Marie’s Reading Thrillers: “Tips for Living” and “The Lying Game”

I always want to read thrillers and suspense in late winter.  It’s a great time of year to hunker down with books, and something about the cold and dark lends itself to darker stories.  I’ve been reading a lot of Minette Walters, as well as re-visiting Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad books.

Here are two thrillers that got me through some dark and snowy afternoons recently!

In Tips for Living, Nora has finally gotten her life back on track after her husband’s affair and their subsequent divorce.  But then her ex-husband and his new wife move into Nora’s adopted small town.  Shortly thereafter, the two are found murdered in their home.  Even worse, Nora is a sleepwalker suffering a relapse, and cannot remember her whereabouts on the night of the murders.  Nora has to clear her name while all the while wondering if, in fact, she did commit the crime.

As a bonus, I think anyone who lives in a small community with a large summer population will totally understand a lot of the snarkiness displayed in the newspaper article subplot of the book (the “Tips for Living” of the title).  There’s great small-town atmosphere, that sense of community that’s sometimes claustrophobic and insular.

Ruth Ware’s The Lying Game is less of a who-dun-it mystery than Tips for Living, and more of a thriller with many layers of deception.  It’s about four friends who have been hiding a secret for years, only to have it come back to bite them.  The scene-setting is great and the characters are interesting–Ware has a talent for atmosphere and dialogue.  If you like Paula Hawkins and S.J. Watson, you might like Ware’s books.

Though I enjoy whiling away winter afternoons with thrillers, I’m definitely looking forward to springtime and being able to read them with more sunshine and an open window!



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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Marie’s Reading: “Elizabeth Is Missing” by Emma Healey

Elizabeth is MissingNot since my Jennifer McMahon binge have I read such an un-put-down-able novel.  I read about it a while ago, but it was an encounter with a reader at the library that got me started on it.

A regular patron was in on Saturday morning.  She asked, “Have you read Elizabeth Is Missing?”

“No!” I replied, “But it’s on my list.”  And it has been.  I’d actually checked it out and had to return it unread (story of my life) earlier in the week.    “Is it good?”

But the patron just smiled coyly at me.  I pressed her.  “Is it really compelling?  Is it well-done?”

Nothing.  Just that smile.

“You’re not going to tell me anything, are you?” I asked.  And she scooped up her books without making eye contact and said, “Bye!”

Out the door she went.  I went immediately to the New Fiction shelf, snatched up Elizabeth Is Missing, and started reading it on my morning break.  I finished it in one weekend.

If it turns out that coy smile meant the patron hated it, I will be very sad.  Because Healey’s story is tightly constructed, believably narrated, and affecting in its depiction of a person’s slide into Alzheimer’s.

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