David Morell’s bestselling debut thriller, First Blood, was adapted for the screen in 1982. Thirty-seven-years later (seriously, how was Sylvester Stallone still making these almost four decades later) Morell said he left the theater “degraded and dehumanized” after watching Rambo: Last Blood, the last installment in the Rambo series.
Morell had some limited involvement with the production of Rambo: Last Blood. Stallone spoke with him during the writing process, but their relationship ended quickly because Morell and Stallone had different visions for the main character. Morell wanted to portray Rambo as a more “soulful” character, tracking down a missing child and creating a new sense of family for himself. The finished script does include Rambo rescuing a friend’s granddaughter from a Mexican cartel, but the vision Morell had for the character is absent.
I felt degraded and dehumanized after I left the theater…Instead of being soulful, this new movie lacks one. I felt I was less a human being for having seen it, and today that’s an unfortunate message.
Image via Inside Hook
Morell’s not alone in his reaction to the new film. Peter Hartlaub, a reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle, had this to say about Rambo: Last Blood:
The film is a far cry from the paradigm-shifting First Blood from which it began, and it’s definitely strayed form the vision Morell had for the character.
Image via Maxim
Numerous critics have raised concerns about the over-the-top slaughter of the film’s Mexican villains, considering today’s political climate. Morell has distanced himself from the political readings many have made of Rambo: Last Blood, but the Rambo films have always had a political bent, often reflecting on foreign policy after the Vietnam War and during the Reagan era. Morell’s issues with the film seem more to do with the film’s sloppy execution.
International Thriller Writers (ITW) is proud to announce the most thrilling authors of 2019. The winners of this year’s ITW Thriller Awards are:
BEST HARDCOVER NOVEL
Jennifer Hillier — JAR OF HEARTS (Minotaur Books)
BEST FIRST NOVEL
C. J. Tudor — THE CHALK MAN (Crown)
BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL NOVEL
Jane Harper — THE LOST MAN (Pan Macmillan Australia)
BEST SHORT STORY
Helen Smith — “Nana” in KILLER WOMEN: CRIME CLUB ANTHOLOGY #2 (Killer Women Ltd.)
BEST E-BOOK ORIGINAL NOVEL
Alan Orloff — PRAY FOR THE INNOCENT (Kindle Press)
BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL
Teri Bailey Black — GIRL AT THE GRAVE (Tor Teen)
Also receiving special recognition:
John Sandford, ThrillerMaster
In recognition of his legendary career and outstanding contributions to the thriller genre.
Harlan Coben, Silver Bullet Award
“Mystery Mike” Bursaw, ThrillerFan Award
Margaret Marbury, Thriller Legend Award
There’s only one event where you can find New York Times best-selling authors lurking around every single corner, literary agents actually appearing in broad daylight and fans openly plotting and conspiring with the most feared and revered names of the thriller genre. We hope that you join us in 2020 for ThrillerFest XV, the International Thriller Writers’ fifteenth annual celebration of all things Thriller, the largest event of its kind in the world. The highlight of the festival is the gala ITW Thriller Awards Banquet during which a fresh batch of authors will be announced as the chosen heroes of suspense.www.thrillerfest.com
With the reading world gripped by stories such as Big Little Lies, Sharp Objects and Gone Girl, domestic suspense has reached new heights. Readers can’t get enough of the idea that within perfect families lie dark secrets. We’ve rounded up five of the best books about seemingly perfect families that just aren’t what they seem…
1. THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER BY KAIRA ROUDA
Kaira Rouda, author of Best Day Ever, is back with The Favorite Daughter, and some deep, dark family secrets. Talk about not being what they appear! The Favorite Daughter was included in O, The Oprah Magazine’s “The Buzziest Books Being Released this May 2019” but that’s only the tip of the praise iceberg!
