POVone: The First Person Perspective

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

Tag Archives: Murder

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.

Book Review: Love is Red by Sophie Jaff

Author: Sophie Jaff
Title: Love is Red
Genre: Suspense; Horror
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins
Number of Pages: 384
Narrator: Katherine Emerson, The Sickle Man
Quality Rating: TBD

Love is Red by Sophie Jaff

What’s It About?

As the city of New York suffers from the fear of a relentless serial killer dubbed “The Sickle Man, Katherine begins a new relationship with pleasant and personable David. Her interest is rocked, however, when he introduces her to his best friend. The friend is sullen and aloof–everything David isn’t. And, still, Katherine finds herself drawn helplessly and erotically to this mysterious man.

Meanwhile, The Sickle Man strolls from victim to victim, recounting how he gains the trust of his prey just before slaying them and describing the peculiar way he sees the world. These victims are nothing to him, though. They are merely the build-up to the one who will fulfill his dark purpose. In the end, he will complete his sinister mission by taking the life of Katherine. It is, he believes, their destiny.

When The Sickle Man murders someone close to Katherine, she must fight for the one she has left. But, how can she protect him when her own life is in danger? If she is to escape the inhuman psychopath pursuing her, she may just have to lose some of her own humanity in the process.

Should You Read It?

It’s difficult to pin this book down to a particular kind–it’s fairly unique. First and foremost, it is a psychological thriller. The methods and descriptions of the serial killer are harsh and disturbing. There is also a trace of romance/erotica–with a few intense sex scenes and sexual imagery embedded throughout. Finally, and this really comes to fruition in the final chapters, there is a touch of the supernatural horror–complete with ghosts and dark prophecies. What really stands out about this novel, though, is the rich language of the serial killer. His metaphors are vibrant in texture, abundant in quantity, and utterly original. If you’re looking for a thriller written with a poetic flair, you should definitely give this a shot. If you’re sensitive to vulgar content, though, you may want to avoid it. This novel is intense.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Kirkus Reviews, My Bookish Ways, Under My Apple Tree, Blog Critics

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Sophie Jaff: Love is Red is Sophie Jaff’s debut novel.

Book Review: Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo

Author: Jo Nesbo
Title: Blood on Snow
Genre: Suspense
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Knopf (Random House)
Number of Pages: 224
Narrator: Olav
Quality Rating: 68.34

Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo

What’s It About?

Olav is a “fixer.” He works on commission for a wealthy man who gives him assignments that he carries out with precision. Olav has no family and no connections. He is a ghost…and that’s what makes him the perfect contract killer.

Despite killing people for a living, Olav has somewhat of a soft spot. He expresses pity toward some and indifference toward others. When his boss offers him a large sum of money to kill his adulterous wife, he at first thinks it’s going to be just like any other job.

While preparing for the execution, Olav watches his boss’s wife and is drawn to her. Then, he discovers they her “lover” is more of an oppressor. The man is raping her. She keeps quiet, he assumes, because he has information on her that she doesn’t want her husband to know. Instead of killing the boss’s wife, Olav decides to kill the man exploiting her.

When Olav tells his boss about what he did, he discovers the man isn’t just any man. He is someone important. Suddenly, Olav and his boss’s wife find themselves on the run. As he eludes people who are trying to kill him and falls in love with the woman whose life he’s spared, Olav must use all of his cunning to survive while he gets to the bottom of a conspiracy he’s been drawn into.

Should You Read It?

I haven’t read other books by Jo Nesbo, but I’ve heard this one is quite different. The narrator is somewhat of a mentally disturbed and semi-psychotic individual. He is driven by an ambivalence toward human life that manifests itself in many philosophical musings throughout the development of the story. The tone reminded me a lot of Normal, with the crazy narrator being a contract killer rather than a serial killer. While there is much introspection, there are also several interesting plot twists. So, if you enjoy a good thriller with somewhat of a philosophical bent, you might appreciate this story.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Interview with NPR

Book Reviews: Boston GlobeThe Guardian, Paste Magazine

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Jo Nesbo: The Son (2014), Phantom (2011), The Leopard (2009), The Snowman (2007)

Book Review: Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

Author: Stacey Lee
Title: Under a Painted Sky
Genre: Young Adult; Historical; Literary
Publication Date: March 17, 2015
Publisher: GP Putnam’s Sons (Random House)
Number of Pages: 384
Narrator: Samantha

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

What’s It About?

Samantha is the sixteen year old daughter of a Chinese immigrant living in mid-19th century Missouri. Trained in the violin, she has dreams of becoming a musician in an era that frowns upon female musicians and in a land that frowns upon non-white foreigners. Her father, with whom she is very close, has plans to move them out west to explore new possibilities in a land with less settlement and–as a result–less discrimination.

