Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie


Cat Among the Pigeons, Agatha Christie, 1959 My favorite quote: “No sign, so far, of anything sinister—but I live in hope.” Ha! I’ve always loved Agatha Christie’s dark sense of humor …  Notable characters: Hercule Poirot, the detective; Inspector Kelsey, and investigating officer; Honoria Bulstrode, headmistress of Meadowbank School for Girls Most memorable scene: WhenContinue reading “Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie”

Ghosts I Have Been by Richard Peck


Ghosts I Have Been, Richard Peck, 1977 My favorite quote: “The truth is too much for some people and too little for others.” How true is that? Notable characters: Blossom Culp, the girl who sees ghosts; Alexander, her friend and partner-in-crime Most memorable scene: Blossom’s visions of the sinking of the Titanic. For being aContinue reading “Ghosts I Have Been by Richard Peck”

The Key to Midnight by Dean Koontz


The Key to Midnight, Dean Koontz, 1979 Favorite quote: “The room was rapidly shrinking to the size of a coffin, and she foresaw the conditions of the grave so clearly that she could actually feel the cold, damp embrace of eternity.” Characters: Joanna Rand, the woman without a past; Alex Hunter, the love interest; OniContinue reading “The Key to Midnight by Dean Koontz”

And The There Were None by Agatha Christie


And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie, 1939 My favorite quote: “Oh, yes. I’ve no doubt in my own mind that we have been invited here by a madman — probably a dangerous homicidal lunatic.” (A dangerous homicidal lunatic YOU created, Agatha Christie!) Notable characters: William Henry Blore, the PI; Isaac Morris, the owner ofContinue reading “And The There Were None by Agatha Christie”

The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule


The Stranger Beside Me, Ann Rule, 1980 (non-fiction) My favorite quote: “If, as many people believe today, Ted Bundy took lives, he also saved lives. I know he did, because I was there when he did it.” Notable characters: Ann Rule, the author; Ted Bundy, her friend, the infamous serial killer Most memorable scene: It’sContinue reading “The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule”

Looking for Mr. Goodbar by Judith Rossner


Looking For Mr. Goodbar, Judith Rossner, 1975 My favorite quote: “I’d rather be seduced than comforted.” Notable characters: Theresa Dunne, a woman leading a double life; James, the man who loves her; Martin Engle, the professor; Tony, a lover Most memorable scene: The closing one. I was so shook I didn’t know what to doContinue reading “Looking for Mr. Goodbar by Judith Rossner”

Winter Moon by Dean Koontz


Winter Moon, Dean Koontz, 1994 (originally titled “Invasion” under the pseudonym, Aaron Wolfe, in 1975) I like “Winter Moon” way better than “Invasion” My favorite quote: “Maybe when all was said and done, the imagination was the most powerful of all weapons.” Yeah, I dig that Notable characters: Jack McGarvey, the cop; Eduardo Fernandez; theContinue reading “Winter Moon by Dean Koontz”

Come Out Tonight by Richard Laymon


Come Out Tonight, Richard Laymon, 1999 My favorite quote: “Her sweaty body glistened golden in the candlelight as if she’d been rubbed with melted butter.” You just can’t beat that kind of cheese … Oh, Richard Laymon …  Notable characters: Sherry Gates, the substitute teacher with boobs; Duane, the boyfriend who goes on an ill-fatedContinue reading “Come Out Tonight by Richard Laymon”

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier


Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier, 1938 My favorite quote: “I am glad it cannot happen twice, the fever of first love.”  Followed closely by, “Men are simpler than you imagine my sweet child. But what goes on in the twisted, tortuous minds of women would baffle anyone.” Notable characters: The unnamed narrator; Maximilian “Maxim” de Winter,Continue reading “Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier”

The Dark Half by Stephen King


The Dark Half, Stephen King, 1989 My favorite quote: “You’re dead, George. You just don’t have the sense to lie down.” Notable characters: Thad Beaumont, the writer; George Stark, his pseudonym and dark half Most memorable scene: Thad’s childhood surgery to remove the partial remains of his unborn “twin.” Much like poor Thad, I’ll neverContinue reading “The Dark Half by Stephen King”

