If you’ve read through a few (or more) of my entries, you know by now that I am a reader of many things. I suppose it’s like anything—I change things up to keep myself interested. I’ll go a stretch reading lots of thrillers, switch to fantasy for a month, then move on to bestsellers of random genres before I’m on to mysteries, and back again. I’m not a genre reader, I’m just a reader.
That said? I love to be scared! I gasp and jump watching scary movies (even better when in the theater and everyone does it!). I love thrillers that keep me guessing to the very last page, or even better, beyond. I’ve read lots of thrillers and horror novels over the years, and here are a few of the ones I love most.
Bag of Bones, by Stephen King. This will not be the last time you see this name this month, believe me. Some people swear they can’t read his work, that it is just too scary. As with all things, there’s something for everyone when it comes to Mr. King’s work. This is a hefty one, but certainly not the scariest. Instead, it’s more of a modern twist on the gothic ghost story; indeed, on more than one occasion, King refers to Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca. Somehow managing to be both character and plot driven, the story is intensely psychological in all the right ways. I’ll be completely honest—this is one that I have re-read, and I don’t re-read much. I pick up new subtleties and nuances with each reading, and love it more every time. Michael Noonan, the main character, is a man set adrift after losing his wife, and while the story touches on his loss, it is ultimately about him finding himself and his way again one summer in rural Maine. If you missed this one, or never thought to read King’s work, I’m going to ask you to trust me and try it.Fear Nothing, by Dean Koontz. Fear Nothing (and its sequel, Seize theNight) follow Christopher Snow, who has had a rather rough life. His parents died under mysterious circumstances, and now Snow is being stalked by people who want to keep those circumstances a secret. In addition, he has a rare genetic disorder, XP (xeroderma pigmentosum), which forces him to avoid all forms of light. Koontz manages to make Snow and friends funny, sympathetic and extremely well-drawn in the midst of a thriller plot that drags you through the pages just as fast as you can read. As above with King, Koontz has something for everyone among his novels.
The Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris. You're probably familiar with the theatrical adaptation, but have you ever taken the time to read the book? If you've seen the movie, you're familiar with the plot. What wound up being left out of the script or on the cutting room floor, however, is a lot of great character background and nuance to both Clarice Starling and Dr. Hannibal Lecter, as well as Starling's boss, Jack Crawford. If you somehow have managed not to see the movie or read the book, here's a quick catch-up. FBI profiler Jack Crawford asks young trainee Clarice Starling to run an errand: question the brilliant forensic psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter about a series of grisly murders (the Buffalo Bill killings) the FBI are investigating. Except Lecter is a cannibal and sociopath, serving nine life sentences in a Maryland mental institution for his own series of slayings. What follows is a riveting story of Starling as pawn, alternately moved by Lecter and Crawford for their own reasons. Absolutely worth every page.
I'll be back with more titles to send goosebumps down your arms next week.