Psychological thrillers are hugely popular at the moment although regular readers of my reviews will spot that they don’t feature often on Crimepieces. It’s not that I don’t enjoy them, it’s just that they tend to get pushed to one side by all my other reading commitments. However, an event at Waterstones in Liverpool and an early proof of CL Taylor’s next book gave me the opportunity to indulge in this genre.
Little Deaths is Emma Flint’s debut and has recently been long listed for the Bailey’s Prize. It’s the story of Ruth Malone who comes under suspicion of killing her two children by authorities who disapprove of her lifestyle choices. Based on the true life story of Alice Crimmins who was imprisoned for a similar crime, Flint looks at collusion between newspapers and police, the attitude towards women who don’t fit into ideals of motherhood and how an injustice can result in a woman’s imprisonment. The book is beautifully written and perfectly balances the story of the crime and wider social issues.
Motherhood is also a feature of Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land. However, the mother is a serial killer whose daughter, Annie, shops to the police. Annie is fostered and becomes Milly, staying with her counsellor as she awaits her mother’s trial. The book is an exploration of how childhood abuse leaves its mark on a person and, as Milly’s court appearance approaches, the tension ramps up as the full extent of this damage is revealed. Good Me Bad Me is a compelling story that I read in almost one sitting. It was literally unputdownable.
The Escape is CL Taylor’s fourth book but my first read by this author. It’s a great example of how tension can be gradually ratched up to make an enthralling denouement. A stranger who asks Jo Blackmore for a lift in her car reveals she knows Jo’s husband, Max, and has a glove belonging to their daughter, Elise. What follows is a nightmarish scenario where Jo’s assessment of the danger she is in is ignored and she comes under suspicion of kidnaping her own daughter. Like with all the best thrillers, you’re rooting for the protagonist and desperate to know how the plot ends.
Three great examples of how alive and diverse the genre is and a refreshing change from my usual crime reads.