So a few months ago I did a post where I only read romance novels for a week, so I thought I’d do something in a similar vein but this time with thrillers. I found a range of different thrillers for this little challenge of sorts ranging from psychological thrillers, campus thrillers, domestic thrillers and a historical crime thriller too. Some of these are backlist titles and a few are upcoming releases which I was fortunate enough to get ARCs of. There’s a few I didn’t get around to reading but I still included them for this post to show what my TBR looked like, maybe I’ll do a part 2 of this soon!
Hope you find a new thriller for your TBR or even a favourite from your trusty bookshelf. After reading all these thrillers I may or may not be lowkey paranoid now and never trust anybody again…
Any links will take you to the Goodreads pages for the books ^^
Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do.
You’d like to get to know Grace better.
But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.
Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.
Sometimes, the perfect marriage is the perfect lie
What I thought:
Behind Closed Doors is exactly what it says on the tin, just from reading the synopsis you can probably speculate on what’s going on and where the story might lead but trust me, despite that initial knowing – it’s still a great read. I think it’s the lack of guile, the lack of misdirects and clever cover ups that make this book so disturbing. Jack is definitely not what he first seems in that he’s an unapologetic, calculated psychopath and makes no excuses for the fact. There’s a sad backstory there but it’s very clear that Jack is twisted in his own right and the fact that he never lets up in his cruelty, was actually quite spine chilling.
At times he definitely feels like a caricature because there are these over the top moments and is dramatic as hell, but there’s still something which is genuinely scary about him as the antagonist. I think because this is a scenario that could potentially happen, as many abusive people have this charming facade to the outside world but behind closed doors its another story entirely.
On the other hand, we have Grace, our protagonist who you can’t help but empathise with, as a reader I just wanted to warn her or be able to do something to help her escape Jack. The dramatic irony of us knowing Jacks’ true nature juxtaposed with Grace’s reminiscing about the early days of their relationship, as the novel skips back and forth in time, just makes everything more intense. I also liked the sibling bond between Grace and her younger sister Millie, who has downs syndrome – their scenes together and their connection was a bright spot in an otherwise dark story.
This is a very contained book in the sense that we spend the majority of the novel with a core set of characters and the settings and everything feel very restricted, which is what Grace feels so I bet this is intentional on the authors part. If you’re looking for a chilling domestic thriller with truly devious antagonist and a satisfying closing chapter then definitely pick this one up.
Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone
Cat lives in Los Angeles, far away from 36 Westeryk Road, the imposing gothic house in Edinburgh where she and her estranged twin sister, El, grew up. As girls, they invented Mirrorland, a dark, imaginary place under the pantry stairs full of pirates, witches, and clowns. These days Cat rarely thinks about their childhood home, or the fact that El now lives there with her husband Ross.
But when El mysteriously disappears after going out on her sailboat, Cat is forced to return to 36 Westeryk Road, which has scarcely changed in twenty years. The grand old house is still full of shadowy corners, and at every turn Cat finds herself stumbling on long-held secrets and terrifying ghosts from the past. Because someone—El?—has left Cat clues in almost every room: a treasure hunt that leads right back to Mirrorland, where she knows the truth lies crouched and waiting…
Review to come soon!
The year is 1896. The city is New York. Newspaper reporter John Schuyler Moore is summoned by his friend Dr. Laszlo Kreizler—a psychologist, or “alienist”—to view the horribly mutilated body of an adolescent boy abandoned on the unfinished Williamsburg Bridge. From there the two embark on a revolutionary effort in criminology: creating a psychological profile of the perpetrator based on the details of his crimes. Their dangerous quest takes them into the tortured past and twisted mind of a murderer who will kill again before their hunt is over.
Fast-paced and riveting, infused with historical detail, The Alienist conjures up Gilded Age New York, with its tenements and mansions, corrupt cops and flamboyant gangsters, shining opera houses and seamy gin mills. It is an age in which questioning society’s belief that all killers are born, not made, could have unexpected and fatal consequences.
The Cipher by Isabella Maldonado
FBI Special Agent Nina Guerrera escaped a serial killer’s trap at sixteen. Years later, when she’s jumped in a Virginia park, a video of the attack goes viral. Legions of new fans are not the only ones impressed with her fighting skills.
The man who abducted her eleven years ago is watching. Determined to reclaim his lost prize, he commits a grisly murder designed to pull her into the investigation…but his games are just beginning. And he’s using the internet to invite the public to play along.
His coded riddles may have made him a depraved social media superstar—an enigmatic cyber-ghost dubbed “the Cipher”—but to Nina he’s a monster who preys on the vulnerable. Partnered with the FBI’s preeminent mind hunter, Dr. Jeffrey Wade, who is haunted by his own past, Nina tracks the predator across the country. Clue by clue, victim by victim, Nina races to stop a deadly killer while the world watches
What I thought:
Right from the start of the book I was immediately drawn in to the story and characters as Isabella Maldonado’s writing style is so fluid and inviting. It strikes the perfect balance between the procedural elements and the descriptions and character arcs. I really liked the core group of characters: Nina, Wade, Kent and Breck who are the taskforce responsible for stopping The Cipher. I think readers who are familiar with true crime cases like the zodiac and the tamam shud case will really enjoy the cryptic codes that the killer sets up here and how it’s very much a race against time and a battle of wills. I also appreciated the exploration of the foster care system and homelessness and how the system is clearly broken and underfunded.
