2016: 71-72. Two Modern Thrillers

These are two books my sister graciously lent me along with a whole pile of modern beach read thrillers - the kind that are fancy enough to be real paperbacks (rather than trade), but not taxing in anyway shape or form to read.  This is not a criticism - I love books like that, and finding ones that are breezy enough to read straight through, but well written enough that I want to actually finish them is no small task.  And I read these ages ago, and they’ve been sitting on my “to be blogged about” pile forever - BUT I remember the plots of both without having to look them up, which is a pretty high complement, as beach reads tend to leach out of my brain immediately.  Which is a long-winded, Carrie-esque way of saying either of these books would be perfect for you to read on your vacation.  Don’t be a twerp like me and decide you are going bring an 800 page biography or finally give Proust a try.  Read either of these and be happy.

“It’s her. I’m almost sure of it.”

Her, Harriet Lane

This book was the better of the two, and actually, I’m dying for one of you to read it so I can talk about it with someone (and it’s on sale right now!).  It’s about two women, Nina and Emma, who seemingly meet casually in their London neighborhood.  But what we know is that Nina is actually engineering the whole thing, because she knew Emma years ago and has some sort of a grudge against her.  Watching Nina snake into Emma’s life, while Emma (a desperate new mother, eager for any human connection) is absolutely fascinating (in a terryifying sort of way), and trying to figure out what would make Nina act this way (just what did Emma do to her?) is equally as interesting.  I don’t have a ton more to say without giving away spoilers, but I recommend it - especially if you like Gone Girl-esque thrillers.  The slow burning suspense is perfect, and the ending is a killer.

“When the Potato Girl was murdered, the killer cut out her heart.”

Promise Not to Tell, Jennifer McMahon

This is more of a classic beach read (Her really is pretty good and you could call it a straight up literary thriller).  Forty-year old Kate returns to her childhood home/hippy commune in Vermont, to take care of her mother, who is afflicted with dementia.  In doing so she starts to confront the dark parts of her past - in particular, the murder of her friend Del, the “Potato Girl.” Del was dirt-poor and ostracized, but she and Kate struck up a secret friendship, and Kate remains guilty for not standing up more for her friend.  When another girl is killed the past and present start to collide in terrifying ways, and Kate must be brave enough to confront her history to stop it from repeating.

So.  That’s a decent premise, and there is a lot of good stuff in here about locals v. people from “away,” Kate’s guilt over her treatment of Del, and trying to get to the bottom of what exactly happened all those years ago.  I’m always in the bag for unpacking the sins of the past, so that part worked for me.  BUT - the actual solution of the crime didn’t work for me, and there is a supernatural element that just seemed totally out of place with the rest of the story.  Don’t get me wrong - I devoured this book.  But in the end found it wanting.  Good beach read (tastes great, less filling), but definitely fiction lite.

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017