Short story review: “The Oblong Box” by Edgar Allan Poe

Welcome to an occasional feature on Book Club Mom: Short Story Reviews. And to celebrate Halloween, what’s better than a spooky story by Edgar Allan Poe?

“The Oblong Box”
by
Edgar Allan Poe

Rating: 4 out of 5.

As he boards a ship from South Carolina to New York, Cornelius Wyatt’s busybody friend is obsessed with what might be inside a mysterious oblong box that the artist Wyatt is transporting. He takes careful note of the box and tells the reader, “The box in question was, as I say, oblong. It was about six feet in length by two and a half in breadth.” Knowing Poe, we might have a pretty good idea what’s inside, but Wyatt’s friend guesses that the box contains “nothing in the world but a copy of Leonardo’s ‘Last Supper.’” He congratulates himself on the deduction, telling us, “I chuckled excessively when I thought of my acumen.”

The friend is consumed with Wyatt’s traveling party, the artist, his new wife and his two sisters. Wyatt had spoken about his bride’s loveliness and grace, but the friend is shocked when he meets her. Her beauty and character are clearly below the standards he had expected. And Wyatt is acting strangely, like a man gone mad, laughing hysterically when his friend mentions the box. Now there are two mysteries. As they sail, the friend is determined to confirm what’s in the box and understand the story behind Wyatt and his new wife.

A hurricane threatens to wreck the ship and the crew and passengers must board a lifeboat. Wyatt, however, is beside himself and insists they return for the box. He shouts to the captain, “By the mother who bore you – for the love of Heaven – by your hope of salvation, I implore you to put back for the box!”

When characters reach this point in a suspenseful story, they act, or they don’t, and the finish is determined by this moment. Within minutes, Wyatt’s desperate decision seals his fate. A month later, the friend finally learns the mystery of the box. He admits to us his foolish mistake, but also confides he is haunted by a hysterical laugh forever ringing in his ears.

What a great story, and it gets better the more you think about it! I did not know about The Oblong Box until I read about it on Jeff’s blog, Stuff Jeff Reads. In his post, he talks about what the story means: “For me, this tale is an allegory of the return to the source, or the Godhead, which is symbolized by the sea.” Jeff goes on to praise Poe’s writing, “I really enjoyed this tale, both because of the symbolism contained within, but also because the writing is so exquisitely crafted.” Want more analysis? Click here to read Jeff’s full post on The Oblong Box.  Thanks, Jeff, for recommending this story!

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Book Review: The Cutting Season by Attica Locke

The Cutting Season
by
Attica Locke

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I always enjoy new fiction, but I also love when I discover an excellent older book. I’m not talking about classics, but more recent books I missed when they were first published.  The Cutting Season was published in 2012 and although it’s a suspenseful murder mystery, I’d also describe it as literature with well-developed characters and themes.

Set in 2009 Louisiana on Belle Vie, a former sugar cane plantation turned tourist attraction and wedding venue, Locke tells the story of four generations connected to Belle Vie and ties together two murders, over a hundred years apart. Caren Gray, the main character, grew up on the plantation, owned by the Clancy family and where, her mother, Helen was the cook. Their family traces back to Caren’s great-great-great-grandfather, Jason, a slave worker who mysteriously disappeared in 1872. Now Caren manages Belle Vie, including a staff of re-enactors who play the roles of slaves. The grounds are limited to the land adjacent to the cane fields. Groveland Farms leases the fields and, instead of employing locals, hires immigrant workers from Mexico and Central America.

Although Belle Vie is not far from New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Caren leads an isolated life on the property where she’s raising her nine-year-old daughter, Morgan Ellis. Caren returned to Belle Vie in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina and a crumbling relationship with Morgan’s father, Eric. The couple had met during law school, but Caren was unable to finish.

The story opens when a Belle Vie maintenance worker discovers the body of Inés Avalo, a Groveland employee. Her body was found along the inside of the fence that divides Belle Vie and the leased land. Detectives immediately suspect one of the re-enactors, Donovan Isaacs, who has mysteriously disappeared.