I also liked how Nina’s feelings and experience as a survivor of sexual assault was represented and how she was centered. Her trauma isn’t swept under the rug, but isn’t also all that defines her and it was great to see her journey as a character from coming to terms with her assault to forging her career and helping others.
There is definitely some triggering content in the novel, so here’s a full list of trigger warnings: physical assault / harm, child abuse, scarification, abduction, rape, sexual assault, conversations about eugenics / racism, violence, gore.
They say you can’t choose your family . . . But what if they’re wrong?
Chloe lives a quiet life. Working as a newspaper archivist in the day and taking care of her nan in the evening, she’s happy simply to read about the lives of others as she files the news clippings from the safety of her desk.
But there’s one story that she can’t stop thinking about. The case of Angie Kyle – a girl, Chloe’s age, who went missing as a child. A girl whose parents never gave up hope.
When Chloe’s nan is moved into care, leaving Chloe on the brink of homelessness, she takes a desperate step: answering an ad to be a lodger in the missing girl’s family home. It could be the perfect opportunity to get closer to the story she’s read so much about. But it’s not long until she realises this couple isn’t all they seem. In a house where everyone has something to hide, is it possible to get too close?
What I thought:
This book was…underwhelming to say the least. I thought the plot sounded interesting enough but the combination of the slow pace and the detached character perspective fell completely flat for me. I think Chloe’s unsettling nature is intentional but it just served to make me less connected to the novel and I didn’t feel like any of it had any impact for me, even when it was supposed to. For instance the fact that Chloe’s nan has dementia and is going through this difficult experience but it just lacks any depth or gravity. The whole novel felt like we were constantly being ‘told’ things, rather than letting it unfold in a more natural manner and the repetition was just too much for me.
Judging by other readers thoughts however, I think this just wasn’t the book for me but perhaps you’ll enjoy it more so still give it a chance.
The Silence of Bones by June Hur
I have a mouth, but I mustn’t speak;
Ears, but I mustn’t hear;
Eyes, but I mustn’t see.
1800, Joseon (Korea). Homesick and orphaned sixteen-year-old Seol is living out the ancient curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Indentured to the police bureau, she’s been tasked with assisting a well-respected young inspector with the investigation into the politically charged murder of a noblewoman.
As they delve deeper into the dead woman’s secrets, Seol forms an unlikely bond of friendship with the inspector. But her loyalty is tested when he becomes the prime suspect, and Seol may be the only one capable of discovering what truly happened on the night of the murder.
But in a land where silence and obedience are valued above all else, curiosity can be deadly.
When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole
Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo.
But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised.
When does coincidence become conspiracy? Where do people go when gentrification pushes them out? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other—or themselves—long enough to find out before they too disappear?
Thrillers to look forward to:
Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian
When you can find it on shelves: 7th September 2021
It would be easy to underestimate Chloe Sevre… She’s a freshman honor student, a legging-wearing hot girl next door, who also happens to be a psychopath. She spends her time on yogalates, frat parties and plotting to kill Will Bachman, a childhood friend who grievously wronged her. fgrvxs
Chloe is one of seven students at her DC-based college who are part of an unusual clinical study of psychopaths—students like herself who lack empathy and can’t comprehend emotions like fear or guilt. The study, led by a renowned psychologist, requires them to wear smart watches that track their moods and movements.
When one of the students in the study is found murdered in the psychology building, a dangerous game of cat and mouse begins, and Chloe goes from hunter to prey. As she races to identify the killer and put her own plan for revenge into action, she’ll be forced to decide if she can trust any of her fellow psychopaths—and everybody knows you should never trust a psychopath.
The Hawthorne School by Sylvie Perry
When you can find it on shelves: 7th December 2021
Claudia Morgan is overwhelmed. She’s a single parent trying the best that she can, but her four-year-old son, Henry, is a handful–for her and for his preschool. When Claudia hears about a school with an atypical teaching style near her Chicagoland home, she has to visit. The Hawthorne School is beautiful and has everything she dreams of for Henry: time to play outside, music, and art. The head of the school, Zelma, will even let Claudia volunteer to cover the cost of tuition.
The school is good for Henry: his “behavioural problems” disappear, and he comes home subdued instead of rageful. But there’s something a bit off about the school, its cold halls, and its enigmatic headmistress. When Henry brings home stories of ceremonies in the woods and odd rules, Claudia’s instincts tell her that something isn’t quite right, and she begins to realise she’s caught in a web of manipulations and power.
What I thought:
The Hawthorne School was an original and gripping story which kept me reading and I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve read another thriller quite like this one. I really liked how the subtle and not so subtle signs of all not being well with the Hawthorne school were sprinkled in and how Sylvie Perry delves into how easy it can be to get wrapped up in the beauty of it all. I think it’s a clever story in many ways, even if it’s a bit predictable at certain points and readers who are into true crime / cults will definitely pick up on similarities to famous cases in the media.
I think at times the narrative voice is quite simplistic and I would have liked if the characters were a bit more complex and read more like real people rather than one dimensional ‘baddies’. The protagonist Claudia also reads this way, in the sense that her perspective doesn’t really feel all that multi layered or particularly interesting as a character which is a shame since the story itself had a lot of potential.
Until next time,
One thought on “Only Reading Thrillers for a week!”
Fantastic post Rums! I’m trying to get back into thrillers recently and this post introduced me to some new reads. This post was so fun to read! ✨