Then, in one moment, Samantha loses everything. She returns home one day to find the building in which she lived engulfed in flames–and her father trapped inside. Upon losing her father, her landlord takes pity on her and gives her a place to stay at his hotel. But what first appears to be pity soon shows itself as something else entirely.

Shortly after arriving at the hotel, Samantha is confronted by her landlord and told that she is responsible for the debt incurred by the loss of the building that had apparently burned due to her father’s negligence. To work off her debts, he informs her that he will be taking her in as a prostitute but, first, he needs to “test out the goods.” When he attempts to rape her, Samantha kills him.

Knowing she is sure to be put to death for the deed, Samantha goes on the run out west with a black slave girl from the hotel. To avoid suspicion, they disguise themselves as men heading out west in search of gold. As they journey along the Oregon Trail, they meet new friends and seek to avoid run-ins with the law as they claw their way to freedom.

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy a good young adult adventure story, you’ll love this book–particularly if you enjoy history of the American south or the American west. The author captures the racial tension of the time, as well as the early notion of the American Dream that transcended ethnic lines. The story can be likened to Huckleberry Finn–including the themes of travel, race, and companionship. If enjoy that sort of historical adventure story, I would definitely give this book a shot.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Kirkus Reviews, Pop Goes the Reader, The Social Potato

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Stacey Lee: Under a Painted Sky is Stacey Lee’s debut novel.

Book Review: Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller

Author: Claire Fuller
Title: Our Endless Numbered Days
Genre: Literary
Publication Date: March 17, 2015
Publisher: Tin House (Bloomsbury)
Number of Pages: 382
Narrator: Peggy
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: A, Excellent; of the first 48 reviews, the average reader rating was 96.67%.

Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller

What’s It About?

Peggy is an eight year old girl whose mother has gone off to work in Germany. After witnessing an argument he has on the telephone, she is abruptly taken from her home out into the wilderness to live alone with her temperamental father. After a torrential storm occurs shortly after their arrival at an abandoned cottage in the woods, Peggy’s father informs her that the rest of the world has been destroyed. The two of them are the only ones alive and, just over the hill across the forest, the world melts away into nothingness.

Peggy’s father teaches her to take care of herself in the wild, at times coming to the brink of starvation. To alleviate his anxiety and boredom, Peggy’s father comes up with endless projects–from creating a makeshift piano for Peggy to rebuilding the cottage they’ve come to call home.

Over time, Peggy’s father slowly loses his mind. To escape his violent and mercurial outbursts, Peggy begins to venture off into the woods by herself. Soon, she meets another man who has been living in the forest. As she develops a relationship with this mystery man, he becomes a refuge from her father. As she grows into her late teens, Peggy’s father reaches his wit’s end–leading to a dramatic showdown between Peggy, her father, and her new secret lover.

Should You Read It?

If you like a good psychological mystery, you’ll love this story. Told through the lens of a child, the author captures the world–not as it is–but as it is seen through damaged eyes. The narrative and tone leave the reader wondering what’s real and what’s imagined–all the way up to the dramatic and cathartic conclusion. If you enjoy a good survival story, you’ll probably like this book as well–as it is set in an isolated wilderness. While the writing style creates a strong sense of mystery and movement, the themes are darkly and deeply literary. So, whether your tastes tend more toward the high brow or the nitty gritty, this story will likely appeal to you if enjoy a good tale of mystery and madness.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: The Guardian, The Socratic Salon, The Chicago Tribune

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Claire Fuller: Our Endless Numbered Days is Claire Fuller’s debut novel.

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: Watch Me Go by Mark Wisniewski

Author: Mark Wisniewski
Title: Watch Me Go
Genre: Literary
Publication Date: January 2, 2015
Publisher: GP Putnam (Random House)
Number of Pages: 320
Narrators: Deesh and Jan
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: B, Very Good; of the first 66 reviews, the average reader rating was 85.15%.

Watch Me Go by Mark Wisniewski

What’s It About?

Deesh (Douglas Sharp) is a 30-something year old absentee father doing odd jobs with a few friends from his high school basketball team. When he and his friends take a nice-paying job to remove a large drum from under a woman’s house, his world is turned upside down. Through a series of missteps, Deesh ends up being framed for three murders. As he discusses his actions with a court appointed attorney, he sees little hope of proving his innocence.

Jan is a young woman growing up in the culture of thoroughbred racing. As she develops a relationship with the son of a legendary jockey, she reveals that she herself wants to be jockey–even though she is a woman. As Jan learns more about the world of thoroughbred racing, though, she discovers a culture of corruption that ultimately leads to her losing someone she has grown to love dearly.

With each chapter told alternately through the eyes of Deesh and Jan, the relationship between the two narrators is tied together within the final few pages. Deesh may just get the chance to have his innocence proven, and Jan may find justice for the victims of the culture in which she lives.