In addition to being one of PopSugar’s Best Books of Spring, and receiving a starred review from Publishers Weekly, The Favorite Daughter has been described by USA Today bestselling author Cristina Alger, as “compulsively readable and deeply satisfying psychological suspense.” New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf dubbed it “a smart, wickedly plotted psychological thriller brimming with dark surprises.” The praise is as endless as you’ll wish this book was almost as soon as you begin. Check out the synopsis below, and don’t forget to grab your copy!
From the author of Best Day Ever, another gripping novel of psychological suspense set in an upscale Southern California community, for fans of B.A. Paris and Shari Lapena.
The perfect home. The perfect family. The perfect lie.
Jane Harris lives in a sparkling home in an oceanfront gated community in Orange County. It’s a place that seems too beautiful to be touched by sadness. But exactly one year ago, Jane’s oldest daughter, Mary, died in a tragic accident and Jane has been grief-stricken ever since. Lost in a haze of anti-depressants, she’s barely even left the house. Now that’s all about to change.
It’s time for Jane to reclaim her life and her family. Jane’s husband, David, has planned a memorial service for Mary and three days later, their youngest daughter, Betsy, graduates high school. Yet as Jane reemerges into the world, it’s clear her family has changed without her. Her husband has been working long days—and nights—at the office. Her daughter seems distant, even secretive. And her beloved Mary was always such a good girl—dutiful and loving. But does someone know more about Mary, and about her last day, than they’ve revealed?
The bonds between mothers and daughters, and husbands and wives should never be broken. But you never know how far someone will go to keep a family together…
2. Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon
With praise from everyone from Booklist who call it a “fast-paced, twisty thriller” to Kaira Rouda herself, who calls it a “must-read,” Hannah Mary McKinnon explores what lies behind the facade of a perfect family in the wake of the secret-keeper’s death. With Creep author Jennifer Hellier dubbing it “smoldering domestic suspense,” this thriller is sure to grip you!
When Josh’s longtime partner, Grace, dies in a tragic accident, he is left with a mess of grief—and full custody of her seven-year-old son, Logan. While not his biological father, Josh has been a dad to Logan in every way that counts, and with Grace gone, Logan needs him more than ever.
Wanting to do right by Logan, Josh begins the process of becoming his legal guardian—something that seems suddenly urgent, though Grace always brushed it off as an unnecessary formality. But now, as Josh struggles to find the paperwork associated with Logan’s birth, he begins to wonder whether there were more troubling reasons for Grace’s reluctance to make their family official.
As he digs deeper into the past of the woman he loved, Josh soon finds that there are many dark secrets to uncover, and that the truth about where Logan came from is much more sinister than he could have imagined…
Tightly paced and brimming with tension, Her Secret Son is a heartbreakingly honest portrait of a family on the edge of disaster and a father desperate to hold on to the boy who changed his life.
3. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
From the acclaimed author of Big Little Lies, a classic of the ‘perfect family’ genre, comes another mouthwateringly suspenseful thriller. One of Entertainment Weekly’s Best Books of the Year and One of People‘s Top Ten Books of the Year, this story looks at what happens when it turns out that the person you thought you knew best in the world, may not be who you thought… According to USA Today, “The Husband’s Secret is so good, you won’t be able to keep it to yourself.” New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank notes that “secrets can be sinister; they can eat you alive. But they can also set you free. The Husband’s Secret demonstrates this power with one of the most entertaining stories I have read in ages. Perfect for book clubs—lots to debate in these pages. I just loved it.”
My darling Cecilia, if you’re reading this, then I’ve died…
Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.
Acclaimed author Liane Moriarty has written a gripping, thought-provoking novel about how well it is really possible to know our spouses—and, ultimately, ourselves.
4. THE TROPHY CHILD BY PAULA DALY
Jill Mansell calls The Trophy Child a “fantastic twisty-turny novel”, while Claire McGowan lauds Paula Daly as ‘the UK’s answer to Liane Moriarty.’ This spooky thriller explores the lengths a pushy parent will go to for perfection. Mark Edwards sums it up nicely by calling The Trophy Child “gripping, darkly funny and bound to induce spasms of guilt in even the least pushy parent. I can’t remember the last time I was so enthralled. I want to stand on a mountain top and tell everyone to read this brilliant novel.” So what are you waiting for?
