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Not sure if it makes me a sociopath, but I gotta tell y’all: I have a bit of a ~thing~ for murder (#thatsnormal?). No, no, not committing it – reading about it. I can pass up a TV cop drama, but give me a Wikipedia hole I can fall into on serial killer and I’m gone. But when real life killers get too scary, I turn to fiction.
There’s a particular genre that I can’t get enough of – technically it’s probably called something generic like Thriller or Suspense Books, but I like to call them Psycho Lady Books. The women these books center on are strong, without a doubt, but they’re also batshit crazy. And I’m here for it. The best known of this genre are probably Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train, which are great reads and the movies weren’t too shabby either, but there are so many more in this particular genre that don’t get nearly enough attention in my not-so-humble opinion.
Below are some of my favorite Psycho Lady Books for your enjoyment.
Recommended for: Anyone looking for a secluded vacation spot to hole up in for a while…
The Good Girl is Mary Kubica’s debut novel and let me tell you, I’ll be reading anything she puts out. The story is told from different perspectives, centering on the disappearance of Mia Dennett, your typical upper middle-class Chicago girl. But also includes the perspective of the kidnapper, which makes for a change from the classic whodunit trope of most kidnapping/murder mysteries. And of course, everything is not as it seems and the ending provides a delightful twist. Mary Kubica does a great job of creating dysfunctional characters who definitely don’t always make the right choices, and it’s pretty easy to hate them while still caring about their fate. I made it through this book in a night or two – the suspense is constant and the resolution, if you want to call it that, is strung out until the very last pages. Buy it!
Recommended for: Those looking to relive the
pain good old days of middle school.
I love a good character I can hate, and Luckiest Girl Alive gave me that in spades. I hated Ani, the main character. To put it bluntly, she’s a bitch. We learn throughout the book what happened to make Ani the way she is, and while it’s all justifiable, I still don’t love her. But I think she’s a caricature of a woman that does exist – someone whom life was not good to, so now she’s going to do anything she can to take that life back.
There are so many heartbreaking things that happen to Ani, and it’s sad to think these things happen beyond fiction, but they do. This book perfectly captures how adolescence, especially as a woman, can scar us, and shape how we are for the rest of our life, good or bad. As with most books of this genre, you think you can predict the ending, but the author is just a step ahead of you and it turns out you were wrong. I have learned to be ok with being wrong because most authors are smarter and more forward-thinking that I am – who’d have thunk it? As a warning, this book contains lots of triggers – like all of them. So if reading about those isn’t fun for you, this book will be a hard pass. Buy it.
Written by: Shari Lapena
Recommended for: Anyone who thinks their family is crazy.
Anne and Marco Conti seem perfect – an attractive couple, cute baby, trendy brownstone – everything a hipster could aspire to. But behind the facade is a marriage at odds, a new mother struggling with postpartum depression, and cracks that just keep forming. When the babysitter cancels, they grudgingly decide to leave their six-month-old daughter home to go to a party at their neighbor’s house. It’s just one house over, they said. We’ll have the monitor on, they said. What could happen, they said? Well, maybe you can figure out what happened next. Bye, bye baby.
As one of my friends wrote in her Goodreads review, “Wowwwww. One of the best twisty turny books I’ve read in a while.” Every few chapters you’ll feel like you know who did it, then it’s debunked, and it’s on to the next suspect. Rinse and repeat until you feel like there’s no one else left and maybe this entire book was a dream. The theme of guilt is explored in depth; even when innocent, it’s easy to feel guilt and convince yourself that you’re more at fault than maybe you actually are. Anne and Marco’s perspectives are woven together and we feel their combined guilt of leaving their baby unattended and their individual guilt as the secrets that pile up between them and their family starts to fall apart. We’re kept guessing until the very end, and if that ending doesn’t make you shout “WHAT?!” aloud like I did, then there might be something wrong with you or you are in fact some sort of detective…Buy it!
Written by: Dot Hutchinson
Recommended for: If you’re considering getting a butterfly tattoo.
To write a suspenseful thriller, one has to be pretty creative and a little bit twisted. Dot Hutchinson is both of those things, but maybe a lot twisted…
The Butterfly Garden is a completely original story in a sea of books that all center around the same tropes: murder, kidnapping, and the like. And while relatable characters are a dime a dozen, it’s hard to create someone like Maya, the narrator of this story. This book is dark – VERY dark, but Maya lightened the mood with her crass language and oddly enough seems like someone I would want to know. Maybe not very closely, since her sanity level is still up in the air, but no doubt she could entertain for hours.
Maya is a “butterfly.” What the hell does that mean, you ask? She’s a hostage of The Gardener, kept in his beautiful garden cage with his other Butterflies, and tattooed with wings that unfortunately don’t do anything to help fly her away. But she has survived and is being questioned by the FBI about life in The Butterfly Garden. The only things we don’t know: how trustworthy is Maya and how did these girls finally get out of The Garden?
This book is horrifyingly beautiful. The story is so devastating and certain scenes made me cringe, but I couldn’t put it down. I want this book to be made into a movie so I can see the grotesque beauty of The Garden, but at the same time, I think I would be too scared to watch. Am I making this sound appealing? Maybe not, but trust me, this is a book you’ll read and ponder for days to come. It’s also part of a trilogy which I haven’t continued with yet since I just finished this book, but I plan to. I’m disgustingly excited for the books to come. Can you tell I saved my favorite for last? Buy it!
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