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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

What I’m Reading: Mister Tender’s Girl and The Woman in the Window

Today I am reviewing Mister Tender's Girl by Carter Wilson and The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn, two brand new domestic suspense novels.

First up: Mister Tender's Girl:

Remember back in 2014 when two teenage girls lured a friend into the woods and stabbed her in an attempt to impress the evil fictional character Slender Man? Well Carter Wilson does, and he used that horrific true crime as the inspiration of his intense and voyeuristic psychological suspense story, Mister Tender’s Girl. To all who know her now, Alice is simply the owner of the local upscale coffee shop in sleepy Manchester, New Hampshire, but she is hiding a huge secret. Alice was the victim of a horrible and famous attack 14 years earlier. Alice was brutally stabbed by twin girls in a park near her English home, girls claiming that they did it to honor the evil, graphic novel character, Mister Tender, a character Alice’s own Father had created. Barely surviving the attack, Alice watched her family fall apart in the ensuing years. Now, in America, Alice has changed her last name but inhabits a body covered in scars that will never let her forget. She lives in constant fear, a fear so real that she cannot even bare to keep a single knife in her home. Tense and dripping with creepy atmosphere from the very first  line, this page turner builds relentlessly as things steadily ratchet up from bad to worse to unimaginably awful. The complex plot unfolds brilliantly, with anxiety so palpable that it’s not only Alice who is constantly looking over her shoulder, but also the reader will walk away from the novel afraid to trust anyone, even their own family. This one has all the feels of a horror novel without a supernatural monster, but these human monsters might be even scarier than anything anyone’s imagination could dream up. Fans of serial killer stories, true crime, Ruth Rendell and Sharp Objects or Dark Places by Gillian Flynn will all enjoy experiencing the dread while they watch the complex plot satisfyingly play itself out.

Further Appeal: This book is creepy from the first lines-- Alice tells us, before we know anything about her, that there are absolutely NO knives in her house. Eating chicken is hard, she acknowledges, but she gets by. This sets the uneasy stage from the start and it only intensifies from there. 

Alice is very flawed, but still we are on her side. You may not be able to relate to her, but you do sympathize with her. 

You cannot ignore the true crime angle here too. Anyone who is interested in true crime will be intrigued by this book, and the last time I checked that's a whole lot of library patrons.

Three Words That Describe This Book: intensely creepy, complex plot, compelling

Readalikes: Seriously if you could merge the first two Flynn books into 1 novel, this book is a perfect readalike. Those links in the review above go to my my longer reviews which contain more readalikes and further details about those titles in particular. I would say if you were more drawn to the messed up family aspects of this novel try Sharp Objects first, but if the true crime survivor parts appealed to you more, go with Dark Places.

Ruth Rendell's backlist of excellent, compelling and intricately plotted psychological suspense novels are a great way to introduce readers to some of the origins behind this uber popular genre. You probably still have them all in your collections since she only died in 2015. Start with 13 Steps Down. You will look like a genius. Trust me.

Please do not forget true crime suggestions here.

Finally, as I mentioned above, another new psychological suspense book I recently read and reviewed here on Goodreads that makes for a "fun" pairing is The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn. Notice I put "fun" in quotes. That is because while I enjoyed pairing these super intense, psychological suspense stories with damaged female protagonists, you may not find the feelings of extreme anxiety and dread which you feel while slipping into Wilson and Finn's worlds as enjoyable as I did.

You can click through for my full review of The Woman in the Window.

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