver in that it plays with identity—a concept that always works for me. Click here for my full review.
The Visitors by Catherine Burns
Published by Gallery/Scout Press
Publication date: September 26th 2017
Author Catherine Burns wastes no time in defining the narrator in The Visitors. Actually, she wastes no time in letting Marion define herself:
Plain women got husbands, but they tended to be the pushy kind. If she had been more forthright, she might have got herself a man, but she hated to impose herself on anyone. That was how she had been brought up; not to force her needs or opinions on anyone else.
Marion is a sad-sack sister so mentally beaten down that while she knows her brother John keeps women in the basement she chooses to believe he’s doing so to teach them English and help them find jobs. She doesn’t question why she never sees them, when they leave, or even if what she sometimes hears are cries for help. Sound completely implausible? It could be except that Burns’s excels with the psychological portrait of the shadow person that is Marion, so much so that I kept reading to see where this could go. I would not call her a victim herself, but for much of the novel the family dynamics make for suspenseful reading. Until the point where a decision is made in the plot that strained credibility too far for me.
Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas
Published by Crown
Publication date: September 17th 2013
There’s not much better in the world of thrillers and suspense the seemingly perfect family, because you know there’s a whole lot of ugly waiting to burst off the page. Click here for my review. I’m including this novel not only because I really liked it, but because I was thrilled to see Zailckas has a new book out in April. I am praying to the book gods that it’s as a good as this one.
Have you read any thrillers recently that I should add to my reading list?