Category: Thriller Reviews

A review of Candyland by Vicki Salloum

Salloum has excelled in evoking the Katrina disaster and in depicting a criminal sub-culture. The action keeps readers alert, and the New Orleans landmarks will interest those who lived or have visited that city. Candyland has been described as a “noir” suspense thriller, and it is that, but it is less pessimistic than Salloum’s earlier novel, Faulkner and Friends, and reaches a satisfying conclusion.

A review of Baggage by S.G. Redling

Redling’s fast-paced novel is full of well-wrought scenes, including one in which Anna’s artist father finds her colouring an outline of a Cezanne that she saw at an art museum. He flies into a rage and destroys her prized book because she is colouring rather than creating.

A review of West by Julia Franck

West by Julia Franck West is part espionage thriller, part social realism (circa late ‘70s, early ‘80s) and probably partly autobiographical as well: as a young girl, Julia Franck crossed from East to West Germany with her family. The milieu of a reception centre in West Berlin has a banal horror to it, something akin to the quality of a (childhood) nightmare. Families share rooms with strangers and sleep in bunk beds.

A review of Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon

It worked for Gone Girl. Not to the same degree, it works for Try Not To Breathe. That’s what Seddon brings to fruition more than anything. It’s the same way her stretching into sci-fi with her short story “Graduate Schemes,” published in the dystopian anthology Broken Worlds, leans closer to squabbling than the high stakes of a truly broken world.

A review of What You See by Hank Phillipi Ryan

While Ryan hasn’t convinced me that there is no suspense in love, no love in suspense, she’s shown she’s less a muckraker than her credentials makes her out to be in her stories focused on political scandal, police corruption, and institutions which create the circumstances for felonious activities.

A review of You Are Dead by Peter James

I don’t read thrillers regularly, but You Are Dead caught and kept my attention throughout. James kept a tight rein on the plot, and there was no obvious suspect. He added a twist to Logan and Jamie’s engagement that I didn’t expect, although I would have liked more details on that relationship.

A review of Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm

Rebecca Scherm’s Unbecoming is a heist tale, a bildungsroman, a love story, and above all, a compelling psychological study of a likeable young woman with strong anti-social tendencies. As the novel progresses, Grace, the protagonist, not only behaves in “unbecoming” ways, but “unbecomes” the promising girl she once was. She grows in independence, strength and daring, but it is impossible to approve of her.

A Review of Like Family by Paolo Giordano

For those who study fiction, form, or genre, Like Family should be required reading. It begins as a tribute but morphs into a eulogy for love itself, a stark realization that passionate and all-consuming love is far beyond the narrator, maybe beyond modernity. The story invites such an epic statement, but it also keeps us in check.

A review of Invisible Streets by Toby Ball

Invisible Streets I very much enjoyed Toby Ball’s novel, the way his snappy prose propelled the story forward, making everything both more convoluted and clearer at once. He conjured up a vital, bustling sense of place.