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Reflections on good books, good food and good moments in life.
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Tuesday, March 3, 2015
THREE PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLERS
The definition of apsychological thriller has been defined
as a “suspensefulbook whichemphasizesthepsychologyofitscharactersmore so than the plot.”
I have just completed three
British psychological thrillers and I might add that my definition is each of
these characters are in definite need of some time on a psychologist’s
couch.Their motivations and
behavior are so bizarre—in some cases downright creepy. Yet, I was compelled to
keep on reading to see how their twisted minds worked.
Take for example, Mr. Hemming, a
successful and trusted realtor in a small British village.He has spent hours with you acting in
your best interests, searching properties and negotiating a price thatallows you to move into your dream
home.You trust him…but you
shouldn’t.Unbeknownst to you, he
has kept the key to your home, as he has every home he has sold in the last
He visits your home often when you
are not there, not to steal, but to observe your lifestyle.He opens drawers in offices and
bedrooms and prides himself on knowing some of your most intimate secret habits
and pleasures.Did I mention
creepy?He doesn’t consider himself a criminal or dangerous. However,
when he falls in love with Abigail, one of his clients, he sets into motion a
series of events that show how dangerous his twisted mind can be.She is unaware of his affection but
when he discovers through his prowling that the man Abigail loves is a
philandering predator, he sets out to discredit him as a means to protect
her.His plan turns
disastrous and the plot thickens.Mr. Hemming is the narrator of his story and that makes it even more
compelling.The book , The Pleasure of His Calling: a Novel by
Hogan is a tense read, so much so that you might want to consider changing your
locks after reading it.
Also set in England, The Girl on the Train by Hawkins, has
been dubbed the new Gone Girl and hit
the best-seller list shortly after publication. The main character, Rachel,
becomes obsessed with a couple she observes from her daily commute into the
city by train. As the train passes a suburban area and stops at a signal that
allows her to watch the same couple daily as they breakfast on their patio, she
fantasizes what their perfect life must be like. She even gives them
names.(More creepiness) Because
her own life has recently fallen into shambles their“perfect” existence grows out of proportion in her
mind.“They’re happy, I can tell.
They’re what I used to be. Tom and I five years ago. They’re what I lost;
they’re everything I want to be.”
Then one day on her commute, she
observes a scenario on the patio that destroys the perfect couple image. She
feels compelled to let one of the partners know what she has seen.Similar to the scheming realtor, she
tries to protect a person who doesn’t even know she exists and in doing so,
complications arise, including a murder.Because alcohol is her constant companion after working hours, often
leading to memory lapses, she questions what she has seen and even her actions,
not being able to account for hours of her time.
It is difficult to discuss any
more of the story without plot spoilers but leave it to say there is suspense
and tension. The Girl on theTrain has also been compared to
Hitchcock’s Rear Window.
The third book, Her, a Novel, by Lane, also set in
England, is the story of two seemingly very different women.It seems at first glance that Nina and
Emma have little in common. Emma, who left a thriving television career, is now
the mother of toddler Christopher and pregnant with her second child. Her once glamorous life now consists of
picking up rice cakes and Legos.Nina, on the other end of the spectrum,
is an artist who has already raised her family and lives a seemingly ordered and successful existence, which includes
posh dinners and a vacation home.
From the opening sentence, when
Nina recognizes Emma, we are aware that something chilling is about to
unfold.Told in both women’s
voices with alternating chapters, we hear first from Nina, “The sensation of
it, of finding her there in front of me after all this time, is almost
overwhelmingly powerful: like panic or passion…I’m scared of seeing her, and
I’m scared that I’ll never see her again.”
Their paths begin to cross
frequently.Little does Emma know
that Nina is orchestrating every “chance” meeting.We are aware of Emma’s rage while Nina is totally oblivious
to it and so the tension mounts with each chapter as it builds to how Nina
knows Emma--and an ending that is too horrific to imagine.
I chose to review these three
books together because of so many common elements—the British setting and psycho
characters who try to orchestrate the lives of people who are unaware of the
evil lurking so near them.Besides
changing our locks, these books remind us to close our blinds and perhaps be
leery of strangers who want to befriend us.