Thrillers that thrill - or not...
Trends in book genres come and go, don't they? Remember the tsunami of misery lit that swept the land around the time of Angela's Ashes? Chick lit, whilst never far away, rises and falls in popularity like the tides and, to continue the aquatic imagery, crime fiction such as the tales of Inspector Rebus is a constant presence that swirls around us. Right now could aptly be called the moment of the psychological thriller. It's taken time for this one to build, kicked off by Gone Girl and then the movie of the same, but now you cannot move through the bookshop, whether physical or virtual, without falling over towers of tomes that are guaranteed to have you up through the night, to keep your gripped throughout, or to wow you with the twist you didn't see coming.
The trouble with that last tagline is that, if you DO see the twist early on, the whole of the rest of the book becomes a bit of a let down. Also, to someone like me, it is red rag to a bull. Where I would normally just happily read away, enjoying what comes, I suddenly become obsessed with working out the twist BEFORE the end just to prove to myself that ha, no one can fool ME. Thus it was with Lisa Hall's Between You and Me. It is a great book, really well written and engrossing. But unfortunately the twist was obvious from early on due to two factors. One, the slightly contrived way in which the book is written whereby each of the two characters - the couple who narrate the story - only ever address each other as 'you'. The pronouns 'he' and 'she' are never used. Also, the reader gleans some key information about the couple's surname and these two things together gave the game away for me, to the point that I thought it must be a double-bluff and that there would be a real twist I didn't see coming at the end. There wasn't. As an avid Archer's fan, the storyline itself, which it isn't a spoiler to say is based around coercive control, is a good one and cannot fail to be alarming to any reader. The ease with which controllers exert their power and influence is truly frightening and the book captures that really well. Overall, well worth a read and well done Lisa.
The next thriller on my list is B A Paris's Behind Closed Doors.
The storyline for this felt very original, with a twist (ha, that word again!) on the 'normal' coercive control idea. It's either quite a short book (hard to tell on kindle) or it was so good I didn't notice the pages turning but I certainly read it super-fast and I'm usually quite a slow reader. I think that works really well for the thriller genre, especially for someone like me, because if it all goes on for too long I forget the plot and get all confused about what's happening. Just ask my sister; when we watched cowboy and Indian movies (Saturday morning TV fare when we were little), I always had to get her to explain who were the goodies and who the baddies and what, exactly, was going on.
Again, a recommended read and perfect for a plane journey when you could probably finish it in one sitting.
I confess to being a huge fan of Gone Girl - so much so that I bought a copy of Gillian Flynn's first novel, Sharp Objects. Sadly, I hated it... but GG is still a recent favourite read. A fitting rival to its brilliance is Clare Mackintosh's I Let You Go. It's billed as a 'word of mouth' success but nobody told me about - I can't remember why or when I bought it. But it is a great book, and the twist only became apparent right at the very end, and only then because I refused to believe that the protagonist could possibly be the guilty party. It's about coercive control / domestic abuse (again) but there so much to this story that is compelling and riveting. I don't want to say too much but I highly recommend it. I was going to buy her second novel, out now, but it's quite pricey so I'll probably wait until I can get a second-hand copy. Great stuff, Clare.