Kelly Strom: Lots of luck putting these thrillers down

Kelly Strom: Lots of luck putting these thrillers down

It's rare that a book speaks to you within the first couple of pages. And when I say "speak to you," I mean the exhilaration of knowing that you are going to love this book. I had the good fortune of experiencing that with both of the new books I read recently.

"The Woman in the Window" by A. J. Finn is already on the bestseller list. In much the same vein as "The Girl on the Train," it's about a woman who is perhaps not thinking straight and witnesses a crime.

In this case, we meet Dr. Anna Fox, a child psychologist who has experienced great trauma in her life.

Her husband and daughter no longer live with her, although she talks with them every day. As a result of an accident, she has developed agoraphobia and is too terrified to leave her New York City brownstone.

She spends her time playing chess online and adding input and support to an online forum for others afflicted with agoraphobia. Other than that, she uses her extreme zoom lens on her camera to watch the neighbors.

Anna knows the schedule of the homeowners nearby and even spies on a resident's book club to find out what they're reading and silently reads along.

One night, a new family moves into the house across the park. Through her lens, Anna can see that it's a man, woman and teenage boy. She's delighted that she has a new family to watch.

One day, the boy comes over, bearing a gift from his mother and introduces himself. Anna is delighted to find that the teen is smart, polite and sensitive, and quickly builds a rapport with him.

The next day, a woman comes to the door, and Anna has the opportunity to meet Jane, the boy's mom. They hit it off immediately and spend the day together laughing and drinking wine.

Anna has the habit of drinking too much wine (she gets it delivered by the crate) and mixing it with some pretty strong prescription medicine. This day was no different.

One evening, she hears a blood-curdling scream from across the park and rushes to her window with the camera. She watches as Jane stumbles in front of a window wearing a blood-stained blouse with a knife sticking out of her chest.

In a panic, Anna calls the police. As events unfold, it's obvious that Anna is unreliable. A drunken recluse is hardly a trustworthy source, and the doubts of others begin to creep into Anna's confidence as well. Did she really see what she thought she did?

Lots of twists make this a perfect suspense thriller. It kept me on the edge of my seat while reading, so much so that I became annoyed when forced to put the book down to attend to other responsibilities.

A fantastic addition to the unreliable narrator genre. This book has already been optioned for film rights.

In "Keep Her Safe" by Sophie Hannah, we meet Cara Burrows. Fed up with her family and facing a tough personal decision of her own, she flees her home in England and arranges a getaway to a luxurious spa resort in Arizona.

After flying all day, she arrives at the hotel late at night and is directed to a room. When she uses the key to open the door, she walks in and then realizes that it's already occupied by a man and his daughter. After stumbling out of the room and reporting the mistake to the front desk, she settles into a new space and collapses into a deep sleep.

The next morning, she is determined to forget about all of the confusion from the night before and begins to explore the resort.

When she overhears an older woman insist she's seen a girl named Melody Chapa running about the hotel, Cara is intrigued.

After doing a little research on a borrowed iPad, Cara discovers that Melody Chapa was murdered by her parents many years ago. Although a body was never found, her parents are serving life sentences in prison for Melody's murder.

While reading through all the news reports and looking at pictures, Cara begins to believe that the girl she saw in the room the night before was indeed the famed Melody Chapa.

But she was tired. Was that who she really saw? Totally engrossed in her research, Cara is unable to really relax and ends up meeting some pretty interesting characters at the resort.

Throw in a domineering mom, a precocious daughter, an abrasive talk show host and two useless police officers and you have a story that will keep you reading late into the night.

I actually listened to the audiobook and found myself driving needlessly around the neighborhood just to get to the end of a disc.

The narration was quite good, and the story was once again a perfect blend of a psychological thriller.

These two titles should keep you busy for a little while.

Kelly Strom is the collection manager at the Champaign Public Library. She orders books, ebooks, magazines, newspapers, audiobooks and CDs.

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