Karen Bloom expects perfection. Her son, Ewan, has been something of a disappointment and she won’t be making the same mistake again with her beloved, talented child, Bronte.
Bronte’s every waking hour will be spent at music lessons and dance classes, doing extra schoolwork and whatever it takes to excel.
But as Karen pushes Bronte to the brink, the rest of the family crumbles. Karen’s husband, Noel, is losing himself in work, and his teenage daughter from his first marriage, Verity, is becoming ever more volatile. The family is dangerously near breaking point.
Karen would know when to stop . . . wouldn’t she?
5. MOTHER, MOTHER BY KOREN ZAILCKAS
What do you do when your family home becomes a prison, run by the person who claims to love you most? The San Francisco Chronicle called Zailckas’ “superbly unsettling” novel “a haunting meditation on family, love and unimaginable loss…A firecracker thriller full of whip-smart psychological insights.” Kirkus Reviews align it with some of the most beloved in the ‘mad-matriarch’ genre, calling it “a hall of mirrors reflecting chaotic maternal psychological mayhem reminiscent of Mommie Dearest or Push or Ordinary People.”
Josephine Hurst has her family under control. With two beautiful daughters, a brilliantly intelligent son, a tech-guru of a husband, and a historical landmark home, her life is picture perfect. But living in this matriarch’s determinedly cheerful, yet subtly controlling domain hasn’t been easy for her family, and when her oldest daughter, Rose, runs off with a mysterious boyfriend, Josephine tightens her grip, gradually turning her flawless home into a darker sort of prison.
Resentful of her sister’s newfound freedom, Violet turns to eastern philosophy, hallucinogenic drugs, and extreme fasting, eventually landing herself in a psych ward. Meanwhile, her brother, Will, recently diagnosed with Asperger’s, shrinks further into a world of self-doubt. Their father, Douglas, finds resolve in the bottom of a bottle—an addict craving his own chance to escape. Josephine struggles to maintain the family’s impeccable façade, but when a violent incident leads to a visit from child protective services, the truth about the Hursts might finally be revealed.
Peter James is a literary powerhouse. One of the biggest names in thriller writing in the UK and overseas, James has won an award for either his writing or his public service almost every year since 1999. Now get ready for some big numbers. James is the author of over thirty-five books, his books have sold 19 million copies worldwide and have given him twelve consecutive UK Sunday Times number ones, as well as number ones in Germany, France, Russia and Canada, and he is also a New York Times best-seller. Not only that, but James’s books have been translated into no less than thirty-seven languages. All in a day’s work! His books have been adapted for film, TV and the stage, and he shows no signs of stopping. James is back with his explosive new novel Absolute Proof, and I was lucky enough to catch up with him and pick his brains about the book, his inspiration and what exactly is the key to a great thriller!
Laura-Blaise McDowell: Can you tell us where the inspiration for Absolute Proof came from?
Peter James: Basically, I had a phonecall out of the blue back in 1989, this elderly guy, who said ‘Is this Peter James the author? Thank God I found you, it’s taken me two weeks, I’ve phoned every Peter James in the phonebook, in England.’ And he said, ‘I’m not a lunatic, I was a bomber pilot in the second World War, I’m a retired university academic. I have been given absolute proof of God’s existence, and I’m told you’re the man to help me get taken seriously.’ He then went on and said, ‘my wife recently died of cancer, she was also an academic, and before she died we made an agreement that I would go to a medium and try and communicate with her, and I did this, and instead of my wife, a male came through and said he was a representative of God, and God was really concerned about the state of the world, and felt that if mankind could have faith reaffirmed, it would steer the world back on an even keel. And as proof of this, he’s given me three pieces of information that nobody knows. And he said the author Peter James is the man to help you get taken seriously.’ So that was the kind of starting point.
