Lock Every Door by Riley Sager


Lock Every Door, Riley Sager, 2019 My favorite quote: “Never take anything you haven’t earned, my father used to say. You always end up paying for it one way or another.” Notable characters: Jules Larsen, the apartment-sitter; Nick, another resident Most memorable scene: The fire Greatest strengths: The character motivation. I think most people wouldContinue reading “Lock Every Door by Riley Sager”

Return to Howliday Inn by James Howe


Return to Howliday Inn, James Howe, 1992 My favorite quote: “‘My fate is a mirror in which to see / One will look in and end like me.’” Notable characters: Harold, our narrator; Chester (also known here as Cute Whiskers, his friend; Howie, their young companion; Felony and Miss Demeanor, two cat burglars; Bob andContinue reading “Return to Howliday Inn by James Howe”

Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King


Dolores Claiborne, Stephen King, 1992 My favorite quote: “An accident is sometimes an unhappy woman’s best friend.” Notable characters: Dolores Claiborne, a housekeeper who’s had enough; Joe St. George, her husband, with whom she’s had enough; Vera Donovan, the woman who employs Dolores … and lets her know that sometimes, it’s okay to have hadContinue reading “Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King”

Shattered by Dean Koontz


Shattered, Dean Koontz, 1973 (originally published under the pseudonym K.R. Dwyer My favorite quote: “The things we regret most in life are the things we don’t do.” Notable characters: Alex Doyle, the new groom; Courtney, his bride; Colin, her little brother Most memorable scene: The ax attack (even though they really, really should have reportedContinue reading “Shattered by Dean Koontz”

Moonfall by Tamara Thorne


Moonfall, Tamara Thorne, 1996 My favorite quote: “Midnight. A dark, moonless shroud of midnight that closed in around Minerva Payne, starving her lungs, chilling her soul with its blackness.” Notable characters: Sara Hawthorne, a woman returning home; Minerva Payne, a mysterious local with mysterious abilities; St. Gertrude’s, aka, St. Gruesome’s, a girl’s school run byContinue reading “Moonfall by Tamara Thorne”

The Howling by Gary Brandner


The Howling, Gary Brandner, 1977 My favorite quote: “A few minutes later he was very glad that she was asleep. Because in sleep she could not hear what he heard off somewhere in the night. The howling.” Notable characters: Karyn and Roy Beatty, a young couple looking for a new start; Chris Halloran, Roy’s BFF;Continue reading “The Howling by Gary Brandner”

Haunted by Tamara Thorne


Haunted, Tamara Thorne, 1995 My favorite quote: “He’d always thought of supernatural horror as something that arose in daydreams and nightmares, fantastic thoughts born of facts and twisted to the imagination’s wishes. It seemed to be the other way around now.” Notable characters: David Masters, author an new owner of Baudey House; Amber, his daughter;Continue reading “Haunted by Tamara Thorne”

Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie


Hallowe’en Party, Agatha Christie, 1969 My favorite quote: “You and I have a principle in common. We do not approve of murder.” Notable characters: Hercule Poirot, the sleuth with a really, really great mustache; Ariadne Oliver, an author who calls on Poirot for help; Joyce Reynolds, a bratty little busybody with whom you should neverContinue reading “Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie”

Bad Things by Tamara Thorne


Bad Things, Tamara Thorne, 1994 My favorite quote: “Icky Ricky, icky Ricky, come out and play.” Notable characters: Rick Piper, a single father looking to rebuild his life; Robin Piper, Rick’s abbreviated (and very creepy) little brother; Jade Ewebean, their wonderfully nasty aunt; Dakota O’Keefe, Rick’s good friend; Big Jack, a dude you don’t wantContinue reading “Bad Things by Tamara Thorne”

The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler


The Lady in the Lake, Raymond Chandler, 1943 My favorite quote: “He was quite easy to hate,” she said emptily. “And poisonously easy to love. Women — even decent women — make such ghastly mistakes about men.” Notable characters: Philip Marlowe; the best PI ever; Derace Kingsley, the wealthy businessman who hires him; Crystal Kingsley,Continue reading “The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler”

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Spear


The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Spear, 1958 My favorite quote: “People are afraid of things they don’t understand.” Notable characters: Kit Tyler, an orphan (with a really cool name); Hannah, a Quaker who is rumored to be a witch; Nathaniel “Nat” Eaton, Kit’s true love Most memorable scene: When the angry mob burnsContinue reading “The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Spear”

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill


The Woman in Black, Susan Hill, 1983 My favorite quote: “Whatever was about, whoever I had seen, and heard rocking, and who had passed me by just now, whoever had opened the locked door was not ‘real’. No. But what was ‘real’? At that moment I began to doubt my own reality.” Notable characters: ArthurContinue reading “The Woman in Black by Susan Hill”

