Top 5 Tuesday: Mind-blowing mystery/thrillers

It’s been a loooong time since I’ve participated in any weekly book blogging “memes.” This one struck my fancy and I just had to join in.

Top 5 Tuesday is hosted by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm. This week’s theme is mind-blowing mystery/thrillers.

Here is my list, in no particular order:

1. “The Weight of Blood” by Laura McHugh

My review (from 2016):

Blood truly is thicker than water. As main character Lucy muses near the end of the book (no spoiler here): “I hadn’t taken into account how a place becomes part of you, claims you for its own. Like it or not, my roots tangled deep in the rocky soil.” This book shows how far a family is willing to go to protect its own, and that sometimes your strongest advocates aren’t blood at all.

This book was hard to put down, and while I could usually surmise what secret was waiting around the next corner, I still found myself taken by surprise many times. The way the author ties together the past and present is fascinating. There were a lot of seemingly insignificant nuances that took on deeper meaning later in the story, and I frequently found myself flipping back to previous pages, rereading certain paragraphs, and thinking, “Aha.”

My trips to and from college in Oklahoma took me through the Ozarks, and I remember thinking it was a seedy area considering its tourism industry (albeit a waning one). I swore I could hear banjos in the distance, and I heard them again when I picked up this book.

I was drawn to “The Weight of Blood” after learning the author is related to one of my best friends (a teacher), and is the sister of a lovely woman I’ve come to know professionally in recent years (also a teacher). Literary talent and passion certainly are in this family’s genes.

2. “Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier

My quick thoughts, as it’s been years since I’ve read this one…

This is my all-time favorite book. Not just my favorite of the genre. My. Favorite. EVER.

I love the characters (even Mrs. Danvers, that creepy old bat!), the nameless narrator. The setting, Manderly, is lush and beautiful. The plot sucks me in.

From Goodreads:

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .

The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives–presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.

3. “The Quality of Silence” by Rosamund Lupton

Some quick thoughts, as I didn’t write a review:

I felt a kinship with sweet Ruby. She’s totally a daddy’s girl, as I was with my dad. They have such a close bond. I love that this book is told partly from her perspective and partly from her mom’s. We get to see what each of them are feeling and thinking as they search for their missing husband/father.

There was so much tension in this book. I really recommend reading it in the dead of winter. The descriptions of the harsh Alaskan wilderness had me snuggling a bit deeper into my blankets!

From Goodreads:

On 24 November Yasmin and her ten-year-old daughter Ruby set off on a journey across Northern Alaska. They’re searching for Ruby’s father, missing in the arctic wilderness.

More isolated with each frozen mile they cover, they travel deeper into an endless night. And Ruby, deaf since birth, must brave the darkness where sight cannot guide her.

She won’t abandon her father. But winter has tightened its grip, and there is somebody out there who wants to stop them.

Somebody tracking them through the dark.

4. “Local Girl Missing” by Claire Douglas

My review (from 2017):

Eighteen years after the disappearance of her best friend Sophie Collier, Francesca “Frankie” Bloom is summoned from London to her seaside hometown of Oldcliffe. Some remains have been found by the dilapidated pier where Sophie was last seen, and Sophie’s brother Daniel wants Frankie to be there when he views them.

As Frankie and Daniel, now editor of the local newspaper, try to piece together what might have become of Sophie, old secrets long buried are revealed. Frankie begins to wonder if she ever really knew Sophie. And then, Sophie starts showing up – on the pier, at Frankie’s apartment … But Sophie is dead. Right? Who was responsible for her disappearance? And why did she vanish?

“Local Girl Missing” has all the makings of a good psychological thriller – a successful woman confronting the demons of her past, a touristy setting with plenty of small-town drama, even the perspective of Sophie, in journal entries beginning months before she went missing. It becomes apparent that Sophie hasn’t been totally honest with Frankie – about her relationships, about the way she sees Frankie, among other things.

The journal entries alternate with Frankie’s present-day return to Oldcliffe-on-Sea, where she battles her feelings for Daniel, confronts Sophie’s oddball ex-boyfriend Leon and his sleazy older brother Lorcan, and wonders what her reclusive elderly neighbor is up to.

I wasn’t fully prepared for what is revealed at the end, although I had my suspicions as to how things would turn out. There are a lot of fascinating elements to consider while reading this book, from Frankie and Sophie’s unbalanced friendship to their relationships with their parents. And so much more. It all builds up to a shocking, yet oddly satisfying, conclusion.

5. “Leave No Trace” by Mindy Mejia

Some quick thoughts (again, no formal review; thank goodness I took notes on my phone):

This second novel from Mindy Mejia was an interesting read. I really enjoyed the setting of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters; it’s truly uncharted territory.

“Leave No Trace” explores themes related to family, loyalty, abandonment and grief. It’s a story that illustrates how far we will go to protect the ones we love, even when we don’t really know them. It also delves into the complicated bonds between parents and their children.

From Goodreads:

From the author of the “compelling” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis) and critically acclaimed Everything You Want Me to Be, a riveting and suspenseful thriller about the mysterious disappearance of a boy and his stunning return ten years later.

There is a place in Minnesota with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes and untouched forests called the Boundary Waters. Ten years ago a man and his son trekked into this wilderness and never returned.

Search teams found their campsite ravaged by what looked like a bear. They were presumed dead until a decade later…the son appeared. Discovered while ransacking an outfitter store, he was violent and uncommunicative and sent to a psychiatric facility. Maya Stark, the assistant language therapist, is charged with making a connection with their high-profile patient. No matter how she tries, however, he refuses to answer questions about his father or the last ten years of his life

But Maya, who was abandoned by her own mother, has secrets, too. And as she’s drawn closer to this enigmatic boy who is no longer a boy, she’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father who has disappeared from the known world.

There you have it, my top 5 mind-blowing mystery/thrillers! Have you read any of the books on my list? What are yours?

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