Spine-chilling thrillers filled with mayhem, mystery and murder

Good ReadsBy John Hoover
©2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Spies and counterspies, murder and mayhem and mystery: In the publishing industry they’re all part of the genre known as thrillers.

Since thrillers are one of my favorite types of books and since I get to decide the monthly theme for this column, thrillers it is for May. But I must admit to being surprised at the way Misty Valley Books’ staff defined this month’s theme.

Whispering ShadowsLynne leads off this month’s column with a book that is described as a mystery rather than a thriller. “Jan-Philipp Sendker, author of The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, has changed genres – from beautiful love story to fast- paced thriller. But he knows what he’s doing and has managed to combine the two in a crime novel, Whispering Shadows ($16), which takes us into the underbelly of Hong Kong’s money makers and its clash with vestiges of the Cultural Revolution. Sendker doesn’t disappoint.”

From Amanda’s description of her book choice, I tend to think she defines thrillers much the way I do. “When John suggested thrillers as the genre of the Small death in Lisbonmonth for May I was halfway through A Small Death in Lisbon ($8.99) by Robert C. Wilson and knew I had to look no further for my pick.  Winner of the 1999 UK Gold Dagger Award for best mystery, this book has all the elements of a page turner.  World War II war materials’ smuggling has far reaching consequences; including a brutal murder in modern day Portugal.  Couldn’t put it down, despite the fact that I was traveling in France while reading it!”

Although not a work of fiction, Kim’s choice for this month’s column has all the elements of a historical thriller. “I honestly haven’t been reading much fiction Massacre on the Merrimacklately, let alone thrillers. The closest thing I’ve read recently that would sort of qualify, is Massacre on the Merrimack ($27.95) by Jay Atkinson. It’s a nonfiction history/biography of Hannah Dunston, who was captured by raiding Abenaki warriors from Haverill, Mass., in 1697. After the natives burned her home, killed her infant daughter, and marched her north as far as present day Concord, N.H., Hannah did the unthinkable. She fought back in a violent and gruesome manner, killing 10 of her captors, and fleeing to safety in a stolen canoe with two other companions. A fascinating (if grim) look at the harsh realities of living in the colonial wilderness, this book is a real page turner.” To Kim’s credit a blurb on the back of the book states “colonial history told as a thriller.”

ArfSylvan says, “I avoid reading thrillers, as I’m too much of a wimp to spend my scarce reading time on murder and other mayhem. However, there is a brand-new book that features a tough gumshoe, or should I say gumpaw. Arf! ($16.99) by Spencer Quin is the second young adult novel featuring Birdie Gaux and her dog, Bowser. The story of a recent break in a years-old murder case comes through the eyes and nose of Bowser, who’s brave, clever and humorous voice makes me feel safe from the evil humans he encounters. Like the Bernie and Chet novels for adults, the Bowser and Birdie series is funny, furry and fast-paced.”

HeistOver the last year or so I’ve been reading the Gabrielle Allon novels by Daniel Silva. Allon is a master art restorer specializing in Renaissance works and an agent for an Israeli intelligence agency known as The Office. The most recent novel I’ve read is The Heist ($15.99), an incredibly exciting and fast-paced work. When Allon’s friend, Julian Isherwood, discovers the tortured corpse of a stolen art dealer in a villa in Italy, Allon is persuaded by Italian authorities to mount an operation to attempt to recover a long lost work of art. All of the novels in this series are excellent but I found this one especially appealing especially because it deals so much with the visual arts.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeGood Reads

About the Author: After a 35-year career as a high school social studies teacher, John Hoover and his wife, Sally, retired to Vermont. He lives in Windham where he serves as a Justice of the Peace and Library Trustee. He works part time as a book-seller at Misty Valley Books, is active at St. Luke's Episcopal Church and sings in several choral groups.

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