Category: Suspense / Thrillers
Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton
Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton
Novelist: From the author of the acclaimed bestseller Sister comes a gripping, thrilling story of a mother who will do anything to protect her child.....
Here's what the Booklist reveiw had to say:
/* Starred Review */ When her children’s school catches on fire, Grace runs headlong into the inferno, determined to rescue her 17-year-old daughter, Jenny. But both end up unconscious and in critical condition in the hospital. It’s there that the two find themselves unfettered from their bodies and able to travel the hospital hallways, where they learn that the fire was set deliberately and that Jenny was the target. Grace discovers a newfound appreciation for her sister-in-law, Sarah, a smart and determined detective whom Grace had previously thought to be cold and judgmental. As the gutsy Sarah homes in on the arsonist and provides Grace’s devastated husband with emotional support, Grace rues the fact that they were never really friends. Grace must also comfort her daughter, who can barely stand to look at her severely burned face and whose chances of survival are only 50/50. Lupton takes her readers on a totally harrowing ride as she melds a suspenseful procedural with an emotionally fraught family drama. Within a taut and sinuous narrative, heartbreak over a broken family vies with fear that the arsonist will return to complete the job of killing Jenny. Masterful pacing and a highly charged atmosphere combine to make this an exceptionally gripping read.
* * *
If you like this book by Rosamund Lupton, NoveList recommends the following:
Started early, took my dog by Kate Atkinson
Tracy Waterhouse, a retired police detective leading a quiet life, makes a snap decision to relieve habitual offender Kelly Cross of a young child he's been dragging around town. Tracy soon learns her parental inexperience is actually the least of her problems, as much larger ones loom for her and her young charge. Meanwhile, detective Jackson Brodie embarks on a different sort of rescue--that of an abused dog. NoveList
Losing you by Nicci French
Preparing to leave for a vacation, Nina Landry awaits the return of her fifteen-year-old daughter, Charlie, who had spent the night at a friend's house, but Nina begins to worry when Charlie does not come home and no one takes the disappearance seriously. NoveList
The lovely bones by Alice Sebold
Looking down from heaven, 14-year-old Susie Salmon recounts her rape and murder and watches her family as they cope with their grief and "the lovely bones" growing around her absence. NoveList
2011 Adrenaline Reading List Winner
The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) announced the winners of its annual Reading List awards in several categories, including Adrenaline, for books published last year.
Nearest Exit by Olen Steinhauer
Summary: Burned-out spy Milo Weaver confronts layers of deceit as his career collides with his desire to reclaim his family and his humanity. The labyrinthine intrigues enhance a building atmosphere of paranoia in this dark and emotionally-charged classic espionage thriller.
The Quiet American by Graham Greene
Summary: Fowler, a seasoned foreign correspondent, observes: 'I never knew a man who had better motives for all the trouble he caused.' As young Pyle's policies blunder on into bloodshed, the older man finds it impossible to stand aside as an observer. But Fowler's motives for intervening are suspect, both to the police and to himself: for Pyle has robbed him of his Vietnamese mistress.
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John Le Carré
Summary: When the last agent under his command is killed and Alec Leamas is called back to London, he hopes to come in from the cold for good. His spymaster, Control, however, has other plans. Determined to bring down the head of East German Intelligence and topple his organization, Control once more sends Leamas into the fray -- this time to play the part of the dishonored spy and lure the enemy to his ultimate defeat.
Night Soldiers by Alan Furst
Summary: Bulgaria, 1934. A young man is murdered by the local fascists. His brother, Khristo Stoianev, is recruited into the NKVD, the Soviet secret intelligence service, and sent to Spain to serve in its civil war. Warned that he is about to become a victim of Stalin’s purges, Khristo flees to Paris. Night Soldiers masterfully re-creates the European world of 1934–45: the struggle between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia for Eastern Europe, the last desperate gaiety of the beau monde in 1937 Paris, and guerrilla operations with the French underground in 1944.
Be careful who you slight
Slights by Kaaron Warren
After an accident in which her mother dies, Stevie has a near-death experience, and finds herself in a room full of people - everyone she's ever annoyed. They clutch at her, scratch and tear at her. But she finds herself drawn back to this place, again and again, determined to unlock its secrets. Which means she has to die, again and again. And Stevie starts to wonder whether other people see the same room...when they die (Product Description)
First of all, can I just say how much I love this cover? A bunch of new paperbacks arrived at the library a few months ago, and this immediately caught my eye for its supreme creepiness. For some reason it reminded me of that movie Jacob's Ladder, but I digress.
