Thriller

Ill WIll

My Snotty Literati Column’s latest review is Ill Will. Check it out now!

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

f5b0e41325260a2b830f6a706700852bEarlier this month, I snagged a deal on Living Social that got me a three-month Audible.com membership for just $8.00 per month. Normally, a membership runs $14.95 per month, so it was kind of a no brainer: a discount involving books that I could read while I drove to work when I couldn’t normally read? Uhm, okay. Sign me up.

I downloaded Karin Slaughter’s Pretty Girls, as my first “read”. I thought a mystery would be a good pick for an audio book, because I wanted something that would keep my attention and have enough action to keep me engaged in this consumption format. Well, let me tell you what. Pretty Girls was a perfect audio pick; and I realized this when I had to pull over at one point to catch my breath. Yeah, that really happened.

Pretty Girls centers around sisters Claire and Lydia, sisters whose lives were irrevocably changed when their older sister Julia was kidnapped and never found. Fast forward 20 years and the sisters don’t speak and live vastly different lives: Claire is married to one of Atlanta’s most successful businessmen, and Lydia is working to maintain sobriety while raising a daughter on her own.

It was the tragedy of their sister’s disappearance that drove them apart and the murder of Claire’s husband that brings them together. The reunion is hardly welcome, and the two women must now navigate life with old wounds ripped open and new secrets as Claire learns her husband’s murder was not a simple random act of violence.

Pretty Girls is not for the faint of heart. It’s gritty, gristly, and gruesome. It will make your heart race and plummet. If you are new to audio books, I highly recommend listening to voice actor Kathleen Early read this dark and twisted story that will stay with you long after the last word is spoken.

4 Stars

 

Week 35: Still Missing – Chevy Stevens

Want to get away? I mean really away? I mean so away that you won’t even know that the place you have been transported to could even exist? I am not talking about alternate universes or some sort of fantastical made up world. No, I am talking about a modern-day, hair-raising thriller that will have you flying through the chapters, while double checking your locks at the same time. I am talking about a great recommendation for your next book club meeting. I am talking about STILL MISSING by newcomer–and one to watch–Chevy Stevens.


STILL MISSING features Annie O’Sullivan, a 32 year old realtor closing up shop after an ill-attended open house when a pleasant looking prospect pops in for just a peek. Knowing that her boyfriend Luke is patiently waiting on her for dinner, Annie hesitates to spend any extra time on an unlikely buyer. But a warm smile and friendly demeanor causes her to take the few extra minutes for one last showing. It’s that split second decision that changes everything for Annie. In just a matter of minutes, she’s being directed at gunpoint into a van, drugged and taken to a remote cabin in the mountains where she will remain missing for a year.


So have I just given everything away? Hardly.


The book actually opens with Annie having returned from this harrowing ordeal and recounting all of the events in counseling sessions to a therapist. Details that include her new life under the controlling arm of “The Freak”, as Annie calls him, a crazy psychopath who dresses her, bathes her, rapes her, tells her when she can go to the bathroom and directs what and when she can eat.


So what’s left to tell? A lot, actually.


Stevens’ second story line–Annie’s life in the present, seeking therapy and working with the police to solve her mystery–is chock full twists and turns that had me guessing until the end. In fact, no one in my entire book club was able to figure it out. A great sign of a good thriller, go figure. Many of us said that STILL MISSING is so frighteningly real that we had to keep reminding ourselves that this was a work of fiction and not a story ripped from the headlines. Most of us couldn’t read it at night, but were quick to pick it right back up during daylight hours. More signs of a good thriller.


It isn’t often that I am so repulsed by the actions of a story’s villian, yet so compelled to keep reading. I think that was due in large part to Stevens’ ability to capture the anger, fear and vulnerabilities a person like Annie would undoubtedly experience after such an ordeal under her crazed captor. It was fascinating to see how it would all eventually unfold. My only complaint with the story was around the very predictable interaction Annie had with the lead investigator on her case. It was completely unnecessary and didn’t do anything to propel the story forward. With that said, STILL MISSING is a highly engrossing read and one that leaves you thankful it’s a complete and total fabrication.



Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 352

Week 8: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson

I’ve had a secret: This week’s book was actually attempted last week and I made an executive decision to put it down and hold until another time, a less busy week, a week when I would have more time to devote to what I could tell was going to be a wild ride of a book.

I’ve got a another secret: It won’t do you any good to save this book until you have several days available to read. You will need a nice solid block of time because once you dig in, you won’t be able to put it down. The dishes, facebook, e-mail and maybe even meals will have to wait.

Okay, so maybe those weren’t the bombshells you were expecting. I will leave the juiciest secrets to the masters, the late Stieg Larsson being one of them. A former Swedish journalist, Larsson wrote three unpublished books–the first being THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (TGWTDT), before his untimely death of a massive heat attack at age 50 in 2004. According to sources at wikipedia.org, Larsson had no intent of publishing the books, it was how he filled is leisure time at the end of the day serving as editor-in-chief of Sweden’s Expo magazine.

Thankfully, the books were published and readers can experience the page turning exhilaration of an expertly crafted thriller. TGWTDT centers around a disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist who is hired by wealthy industrial mogul Henrik Vanger to investigate the decades-old disappearance of beloved family member Harriet Vanger. Out of work, for reasons you will learn when you read the book, Blomkvist reluctantly takes on Vanger’s obsession with no real thought that he would discover anything new that trained professionals hadn’t unearthed over the years.

But that’s where he’s wrong.

Quickly, Blomkvist finds himself mired in the details of the contentious Vanger family history; a history that when further researched turns up far more questions than answers. It seems as though the mystery will never be resolved. Further complicating matters is the young, heavily tattoed researcher with multiple piercings he’s forced to partner with to decode the secrets, all the while maintaining a host of her own.

Larsson’s work strikes all the right notes of a perfect freaky-deaky-ultra-creepy thriller and he kept me guessing up until the end. In creating two lead characters that so effectively work together, despite their glaring differences, he’s also elicited enough intrigue to make me want to pick up his subsequent novels involving Blomkvist and the curious girl with the dragon tattoo: THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE and the soon-to-be-released THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST.

Perhaps you’ll do the same.

Rating: 5 stars
Pages: 480 pages
Genre: Thriller