CBTB’s Weekend Checklist - 6/9/18
Happy weekend, reader! I don't know about you, but I'm so ready to spend my weekend relaxing and immersing myself in all sorts of crime fiction (and true crime!) entertainment. In today's edition of my Weekend Checklist, I'm recommending a slightly-older (but no less worthy of devouring) weekend binge-read, my top two favorite true crime podcast episodes probably ever, a TV show I've been meaning to finish watching and am finally planning to find time for, and a whole lot more! Enjoy the weekend - and today's recommendations! xx A
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THE GIRL BEFORE by Rena Olsen
Not to be confused with THE GIRL BEFORE by J.P. Delaney (which I also loved, but is a very different kind of read!), Rena Olsen’s stunning psychological suspense debut plumbs the depths of an abusive relationship in a story of deep emotional sensitivity and unputdownable plotting. Readers meet protagonist Clara on what appears to be the worst day of her life: a day when her home is stormed by armed men, and she is ripped from her family and the life she holds dear. But readers quickly discover that nothing is as it seems, and the reality of Clara’s life is far from what we expect. Olsen’s background as a licensed therapist is evident in each page of this heartfelt book; readers will find themselves deeply invested in the tragic plights of the story’s characters, and will be stunned by the emotional sensitivity found within the book’s pages. Without spoiling anything for you, this book deals heavily with the topic of abuse and its impact on an individual’s worldview. How does the victim of an abusive relationship perceive what is happening to him or her? What happens if the victim has never known anything but an abusive relationship? What coping mechanisms might they develop out of sheer necessity, and how might they respond when those mechanisms and the worldview they have developed are confronted? THE GIRL BEFORE will get under your skin and might just move you to tears (it sure did for me).
Plot Summary: Clara Lawson is torn from her life in an instant. Without warning, her home is invaded by armed men, and she finds herself separated from her beloved husband and daughters. The last thing her husband yells to her is to say nothing.
In chapters that alternate between past and present, the novel slowly unpeels the layers of Clara’s fractured life. We see her growing up, raised with her sisters by the stern Mama and Papa G, becoming a poised and educated young woman, falling desperately in love with the forbidden son of her adoptive parents. We see her now, sequestered in an institution, questioned by men and women who call her a different name—Diana—and who accuse her husband of unspeakable crimes. As recollections of her past collide with new revelations, Clara must question everything she thought she knew, to come to terms with the truth of her history and to summon the strength to navigate her future.
Episodes 11 & 12 / The Case of Morgan Ingram
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve listened to these two episodes of Sword and Scale. Episodes 11 & 12 of the smash-hit true crime podcast delve into the disturbing case of Morgan Ingram - a young woman who died an untimely death - and the bizarre fallout of that tragedy. Morgan Ingram was found dead of apparent suicide, yet her mother began asserting to the police (and the whole world) that, prior to her death, Morgan was the victim of an unrelenting stalker - and that the stalker was, in fact, responsible for Morgan's death. Morgan's mother and father told a harrowing tale: an individual was stalking their daughter, making it impossible for her to lead her normal life. According to her parents, Morgan became so afraid for her life that she even began sleeping in her parents’ room, terrified that the stalker would be waiting outside her window while she slept. This story is truly one of the most bizarre and disturbing things I’ve ever heard; Sword and Scale does an excellent job analyzing the claims made both by Morgan's parents and by law enforcement, and leads listeners through the complexities (and truly surreal moments) of this case. Morgan's parents even went on Dr. Phil to discuss the case - and you can listen to audio of that appearance in these episodes, too. This case is a true tragedy, and a heartbreaking story of a young life cut short.
Do you ever start watching a TV show and then… just somehow stop, despite having loved what you watched of it so far? That’s me with The Alienist. I started watching this show when it first debuted, and absolutely loved its first few episodes - but then life got busy and I somehow forgot to keep watching! This weekend, I’m hoping to get caught up. Based on the crime novel by Caleb Carr, The Alienist (set in late-1800’s New York) follows a reporter who is summoned by a psychologist (or “alienist”) to view the horribly mutilated body of a young boy found on the yet-unfinished Williamsburg bridge. The pair set out on a revolutionary mission: to create a psychological profile of the killer. The Alienist is richly developed, bone-chilling, and has a fantastically creepy atmosphere - I think part of the reason I stopped watching the show was because I was finding it so darn creepy, and needed to take a little break! This isn’t a show for the faint of heart; it’s dark through and through. Bonus: I absolutely love Dakota Fanning’s role in this show! This will be an instant-favorite for fans of historical crime fiction.
LYING IN WAIT by Liz Nugent
On Sale 6/12/18
What an absolute talent Liz Nugent is. The Irish crime writer made a splash with her debut UNRAVELING OLIVER, and this coming Tuesday, her sophomore effort releases in the US. LYING IN WAIT is every bit a propulsive, compulsively-readable psychological suspense novel. With the sharp intelligence and insight of UNRAVELING OLIVER and a quiet, driving tension all its own, LYING IN WAIT is sure to please established Nugent fans and newcomers to her work alike. You would be hard pressed to find another psychological suspense author who writes with the same unfussy dexterity as Nugent—her clean, to-the-point prose and candid observations of human nature come together here to deliver a truly outstanding summer read. Sparse, blunt, and wholly engrossing, LYING IN WAIT shocks and captivates not with blood and gore, but with the tragic capacity for desperate, ordinary people to do terrible, far-from-ordinary things. Read my full review here.
Plot Summary: From the international bestselling author of Unraveling Oliver, an “unputdownable psychological thriller with an ending that lingers long after turning the final page” (The Irish Times) about a Dublin family whose dark secrets and twisted relationships are suddenly revealed.
My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.
On the surface, Lydia Fitzsimons has the perfect life—wife of a respected, successful judge, mother to a beloved son, mistress of a beautiful house in Dublin. That beautiful house, however, holds a secret. And when Lydia’s son, Laurence, discovers its secret, wheels are set in motion that lead to an increasingly claustrophobic and devastatingly dark climax.
Poisoned Pen / Scottsdale, AZ
At the top of my "bookstore wishlist" is a trip to Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, AZ. I’ve somehow never taken a trip to this legendary crime fiction bookstore - but I’m hoping to change that soon! If you’re in the Scottsdale area, Poisoned Pen is known for having an outstanding lineup of author events - in July alone, the bookstore will be hosting authors including Paul Doiron, Brad Thor, Ace Atkins, David Bell, Flynn Berry, Linwood Barclay… the list goes on! If you don’t live in the Scottsdale area, Poisoned Pen is also an excellent resource if you’re looking for signed copies or specific editions of your favorite books - they’re excellent about shipping books out to customers no matter where you live.
You can learn more about Poisoned Pen online here!