Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Rachel loves to ride the commuter train into the city each day. She loves to look out the windows and see the backyards of the houses which back up to the tracks. She makes up stories about the people who live in the homes, especially the young married couple in one home in particular…so in love, so beautiful, so “together”… Not like her, and her messy life.

But one day Rachel is looking out the window and she sees the lovely blond woman kiss another man in the backyard-a man who isn’t her husband. The next day, the woman is in the news. She has gone missing. Rachel tries to tell the police she saw the woman with another man, but they don’t believe her. They think she’s just a bored, sick woman who wants attention. But Rachel can’t let go. She knows something terrible has happened to the woman and she sets out to find out what happened that night…Because Rachel was in the neighborhood that night, but she can’t remember what happened. She was inebriated and only remembers patched, blotchy memories. Did she see the missing woman that night? Or is she losing her mind?

Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins, is a psychological thriller set in England, in the vein of Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn), Everything She Forgot (Lisa Ballantyne), The Lace Reader (Brunonia Barry), and You Should Have Known (Jean Hanff Korelitz).

If you love edge-of-your-seat reads with unreliable narrators (I sure do) then Girl on the Train should absolutely be on your t0-read list.

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley

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The Flavia de Luce series is a special favorite of mine. If you love cheeky british heroines and a good murder mystery, you don’t want to miss it. As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, by Alan Bradley, is the 6th novel in the series, which started with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.

In the 6th installment, Flavia has been sent to some kind of mysterious finishing school in Canada, Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy, where her deceased mother Harriet went to school. The first night, unfortunately, a singed body falls out of the chimney like a blackened mummy, right onto the floor of her bedroom-and no one wants to talk about what might have befallen the poor victim-or who it might be. Something is very suspicious right away, her chaperones to the school are very strange and she can’t make heads or tails of the cryptic messages she keeps getting from her teachers and fellow students. Is there a conspiracy in effect? Who is in on the secret? Who can she trust? What will happen if she asks the wrong person the wrong question?

Our cheeky little heroine isn’t one to shy away from a challenge, however…She’s determined to shake out the truth no matter what danger befalls her in the process.

This series is a top recommendation from me to you…Don’t miss it! And if you do audiobooks, the audiobook for this series is perfectly narrated and very enjoyable. No excuses, start this series!

The Uninvited: A Novel by Cat Winters

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Ivy Rowan wakes up one day after being struck with Influenza. An epidemic has taken over the town and before she got sick, her father and brother had committed a terrible crime. Deep in her gut, something is telling her that it’s time for her to leave home and go out on her own in life.

Out in town, everything is in turmoil. In addition to the epidemic, soldiers are being sent to fight in the Great War overseas, dying in battle, coming back wounded, leaving behind widows and wives to fend for themselves. Ivy finds a place to board in town and seeks out a German man who was wronged by her family members-she wants, more than anything, to help him in some way.

Ivy finds herself confused, nothing is as it should be, the world is such an ugly place and she wants desperately to find beauty and warmth in it. She wants desperately to make a difference in someone’s life…But there is one terrible hitch-women in her family have always had a “gift” of seeing spirits after they have passed, right before something terrible happens to someone close to them….And she keeps seeing the spirits of the departed all around her.

What are the spirits trying to tell her? Is someone close to her in danger? Can she help enough to make a difference to someone? Can she form a connection with the German man that will give him comfort in his time of misery?

The Uninvited, by Cat Winters, is a psychological thriller sprinkled with ghosts and set in the time of the Great War. A combination of so many genres makes for an addicting and intriguing read. If you don’t like “ghost stories”, I would steer clear of this one, but if you can handle a touch of the supernatural in your reading, The Uninvited is very strange and interesting. If you like books that twist your perception and reality, The Uninvited is for you!

Woman with a Secret by Sophie Hannah

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Nicki Clements is a housewife with a lot of secrets. When she isn’t buzzing her kids around and running errands, she likes to have a secret life…It seems harmless at first, but when the police show up at her door to question her about a murder investigation, she realizes that she may be in much more trouble than she ever imagined. But how could her innocent cyber activities have caused a murder? And how did it relate to her?

The police have more than enough suspects-the crowd of enemies surrounding Damon Blundy, the murder victim, was vast and full of colorful and eccentric personalities. Nicki may not be the only person of interest, but the way the murder took place, its odd details planned out perfectly…Something is nagging at the back of Nicki’s mind…Something oddly familiar. She can’t tell the police everything, for risk of exposure, but she knows she must try to find out the truth, and how it might be connected to her.

