1. The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
If you’re a fan of suspenseful novels like “Gone Girl” and “Girl on the Train” then this duplicitous story by Peter Swanson should be right on top of your reading list. The question that is posed to you, the reader, from the very beginning, is “Who is the kind worth killing?” Is there some truth behind the law of retaliation – an eye for an eye? Are we on some level entitled to terminate the lives of the morally repugnant people we encounter throughout our own lives? No, you can’t go around willy-nilly killing people who double-cross you. That’s not the way the world works. But somehow the author manages to take us along on this trip of murderous betrayal and leaves us with an unswerving sentiment of compassion for the likely ‘villain’.
The same question that we as readers are asked to react to and mull over is the same question our protagonist (or so we think), Ted Severson, is faced with as the novel opens in the business lounge at Heathrow Airport. The filthy rich Ted soon finds himself embroiled in a murder plot, brought on by a delayed flight, fueled by intoxicating libation and the subtle coercion from a beautiful and mysterious redhead named Lily. It’s quite simple – Ted confesses that he wants to murder his adulterous wife and Lily reveals that she’d like to help him. Peter Swanson paints, with his skilful words, a torrid picture of revenge filled with icy characters and sociopathic personality disorders. Let’s be honest – this psychological thriller would make a fantastic, nail-biting movie for the big screen.
The Kind Worth Killing is packed full of perfect plot twists that you won’t see coming. These shocking revelations are expertly spaced throughout the book and as a reader, you’re never left feeling bored, but instead you’re constantly reeling from the previous outrageous disclosure – each and every one punching you straight in the gut. Just when you think everything is neatly tied up in a pretty bow, boom, another nerve-shredding twist takes your breath away. But boy oh boy, what a great read. If you’re heading on holiday this December then you need to do yourself a favour and grab a copy for your beach bag.
1. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
If you’re a pragmatic person who is enraged by the slightest bit of nonsensical behaviour then this might not be the book for you, not unless you make a habit of throwing books halfway across the room when the story-line exasperates you. This science fiction thriller is based upon counterfactual thinking, but instead of ‘thinking’ it’s a case of actually exploring the ‘What if?’ and the ‘If I had only…’ thoughts which plague most people on a daily basis.
We are introduced to Chicago-based Jason Dessen, an atomic physicist, who heads out one evening to meet a friend for a drink, but on his return home he is ambushed, abducted and drugged by a masked and armed man. We then find ourselves joining Jason in his state of befuddlement as he wakes up to find himself in a ‘version’ of Chicago that isn’t his own. He quickly discovers that in this alternate universe he isn’t married, his son was never born and he’s an award-winning physicist, which is far removed from his own happy reality, which is filled with a loving family and comfortable physicist professor job.
Dark Matter is a deliriously fast-moving and exciting book. There will be moments when you’ll want to fast-forward to the end, but Blake Crouch has a chilling ability to pull you back into the moment. This novel, just like the one above, is definitely geared towards film adaptation. It has all the necessary elements for a big budget movie. Oh and yes, it’s already been optioned by Sony Pictures. Sigh. Is it just me or does it feel like these days writers are writing in hopes of a screenplay? The story is based on parts of Schrödinger’s cat experiment, but other parts are completely absurd and almost too much for my brain to comprehend. As this race-to-the-finish-line thriller unfolds, we discover that Jason’s attacker was Jason himself from another dimension.
This book confused me, but at the same time captivated me and I was unable to put it down. I won’t lie – I loved every mind-bending and baffling page. We spend three-hundred-and-fifty-something pages exploring and, to be honest, trying to fathom inter-dimensional travel and the importance of decisions in our lives. This novel begs the question – Are you happy with your life?