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All engrossing, pure escapist, nail-biting anxiety, mind bending terror and psychological twists. We’re not sure why it’s so appealing. Good though, isn’t it! You might also like to browse our Crime and Mystery category.
Thrills, chills, and buckets of blood are to be found in this plot-twisty, mesmerising whammy of a read. In order to rescue his kidnapped fiancé, and prevent himself from being framed for murder, Matt has been given full instructions on how he can save her and clear his name. He must kill a target, a stranger, within 24 hours. This is a standalone thriller from a favourite writer of mine, Simon Kernick excels in writing fast-moving, action-packed novels. The prologue sets the tale up beautifully with a DCI announcing three murder suspects and a trail of dead bodies. What follows is a number of people telling their own story, just who, if anyone is telling the truth? This read was a total brain-rush, each short and sharp chapter sucked me in until it ruthlessly spat me out as the next arrived. The plot zipped along while the characters thoroughly messed with my head. As the ending hurtled towards me and landed, I smiled, oh how I smiled, and felt very satisfied indeed. Kill A Stranger is another blockbuster of a read from Simon Kernick, and shoots straight onto our list of LoveReading Star Books.
I Am The Sand is an intense and graphic psychological thriller with a unique perspective. The plotline pivots around the abduction of Chloe Thomas, while she was on her way home from school. From the reader’s distanced viewpoint we are not only given access to the investigation and Chloe’s fight to survive her capture and endure abusive treatment, we are also able to follow the captor and learn more about his public perception. From this outside perspective, we are also able to enjoy the author’s skill at characterisation, with vital side characters coming to the forefront of story to add an extra twist. This book is incredibly tense and there were times where my heart was racing for Chloe and I couldn’t get through the pages fast enough, at certain points shouting in frustration as hope ebbs away. I also think that the author handles the topic of mental illness well in this book. I am usually hesitant when mental health is incorporated almost as an explanation of a villain’s behaviour, however I appreciated the work carried out by the author to present these themes in a different light, through Sarah’s perspective as well as providing more detail of an aftermath towards the end of the book. I thought I Am the Sand was a highly gripping read and I would recommend it for anyone looking for a page-turning psychological thriller.
Provocative and unsettling this crime novel focuses on the predatory and merciless side of life. Private investigator Varg Veum reunites with former classmates at a funeral but a murder throws rekindled friendships up in the air. Fallen Angels forms part of the gripping and gritty Varg Veum series, the first of which was published in 1977. Gunnar Staalesen has since been published in 26 countries, and a statue of his protagonist Varg even sits in the centre of Bergen! This particular novel was first published in Norway in 1989 and is set in the 80’s, if you’ve already read his translated novels be aware that you are taking a step back in time. Taking place before other translated books in this series, it encourages an understanding of what makes Varg the man he is. There are parts which make for uncomfortable reading and I cringed as the seedier aspects of society were described. The painstaking aspects of investigations are clearly felt. Gunnar Staalesen and translator Don Bartlett, excel in creating deliberately jarring sections, which sent a chilling shiver coursing through me. Fallen Angles is a book that is meant to make you feel perturbed, it is also an entirely fascinating read.
There is a decidedly unique and expressive tone to this beautifully written crime novel. Set on the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec, The Coral Bride is the sequel to fabulous We Were the Salt of the Sea and forms part of the Detective Morales Series. What at first is treated as a missing person enquiry turns bleakly sinister after an abandoned lobster trawler is found adrift. A chilling first chapter set my thoughts whirling and it took me a little while to settle. I most definitely felt as though I was in a different country, sometimes almost, another world entirely. Roxanne Bouchard conveys the mystical loneliness of the ocean with the charm of the small coastal towns, and it blends into a mysterious, perfumed and heady tale. She and translator David Warriner have created the silences, trips, and hesitations that appear in real conversations. These are words that sank into my thoughts and as I read, I felt as though I was caught up the depths of the tale. Snippets of viewpoints from others slip-slapped into my awareness, while occasional moments of smirky lightness added texture. This is an author to remember and a truly worthwhile series that I can recommend introducing yourself to. The Coral Bride transports you to an ocean community, sets thoughts adrift, and creates exquisite tension. A wonderful read, and so it slips straight into my monthly Liz Picks.