Woman with a Secret, by Sophie Hannah, is a psychological thriller from the Spilling CID series-but I’ve never read the series before this book and I felt like I was reading a stand-alone novel the whole time. I may try to hunt down some more of the series, because this was a page-turner! I read it every chance I got because I couldn’t wait to see what Nicki Clements has been up to that could land her in so much trouble.

If you like psychological thrillers, Woman with a  Secret is impeccable! Get it today!

The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford

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Dana Catrell wakes up after a night of drinking with her neighbor friend, only to find that in the night, the woman has been brutally murdered. She was the last known person to see Celia alive, and the police are highly suspicious that she can’t seem to remember clearly what happened the night before. With the pressure of her friend’s death and the suspicion that her husband is having an affair hanging over her, she begins to unravel, losing a little bit of her sanity around every corner. What is real, and what is imagined? Does she really remember her neighbor showing her a picture of her husband with another woman, or is her subconscious just trying to tell her that her husband is a cheater?

The lives of several broken people cross paths in this psychological thriller that will have you reading late into the night. Did Dana kill her friend? Or has she been framed? Can she figure out what happened before she is wrongfully arrested for the crime? Can she trace her own steps? Can she hold on to her sanity long enough to find the truth?

The Pocket Wife, by Susan Crawford, is a psychological thriller in the vein of The Silent Wife or Dark Rooms. The suspense will keep you guessing until the end, and wading through the main character’s unreliable narrative will leave you dying to find out the solution to the mystery. If you like psychological thrillers, The Pocket Wife is for you.

Crystal Falconer
LibraryCrystal
Book reviewer, Librarian, Tech geek wannabe
Crystal Falconer graduated with her B.A. from Western Oregon University, followed by her M.L.I.S. from University of Denver. She was born in Oregon but currently resides in Colorado with her husband, son and trusty canine counterpart.
Boulder, CO
USA
falconercrew@gmail.com

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Dark Rooms by Lili Anolik

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The setting is a New England prep school. Everything seems squeaky clean and controlled from the outside…But there are too many secrets. One night, the unimaginable occurs. Sixteen-year-old Nica Baker is killed, her body found in the nearby cemetery. What reason would anyone have to kill a rebellious teenage girl? Her sister, Grace is determined to find out what happened to her sister, determined to find closure so she can fight her own demons.

The sleepy little prep school is hiding some very toxic secrets, ranging from drugs to sex scandals, possibly even leading to murder and suicide. Can Grace sort out who is responsible for the death of her sister? Can she sift through the unimaginable sordid details and find a common vein? Is the killer still out there? Are her own parents somehow involved?

Dark Rooms, by Lili Anolik, will appeal to readers in the Gillian Flynn genres (Sharp Objects, Dark Places, Gone Girl). Definitely for adults only, definitely dark and heavy suspense, uprooting the most miserable aspects of human nature and revealing all that people try to hide from the world. This suspense novel is a top pick for 2015, so if you are in the mood for creepy, thrilling suspense, order Dark Rooms today. If you are sensitive and prefer more “cozy” mysteries, steer clear.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

This book will creep you out. I mean seriously. I read Gone Girl a couple years back and when I saw that the movie was coming out this year, I decided to check out what else Gillian Flynn has been up to. Sharp Objects came onto my radar since it was available in audiobook from my library and I was in need of some new listening. So here it is:

Camille Preaker is a journalist who grew up in a small southern town. She is mostly estranged from her family, but her boss sends her home to cover story-girls keep going missing and when the bodies appear, they are missing teeth. Camille will stay with her overbearing, narcissistic mother and horribly spoiled half sister while she talks to community members and the police about the missing/dead girls.

Going home is never as simple as it seems to be, however. Things aren’t quite right in the small town, there are secrets and somehow Camille can’t help but feel they are somehow tied into her own past. And Camille may not be what she originally seemed, either. What is true and what is warped out of focus? Who is telling the truth and who is hiding something? Who would kill a young girl? Multiple young girls?

