Sometimes the mood strikes for thrilling reading. It’s not a genre I look to often, but in the beginning of the year it felt like the only kind of reading that satisfied me. Maybe because if it’s done right it can be great reading without being great? I’m not sure, but I tore through these two novels even when a part of my brain was thinking ‘Really?’. They piled unreliable narrators and drama into a fast car and managed to keep it on track. Enjoyable reading when you just want to be along for the ride.
An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen
Published by St. Martin's Press
Publication date: January 8, 2019
The most important thing you need to know about the writing duo Hendricks and Pekkanen (The Wife Between Us) is that there is no character too fleeting or innocuous to be trusted in their novels. Everyone is hiding something- it’s just a matter of how big it is. In the case of An Anonymous Girl, Jessica is a young woman who finagles her way into a psychological study on truth and morality because she needs the money. Except she goes from anonymous to working directly with the doctor running the study. Why? Well, that’s where it gets sticky.
I’m going to call An Anonymous Girl racetrack reading. The number of cars (characters) is set, the course (plot) is not particularly new or unknown, but soon enough it is the speed at which everything is hurtling forward that becomes dizzying. Keeping track of any one character’s motivations is impossible but two things are assured: you’ll be mesmerized and before it all ends there will be a massive pile-up with lots of damage.
The Stranger Inside by Laura Benedict
Published by Mulholland Books
Publication date: February 5, 2019
The Stranger Inside is one of those books where very early on all the cards have been laid out on the table, but you just know there’s a whole other deck waiting to be dealt.
The main fact is that Kimber arrives home from a weekend trip to find the locks on her house changed and a man she doesn’t know living there. He has a valid lease with her signature on it. This premise alone is enough to make me nutty and my mind immediately began scurrying with ways to get the guy out. Could there be anything creepier than a man living in your house with ALL of your possessions and the police doing nothing?
But things don’t stop there. Soon Kimber is on the verge of losing her job, a friend’s husband and child have been in a serious accident…basically everything in her life is falling down. It all makes for deliciously messy, page-turning reading. My only quibble is that by the end everyone has a secret and/or is guilty of something big. When you’re suspicious of the dog (where was he when Mrs. Tuttle died?) the author has gone too far and credibility is lost. The Stranger Inside is quick, thriller reading, but don’t waste time trying to puzzle it out. Wait and watch as all the cards fall.