One of the classic lessons of mysteries and thrillers is that you shouldn’t always trust appearances. Things are not always (in fact, very seldom) what they seem, and often characters learn this little truth too late and get into big trouble as a result. We have some new mysteries at the Field which illustrate, in one way or another, the danger of taking things at face value.
Sarah Pinborough starts us out with her new book, Behind Her Eyes, which is already being described as this year’s version of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. Our protagonist is Louise, a new secretary to the very successful psychiatrist, David. Everything in his life seems perfect, including his marriage to Adele, who seems to adore him. Key word here: seems. There are a couple of things Louise notices that make her wonder about whether her boss and his wife really have such a perfect life. Why is he so controlling? Why is she keeping things hidden? Whatever is going on in that marriage, something is wrong, and Louise can feel it. What she can’t tell, though, is exactly what is wrong, and how far people will go to protect some of those secrets.
In The Girl Before (and can we please, please stop using “girl” in the title unless the person in question is under 18 years of age?), by J. P. Delaney, Jane Cavendish is looking for a new start after a personal tragedy, and she really wants to get into this beautiful building. The rental application is kind of intrusive and not like any she’s ever seen before (a question about what personal possessions she absolutely needs and can’t do without? What kind of question is that?), but the excuse is that the building is wired to anticipate the tenants’ every need and so more information is necessary to set the technology up. She gets an interview with the building’s owner and architect, Edward Monkford, and immediately she’s drawn to him. Soon after they meet, she’s accepted to move into the building, and soon after that, she and Edward become lovers. Seems perfect, right? But it turns out there was a previous tenant in this apartment, Emma, who died under suspicious circumstances, and as Jane starts looking into those circumstances, she starts finding creepy parallels between Emma’s life and her own. Is she also following Emma’s footsteps toward her death? Was Edward somehow involved in Emma’s death? He claims not, but things are not what they seem.
Lisa Gardner is no stranger to thrillers, and her latest, Right Behind You, is a perfect example of her mastery of the form, taking us into the intricacies of a warped, dysfunctional family and the after-effects of a horrible childhood. Eight years ago, Sharlah’s older brother,Telly, killed their drunken, abusive father, beating him to death with a baseball bat. He did it to save the lives of Sharlah and himself, and now Sharlah’s about to be adopted by a retired FBI profiler and his wife, putting all that behind her. Except that there’s a double murder at a local gas station and the perpetrator is on a shooting spree through the wilds of Oregon. Sharlah’s parents-to-be are called onto the case, and it’s becoming more and more apparent that the shooter is probably Telly. Was he a hero or a killer? Why is he breaking out now, eight years later? And what does his spree mean for his sister and her newfound family?