Also at play is the Clancy family: Leland and his sons Raymond and Bobby, who fell into ownership when a Clancy ancestor acquired the plantation after the Civil War. When Leland ran Belle Vie, during which time Caren and Leland’s sons grew up, he made sure to do his part to correct the injustices against blacks. Bobby, for unknown reasons, is out of the picture and Raymond now runs Belle Vie. He’s counting on his father’s legacy to help his political aspirations.

Caren feels a complex connection to Belle Vie, as do all the people who work there. Some have family ties to the place, but the young players, including Donovan, are still learning Belle Vie’s history. She’s also uneasy around Raymond, who still reminds her of his position of authority. Bobby had always been her favorite and Caren wonders about Raymond when Bobby returns to warn her about his money-grubbing brother.

Not just a suspenseful mystery, this is a story about how an ugly period of American history fits into a modern setting and how its characters deal with their own history and its connection to slavery. Should places like Belle Vie continue to exist to educate new generations, or are they just glossy versions of a shameful period?

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For more Attica Lock, check out my review of Bluebird, Bluebird.

Book Review: Fatal Rounds by Carrie Rubin

Fatal Rounds
by
Carrie Rubin

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Recent medical school graduate Liza Larkin knows something is wrong when she sees a stranger in the background of three family photos, including one from her father’s funeral. When a reverse-image search identifies Dr. Samuel Donovan, a top trauma surgeon in the Boston area, Liza switches her first-choice residency to Titus McCall Medical Center where Donovan works. Liza wants to keep an eye on this mysterious doctor and potential stalker. She can take care of herself, but she wants to protect her mother, Emily, a schizophrenic patient at nearby Home & Hearth Healing. She feels guilty about putting her mother in a psychiatric facility, but knows she could not provide adequate home-care.

Liza may be a strong woman, but she struggles with schizoid personality disorder and mourns her father, Kevin who was her best advocate. He refused to label his daughter. “You are not a list of symptoms, Liza. You are not a diagnosis. You are you, you are special,” he told her. Kevin, a rising politician, survived a shooting and immediately retired to open a food truck business, only to die from a heart attack two years later. Now Liza hears his voice in her head, guiding her decisions.

A little background information: schizoid personality disorder is not schizophrenia. It’s a condition “characterized by a lack of interest in social relationships, a tendency toward a solitary or sheltered lifestyle, secretiveness, emotional coldness, detachment and apathy.” (Wikipedia) Liza has a history of defending others with violence, but regular therapy has taught her how to overcome these tendencies and become more social. Combined with long runs and vigorous boxing workouts she manages her condition and has a small circle of friends. One concerning fact: Liza has stopped her therapy.

As Liza digs into medical records, she discovers a disturbing pattern of Donovan’s patients who suffered severe trauma but died from different causes after they recovered. Donovan’s god-like image will be hard to bring down, however, and Liza may have met her match. The closer she gets to uncovering Donovan as a murderer, the more reckless and crazed she becomes.

Wow, I really enjoyed this tightly-written story, Rubin’s latest medical/psychological thriller. Rubin does a great job with Liza’s character, who is far from perfect and sometimes makes bad decisions. Readers also learn what life is like for a first-year resident and about hospital administrative hierarchies. And through often-humorous dialogue and description, one of Rubin’s trademarks, we also get to know the side characters. As in her other books, she keeps the story current, highlighting some of society’s problems such as opiate addiction, obesity, and mental illness, as well as progress in social issues such as gay marriage.

The title is a clever play on words, referring to both doctors’ rounds and a boxing match. Donovan seems to be winning the rounds, but who will win the match?

Fatal Rounds is the first in the Liza Larkin series. I’m looking forward to the next one!

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Book Review: Girl in the Rearview Mirror by Kelsey Rae Dimberg

Girl in the Rearview Mirror
by
Kelsey Rae Dimberg

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

If you watched my most recent episode of Read React Decide, you know that I selected Girl in the Rearview Mirror, after reading random passages from five random books. Despite an earlier retraction about not being able to go paperless when I read, I really did go paperless for this book. Even though I hold the hard cover version in my video, I downloaded the eBook on my Kindle. And because I was on vacation, I took zero notes. I did not want to lug around a notebook and pen. That’s not a vacation!

