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5 Psychological Thrillers You Should Read This May


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May, they tell me, is the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it spring in Toronto (please, someone tell me so I don’t miss it). The books are flowing a lot more freely and the summer is jam-packed with every writer you wish had a new book (Hint: Kubica, Constantine, Abbott, Hawkins, Gaylin, Dahl, Paris, Vernon, Harding, Stevens, Downing, et al.). In the meantime, we have a very respectable May list for you.

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Nancy Tucker, The First Day of Spring
(Riverhead)

Okay, so maybe I’m preoccupied with endless winter: our first book is called The First Day of Spring, and it’s a whopper. It’s a Bad Seed-esque story narrated by the Bad Seed, Chrissie. Chrissie is eight years old. Chrissie killed a boy. You can get the gist from this, but what makes the book so compelling is the urgency and the chilling effect of living in Chrissie’s voice. Tucker has been in mental health facilities as a patient and a staff member, experiences she draws on to render the horrible events of Chrissie’s story.

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Laura Dave, The Last Thing He Told Me
(Simon & Schuster)

Dave’s a veteran romance writer who is taking what’s become an increasingly common detour into domestic suspense (think Alyssa Cole or Joshilyn Jackson). A marriage is at the center of Last Thing: Hannah Hall’s husband, Owen Michaels, has disappeared. He smuggled one note to his wife of one year that said, “Protect her.” Hannah assumes the note is about her 16-year-old stepdaughter, Bailey, but Hannah also needs protecting. In piecing together her husband’s past, Hannah may find out things he specifically did not tell her.

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Catherine McKenzie, Six Weeks to Live
(Atria)

Six Weeks to Live is about a woman, Jennifer Barnes, who finds out she has a brain tumor and very little time left. Rather than hightailing it around the world or jumping out of a plane, she decides she wants to spend it with her family, her adult triplets and their children. One twist begets another—first, Barnes suspects she might have been poisoned a year earlier, and the family she has decided to spend her final days with probably includes the poisoner. No one believes the woman with a growing brain tumor and a strong suspicion that someone is out to get her, but what if she’s right?

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Christina McDowell, The Cave Dwellers
(Gallery/Scout Press)

The Cave Dwellers has one of my favorite extras in a novel: a list of the characters and their families which I stuck a note on and turned back to when needed. Why don’t more novels provide the reader with this kind of crib note? It used to be standard in, say, a Thomas Tryon book, and Jilly Cooper does it (she includes dogs and horses, which is helpful). Anyway, so the Cave Dwellers is set in Washington D.C. It’s one of those slice-of-lifestyles of the rich and famous novels where rich people do things to other rich people and that’s all fine. But then a rich person gets kidnapped and murdered and stops all the rich people fun. Now they must think about the ugliness of the not rich people world and it’s not nearly as fun.

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May Cobb, The Hunting Wives
(Berkley)

Apparently there is a pocket of American life that’s dying for a Bravo show: the big haired, bougie, and bad housewives of Small-Town, Texas (East division). Newcomer Sophie O’Neill is trying to join the most exclusive clique in town: the hunting wives, led by the charismatic Margot Banks. The Hunting Wives love late night target practice and getting loaded. Sophie uses her social media skills to get on Margot’s radar and to win her over. Once she’s in, however, Sophie has doubts about what the wives are really up to—then a body is found, and all of Sophie’s fears are founded too. The evidence in the murder case all points to Sophie and it’s very persuasive.

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Michael Neff
Algonkian Producer
New York Pitch Director
Author, Development Exec, Editor

We are the makers of novels, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

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