Long story short, I met with the guy, and he was in his seventies, very nice guy, quite obsessive, and he really believed that he’d been given this mission to save the world, and that I was the man to help him get taken seriously. He said he’d been given compass coordinates for the location of the tomb of Akhenaten, Tutankhamun’s uncle, the first monotheist, which has never been found. As well as the location of the Holy Grail and the location of the Arc of the Covenant. And I said, ‘have you looked for any of these?’ And he said, ‘yes, the Holy Grail is at a place called Chalice Well in Glastonbury.’ Now I’d never heard of Chalice Well before, but it’s a holy site on the edge of this town in Somerset called Glastonbury, which is quite a mystical place, and it’s where Joseph of Arimathea was rumored to have brought the Holy Grail containing Christ’s blood from the crucifixion, and concealed it, as it was an important relic.
He said ‘I was a pilot in the war, I can navigate, I’ve been to exact location, I’ve been looking there and I’ve been metal detecting and there’s something under the ground, and I’ve approached the trustees of Chalice Well for permission to do an archaeological dig, but they won’t take me seriously, but,’ he said ‘Mr James, I think they would take you seriously.’
Anyhow, by sheer, sheer chance the next day I had to go to Bristol which is quite near there, to do a BBC radio interview, and I was just chatting to the presenter at the end of the interview, and out of the blue she mentions Chalice Well. And I’ve always been fascinated by coincidence, and I thought, that is really strange I’ve never heard of the place until yesterday and now I’m hearing of it twice in two days, and I asked her, “What do you know about Chalice Well?” and she said “My uncle is a trustee!” So I thought, wow, I really am the Chosen One to save the world! Anyhow, I told her the story and then I left and I was so freaked out that I found a friend of mine at the time, who was the Bishop of Reading, a very modern thinking clergyman, and I met up with him a couple of days later and told him the story and I said ‘What do you think?’ and firstly he said, ‘Proof is the enemy of faith, in my view, but secondly, you’d need more than three sets of compass coordinates as proof of God.’
He said he would want something that defies the laws of physics, of the universe-a pretty major miracle. I asked him if someone could deliver that, what would happen? He replied,“I think they’d be murdered? Because whose God is it going to be? Every faction of the Anglican, Catholic, Judaic, Islamic churches would be claiming ownership, and then you’ve got atheist countries like China who wouldn’t want a higher power usurping them.” And that is when I thought yes, I have got the makings of a great international thriller here.
LBMD: Wow. It’s such a good story, and such an amazing seed for a story, because so often when writers are asked where the inspiration for a book came and they say ‘Oh, you know, I was looking out the window the a train, and it just came to me,’ this is so fascinating and intense compared to that!
PJ: I know!
LBMD: The book obviously deals with the existence or lack thereof, of a higher power, obviously a sensitive topic which is one of the key issues in the book. Have you received any backlash since its publication?
PJ: Do you know, it’s extraordinary, I haven’t, at all. I mean, I’ve been waiting for it, and I’m sure there’s going to be. Just before the book was published, the Archbishop of Canterbury heard about the book, as I did some research with some of his team, and he invited Lara my wife and I to drinks at Lambeth Palace in London and he said, ‘tell me about the book,’ so I told him and I asked him ‘What do you think would happen if there was absolute proof God existed?’ and he smiled and said ‘Well I’d be out of a job.’
But no, I haven’t had any backlash or any hate mail from anyone, but rest assured, it will come. The book’s being published around the world, including Russia, which surprised me that they would publish it, so I think there’s plenty of time yet. I did take a huge amount of trouble, and part of the reason the book took so long to write, was I felt I wanted to learn about all the world religions and didn’t want to offend any religion in the writing of it. So that was a major part of it, trying to tread a very fine line between portraying religions accurately and at the same time not being rude about any of them.
LBMD: You’ve written over 35 books, the majority of which are part of a series, including the Roy Grace series, for which you’re best known. But Absolute Proof is a rare standalone. How do you find the experience of writing a stand alone novel compares to series installments?
