Mini Thoughts on Recent Suspense Reads

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During my recent flirtation with suspense novels I finished these three very different books. Here are my mini thoughts:

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon – This dual narrative novel has one part set in modern day and the other storyline set in the early 20th century. A young women returns home to find her mother missing and begins to unravel the truth about her family, her old house and the creepy woods on her property. It is part suspense, part horror and all chilling. I had to sleep with the light on the first night I was reading it because it introduced a zombie element that was crazy scary. If you like being frightened, this is a novel for you. It will be released in February 2014.

Under Your Skin by Sabine Durrant – Narrated in the first person by Gaby Mortimer, a TV presenter who finds a woman’s dead body on her morning run, Under My Skin is a twisty tale that examines marital jealousy, the nature of fame and how childhood trauma can affect adults. I was surprised by the ending, but found this, overall, to be just an average suspense novel. Already out in the UK, it will be released in the US in February.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn – Libby Day is a survivor. Her mom and sisters were murdered when she was just six and her brother was convicted of the killings. She’s never questioned that her brother did it until she’s nearing thirty and meets an amateur detective. His doubt and her desperation for money spur her to re-investigate the crime to uncover the real story about what happened to her family. Flynn’s writing is so brutally dark and unforgiving that I find it both exhilarating and revolting to read. She has a gift for plotting and for creating unforgettable characters so I’ll probably read her first novel, Sharp Objects, (I’ve already read Gone Girl) at some point. She is one of those authors I’m not sure I like, but I am fascinated by her work.

Have a wonderful Sunday – and a wonderful week!

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Sometimes I jump on bandwagons – never for sports teams, but occasionally for books. Last week I decided to jump on the Gone Girl bandwagon. This cunning thriller has been the talk of the summer at my library and has been mentioned on almost every ‘Best Books of Summer’ list I’ve seen. There are still over 100 holds on it in my library system and more requests being made by the hour. I really wanted to see what all the fuss is about.

Gone Girl starts out as a traditional missing woman novel. Amy disappears one morning from her Missouri home and all clues lead to her husband, Nick, as being the prime suspect. The story moves back and forth between Nick’s account of the investigation and Amy’s past journal entries. The reader quickly realizes that we’re dealing with two unreliable narrators and the first half of the book is a dizzying journey through the heads of this couple with many twists and turns driving the plot along a compelling, but unknown, road.

The second half of the novel has a much different feel because we find out a startling fact about Amy that changes the entire landscape of the novel and very cleverly switches the feel of the book from a murder investigation to an examination of marriage. All of the big (and little) issues that can infect a marriage are intensified here and completely transformed into psychosis. It is well-done and fascinatingly so.

However, I didn’t really like this novel. I was left with a sense of vague disappointment that I feel after reading most contemporary thrillers. I think this is a matter of personal taste rather than anything wrong with the quality of the book. I definitely recognize the excellence of the plot and writing, but I don’t like the overuse of profanity, the crudity or the general sense of modern malaise. Yes, I am old-fashioned and somewhat of a prude and feel more comfortable in the world of Barbara Pym than in the world of Gillian Flynn.

If you are a fan of thrillers I would recommend this, though. It is a very good suspense novel and obviously appeals to a lot of people. It has a unique plot and is undeniably absorbing. It just wasn’t for me.

I’d like to know – how do you feel about profanity in novels?