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.” Notable characters: Hercule Poirot, the detective; Inspector Kelsey, and investigating officer; Honoria Bulstrode, headmistress of Meadowbank School for Girls Most memorable scene: When Julia finds smuggled jewels in the handle of a racket. GoodContinue 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.” 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 Greatest strengths: It’s historical flavor  Standout achievements:Continue 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.” Notable characters: William Henry Blore, the PI; Isaac Morris, the owner of the island; Edward Armstrong, the doctor; Emily Brent, the spinster;Continue 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: Well, this is the one that hooked me: “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,Continue 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; Gary White, the killer Most memorable scene: The closing one. I was so shook I didn’tContinue 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) My favorite quote: “Maybe when all was said and done, the imagination was the most powerful of all weapons.” Notable characters: Jack McGarvey, the cop; Eduardo Fernandez; the father of Jack’s late partner; the Giver, a dangerous and mysterious beingContinue 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 … Notable characters: Sherry Gates, the substitute teacher; Duane, the boyfriend who goes on an ill-fated condom-related errand; Toby Bones, the diabolicalContinue reading “Come Out Tonight by Richard Laymon”

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier


Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier, 1938 My favorite quote: I know everyone is expecting me to say, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again” but I’m actually going to go with, “I am glad it cannot happen twice, the fever of first love.”  Followed closely by, “Men are simpler than you imagine my sweetContinue 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 dark half Most memorable scene: Thad’s childhood surgery to remove the partial remains of his unborn “twin”  Greatest strengths: Some of the most gruesome descriptionsContinue reading “The Dark Half by Stephen King”

Blood Farm by Sam Siciliano


Blood Farm, Sam Siciliano, 1988 My favorite quote: Just that it calls itself “an Iowa Gothic” on the cover. What is an Iowa Gothic? Do we need Iowa Gothics?  Notable characters: Mike Michaels, the Viet Nam vet; Angela Rosalba, the hitchhiker, Dr. Blut, the creepy owner of Blut Farm; Ursula, his beautiful daughter Most memorableContinue 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  Most memorable scene: When the bodies areContinue 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 Strengths: 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; another detective  Most memorable scene: That opening scene on Halloween,Continue 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: Its ending … which is open to all kinds of possibilitiesContinue 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.” Notable characters: Paula Aherne, the babysitter; John and Merle Wright, the parents of the missing child; agents Cooger and Spence, the investigatorsContinue 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 …  Greatest strengths: Its effective blend of horror,Continue reading “Coldheart Canyon by Clive Barker”

Newes From the Dead by Mary Hooper


News 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, the girl who wakes after being hanged Most memorable scene: Anne, trapped in her own body, wonderingContinue 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.” Notable characters: Norman Bates, the motel manager; Mary Crane, the first customer in a while; Mother, the woman behindContinue 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.” 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 Harvest Lord; Sophie Hooke, hisContinue 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, the foster child; Ingrid, her terrible mother Most memorable scene: What Ingrid does to her boyfriend, Barry Greatest strengths: Beautiful, almost poetic writing Standout achievements: Its ability to make the reader experience the loss, loneliness, and abandonmentContinue 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.” Notable characters: Libby Day, the woman in search of answers; Ben, her incarcerated brother; Patty Day, their exhausted mother Most memorable scene: The big reveal — which I can’t disclose. Greatest strengths: EXCELLENT writing. Every sentence is given genuine thought andContinue 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.” If I remember correctly, the White Rabbit was an unreliable guide, anyway.” Notable characters: Mary Sloan, the typically-insipid main character; Neil, the typically-bland husband; Virgil, the ever-present preternaturally intelligent dog Most memorable scene: OneContinue 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.’ “ Notable characters: James Bond, 007; Vesper Lynd, the femme fatale; LeChiffre, the wicked financier Most memorableContinue 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”