Find it at your library!

Fun fact: there’s a solar eclipse coming on August 21st that will be visible across the U.S. When I picked up He Said/She Said, a book with a giant eclipse on the cover, I had no idea an actual eclipse would be visible in my backyard the next month; I just wanted a fun thriller to round out my summer reading. But it’s a nice coincidence nonetheless, and now not only will I pay closer attention to the eclipse than I would have otherwise, thanks to this book I’ll also be looking over my shoulder because holy cow was the characters’ predicament unsettling.

Laura and Kit are eclipse chasers who try to do a good thing when they witness a crime being committed at a popular viewing spot. That good thing they try to do will follow them for years and poison their entire life together. The girl they try to help, Beth, seems to want to infiltrate their lives. That’s what made this book so creepy to me—the idea that just by virtue of being a witness or bystander, you can get sucked into someone else’s crazy orbit from which there is no escape. Or maybe your interaction with that person will change you in ways you never thought possible. Makes me want to put my head down and never make eye contact with a stranger again!

Kelly alternates both point of view and time in the narrative, which I’m sure was tricky to execute but turns the chill factor up to eleven. Kit and Laura are so desperate to leave their past with Beth behind that they legally change their names, move houses, and enact a social media blackout. Of course there’s one giant, gaping hole in their plan: Beth knows that Kit especially is an eclipse junkie, which gives her an easy way to track them down—all she has to do is follow the path of totality and eventually she’s bound to run into them again. The question is, what does she want? What really happened that night? Why won’t she just leave them alone? After all, Kit and Laura are both innocent bystanders…right?

This is the best thriller I’ve read in a good long while and would be a great addition to anyone’s summer reading pile. (Apologies for the unintentional rhyme, but it gave me a tickle so I’m leaving it in because whimsy.) Also, unlike a lot of thrillers, the characters are complex enough and there’s so much gray area when it comes to right and wrong and who’s at fault that I think it would make a good book club pick.

Find it at your library!

This is a book about the invention of wireless telegraphy. As if he knew this wasn’t the sexiest of topics, author Erik Larson includes a murder mystery alongside it, creating a fun little two-for-the-price-of-one non-fiction treat. He lures you in with relationship drama and then works in the science. So sneaky! And once the two distinct stories come together, so delicious.

I can see how some readers would be less than enthused about the more technical details of Marconi’s science experiments, but I live with an engineer, so I have developed a pretty high tolerance for tech speak. I actually find it relaxing to let unfamiliar phrases and concepts drift past--it’s not like I’m expected to chime in with meaningful feedback or opinions. I just nod encouragingly from time to time and let it all wash over me. So yeah, the experience of listening to this audio book was, for me, both familiar and comfortable.

And the story of the demure, unassuming patent medicine salesman Crippen and his voluptuous, volatile wife is a fascinating one, more than enough to keep the engine humming. I didn’t entirely buy into Larson’s incredulity that a man perceived as so gentle could be capable of murder. I must be a cynic--of course the quiet, retiring guy was eventually going to snap! Still, the chase towards the end of the book is surprisingly suspenseful, considering by today’s standards it unfolded at a snail’s pace.

Larson is a great storyteller and is particularly good at sniffing out historical events that would make for accessible, addictive reading. This is the third book of his I’ve read, and I’ve enjoyed them all. I especially recommend The Devil in the White City--so good!