Marie’s Reading: “Don’t You Cry” by Mary Kubica

don't you cryDon’t You Cry by Mary Kubica is everything I want in a thriller.

I love thrillers.  I love the suspense, the just-this-side-of-credible motivations and reveals, the mystery element, the cliffhangers, the insanity, the secrets.

(Reading over that list just now I realize I’m also describing why I love Gothic fiction, too–just throw in some heavy atmosphere and deep sense of the uncanny to the above, and you’ve got Gothic!)

Anyway, Don’t You Cry is a great choice if you’re a fan of books like The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins or Her by Harriet Lane.  It’s got a fast pace, a great puzzle, and a really good reveal at the end.  It’s very cinematic, too–the writing is very scene- and plot-focused, almost like a crime show.  Actually, that describes the overall tone and feel of this novel pretty well: it’s like a TV drama.  There’s a very good dose of Crime Fiction in this particular book.

The story is told in two alternating voices.  There’s Quinn, who awakes one day to find that her reliable, kind roommate Esther has disappeared.  Quinn finds some mysterious letters among Esther’s possessions, and begins to try to unravel why Esther has gone missing.  The other story is told by Alex, a recent high school graduate who feels he’s wasting his young life in his small town taking care of his alcoholic father.  Then all of a sudden a mysterious young woman shows up in town, and Alex is immediately smitten.

For both Quinn and Alex events turn dark and sinister very quickly.  Only at the end do we see the connection between these storylines.  All the way through, though, there are themes that tie everything together beyond just the plot–Kubica puts a lot of emotional focus on the relationships between parents and children, and the theme of abandonment.   There’s a nice emotional buildup right alongside the intensifying plot buildup, which makes the ending more satisfying.

If you’re after a fast, compelling, and twisty thriller, give this one a try.



Marie’s Reading: “In the Woods” by Tana French

In the WoodsActually, I just read that one first.  I couldn’t stop there.   As soon as I was done I needed more Dublin Murder Squad.  So now I’m reading The Likeness.  And then I’ll move on down the line until I’ve read them all!

I’m just sorry I hadn’t read these when I wrote that post about Crime Fiction for the Maine Crime Writers.  In The Woods would most definitely have been on my suggestion list.  The first in the series, it’s about a team of detectives trying to solve the murder of a young girl, even as one of the detectives tries to simultaneously solve a mystery from his own past.

Tana French’s police procedurals are compelling, atmospheric, and stylistically complex.  They’re moody pieces of crime fiction, rather than mysteries–some mysteries never get solved in her books, loose ends are left dangling.  I’d also classify the Dublin Murder Squad books as psychological suspense.  French delivers that delicious blend of mystery and suspense and atmosphere that makes crime fiction the fabulous genre that it is.

I also love French’s unflinching and honest depiction of Ireland and the Irish, of the society and its tensions.  Her Ireland is not sentimental.  It’s an Ireland full of a sense of history (recent and not), and a sense of national identity.  She gives a lot of evocative attention to the beauty of the landscape and the weather, but also pays attention to the undercurrents of society, government, and community.

If you enjoy character-driven fiction with an absorbing sense of place, believable and unique character voices, and well-constructed mysteries, do give the Dublin Murder Squad a try.  You also might like French’s work if you enjoy Kate Atkinson, S.J. Bolton, or Gillian Flynn.  While every Dublin Murder Squad novel features a different narrator and a new situation, the world is steadily built and characters grow as the books go on.  So do start with In The Woods and then go on from there.

When I’m done, though.  Don’t sneak the later ones out from under me. I’m warning you. I’m the librarian.  I’ll know.


Marie’s Reading: “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins

Girl-on-the-TrainWithin the first few pages of The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, we learn that our primary narrator regularly gets drunk on the train and has made up names and life stories for a couple whose house she watches out the window at a regular stop.

Yes, I thought to myself.  Totally off her nut.  This is going to be a great story!  Yes!

I wasn’t wrong.

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“The Missing” by Sarah Langan

the missing

Here’s my capsule review of Sarah Langan’s The Missing: I had to put the book down when bedtime approached and read Terry Pratchett’s Small Gods before sleeping just so I wouldn’t drift off with bad images in my head.  Which, as you all know, means a quality piece of horror fiction.