PJ: I love both in equal measures. I love writing my Roy Grace novels because Roy has his his kind of core team; best mate Glen Branson, very politically incorrect detective Norman Potting, who is always upsetting people, Roy’s wife who runs the mortuary in Brighton… And every time I start a new Roy Grace book it’s like sitting back down with a bunch of old friends. I’m thinking I’ll turn around and I’ll say ‘Hi Roy, how have you been? Hi Norman, how are you doing? Who have you upset this week?’ But with the Roy Grace books, because I’m a stickler for accuracy, everything I write has to be checked against what would actually happen in terms of police procedure, etcetera, not to seem pedantic in any way, but I like the idea that any police officer could read the book and go ‘yeah, that’s actually how it is.’ So the research takes a long time and I have to write a Roy Grace book every year. Whereas normally with stand alones, they’re much more free flowing. Obviously with Absolute Proof, research and understanding the world religions was critical, but after that, I could just do what I liked. Quite strange actually after researching that book for the best part of twenty-four years, I actually wrote it in two and a half months, the fastest time I’ve actually written a book, because I just had it all in my head, and I didn’t have the constraints [of a series].
LBMD: Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is the character you’re best known for, and you’re a patron of the Sussex Police Charitable Trust, and have donated police cars to the Sussex Police. How much of yourself is in Roy Grace and where did your interest in policing begin?
PJ: It began back in 1981, and I’d recently got married and I had my first book published, which was a kind of not-that-great spy thriller, and we got burgled and a young detective came to take fingerprints, and he saw my book and he said ‘if you ever want research help from the police, give me a call.’ He was married to a police officer, and my then-wife and I became friendly with them, and they invited us to a barbeque at their house, and they had about a dozen friends and almost all of them were types of cops, right across the spectrum: traffic, response, homicide, and I just found them fascinating to talk to, and over the next few years we got to know them better and better and got to know more of their friends and when they realized I was genuinely interested and not just out to get a story I could sell to the newspaper, they started inviting me out on patrol! And I just began to realize, spending more and more time with these guys, that from a writer’s perspective, nobody sees more of human life in a thirty year career than a cop. That’s what really intrigued me about it, was just all the different insights to human nature that police officers get.
Then in about 1996, I was introduced to a young homicide detective called David Gaylor and he was in Brighton, and he’d been put in charge of the cold case team and we just hit it off. I was writing psychological thrillers at that point and he helped me with all the policing aspects. He rose to become the Head of Homicide for Sussex in 2002, just at the time my publishers approached me and said ‘we’d love it if you would write a series with a cop as the central character.’ So I went to Dave, and I said “How would you like to be a fictitious cop?” That was the starting point of Roy Grace. He loved the idea, and we’ve worked very closely together ever since. So when I’m preparing to write a new book, we sit down at the same table in our local pub, and we plan. I’ll write the first hundred pages and he’ll read them and tell me how Roy Grace would think and act. Over the years he’s introduced me to every facet of policing in the UK and around the world. I’ve subsequently been out many time with police in New York, Los Angeles, Russia, Germany and a number of other countries around the world.
LBMD: Your books have been adapted for stage, film and TV. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about the process of seeing your work adapted, and if you have a preferred medium you like to see it adapted to?
PJ: I’ve had four of my books adapted to the stage, which I absolutely love. But I think television mini-series, today, are the way forward, and give books much more of a chance to breathe than with the time constraints of cinema. Absolute Proof is in development as a television mini-series, as is the whole Roy Grace series, and a number of my other books, so I see that as the future.
LBMD: You’ve won awards either for your writing or public service almost every year since 1999. Is there a particular award that meant a lot to you?
PJ: They have all had a lot of meaning for me. I particularly love the one from W.H. Smith, which is the biggest bookselling chain in the UK, had a public vote for the best crime author of all time, and I won that. That was amazing, because that was from the public, from readers. And I think getting the Diamond Dagger award from the UK Crime Writers’ Association was a big moment because that was from my peers. Another that is really special to me was I was given an Outstanding Public Service Award by Sussex Police.
