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Books—can't get enough of them, personally. When I die, turn my ashes into the paper for book pages. Now, you may not be as intense as I am (not a bad thing), but books can be both entertaining and full of inspiration. I'm a writer and an avid reader, and I tend to focus on the horror, thriller, and mystery genres. What can I say? I like a good scare. If you're looking for a killer read or something to inspire your writing, here are five books I think you need to read ASAP and why.
1. 'Broadchurch' - A Novelization by Erin Kelly
Yes, you can watch the original TV show written by Chris Chibnall. Honestly, you should. It's incredibly good. You should absolutely engage in both, but you decide in which order you would like to do that. I say this because it's such a daring move to write a novelization once the public has formed their opinions on the original piece. For that bravery, let me further explain why it's on my list.
Broadchurch is 448 pages of pure British mystery. Detective Ellie Miller returns from a vacation to find an outsider has been given the job she was to be promoted to. A deeply haunted and gruff Alec Hardy is now her superior, and they both find out together that 11-year-old Danny Latimer has been found dead on the beach. Danny was the best friend of Ellie's son, and his death touches far more people than just the two families. Everyone is a suspect according to Alec Miller, despite Ellie's feelings otherwise.
"An intimate portrait of a town and the ordinary grievances that have slowly simmered for years before boiling over in an unthinkable crime, this remarkable adaptation of the hit television show Broadchurch tells the story of a shattered family, a reeling town, and the two imperfect detectives trying to bring them answers." —Goodreads
Why It's a Great Read
Part of what makes us invest so much as readers is a sense of familiarity and possibility. The more feasible it is, the more we find ourselves getting swallowed up by the story. The small town and family elements in this book make you believe you're there with the characters. It's hard not to fall into sympathies or judgments with Erin Kelly's writing style here, which is exactly the point. Suspect everyone and don't prosecute too early when you're enjoying this book. As a writer, take note of how Kelly describes the town, the characters, and the atmosphere. It's almost impossible to not feel like you're not a member of that community. This book has it all—twists, battles with the past, and secrets, a lot of secrets. It's a classic tale of, "you think you know a person." Feelings of anxiety and suspense are heavy hitters here, and there are twists in both the book and series that will have you reeling. Personally, my favorite element is the vivid understanding of the character's emotions through all the turmoil this story has.
2. 'The Good Samaritan' by John Marrs
"Because the best thing about being a Good Samaritan is that you can get away with murder." —Goodreads.com
Who can deny a line like that!
Laura works at End of the Line, a crisis hotline for depressed and suicidal individuals. While most of her colleagues are there to provide comfort to those desperate to talk to someone, Laura has different motives. She doesn't desire to help people feel better; she wants to help them die. A sickness drives Laura to assess her callers and run them each through her vetting process to see if they are candidates to fulfill her darkest desire: to hear people take their life. Everything seems to be going well for her while she tries to balance her home life against the person she is once she sits in that chair at End of the Line. Until it isn't, that is. Her actions have dire consequences, and as things start to unravel, she must desperately try and pick up the pieces before she gets caught.
Why It's a Great Read
Holy mother of twists, people. This book embodies the word "thriller." The premise was a sure-fire win, and incredibly creative. As a writer, I tend to go to some dark places, considering horror and suspense are my preferred genres. Even so, I couldn't believe I didn't think that someone with an urge to kill would go so far as to use a suicide hotline to do so. There's depth to the characters in this story, and you're going to want to keep flipping pages until you find out how it all ends for each one. As soon as you think it could be over, you're dead wrong. Pro-tip, if you're able to, then I would highly recommend getting the Audible version of this book. The narrator brings this story to life in the way it deserves. A lot is going on in this book, but John Marrs wrote in such a fluid and comprehensive approach that you won't get lost. I love when there are multiple levels to a story, but I get turned off when I can't tell who's who or what's what after a decent go at the book. Thankfully, that is not the case here. Each character, their motives, and timelines are all cohesive and smooth. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up ASAP.
3. 'The Weight of Lies' by Emily Carpenter
"Digging into the past—and her mother’s cult classic—draws Meg to Bonny Island, Georgia, and an unusual woman said to be the inspiration for the book. At first island life seems idyllic, but as Meg starts to ask tough questions, disturbing revelations come to light…including some about her mother."
Meg is the daughter of a renowned author and is living a privileged life, but isn't excited about it. The money she has access to is a major perk, but Meg has never been close with her cold mother who pours most of her time into her fame from her book, Kitty. When approached about writing a book of her own about what it's like to be her mother's daughter, Meg goes searching for answers where it all began. The readers need to know, was Kitty fiction that came from the truth? Meg needs to decide for herself, as well as find out what happened to the family involved at the mysterious inn on Bonny Island. Digging up the past can be dangerous, however, as Meg finds out first hand some secrets are best left alone.
Why It's a Great Read
I highly recommend listening to the Audible version of this book if you have the chance as well. It's another example of how the proper narration can bring a story the life it deserves. If not, that's fine too. This read will capture you regardless. Meg is a relatable personality, despite her background. Her journey through the lies and hidden truths will touch you emotionally, and her fears will become your own. Emily Carpenter has done a phenomenal job of revealing the perfect amount in each chapter to leave you wanting more. Bonny Island is a dangerous place shrouded in mystery and suspense, with very few things being as they seem. I find this book inspiring as a writer because it can be challenging to make an heiress to a fortune seem relatable, yet I find myself feeling like I know Meg personally. Finding that balance between who a writer wants a character to be and how they are perceived by others is crucial, and Carpenter does a beautiful job. In addition to character development, writers should take note of the formula here. Carpenter utilizes multiple timelines that don't impede each other. Each step back into time reveals critical information relevant to the plot, and it's all cohesive.
4. 'What She Doesn't Know' by Andrew E. Kaufman
"Riley was the suspect in a murder investigation that destroyed her life and drove her into a psychiatric facility. Locked away for years, she was always guilty in the eyes of an unforgiving public. Now, after being released, all she wants is a fresh start, but the effort stalls when she becomes fixated on her new neighbor’s extravagant life. She can’t stop watching Samantha Light. And it’s curiously satisfying."
I feel as though the above quote says almost as much as I'd like to without giving anything away. At risk of revealing too much, I'll add that Riley's struggles after being released are twisted and spellbinding. She attempts to navigate her new life while being plagued by her psychological issues, making it challenging to determine what is real and what isn't.
Why It's a Great Read
Kaufman has you believing each new piece of information is the truth, and that's hard to do. I know that is a vague statement, but once you read it, you'll understand. Us thriller lovers are natural skeptics, but I found myself falling into traps left and right. I love a book that can captivate and surprise me, and make me question my perception. As a reader, I loved that this was a vivid psychological thriller, just like it claims to be. As a writer, I envy Kaufman's ability to keep me rooting for Riley at all times and ignore what may have been evident in hindsight. You'll feel like you're going crazy while reading this book, which to me is a sign of a quality manipulation of the reader's perception. I wish I could be less brief here, but all I can say is experience all the twists and turns for yourself, and you won't regret it.
If you think there's a book that deserves recognition here, let me know! Find and follow me on Twitter @MiaPetitti to recommend books and follow my writing as well.