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Marie’s Reading: Everything by Jennifer McMahon

jennifer mcmahonLiterally.  I have done what I set out to do, and have read every book by Jennifer McMahon.

I regret nothing.

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Marie’s Reading: “The Uninvited” by Liz Jensen

uninvitedI talked about Liz Jensen and her fantastic ability to create unique and original character voices in my post about her bawdy romp My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time.   She certainly delivers another great narrator and another great set-up in The Uninvited.

Here’s the story: Hesketh Lock, an anthropologist who suffers from Aspberger’s syndrome, works for a firm called Phipps and Wexman.  His primary duty is to do PR troubleshooting–when something goes wrong at your firm, Hesketh comes in to identify what went wrong and to make sure nothing like it happens again.  At the start of the book, he’s investigating a case of corporate sabotage in Taiwan.

At the same time, there have been several murders committed by children.  It is always the children attacking their parents and grandparents, always in something like a fugue state.  Eventually, the problem becomes almost apocalyptic–to the point where children everywhere seem to have been somehow possessed.  Even Hesketh’s own stepson succumbs to this bizarre behavior.

Hesketh’s talent is in solving puzzles and connecting dots.  Over the course of the story he discovers the link between the corporate sabotage and the murderous children, and then has to deal with the consequences.

I don’t want to give too much more away than that about the plotline.  Part of the interest of this novel is trying to figure out the connections and then to uncover the implications.  This really is not an altogether straightforward narrative, and that’s a good thing.

This is a dystopian novel with a twist.  The apocalypse has happened, but it’s not the one we think or the one we expect.  The kids are there to give a warning to the grown-ups, and it’s ignored at our own peril.  It’s sort of an inverse apocalypse story, an original take which is really refreshing in this our apparent golden age of new-wave sci-fi dystopia novels (Hunger Games, etc.).  The Uninvited feels more old-school, a lot more like A Canticle for Leibowitz or Earth Abides.

In all, I found this to be compelling, creepy, atmospheric, and very nicely plotted.  I enjoyed the emotional distance Hesketh offers as a narrator.  I also loved the rather open ending.  As a dystopian novel it hits all the marks, including raising philosophical and moral questions about the future of humanity.

If you enjoy dystopian fiction and are after something that feels pretty new and fresh, definitely give this a try.




Marie’s Reading: “Until You’re Mine” by Samantha Hayes

until you're mineI received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from Random House.

(….is that all i have to say?  i’ve never had an ARC before.  i feel really special but also really nervous.  i think all i have to do is review it, but i’m not positive.  uh…here, i’ll link back to Random House Readers Circle.  is that okay?  also, what do i do with the book now?  am i allowed to put it in the book sale?  it says “not for sale” on it.  does a used book sale count?  or  is it supposed to self-destruct?  will random house stop sending me presents and take away my RH inner circle decoder pin if i do this wrong?)

As far as thrillers go, Until You’re Mine by Samantha Hayes is very well-constructed.  I appreciated how there’s a great blend of suspense, mystery, and even a dash of horror.  The story centers on three characters: Claudia, a pregnant social worker desperate to have a child after many miscarriages; Zoe, her nanny, who may not be what she seems; and Lorraine, a detective investigating the recent murders of pregnant women in the area.  Not only have the women been murdered, but it appears that the killer attempted to take their babies.

To say too much more about the plot would be to give too much away.  Part of the fun of this kind of novel is coming up on the twists and turns yourself, and making of the clues what you will.  But I will say that the multiple storylines are very well-done.  I liked how Zoe and Claudia are both in the first person, but Lorraine is in third.  I felt it was a nice touch that gave a bit of distance with the character that needed it, and then the closeness with the characters that required it.  Plus, the first-person works quite well with characters who might or might not be unhinged.

Hayes really has written a novel that will appeal to fans of several genres.  Mystery fans and police procedural fans will like the fact that, if you pay attention, it’s totally possible to solve this crime with what you’re given right along with the detectives.  Horror fans might enjoy the mounting tension and the murders, as well as the psychological aspect of being closed in and isolated with someone who might want to kill you.  Thriller readers, this one should be right up your alley!  It’s twisty and turny and compelling, with a rather clever reveal at the end.

Gillian Flynn fans, this one is for you.  Right down to the creepy last scene and even creepier last line.  And if you enjoy this book, Hayes intends for it to be the first in a series starring the detectives, Lorraine and her husband.  So stay tuned!