LBMD: What is your advice to would-be thriller writers, or aspiring writers in general?
PJ: Characters. I think that there’s an inseparable trinity in any great thriller of character, research and plot. I put them in that order deliberately, because first and foremost, we read books to find out what happens to characters we meet and engage with from the first page. They don’t have to be ‘nice’ people, but they have to engage and fascinate us. You know, Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs is not a nice character but he engages.
I put research in second position because people who read are smart. I think when we read we don’t just want to read a great story, we read because we want tolearn something about human nature and the world in which we live, and I think you can tell very fast if an author doesn’t know their subject, if an author’s writing about a lawyer but they’ve clearly never sat in a lawyer’s office, or they’re writing about a gun and they’ve never held one, or someone flying a plane and they’ve never sat at the controls of a cockpit, it’s apparent. It’s understanding what you’re writing about.
Plot is obviously important, but if you don’t care about the characters, and you don’t think the author’s done their research, the plot’s not going to matter because you’re not going to read on.
So in terms of the best tips I can give you, these are:
1. Create engaging characters
2. Research every aspect you are going to write
3. Know the ending that you want to get to – I find this enormously helpful – it may change as I approach it but it gives me a vanishing point on the horizon to aim at
4. Think of a series of high points for your book – and make sure each one is bigger than the previous one
5. Write something 6 days a week – it is crucial to get into a flow – find an amount that you can write each day, whether is is 200 words or 2000 words, and rigidly stick to them because that will get you into a rhythm
6. Have fun – if you enjoy writing that will come through in the pages!
Master of Suspense, Sir Alfred Hitchcock once said “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it,” and while there are countless authors seeking to instill in their readers the terror and anticipation of which Hitchcock spoke, there are only some who really stand out, who take risks and elevate the art of thrilling readers. Here are the top five thriller writers who are taking things to the next level.
1. Peter James
Image Via The Real Spy
One of the biggest names in thriller writing in the UK and Ireland, Peter James is about to hit the US, and you better be ready. Having received his first writing accolade in school, this murder mystery powerhouse has won coveted awards almost every year since 1999, and doesn’t show signs of stopping. Brace yourself for some big numbers: James is best known as the author of the Roy Grace series, which is comprised of nineteen books and counting, and has sold a cool 19 million copies worldwide, as well as earning him the number one spots in countries including the UK, Canada, Russia and Germany and being translated into thirty-seven languages. It doesn’t stop there. James has over twenty additional novels under his belt, as well as a non-fiction book, Death Comes Knocking: Policing Roy Grace’s Brighton, and has also been involved in the making of no less than twenty-six movies including A Different Loyalty, starring Sharon Stone and The Bridge of San Luis Rey, starring Robert De Niro. All in a day’s work.
James’s latest contribution to the world of thriller writing is his exciting new novel Absolute Proof. What would you do if someone told you they had absolute proof of God’s existence? That is the question posed by James in what Lee Child has called “the best what-if thriller since TheDa Vinci Code.” Investigative journalist Ross Hunter receives the following phone call that will change his life forever…
‘I’d just like to assure you I’m not a nutcase, Mr Hunter. My name is Dr Harry F. Cook. I know this is going to sound strange, but I’ve recently been given absolute proof of God’s existence – and I’ve been advised there is a writer, a respected journalist called Ross Hunter, who could help me to get taken seriously.’
“What would it take to prove the existence of God? And what,” asks James, “would be the consequences? The false faith of a billionaire evangelist, the life’s work of a famous atheist, and the credibility of each of the world’s major religions are all under threat. If Ross Hunter can survive long enough to present the evidence…”
Don’t miss your chance to win your name in a Peter James novel, signed copies of Absolute Proof and more thrilling Peter James goodies!
