As a kid, right about now is the perfect time to divide between mourning the dwindling days of summer and pestering your parents for that new pair of overalls, cozy sweater, or tiny bear backpack - all of which will be much too warm to wear on the first day back.
But here in adult land, we still have more than half the season to go. That said, time travels at about 200 times the speed once you hit age 25, so whether we’ve actually gained or lost is anyone’s perspective. But since there’s always time for reading– and nothing quite like a page-turning thriller in the dog days of summer – we share with you some of our favourite suspenses (all conveniently located at TPL). Certainly not an exhaustive list (neither of us have that kind of time), some other notables include Shari Lapena, Laura Lippman, Ruth Ware, Karin Slaughter, Mary Kubica . . . It’s a whole conversation, really.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
We selected this title for one of our book clubs this season and not a single person in the room anticipated the ending. And none of our married participants did, either. Womp womp. And that’s no small feat, considering we were told at the beginning of the novel that Alicia Berenson had shot her husband Gabriel five times (in the face!). Or did she? Yeah, of course she did. There was no one else in the room. You’ll say a lot of things like that (often aloud) as you make your way through this fast-paced exploration of the human psyche. Psychotherapist Theo Faber attempts to get through to the once prolific artist now known as the silent patient. But is she the only one not telling the whole story?
Spoiler: No. (that’s kind of why we added that last bit in there).
Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
This particular title is decidedly different from the more classically constructed thrillers on our list. It starts with the disappearance of two sisters on the shoreline of the Kamchatka peninsula. An abduction? Perhaps. The sole witness thinks there may have been a car and there may have been a man, but she is much too fixated on a series of text messages (aren’t we all?) to confirm any such detail.
With no leads to direct the search, the case eventually fades in significance, but its impact and reverberations throughout the community do not. Part mystery, part social reflection, this novel seamlessly ties the lives of multiple residents with varying - oft indistinct - connections to the girls through a series of short stories leading to a dizzying conclusion you can only describe using the ‘Wow’ emoji (3X).
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
There’s nothing quite like an unreliable narrator in a murder mystery. Especially if the murder itself is somehow in question and your only witness has once again downed a bottle/case(?) of whatever concoction she has lying around. But let’s forget the altered state of reality for a moment and consider that perhaps we are all unreliable narrators in our own stories. Intriguing philosophy? Sure. But perhaps also an excuse for why agoraphobic Anna Fox is understandably ill at ease with the shift in her family dynamic and maybe, just maybe, has taken too much of an interest in the lives of others. Is that such a bad thing? Well, it’s a murder mystery, so what do you think?
Joyland by Stephen King
What would a thriller list be without a Stephen King novel? Sort of like a Best of All Time compilation sans Margaret Atwood (i.e., not something we would ever write). There are LOTS of King titles that could have made this list. But with seasonal points for a summer amusement park, somewhat elusive ghost, unresolved death, and small town setting (don’t know how that’s summery, but it somehow is), we had to go with Joyland. A lot of people have suggested that brokenhearted Devin Jones’ nostalgic tale of seasonal employment in the ‘70s is not what you’d typically expect from the Master of Horror. But the very same argument seems to come up on his every second publication because – despite popular opinion – King is a multidimensional author with plenty of room for poignant prose and slow burn intrigue. Joyland is no exception.
Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay
Often compared to the likes of Harlen Coben, Barclay is a somewhat lesser known Canadian author who made his start in journalism writing for publications such as the Peterborough Examiner and Toronto Star. Since then he’s made his career crafting spellbinding thrillers like No Time for Goodbye and the Promise Falls trilogy. Oh yeah, and Stephen King is a big fan. In case that impresses you. We introduced one of our book clubs to his work through this particular title and while yes, it follows a very standard unreliable narrator witnesses (or do they?) a serious yet highly un-prove-able crime (if you’re counting, that’s the second on this list), everyone agreed that the approach was original and suspense spot on.
And believe us, these people have no problem telling us when they don’t like something.