Springtime and the Reading is. . .Thrilling

As the imposing piles of snow melt in my sleepy college town to reveal the detritus covered 5 months ago by our first snowy deluge (T-shirts; A lone shoe;That laptop cover your roommate borrowed), I am hunkering down to reminisce about some of my favorite winter reads. The days were long, the cross-stitching epic, and the reading was . . . well, you already know what.


It’s going to be a cardinal. One day. And however many fires and glasses of wine it takes.
Courtesy of Penn State Libraries and their #BookDate, I was set up with Emma Donoghue’s The Wonder. Chillingly plotted, but with an intense beating heart beneath, it was excellent morning reading.

The Wonder (New York: Little Brown; Toronto: HarperCollins Canada; London: Picador, 2016). “The Irish Midlands, 1859. An English nurse, Lib Wright, is summoned to a tiny village to observe what some are claiming as a medical anomaly or a miracle – a girl said to have survived without food for months. Tourists have flocked to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O’Donnell, and a journalist has come down to cover the sensation. The Wonder is a tale of two strangers who transform each other’s lives, a psychological thriller, and a story of love pitted against evil.”

Don’t let the title fool you–this is no campy noir story. Braithwaite writes with exceptional poignancy about the ties that bind us, both literally and figuratively. I couldn’t put it down.

My Sister, the Serial Killeris a blackly comic novel about how blood is thicker – and more difficult to get out of the carpet – than water…

When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…”

There’s not much more I can say about Gilly Macmillan. Go read all her books. NOW. #JasperApproved

I Know You Know: “From New York Times bestselling author Gilly Macmillan comes this original, chilling and twisty mystery about two shocking murder cases twenty years apart, and the threads that bind them.

Twenty years ago, eleven-year-olds Charlie Paige and Scott Ashby were murdered in the city of Bristol, their bodies dumped near a dog racing track. A man was convicted of the brutal crime, but decades later, questions still linger.

For his whole life, filmmaker Cody Swift has been haunted by the deaths of his childhood best friends. The loose ends of the police investigation consume him so much that he decides to return to Bristol in search of answers. Hoping to uncover new evidence, and to encourage those who may be keeping long-buried secrets to speak up, Cody starts a podcast to record his findings. But there are many people who don’t want the case—along with old wounds—reopened so many years after the tragedy, especially Charlie’s mother, Jess, who decides to take matters into her own hands.

When a long-dead body is found in the same location the boys were left decades before, the disturbing discovery launches another murder investigation. Now Detective John Fletcher, the investigator on the original case, must reopen his dusty files and decide if the two murders are linked. With his career at risk, the clock is ticking and lives are in jeopardy…”

Akhtar’s debut is worth your perusal for that tag line and cover alone–and waiting inside the covers is a page-turning tale that manages to be both deliciously soapy and satirically revealing of our own human weaknesses. I can’t wait to read more of what Ahktar has to offer.

#FashionVictim: “Fashion editor Anya St. Clair is on the verge of greatness. Her wardrobe is to die for. Her social media is killer. And her career path is littered with the bodies of anyone who got in her way. She’s worked hard to get where she is, but she doesn’t have everything.

Not like Sarah Taft. Anya’s obsession sits one desk away. Beautiful, stylish, and rich, she was born to be a fashion world icon. From her beach-wave blonde hair to her on-trend nail art, she’s a walking editorial spread. And Anya wants to be her friend. Her best friend. Her only friend.

But when Sarah becomes her top competition for a promotion, Anya’s plan to win her friendship goes into overdrive. In order to beat Sarah…she’ll have to become her. Friendly competition may turn fatal, but as they say in fashion: One day you’re in, and the next day you’re dead.”

Holiday Reading 2018

I’m more than a thriller writer–I’m a thriller reader, to the max it seems. My recent reading list has included a few novels outside the thriller genre, but for the most part I can’t seem to escape the pull of a taught, well-drawn thriller. Lucky for me, it seems, because the writing/reading world is full of expertly-crafted pulse-pounding stories this holiday season. Below are a few of my faves. Enjoy!

Also, huge thanks to my lovely local, Schlow Library, for making all of this reading possible.

The Wych Elm by Tana French. There is nothing better than French’s lyrical prose mixed with her edge-of-a-knife psychological profiling. Nothing.

Odd Child Out by Gilly Macmillan. I gobbled this book up, mile after mile while reading on my treadmill (which is where I manage to do most of my reading, believe it or not). Macmillan has a gift for keeping her writing tight without the complexity of her characters suffering. Similar to Fiona Barton, Macmillan’s novels are not just page-turners, but offer readers a tangible humanity on each and every page.


The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn. Crafted like a fine wine, this story just gets better the further you travel with Finn’s house-bound Anna. It takes the tropes of film noir and runs at an all-out sprint to a new finish line. Block out your evening, because this will you keep you reading late into the night.