Down the Rabbit Hole | Mechanics' Institute

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Down the Rabbit Hole

There's a crispness in the air these days that makes us want to grab a pile of mysteries and head down the rabbit hole (figuratively, of course). If you too can't get enough of those dark thrillers that make you shiver with the lights on, here are our recommendations to keep you turning the pages well after sundown. 

Straight off the library's New Mystery shelf, we found four titles with a hefty chill factor. A Study in Crimson: Sherlock Holmes 1942 by Robert J. Harris follows the killing spree of "Crimson Jack," a stalker who roams the wartime streets of London murdering women on the exact dates of the infamous Jack the Ripper killings of 1888. But even quiet neighborhoods are not immune to murder. Megan Miranda's Such a Quiet Place is a new novel about a sleepy, idyllic town where, after more than a year of as the topic of negative news in the media, residents are  trapped, unable to sell their homes and confronted by the empty house where a grisly murder took place. We're left breathless over The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Mattheson, a story about a serial killer and his copycat locked in a violent game of cat and mouse. Topping the gruesome list  is C.J. Box's Dark Sky, his new novel about Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett who must accompany a Silicon Valley CEO on a hunting trip--but soon learns that he himself may be the prey. 

On the cusp of autumn, sinister titles set in the north have a compass-like attraction. Settling in with Jamey Bradbury's electrifying 2018 debut, The Wild Inside, a horror novel about a woman who is attacked by a mysterious stranger while hunting near her family home in remote Alaska--we found it an engaging read for fans of Stephen King or Chris Bohjalian. And speaking of faraway lands, prolific author Ann Cleeves' Red Bones (Minotaur Books, 2009) spins a noirish yarn about an archeological dig where the human remains discovered are recent and the subsequent murder of an elderly woman further disturbs a sparsely-populated Shetland community. Yrsa Sigurdardóttir's The Absolution (Minotaur Books, 2020) about a serial killer who brands his victims with numbers will keep you frozen on the sofa long into the night. The creep factor rises a few more notches with Lars Kepler's The Rabbit Hunter (Knopf, 2020), a haunting story that begins with a Swedish nursery rhyme, then launches into a murder investigation about a  killer who savors the slow deaths of his victims--frosty fare of the highest order. 

If you gravitate toward thrillers about political intrigue and manhunts, Frederik Forsyth's The Day of the Jackal, a 1971 classic thriller about a plot to assassinate Charles de Gaulle will not fail to satisfy. Ditto for Michael Connelly's The Poet, a 1996 mystery about a serial killer who hunts homicide detectives. For a more historical twist on manhunts, C.S. Harris' new novel, What the Devil Knows reaches back to 19th-century London, where police search for a serial killer who murders entire families in their homes, paralyzing the city in fear. 

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the scariest of all? That would be none other than We Were Killers Once by Becky Masterman, a speculative work loosely based on Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, the 1966 true crime story about two ex-prisoners whose random murder of a rural family shocked the nation. The premise of Masterman's 2019 novel is that the Holcomb, Kansas crime involved a third man who somehow escaped detection all those years ago and has now resurfaced. We're betting you won't sleep until the very last page!

Posted on Sep. 14, 2021 by Celeste Steward