2. Paula Hawkins
Image Via Daily Express
You’re probably familiar with Paula Hawkins’ phenomenon The Girl on the Train, which was made into a crazy-successful film starring Emily Blunt. But can you fathom how successful the book was, even without the film? The Girl on the Train debuted at number one on The New York Times Bestsellers list, where it spent thirteen consecutive weeks. In its first year, the book sold well over 1.5 million copies, and occupied the number one spot of the UK hardback book chart for twenty weeks, the longest any book has ever held the top spot.
The Girl on the Train was the first book she published as Paula Hawkins, however it was not her first published work. She wrote several romance novels under the pseudonym Amy Silver, as well as a financial advice book for women entitled The Money Goddess. Her second book as Hawkins, Into the Water, had a lot to live up to, however also became a bestseller and in February 2017, before it was first published, DreamWorks’ parent Amblin Partners purchased the film rights, with La La Land‘s Mark Platt and Jared LeBoff as producers. If you’ve seen The Girl on the Train film, you’ll be excited for this. As USA Today notes, “Hawkins, influenced by Hitchcock, has a cinematic eye and an ear for eerie, evocative language.”
3. Tana French
Image Via Oprah.com
A favorite author of none other than Stephen King, Irish-American author Tana French is best known for her Dublin Detectives series, which follows the homicide detectives of Dublin as they investigate strange and unusual crimes around Ireland. Her best book (in this writer’s opinion) is The Secret Place, an absolutely stunning mixture of thriller, bildungsroman, murder mystery and, unexpectedly, but so well executed, magic surrealism that will keep you entirely hooked until the end. The combination of themes and genres she weaves together really sets her apart, and ensures that no two of her novels bear much similarity to one another, beyond their consistently gripping plots, believable characters and, as King would have it, ‘incandescent’ prose.
Her latest offering, The Witch Elm, described by the New York Times as “her most intricately nuanced novel yet” follows a young man who goes to his dying uncle’s home to recover from an attack that left him near dead. However when a skull is unearthed beneath a tree on the house’s grounds, family secrets come to the surface.
4. Jessica Knoll
Image Via WWD
Jessica Knoll is an author who hit the big time straight off the mark. Her debut thriller Luckiest Girl Alivebecame an instant New York Times bestseller, selling 450,000 copies, and remaining on best-seller lists for four months. It was then optioned for film by Lionsgate, with none other than Reese Witherspoon set to produce. And all this for good reason; Knoll has also become a voice for survivors of sexual assault, having opened up about the gang-rape she suffered when she was fifteen, which informed Luckiest Girl Alive. Her willingness to be candid and open about her experiences has no doubt helped and inspired many survivors, and she is undoubtedly taking things to the next level with her brave, unflinching writing and honesty.
Apart from her literary success, over the course of her career Knoll has held the position of senior editor at Cosmopolitan and the articles editor at Self, which are incredibly impressive roles in themselves. Her second novel, The Favorite Sister, dubbed “deliciously savage and wildly entertaining”by People Magazine who named it their Book of the Week, also sat happily on bestseller lists around the world following its release in May 2018. By the following month, a TV adaptation from the producers of Big Little Lieshad been announced.
5. Stuart Turton
Image Via The National
Despite having only one book out, what a book it is! Turton’s debut, The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a high-concept thriller that has already been optioned for TV! Described as “Cluedo meets The Matrix meets Agatha Christie meets the reinvention of Sherlock Holmes as a TV series”, Evelyn Hardcastle follows an amnesiac who finds himself caught in a Groundhog Day-style game of real life Cluedo, in which he relives the death of Evelyn Hardcastle from the various perspectives of the potential culprits every day. As you can imagine, the book is doing rather well.
Following its appearance on the Sunday Times Bestseller list, it went on to win the Books Are My Bag Novel Award 2018, as well as being shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and the Specsavers National Book Awards 2018. As if that wasn’t enough, it made it onto various Must Read Books of 2018 lists, including those of Harper’s Bazaar and Marie Claire. But it wasn’t even all of this praise that led to the next big thing for Turton. Before the book was even released, the TV rights were optioned by House Productions. Phew!