Good Reads - Fiction
It's All in the Mind: Novels with a Psychological
Most novels have an element of suspense. Psychological
suspense, however, is more internal than ordinary suspense.
Instead of action sequences, the reader is pulled into
the minds of the characters which can be much more chilling.
Ambrose, David - Mother
of God - 1995,
At Oxford University, computer expert Tessa Lambert
programs a computer with human artificial intelligence
so it can
solve problems and make decisions. However, unbeknownst
to her, serial murderer Chuck Pierce in California has
hacked into her computer program. Both Chuck and the computer
target Tessa as the mother they need to destroy. Can she
survive two evil forces—one a computer with no sense
of right and wrong and one a murderer with no conscience?
Beck, K.K. - Unwanted
Attentions - 1988,
Rebecca Kendall, now 30, has finally found a man
she loves, trusts and is prepared to marry, but Benjamin
once again appeared in her life. Benjamin, who has stalked
her since her freshman year in college and who she thought
was gone forever, is back. Only this time it becomes more
than stalking when she is the one accused of murdering
him by witnesses who heard her wish him dead.
Block, Lawrence - Hit
Man - 1998, 259p.
J.P. Keller is a
hit man based in Manhattan, but traveling wherever the
job pays him to go. Keller is not an ordinary
hit man, though. Each town he visits becomes special to
him as he daydreams about moving there and creates backgrounds
for the people he encounters. Since hit men seem to have
quite a lot of free time, Keller becomes interested in
stamp collecting, raising a dog and other mundane activities.
Block makes his character appear as simple as the man next
door—could he be a neighbor? After all, even hit
men must live somewhere.
Carlon, Patricia - The
Running Woman - 1966,
When the second questionable death within
a year occurs in small town Larapinta, Australia, the
quite alarmed. Even more so, when the latest death is a
drowning and a woman is seen running from the scene. Was
this an accident or murder? The running woman is thought
to be Gabriel Endicott who has recently moved back to Larapinta,
and when she offers to pay for the funeral, the town turns
on her. But are there other residents who have something
Chernoff, Maxine - A
Boy in Winter - 1999,
Divorcee Nancy Horvath and son Danny move to a new
house and quickly become friends with the people next
Danny's new friend Eddie is not a model child. Complicating
things further, Nancy begins an affair with Frank, Eddie's
father. One day Danny and Eddie get into an argument and
Danny shoots Eddie with a hunting bow. Told in three perspectives,
this is a tragic and thought-provoking story.
Comfort, Bonnie - Denial - 1995, 302p.
psychotherapist Sarah Rinsley is finally reaping the
rewards of her years of hard work.
Not only is her practice doing well, she also has a radio
talk show. Things start to fall apart, though, when a new
patient, Nick Belmont, is referred to her. She is totally
unprepared for his charm and has to fight her attraction
to him. When he begins stalking her and then stealing things
from her office, Sarah knows she is in trouble.
Cook, Thomas - The
Chatham School Affair - 1996,
Now an adult, Henry Griswald narrates this story
about the summer of 1926 when Miss Elizabeth Channing
teach art at Chatham School where his father is headmaster.
Henry is a spectator as Elizabeth subsequently has an affair
that ends tragically. The reader is pulled in as he slowly
reveals the details to his story, peeling away layers to
uncover the truth, unable to admit his own mistake.
Dobyns, Stephen - The
Church of Dead Girls - 1997, 388p.
with the discovery of the dead bodies of three girls
in an attic, then told in retrospect, the narrator
brings this small upstate New York town to life. Like many
other communities, Aurelius, New York has buried secrets,
but when a crime is committed, the truths seep out. It
also becomes obvious as the investigation proceeds how
important it is for the town that the perpetrator not
be one of their own.
Evans, Penelope - The
Last Girl - 1995,
When shy college student Amanda moves into the room
right below his, Larry Mann is thrilled to have a new
He has lived in the same rooming house in London for years
and can find himself quite lonely. He begins his friendship
with Mandy by giving her little gifts, then makes her meals—all
the while insinuating himself into her pitiful private
life. As Larry spies on Mandy, even opening her mail, poor
Mandy doesn't have the courage to speak up and never
fully understands what Larry's plans are for her
until it is too late.
Griner, Paul - Collectors - 1999, 174p.
When Boston art
director Jean Duprez, meets Steven, a very interesting
man, at her cousin Claudia's wedding,
she can't wait to see him again. However, after a
lovely day of sailing with Steven, he slams her hand in
a taxi door and sends her off to the hospital alone. Still
wanting to see him, Jean creates an opportunity and runs
into him at a flea market. Or did Steven actually engineer
this meeting, with something special in mind for Jean?
Iles, Greg - Mortal
Fear - 1997, 564p.
Harper Cole works
as a commodities trader by day and systems manager of
an online sex chat service by night. One by
one several of the service members have been murdered over
the past year, and Cole fears that someone has accessed
his member list. When he becomes a suspect himself, he
goes online to try and lure the killer out into the open
and ultimately puts his wife and others at risk.
Jones, Melissa - Cold
in Earth - 1998,
Successful television talk show host Zoe is devastated
when her baby daughter Beth dies from crib death. Though
there are two older sons and Beth was unexpected, Zoe felt
this new baby was something very special for their family.
After falling into a deep depression, Zoe is found murdered
in her bed, and it becomes obvious that one of the family
members is the murderer. Was Beth murdered, too?
Picoult, Jodi - The
Pact - 1998, 389p.
Chris Harte and Emily
Gold are high school students planning ahead to college.
They've been a couple ever since
they were playmates as children. Suddenly, one of them
is dead from a gunshot wound. The Harte and Gold families
have been next door neighbors and close friends since the
birth of their children. They've always encouraged,
actually expected, Chris and Emily to become a twosome—they
were meant for each other, or so it was thought. But could
these expectations have caused this tragedy?
Rendell, Ruth - A
Sight for Sore Eyes - 1998,
Rendell tells the story of two physically beautiful
young people growing up. Teddy Brex is raised in a dismal
by parents who totally ignore him. Francine grows up in
the opposite environment—her parents, especially
her step-mother, watch her constantly. When Teddy and Francine
meet and are attracted to each other, life forever changes
for them and their families.
Starr, Jason - Nothing
Personal - 1998,
Although both couples live in Manhattan, David and
Leslie Sussman and Joey and Maureen DePino live in vastly
worlds, linked only by the wives' childhood friendship.
David has a good job as a marketing manager while Joey
owes money to a loan shark. The couples' lives, however,
become inextricably intertwined when Joey plans to kidnap
the Sussman's daughter and use the ransom to pay
off his bookie.
Vine, Barbara - The
Chimney Sweeper's Boy - 1998,
After his unexpected death, author Gerald McCandless' daughter
is asked by his publisher to write a biography. She is
surprised to learn her perceptions of her father are far
different from the man she encounters in her research.
Her memories are of an exceptionally kind and doting father.
Meanwhile, her mother's narration of her life with
Gerald shows a mean and manipulating husband. How many
lives could one man live?
Walters, Minette - The
Scold's Bridle - 1994, 327p.
nasty Mathilda Gillespie is found dead in her bathtub,
it appears to be suicide, but there are more than a few
people who longed to see her dead. When a will is uncovered
leaving everything to her physician, Dr. Sarah Blakene,
the police are suddenly interested in Sarah who already
has enough problems. Walters is a master at misdirection.
Prepared by Lynn McCullagh, January 2001