POVone: The First Person Perspective

Rants and Reviews on Novels Written in the First Person Point of View

Category Archives: Mystery and Suspense

Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Author: Paula Hawkins
Title: The Girl on the Train
Genre: Mystery and Suspense
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Riverhead (Random House)
Number of Pages: 336
Narrators: Rachel, Megan, and Anna
Quality Rating: 81.34

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

What’s It About?

Everyday, Rachel takes the train into town so that her roommate thinks she still has her job. Ever since her husband cheated her and left her for another women, she has dissolved into a pitiful drunk. Eventually, her new slovenly manner had cost Rachel her job. Now, she rides the train everyday and makes up stories about the people she sees. One of these people just happens to be Megan.

Megan has grown restless in her marriage. She is tired of simply being a housewife. In an attempt to experience something new and exciting, she starts an affair with another man that has recently come into her life. One day, Rachel happens by on the train and sees her kissing a man who isn’t her husband.

Soon after Rachel sees her betraying her husband, Megan disappears. Trying to help, Rachel tells the police about the affair Megan was having. Given that she’s a drunk, though, her testimony is deemed unreliable. Anna, Rachel’s ex-husband’s new wife, had recently hired Rachel as a babysitter. As the worlds of Rachel, Anna, and Megan collide, all three women must face a truth that neither of them are prepared to face.

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy a good psychological thriller built around dark secrets and hidden relationships, you’ll love this book. It has rightly been likened to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, and it also bares a resemblance to Kimberly McCreight’s Where They Found Her. Themes include drunkeness, adultery, abuse, female independence, and broken memory. While the story does contain a good bit of reflection and introspection, there are a large number of twists and turns that build mystery and keep the reader guessing until the end.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: The New York Times, The Guardian, NPR, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Paula Hawkins: The Girl on the Train is Paula Hawkins’s debut novel.

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Book Review: Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight

Author: Kimberly McCreight
Title: Where They Found Her
Genre: Literary; Suspense
Publication Date: April 14, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins
Number of Pages: 336
Narrator: Molly Sanderson
Quality Rating: 84.2

Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight

What’s It About?

Molly Sanderson is a new reporter for a small newspaper in Ridgedale–a university town in which her husband has gotten a job as an English Professor. As she seeks recovery from a recent mental breakdown, she wants to make the best of the job in order to become a better mother again for her young daughter. When a lead reporter takes a few days’ leave for minor operation, she receives the opportunity to cover a major story. There’s just one problem: the story involves an investigation into the discovery of an infant’s dead body–and Molly’s recent bout of depression had stemmed from the miscarriage of her second child.

As Molly investigates the story, despite her misgivings, she stumbles across a large cast of characters from a police chief, an overbearing mother, and the “town whore” to a university president, a campus security guard, and a school teacher–all who may or may not be connected to the baby. As she digs further into the case, she discovers a dark history buried for decades by some of Ridgedale’s most long-term and well-respected residents. As the truth slowly begins to come to light, Molly herself is drawn into the story in unexpected and heartbreaking ways.

Should You Read It?

If you like the kind of psychological mystery that climatically brings a slew of disconnected characters together in a web of dark secrets, you’ll love this book. The story is heavily character-driven, with the inclusion of perspectives from several other characters in addition to Molly’s first person account. But the mystery surrounding the identity of the baby and its parents also gives the story a suspenseful momentum that readers of authors such as Gillian Flynn would enjoy. Essentially, if you love a mystery built around the secrets of rich, fleshed-out characters, you may want to give this story a shot.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Kirkus Reviews, Books on the Table, Jen’s Book Thoughts

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Kimberly McCreight: Reconstructing Amelia (2013)

Book Review: Normal by Graeme Cameron

Author: Graeme Cameron
Title: Normal
Genre: Thriller; Suspense
Publication Date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Mira (Harlequin)
Number of Pages: 304
Narrator: Unnamed
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: B-, Very Good; of the first 41 reviews, the average reader rating was 81.95%.

Normal by Graeme Cameron

What’s It About?

The narrator is a psychopathic serial killer who captures teenage girls and keeps them caged for days in his basement. Once he’s broken them, he takes them out to play “games” with them. When he’s finished, he hacks them to pieces and hauls them off to be burned. His life is perfect–but then that perfect life begins to unravel.

First, the police begin to close in on him–suspecting him of being connected to a recent disappearance. Then, as he’s caught up in the investigation, the unthinkable happens–he falls in love. The more time he spends with this woman he met at the grocery store, the more he wants to change. But it might just be too late for him.

Meanwhile, he’s been keeping the same girl in his basement for months. Her tenacity perplexes him, and he just can’t seem to let her go. When his prisoner turns out to be more formidable than he could have imagined, his new love is suddenly put at risk. How will he defend her? And, more importantly, how will she react when she finds out the truth about him?

