The definition of a psychological thriller has been defined as “a suspenseful book which emphasizes the psychology of its characters more so than the plot.”
I just completed two British psychological thrillers, and I might add that each of these main characters are in definite need of some time on the psychologist’s couch. Their motivations and behavior are bizarre and, in some instances, downright creepy. Yet, I was compelled to keep on reading to see how their twisted minds worked.
Take for example Mr. Hemming, a successful and trusted realtor in a small British village. He has spent hours with you acting in your best interests. You trust him … but you shouldn’t. Unbeknownst to you, he has kept the key to your house, as he has with every home he has sold in the last 17 years. He visits your home often when you are not there, not to steal, but to observe your lifestyle. He prides himself on knowing some of your most intimate secrets and pleasures.
He doesn’t consider himself a criminal, but when he falls in love with one of his clients, he sets into motion a series of events that reveals how dangerous his twisted mind can be. The book is The Pleasure of His Calling: A Novel, by Phil Hogan. It’s a tense read that may inspire you to change the locks on all your doors.
The second title is Her: a Novel, by Harriet Lane. Also set in England, it is the story of two seemingly different women, Nina and Emma. At first glance, it appears they have little in common. Emma left a thriving television career, and her life now consists of picking up Legos from her two-year-old toddler while expecting another child. Nina is a successful artist who has already raised her family and lives an orderly existence, which includes posh dinners and a vacation home.
From the opening sentence when Nina recognizes Emma, we are aware that something chilling is about to unfold. Told in both women’s voices in alternating chapters, the tension mounts with each chapter as it builds to how Nina knows Emma—and an ending that is too horrific to imagine.
I chose to review these books together, as both have psycho characters who try to orchestrate the lives of people who are unaware of the evil lurking so near them. These books remind us to close our blinds and perhaps be leery of strangers who want to befriend us.
Happy creepy reading!
Violetta Armour is a Sun Lakes resident and former owner of Pages Bookstore in Ahwatukee. She has published five novels, including three mysteries and the award-winning I’ll Always Be With You, all available on Amazon.