Reading: Looking for a good psychological thriller?

imagesIf you are looking for a good thriller that will sweep you into the disturbing inner world of women gone wrong, here are four novels that will give you a kick in the kishkes: Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Unbecomng by Rebecca Scherm, and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

In looking for good reading material, have always searched for a female protagonist that I can love, from my youth in Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, Jo Marsh from Little Women, Fern from Charlotte’s Web, Molly Bolt from Rubyfruit Jungle, and in adulthood with Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Celie and Shug from The Color Purple, and Precious Ramotswe from The Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency…just to name a few. But then I got ruined by the likes of Gone Girl. It’s my own fault…or maybe it’s the culture too; maybe we’re all looking for that thrilling escape.  I look for thrillers with a female at the heart of the story…and it is usually a twisted story about a woman I cannot love.

If you haven’t read Gone Girl, you have missed a great read…something you will not get from the movie. Girl next door author Gillian Flynn does female malice superbly…if you can handle it. The five year marriage of Amy and Nick has gone very wrong, and for the longest time you don’t know which one is worse than the other. Extremely well plotted; a page turner beyond belief!

Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson is the story of Christine, who wakes every day with no knowledge of who she is…a totally unreliable narrator. Her memories disappear every time she falls asleep–all the result of a mysterious accident that made Christine an amnesiac.  One morning, she opens her journal and sees that she’s written three unexpected and terrifying words: “Don’t trust Ben.” (her husband!) Suspenseful from start to finish, the strength of Watson’s writing allows Before I Go to Sleep to transcend the basic premise and present profound questions about memory and identity.

Unbecoming, by Rebecca Scherm, is a story told by Grace, a young woman in Tennessee, who goes from the simple daily life with her high school sweetheart to becoming the mastermind of an art heist….that goes terribly wrong. And that’s just the beginning. Grace goes from small town girl to international art and jewel thief! This is Scherm’s first novel and she can be compared to Gillian Flynn and Donna Tartt. Grace flees to Europe with no idea of what she is doing, then finds herself plotting her next crime…that is bound to land someone in prison. Then ending is quite satisfying…so I do recommend it.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins is told by three women, but the main narrator is Rachel, who is totally unreliable mainly because she is a black out alcoholic and cannot remember anything. She is a lonely woman fantasizing about a couple she watches from a train as she pretends to go to work every day after she has lost her job. She’s not lovable. The woman in this ideal couple disappears and Rachel gets involved. It turns out she already is involved and doesn’t even know it. The plot twists in this novel are fantastic…but you won’t love these gals; the writing is excellent and the characters compelling  Go for the story…it’s worth the ride.



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Jerry Polon
    Mar 09, 2015 @ 00:30:08

    Not a thriller, but this week’s New Yorker brought a terrific book review to us. Not a thriller, but it sounds like it’s full of inner thrills, as well as an exciting outer story. Helen Macdonald’s “H is for Hawk” is a weird hybrid of her own grief memoir (devastation after her father’s death,) a guide to raptors (she’s an avid falconer), and a biography of T.H. White (“The Once and Future King” and also a falconer. The mix sounds incredible, as Helen absorbs White’s reasons for self-hatred and the connection to birding. The review is written by a new staff writer at the New Yorker, Kathryn Schulz, who’s obviously a byline to watch for.



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