This is an exceptionally well-written book, with an original premise that's solidly executed, but reader beware: it is a dark, depressing, claustrophobic read that never lets up. It is a richly textured novel, quite literary, but also ruthless in its barbarity. This book will shock you and make you squirm, of that I am certain. It is a mystery wrapped up in devastating family secrets.
Stevie is a villain like no other I've read in a very long time. Getting inside her head is akin to cracking open a log on the forest floor and having all sorts of creepy crawlies come pouring out -- beetles, centipedes, maggots, you name it. The ick factor is off the charts. I wanted to feel sorry for her, find some reason for empathy, but she is just so completely rotten to her core that you can't. I'm telling you, you can't! Just when I felt myself starting to soften, my burgeoning empathy was squashed by a cruel or selfish word, thought or deed.
And it's not just Stevie: no one is likable in this book. There is no one to root for and I struggle with that kind of post-modern existential reading experience. I need a hero, or at least an anti-hero, someone with one redeeming quality to hang my hat on. But everyone is horrible. Maybe it's because they're seen through Stevie's eyes, but it doesn't matter because the end result is the same.
The first half of the novel reads like a coming-of-age story with lots of jagged edges. It's a slow build, but Stevie's reminisces are painful, ugly and uncomfortable to read because Warren's language is graphic, brutalizing, and scalpel sharp. Certainly not for everyone, but an intriguing and impressive debut.
In the dark with Stephen King
Full Dark, No Stars
by Stephen King
... in the dark with Stephen King ... there ain't no place I'd rather be!!
If you really want to give the gift of the heebie-jeebies this holiday season, then you really want to make sure your loved one has a copy of Stephen King's four new novellas waiting for them under the Christmas tree.
The title really sets up the collection well -- make no mistake, these are dark tales, in places gruesome and hard to read. All of these stories feature ordinary characters forced to make awful choices. What choices! And this is why I love King -- he'll find the horror -- the real, true, white-knuckling, knee-buckling horror -- in the most ordinary of places amongst the most ordinary of people. His scariest stories are often the ones you know could really happen.
In the Afterword, King writes:
I want to provoke an emotional, even visceral, reaction in my readers. Making them think as they read is not my deal...if the tale is good enough and the characters vivid enough, thinking will supplant emotion [only] when the tale has been told and the book set aside.
If that is his goal, he succeeds brilliantly here because when in the fierce, unrelenting grip of these stories you are not thinking, but feeling -- terror and repulsion mostly. It's a visceral experience all right. In places I was sucked into an almost fugue state where I forgot to breathe, because I was in the story, as if it were happening to me rather than as a third-party voyeur safely removed from the action. These stories will haunt me, as will the choices contained therein.
1922: Beware the Conniving Man!!! This story has lots of gooshy parts and if you have a rat phobia, it may just land you in a straight jacket. What is it with King and abandoned wells? ::shiver:: So how far would you go to get your way? To maintain your life as you know it? When is someone worth more to you dead than alive? What I love most about this story is that it shows getting what you want often comes with too heavy a price tag -- it's the Monkey's Paw conundrum.
Big Driver: This was my least favourite of the four, if only because of the subject matter -- rape and vigilantism. It's a simple story, with a fairly predictable ending. Where the story's strength lies is in King's exploration of rape victim psychology. How Tess feels and reacts to what happens to her is how I imagine a lot of women think and feel in that situation. I hope I never have to find out. This one is a real nail-biter though, total edge of your seat stuff.
Fair Extension: The shortest of the four, but wicked and horrible. It's the classic Deal with the Devil scenario, but unlike you've ever seen it. What if all the things you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy, suddenly befell them at your behest? I think the most shocking part of this story for me isn't that Dave Streeter makes the deal, but that he becomes so gleefully accepting of the fallout. Not once is there a twinge of guilt. What does Streeter do? Pull up a front row seat and watch it all unfold up close and personal.
