CBTB’s Weekend Checklist - 1/18/19
Happy Friday, reader! With a long weekend ahead of us in the U.S., I thought this would be the perfect moment to share my first “Weekend Checklist” of 2019! If you’re a new CBTB reader, my “weekend checklists” are every-so-often features that I share, in which I round up all the different crime fiction entertainment I’m recommending - and enjoying myself! - over the weekend. In this post, you’ll find recommendations for a weekend binge-read, a TV show I’m personally watching myself, a true crime podcast, and more. These posts are always such fun to put together, and I hope you’ll love reading this Weekend Checklist as much as I loved writing it! Without further ado, let’s dive right in. Happy reading!
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For the Noir Reader…
BLOOD ON SNOW by Jo Nesbø
Okay, so… it’s always a good time for a Jo Nesbø read, but there’s something about a wintry long weekend that seems extra perfect. While Nesbø is best known for his (absolutely brilliant) Harry Hole series, he also has a number of fantastic standalone novels that are well worth your time, too. My personal favorite? BLOOD ON SNOW, Nesbø’s slim little book following a “fixer” (aka a hitman) working for a drug lord in 1970’s Oslo. This book is a noir masterpiece: it’s gritty and grim, exploring the underbelly of a city that is often idealized. But what really made me fall for this story is its surprisingly endearing and delicate protagonist, Olav—a hitman whose violent job is at odds with his genuinely kind heart. BLOOD ON SNOW is a brilliant example of Nesbø’s range as a writer; this book is undeniably very different from his Harry Hole books, but its greatest commonality lies in the humanity of its characters. As always, Nesbø is a keen observer of human nature, and Olav will leap off the page and into readers’ hearts—even as he commits some truly immoral acts.
Plot Details: Olav Johansen is a walking contradiction: He's a cold-blooded killer with a heart of gold. Normally this is not a problem. . . .
Olav is a fixer for a high-profile crime kingpin in 1970s Oslo. He easily takes care of anyone who causes trouble for his boss. But he is more complicated than he seems. Olav's latest job puts him at the pinnacle of his trade, but it may become his greatest mistake: It turns out that the more you know about your boss's business, the more your boss might want you fixed yourself—especially if you're falling for his wife.
For the Psychological Suspense Reader…
HER EVERY FEAR by Peter Swanson
I read Swanson’s exceptional Hitchcockian suspense novel on a winter weekend much like this one a couple years ago, and, at the time, it was the first book in ages that genuinely kept me hooked throughout. HER EVERY FEAR isn’t a flashy, action-packed suspense novel; instead, this book is very much a mind game—the kind of suspense read that messes with your head in subtle ways, only to deliver a genuinely spine-tingling reveal with its finale. In HER EVERY FEAR, readers follow a young woman who agrees to an apartment swap with her estranged cousin. As she settles in to her cousin’s apartment in Boston, our protagonist makes an unsettling discovery: her next door neighbor has recently been murdered. From the windows of her cousin’s apartment, our protagonist begins to observe those around her… and what she discovers will be even more disturbing than she could have imagined. For readers who love suspense stories in the vein of films like Rear Window and books like The Girl on the Train, HER EVERY FEAR will be a perfect fit.
Plot Details: The danger isn’t all in your head . . .
Growing up, Kate Priddy was always a bit neurotic, experiencing momentary bouts of anxiety that exploded into full blown panic attacks after an ex-boyfriend kidnapped her and nearly ended her life. When Corbin Dell, a distant cousin in Boston, suggests the two temporarily swap apartments, Kate, an art student in London, agrees, hoping that time away in a new place will help her overcome the recent wreckage of her life.
But soon after her arrival at Corbin’s grand apartment on Beacon Hill, Kate makes a shocking discovery: his next-door neighbor, a young woman named Audrey Marshall, has been murdered. When the police question her about Corbin, a shaken Kate has few answers, and many questions of her own—curiosity that intensifies when she meets Alan Cherney, a handsome, quiet tenant who lives across the courtyard, in the apartment facing Audrey’s. Alan saw Corbin surreptitiously come and go from Audrey’s place, yet he’s denied knowing her. Then, Kate runs into a tearful man claiming to be the dead woman’s old boyfriend, who insists Corbin did the deed the night that he left for London.
