Off the Shelf: Psychological suspense novels for the win

Well, I just hit the trifecta.Sometimes I need to read a lot of books before I can truly recommend them and fill an article. I’ve had a run of luck recently that I would like to share with you.

It was freight day and I saw a book I had been waiting for. And I knew that anything I was currently reading would have to wait. I fell into “The Last Time I Lied” by Riley Sager knowing April had her eye on it as well. After I finished, I asked her if she was going to read it. She said: “You want to talk about it, don’t you?” Oh. Yeah. A couple of days later, we were unloading the courier tubs and I said: “So when you got to…” (and suddenly, Leasa’s voice floated over the cubicle wall: “No! Stop. I’m not that far yet!”) Well, all I was going to say to April was: “When you got to this certain part I had a Wait! What?! moment, did you too?” April laughed: “That’s when I decided sleep could wait and I’d stay up to finish reading.” Yeah, it’s good.

Here’s the story: When Emma is 14, her three bunk mates disappear from camp. She is traumatized and learns to paint in therapy. Fifteen years later, though still haunted, Emma is becoming a renowned artist. That’s when her old camp director invites her to the reopening of the camp. Emma is drawn back to finally find out what happened that summer, face others who were there, and to try to keep the last lie she told from coming out. I loved the story. I loved the setting. I loved the ending. Anyone who has ever been to sleepover camp, sat around a campfire, stayed up late whispering tall tales and legends just to scare the person next to you — this one is for you.

I’ve enjoyed Belinda Bauer’s stories for a while now and was looking forward to her newest, “Snap.” When their car breaks down, Jack’s mum instructs him to take care of his sisters. She never returns. Three years later, 15- year-old Jack, taking his responsibility to heart, has become a successful thief to care for his sisters, breaking into homes to steal books and healthy food for them to eat. That’s when he stumbles on a clue that he thinks might be connected to his mother’s murder. Bauer creates the best characters; I loved Jack. The detectives were amusing, as they were alternately bumbling, self-aggrandizing, and occasionally capable. “Snap” is long listed for the Man Booker Prize 2018 and deserves all the praise.

I’m not sure if it was the dreamy cover of a woman swimming on Entertainment Weekly’s shout out: “This is going to be big!” that initially lured me in, but I tucked “All These Beautiful Strangers” into my stack to go home and it floated to the top. Beguiled by the first page, this one has it all: mystery, romance, secrets, loyalty, and betrayal. Charlie’s mother, Grace, disappeared when Charlie was 7, fueling speculation ranging from Charlie’s dad murdered her to Grace just abandoned her family. Now 17, Charlie is in prep school and has just received a private invitation to a decades-old secret society (the A’s) that has a long and questionable reputation with the school. No matter what, Charlie really wants to belong. Unexpectedly, new information comes to her regarding her mother, so along with jumping through the challenges the A’s require, Charlie begins to investigate what really happened to her mother all those years ago. Underlying everything is a campus legend about a student who died there. No one actually remembers who or how or why but according to rumors, seeing the ghost brings bad luck: the failing of a test, a rejection from Harvard. And wouldn’t you know, Charlie just saw something white and translucent in the woods. In her first book, Elizabeth Klehfoth weaves an addicting psychological thriller together like a tapestry. While I am her newest admirer, I also have a bone to pick: I lost a lot of sleep staying up to read just a few more pages, just one more! If you’re a Kate Morton follower, I think you’d like Klehfoth.

These are my most recent recommendations for some good books out this summer. It is just so much fun being in the middle of a good read and another, and…. Well, I don’t want to press my luck, but I really hope I get a run like this again.And what do you know, I just picked up “Spinning Silver” by Naomi Novik. Coincidence? Perhaps. Knock wood. Maybe my luck will hold!

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