It’s not always a good thing when a writer moves from her comfort zone to try something new, but in the case of Lisa Lutz, known for the Spellman Files series of mysteries involving a private eye and her extremely eccentric family, trying something new is definitely a good idea. Her newest book, The Passenger, is a far cry from the world of Isabel Spellman; this book is a dark thriller about a woman who has to change her appearance and her identity frequently because of some really scary stuff in her past. At the beginning of The Passenger, our main character is Tanya Dubois, discovering the recently murdered body of her husband in compromising circumstances. With years of practice behind her, she dyes her hair, changes her name, cashes in her credit cards and goes on the run. She meets up with a bartender, named Blue, who offers her shelter and companionship, which might be more dangerous than she, in her current incarnation as Debra, realizes, as her past begins to catch up to her. For a psychological thriller that’s also a page-turner that will keep you reading all night, read The Passenger.
A different kind of female protagonist stars in Jump Cut by Libby Fisher Hellman, a more traditional sort of mystery. Ellie Forman, a film producer in Chicago, is understandably dismayed when the production she’s working on gets cancelled by the vice president of the company being profiled. Ellie suspects the vp was spooked by seeing a particular person on the footage, but when she tries to meet the man in question, he is killed in a seeming train accident, leaving her a cigarette package with a zip drive in it, a zip drive with encrypted information that may lead to spies and dangerous people who are willing to do anything, including kidnapping Elile’s daughter, to keep her from finding out what’s really going on. In over her head, with few people to trust, Ellie has to unravel the mystery and figure out how her little puff piece on a Chicago company turned into such a nightmare.
Speaking of nightmares, come with us to Iceland for the disturbing mystery The Silence of the Sea, by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, where a luxury yacht arrives at Reykjavik harbor with no one on board at all. Thora Gudmondsdottir, the sleuth in this series, is at first ready to dismiss rumors that this particular yacht is cursed, but then when she enters the ship and thinks she catches a glimpse of one of the missing children, she begins to question her earlier certainties. There was a full crew and a family on board the ship when it left Lisbon. What happened to all of those people? And whose body is it that’s washing ashore to the north of the harbor? In the fine tradition of Scandinavian mystery writers, Yrsa Sigurdardottir serves up a dark and creepy exploration of human evil.