Frighteningly Good Way to Kill Time: The Best Thriller Books | Books | Entertainment
The Girl Before By JP Delaney Quercus, 12.99
The Girl Before has a brilliantly scary premise. As house prices rise in London, Jane looks at a string of seedy apartments before her real estate agent suggests she see One Folgate Street, warning that it comes with “about two hundred stipulations.”
The famous architect and “technominimalist” Edward Monkton designed this spectacular home operated by a sophisticated application. He reviews all the potential tenants and following an intrusive application process, he accepts Jane to live there.
However, when she sees a stranger drop flowers at the door, she learns the story of Emma, a former tenant who died there.
As Jane falls in love with the arrogant Monkton, she discovers that Emma had a relationship with him. And Emma’s ex-boyfriend is convinced Monkton murdered her, his own wife and child.
Jane refuses to believe that Monkton, despite all of his controlling behavior, is capable of such horrific crimes. But as she sets out to establish her innocence, she puts herself in inconceivable danger.
The ending of The Girl Before feels rather conventional after such a disturbing build-up, but the book’s clever premise gives it an edge. A deeply addicting literary thriller that deserves to be one of this year’s biggest hits.
Fiona Cummins Macmillan’s Rattle, £ 12.99
THIS creepy start introduces readers to the Bone Collector, a serial killer who abducts children with rare bone deformities to display their bones in a grisly museum passed down through his family from generation to generation. His father trained him to lead a double life. In one, he has a wife and a job, but the other lives in the shadows, searching for the trophies needed to fuel his twisted obsession.
When five-year-old Clara Foyle goes missing in South East London, Detective Etta Fitzroy is called in to investigate. She is haunted by her inability to find another girl who disappeared over a year earlier.
As she struggles to find the connection between the kidnappings, time is running out for a six-year-old boy who is in the sights of a serial killer always ahead of the police. A very original and scary tale that vibrates with the threat and does not let go until the crisp finale. JC
Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land Michael Joseph, £ 12.99
Annie’s mom is a serial killer, but that doesn’t mean Annie is bad too. Or does he do it? After her mother’s arrest, Annie changes her name to Milly and moves in with a new foster family, desperate to prove that she is not like her mother. This chilling psychological thriller follows Milly as she rebuilds her life and is thrown into the media spotlight as her mother’s trial looms.
Milly’s mother tortured and murdered many young children, and luckily the author avoids graphic descriptions of his crimes. Milly is traumatized and, aged 15, surrenders to the police. She is consumed with guilt for the children she did not save. Milly goes from ordinary teenage concerns to dark, eerie thoughts so quickly that she sends chills through your bones. Although her new family seems warm and welcoming on the outside, teenage Phoebe hates Milly on sight.
You can’t help but hope that she has a better future, a future that wasn’t shaped by her evil mother. Bewitching and at times shocking, this Ali Land debut album will put you on the edge of your seat. It will certainly be a big talking point this year. JM
Watch Her Go By Eva Dolan Harvill Secker, £ 12.99
A body is found near a popular jogging track where a serial rapist has struck out and DI Zigic and DS Ferreira of the Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit are summoned to the scene. Victim Corinne Sawyer was born Colin and had recently separated from his wife to go through a gender realignment and become a woman. Zigic and Ferreira find a family at war with themselves, with bitter wife Nina and angry son Harry refusing to accept that Colin does not return.
Was the murder caused by family breakdown? Did the serial rapist attack the wrong victim? Or is there an escalation in violent attacks against transgender women? Under close press scrutiny and with their unit facing an uncertain future due to funding cuts, this is Zigic and Ferreira’s most difficult case to date.
The fourth installment in the series is the best yet, with Dolan approaching a difficult subject with an empathy and authenticity that elevates him above other contemporary criminal writers. Watch Her Disappear is gripping and gripping read. JC
The Trophy Child by Paula Day Bantam Press, £ 12.99
The Trophy Child takes you behind the facade of a family with a seemingly perfect life. Bronte Bloom is a lovely and lovable little girl, taken from one extracurricular activity to another by her arrogant mother Karen who is determined to make Bronte a star. Then Brontë disappears and his disappearance is followed by a murder in the family. Detective Sergeant Joanne Aspinall must figure out what is going on in this complex family before they collapse on their own.
Paula Day bases her complex and emotional domestic noir in a seemingly ordinary suburb and, set in the idyllic Lake District, The Trophy Child shows the underlying hustle and bustle to perfection. Karen is violent towards Bronte and ignores her biological son Ewan and stepdaughter Verity in the process. While this is family life at its darkest, Day’s multifaceted yet unpleasant characters are still incredibly relatable. The result is fast-paced, enjoyable, and suspenseful drama. JM
Sirens by Joseph Knox Doubleday, £ 12.99
This captivating descent into the dark underworld of Manchester sees disgraced detective Aidan Waits sent to infiltrate the empire of drug lord Zain Carver.
After being caught with drugs in his locker, Waits knows this is his only chance to save his career. But he is overwhelmed when he is ordered to spy on Isabelle Rossiter, the teenage daughter of an MP and friend of Carver.
Forced to try and befriend the Kingpin, Waits also finds himself dangerously close to Catherine, one of the young women known as Sirens and used by Carver to collect drug money in the pubs and clubs. Waits will have to risk his life to save her and bring down the corrupt cop helping the crime lord stay on top.
Knox roams the grubby streets of Manchester in great detail, leading the reader into a violent and corrupt world. Sirens is a powerfully captivating debut album that marks the start of a new series intended to bring “Northern Noir” to the forefront of English detective fiction alongside David Mark’s crisp DS McAvoy books. JC
Three new books on the Potter world released
The Dry by Jane Harper Little, Brown, 12.99
When Aaron Falk was a teenager, his beloved friend Ellie was found dead, after leaving a note with her name on it. Aaron didn’t have an alibi until his best friend Luke Hadler lied to him. But the locals were convinced of Aaron’s guilt and he and his father fled the small town of Kiewarra for Melbourne.
Two decades later, Aaron, now a police officer, returns to Kiewarra for Luke’s funeral. The city is shaken by news that Luke shot his wife and young son Billy before turning the gun on him. However, Luke’s parents refuse to believe their son is a murderer and beg Aaron to stay in Kiewarra to investigate.
As Aaron begins to dig beneath the surface of Luke’s life, he reflects on the events surrounding Ellie’s death. Where was Luke that day? What if Luke didn’t murder his own family, who did? Harper brilliantly captures the claustrophobia of the small Australian town during an unrelenting drought. It’s an eminently readable start with characters you’ll love and characters you’ll love to hate. CH
The Book of Mirrors by EO Chirovici Century, £ 12.99
Literary agent Peter Katz is intrigued when author Richard Flynn sends him the first half of his book on his relationship with famous psychologist Professor Joseph Wieder at Princeton University in the late 1980s. Wieder was brutally murdered home in 1987 and the case was never resolved. Katz wonders if the unfinished manuscript could solve the mystery. Flynn died after publishing the half-manuscript, so Katz hired former journalist John Keller to research him with a view to completing it.
The investigation is completed by Roy Freeman, a retired detective who worked on the Wieder case. The Book Of Mirrors is a thriller that explores how people’s memories can be misleading. It’s a captivating read, if somewhat forgettable, but as it will be published in 38 countries, it looks set to achieve worldwide success. JC
CHARLOTTE HEATHCOTE JON COATES, JAYMI McCANN