Blood Farm by Sam Siciliano


Blood Farm, Sam Siciliano, 1988 My favorite quote: It isn’t a quote from the book itself, but I just love that Blood Farm calls itself “an Iowa Gothic” on the cover. I mean, what is an Iowa Gothic? And do we need Iowa Gothics?  Notable characters: Mike Michaels, the tortured Viet Nam vet; Angela Rosalba,Continue reading “Blood Farm by Sam Siciliano”

On the Street Where You Live by Mary Higgins Clark


On the Street Where You Live, Mary Higgins Clark, 2001 My favorite quote: “If you want to be happy for a year, win the lottery. If you want to be happy for life, love what you do.” Notable characters: Emily Graham, a criminal defense attorney; Madeline, her ancestor; and a whole bunch of other peopleContinue reading “On the Street Where You Live by Mary Higgins Clark”

Triad by Mary Leader


Triad, Mary Leader, 1973 Favorite quote: “Rhiannon! Even now I could remember the metallic tint that always crept into her voice whenever she taunted me.” Characters: Branwen, an author mourning the loss of her child; Alan, her husband; Rhiannon, Branwen’s long-dead cousin Most memorable scene: The resurfacing memories of Branwen’s repressed childhood trauma. I’m theContinue reading “Triad by Mary Leader”

Blackwater: The Complete Caskey Family Saga by Michael McDowell


Blackwater: The Complete Caskey Family Saga, Michael McDowell, 1983 My favorite quote: “All deaths are sudden, no matter how gradual the dying may be.” Notable characters: Elinor (Dammert) Caskey, the mysterious stranger who shows up in Perdido, Alabama, in 1919 … and many, many more. Definitely too many to mention … but don’t let thatContinue reading “Blackwater: The Complete Caskey Family Saga by Michael McDowell”

The Silent Girls by Eric Rickstad


The Silent Girls, Eric Rickstad, 2014 My favorite quote: “It wasn’t even rebellion. It was an ecstatic pleasure taken from the debasement of other living creatures. Pure sadism.” Notable characters: Frank Rath, the private investigator; Rachel, the niece he raised as his daughter; Sonya Test; a detective  Most memorable scene: The Silent Girls opens onContinue reading “The Silent Girls by Eric Rickstad”

The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin


The Stepford Wives, Ira Levin, 1972 My favorite quote: “What’s the going price for a stay-in-the-kitchen wife with big boobs and no demands?” Notable characters: Joanna Eberhard, the new-to-Stepford photographer; Water Eberhart, her husband; Bobbie Markowe, Joanna’s only friend and confidant Most memorable scene: Ira Levin gave The Stepford Wives what is — to meContinue reading “The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin”

The Babysitter by Andrew Coburn


The Babysitter, Andrew Coburn, 1979 My favorite quote: “What I’m saying, Mr. Wright, is we don’t know who the hell she was. We don’t even know for sure Paula Aherne was her name.” Most interesting characters: Paula Aherne, the babysitter; John and Merle Wright, the parents of the missing child; agents Cooger and Spence, theContinue reading “The Babysitter by Andrew Coburn”

Coldheart Canyon by Clive Barker


Coldheart Canyon, Clive Barker, 2001 My favorite quote: “There’s always some light in the darkness, somewhere.” Notable characters: Todd Pickett, the failing movie star; Tammy Lauper, his number one fan; Katya Lupi, the 20s-era movie star Most memorable scene: Katya and the snail, because Jesus f*cking Christ … Only Clive Barker, I tell ya …Continue reading “Coldheart Canyon by Clive Barker”

Newes From the Dead by Mary Hooper


Newes From the Dead, Mary Hooper, 2008 My favorite quote: “What I could not bear, dare not consider, is the possibility that I’m not dead, but merely occupying a coffin, having been buried alive.” Notable characters: Anne Green, a young woman, tried and found guilty of infanticide (despite being innocent) who is taken to gallowsContinue reading “Newes From the Dead by Mary Hooper”

Psycho by Robert Bloch


Psycho, Robert Bloch, 1959 My favorite quote: “She’d thrown something at the mirror, and then the mirror broke into a thousand pieces and she knew that wasn’t all; she was breaking into a thousand pieces, too.” (I picked that one because unfortunately I don’t think the Psycho-style screeching violins during the shower scene qualifies asContinue reading “Psycho by Robert Bloch”