When she reaches out to her cousin, he proclaims his innocence and calms her nerves . . . until she comes across disturbing objects hidden in the apartment—and accidently learns that Corbin is not where he says he is. Could Corbin be a killer? And what about Alan? Kate finds herself drawn to this appealing man who seems so sincere, yet she isn’t sure. Jetlagged and emotionally unstable, her imagination full of dark images caused by the terror of her past, Kate can barely trust herself . . . So how could she take the chance on a stranger she’s just met?
Yet the danger Kate imagines isn’t nearly as twisted and deadly as what’s about to happen. When her every fear becomes very real.
And much, much closer than she thinks.
The Teacher’s Pet
If you love crime novels that explore secrets in marriages, this true crime podcast will be right up your alley. The Teacher’s Pet sounds ripped from the pages of your favorite domestic thriller—but the most disturbing part is, it’s all true. This Australian podcast examines the mysterious disappearance of a woman named Lynette Dawson, and unveils the disturbing secrets hidden in her seemingly very normal marriage. It’s a dark and bizarre story in its own right, but what really makes this podcast fascinating is that it actually contributed to the solving of this case. During the course of the podcast’s investigation, new evidence was uncovered that implicated someone close to Lynette in her disappearance—and just recently, an arrest was made. I’m fascinated by the phenomenon of true crime podcasts bringing new attention to cold cases, and The Teacher’s Pet is a fascinating example of just that. Whether you know how the case ends like I did (I learned about the podcast through an article about the perpetrator’s arrest!) or go in completely blind, this captivating and bizarre story will be a perfect companion for the long weekend. You can learn more about The Teacher’s Pet online here.
Based on the book by Caroline Kepnes
As always, I’ll be totally honest: when I first watched this show, I wasn’t sure it was for me. However, now that the show is available on Netflix (and at the urging of one of my friends who’s hooked on it!), I decided to give it another try… and now I’m hooked, too. Based on the psychological thriller YOU by Caroline Kepnes, this TV show follows Joe Goldberg, the manager of a bookstore in New York. It’s a classic “boy meets girl” story… except, in this case, that boy becomes seriously obsessed with the girl, and begins stalking her. Caroline Kepnes’ book is seriously dark, explicit, and deliciously over-the-top, and so far the TV show is the same. There’s definitely a level of melodrama to this show that you will need to be prepared for, but if you’re in the mood for something dramatic and twisted, this show makes for a great binge-watch.
THE SILENT PATIENT by Alex Michaelides
On Sale February 5th, 2019
In the market for a buzzy psychological suspense read? Alex Michaelides’ superb debut novel will be right up your alley. Slow-burning yet utterly unputdownable, this intelligent character study takes readers up close and personal with its protagonists: a woman convicted of killing her husband, and the therapist determined to treat her. The concept behind this book is utterly unnerving. When police are called to the home of a famous painter and her photographer husband, they find a gruesome scene: a woman drenched in blood, holding a gun, her husband’s corpse in front of her. That same woman never uttered a single word ever again—and our story’s second protagonist, the therapist, is determined to help her find her voice again. Readers will find themselves completely immersed in this story; Michaelides has a masterful way of, slowly but surely, bringing readers closer to the shocking secrets at this book’s core. This book is not twisty throughout, but its finale will blow you away.
Plot Details: Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.
Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.
Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations―a search for the truth that threatens to consume him....
Books Are Magic / Brooklyn, NY
If you’re ever in the New York area, Books Are Magic is a must-visit! Author Emma Straub opened Books Are Magic in 2017, and what a beautiful store it is. While Books Are Magic isn’t focused on crime fiction in particular, you can always find the hottest new releases in the store - or you can order the book you’re looking for from the store online! No matter what kind of book you’re in the market for, Books Are Magic is worth a visit—this is the kind of place I just love to spend time in, somewhere that really feels like a “home away from home” for readers. Books Are Magic also hosts lots of fantastic author events as well; in fact, this is where I went to see Christine Mangan discuss her fantastic debut novel TANGERINE! You can find the Books Are Magic event calendar online here, and you can learn more about the store here.