Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson

Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson (2011)
Absorbing and well crafted, S.J. Watson's debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, is definitely a thriller. It pieces together a story inspired by true amnesiacs and makes you realize how much our identity depends on our memories.

It is the story of Christine Lucas, a woman suffering from severe impairment to her episodic and long term memory. Christine is able to remember things for a number of hours…but when she goes to sleep, she loses all of the memories that she has built up over the course of the day. This book is a psychological thriller and one with a great plot line.

We know that something isn’t quite right from the beginning, but as we are no more clued in than Christine (whose story we continue to follow through her diary entries). We only know what she knows. A great suspense novel!

Jar City by Arnaldur Indridason

Jar City by Arnaldur Indridason (2005)
This Icelandic writer is pure noire. He is grouped with the popular Scandinavian crime writers who are currently hot sellers. As read by George Guidall, Inspector Erlendur is an empathetic policeman who investigates a complex situation with stubborn persistence, always digging into the past. The paths finally come together, but the journey intrigues the reader. The voice of Guidall gives a humanistic touch that allows the listener to accept the cold, dark atmosphere of Iceland.

For more Scandinavian crime novels here is a list of our favorites.

I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman

I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman (2010)
Interesting premise about a woman who is contacted by the man who had kidnapped her as a teen, holding her captive for weeks, and is now on death row and about to be executed for murder. What makes it more interesting is that it was inspired by a true crime.

The story alternates between present day and 1985, when Eliza was kidnapped, and provides haunting insights into the mind of the kidnapper, the effects of the kidnapping on Eliza, as well as an interesting look at the death penalty. Although some of the issues in this book are a bit disturbing, I found the characters to be intriguing and the storyline absorbing.

Set the Night on Fire by Libby Fischer Hellmann

Set the Night on Fire by Libby Fischer Hellmann (2010)
Set the Night on Fire is the first book in a long time that I literally could NOT put down. I lost a lot of sleep with this book, but it was worth it. It's part historical fiction, part thriller, and an all around well-written story.

It starts and ends in the present with the daughter of activists from the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, who is trying to deal with a family tragedy and fight for her own life with stalkers watching her every move. Eventually she finds out it all goes back to 1968. The middle of the book tells the story of what happened to her parents and their friends from 1968-70.

Watch a trailer for the book:

Saving Max by Antoinette Van Heugten

Saving Max by Antoinette Van Heugten (2010)
This is a good legal thriller that will keep readers engrossed until the last chapter. Danielle Parkman is a single mother who struggles against insurmountable odds to prove her teenage son is innocent after being accused of murder. The novel also explores the difficulties parents face when raising a child with special needs.

For more legal thrillers here is a list of books in genre  we recommend.

The Diviner’s Tale by Bradford Morrow

The Diviner’s Tale by Bradford Morrow (2011)
The story begins with Cassandra (Cass) Brooks telling of her premonition of her brother's death which sets the scene for a suspenseful tale of family secrets; a nice setup for the mystery that follows. Cass has other unusual gifts, she is a diviner; the kind that can track down water sources. While on a dousing job she comes upon the shocking vision of a young girl hanged from a tree. When she returns with authorities to the site, the body has vanished, leaving in question Cassandra’s credibility if not her sanity.

Although it becomes easy to identify the villain of the piece, it is still a well plotted story with an interesting array of players. I came to admire the main character for her resilience and found this novel to be a good read.

For other psychological suspense novels here is a list of  staff recommendations.

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz (2003)
His name is really Odd. He sees dead people and he does something about it. Odd works as a fry cook in a small town in California. He gets visited by borachs (spiritual entities) that swarm over people and places where future violence will occur. This story is suspenseful, the characters are compelling, and the humor is dark. Check out more book from the Odd Thomas series.
Watch Odd star in a another new adventure.

Shattered by Karen Robards

Shattered by Karen Robards (2010)
A young attorney returns home to Kentucky to care for her terminally ill mother. While at work, she stumbles across a cold case which, of course, leads to danger. Throw in some romance, and this is a story that’s fun to read and hard to put down.

For other romantic suspense titles, check out our bibliography. Read an excerpt on the author's website.

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton (2010)

Edie Burchill is at loose ends. She has lost her boyfriend and her London apartment and is sleeping on her boss’s couch. Unexpectedly she learns that her mother has spent the early months of WWII as a young evacuee at Milderhurst Castle, owned by renowned author Raymond Blythe. Blythe was the author of The True History of the Mud Man, a childhood classic and Edie’s favorite book. Now the castle is crumbling and Blythe’s three elderly daughters live there in seclusion until they invite Edie into their home. Then mysterious disappearances and deaths are revealed and Edie sees how the past has impacted not just the Blythes, but her own past as well.

 Watch the author discuss her writing of The Distant Hours and view reviews.

Memorial Day by Vince Flynn

Memorial Day by Vince Flynn (2004)
Flynn’s books are centered on very current and interesting subjects, such as terrorism and various ways to combat it. His books are nonstop action and hard to put down.

Memorial Day is the fifth book featuring CIA Agent Mitch Rapp.

Preview the book and watch an interview with the author on YouTube.

Live to Tell by Lisa Gardner

Live to Tell by Lisa Gardner (2010)
This is a fascinating, intense, suspenseful mystery that had me hooked from the first page. It was hard to put down, even though the subject matter is quite disturbing and eye-opening; that of psychiatric disorders in children who put themselves and others at risk through violent behavior, and the effects on their parents and other caregivers. It is well-written, with strong characters – some likeable, some not – but all believable.

Learn more about the author and the Detective D.D. Warner series and preview the book.

Echo Park by Michael Connelly

Echo Park by Michael Connelly (2006)
A good L.A. crime story featuring Harry Bosch. Harry has been trying to prove who murdered a young girl for several years. Now out of retirement and working in the Open-Unsolved Unit with his current partner Kiz Rider, Harry has a chance to prove who murdered Marie Gusto. This is a good story which reveals the behind the scenes information one never gets from a newspaper about murders. The author is excellent at describing details without boring the reader. An enjoyable read for mystery fans.

Watch a video depicting the opening chapter and read the New York Times review.

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown (2000)
The prequel to The Da Vinci Code contains almost every element of a good story. Its suspense will make you turn the pages like wildfire, and the plot twists and turns enough to keep you guessing until the end. The romance adds interest, and the history is fascinating. CHECK IT OUT!

If you like the book, be sure to watch the movie and visit the Angels and Demons website.

Rag and Bone by James R. Benn

Rag and Bone by James R. Benn (2010)
Billy Boyle, currently assigned to Eisenhower's staff, was formerly a cop in South Boston. When "incidents" (such as inconvenient dead bodies) occur that threaten the Allied alliances, Billy and his driver, a former Detroit cop, investigate. In this case, it is late 1943. Eisenhower is about to come to England to plan the D-Day invasion. It is very important that the Russian allies keep up their fight on Germany's eastern front while the US, Canada, and England plan invasion from the west. So, the dead body of a Soviet spy which might be linked to the recently discovered dead Polish officers in the Katyn Woods could cause big problems for the Allied cause. Part mystery, part spy thriller, the Billy Boyle series has a great feeling for wartime England.

Read a review and visit the author's website.

Caught by Harlan Coben

Caught by Harlan Coben (2010)
Another great page-turner by Coben! This one grabbed me from the start and held me captive until the last word!! Many unexpected twists and turns to keep you on your toes. Also raises a number of thought-provoking issues, including how the internet and the media can manipulate and destroy individual’s lives; and the importance of forgiveness.

If you like page turners, check out our All Time Faves for Suspense/Thrillers.  Watch Coben discuss his new book on