7 Books to Get Your Adrenaline Pumping This Halloween
The Trespasser, by Tana French
In her sixth novel in the Dublin Murder Squad series, Tana French turns the spotlight on detective Antoinette Conway. The only female detective on the squad, Conway is guarded, short-tempered, and under a lot of stress. Save for her partner, Stephen Moran, the rest of the detectives do their best to insult her and get in the way of her cases. When Conway and Moran take on a murder case, it seems clear-cut. Aislinn Murray, a beautiful 26-year-old, was found dead in her apartment, her head smashed from a fall on the fireplace. Her new boyfriend, a bookstore owner named Rory Fallon, was due to come over for dinner, leaving him the main suspect. But that’s too obvious for the suspicious Conway, who grows more wary when an experienced colleague takes an interest in the case and is hell-bent on charging Rory. But Conway won’t back down. In several tense interrogation scenes (French’s specialty), the reader cannot only feel the sweat dripping from Rory, but also the high Conway gets from grilling her suspect. The questioning reveals that there is something a bit odd about Aislinn, and she might not be as innocent as she seems. An expert crime writer, French keeps the reader hanging onto every word. (Word to the wise: assume nothing!) For those who haven’t read the previous Dublin Murder Squad installments, The Trespasser stands alone, but you will get a better understanding of the characters from reading the earlier books, especially The Secret Palace, which features Conway and Moran.
To buy: $16.50, amazon.com.
Behind Closed Doors, by B.A. Paris
You’ll find yourself rooting for the murderer in this twisted thriller. The plot is simple. Jack and Grace Angel are a seemingly perfect couple–maybe too perfect. Jack is an attorney who defends battered women; Grace is the ultimate homemaker, gardener, and cook, and she dotes on her sister Millie who has Down syndrome. After a whirlwind romance, Jack and Grace wed and go to Thailand for their honeymoon, where Jack reveals that he has a history of psychological and physical torture and plans to make Grace his next victim. B.A. Paris adroitly cuts between the revelatory honeymoon and present day, where Grace plots to escape her torture chamber. Time is running out—Jack plans to bring Millie to live with them and Grace fears her fate would be even worse. Fueled by hatred for Jack, readers won’t be able to put down this pulpy read.
To buy: $13, amazon.com.
The Perfect Girl, by Gilly Macmillan
Zoe is 17, a piano prodigy with a genius IQ. Three years ago, Zoe was involved in a horrific accident that left three local teenagers, including her best friend, dead. Outcast from their community in Devon, England, Zoe and her mother Maria have settled in Bristol along with Maria’s new husband Chris and his teenage son, Lucas. Neither Chris nor Lucas know about Zoe and Maria’s marred past. Only Maria’s sister Tessa and Zoe’s former lawyer Sam, who both help narrate the story with Zoe, know what has happened. When Maria is found dead, Zoe, who was previously institutionalized, fears she will become the prime suspect. Little does she know that she and her mom aren’t the only ones with secrets to protect. Gilly Macmillan (What She Knew) deftly explores the intricacies of relationships and the bonds that tie families all while ratcheting up the suspense in this page-turning thriller.
To buy: $9.50, amazon.com.
The Witch House of Persimmon Point, by Suzanne Palmieri
Byrd Whalen returns to her family’s ancestral home only to uncover family secrets that have long been buried. Over the course of one harrowing weekend, the haunted histories of the Amore women reveal themselves, leading Byrd to question everything she’s ever believed about herself and her family history. She learns of Nan Amore, the family matriarch, who was sent away in 1890 to America, penniless and with her child in tow. There, Nan found work on the Green family in Persimmon Point. After a painful tragedy, Nan builds the house from the ashes and it becomes home for a generation of women haunted by heartbreak and tragedy. Dark and disturbing, this book will leave you chilled.
To buy: $10, amazon.com.
The Motion of Puppets, by Keith Donohue
Move over, Chucky. Puppets are about to get even spookier. Part horror, part mystery, and part magical realism, this novel follows Theo and Kay Harper, two newlyweds living in Quebec for the summer. While Theo works on translating a biography on pioneering photographer of motion, Eadweard Muybridge, Kay works as an acrobat in the cirque. Their summer takes a terrifying turn one night when Kay walks home alone and is chased into an old toy store. Here, she is transformed into a puppet and held captive in the back of the shop, where she and the other puppets are only allowed to move from midnight to sunrise. Desperate to find his wife, Theo finds connections to the shop but, understandably, cannot fathom that the puppets may in fact be alive. But as Theo searches, Kay is slowly forgetting the human world. Told from both Kay’s and Theo’s perspectives, the intricately plotted narrative blurs the lines between reality and fantasy. While a love story at heart, this inventive tale is suspenseful and absorbing. You will never look at a toy store the same way again.
To buy: $20, amazon.com.
Watching Edie, by Camilla Way
Edie and Heather were unlikely friends as teenagers. Edie was popular, pretty and stylish. Heather was an outcast, overweight and awkward. When Edie’s relationship with a domineering boyfriend turns tragic, she cuts ties with her mother and Heather and moves to London. Now, 17 years later, Edie is a 33-year-old single mother, living alone and suffering from postpartum depression. Unable to care for her child, Edie has no one to turn to until suddenly Heather shows up unannounced. In a thriller-movie twist reminiscent of Single White Female, Heather inserts herself into Edie’s life, taking care of Edie’s baby and cutting Edie off from her uncle, the one relative she still speaks with. As Edie gains her strength, she begins to question Heather’s motives. What does Heather want? Why has she resurfaced after all this time? The story is told from two perspectives: by a teenage Heather who recounts what happened before the incident, and by Edie who recounts the present. Although young Heather seems sympathetic, Edie’s present day fear of her is so palpable that the reader is left hanging on to every word trying to guess what went wrong 17 years ago.
To buy: $16, amazon.com.
Arrowood, by Laura McHugh
When Arden Arrowood returns to the family mansion she inherited from her father, she is forced to confront the painful memories of her childhood. Twenty years earlier, an 8-year-old Arden was watching her twin 2-year-old sisters as their pill-addicted mother was sleeping. She stepped away only for a minute when the toddlers went missing. All Arden can remember is that she chased after a gold car speeding away from the mansion. She never let go of the hope that her sisters are still alive, and she has trouble moving forward knowing that they may still be out there. Back at home she begins to learn more about her family’s secrets and their small, tightknit community as she gets closer to tracking down the prime suspect in the kidnapping. This mystery, which has a touch of the supernatural, examines the reliability of memory and the secrets that we keep. Plus, Laura McHugh’s writing is so descriptive and haunting, you can practically hear the old house creaking. Perfect for a spooky Halloween night.
To buy: $18, amazon.com.