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February 13, 2022

3 Exciting Books for Fans of Thrillers

by MK French

Are you looking for something to keep you on the edge of your seat? Whether you want the twist and turns of a psychological thriller or the more straightforwardness of a crime thriller or want a little sci-fi time travel with your thriller, I have some great recommendations for you today.

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Catch Her When She Falls by Allison Buccola

Catch Her When She Falls
February 2022; Random House; 978-0593231296
audio, ebook, print (368 pages); psychological thriller

Ten years ago, Micah Wilkes' boyfriend was convicted of murdering her best friend Emily. She has since moved on, but now a true-crime blog and internet forum brings up possibilities she never thought of before. While Micah had told the truth, there are other people that the internet doubts. Micah now delves into the case, looking at her memories of that fateful night. What does she really know about it, and will she be the next to disappear?

The story is told in second-person perspective, which is really hard to pull off. This is done by having Micah telling the story to Joshua as she drives, addressing him as "you." I still found it hard to get into the story, especially with the present and past weaving in and out. It's not how the story was told that got to me, more like I didn't feel attached to anyone at all, so it didn't matter to me emotionally that Emily died. I know that sounds bad, but she was cheating with Alex for months before her death, and that's a squick I have. I didn't like the characters, either. Micah is single-minded in her pursuit of what happened in the past once she sees the online forum, and it brings out the worst in her.

The actual mystery of Emily's death is cleverly told, and the final reveal is heartbreaking. I couldn't put the book down, as much as I didn't like anyone in it, much like watching a trainwreck or massive pileup on an interstate. This is a fascinating read, and sad on so many levels.

City of the Dead by Jonathan Kellerman

City of the Dead
February 2022; Ballantine Books; 9780525618584
audio, ebook, print (336 pages); crime thriller

Homicide Lt. Detective Milo Sturgis and psychologist Alex Delaware work in LA, and a run-of-the-mill collision soon becomes anything but. The naked young man in the street is unknown, but a blood trail leads to the butchered body of Cordelia Gannett, an internet influencer pretending to be a psychologist. She continued her career online, coaching those with relationship issues. Cordelia had her own relationship and family issues, however. Did they come back to haunt her? Was the man collateral damage or the key to solving a grisly double homicide?

City of the Dead is the thirty-seventh book in the series, but don't feel obligated to read all thirty-six prior ones! It's still a police procedural novel, with references to the relationships and past events relevant to this one. Language is tight and punchy, with quick scenes moving from place to place as Milo and his team (sometimes with Alex's help) track down Cordi's life story, try to identify the naked man, and the players who might want them dead. At the same time, Alex is still doing forensic evaluations for the court, keeping him busy and giving us moments of downtime in between the tension of the investigation. When everything dovetails at the end, it's a neatly done story.

While there are some gruesome details on the different murders in the book, they're not dragged out or detailed. The sharp language gives everything a clinical sense, so it's more like a police procedural you see on TV. It's cinematic and felt like a quick read even though it took me a while to read it. Another good Kellerman novel for readers to look forward to!

Buy City of the Dead at Amazon

The Paradox Hotel by Rob Hart

The Paradox Hotel
February 2022; Ballantine Books; 978-1984820648
audio, ebook, print (336 pages); technothriller

January Cole runs security at the Paradox Hotel, where the rich arrive in costume and await trips to different time periods. The timeport nearby wreaks havoc on clocks in the hotel, and there's a body in one of the rooms that only she can see. Government officials are arriving in the hotel in advance of time travel being privatized, and accidents are now happening to those bidding on the technology. January is the only one able to catch a killer that's there yet not, and that ability is making her lose her grip on reality and time.

Jan is the acerbic security chief, and also Unstuck - she sometimes sees the past or future happening around her, and it only looks like she zones out for a moment. She works at the Paradox despite the fact that it makes her condition worse so she can catch glimpses of her dead girlfriend, which is heartbreaking. I like the friendships she has with her coworkers, which shows moments of softness in her otherwise harsh exterior. As badly as she acts around them, she cares for them, too.

From the start, there were hints at a much larger issue, and then the bidders and the Senator arrive in the midst of time flights gone awry and security problems. She sees fragments of her past, possible pieces of the future, and around the hotel are signs that time is slipping as well. She has a conference and extremely wealthy people to protect, staff to take care of, the Senator to deal with, and the killer to figure out while keeping a grip on her sanity. It's a tough balance and one that puts her at odds with everyone in the hotel. She appears out of control and dangerous, and she doesn't trust anyone to help figure out what happened. She can't solve it alone, however, and help comes from someone I never expected. It was wonderfully done, with surprises in the final third of the novel that had me racing to the finish. I thoroughly enjoyed how mind-bending this was, as every good time travel book is, and loved the conclusion. I think you will, too.

Buy The Paradox Hotel at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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  1. I haven't read any of Jonathan Kellerman's books, but have read every single one of his wife's (Faye Kellerman).