I like mysteries, and I LOVE unreliable narrators. If you liked The Lace Reader, by Brunonia Barry, or if you enjoyed Gone Girl as much as I did, let this book leave you sleepless and horrified. I’m pretty tough and I have to say, Gillian Flynn, you really know how to leave readers looking for psychopathic killers around every corner. If you think you can handle it, pick up Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn today.

You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz

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You Should Have Known, by Jean Hanff Korelitz, is a suspense novel unlike anything I’ve ever read. In the vein of Gone Girl, this story unwinds in ways you could not see coming and leaves the reader shaking his/her head and sitting in stunned shock.

Grace Reinhart Sachs is a New York couples therapist and mother. Her life is exactly the way she always wanted it to be. No surprises, just the normal day to day routine with her son’s school and extracurricular activities, her husband a busy pediatric oncologist. She’s so pleased with her life, in fact, she has decided to write a self-help book for the poor sad women in the world who haven’t had the common sense to follow her own example. Just before the book is about to be released, telling women that they should have known all along that their husbands were cheaters, liars, addicts, hopelessly under-employed, (and worse)-Grace gets the shock of her life…

Seems like her husband may have had a few secrets of his own. A mother from her son’s school comes up murdered, and the police keep trying to find out what Grace may know about the crime and the victim. But Grace just doesn’t understand why they think she might know something…The woman was barely even on her radar. When the facts start raining down on her and she realizes she really didn’t know her husband at all, the brutal truth has the potential to ruin her entire life, or at least the life she always thought was perfect.

You Should Have Known, by Jean Hanff Korelitz, is a psychological suspense novel. I wouldn’t call it a “thriller” per se, because most of the novel is not action, but the slow unveiling of truth to a woman who thought she knew it all. I thought the audiobook was excellent for my work commute and for housework-but don’t listen while being interrupted a lot, because if you miss something you will be very confused! Every detail counts in You Should Have Known, which is a novel entirely comprised of little details which lead up to one horrifying conclusion…You’ll have to read it or listen to it if you want to know more!

 

The Widows of Braxton County by Jess McConkey

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Kate has finally escaped from her miserable life and found the man of her dreams (on the internet, of course), and after a passionate courting, she finds herself married and moving to Iowa to be the lady of his farmhouse. Except when she arrives, she has a rude awakening. Her new husband Joe wasn’t as forthcoming about his living situation as she would have desired. Her marriage is off to a very rocky start, people keep insinuating that her home is haunted, and she is about to learn that the wives of Braxton County face struggles that she never could have imagined, going back generation after generation.

Can Kate solve the mystery of the farmhouse and the murder that once occurred within its walls? Will she face the same fate as the previous owners? Is the family cursed? Can she find her place in Braxton County, or will she be defeated? What secrets are locked away, just out of Kate’s reach?

The Widows of Braxton County, by Jess McConkey, is a novel about old family secrets, the trials of marriage and the complicated relationships between women, and asks a very serious question : Is it possible for a man to avoid becoming his own father, in the end?

Help for the Haunted by John Searles

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Sylvie Mason does not live a normal life. Her parents are in the business of paranormal activity-they offer “Help for the Haunted” to those in need, offering prayer and peace to souls in torment. They call themselves demonologists. This, of course, means that Sylvie has never been able to hold onto friends, and she has a hard time fitting in. Critics constantly attack her and her family wherever they travel, and they travel regularly to do talks about the paranormal at conventions and events. Strange people are always seeking the help of the Masons for loved ones who are “haunted” or “possessed”. Sylvie accepts the life she has been born into, but her sister, Rose, is not only skeptical, but highly rebellious and confrontational. Life is strained in the Mason household, and on a night like many others, the Masons receive a phone call and tell Sylvie she is to load up into the family car, without much explanation. Her parents left that car, but they never returned. When Sylvie wakes up, she finds that her entire world is gone, and the mystery surrounding the deaths of her mother and father hangs over her heavily.

When the man originally cleared for the murder of her parents is suddenly cleared by an alibi, Sylvie goes on a mission to find out what truly happened to her mother and father that night, and what has been kept from her by everyone around her for her entire life. This takes her down a path with a conclusion so shocking, readers will be stunned. If you like the paranormal, you will be enthralled by Help for the Haunted, by John Searles, through to the very last page. Readers who love the mystery of Emily Arsenault (Miss Me When I’m Gone and In Search of the Rose Notes) will also enjoy this wonderfully eerie novel. Top marks from this reviewer.