15 TWISTIEST NOVELS OF 2018

2018 is a banner blue-ribbon kind of year for the psychological suspense novel! I have repeatedly been blown away by the outstanding books released this year. It is only July and look at this long list! Just click the title link for my review.

TAKE IMMEDIATE SHELTER: My 2018 Twistalicious Faves (so far…)

Lying in Wait is possibly…the best of the best. Liz Nugent is my new obsession. An Irish writer that may take her place beside my queen, Gillian Flynn, on the dark throne of twisted fiction.

Something in the Water is my surprise favorite! Sometimes when an actress or someone NOT in the writing profession throws their hat in the ring with their own novel -I confess to reading it just to see if it’s a train wreck. No ma’am. Catherine Steadman is a pro.

Believe Me is another surprise, only because I was making a snap judgement based on his previous novel which featured an outrageous plot. Believe Me is still out there, but J.P. Delaney cloaks it in a dark, seductive writing style and sells it big time. A deliciously unreliable narrator playing cat and mouse with her untrustworthy lover.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway came as a big relief! Ruth Ware is one of the very best literary-style writers working today, yet I was unable to rate any of her previous books very high. They always seem to miss the mark for me. This gothic mystery featuring an old-fashioned mistaken identity plot is right on target.

You Were Made for This tells the story of a young couple in love and so happily raising their new baby. NOT REALLY… I LIED… Nothing is what it seems at first glance in this contemporary, addictive page-turner! A stunning novel by Michelle Sacks.

The Perfect Nanny is a deep character analysis of a seemingly ordinary woman that commits the ultimate betrayal. Truly spine-tingling reading from French bestselling author, Leila Slimani.

Tangerine is a delectable treat! It’s a female take on The Talented Mr. Ripley and set in the dreamy Moroccan desert. A story of obsessive friendship between two women. Oh, yes, and a murder. An impressive debut novel by Christine Mangan.

The Wife is a perfect blend of police procedural and courtroom drama resting on a perfectly unreliable narrator’s shoulders. Alafair Burke, attorney and writer, is an exceptional author–I’m thrilled to have found her!

All the Beautiful Lies is Peter Swanson’s latest novel of strong and twisted characters. Taboo-crossing, tantalizing and sensational. You can never go wrong with Swanson.

The Flight Attendant grabbed me from the beginning with a binge-drinking, self-loathing main character who finds herself waking up with a dead guy in her bed. Chris Bohjalian has created an old-fashioned thriller featuring a messed-up heroine with a heart of gold.

Force of Nature from Jane Harper features one of the most memorable leading men in recent fiction, Aaron Falk. This time he leaves the Australian desert for the outback wilderness to hunt down a missing executive. Another atmospheric winner from Harper.

The Wife Between Us was the first book I got absolutely delirious over this year. The best quality lies in the ingenious way it’s structured, so innovative! The very definition of a TWIST!

The Chalk Man is a playful, scary novel with a Stranger Things cast of little friends pedaling their bikes into places they shouldn’t. C.J. Tudor is one of my fave new authors to watch.

The Last Time I Lied is campy, great fun. I almost felt like I was with the Scooby-doo gang helping to solve a murder mystery. Riley Sager has a fixation on 80’s horror films that shows in his fabulous novels.

Let Me Lie is the latest offering from the tornado goddess herself, Clare Mackintosh. A wonderful writer, Mackintosh can a spin a twisty mystery like no one else. This one had me second and third guessing all the way!

Now, please enjoy your twisted novels….. Let me know what you think!

YOU WERE MADE FOR THIS

4.5 STARS

  • Author: Michelle Sacks
  • US Publication date: June 19, 2018

When Sam inherits a cottage in the Sweden countryside, he and his wife, Merry, pack up their hectic lives in NYC and begin a brand new life in an cold, isolated country with their infant baby.

In Sweden, they are the very picture of domestic contentment. Merry gardens and bakes with a fervor that would put Martha Stewart to shame. Sam begins working at his dream career as a film documentarian. Their adorable baby is a fat little cherub, at the family’s center of adoration and devotion.

Sounds so beautiful and la-dee-da perfect. However, after this setup, we are in for a shock as Merry and Sam take turns narrating their own short chapters. Buckle up. What you are about to learn becomes more alarming with each page. (This may be a good time to warn you there are definite triggers throughout for a sensitive reader.) Dark, twisted, painfully disturbing.