Should You Read It?

If you like the kind of story that weaves together multiple seemingly unrelated stories in a dramatic conclusion, you’ll probably like this book. The mood that hovers over each narrative is grim–with both characters feeling stuck in the circumstances of their respective environments. Nevertheless, the novel ends on somewhat of a hopeful note. If you like a good character-driven work that builds up steadily to a dramatic climax, I would give this a shot.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Interview with Huffington Post, Interview with Examiner

Book Reviews: Star Tribune, Kirkus Reviews

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Mark Wisniewski: Show Up, Look Good (2011), All Weekend with the Lights On (2007), Confessions of a Polished Used Car Salesman (1997)

Book Review: Saint Odd by Dean Koontz

Author: Dean Koontz
Title: Saint Odd
Genre: Paranormal; Supernatural thriller; Mystery
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Bantam (Random House)
Number of Pages: 352
Narrator: Odd Thomas
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: A-, Excellent; of the first 1,840 reviews, the average reader rating was 90.85%.

Saint Odd by Dean Koontz

What’s It About?

Odd Thomas, a 20 year old fry cook with a gift for communicating with dead people, is returning from Nevada to his hometown of Pico Mundo, California. Years ago, a massacre had occurred at the now-abandoned town mall. Odd has the feeling that something is going to happen again–and, this time, it’s going to be even worse.

As he reconnects with old friends, Odd begins to investigate the savage cult that pulled off the massacre so long ago. Attempting to discover their plans for his city, Odd finds himself as their target and must continually try to avoid drawing them to himself. Nevertheless, he can’t shake the premonition that his end is near and he has come back home not just to save his city but also to die in it.

Will Odd be able to prevent the coming tragedy? And, if so, at what cost? Along with introducing a few new characters, this final installment in the “Odd Thomas” series concludes with tying up some loose ends and resolving some mysteries that have been pervasive throughout.

Should You Read It?

If you enjoyed the rest of the “Odd Thomas” series, you’ll probably find some closure in the finale. With less action and more introspection, those who enjoy Dean Koontz’s more character-driven works will probably enjoy Saint Odd more than than those who prefer his more fast-paced stories. Although the genre would still fall under the supernatural thriller umbrella and there are some gritty and somewhat spooky scenes, Odd communicates more with himself than he does with the dead in this final installment of his “memoirs.”

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Interview with USA Today

Book Reviews: CheerUp Magazine, Horror Novel Reviews

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Dean Koontz: Saint Odd is the final installment in a series of seven. The first six novels in this series are, in order of release, Odd Thomas (2003), Forever Odd (2005), Brother Odd (2006), Odd Hours (2008), Odd Apocalypse (2012), and Deeply Odd (2013).

Book Review: The Damned by Andrew Pyper

Author: Andrew Pyper
Title: The Damned
Genre: Supernatural Thriller; Suspense; Horror
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Number of Pages: 304
Narrator: Danny Orchard
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: I, Insufficient data; there are not enough ratings to accurately gauge the average reader rating.

The Damned by Andrew Pyper

What’s It About?

Danny Orchard is a thirty-something year old Detroit native coasting along on the dwindling fame and fortune from a book he wrote over a decade ago. The book, an inspirational memoir about his experience coming back from the dead, has led him to associate with a group of people with similar experiences who hold largely optimistic beliefs about the afterlife. Danny never really thinks about hell but, as the events of the story unfold, he finds out that it is just as real.

Danny had died attempting to save his fraternal twin sister, Ashleigh, from a fire. After he is brought back, the memory of his sister continues to haunt him. But Ash was no innocent victim–she was a developing psychopath that destroyed their family and left a path of destruction everywhere she went. While Danny is glad she’s dead, he cannot shake the feeling of her presence as he goes about his everyday life.

When Danny falls in love with a woman and her young son, Ash becomes more than a memory. Her ghost comes back from the dead seemingly to drag Danny back into the fire she feels he should have died in. With the safety of his new family in jeopardy, Danny must solve the mystery behind Ash’s death and find out exactly what she wants–before he runs out of time and she kills him for good.

Should You Read It?

If you’re into fast-pasted, supernatural horror–a good haunting story–you’ll probably enjoy this book. With a few chapters of backstory, the author jumps right in with scene after scene of disturbing imagery surrounding the haunting. If you’re sensitive to such content, you may want to pass. But if you enjoy the genre, this book embodies it. The writing is quick and the mood eerie–with graphic descriptions of terror largely outweighing depth of characterization and complexity of plot.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: NOW Toronto, Kirkus Reviews, That’s What She Read

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Andrew Pyper: The Demonlogist (2013), The Guardians (2011), The Killing Circle (2008), Etc.

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.