There is nothing quite like reading a thriller in the warm sun, am I right? The following are mini reviews for some new or forthcoming spine-tingling, edge-of-your-seat novels to enjoy on the deck or dock this summer.
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris (available this month) is marketed as Jordan Peele's Get Out meets The Devil Wears Prada. I knew I had to read it immediately. It starts off as a fairly simple office drama set against the glamorous backdrop of the NYC publishing world (hence the The Devil Wears Prada reference), but then it spirals into an unexpected, horror-adjacent thriller. It following twenty-six-year-old Nella, an editorial assistant and only black woman working at the prestigious Wagner Books. She puts up with a lot from her boss and colleagues, so when she learns Wagner has hired another black woman, she breathes a sigh of relief. Maybe this new editorial assistant will be her new comrade in the battle for diversity in publishing? Unfortunately, the new hire only seems to ratchet up the tension in the office – and may be gunning for Nella's job. The Other Black Girl is a bit of slow burn, but I really enjoyed it and desperately hope Jordan Peele will consider adapting it for film.
Getaway by Zoje Stage (available in August) uses the adventure-vacation gone wrong trope that I enjoy so much. It follows three women embarking upon a hike deep into the beautiful, rugged backcountry of the Grand Canyon. They think the only threat they may encounter is the occasional wild animal, but tensions between the trio start to bubble up...and then their supplies begin to disappear. Getaway is described as "cinematic" in its publisher synopsis, and I couldn't agree more. This is another story I would love to see on the big screen.
The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse (available now) has been one of the most popular books at the library this year, largely thanks to Reese's Hello Sunshine Book Club stamp of approval. It follows Elin, a woman on leave from her job as a detective, who travels with her boyfriend to an isolated sanatorium turned 5-star hotel in the Swiss Alps. When a raging snowstorm cuts off access to the imposing hotel and people begin to disappear, Elin must dust off her detective skills to determine what is going on and how the hotel's dark history is involved. By the end, The Sanatorium's excessive twists and illogical plot development hindered my enjoyment of the story, but if you are looking for brooding atmosphere and claustrophobia in the vein of Agatha's Christie's And Then There Were None, it will certainly deliver.
Survive the Night by Riley Sager (available this month) originally hooked me with a premise that seemed reminiscent of Taylor Adam's fun 2017 thriller No Exit. Set in the 1990s, Survive the Night follows a film-obsessed, blackout-prone college student named Charlie who is reeling from the death of her BFF/roommate at the hands of an unapprehended serial killer. Charlie decides to leave school to go back home out of state, hitching a ride with a stranger she meets off a bulletin board. Unsurprising, it turns out that her ride-share partner may be her friend's murderer. I usually can find plenty of positive things to say about books I do not like, but this one was just plain bad. Ridiculous twist after ridiculous twist, cliché after cliché, trying way too hard to remind the reader that it was the 90s; I found myself scoffing throughout. However, I will say that it is a guaranteed page-turner – and sometimes that is all you are looking for in a summertime read.
The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward (available in September) is an original story that blends creepy horror elements with intriguing mystery to great effect. It follows a very troubled man named Ted, a recluse living in a dilapidated house next to an eerie forest on Needless Street. He has a precocious, bible-reading cat named Olivia (who narrates part of the story), as well as occasional visits from his defiant daughter, Lauren. Meanwhile, a woman named Dee is trying to get to the bottom of her young sister's long-ago disappearance from a snake-filled lake. In an effort to avoid spoilers, all I will say is that readers will soon find that time means nothing in this story. It is completely disorienting!
This article was originally published in The Napanee Beaver.