The Perfect Daughter by D.J. Palmer is a suspenseful thriller about multiple personalities (or Dissociative Identity Disorder).I don’t usually love this in a suspenseful mystery story -- the idea of multiple personalities is frequently used as a really forced reveal in thrillers. OH NO! The sweet innocent girl had an evil side! Usually, this isn't for me.
It works here because everyone already knew that teenage Penny had DID when the story began. Instead of asking questions about whether Penny could have an alternate, the book asks interesting questions of mental health and responsibility, about nature and nurture. The evil here is less about scary multiples (although some of the switches are a bit creepy) and more about dark secrets in a typical working-class town.
Also, the familiar Massachusetts locations really worked to ground this wild story in reality.
The Plot, by Jean Hanff Korelitz, tells the story of a dark plot for a bestseller, and an even darker plot around writing it.
We readers are really far into The Plot before we get to see what that twist is, and by that time I was just dying to know. I often complain that not-gonna-tell-you is probably my least favorite way to build tension, but it works here, probably because there’s a whole secondary storyline and so much going on. I didn’t feel like I was getting heavy hints at the Big Secret and abrupt subject changes. We discover just as much of the plot as Jacob has on his mind. And I have to tell you, I was so curious about that plot. What could possibly be so stunning and still be something that bro Evan could have made up?
It was hard to review this one without spoilers, but here's my full review of The Plot.
Who Is Maud Dixon?, by Alexandra Andrews, is another literary thriller. “Maud Dixon” is the pen name for the secretive, reclusive author of a dark Southern gothic about a shocking murder. There is a character named Maud in the novel, so readers speculate about how true it would be, but no one has been able to match the fictional murder to a police log or court case. When aspiring writer and Manhattan newbie Florence gets a job as “Maud’s” assistant, it seems like her literary dreams are coming true.
This was exactly what I like to read in a suspense novel, with two character who were both willing to do anything to escape their backgrounds and keep their secrets. This is another one that's almost impossible to discuss without spoilers, but here's my full review of Who Is Maud Dixon?
The Obsession, by Jesse Q Sutanto, is a suspenseful, surprising story of a twisted high-school romance, with a little stalking, lots of crimes, and creepy obsession. It's a fast read, with a lot of twists in this short novel. This book is narrated in alternating chapters by Logan and Delilah, almost like the book is playing with the common YA romance style, and the two unreliable narrators, with very different views of the same events, really work to ramp up the tension.
Logan gets a little too obsessed with the girls he’s interested in, starting with some social media stalking and ending with, you know, crime. But all the while, Logan is completely convinced that this is true love, and he's certain that Delilah will fall in love with his insane stalking and manipulation.
An Unwanted Guest, by Shari Lapena, has been out for a couple years, so it's really only a new spring fiction title for me. I found this one on a list of Agatha Christie-inspired mysteries, and I always love a good locked-door or snowbound mystery. The suspense comes from the total isolation as a random assortment of guests are snowed into a picturesque hotel, and then, one by one, the guests and staff begin to meet with mysterious accidents.
It's a touch bloodier than a Christie mystery, but not too bloody.
Any other recommendations? Any new thrillers I've missed?