Francesca’s Party by Patricia Scanlan


Francesca’s Party, Patricia Scanlan, 2001 My favorite quote: “Her energies rubbed off on him. He never felt middle-aged with her. He glanced surreptitiously at the tell-tale grey hairs threading the brown tangle of chest hair that Nikki liked to run her fingers through. He wondered, was it possible to dye them?” (Idiot, lol) Notable characters:Continue reading “Francesca’s Party by Patricia Scanlan”

Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn


Wait Till Helen Comes, Mary Downing Hahn, 1986 My favorite quote: “A breeze sighed through the leaves of the oak. It was the loneliest sound I’d ever heard, as lonely as a ghost who had been lying alone in the dark for a hundred years.” Notable characters: Molly, the twelve-year-old main character; Michael, her littleContinue reading “Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn”

Make Them Cry by Kevin O’Brien


Make Them Cry, Kevin O’Brien, 2002 My favorite quote: “‘Why am I standing in this stupid empty tub?’ she asked. ‘So it catches all the blood,’ he replied.” Notable characters: Father Jack Murphy, a widower and spiritual advisor at Our Lady of Sorrows seminary; Johnny Costello, Jack’s friend who dies under mysterious circumstances; Maggie Costello,Continue reading “Make Them Cry by Kevin O’Brien”

The Damnation Game by Clive Barker


The Damnation Game, Clive Barker, 1985 My favorite quote: “Hell is reimagined by each generation. Its terrain is surveyed for absurdities and remade in a fresher mold; its terrors are scrutinized and, if necessary, reinvented to suit the current climate of atrocity; its architecture is redesigned to appall the eye of the modern damned.” NotableContinue reading “The Damnation Game by Clive Barker”

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty


The Exorcist, William Peter Blatty, 1971 My favorite quote: “Head propped against a pillow while eyes bulging wide in their hollow sockets shone with mad cunning and burning intelligence, with interest and with spite as they fixed upon his, as they watched him intently, seething in a face shaped into a skeletal, hideous mask ofContinue reading “The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty”

Happy All the Time by Laurie Colwin


Happy All the Time, Laurie Colwin, 1978 My favorite quote: “Most of his time appeared to be spent bumming cigarettes from people whose annual income was about a fifth of his own.” (Because we all know guys like this)  Notable characters: Holly Sturgis; Guido Morris; Vincent Cardworthy; Misty Berkowitz  Most memorable scene: It’s been aContinue reading “Happy All the Time by Laurie Colwin”

The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie


The Body in the Library, Agatha Christie, 1942 My favorite quote: “What I feel is that if one has got to have a murder actually happening in one’s house, one might as well enjoy it, if you know what I mean.” Notable characters: Miss Marple, a spinster with a penchant for solving murders; Arthur Bantry,Continue reading “The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie”

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin


Rosemary’s Baby, Ira Levin, 1967 My favorite quote: “She opened her eyes and looked into yellow furnace-eyes, smelled sulphur and tannis root, felt wet breath on her mouth, heard lust-grunts and the breathing of onlookers.” Notable characters: Rosemary Woodhouse, the mother; Guy Woodhouse, her husband; Minnie and Roman Castavet, their strange, flamboyant neighbors Most memorableContinue reading “Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin”

Second Child by John Saul


Second Child, John Saul, 1990 My favorite quote: “But though her lips smiled warmly as she accepted the embrace, her eyes — had anyone noticed — betrayed an emotionless chill.” Notable characters: Melissa Holloway, a shy young girl; Teri MacIver, her older half-sister; D’Arcy, Melissa’s not-so-imaginary friend; Phyllis Holloway, the horrible mother; Charles, the excruciatinglyContinue reading “Second Child by John Saul”

The Sentinel by Jeffrey Konvitz


The Sentinel, Jeffrey Konvitz, 1974 My favorite quote: “My dear Miss Parker, aside from the old priest, and now you, no one has lived in that building for three years!” Notable characters: Alison Parker, the new tenant; Michael, her boyfriend; Charles Chazen, her strangle little neighbor; Gatz, the detective; Miss Logan, the realtor; Father Halliran,Continue reading “The Sentinel by Jeffrey Konvitz”

Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton


Guilty Pleasures, Laurell K. Hamilton, 1993 (book 1 of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series) My favorite quote: “Most hatred is based on fear, one way or another.” Notable characters: Anita Blake, the animator/vampire hunter; Nikolaos, the Master vampire of St. Louis; Jean-Claude, owner of Guilty Pleasures, a vampire strip club Most memorable scene: ForContinue reading “Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton”

