Find it at your library!

I have seen basically zero hype for The Captives, and I can’t figure out why because it’s a great thriller. It has all the elements I want: an interesting hook, complex characters (each with their own dark side), and that disorienting feeling that comes when you realize you can’t trust any of them to tell the truth. Seriously, how is no one talking about this book?!

Frank is a therapist, relegated to an unglamorous role at a women’s prison after a public fall from grace. When Miranda walks into his office, he recognizes her immediately as his high school crush. She was beautiful, popular, unattainable, and as you might expect, she has no memory of Frank whatsoever. Ethics dictate that Frank should immediately acknowledge their prior connection and reassign Miranda to another therapist, but in the first of a series of questionable decisions, he keeps quiet. Maybe it started as simple curiosity—how could someone like Miranda, who in his eyes led such a charmed life, wind up doing hard time?

The perspective shifts between Frank and Miranda, although Frank’s is the only one in first person. While at first this inconsistency was distracting, by the end of the book I had a pretty good feel for why Immergut made this choice. Miranda is always kept at a distance, effectively obscuring her motivations and keeping several key memories at bay until Immergut is ready to dole those details out. Conversely, Frank’s perspective seems to get narrower and narrower as he grows more obsessed with his client. You can feel his life telescoping down until there’s only room left for him and her—or at least, his idea of her.

I’m not sure why this one is so under-the-radar, but I’m glad it was on my summer reading list!


Find it at your library!

I’m Thinking of Ending Things would be the perfect book for a weekend at home, sitting squishily in your comfiest chair. I recommend this setup specifically, because it’s so creepy that if you try to read it anywhere other than where you feel the safest, well, I won’t be responsible for the resulting insomnia.

In fact, Iain Reid so excels at creepiness, he’s almost too good for my tastes. There is a constantly building unease here, a growing tension you can feel deep in your belly and at the back of your neck. Things are…weird. Not right. Definitely off. A little icky. All those creepy-crawly feelings.

It becomes obvious pretty quickly that we’re dealing with an unreliable narrator, that we can’t trust what the character is perceiving, but we don’t know until the end what exactly the problem is. We’re just along for the ride as the narrator and her boyfriend drive out to the country to meet his parents. All we know is, the narrator isn’t sure about this boyfriend and their relationship, thus “thinking of ending things.”

It’s really tightly written at just over 200 pages, so it’s entirely conceivable that you could end up powering through the whole unsettling journey in one sitting. Just check under the bed and in the closet first.