During the latter half of 2020, there was a stretch of time where I just wasn't interested in reading psychological thrillers. Ever since Gone Girl was released almost ten years ago, they have been churned out non-stop and I was beginning to find that only in rare cases did they still have the ability to surprise me. I know that I'm not alone in this.
Fast forward to 2021 and I'm suddenly back in the mood for unexpected twists, dark secrets, and complex characters. The following brand new books (one I've read, one I'm reading, and one I plan to start ASAP) felt fresh enough for me to give the genre another look. I hope you will too!
People Like Her by Ellery Lloyd, a mid-January release, is an addictive thriller about a social media influencer with a very creepy stalker. Emmy is an Instamum living in England and with her million plus followers, she’s become a star in her niche. She prides herself on her real-ness, but the reality is that her every action is either completely contrived or perfect spun to fit her brand. Her husband Dan is a struggling writer and while the social media nonsense annoys him, he can’t deny it pays the bills. Finally, there is a third, unknown character who slowly reveals herself by sharing information about her traumatic past and why she has her sights set on ruining Emmy. The book was dark, but also sort of cheeky in how it portrayed social media culture. I was hooked immediately and finished it in one sitting.
Good Neighbors by Sarah Langan, which will be released next week, isn't a thriller per se but it sounds like it has enough in the way of suspense. It is described as "propulsive literary noir" and "Celeste Ng’s enthralling dissection of suburbia meets Shirley Jackson’s creeping dread." Sign me up! Good Neighbors takes place in a picturesque, white picket fence-style neighborhood that is more or less run by Rhea Schroeder, the Queen Bee of Maple Street. When Arlo and Gertie, not exactly Maple Street material, move next door, Rhea initially welcomes them into the fold. However, it's not long before there is tension between them...and then things go from bad to worse when a sink hole (of all things) opens at nearby park and claims Rhea's daughter.
I'm currently reading The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins, which was released early this year. The story follows Jane, a broke and angsty dog walker who resents the tony community of Thornfield Estates in which she works. However, her feelings change the day she meets a handsome widow named Eddie Rochester, whose wife (Bea) drowned in a boating accident fairly recently. When Eddie and Jane fall for each other, Jane basically moves into Bea's elevated life. It's a fortunate turn of events, for sure, but she has her reservations. Jane has dark secrets and she's sure that Eddie has dark secrets of his own. The Wife Upstairs is described as a twisty, modern-day Jane Eyre retelling, which is a bit of a stretch in my opinion. Still, it has an intriguing premise that is keeping me quickly turning the pages.
These books can be borrowed from the library in various formats. You can browse and reserve titles here.
This article was originally published in The Napanee Beaver.