A seriously chilling, mind-burrowing read from a German author whose books have been translated into more than 24 languages. Emma reports being raped, she believes the offender was ‘the barber’ who killed his other victims, however she can’t convince the police or her husband. Sebastian Fitzek sent my emotions into overdrive in the prologue which was set 28 years previously, and they continued to race right through to the end. Hats off to translator Jamie Bulloch who ensured a seamless translation, the sense of place was strong, but I didn’t feel like an uneducated visitor in Berlin. Short, fierce chapters hit and ramped up the tension and certain thoughts were encouraged to conspire against me. The plot jerked at my scrutiny as it moved between now and three weeks earlier, with various characters being introduced and adding to the fabulous complexity of who, what, when, where, why, how! You may be successful in working it out, but will the journey be the one you were expecting? The Package is an intense psychological thriller full of plot-twisty action. Check out our Q&A with Sebastian Fitzek and a trailer for The Package on our Blog.
Unexpected, thought-provoking, and unsettling, there is more to this book than initially meets the eye. A Belfast detective hunts down his informer after surviving an ambush in 1994. When events lead him to a pilgrimage on Holy Island off the shore of Lough Derg, he finds himself spiralling down into the darkest depths of his own thoughts. While there is plenty of action to be found within the pages, it is the psychological intensity that really hits home here. With the various characters edging and slicing through my mind, I found trust to be a precious commodity. As small packages of information are released, Anthony J Quinn encouraged my thoughts to hesitate and then meander. The descriptions of Holy Island created a heavy, foreboding atmosphere. The different strands began to join together, creating a net of uncertainty. The ending of Turncoat perfectly suited this tense novel, ensuring it still occupied my thoughts for a goodly while after I had finished.
Exquisitely weaving fact and fiction this heart-rending yet fascinating historical novel is set during a time of clandestine opposition to the Nazis. Chief of the Abwehr, spymaster Wilhelm Canaris, creates an almost mythical figure when he recruits a young man and calls him Cesare. The story centres around Canaris, Erik (Cesare) and Lisa, the woman who effectively set Erik on his course. Using the real-life Canaris ensured my mind almost played tricks on me, and at times I struggled to remember that this was fiction, as it felt all too real. Jerome Charyn successfully highlights the contradictory nature of Canaris, this is the man who suggested the yellow Star of David in 1935 to identify Jews, but by 1939 and the outbreak of war began attempts to undermine the Nazi regime. There is a raw, almost brutal quality to the all-consuming storyline. Yet this is intoxicatingly readable and the central relationships encouraged me on to the finish. By the end I was mentally shattered, this most certainly isn’t an easy read, but it is enthralling. This novel encouraged me to research the history of Admiral Canaris, to consider the nature of good and evil and how it combines when contained within human nature. Cesare is haunting, traumatic, and yet I wholeheartedly recommend, and include it as one of my Liz Picks of the Month.
Our December 2020 Book Club Recommendation Set in a future that feels as though it really could be just around the corner, this eloquent, intense, and chilling novel merges literary psychological thriller with dystopian apocalyptic fiction. A family from New York rent a luxurious and peaceful getaway, when the owners of the house return in a panic due to a power outage in the city which has also knocked out the TV and internet at the home, an uneasy truce settles. Whilst huge in scope, this is actually an achingly intimate novel and it creates an atmosphere that slid into my thoughts and thoroughly ruffled my equilibrium. Rumaan Alam sets the scene with a thoroughness that is almost poetic as he points out the ridiculous and highlights the irrelevant. The characters are almost touchable, awkward moments hum with intensity, points are made, thoughts shuffle. This LoveReading Star Book doesn’t shriek or clamour, answers lie hidden, which somehow makes the story even more unnerving. Touching family, race, and human nature in the most precarious of moments, Leave The World Behind is an incredibly penetrating and surprising read.