Should You Read It?

If you like the kind of psychological thriller that really gets into the mind of a serial killer, you’ll love this book. The psychotic narrator is perfectly mercurial–at times utterly indifferent and at times filled with a strange longing. Aside from its nature as a psychological thriller, Normal also paints a vivid picture of what it’s like to be backed into a corner–trapped by circumstances with no hope of getting free. If this sounds appealing to you, give it a shot.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter

Book Reviews: Kirkus Reviews, Books Biscuits and Tea, I Heart Reading, Mischievous Reads

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Graeme Cameron: Normal is Graeme Cameron’s debut novel.

Book Review: Dark Rooms by Lili Anolik

Author: Lili Anolik
Title: Dark Rooms
Genre: Mystery
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow (HarperCollins)
Number of Pages: 329
Narrator: Grace Baker
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: B-, Very Good; of the first 32 reviews, the average reader rating was 81.25%.

Dark Rooms by Lili Anolik

What’s It About?

Grace Baker is an ordinary, middle-class teenage girl living in Hartford, Connecticut. Just as she is about to graduate high school and move on to a prestigious liberal arts college, her younger sister Nica is murdered. When the murder goes unsolved, Grace decides to put off college and stay in Hartford to seek out her sister’s killer.

As she works through her list of potential suspects, she is forced to deal with the fall out from Nica’s death. Her father has become listless and spends most of his days sulking. Her mother has left her father and moved away to be by herself. On top of her parents’ issues, Grace realizes that she is pregnant–and she honestly doesn’t remember having slept with anyone recently.

Working with her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Grace begins to investigate her sister’s circle of close friends. The more leads Grace gets on her sister’s murder, the more she realizes that her family isn’t exactly what it seems. Her sister, it turns out, had secrets that Grace knew nothing about. And the revelation of these secrets ultimately lead Grace to discovering the mystery behind Nica’s death.

Should You Read It?

This book has been rightly compared to the writings of Megan Abbott and Gillian Flynn, as well as to Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. The story–with its cast of sex-crazed, counter-cultural characters–can be described as a psychological soap opera. As the plot develops, the mystery builds around tangled relationships and sexual secrets. While it is a murder mystery, the intrigue has less to do with the murder than it does with the web of secrets leading up to it. If you’re into that sort of thing, I would definitely give this book a read.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Vanity Fair Interview

Book Reviews: LA Review, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, BookPage

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Lili Anolik: Dark Rooms is Lili Anolik’s debut novel. However, she is an accomplished popular journalist and currently works for Vanity Fair.

Book Review: Little Black Lies by Sandra Block

Author: Sandra Block
Title: Little Black Lies
Genre: Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Mystery
Publication Date: February 17, 2015
Publisher: Grand Central (Hachette)
Number of Pages: 352
Narrator: Zoe Goldman
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: B, Very Good; of the first 50 reviews, the average reader rating was 85.6%.

Little Black Lies by Sandra Block

What’s It About?

Zoe Goldman, a young psychiatrist newly relocated to her hometown of Buffalo, New York, has started having the dreams again. She is a small child, cowering in a corner with blood on her hands. She smells something burning, hears an eerie whirring noise, and someone is calling her name…

Zoe knows the recurring dream is part nightmare and part memory. She has been told by her adoptive mother (who now has dementia) that her real mother died in a fire when she was really young. When she has the dream, she reasons, she’s remembering fragments of that incident. But she can’t shake the feeling that there is more to the dream than what her mind is letting her remember. So, she works with her own psychiatrist to try and figure it out.

Meanwhile, she resumes her work at the mental hospital engaging in everyday dialogue with her colleagues and assisting a number of patients. One new patient in particular, Sofia Vallano, really draws Zoe in. She can’t help but think there’s something more to Sofia, but she can’t put her finger on it. But, whatever it is, it makes her uncomfortable.

As Zoe digs deeper to uncover the meaning of her dream and understand the truth about her birth mother, she discovers the reality of her past and why her mind has kept it hidden for so long. She may not be who she thinks she is.

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy a good psychological thriller, you will love this book. The story doesn’t have a great deal of action; most of the plot revolves around Zoe trying to figure out her dream. But there are plenty of twists and turns–plenty of mystery and intrigue that build up to a dramatic conclusion.. There is also a great deal of dialogue. While Zoe’s internal state is troubled and dismal at times, the conversations she has with her colleagues and adoptive family are light and witty. The tone keeps your emotions on edge, oscillating beautifully between comic and eerie.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter

Book Reviews: Publishers Weekly, Examiner, The Big Thrill

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com