Librarian Confessions

I have a guilty reading secret. 

As a librarian I do try to read widely and of course have a focus on literary novels and the literary prize winners. But now in 2019 I thought I had better come clean and confess that I also absolutely adore a good thriller, the anti-hero who always gets their man (or woman), the spy master who after a twist foils the evil plot. And as part of my big reveal I am sharing my top 10 thrilling reads from 2018 in date read order.

Top 10 Thrilling Reads - 2018

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Hellbent

If you have not caught up with this series yet then now is the time.  The first in the series is Orphan X and it was a great opening thriller for the series which just keeps on getting better.  More is revealed about Evan Smoak and his background through each book and the immediate action packed story is always a page turner.

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The Jealous Kind

Set in 1952 Texas as the Korean War rages, this coming of age story pits seventeen year old Aaron against the mafia, jealous boyfriends and corrupt police, all because he makes one fateful decision to step in and save the girl. It is not necessary to read the first book in this series as they do not follow on chronologically. But it is a thrilling ride and one to enjoy.

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The Good Daughter

This is the story of Samantha and Charlie Quinn, two sisters who witnessed a horrific violent crime against their mother 28 years ago. The perpetrator was one of her father’s, a defence attorney, clients. In the present Charlie, now a defence attorney herself,  witnesses a shooting and there is something not quite right about the shooter.  What follows is a dark tale of a mystery with links to what happened 28 years ago and all the memories both sisters have spent a lifetime repressing are starting to come out.  A great dark story of family, a violent crime and the lingering consequences down the generations.

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London Rules

This is a series about Jackson Lamb and his deplorable failed spies from MI5 exiled to Slough House to die a slow career death to retirement.  If you have not read Slow Horses (Slough House #1) then I do recommend that you start the series and read them all as these are viciously funny, thrilling in a way when the anti-heroes make everything worse and you end up cheering for them anyway.  In London Rules, the number one rule is to cover your arse and when everyone in the Government and MI5 has this agenda there are major problems for the nation.  A most uncommon spy series but one definitely worth reading.

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Death Message

DS Sarah Collins has been assigned a cold case from twenty-seven years ago.  In 1987 Tania Mills, then fifteen, walks out her front door and disappears.  Sarah is determined to find the truth, only to be pulled into another case involving domestic violence with a young police officer from her past, Lizzie Griffiths.  What really grabbed me in this one was how the events played out in the book happen all around us, in our communities today.  This is a roller coaster of a book that does pack an emotional wallop as well as two very good mysteries.  It was the first Kate London I have read and I will seek out more.

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Robicheaux

I have read everything in this series and loved them all.  This is the very best of both my reading worlds, an amazing thriller, with a mind bending mystery, shades of grey, a troubled hero, and incredibly lyrically written.  Set in Louisiana, you get to feel the heat, the lush growth, the music and the decay of communities all at once.  Dave Robicheaux battles alcoholism every day and in this novel he is not winning.  But what happened in his blackout?  Could he have violently killed the man who killed his wife in an accident?  Through it all is a historic Calvary sword from the South, a mobster boss, a senator who just could be the next President and a writer, whose wife says she has been violently assaulted.  As he struggles against his need for alcohol and fights to clear his name, all while working the rape case Dave constantly looks for the truth.  Always great, James Lee Burke has excelled with this one.  All of his novels can be read as standalone but the series is well worth delving into.

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In A House of Lies

Ever since John Rebus retired I have thought that this series would finish but Ian Rankin has come up with a cold case that John has to get involved in.  Ten years ago, in 2008, Stuart Bloom went missing and the case task force, including John Rebus, never found him or what happened.  Now a body in a car has been found, in a wood that had been searched, and it is Stuart Bloom.  What happened ten years ago?  Were the police corrupt? Rebus also has a current case to investigate on his own time, the case of the stabbing murder of seventeen year old Ellis Mielke’s girlfriend and questioning whether he did really do the crime he is serving a sentence for.  Great police procedural, with ethical dilemmas and questions once the truth is revealed to Rebus.  What does he do with the truth?  Not one of the series to be missed.

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Lethal White

I was not convinced that J K Rowling could change her writing so completely from the Harry Potter series to write mysteries but I am happy to be proved wrong. Her series under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith are full of suspense, great characters with interesting back stories, and at the heart a dangerous mystery.  Cormoran Strike is a private eye, ex-soldier with only one leg and finally relents and brings his ex-assistant, Robin Ellacott, back into the agency as a partner after firing her in the previous book.  This time the mystery involves a possible strangled child, a slashed horse, an unlikeable MP who is being blackmailed and a deeply mentally disturbed man, Billy, with unreliable memories.  While this is a long read, I think the suspense was maintained throughout, though other readers who I have spoken to thought it was a bit rambling. I loved it all!

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Scrublands

I heard Chris Hammer speak about his novel at the Bendigo Writers Festival and decided then to read it.  It is set in a fictional Riverina town suffering a devastating drought and Hammer really does make you feel the heat, the dryness of a town without water and understand that the town itself is dying.  Martin Scarsden, a journalist combating his own demons, comes to town to write a feature on the twelve month anniversary of mass murder.  The charismatic young priest calmly opened fire on his congregation, killing five parishioners before being shot dead himself.  Martin investigates and the stories he hears to not match up with the version of events reported in his own newspaper.  Further new developments rocks the town and becomes the story of the nation with media descending on the town in droves.  There are lots of twists and turns in this great crime novel and Hammer masterfully manipulates the reader until the final shocking truth is revealed.  A real Australian treat.

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Past Tense

In the latest Jack Reacher, he decides to explore his past, going to the town of his father only to find that no Reachers have ever lived there.  As he explores the town, the story his father crafted for himself starts to fall away and the truth and of course there is also a couple in trouble.  The dual stories collide in the best Jack Reacher ways, with shocking results.  Not a lot of depth here but a great read nonetheless.

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