A thoughtfully written, smartly executed novel of suspense set in the rare book world. Former forger Will struggles to console Meghan when her brother and reclusive book collector Adam is found with his hands severed, their lives are thrown into further turmoil when threatening letters begin to arrive. This has such a clever premise, any confirmed bibliophile will be in their seventh heaven. The first sentence is a doozy, and my expectations skipped higher. This has the most wonderful setting and there are descriptions written by Bradford Morrow that are so evocatively written, they sing in their intensity. Don’t though, think you are only entering a murder mystery, while a crime sits centre stage, it is the background and the shadows that are actually the most revealing. The Forgers is an intriguing read, and one where the interest is not necessarily where you’d expect to find it.
A suspense-filled, compulsively readable, energy-rush of a ride, and a book that I read in one sitting. Events take a decidedly dark turn when Kate Marshall is asked to investigate a death, and she and research assistant Tristan end up in a race to save the intended victim of a killer. This is the second in the Kate Marshall novels and if you are already a signed up fan, then Shadow Sands continues the series in wonderfully dramatic style. I do actually feel as though you could read this as a standalone novel (always the sign of a good writer), but to fully enjoy the storyline I recommend that you begin with the stonkingly good Nine Elms. Set two years after the last book, Robert Bryndza invites us further into the lives of Kate and Tristan and sets up one heck of a scary scenario, along with multiple suspects. He excels in creating a biting tension, and I found myself in that exquisite position of wanting to race ahead yet savour the story. Penetrating and chilling, Shadow Sands is thoroughly recommended if you like to be kept right on the very edge of your seat.
I have three names: I was born Leigh-Ann. I became Cherrie. When I was a child, they called me Little Bones… My father was Mr Bones – the notorious serial killer of 25 years ago. As a child I witnessed his crimes. Everything is different now. I have a new identity. I’m a mother. I am finally free. Until that podcast. I should never have listened. They’re linking a recent disappearance to the crimes of the past. They know who I am. They’re calling me Little Bones again. They say I’m a villain but I’m not. I’m a victim. You believe me, don’t you?
Roy Grace, creation of the award-winning author Peter James, unearths a powerful criminal network in Find Them Dead. Ending his secondment to London's Met Police, Roy Grace gets a tip-off about a county lines drugs mastermind operating out of Brighton. On his first day back in his old job in Sussex, he is called to a seemingly senseless murder. Separately, Meg Magellan finally has her life back together, five years after the car crash that killed her husband and their son. Her daughter, Laura, now eighteen, is on her gap year travelling in South America with a friend, and Meg misses her badly. Laura is all she has in the world. In between jobs, Meg receives a summons for jury service. She's excited - it might be interesting and will help distract her from constantly worrying about Laura. But when she is selected for the trial of a major Brighton drugs overlord, everything changes. Gradually, Grace's investigation draws him increasingly into the sinister sphere of influence of the drug dealer on trial. A man utterly ruthless and evil, prepared to order the death of anyone it takes to enable him to walk free. Just a few days into jury service, Meg arrives home to find a photograph of Laura, in Ecuador, lying on her kitchen table. Then her phone rings. A sinister, threatening stranger is on the line. He tells her that if she ever wants to see Laura alive again, it is very simple. At the end of the trial, all she has to do is make sure the jury says just two words . . . Not guilty.
Picture it. You’re going on holiday. The bags are packed and the family is ready, you’re at the gate, the plane is boarding, you’ve decided to start your brand new, especially purchased thriller right away. Suddenly, you’re immersed into the corridors of intrigue, conspiracy, murder, espionage and you don’t know who to trust. The plane has left without you. So has the family. You haven’t even noticed. At least you have a good book … and the whole house to yourself for a week!
This section is crammed with dangerously compelling adventures that will have your nails bitten and nervous system tested to the full. From Dan Brown, Stieg Larsson and James Patterson to Fred Vargas, Bernard Minier and C.J Sansom, there’s enough here to keep you ‘head-down and out-of-it’ for years. There’s certainly time to read one more before the family gets back from Torremolinos … and that’s where we come in!