The author describes Girl in the Rearview Mirror, her debut, as a noir mystery with adjustments, but I felt it was more of a psychological thriller. There are no hard-boiled detectives (the “detective” is a young nanny, Finn, who tries to unravel a mystery) and it’s set in Phoenix, Arizona, not exactly gritty. I only realized she calls it noir fiction after I read it, so that was not on my mind at all.

Because I did not take notes, this will be a more casual review. Be sure to check out my follow-up video at the bottom of this post, which is a supplement to what I say here. I’m doing something new on YouTube, re-reading the passage that made me choose the book and then talking about a really funny coincidence with that.

On to the book. The story opens at a political rally, during Senator Jim Martin’s campaign for re-election. Image is everything to the Martins and the senator’s perfect-looking family surrounds him, including Philip Martin who is expected to one day step into his father’s shoes. For now, Philip focuses on his restaurant and other real estate investments. With his wife, Marina, who runs a museum, and Amabel, their adorable four-year old daughter, they look just right for the part.

Finn’s protective instinct kicks in when Amabel gasps and points to a stranger with bright red hair and exclaims, “That girl—she’s following me!” An upsetting meeting with the stranger a few days later convinces Finn she must learn all she can to protect Amabel.

A couple substories frame the plot. First, there is Philip, the second son who can’t live up to his late older brother, James’s legacy. James died a hero’s death in Iraq. Philip, meantime tries to forget a scandal that ended his college football career.

Finn also struggles with the past and the title refers to events she tried to leave behind when she left home for college. She explains, “By the time I arrived at school, I realized I could start over. I introduced myself as Finn, my middle name, and it stuck. Within months, my first name sounded foreign. Natalie was the girl in the rearview mirror.” Now she has a great gig as a nanny for a wealthy and powerful family. And her boyfriend, Bryant, who runs Jim Martin’s campaign, completes the picture.

When she meets the red-headed women, Finn agrees to deliver a message to Philip. Sounds easy, but Philip avoids Finn who discovers a tangled mess. Soon, she finds herself in danger and wonders if Bryant is her enemy.

I enjoyed this book which explores the always-interesting theme of truth versus public persona. Readers who don’t like politics may initially be put off by the political storyline, however, once Finn begins her investigation, the adversarial element between political parties moves to the background. The story is much more about how politicians smooth out their pasts and present shiny images than it is about Republicans and Democrats.

A series of twists leads to an ending I did not imagine and ties in nicely with how image is everything to politicians. I was glad to have a lighter read while on vacation. The book was easy to pick up between activities and I recommend it to readers who enjoy psychological thrillers.

Check out my video here:

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Book Review: The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex

The Lamplighters
by
Emma Stonex

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I downloaded this eBook not realizing that I’d already read another book and watched a movie based on the same real events that took place in 1900! What a fun coincidence!

The other fun coincidence is that my blogging friend Charlie over at Books and Bakes also read The Lamplighters as part of her summer reading challenge!

What’s the basis of the story? In 1900, three lightkeepers disappeared from the remote rock lighthouse on Eilean Mòr in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. You can read all about the actual events here. I read Coffin Road by Peter May a few years ago in which a character is writing a book about the disappearance. After that, I watched the Scottish movie, The Vanishing, an intense psychological thriller that offers a possible explanation.

Stonex moves the events to Cornish Maiden Rock, a sea tower built on rocks, off the coast of England’s Land’s End. The story begins in 1972 when the three keepers disappear. This is just a few years before this type of lighthouse was automated, putting an end to a job that required months of isolation. On the rock, investigators find three mysterious clues: the doors are locked from the inside, the clocks have stopped at 8:45 pm and the table in the lighthouse is set for two people, not three. The second storyline takes place in 1992 when author Dan Sharp approaches the keepers’ widows and one former girlfriend to gather information for his next book. The three women have moved on in different ways. Helen, the main keeper’s widow, has moved away from the sea, but returns to contemplate her marriage. She wants to tell her story, but the Assistant Keeper’s widow, Jenny, very dependent on her husband while he was alive, has not done well. And she has a secret. And Michelle, the Supernumerary Assistant Keeper’s girlfriend at the time, although now married with two daughters, can’t let go of the love she had for Vincent. The disappearance, though never satisfyingly resolved, was blamed on Vince because he’d been in prison for violent acts, but Michelle knows in her heart there was more to the story.

