I have a tendency to do deep dives into reading. I’m talking about slaughtering 3-4 books within a weekend (because apparently binge reading is how I do ever since I moved to a city that doesn’t have public transit for my usual commute). It’s never anything that would be found in the Western Canon. Quite the opposite actually. I’m a fan of the quicky slap dash murder mystery. And lately, they’ve been all lady-centered. As in the protagonists. As in imperfect real(ish) women who are flawed and somehow feel knowable. And sometimes a little untrustworthy. You’ve already met them in The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl. It’s officially a genre now. So in celebration of an anti-Valentine’s day, independent women who solve all the murders and don’t need a dude to get them out of rut, here are all the reads.
The Girl Before is allegedly the new Fifty Shades…minus all the bad writing stuff. It’s a different approach to submission and dominance with two protagonists and one of them is dead. There’s a super minimalist house, so it’s the opposite of your hygge Swedish crime thriller. Ugh, there’s so much more I want to say but I can’t. Look, it’s not Agatha Christie, nor Tana French (see below), but it’s a good quickie. Hehehe.
Remember The River Wild? And The Descent? And Deliverance? Smack all three together and you get this pro-lady survival tale. The River at Night has all the very easily relatable characters. You’ve known all of them. You might even be one of them, even if they may be caricatures. Erica Ferencik even ages them up a bit. Because, as we all know 40 is the new 30. In any case, the biggest lesson learned is that I should not plan a reunion group rafting trip when my ladies the next time we want to get together. Vino all the way.
The Grownup is a super shorty! I finished it over a lunch break! With a super wry, very sardonic and ultra flawed protagonist, it’s easy to want to just grab her by the shoulders and just yell at her: “GET IT TOGETHER GIRL.” But if you’re willing to overlook a bunch of issues and are just looking for a satisfying novella, here it is.
Apparently I’m not the only one to be digging this lady. Reese Witherspoon will be turning all of Ruth Ware’s UK-set messy crime solvers into films over the next couple of years. Both protagonists in The Woman in Cabin 10 and In a Dark Dark Wood wind up in remote locations and are basically left to their own bruised wits to get out alive and figure out who is behind everything. There are more than a few red herrings to mess things up too.
It gets hot here, so I dig any story that involves the dark and cold. Give it a try. Literary air-conditioning. I swear. History of Wolves is one of these reads. Add in a bit of counter culture with the commune-setting, and the tragedy and intensity of the remote life; this novel is more than your typical page turner. It’s a work by a new amazing author completely in its own right.
I couldn’t leave this list without the newest from Tana French, which I was already excited about when it was released a few months ago. Tana French already has a great history of female detectives, and The Trespasser is just her latest.