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We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes: 11 White-Knuckling Hitchockian Reads

Sarah Jane Abbott is an associate editor for Paula Wiseman Books and Beach Lane Books, imprints of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.  She grew up having NANCY DREW books read to her by her father, and is now an avid reader of mystery, thriller, and horror, along with everything from literary fiction to poetry to personal essays.  She graduated from Bucknell University with a degree in English and a concentration in creative writing.  Sarah Jane is an advocate of quasi-destructive book love—her best-loved volumes are highlighted, scribbled in, dog-eared, and wavy from being dropped in the bath tub.  

My first Alfred Hitchock movie was Rear Window, in which a wheelchair-bound Jimmy Stewart and a very elegant (but not afraid to get her hands dirty!) Grace Kelly detect a nefarious crime by spying on the neighbors with binoculars.  Disappointingly, my childhood bedroom did not have many neighbors to spy on within binocular range. So I branched out to the directors other classic films, from Psycho to The Birds to Rope (my favorite). I’ve always loved their dark glamour and noir atmosphere. There is always a plot twist ahead, an innocent man accused, a mistaken identity, a character with a dark secret. If you love the feel of a Hitchcock film, here are some thrilling reads for you.


The Passenger
by Lisa Lutz

Haunted by a dark secret, Tanya Dubois crisscrosses the country, hiding out and creating and shedding new identites as she goes. She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the desperate look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers Tanya a place to stay. An uneasy—and dangerous—alliance is born. Full of white-knuckled suspense, devious deception, and numerous twists, this novel asks: Is it possible to outrun the past?

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The Passenger
Lisa Lutz

With its white-knuckled plot and unforeseeable twists, it’s no wonder Off the Shelf readers consider this Lisa Lutz thriller a must-read. After leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya flees town and meets an ally, Blue, along the way. From heart-stopping escapes and devious deceptions, readers are left to wonder: can she possibly outrun her past?

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Tangerine
by Christine Mangan

The blurb by Joyce Carol Oates on the cover of this book says it all: “As if Donna Tartt, Gillian Flynn, and Patricia Highsmith had collaborated on a screenplay to be filmed by Hitchcock.” Just take my money! This novel about Alice Shipley, an unhappy housewife in Tangier who receives an unexpected visit from her estranged college roommate, lives up to the blurb completely with a plot full of twists, suspense, and dark secrets.

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Tangerine
Christine Mangan

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The Maltese Falcon
by Dashiell Hammett

This iconic detective novel, basis for the film adaption starring Humphrey Bogart, centers around the search for a treasure worth killing for. Sam Spade, a private eye with his own code of ethics, is hired to investigate by Brigid O’Shaughnessy, a beautiful and treacherous woman whose loyalties shift at the drop of a dime. But they aren’t the only ones hunting for the mysterious maltese falcon. . .

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The Maltese Falcon
Dashiell Hammett

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MENTIONED IN:

We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes: 11 White-Knuckling Hitchockian Reads

By Sarah Jane Abbott | January 3, 2019

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The Talented Mr. Ripley
by Patricia Highsmith

Tom Ripley, a young striver with a dark side and a talent for reinvention, meets a wealthy industrialist who hires him to bring his playboy son, Dickie Greenleaf, back from gallivanting in Italy. Soon Ripley's fascination with Dickie's debonair lifestyle turns obsessive as he finds himself enraged by Dickie's ambivalent affections for Marge, a charming American dilettante.

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The Talented Mr. Ripley
Patricia Highsmith

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The Likeness
by Tana French

In this compelling and tightly plotted caper, Detective Cassie Maddox recieves an urgent phone call summoning her to a grisly crime scene. She’s shocked to find that the victim looks exactly like her and carries an ID identifying herself as Alexandra Madison, an alias Cassie once used as an undercover cop. Now Cassie must figure out not only who killed this girl but also who she was and what her connection is to Cassie.

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The Likeness
Tana French

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MENTIONED IN:

We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes: 11 White-Knuckling Hitchockian Reads

By Sarah Jane Abbott | January 3, 2019

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Traitor's Purse
by Margery Allingham

Celebrated amateur detective Albert Campion awakes in the hospital suffering from acute amnesia and accused of attacking a police officer. All he can remember is that he was on a mission of vital importance to His Majesty’s government before his accident. On the run from the police and unable to recognize even his faithful servant or his beloved fiancée, Campion struggles desperately to put the pieces together while the very fate of England is at stake.

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Traitor's Purse
Margery Allingham

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MENTIONED IN:

We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes: 11 White-Knuckling Hitchockian Reads

By Sarah Jane Abbott | January 3, 2019

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The Postman Always Rings Twice
by James M. Cain

So controversial at the time of its publication that it was banned in the city of Boston, this iconic crime thriller centers on Frank Chambers, a young drifter who stops at a rural diner and ends up staying to work there and beginning an affair with Cora, who owns the diner along with her much older husband. Together Frank and Cora hatch a scheme to murder Cora’s husband and start a new life together.

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The Postman Always Rings Twice
James M. Cain

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MENTIONED IN:

We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes: 11 White-Knuckling Hitchockian Reads

By Sarah Jane Abbott | January 3, 2019

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Maestra
by L.S. Hilton

A put-upon assistant at a prestigious London art house, Judith Rashleigh is well-educated, well-groomed, and impeccably behaved—keeping the darker desires she indulges on nights off as her own little secret. But when Judith uncovers a dangerous heist, her life is shattered and she’s forced to run. Armed with just her wits and a talent for self-invention, she makes her way from the French Riviera to Geneva, Rome, and the nightclubs of Paris, determined to take back what is rightfully hers.

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Maestra
L.S. Hilton

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MENTIONED IN:

We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes: 11 White-Knuckling Hitchockian Reads

By Sarah Jane Abbott | January 3, 2019

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The Big Sleep
by Raymond Chandler

In the iconic debut novel by a master of crime fiction, a dying millionaire hires private eye Philip Marlowe to handle the blackmailer of one of his two troublesome daughters, and Marlowe finds himself involved with more than extortion. Kidnapping, pornography, seduction, and murder are just a few of the complications he gets caught up in.

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The Big Sleep
Raymond Chandler

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MENTIONED IN:

We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes: 11 White-Knuckling Hitchockian Reads

By Sarah Jane Abbott | January 3, 2019

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Unraveling Oliver
by Liz Nugent

Oliver Ryan seemingly has a perfect life. He is elegant, charming, wealthy, and lives in a lovely home with his steadfast wife, Alice—that is, until one evening, when he savagely assaults her and leaves her for dead. This chilling page turner delves into Oliver’s past, uncovering decades of careful deception, to shed light on how he arrived at this shocking act.

Read the full review of UNRAVELING OLIVER.

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Unraveling Oliver
Liz Nugent

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Dangerous Crossing
by Rachel Rhys

In 1939, Lily Shepard boards a luxury ocean liner bound for Australia, hoping to shed the shadows of her past and start anew. But Lily soon realizes that she’s not the only one hiding secrets. As the glamour of the voyage fades, the stage is set for something sinister to occur. By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and Lily’s life will be irrevocably changed.

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Dangerous Crossing
Rachel Rhys

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