Psychological Thrillers are the featured selection for this month’s “Other Genres” category. They all provide spine chilling, rapid page turning reading. Highly recommended is the latest novella from the well-known author Minette Walters, titled The Cellar.
How I lost you / Jenny Blackhurst.
“I have no memory of what happened but I was told I killed my son. And you believe what your loved ones, your doctor and the police tell you, don’t you? My name is Emma Cartwright. Three years ago I was Susan Webster, and I murdered my twelve-week-old son Dylan. I was sent to Oakdale Psychiatric Institute for my crime, and four weeks ago I was released early on parole with a new identity, address and a chance to rebuild my tattered life. This morning, I received an envelope addressed to Susan Webster. Inside it was a photograph of a toddler called Dylan. Now I am questioning everything I believe because if I have no memory of the event, how can I truly believe he’s dead? If there was the smallest chance your son was alive, what would you do to get him back?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The honours / Tim Clare.
“1935. Norfolk. War is looming in Great Britain and the sprawling country estate of Alderberen Hall is shadowed by suspicion and paranoia. Thirteen-year-old Delphine Venner is determined to uncover the secrets of the Hall’s elite society, which has taken in her gullible mother and unstable father. As she explores the house and discovers the secret network of hidden passages that thread through the estate, Delphine uncovers a world more dark and threatening than she ever imagined. With the help of head gamekeeper Mr Garforth, Delphine must learn the bloody lessons of war and find the soldier within herself in time to battle the deadly forces amassing in the woods.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The pocket wife / Susan Crawford.
“Dana Catrell’s life is in chaos. She’s married to a lawyer who makes her feel trivial, as if stuck inside his pocket like loose change. She’s also sliding toward the brink of insanity. Devastated by mania, part of her bipolar disorder, Dana finds that there are troubling holes in her memory, including what happened on the afternoon of her friend Celia’s death. She’s horrified to learn she’s the only other person with a key to Celia’s hours and the last person to see her alive. She and Celia had shared recipes and gossip, but not secrets until that final afternoon. Is murder on her mind, or is it all in her head? As evidence starts to point in her direction, Dana will use the clarity her mania brings her to fill in the blanks and clear her name before her demons win out.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Normal / Graeme Cameron.
“He lives in your community, in a nice house with a well-tended garden. What you don’t know is that he has an elaborate cage built into a secret basement under his garage. And the food that he’s carefully shopping for is to feed a young woman he’s holding there against her will-one in a string of many, unaware of the fate that awaits her. This is how it’s been for a long time. It’s normal and it works, perfectly. Then he meets the checkout girl from the 24-hour grocery and now the plan, the hunts, the room the others, he doesn’t need any of them anymore. He needs only her. But just as he decides to go straight, the police start to close in.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The third testament / Craig Russell writing as Christopher Galt.
“What if our future had already happened? All around the world, people start to see things that aren’t there, that cannot be, visions, ghosts, events from the past playing out in the present. To start with, the visions are unremarkable: things misplaced in time and caught out of the corner of the eye; glimpses of long-dead family or friends. But, as time goes on, the visions become more sustained, more vivid, more widespread. More terrifying. As the visions become truly apocalyptic, some turn to religion, others to science. Only one man, driven by personal as well as professional reasons, is capable of finding the real truth. But the truth that psychiatrist John Macbeth uncovers is much, much bigger than either religion or science. A truth so big it could cost him his sanity and his life.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The girl in the red coat / Kate Hamer.
“She is the missing girl. But she doesn’t know she’s lost. Carmel Wakeford becomes separated from her mother at a local children’s festival, and is found by a man who claims to be her estranged grandfather. He tells her that her mother has had an accident and that she is to live with him for now. As days become weeks with her new family, 8-year-old Carmel realises that this man believes she has a special gift. While her mother desperately tries to find her, Carmel embarks on an extraordinary journey, one that will make her question who she is and who she might become.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Dangerous / Jessie Keane.
“Whatever the Cost, she would pay it. Coronation year: 1953. 15-year-old Clara Dolan’s world is turned upside down following the shocking death of her mother. Battling to keep what remains of her family together, Clara vows to keep her younger siblings, Bernadette and Harry, safe whatever the cost. With the arrival of the swinging 1960s, Clara finds herself swept up in London’s dark underworld where the glamor of Soho’s dazzling nightclubs sit in stark contrast to the terrifying gangland violence that threatens the new life she has worked so hard to build. Sinking further into an existence defined by murder and betrayal, Clara soon realizes that success often comes at a very high price.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
That girl from nowhere / Dorothy Koomson.
“ Clemency Smittson was adopted as a baby and the only connection she has to her birth mother is a cardboard box hand-decorated with butterflies. Now an adult, Clem decides to make a drastic life change and move to Brighton, where she was born. Clem has no idea that while there she’ll meet someone who knows all about her butterfly box and what happened to her birth parents. As the tangled truths about her adoption and childhood start to unravel, a series of shocking events cause Clem to reassess whether the price of having contact with her birth family could be too high to pay.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
A line of blood / Ben McPherson.
“Alex and his son Max find their next-door neighbour dead in the bath. It looks like suicide, but the police want to talk to Alex’s wife. Millicent married Alex for a work permit: that at least has become the myth. The truth is they married for love, but neither wants to be exposed as a romantic. They swear and smoke in front of their son, but that’s as far as their rebelliousness goes. The police question Millicent about a bracelet found at the neighbour’s house. She admits to a mild flirtation, nothing more. But Max knows things about his mother that no son should know, and he wants to share that burden with his father. Alex starts to wonder how close he came to losing his wife. Part of him is almost glad the neighbour is dead. Then the murder investigation begins.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The Cellar / Minette Walters.
“Muna’s fortunes changed for the better on the day that Mr and Mrs Songoli’s younger son failed to come home from school. Before then her bedroom was a dark windowless cellar, her activities confined to cooking and cleaning. She’d grown used to being maltreated by the Songoli family; to being a slave. She’s never been outside, doesn’t know how to read or write, and cannot speak English. At least that’s what the Songolis believe. But Muna is far cleverer and her plans more terrifying than the Songolis, or anyone else, can ever imagine.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)