Do you like your Halloween cute and funny, or dark and scary? While I definitely prefer cute and funny – I’m such a scaredy cat that I cannot handle horror – I do have a weakness for fist-clenching, frantic-feeling crime thrillers. Whether it’s fast-paced and action-packed, or stealthy slow-burning, you won’t want to stop reading a well-written thriller. Here are some recently published thrillers that will give you a delicious chill this Halloween week.
It Should Have Been Me by Susan Wilkins
Fans of TV crime dramas will love Susan Wilkins’ writing style, developed over decades as a scriptwriter. Jo Biden was only a child when her older sister Sarah was brutally murdered at university. Sarah’s boyfriend, Nathan, was convicted of the killing. Now, with his impending release, a documentary film-maker – and uni friend of both Sarah and Nathan – is ready to prove Nathan’s innocence. Revisiting the case is pitting Jo’s professional life (as a rising police detective) against her personal life, where family loyalties and emotions encourage her to question the evidence. It Should Have Been Me offers many flawed but believable characters – including the likeable protagonist Jo – and top-notch character development. It is a fast-paced, action-packed thriller, perfect for fans of Clare Mackintosh and Susie Steiner.
The Secret by K L Slater
K L Slater has many bestsellers under her belt, and The Secret shows her in their prime. The Secret revolves around two sisters, Alice and Louise. Louise is elegant and successful, living a seemingly-perfect life; whereas Alice is a wreck, anxious and reclusive. Louise and Alice were estranged until Louise started leaving her son, 8 year-old Archie, in Alice’s care while she works. What Louise doesn’t know – and what Alice is trying to discover – is that Archie has a secret. One that he won’t tell because it could destroy his family… The Secret uses flashbacks and multiple narrators to give us rich characterisation, revealing why the two sisters have turned out so differently. K L Slater has also created a nice balance between the tension and the intrigue, and the growing connection between Alice and Archie. The Secret promises to be a new favourite of fans of Girl on the Train and Gone Girl!
Whisper Network by Chandler Baker
Sloane, Ardie, Grace and Rosalita are four women who work for Truviv, an athleisure company. They’re all struggling with work-life balance and with countering casual and institutional sexism in their workplace – something that even relative wealth and privilege doesn’t shield them from. When their boss, the predatory Ames, looks likely to become the next CEO, these women decide that enough is enough. They fight back by adding Ames’ name to a viral, online “BAD Men list”, and by filing a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ames and Truviv. What happens next is tense, viciously funny… and will surprise you. Whisper Network is a thriller of the #MeToo era, weaving themes of gender politics, power balances and office culture through its mystery / legal thriller plot. Chandler Baker, herself a lawyer with a young family, has recreated a setting that is highly recognisable. Whisper Network is a highly addictive read endorsed by the Reese Witherspoon Book Club.
A Nearly Normal Family by M T Edvardsson
How far would you go to protect your child? This is the question Adam (a pastor) and Ulrika (a criminal lawyer) must face when their 17 year-old daughter is charged with a brutal murder. While they instinctively stand by Stella, this crime and its aftermath batter them with parental guilt, protectiveness, moral dilemmas, and doubt. A Nearly Normal Family is told in three parts, narrated in turn by Adam, Stella and Ulrika. These three strands – which don’t always match up – challenge us to question their reliability and biases. This is both a domestic drama and a courtroom thriller, particularly affecting because Stella’s family seems so ordinary. A Nearly Normal Family is the first of M. T. Edvardsson’s works to be translated into English, and it definitely upholds the excellent reputation of Scandinavian crime fiction.
An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
Jess is a young makeup artist struggling to make ends meet in New York City. When she learns of a lucrative research study being done by a respected psychiatrist, she tricks her way into participating (the irony being that the study is about ethics and morality). As the study progresses, the supportive mentor/protege relationship between Jess and Dr Lydia Shields turns increasingly sinister, with directions to attempt increasingly personal, uncomfortable roleplaying tasks. An Anonymous Girl is a novel of chilling suspense and obsession. Readers quickly start sharing Jess’ sense of dread and desperation as she realises she is up against a master manipulator. An Anonymous Girl is a worthy sophomore effort from the team behind the bestselling The Wife Between Us.
The Neighbour by Fiona Cummins
The Neighbour is a psychological thriller about a neighbourhood devastated by a serial killer. The neighbourhood seems quiet and ordinary – but its inhabitants all have secrets to hide… and one of them is the killer. For newcomers the Lockwood family, and for investigating detective Wildeve Stanton, the race is on to reveal the psychopath from behind his/her harmless mask. The Neighbour has taken this classic premise and spun it into story full of horror, menace and trepidation. Fiona Cummins has created a memorable killer, who narrates part of the story in a highly unsettling way. She also induces a creeping sense of claustrophobia by confining most of the action to one single street. The Neighbour is a dark story, full of twists and turns, that will keep you guessing right to the end.