The Drowning by JP Smith


The Drowning, J.P. Smith, 2018 My favorite quote: “Joey must have moved the moment the shutter opened. Because his face, out of all the others, was slightly blurred. As if he were already existing in another time, midway between life and death.” Notable characters: Joey Proctor, the little boy who gets left on the raft;Continue reading “The Drowning by JP Smith”

Mad River Road by Joy Fielding


Mad River Road, Joy Fielding, 2006 My favorite quote: “I think it was Alfred Hitchcock who best summed up the difference between shock and suspense. Shock, he said, is quick, a jolt to the senses that lasts but a second, whereas suspense is more of a slow tease. Rather like the difference between prolonged foreplayContinue reading “Mad River Road by Joy Fielding”

Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon


Harvest Home, Thomas Tryon, 1973 My favorite quote: “You can’t negate the ingrained imagination of a whole culture.” (Ain’t that the truth?) Notable characters: Ned Constantine, the main character; Bethany, his wife; Mary Fortune, aka, “Widow,” the local herbalist; Robert Dodd, the former college professor who rarely leaves the house; Justin Hooke, the current HarvestContinue reading “Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon”

The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons


The House Next Door, Anne Rivers Siddons, 1978 My favorite quote: “[The house] commanded you, somehow, yet soothed you. It grew out of the earth like an elemental spirit that had lain, locked and yearning for the light, through endless depths of time, waiting to be released…The creek enfolded its mass and seemed to nourishContinue reading “The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons”

White Oleander by Janet Fitch


White Oleander, Janet Fitch, 1999 My favorite quote: “The phoenix must burn to emerge.” Notable characters: Astrid Magnussen, a foster child trying to find herself as she makes her way through several foster homes; Ingrid, Astrid’s mother — a brilliant poet who’s been imprisoned for murder Most memorable scene: What Ingrid does to her boyfriend,Continue reading “White Oleander by Janet Fitch”

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins


The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins, 2015 My favorite quote: “I have never understood how people can blithely disregard the damage they do by following their hearts.” Notable characters: Rachel Watson, the alcoholic; Anna Boyd, the young, beautiful, stay-at-home mom; Tom, Rachel’s husband; “Jess and Jason,” the couple Rachel envies Most memorable scene: WhenContinue reading “The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins”

The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen


The Shape of Night, Tess Gerritsen, 2019 My favorite quote: “Even now I still dream about Brodie’s Watch, and the nightmare is always the same. I am standing in the gravel driveway and the house looms before me like a ghost ship adrift in the fog.” Notable characters: Ava Collette, the troubled heroine; Captain JeremiahContinue reading “The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen”

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn


Dark Places, Gillian Flynn, 2009 My favorite quote: “Coffee goes great with sudden death.” (Doesn’t it, though?) Notable characters: Libby Day, the woman in search of answers about her own past; Ben, her incarcerated brother; Patty Day, their exhausted mother Most memorable scene: The big reveal — which I can’t disclose. Not that there aren’tContinue reading “Dark Places by Gillian Flynn”

The Taking by Dean Koontz


The Taking, Dean Koontz, 2004 My favorite quote: “We’re down the hole to Wonderland, and no White Rabbit to guide us.” Notable characters: Mary Sloan, the typically-insipid Dean Koontz main character; Neil, the typically-bland Dean Koontz husband; Virgil, the ever-present, preternaturally intelligent Dean Koontz dog (sorry, but there’s a certain kind of Dean Koontz characterContinue reading “The Taking by Dean Koontz”

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming


Casino Royale (James Bond, book one, Ian Fleming, 1953 My favorite quote: ” ‘People are islands,’ she said. ‘They don’t really touch. However close they are, they’re really quite separate. Even if they’ve been married for fifty years.’” (Pretty depressing, but in a way I can see her point …)  Notable characters: Secret Service agentContinue reading “Casino Royale by Ian Fleming”

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger


The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger, 1951 My favorite quote: “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’tContinue reading “The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger”