Though we luckily got to see the sun briefly earlier this week, the dreary weather has once again returned to us, as we saw severe thunderstorms on Sunday night. Between the flashes of lightning and the occasional thunderclap, I was reminded of the classic mystery novel opening line, which usually points out that, “It was a dark and stormy night…” The following sentence normally depicts a tearful maiden approaching the detective with her troubles as he sits in front of his fireplace, smoking his cigar. With this trope in mind, I settled on this week’s prompt — my favorite mystery and thriller novels. While I love an old-fashioned Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot mystery, sometimes it is nice to be surprised with a modern-day thriller that has an interesting twist, such as the acclaimed Gone Girl, so this list will probably have a mix of both.
The first thriller I will be recommending for this week is Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson. The main character of the story, Christine, wakes up each morning without her memories — the main thing that defines us. According to her husband, this is due to a tragic accident she had years ago. As a result, Christine wakes up every morning, her husband reintroduces himself and shows her pictures from her past, and she goes to bed that night only to start the cycle all over again the next morning. But, after a call with a mysterious neurologist, she finds a diary in her closet where she has been recording her daily events, memories her husband had told her about, and stunning revelations she has had in the past. But as the pages add up, Christine starts noticing various inconsistencies in the information she has been given and tries to sort out the truth of her broken past. I have reread this book quite a few times since I thought the concept was absolutely fascinating, and I genuinely don’t think I’ll forget it anytime soon. If you want a good modern thriller with a clever twist or two, this would be a great book for you.
The second book I want to mention this week is a classic murder mystery called Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, the “Queen of Mystery” herself. Many will recognize this title, since it is the most famous Hercule Poirot mystery and has had several film adaptions as a result. Our famous detective finds himself heading home to London on one of the world’s most luxurious trains, the Orient Express, after solving another mystery in the Middle East. After the train stops due to a snowstorm, a murder is discovered and the readers are introduced to numerous suspects, none of which are who they appear to be. It is a classic Poirot mystery with a spectacular twist, so if you’re in the mood for a good old-fashioned whodunit, this would be the perfect place to start.
The last book for this week’s recommendations is more of a modern whodunit and happens to be one of my favorite books. In Anthony Horowitz’s Magpie Murders, readers get not just one mystery, but two. Susan is an editor for a classic crime writer named Alan Conway, who is a modern-day Agatha Christie, of sorts. As she and the readers enjoy his latest mystery, Susan slowly becomes convinced that the story is mirroring real life events, filled with greed, lies and foul play. Soon we find Susan starting an investigation of her own as she tries to figure out what story Conway is actually trying to tell. I absolutely love this book and couldn’t put it down the first time I read it. If you can’t decide between a modern-day thriller or a classic Sherlockian mystery, this book is truly the best of both worlds. And, if you love it as much as I did, then you will be happy to know that Horowitz has recently released a sequel called Moonflower Murders, which I cannot wait to read.
That’s it for this week’s recommendations! I wish all Lawrentians good luck on their midterms if they have any, as well as a restful reading period. If you have the time, hopefully you’ll be able to pick up a good book or two.