A Good Marriage: While Lisey's Story will remain King's final, beautiful, haunting word on marriage, this novella shares some worthy insights too, both soft and jagged. You can know someone, but you can never really know them. Is it possible to keep a secret from the one person who knows you and loves you best? You bet. This is my favourite of the four novellas, and I think the perfect choice to end the book. It's archetypal horror - Pandora's Box and Bluebeard are mentioned in its pages and with good reason. Is it better to know, or not to know? When presented with a secret, do we snoop or let sleeping dogs lie? When we snoop, and what we find is so horrific, what is our moral duty? Legal responsibility? To our children? To our society? I don't know what I would do in Darcy Anderson's position. Even when she went poking into that box, my heart was pounding. I was truly terrified by what she was going to find, and since I was feeling and not thinking, I was totally shocked by what she did find. In the moments leading up to the revelation, I was in no position to guess. I had to keep remembering to breathe!!!
The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg
There are so many great crime novels coming out of Scandinavia, and another has been added, this one a debut by Swedish author Lackberg.
In The Ice Princess, Erica Falck, a writer, has returned to her home town of Fjallbacka to attend the funeral of her parents, killed tragically in an automobile accident. She is there only a few days when she, along with an elderly local man, discovers the body of her childhood friend, Alexandra Wijkner. Alex has apparently commited suicide - her nude body was in a bathtub, and her wrists were slashed.
It has been many years since Erica and Alex were in contact. Something mysterious happened in Alex's life when she was ten year old, causing her to become withdrawn, and driving a wedge between the two friends. Erica decides to write a memoir about their childhoods together, hoping to discover some answers. She begins to interview members of Alex's family, including her husband and parents. It soon becomes evident that there are secrets and lies surrounding the past, and Erica begins to question whether the death was in fact a suicide.
Meanwhile, police detective Patrik Hedstrom is assigned to the case, and it doesn't take him long to find holes in the suicide theory.
What are her parents trying to hide? What is the connection between Alex's death and the disappearance of the heir of a wealthy family in the community. But it isn't until he teams up with Erica that the disturbing web of deceit is exposed.
Lackberg builds suspense slowly, drawing us in to a complex plot with plenty of twists and turns. The characters, though sometimes stereotyped, are believable. And some interesting subplots provide added interest, especially the growing romantic relationship between Erica and Patrik.
This novel won the 2008 Grand Prix de Littérature Policière (France) Best International Crime Novel Of The Year. Readers will look forward to meeting Erica and Patrick again in The Preacher , coming out later this spring.
New title in mystery series
Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason
The latest book in this mystery series, set in Reykjavic and featuring police detective Erlendur, concerns the apparent suicide of a woman who was grieving the loss her mother. The woman was found hanging from the ceiling of her summer cottage by a friend, and the case is closed. There was no sign of struggle, yet Erlandur is troubled by the case. Why was the woman obsessed by thoughts of the afterlife, and was there a connection between her death, her father’s drowning when she was a child, and her husband’s debts? Erlendur’s suspicions build slowly as he delves into her marriage, her childhood and her visits to mediums who she believes can help her make contact with the dead. Meanwhile, he reopens the cases of two young people, reported missing more than two decades ago, in the hopes of bringing some comfort to a dying parent.
There is a heaviness to Indridason’s writing which is completely in keeping with the dispassionate and detached narrative style. It is informed by the harsh climate and rugged landscape of Iceland. Erlendur is a loner, still struggling with the loss of his own brother when they were both children. Yet we recognize his inherent decency and humanity as he attempts to establish relationships with his two adult children.
I’ve come to enjoy the work of Scandinavian novelists, and you may wish to try a couple of authors mentioned in previous blogs: Norwegian Per Petterson, author of Out stealing horses and To Siberia; and Sweden’s Stieg Larsson, author of The girl who played with fire and The girl with the dragon tattoo.
Next release in a great mytery series
The girl who played with fire by Stieg Larsson
Larsson's first book, The girl with the dragon tattoo, received a stellar review in one of our previous blogs. Now, the second novel in the series, set in Sweden and featuring journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the enigmatic Lisbeth Salander is available, and Larsson's fans won't be disappointed.
Blomkvist is preparing to release an expose of the sex trafficking business in his magazine Millennium. Shortly before the release, the young couple who did the research on the piece are found murdered. Salander, who has been off Blomkvist's radar for over a year, is implicated in the murder. But what possible connection could there be between Salander and the players in this expose, and how can Blomkvist prove his suspicions that the motivation for the slayings goes beyond the optics?
Salander was of course a pivotal character in Tattoo, but she takes a more central role in Fire. The murder investigations focus on her, and we follow her closely as she hacks her way into the murky underpinnings of the case while dodging the persistence of both Blomkvist and the police. There are few characters in mystery fiction as infuriating and engaging as this whispy but dangerous young woman, and we can't help but cheer as each of her enemies receive their comeuppance.
