Tag Archives: Thrillers

Blood Sisters

I snagged an early copy of Jane Corry’s new book, Blood Sisters, and let me say, I was not disappointed. I read the whole book in one day.

Blood Sisters, obviously, focuses mostly on two sisters, dealing with the aftermath of an awful childhood accident that left younger sister Kitty unable to speak or remember, and elder sister Alison riddled with guilt and anxiety. Alison is trying to make a life for herself, and takes a job teaching art in a prison. But soon she starts receiving anonymous, and ominous, notes, and she starts to realize the past may be coming to get her.

Only three people know what happened that fateful morning. Two of them have slightly but significantly different versions of the events. The third can’t remember, even though the closure everyone needs depends on her.

Blood Sisters ends up having four points of narration: one from Alison’s point of view in first person, one from Kitty’s point of view in third person, some diary entries, and, later, flashbacks from Alison’s point of view. But the narration works for the story, and it’s easy to follow the threads as they weave their way into a final picture.

Corry’s book was easy to read. It gave enough so you have a general idea of what happened, but enough misleading hints to keep you guessing about all the fine but crucial details. And just when you think you’ve figured it out and uncovered the secret, Corry reveals that there’s still more. But she does it in a way that keeps you engaged, not tiring you out from gratuitous word padding or layers of “suspense.”

Corry’s book is my latest go-to recommendation and, of course, it means her first book will have to go on my never-ending list of books to read.

So if you’re looking for an easy suspense read, be sure to check her out.


The Third Twin

I’m familiar with Ken Follett as a historical fiction author, but The Third Twin was my first taste of him as a thriller author.

Jeanie Ferrami has been doing research into the nature versus nurture question in regards to crime by studying twins, specifically those who were raised separately. But when a normal day on the university campus turns into a nightmare, Jeanie finds herself knee deep in conspiracy and cover-ups– Jeanie has uncovered identical twins born to two separate mothers.

Refusing to give up on uncovering the truth, and finding it difficult to know who she can trust, Jeannie must bring the secrets to light quickly, before she becomes another fatality to maintain the secret.

In the whole, the premise was excellent, and the story was engaging. The story moved quickly and Follett dropped enough hints to lead you along while reserving some secrets for the ending.

However, I confess I’m getting a little tired of thrillers being chock full of romance, or of relying on sexual crimes as the catalyst for the storyline. I suppose it makes sense, for the romance, because intense situations tend to create a strong bond of intimacy, but, many stories lately seem to be romance stories tucked into intense situations.

All in all, Follett didn’t disappoint. And I certainly wouldn’t pass up any of his other works on just this premise. So when you need a good, fast-paced story with romance as the underlying theme, try out one of Follett’s thrillers. You won’t be sorry you did.

Fragments of the Lost

I’ve been meaning to read a Megan Miranda book for a while, as I’ve heard she’s a good thriller writer, so, naturally, an advanced copy of her newest book became available, I snatched it up right away.

Fragments of the Lost is geared toward young adults, and is the story of Jessa Whitworth and her ex-boyfriend Caleb. After they broke up, Caleb’s car washed off the side of the bridge in a flash flood. Everyone’s decided Jessa’s to blame, since it was her track meet he had left on the night of his accident. Caleb’s mother demands Jessa pack up Caleb’s room, and as she boxes everything up, Jessa struggles with her guilt and with the growing realization that their relationship seemed to be built on a foundation of lies. Jessa dives into her own investigation, trying to find out why Caleb was on the road, where he was going, and what she truly knew about Caleb. But she’s quickly finding out that she may not like the answers she uncovers.

Within the first few sentences of this book, I was hooked. It’s chock full of drama and mystery and flows at a fast pace. The story is told in first person, a mixture of present moment and flash backs from when Jessa and Caleb were still together. This makes it easy to get into Jessa’s head and see everything from her perspective, follow her thoughts to the same conclusions she reaches. But the book has several twists and turns to keep readers on edge, and the short chapters make it really easy to promise yourself “just one more.”