As it turns out, there are a lot of secrets!

Readers will learn about the days leading up to the disappearance and about the women’s relationships with the keepers and with each other. This is a slow-burn atmospheric psychological drama that looks at the effects of isolation and separation. I enjoyed it very much and recommend it to readers who like mysteries and studies of relationships.

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Book Review: Five Total Strangers by Natalie D. Richards

Five Total Strangers
by
Natalie D. Richards

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

This Young Adult thriller is just as good or better than many of the adult thrillers I’ve recently read! Five Total Strangers is about Mira Hayes, a high school art student traveling home for Christmas from San Diego to Pittsburgh. When a snowstorm strands her in Newark, she accepts a ride from Harper Chung, her seatmate on the flight. Harper, a college student at Pomona, has rented an SUV and offered rides to three others: Brecken, an intense pre-med student from UC Berkeley, Josh, a tall blond with sleepy eyes and a knee brace and Kayla, a willowy girl who sleeps a lot. At first, Mira thinks the others all know each other, but she soon discovers that they are all strangers, with an emphasis on strange.

But Mira doesn’t care as long as she gets home for Christmas. It’s just Mira and her mom this year and it’s also the anniversary of her aunt’s death, her mother’s twin. Plus she’s just discovered that her mom and stepfather have split. After a year of helping her mom through a devastating loss, Mira has become her mother’s emotional caretaker and getting home is a must.

Treacherous driving conditions become the first layer of suspense. Then, one by one, the strangers’ belongings, important ones, go missing. Someone is lying and Mira doesn’t know whom to trust. Things get weirder when they stop along the way and outsiders become involved. As tension builds, Mira asks herself, “What if one of us isn’t in this car to get home at all? What if one of us got in this car for all the wrong reasons?”

I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll stop with the plot development! I thought this was an excellent story and that the characters were realistic teens and early twenty-somethings. Like Mira, readers won’t be sure who’s trustworthy and who’s evil because they all have secrets (even Mira, who hasn’t told them she’s only in high school). Harper keeps looking at her phone in horror. Brecken smiles like a wolf. Josh doesn’t want help or attention and Kayla, when she’s awake acts strangely. Readers want Mira to get home safely, but they also want to know what’s up with these people.

Although the subplot of Mira wanting to get home to her mom is more young-adult oriented, the suspense is on par with adult thrillers. This is a fast, satisfying read and I recommend it to all readers who like thrillers.

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Book Review: Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian

Hour of the Witch
by
Chris Bohjalian

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Here’s an excellent historical suspense set in 1662 Boston about twenty-four-year-old Mary Deerfield, who is desperate to get away from a violent marriage. When the court magistrates deny a petition for divorce, Mary must return to her husband. Fearful of more cruelty, Mary plots her escape, while mounting evidence of witchcraft threatens to send her to her death.

I enjoyed reading about this time period in early America and how Puritans used God and the Devil to explain things that happened in their lives. Mary is sure she has been framed, but even she secretly wonders if she is possessed by the Devil. The author also highlights the treatment of women during Puritan times. Although her husband is violent, the odds are against Mary when she petitions for a divorce. From the beginning, readers see that Mary is strong-willed and resourceful. She’s willing to accept being ostracized if her divorce is granted, a difficult future, but better than her marriage.

Ultimately, even though her father and one of the magistrates believe her husband has mistreated her, they support the Puritan rules. The reason? Back then, it was acceptable for a husband to physically discipline his wife if it was to teach her to be a good “helpmeet” and to follow the laws of God. Better to send Mary back to her husband to work things out, they reason.

In addition, readers get a closer look at the harsh punishments for other infractions, such as adultery. Anyone suspected or caught in adultery had to face the stocks and a whipping. The author also shows how, although the Puritans relied on herbal remedies and medicines, they feared that those administering them were witches.

I enjoyed this account of Puritan New England, when the fear of God and the Devil ruled. Truly a page-turner, readers will need to untangle characters’ complicated motives and the mystery of the witchcraft evidence. The reward is a better historical understanding of these early settlers’ lives.