Cold Moon Over Babylon by Michael McDowell


Cold Moon Over Babylon, Michael McDowell, 1980 My favorite quote: “Two cars had passed in the last ten minutes: the fishing hearse and the car from Alabama. Why didn’t someone else come along? How could that happen within sight of her own house?”  Notable characters: Margaret Larkin, a fourteen-year-old girl; Jerry, her brother; Everlyn, theirContinue reading “Cold Moon Over Babylon by Michael McDowell”

Killer Triggers by Joe Kenda


Killer Triggers: Murder Comes Down to Sex, Drugs, or Money, Joe Kenda, 2021 (non-fiction) My favorite quote: “They say life is random. Death has it beat.” Notable characters: Lt. Joe Kenda, the retired homicide detective Most memorable scene: When a sweet little girl kicks Kenda right in the shin for (rightfully) sending her daddy toContinue reading “Killer Triggers by Joe Kenda”

The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane by Laird Koenig


The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, Laird Koenig, 1974 My favorite quote: “The night, a living presence, was in constant motion, shifting itself, sighing, breathing. She wondered if perhaps it, too, was trying to get warm.” Notable characters: Rynn Jacobs, the young protagonist; Mrs. Hallett, the too-inquisitive landlady; Frank Hallet, her son, theContinue reading “The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane by Laird Koenig”

Violin by Anne Rice


Violin, Anne Rice, 1997 My favorite quote: “Dig deep, deep, my soul, to find the heart – the blood, the heat, the shrine and resting place.” Notable characters: Triana, a grieving widow; Stefan, the ghostly violinist; Katrinka, Triana’s sister; Karl, Triana’s deceased husband Most memorable scene: When Triana lies down with Karl for the lastContinue reading “Violin by Anne Rice”

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte


Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte, 1847 My favorite quote: “If you ever looked at me once with what I know is in you, I would be your slave.” Notable characters: Heathcliff, the brooding bad boy, Catherine, the obstinate bad girl Most memorable scene: Mr. Lockwood’s dream about Cathy. Spooky, good stuff Greatest strengths: Atmosphere. A lotContinue reading “Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte”

The Figure in the Shadows by John Bellairs


The Figure in the Shadows (book 2 of the Lewis Barnavelt series), John Bellairs, 1975 My favorite quote: “The figure walked forward, out of the lamplight. Now it was standing before Lewis. Lewis smelled something. He smelled cold ashes. Cold, wet ashes.” Notable characters: Lewis Barnavelt, an orphan; Rose Rita, his friend; Jonathan, his uncle,Continue reading “The Figure in the Shadows by John Bellairs”

Peyton Place by Grace Metalious


Peyton Place, Grace Metalious, 1956 My favorite quote: “The public loves to create a hero. Sometimes I think they do it for the sheer joy of knocking him down from the highest peak. Like a child who builds a house of blocks and then destroys it with one vicious kick.” Notable characters: Allison MacKenzie, aContinue reading “Peyton Place by Grace Metalious”

Rose Madder by Stephen King


Rose Madder, Stephen King, 1995 My favorite quote: “Sometimes men had to learn what it was to be afraid of a woman.” Notable characters: Rose McClendon Daniels, the woman beginning a new life; Norman Daniels, the husband who won’t allow it Most memorable scene: When Rose sees that single drop of blood when she’s makingContinue reading “Rose Madder by Stephen King”

The Color Purple by Alice Walker


The Color Purple, Alice Walker, 1982 My favorite quote: “I am an expression of the divine, just like a peach is, just like a fish is. I have a right to be this way…I can’t apologize for that, nor can I change it, nor do I want to…” Notable characters: Celie, a fourteen-year-old girl; Nettie,Continue reading “The Color Purple by Alice Walker”

Ghost Walk by Heather Graham


Ghost Walk, Heather Graham, 2005 My favorite quote: “ … you can get the same feeling at a Civil War battle site — even with all the bodies removed. I guess it’s a way of feeling the past, of history, people, the emotions. Remnants of the lives that were lived there, lost there.”  Notable characters:Continue reading “Ghost Walk by Heather Graham”

They Thirst by Robert McCammon


They Thirst, Robert McCammon, 1981 My favorite quote: “Well, look around. Just look. Have you ever considered the possibility that God might be insane?” Notable characters: Andy, the detective; the Roach, a rapist and murderer; Gayle, a reporter; Rico, a gangster Most memorable scene: When the albino opens fire in that bar in Texas GreatestContinue reading “They Thirst by Robert McCammon”

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”

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”

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”

The Heart Does Not Grow Back


Sometimes, you read a book, and it reaches into you and rearranges things. You don’t usually know exactly what’s changing, only that some quiet alteration has been made – and that somewhere down the line, you’ll likely react differently to a situation, solve a problem in a new way, or draw an unexpected conclusion aboutContinue reading “The Heart Does Not Grow Back”