Stieg is a skilful writer, building the elements of the plot slowly and with increasing intensity. While there are points at which the narrative gets somewhat bogged down in the technicalities of the murder investigations, the character and action developments keep us wanting more. The ending is sensational and surprising, and worth the wait.
Stieg died in 2004, but left three manuscripts. The girl who kicked the hornet's nest, the last of the three, will be released in the spring of 2010.
Nine Dragons by Michael Connelly
LAPD Detective Harry Bosch is off the chain in the fastest, fiercest, and highest-stakes case of his life.
Fortune Liquors is a small shop in a tough South L.A. neighborhood, a store Bosch has known for years. The murder of John Li, the store's owner, hits Bosch hard, and he promises Li's family that he'll find the killer.
The world Bosch steps into next is unknown territory. He brings in a detective from the Asian Gang Unit for help with translation—not just of languages but also of the cultural norms and expectations that guided Li's life. He uncovers a link to a Hong Kong triad, a lethal and far-reaching crime ring that follows many immigrants to their new lives in the U.S.
And instantly his world explodes. The one good thing in Bosch's life, the person he holds most dear, is taken from him and Bosch travels to Hong Kong in an all-or-nothing bid to regain what he's lost. In a place known as Nine Dragons, as the city's Hungry Ghosts festival burns around him, Bosch puts aside everything he knows and risks everything he has in a desperate bid to outmatch the triad's ferocity.
-The Library Dragon
Psychological thriller promises big chills
Worst Nightmares (2009) New!
by Shane Briant
The Cryptkeeper says:
I ran across a review of this book in Publisher's Weekly and was totally intrigued -- the premise sounds ghoulishly delightful, and twisted in all the right ways. See if you don't agree.
From Publisher's Weekly:
Fans of Stephen King's novella Secret Window, Secret Garden will enjoy seeing how Briant handles a similar plot in his creepy debut. A deranged vagrant, Albert K. Arnold, delivers a manuscript titled My Worst Nightmares -- My Delicious Memoirs to bestselling author Dermot Nolan at Nolan's converted warehouse home in downtown L.A. My Worst Nightmares chronicles the atrocities of a serial killer who lures victims through a Web site, Dream Healer, and then slaughters them in ways that conjure up their worst phobias. After Arnold dies from a fall from a building, Nolan, who's in a profound writing slump and under increasing pressure to produce a new book, appropriates the manuscript and publishes it successfully as his own work. Growing evidence that Arnold's writings weren't fiction causes Nolan and his family no little concern. While many will anticipate the real villain's identity, Briant has crafted an exciting page-turner that bodes well for future thrillers from his pen.
This post appears courtesy of RPL's horror blog.
Knockout by Catherine Coulter (FBI Series #13)
Bestseller Coulter's riveting 13th FBI thriller (after TailSpin) opens with a bang as psychic FBI agent Dillon Savich thwarts a gang of gun-totting robbers attempting to hold up the First Union Bank of Washington, D.C. Three days later, seven-year-old Autumn Backman, who sees Dillon on TV, sends him a telepathic message that she's in danger. Though eager to help Autumn, Dillon is busy tracking a bank robber who escaped, a teenage girl now leaving a trail of bodies in her wake. Meanwhile, in Titusville, Va., Autumn's mother reports her daughter missing to sheriff Ethan Merriweather. After finding Autumn, Ethan discovers her sinister uncle, Blessed, has evil designs on his psychic niece. Before Dillon and his fellow FBI agent and wife, Lacey Sherlock, can get to Titusville, Autumn and her mother flee. Well-developed characters and an expertly paced plot that builds to a breathtaking conclusion make this one of the best in this paranormal suspense series. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
I love a good thriller especially a good FBI one with a little of the paranormal thrown in (yes I faithfully watched the X-Files), so this book was right up my ally. This is the first one of her books I’ve read and a mark of a good series, as far as I’m concerned, it the ability to pick up any of the books and be able to read it and not get lost. I don’t think I liked it as much as the Kay Hopper FBI books but still it was fast paced with enough twist and turns to keep it interesting. I expect that I will read some of the early books in the series and will likely continue on with the new ones. Definitely a good summer read…if we ever get summer!
-The Library Dragon
:: Next Page >>