The Sociopath Next Door by Dr. Martha Stout


The Sociopath Next Door, Martha Stout, 2005 My favorite quote: “If, instead, you find yourself often pitying someone who consistently hurts you or other people, and who actively campaigns for your sympathy, the chances are close to 100 percent that you are dealing with a sociopath.” Most interesting characters: The Sociopath Next Door is aContinue reading “The Sociopath Next Door by Dr. Martha Stout”

The Stand by Stephen King


The Stand, Stephen King, 1978 My favorite quote: My favorite Stephen King quote of all time comes from this book, and that is this: “The beauty of religious mania is that it has the power to explain everything. Once God (or Satan) is accepted as the first cause of everything which happens in the mortalContinue reading “The Stand by Stephen King”

The Hot Flash Club by Nancy Thayer


The Hot Flash Club, Nancy Thayer, 2006 My favorite quote: “Julie would microwave food. In fact, Julie liked to microwave food. It fit into her understanding of how the world worked.” Most interesting characters: Marilyn, Shirley, Alice, and Faye: The Hot Flash Club Opening scene: The Hot Flash Club opens with Faye, gathering donations forContinue reading “The Hot Flash Club by Nancy Thayer”

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier


My Cousin Rachel, Daphne du Maurier, 1951 My favorite quote: “Because I believe there is nothing so self-destroying, and no emotion quite so despicable, as jealousy.” — I’m totally with you on that, Daphne du Maurier …  Most interesting characters: Ambrose Ashley, owner of a large estate; Philip, his younger cousin and heir; Rachel, Ambrose’sContinue reading “My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier”

M is for Malice by Sue Grafton


M is for Malice, Sue Grafton, 1996 My favorite quote: “Ghosts don’t haunt us. That’s not how it works. They’re present among us because we won’t let go of them.” Yeah. I like that.  Most interesting characters: Kinsey Millhone, my all-time favorite PI; Guy Malek, a man with whom Kinsey feels an instant kinship  OpeningContinue reading “M is for Malice by Sue Grafton”

Communion by Whitley Streiber


Communion, Whitley Streiber, 1987 My favorite quote: “Humanity could be clutching the frail barque of an outmoded worldview while the wind of the mind is swaying the stars into very real craft, and out of them is coming… a faint call for help from a lady in a flowered dress.” — Which pretty much sumsContinue reading “Communion by Whitley Streiber”

The Night Boat by Robert McCammon


The Night Boat, Robert McCammon, 1980 My favorite quote: “‘I felt hatred,’ Moore said. ‘I felt the pressure of hatred and evil inside there.’” Notable characters: David Moore, who discovers the sunken submarines; the many moist nazi zombies who still (somehow) live on within them … (I’m not gonna lie: These guys are my favoriteContinue reading “The Night Boat by Robert McCammon”

Fox’s Earth by Anne Rivers Siddons


Fox’s Earth, Anne Rivers Siddons, 1981 My favorite quote: “Not even an errant spectre of the South’s splendid, sad and silly Civil War walks the matted earth here …” That’s just one of many, many great lines in Fox’s Earth. It’s Anne Rivers Siddons, though, so you can always expect some great stuff Most interestingContinue reading “Fox’s Earth by Anne Rivers Siddons”

The House on Vesper Sands by Paraic O’Donnell


The House on Vesper Sands, Paraic O’Donnell, 2018 My favorite quote: “Fate is a fairy tale, my darling. In life, there is only opportunity and advantage.” Notable characters: Inspector Cutter, a determined detective; Gideon Bliss, a dropout in love with a missing girl; Octavia Hillingdon, an ambitious young journalist  Most memorable scene: The seamstress jumpingContinue reading “The House on Vesper Sands by Paraic O’Donnell”

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”

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”

A Treasury of Royal Scandals: The Shocking True Stories of History’s Wickedest, Weirdest, Most Wanton Kings, Queens, Tsars, Popes, and Emperors by Michael Farquhar


A Treasury of Royal Scandals: The Shocking True Stories of History’s Wickedest, Weirdest, Most Wanton Kings, Queens, Tsars, Popes, and Emperors by Michael Farquhar, 2001 My favorite quote: “The rigid, repressed [Queen] Victoria was never a particularly cozy mum, candidly acknowledging early on that she derived ‘no especial pleasure or compensation’ from her large broodContinue reading “A Treasury of Royal Scandals: The Shocking True Stories of History’s Wickedest, Weirdest, Most Wanton Kings, Queens, Tsars, Popes, and Emperors by Michael Farquhar”

Pearls Before Swine by Margery Allingham


Pearls Before Swine (#12 in the Albert Campion series), Margery Allingham, 1945 (Pearls Before Swine was originally published as Coroner’s Pidgin) My favorite quote: “Nobody, nobody ever killed anyone simply in order to provide an awkward corpse in someone else’s house.” (Sorry, but that’s just hilarious) Notable characters: Albert Campion, the detective who has justContinue reading “Pearls Before Swine by Margery Allingham”

Comes the Blind Fury by John Saul


Comes the Blind Fury, John Saul, 1980 My favorite quote: “All she knew was her anger. Her anger and her hatred … ” Notable characters: Michelle Pendleton, the new girl; Amanda, the blind dead girl Most memorable scene: I’m not gonna lie … Amanda, sailing off the cliff … but I’m biased. I love itContinue reading “Comes the Blind Fury by John Saul”

The Long Walk by Stephen King


The Long Walk, Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman), 1979 My favorite quote: “They walked through the rainy dark like gaunt ghosts, and Garraty didn’t like to look at them. They were the walking dead.” Notable characters: Ray Garraty, the main Walker; McVries, a Walker who befriends Garraty; Stebbins, a Walker with a secret; theContinue reading “The Long Walk by Stephen King”