This book is a lot different from the other books I’ve read by Chris Bohjalain. It’s much meatier and more historical, although I’ve only read three others, so I’m not an expert. I read Double Bind a long time ago, so it’s not here on my blog, but you can check out these others, which I thought were very good:

The Flight Attendant
The Guest Room

Have you read Hour of the Witch or any other books by Chris Bohjalian? Leave a comment!

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Book Review: Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson

Every Vow You Break
by
Peter Swanson

I’ve been trying to decide what kind of rating to give this atmospheric thriller about Abigail Baskin, a young woman on her honeymoon. Abigail’s marriage to Bruce Lamb isn’t off to a great start. Weeks earlier at her bachelorette weekend, she slept with a stranger. She’s filled with guilt, but the fling has convinced her she wants to spend the rest of her life with Bruce.  

Bruce has made all the arrangements for the honeymoon and they arrive on Heart Pond Island, an isolated luxurious retreat off the coast of Maine. It looks beautiful, but something strange is going on. It’s nearly empty, except for the overly attentive waitstaff and only one other newlywed couple. What’s even weirder is that the rest of the guests are men, and Bruce seems to know them all.

To Abigail’s horror, one of them is the stranger from her bachelorette weekend.

I liked the setting and the story’s premise and that made me want to know how it all worked out. I could picture the island and its rocky coast. Swanson also does a good job describing Abigail’s character. She has an interesting background. For years, her parents ran a theater where they produced plays and musicals and Abigail grew up in this theatrical atmosphere. She’s also smart and wants to be a novelist. When she moves to New York for a publishing job, she meets Bruce, a wildly successful businessman. What he does is vague, but that’s what kept me reading. I also liked that Swanson included literary, movie and musical references. The title is a line from the song by The Police, “Every Breath You Take,” a creepy suggestion that Bruce may be a little too controlling.

So all good buildup with a lot of strange conversations and uncomfortable setups on the island. Of course, a logical person would question the arrangements, never to be in the position that Abigail finds herself in. But characters who make bad decisions and go along with what we all know is trouble are what you want in a thriller.

Despite not really liking any of the characters and, I’m sorry to say that includes the heroine, I wanted her to escape danger. The problem was, just as things were getting interesting, the plot made an outlandish turn. Completely unbelievable! Swanson uses all the thriller/horror tropes as Abigail tries to escape danger and that includes gory and misogynist violence in the story’s final scenes.

Swanson wins in a way because I didn’t want to put the book down, but honestly, I was shaking my head through the last fifty pages. So I’m giving it 3 stars because I liked most of it, but was disappointed with the finish.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Some bloggers liked the book and others felt the way I did. You can check out their reviews here:

Lisa’s Cubby
A Sip of Book over Coffee
Audiophiles

Do you like thrillers? Have you read Every Vow You Break?

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Book Review: Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow

Presumed Innocent
by
Scott Turow

Rating: 4 out of 5.

With so many new books out there, would you consider reading an old courtroom thriller? I did! Presumed Innocent was published in 1987 and the movie starring Harrison Ford followed in 1990. So 35 years ago, it was a hot book and a hot movie.

This excellent story is about its narrator, Rusty Sabich, Kindle County’s chief deputy prosecuting attorney who has been arrested for the murder of Carolyn Polhemus, an ambitious attorney in Sabich’s office. Rusty and Carolyn had a brief affair and his fingerprints are found on the scene. This is all on the heels of Raymond Horgan’s lost bid to another term as chief P.A. Rusty, loyal to Horgan for twelve years, had one day hoped to succeed his boss. Now, everything has changed. Nico Della Guardia (whom Rusty had once fired) takes Horgan’s place and Rusty’s a pariah, fighting for his freedom. What does his young son think of him? Will his wife, Barbara will stand by his side? Readers have more questions. Did Rusty murder Carolyn? And if he didn’t who did?

Sandy Stern, a shrewd and sophisticated defense attorney, gives Rusty hope. That and the fact that Judge Larren Lyttle, Horgan’s best friend, will preside at his trial. Lyttle’s twenty years as a defense attorney could favor Rusty in rulings during the trial, but the ultimate decision rides on the jury.

Sound complicated? It is! Add police corruption, politics, a tangled web of relationships and a lost file from years ago, containing incriminating information, and it will take a book to figure it all out.

