Double review coming at ya! Check out my reviews below for two psychological thrillers that came out this year.
These books are perfect if you are new to the genre, but don't want something that will keep you up all night. Both have typical thriller tropes and unreliable narrators, but are perfect for thriller newbies.
We Are All the Same in the Dark
Set in a sleepy southern town, a young girl's disappearance as a teenager has remained largely unsolved and the town has never recovered. Suspect number one is Trumanell's brother, Wyatt. Wyatt is cleared of her disappearance and suspected murder, but the town still remains skeptical about him. Years later, those who were close with Trumanell still want to understand what happened and who is to blame. Odette dedicates her life to police work and this case still haunts her. When Wyatt finds a young girl (Angel) abandoned on the side of the road, Odette works to uncover who she is and what happened to her. The threads of these stories begin to intertwine to uncover what happened in this town and who is to blame.
I enjoyed the atmospheric writing of We Are All the Same in the Dark. The author puts you in this town and the writing is dark and depressing. A unique piece of this book that separates it from typical psych thrillers is that the main characters are women with physical disabilities who keep this fact close to the chest and do not let it hinder them. Odette has a prosthetic leg resulting from a car accident the night Trumanell went missing and Angel has a prosthetic eye that she keeps close to the chest, as it is something that could easily identify her and she is hiding from someone.
This story throws a lot of characters at you and a lot of small town rumors that, as the reader, you have to slog through to find the truth. There are the typical tropes like unreliable narrators, missing girls in a small town, mid-book plot twists, and broody characters who you aren't sure to trust. Parts can be a bit hard to keep up with, but overall, I didn't find it too predictable and think those new to the psychological thriller genre will enjoy it.
CW: graphic death scenes, child neglect and abuse, child death
Behind the Red Door
Fern Douglas becomes obsessed with a highly publicized missing person case involving Astrid Sullivan, who goes missing on the 20th anniversary of her kidnapping as a young girl. Fern feels like she knows Astrid, who lived in a town near her hometown, but cannot figure out why or how. She goes to her hometown to help her dad move and her suppressed memories of her past begin to seep through. Fern begins her own investigation into Astrid and uncovers what her memory doesn't want her to recall.
Behind the Red Door is your basic psychological thriller with typical tropes and characters. Collins' writing is similar to Heaberlin in the sense that it is atmospheric, dark, and twisted, but I also found the story predictable from early on. I credit this to the fact that I read this genre frequently and I've "seen it all," but to those new to the genre, I think this one will keep you on your toes. The characters are completely unlikeable, even Fern herself. Behind the Red Door is one of those books that will make you want to throw it at the wall because Fern and her father, Ted, are both insufferable. Fern's father defies all boundaries and, without giving away too much, his actions as a parent are beyond disturbing. It takes some creative writing skills to be able to craft such unlikable characters, so hats off to Collins.
CW: psychological/emotional abuse, kidnapping