The more thrillers I read, the more I notice the truth about intrusions: the closer to home, the deeper the terror. As an observer, intrigue quickly follows: how might someone change their behavior, confront their fears when routines crumble? The smallest deviation seems to pull events, motives, and reality into question, psychological underwire lacking a tangible source. In a suburban thriller, the likelihood of the community’s having a connection to a victim is more probable, often upping the stakes. Use these seven thrillers to immerse yourself in lives that appear ordinary until they’re not, and let me know if you agree.
A coveted block of houses is the backdrop for this eerie thriller, where layers of past and present remain unseen. How long can secrets hide amongst family, neighbors? If the title doesn’t give you chills, the vague yet persistent discomfort will—the unsettling feeling you struggle to name. Excerpts from police interviews throughout and a compelling prologue set the tone for a devastating conclusion. The scope of characters and motivations, including a pair of newlyweds struggling to find their footing, a well-respected teacher becoming suspiciously close with students, and a young boy compiling a detailed dossier on the community and spying on girls, grant this puzzle of a plot the pacing that both destroys your sleep and keeps the pages turning.
Read THE NEED if only to discuss the ending. Trust me, it’s epic and highly debatable, open to interpretation in the best ways (read: book club gold). Part thriller, part speculative fiction, THE NEED haunts where many people feel most safe: at home with their families. After confronting an intruder, Molly learns just how far she’s willing to go for her children. I’m weary of saying more so as not to spoil anything, so I’ll leave you with this quote from Rebecca Makkai, author of THE GREAT BELIEVERS: “Phillips is, as always, doing something at once wildly her own and utterly primal. Maybe it doesn't surprise me that the strangest book I've read about motherhood is also the best, but it does thrill me.”
GIRL IN SNOW dazzled me with its perspectives, throwing readers into the minds of characters we don’t often get to hear from in books. Picture a small town, a young girl left murdered in a cold park. Reacting to her death is the boy who stalked her, the girl who wanted to be her, and the cop assigned to her case. Interchanging points of view kept me both alert and guessing while also giving the author a chance to prove her literary chops. The beautiful passages and the depth of the characters and their often-misunderstood natures culminate to make this a book I never wanted to end. Plus, the covers for both the paperback and hardcover are gorgeous.
THE PERFECT MOTHER BY AIMEE MOLLOY
Perfection: a dangerous term. A clause, a caveat, a hollow bar that tarnishes everything that falls below. Perfect is what first drew me to this book despite the fact that I’m not a mother, wondering what was lost or gained to earn this title. In THE PERFECT MOTHER, a group of new mothers shares a birth month for their babies, weekly bonding time in the park—and the partial blame for one woman’s son going missing; it’s the group’s coaxing that convinces Winnie to leave the baby with a babysitter after all. While some of the mothers agree to help Winnie search, judgments from the wider community—thanks to the news and social media—add another layer of strain: what kind of mother loses her child?
What if the only way to free yourself from the crime you’ve been accused of is to confess to something else you’d never intended to tell? Meet Nikki Clements, who has a secret from everyone who thinks they know her well, including her children and her husband. When she’s pinned for murder, the stakes suddenly change. Wading deeper into Nikki’s experiences and behaviors, you might find yourself asking the most important question: what exactly is Nikki guilty of?
The title alone intrigued me, the indication of betrayal, of messiness, of regret and need. The book’s tag line “read between the lies” was another hook, promising nothing would be as it seemed. From the first page of the prologue, you’re aware that the narrator has set off a destructive chain of events that will endanger the privileged life of the beautiful woman her husband left her for. The following chapters introduce us to Nellie—the fiancé—and Vanessa, the woman left behind, as we wait for the inevitable. But can you trust you know what’s coming? “You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife,” the book description boasts. “You will assume you know the anatomy of the relationships. Assume nothing.”
Harlan Coben is one of my favorite authors because of his unexpected twists, especially within the final pages. RUN AWAY is just as good as the others, following a father tracking his daughter, who’s left college and gone off on her own with an abusive, enabling boyfriend. When he and his wife attempt to intervene, violence ensues, and signs indicate his family might not be all he believed it to be. I immediately felt for these characters, and also appreciated the tie-in to an interesting topical angle involving technology gaining traction around the globe (yes, I am purposefully keeping this vague—no spoilers!).