Being geared toward young adults, of course there is romance throughout the whole book (not the least of which is obviously the flashbacks from Jessa and Caleb’s relationship). But I was glad to see there was much more to the story than that. If the rest of her books are anywhere near as good as Fragments of the Lost, I’m really going to enjoy catching up on Megan Miranda’s books.

The Woman in Cabin 10

Since Ruth Ware just had a new book out, I decided it was the perfect time to check out some of her other stuff, since I recommend it often even though I haven't read it. She writes thrillers along the lines of Paula Hawkins and Gillian Flynn, so I knew it would probably be good.
Lo Blacklock is a British journalist who is invited to be on the maiden voyage of a new luxury cruise ship. Lo thinks it will be the perfect way to recover from a recent burglary incident in her flat, but instead she finds herself caught up in what she believes is a sinister plot against a woman no one but her has seen.
Her journalist instinct pushes her to keep digging, despite the danger and her fears and when she finally reaches the bottom, Lo isn't sure how things are going to end for her.
The Woman in Cabin 10 was every bit as exciting as I thought it was going to be. It was a fast, engaging read with lots of logical red herrings along the way. I found myself coming up with various elaborate theories for what was going on. Turned out to be much simpler than I had thought, which of course is the best way for these kinds of stories to work out. But the ending didn't come out of no where. Ruth Ware keeps you guessing, but when she finally reveals it all, it makes perfect sense.
If you're looking for your next exciting thriller, be sure to check Ruth Ware out, she won't disappoint.

The Lake House

After finally reading The Girl on the Train and enjoying it’s narrative twists and unreliable narrative, as one reviewer called it, I decided I’d keep with the thriller theme and read Kate Morton’s The Lake House.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t know a lot about the book going in, my mother-in-law had given me her copy after she read it, and while I’m familiar with Kate Morton, I wasn’t really familiar with her work going in (I work at a bookstore, I’m familiar with a /lot/ of authors without knowing anything about them or their books).

It was everything I could have possibly dreamed of, having read the synopsis. Detective Constable Sadie Sparrow is on a leave of absence from her job after getting too emotionally involved in a case of a mother abandoning her child. She takes her “holiday” in Cornwall, visiting the grandfather who raised her. While there, Sadie stumbles onto an old, abandoned house and quickly gets knee deep in the mystery surrounding it.

In 1933 the Edevane family was hosting their annual midsummer party when their young son goes missing, without a trace. Police search the area, but find nothing, and no note is ever discovered. Both surviving sisters carry the wright of guilt, convinced they are the reason their brother was taken. And while they both have moved on and accepted that there are no answers to be had, when Sadie comes along, Alice Edevane, a famous mystery writer, doesn’t take much convincing to unofficially reopen the investigation, and the trail leads them toward conclusions no one expected.

A theme in both The Girl on the Train and in The Lake House is how easily conclusions can be drawn based on partial information, and how easy they are to believe. This technique, the unreliable narrative, is really effective in keeping readers guessing, because as you see things from the view of different characters, you realize each theory makes some sense, and you forget to compare them and look for holes. After all, you’re just reading to enjoy it (although, I like trying to figure out the ending before it’s made completely obvious). In this story, I didn’t guess the ending. I allowed myself to just ride along with the how, though I did notice some inconsistencies in character’s ideas that made me certain their theories were wrong. I’ll proudly admit though, I did guess the ultimate who, so the ending wasn’t completely surprising to me.

Morton also uses various characters to give the background of the story, and to show the events. Sometimes, in stories like these, using various viewpoints can be confusing and, frankly, boring. But Morton doesn’t give the same scene multiple times, instead using different characters to show different moments relevant to them.

Overall, it was a well written book with several storylines woven together to make a complete picture and giving characters depth. It was a fun, fast read, and one I’d recommend to fans of thrillers. While it’s a little more upbeat than is usually my cup of tea, it’s a nice change from everyone dying in the end, or morally ambiguous endings.

Kate Morton is definitely going on the list of authors I’d like to read more of.

