Most forms of entertainment serve as a means to escape our mundane existence and lose ourselves in a world where everyone’s life seems much more interesting. Thrillers are particularly successful in this regard because they tell the stories of perfectly normal characters put in extraordinary situations that they have to overcome. With zero physical exertion and discomfort, even those with very little imagination (like me) can get their dose of adrenaline. Here are some books that I think are really good at this.
Verity (by Colleen Hoover)
I am not a fan of romance novels (not surprising as twenty year old nerds are not their target demographic) and so I was intrigued when I learnt that this thriller was written by a romance novelist who doesn’t like to confine herself to any specific genre. I was pleasantly surprised by this book. In Verity, a struggling novelist, Lowen Ashleigh, is called upon to complete a thriller series after the bestselling author of the earlier books, Verity Crawford, is injured in an accident. Lowen later finds that things are not what they seem with the Crawfords. It is obvious when you read the book that Colleen Hoover is familiar with writing romantic tension between characters but she does an admirable job of creating disturbing, dark and complex characters that are commonplace in psychological thrillers as well. The ending is very well written and will definitely leave you wondering about what had just happened. I would strongly recommend this book to any lover of thrillers and to readers who are looking for a good entry point into the genre.
The Woman in the Window (by A.J. Finn (pseudonym for Daniel Mallory))
‘The Woman in the Window’ tells the story of Dr. Anna Fox, a child psychologist, who is housebound due to severe agoraphobia (fear and avoidance of places that cause panic). She spends her days drinking heavy, watching old horror movies and spying on her neighbours. One such day, she sees something that turns her world upside down. This novel started off pretty slow with the inciting incident happening several chapters in, but made for a very interesting read. Anna is a perfect unreliable narrator with her drinking and pill-popping habits. As the reader is privy only to Anna’s thoughts and what she sees, we can’t help but sympathise with her when her statements are disregarded by others as the fevered imagination of a drunken recluse. Then, her biggest secret comes to light and the reader too starts questioning every single word of hers. But if you think that was the biggest twist, you are mistaken. When I read the final few chapters, my jaw fell to the floor. This is the kind of thriller that you start reading with a hot cup of tea on a rainy day and finish in a single sitting.
Big Little Lies (by Liane Moriarty)
When I learnt that the hit TV series Big Little Lies (which, by the way, is absolutely brilliant! Go, watch it now!) was actually an adaptation of a novel, I thought I had made a terrible mistake. I thought that now that the plot was spoiled for me, I could never read the book without scenes from the series popping into my head. I am so glad to have been wrong. Big Little Lies takes place in a small town where, on the surface, everything seems hunky-dory but underneath, everyone is dealing with their own demons. There has been a murder at the local public school’s Trivia Night and the entire novel slowly details the events leading up to the murder, finally revealing the murderer and the victim in the end. The story is narrated from the perspectives of three kindergarten children’s parents. Even though I knew the plot from the series, I didn’t know the characters like a reader could. I wasn’t aware of the protagonists’ thoughts as they went about their day, taking their children to school, dealing with the other kindergarten parents and their families. The book begins innocently enough, with two of the protagonists meeting en route to the school, but as it progresses we deal with more serious issues that culminates in the murder. Liane Moriarty has cleverly wrapped a serious message in an engaging, un-put-down-able package.
Into the Water (by Paula Hawkins)
While Paula Hawkins’ debut novel ‘The Girl on the Train’ was a nail-biting fast-paced story, ‘Into the Water’ is a slow burn that takes time and has to be savoured. The story begins when Jules’ estranged sister Nel supposedly commits suicide and so she is forced to come back to Beckford, the one place she thought she had escaped. Though the large number of PoV characters might seem confusing, as the story progresses, each and every one of them is fleshed out completely. After the slow start, the book picks up pace, with each chapter presenting clues that bring us closer to the solution of the mystery. With a host of dark characters interspersed with the occasional good one, the discoveries that Jules makes about the town’s past only serve to reaffirm her decision to leave it behind. With a gripping premise, complicated, dark characters and plot twists in all the right places, ‘Into the Water’ is easily one of the best thrillers I have ever read.
In these uncertain times, where every second is spent either in utter boredom or in existential dread, these books helped me forget my worries for a few hours. I hope they do the same for you. Happy reading!
Read Dead-Cinch Thrillers – I for similar book recommendations