Just as we are learning about Sam and Merry’s shaky foundation, Merry’s best friend from childhood arrives for a visit with the young family in Sweden. Her name is Frank (Frances) and she knows Merry better than anyone else in the world. She immediately sees right through Merry’s phony happy homemaker act. At this point, Frank joins in the narration with her own chapters and we start to see that Frank has her own ugly secrets. These three characters are positively nasty and the perfect storm is set into motion. AS THE UNRELENTING SUSPENSE BEGINS, YOU CANNOT TURN YOUR EYES AWAY FROM THE PAGE. I LOVE IT!

Michelle Sacks has written an almost perfect psychological thriller. She writes in a fluid, spare manner- the kind of dialogue without quotation marks, yet it is absolutely cloaked in a haunting, dread-filled mood. Sacks is an intelligent writer and I have great appreciation for her sophisticated style. You know how I love to go deep in these sicko character profiles, and Sacks boldly goes to the deepest corruptions possible. And she doesn’t even blink.

If what I’ve told you hasn’t scared you away– then you, my friend, are in for a treat!!! Highly recommended for lovers of books like The Perfect Nanny, Unraveling Oliver, The Visitors and White Bodies.

YOU WERE MADE FOR THIS hits the shelves June 19, 2018. Thanks so much to Little, Brown Publishers for my gorgeous copy! All opinions are my own.

THE PERFECT NANNY

FIVE STARS

  • Author: Leila Slimani
  • US Publication date: January 9, 2018
  • UK Title: LULLABY

Goodreads SummaryWhen Myriam, a mother and brilliant French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work, she and her husband are forced to look for a caretaker for their two young children. They are thrilled to find Louise: the perfect nanny right from the start. Louise sings to the children, cleans the family’s beautiful apartment in Paris’s upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late whenever asked, and hosts enviable kiddie parties. But as the couple and the nanny become more dependent on each other, jealousy, resentment, and frustrations mount, shattering the idyllic tableau.

I still have chills days after finishing THE PERFECT NANNY. I’ve skipped over this novel many times thinking it would be the old “hand that rocks the cradle” plot. I could not have been more wrong. This unusual book got under my skin in the quietest, creepiest way possible and it deserves nothing less than 5 stars.

The story opens with a brief graphic scene of violence depicting the death of two young children at the hands of their nanny. I almost put down the book, I was afraid it would continue. But, no, that is only the first two pages. An unsettling and disturbing framework is set and the reader now views the rest of the story from the beginning, all the while knowing how this is going to end.

Since we know WHO, the driving force of this tense character profile is WHY? As in real life, we see glimpses of madness in a person, but rarely is there a definable answer as to why someone would commit such a heinous act. Instead, it is a combination of inexplicable factors in a disturbed mind that may quietly lead to violence.

The terrifying part to me is how the loving parents unknowingly invited a madwoman into their home. She appeared to them to be an angel, an actual Mary Poppins. Until, the unraveling began. And then it was too late.

“She has the keys to their apartment; she knows everything; she has embedded herself so deeply in their lives that it now seems impossible to remove her.”

The writing is smooth, yet spare. Leila Slimani has won many writing awards in her home country of France and it is easy to see why. I love this style of writing with one omniscient narrator telling the story in a simple, almost hypnotic manner. The short book is absolutely riveting and compulsively readable.

This is for readers that loved Unraveling Oliver or We Need to Talk About Kevin. However, this novel feels completely fresh and is a much faster read than either of these. Truly, one of my new favorites.

WE WERE LIARS

5/5 Stars

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

When I picked this book up to read, I knew nothing about it. I didn’t even realize it was a young adult book. That didn’t matter. I read it in one sitting. It is sophisticated and modern and you will not stop reading until you reach the surprise ending. It is so compelling,  I have to include it in my Twister Hall of Fame. Just don’t let anyone spoil it for you by talking about. SHHHHhhhhhhh.

AMAZON link We Were Liars

What Makes a Plot Twist Work?

stormy-800pxThere are few things I love more in this world than a book or movie with a great plot twist.  Plot twists can occur throughout a novel (a constant rollercoaster ride) or there can be one huge twist at the ending after pages of suspense.  Not all plot twists work for me.  In fact, so many fail (BEHIND HER EYES).  It is a difficult thing to pull off and an author has to be quite skillful.  There are certain elements that a story must have in place for a plot twist to be successful.

  • element of surprise (duh)
  • foreshadowing/clues
  • believable, logical or plausible
  • red herrings

Of course, these elements only work if the characterization and narration of the story is compelling. Points of view are are also important. How well do we know the narrator? Unreliable narrators, such as Rachel in GIRL ON THE TRAIN, are all the rage right now and I for one, LOVE IT!! It is difficult for these aspects to all come together in a story, but when they do, HOLY CYCLONE!!  A thing of beauty.