After She’s Gone

After that last awful “thriller” that I read, I confess I was a little uncertain about Lisa Jackson’s After She’s Gone. After all, this one really is classified as a romance novel. But After She’s Gone was just about everything I wanted The Killing Game to be.

The story begins on the set of a thriller movie. It’s the last day of filming, and they are redoing a scene, but the prop gun is replaced by a real gun, and a stunt double is shot and nearly killed. The actress who was supposed to be in the scene didn’t show up for filming, and no one has seen her since.

Cassie Kramer and her sister Allie (the one who disappeared) are both actresses and they have had a love-hate relationship their whole lives. After Allie disappears, Cassie checks herself into a mental hospital. But a midnight visitor convinces her she is the only one who can find her sister, and Cassie checks herself out.

But as things progress, Cassie is marked as a primary suspect. And when more people in connection with the film end up dead, left with masks of Cassie’s family members, Cassie is afraid for her sanity and her life.

Lisa Jackson did a great job of leading readers on, guiding them toward the conclusion she had in store. I guessed at the who behind the whole thing, but I didn’t know the who behind the who (that doesn’t make sense on its own, but if you read the book it probably will). Though you can tell where the story is going, Jackson has several threads that you follow, each with its own set of mysteries to solve, which keeps the book moving. It allows you to formulate a picture of the ending (may or may not be the right picture), but still keep you guessing on the details, which is the kind of read I like.

As for the romance bit, that wasn’t even an issue. It was obvious from the beginning of the story that the romance part of it was going to be Cassie reigniting the flame with her estranged husband, against her better judgment. Although she did check herself into a psych ward, so her better judgment may not have been so great.

Overall, it was the kind of thriller I actually enjoy reading, not a romance book masquerading as a thriller. I’m very interested in reading more of Jackson’s work, including and especially Deep Freeze, one of her older books wherein the Kramer sisters, as well as their movie star mother, make their debut appearances in Jackson’s writing.

Here’s to hoping some day I get around to it!

BoneMan’s Daughters

Since I’ve been mentioning him in several recent posts, and I had one of his books on my shelf that I hadn’t read, I decided to return to Ted Dekker this week, finally reading “BoneMan’s Daughters”, which has been sitting on my shelf for a year.

Naval Intelligence officer Ryan Evans has been an absent father and husband for a long time, but when he gets captured in the deserts of Iraq by terrorists, he realizes how much he truly loves his family, and how badly he wants a second chance. Evans returns stateside to find that everything he left has dissolved even further, and no one wants to give him a second chance. When a serial killer kidnaps Evans’ daughter, Evans is given a chance to prove his love–and prove that he isn’t the killer.

In keeping with his style, Dekker packs this book full of fast-paced action, with different characters offering different views and theories about what’s going on. And because it’s Dekker, you never quite know what twist he’ll pull out at the end.

While he does delve into psychology some in this book, I would classify it as just a thriller, not a psychological thriller like some of his other titles, including “Three” and “Skin.” It’s these psychological thrillers that I really love, because it keeps your mind guessing the whole time. While I knew that Dekker could pull out something wild at the end, I also could easily predict how the story was going to end. So, as with other thrillers, all the reader has to do is enjoy the fast-paced action leading to the end.

I did notice this story was a little different than some of his others. It was a little creepier, and actually contained a few swear words, which for Dekker is uncommon. But a note at the end of the book sheds some light on it, I think, when he discusses the situation in his own life that led to the book and made the story so personal for him.

What I also noticed is that this story didn’t end in the typical neat and tidy fashion. The cops and FBI didn’t show up and quickly absolve Evans of any suspicion. In fact, the way it ended would likely make that much more trouble in closing the case. It’s not particularly important, but it just struck me as actually kind of refreshing. As with life, not everything ends in a neat and tidy package.

This book reminds me why I love Dekker’s writing. It’s clean, fast, understandable and it draws you in quickly. Good thing my birthday is coming up soon, maybe I’ll get some book money.