I liked Presumed Innocent for a lot of reasons. At 453 pages, and close to one hundred characters, this is not a book you read in a couple day. Its length made me think about all the pieces and wonder about the characters. Turow does an excellent job with his main characters. Readers get to know Rusty best of all and learn about the key players through his observations. Several characters with questionable motives muddy the waters and reflect the complexities in police and legal work. My favorite character was Sandy Stern. His composure and skill in the courtroom would make anyone want him on their side. But he plays his cards close to the vest and keeps his strategy to himself, a frustration for Rusty.

Presumed Innocent is Turow’s first of eleven books in the Kindle County series. Book 11, The Last Trial was published in 2020. The one criticism I would make about the book, which is obviously dated in the sense of crime scene investigations, is the author’s use of stereotypical ethnic characterizations, some of them cringe-worthy. I’m taking a star off for that reason, but would otherwise recommend this first book in the series, especially if you want to read the rest.

Have you read Presumed Innocent or seen the movie? Leave a comment!

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Five thrillers I want to read

I think summer is the best time to read a good thriller. Here are five I hope to get to soon. All descriptions are from Goodreads.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood – I’ve always liked Margaret Atwood’s books, but I’ve never read this one. I read The Blind Assassin (which I think is catagorized as suspense) years ago and thought it was excellent.

It’s 1843, and Grace Marks has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer and his housekeeper and mistress. Some believe Grace is innocent; others think her evil or insane. Now serving a life sentence, Grace claims to have no memory of the murders.

An up-and-coming expert in the burgeoning field of mental illness is engaged by a group of reformers and spiritualists who seek a pardon for Grace. He listens to her story while bringing her closer and closer to the day she cannot remember. What will he find in attempting to unlock her memories?

Captivating and disturbing, Alias Grace showcases best-selling, Booker Prize-winning author Margaret Atwood at the peak of her powers.

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena – I’ve been meaning to read this for a couple years. A lot of these titles blend together. I actually thought I’d read this but I had it mixed up with The Good Neighbor by A.J. Banner!

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all–a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years.

What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family–a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.

Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson – I remember seeing this when it first came out and wanting to read it. Somehow it slipped through the cracks.

A bride’s dream honeymoon becomes a nightmare when a man with whom she’s had a regrettable one-night stand shows up in this psychological thriller from the author of Eight Perfect Murders.

Abigail Baskin never thought she’d fall in love with a millionaire. Then she met Bruce Lamb. But right before the wedding, Abigail has a drunken one-night stand on her bachelorette weekend. She puts the incident—and the sexy guy who wouldn’t give her his real name—out of her mind, and now believes she wants to be with Bruce for the rest of her life.

Then the mysterious stranger suddenly appears—and Abigail’s future life and happiness are turned upside down. He insists that their passionate night was the beginning of something special and he’s tracked her down to prove it.

Does she tell Bruce and ruin their idyllic honeymoon—and possibly their marriage? Or should she handle this psychopathic stalker on her own? To make the situation worse, strange things begin to happen. She sees a terrified woman in the night shadows, and no one at the resort seems to believe anything is amiss… including her perfect new husband.

No Exit by Taylor Adams – I have this one on my shelf! Loaned to me by my son. It’s been a few years, so I need to read It soon!

On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers. Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate. Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her? There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one?

Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape. But who can she trust?

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith – This year I read Patricia Highsmith: Her Diaries and Notebooks and ever since then, I’ve wanted to read this.

Since his debut in 1955, Tom Ripley has evolved into the ultimate bad boy sociopath, influencing countless novelists and filmmakers. In this first novel, we are introduced to suave, handsome Tom Ripley: a young striver, newly arrived in the heady world of Manhattan in the 1950s. A product of a broken home, branded a “sissy” by his dismissive Aunt Dottie, Ripley becomes enamored of the moneyed world of his new friend, Dickie Greenleaf. This fondness turns obsessive when Ripley is sent to Italy to bring back his libertine pal but grows enraged by Dickie’s ambivalent feelings for Marge, a charming American dilettante. A dark reworking of Henry James’s The Ambassadors, The Talented Mr. Ripley—is up to his tricks in a 90s film and also Rene Clement’s 60s film, “Purple Noon.”

Do you like reading thrillers? Which ones are your favorites? Leave a comment!

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