Here are a few last minutes thrill-rides for weekend reading just before Halloween. Do you dare?
Spilled Blood by Brian Freeman
Suspense Fiction. St. Croix, Minnesota, is a dying town, falling apart as its children die of leukemia, while just upriver, the town of Barron — home to a successful chemical plant — is flourishing. Naturally, tensions are fueled by allegations of pollution and they come to a tipping point with the death of the chemical company head’s daughter…and the accusations of murder leveled at a St. Croix girl. Now add some fuel to the fire — a mysterious man threatening retribution, a violent thug, a missing scientist, and the St. Croix girl’s lawyer, who happens to be her father. Suspense “doesn’t get any more excruciating than this,” says Booklist of this 2013 winner of the International Thriller Writers Award for Best Novel.
Spiral by Paul McEuen
Scientific Thriller. Liam Connor is an 86-year-old pioneer in the field of nanoscience, working out of Cornell University. His death by apparent suicide is hard for both his granddaughter Maggie and his colleague Jake Sterling to swallow — especially after it becomes clear that he was tortured. It is up to the two of them to determine why Liam was tortured — and what role he played in the use of biological weapons in World War II. Booklist’s reviewer called Spiral the “most gripping and engrossing thriller” he’s read in 50 years of reading thrillers and praises the author’s skill with plot, pace, and characterization, and with his “brief, lucid disquisitions” on science. No wonder it won the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel in 2012.
The 500 by Matthew Quirk
Thriller. Smart and well written, this debut novel — which was selected as a “Best Beach Read” by The Hollywood Reporter and won the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel in 2013 — is being likened to John Grisham’s The Firm (“only with a whole lot more action,” says bestselling author James Patterson). It stars former con artist and Harvard Law student Mike Ford, who accepts a position with a consulting firm whose specialty is pulling strings for (and pulling the strings of) the top 500 most powerful people inside the Beltway. If you love this intrigue-filled book, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s a sequel in the pipeline.
Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
Psychological Suspense. On a beautiful sunny day, Vancouver Island realtor Annie O’Sullivan shows a house to one last friendly prospective buyer — and is kidnapped at gunpoint. Held captive in a remote cabin and made to follow rules that dictate when she can eat, bathe, and even speak, Annie is brutalized physically and psychologically for a year before she can escape. Now, in sessions with her therapist, Annie shares the story of her trauma, her escape, and her ongoing fear and anger, for her kidnapper has yet to be found. Psychologically intense, this 2011 winner of the International Thriller Writer Award for Best First Novel is “sure to leave readers looking over their shoulders for a smiling stranger.”