Today, Hartford Books Examiner reviews three recent titles in mystery/thriller that are sure to provide you a few sleepless nights.
In September, Sophie Hannah (England’s critically acclaimed author of psychological thrillers) published The Monogram Murders (William Morrow, $25.99)—the first new book to feature iconic sleuth Hercule Poirot since Dame Agatha Christie bid him farewell in 1974’s Curtain. The project was sanctioned by Christie’s estate; news of Poirot’s resurrection was met with both excitement and trepidation, given the enormity of the undertaking.
Fortunately, Hannah is more than up to the task. She introduces a new narrator, the pleasantly plodding policeman Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard, and a puzzling case—three deaths at a hotel in which monogrammed cufflinks are placed in the victims’ mouths coupled with a young woman’s proclamation that she is about to be murdered—that would make Christie herself proud. The end result is a cleverly plotted whodunit that evokes within the reader a welcome sense of nostalgia—and the fervent desire for a follow-up sooner rather than later …
Another September standout is You (Atria/Emily Bestler Books, $26.00), the provocative debut novel from short story writer and pop culture columnist Caroline Kepnes. When Guinevere Beck strolls into the New York City bookstore where Joe works, he’s instantly intrigued. So much so that he decides to follow her home, learning every intimate detail of her life–and then insinuating himself into it, no matter the cost. Beck–an aspiring author, part-time student, and full-time drama magnet–has her own set of ulterior motives, and the dysfunctional relationship that ensues is one that rivals Nick and Amy Dunne’s from Gone Girl.
You is unflinching, unapologetic, and unsettling (but in the very best of ways)–and it just may cause you to question your own convictions. Written with bravado, cultural savvy, and a keen sense of the perverse, it’s also entirely unforgettable and marks the emergence of a fresh new voice. In a genre that is too often overrun by copycats and wannabes, Caroline Kepnes is the real deal.
And finally, Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Award-winning author (and 32-time Emmy Award recipient) Hank Phillippi Ryan saw her seventh novel–and third to feature intrepid reporter Jane Ryland–released in October. That book, Truth Be Told (Forge Books, $24.99), finds Ryland searching for answers when bodies keep turning up in foreclosed properties. Amidst the heartbreak of witnessing families being put out of their homes, she must also contend with the very real threat that her secret relationship with Detective Jake Brogan might be exposed–or even ended.
Another winner for Ryan (the book was just named a Library Journal Best of 2014), Truth Be Told is complex, compulsively readable, and achingly poignant. It also melds the issue of whodunit with a heightened sense of romantic intrigue and thought-provoking questions re. journalistic ethics masterfully, making this one of her best yet …