This week, I’m reading two new American Thrillers. One is a book I pre-ordered because I enjoyed the author’s last novel so much. The other is a book I’m reading as part of my TBR ABC Reading Challenge.
One seems to fall into the ‘Clever, cunning, dangerous woman seeks revenge’ sub-genre à la ‘Jane Doe’. The other is a ‘Murder In A Small Town’ kind of thing. One is driven from the point of view of the knowing avenger. The other is written from the point of view of the ignorant victim. To me, both have a strongly American feel to them. I’m looking forward to following their twists and turns.
‘The Lies I Tell’ by Julie Clark (2022)
I’ve had ‘The Lies I Tell’ on pre-order since I finished Julie Clark’s last book, ‘The Flight’ last month. ‘The Flight was a brilliantly crafted thriller about two women, strangers to each other, who were trying to leave their old lives behind. I was completely captivated by the book, not just because it had a tense, I have to keep reading this to find out what happens next plot with clever twists that surprised without cheating but because I was interested in the lives of both women.
The publisher’s summary of ‘The Lies I Tell’ makes it sound like a clever revenge thriller. If that’s what it is and it’s done well, I’ll be happy, but I think it’s going to turn out to be more than that and I’m curious to know what that ‘more’ will be.
‘Or Else‘ by Joe Hart (2022)
I’ve had two of Joe Hart’s early novels ‘The Waiting’ (2014) and ‘The Last Girl’ (2016) on my TBR pile for six years or so now. So long that I’m feeling guilty for not having read them yet. The books had pitches that called to me but somehow, they’ve never made their way to the top of the pile. As part of my TBR ABC challenge, I decided to include a Joe Hart book. I wanted books without the word ‘the’ in the title, so that left me with ‘Or Else’ as the letter O in the challenge.
Two things attract me to this book, the first is that it’s part of a thriller sub-genre where the main character, who may or may not be a reliable narrator, is an ignorant victim at the centre of something that they don’t understand but where whoever is manipulating them has enough leverage to draw them in. It makes me think of stepping into quicksand. A story like that, when it’s well done, feels like someone stepping on your grave. The second thing that calls to me is that this book is set in a small town that the main character has left and then returned to. I’ve never lived in a really small town but just the idea of the lack of anonymity combined with a long-tailed reputation makes me feel claustrophobic. Add a bit of malice to that and the resentment against someone who left and came back and there’s a huge potential for beneath-the-surface nastiness.
I’m hoping Joe Hart will use the small-town setting to amplify the tension felt by the ignorant victim as they get sucked into someone else’s game of secrets.