The Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton


Circus of the Damned, Laurell K. Hamilton, 1995 My favorite quote: “The serpent must have smiled at Eve like that: pleasant, amused, dangerous.” Followed closely by, “If you came here to call me names, get the hell out of my office. If you have real business, state it, then get the hell out of myContinue reading “The Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton”

The Rome Affair by Laura Caldwell


The Rome Affair, Laura Caldwell, 2006 My favorite quote: “I understand now that innocence is relative.” Notable characters: Rachel Blakely, a software salesperson; Nick, her husband, the surgeon; Kit, her BFF Most memorable scene: For me, it was the description of the Roman mornings Greatest strengths: Great plot structure Standout achievements: Its surprises. I didn’tContinue reading “The Rome Affair by Laura Caldwell”

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”

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie


Death on the Nile, Agatha Christie, 1937 My favorite quote: “Love can be a very frightening thing. That is why most great love stories are tragedies.” Notable characters: Hercule Poirot, the investigator; Linette (Rideway) Doyle, an heiress; Simon Doyle, her new husband; Jacqueline de Bellefort, Simon’s ex-lover; Colonel Race, Poirot’s friend; Miss Van Schuyler, aContinue reading “Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie”

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 Shadow Man by Stephen Gresham


The Shadow Man, Stephen Gresham, 1986 My favorite quote: “She haunted herself from within like an old house.” Notable characters: Joey Stuart, ; Jeb “The Dixie Strangler” Stuart, Joey’s father; CAP, Joey’s Computer*Assisted*Playmate; Sharina Marie, Joey’s stepmother; Mr. Zeeker, a former engineering professor; The Shadow Man, an evil entity whose existence could use a littleContinue reading “The Shadow Man by Stephen Gresham”

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”

Murder in the Wind by John D. MacDonald


Murder in the Wind, John D. MacDonald, 1956 My favorite quote: “Johnny Flagan would look over his glasses at you and grin wryly about his morning hangover and you would never notice that the grin did nothing to change the eyes. The eyes were small and brown and watchful and they could have been theContinue reading “Murder in the Wind by John D. MacDonald”

Fog Hides the Fury by Paula Minton


Fog Hides the Fury, Paula Minton, 1967 My favorite quote: “I could snap my fingers and suddenly the gray strands of fog would begin to curl around my body in a strange and mystical garment.”  Notable characters: Arlene Dade, a young woman who inherits a house of unhappiness; Alan Caswell, the handsome with mysterious intentionsContinue reading “Fog Hides the Fury by Paula Minton”

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”

In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692 by Mary Beth Norton


In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692, Mary Beth Norton, 2002  My favorite quote: “They believed that, in the colony, they lived in a moral and spiritual wilderness, corruption on all sides, and this made them particularly vigilant, even paranoid, when it came to threats, either real or perceived.” Notable characters: BridgetContinue reading “In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692 by Mary Beth Norton”

Midnight Bayou by Nora Roberts


Midnight Bayou, Nora Roberts, 2002 My favorite quote: “From this nice, safe distance, I’ve realized I actually like my family.” Notable characters: Declan Fitzgerald, the handyman; Lena Simone, the bar owner; Miss Odette, Lena’s grandmother Most memorable scene: The tragedy of Lucian and Abigail in the beginning. That’s what drew me into the story andContinue reading “Midnight Bayou by Nora Roberts”

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 Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett


The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1911 My favorite quote: “That is the Magic. Being alive is the Magic …” Notable characters: Mary Lennox, a lonely 10-year-old; Mrs. Medlock, the housekeeper; Dickon, her friend; Colin, a sickly boy Most memorable scene: When Mary discovers Colin Greatest strengths: Description  Standout achievements: Its ability to pull inContinue reading “The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett”

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 Nanny by Dan Greenburg


The Nanny, Dan Greenburg, 1987 My favorite quote: “Something was happening to Phil, his wife and his baby, something hideous, and Phil was still trying to understand what it was and what to do about it and how people as normal and nice as they were could have had such a thing happen to them.”Continue reading “The Nanny by Dan Greenburg”

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist


Let the Right One In, John Ajvide Lindqvist, 2004 My favorite quote: “She showed her true face – there was something in it that was… Pure Horror.” Notable characters: Oskar, the bullied 12-year-old; Eli, a centuries-old vampire trapped in a 12-year-old’s body; Hakan, the former teacher who helps her get blood Most memorable scene: HakanContinue reading “Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist”

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”

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig


Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig, 1974 My favorite quote: “When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called a Religion.” Notable characters: Phaedrus, the narrator’s former self Most memorable scene: No single scene really stands out for meContinue reading “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig”

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”

Thornyhold by Mary Stewart


Thornyhold, Mary Stewart, 1988 My favorite quote: “I had always been content to know that there was more in the living world than we could hope to understand.” Notable characters: Geillis Ramsey, the heir; Thornyhold, the cottage she inherits; Christopher Dryden, the widowed writer; Agnes Trapp, a mysterious local Most memorable scene: The pigeons inContinue reading “Thornyhold by Mary Stewart”

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”