Tag Archives: thriller

Read: The girl on the train: a novel by Paula Hawkins

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The girl on the train by Paula Hawkins is another of the recent novels to garner public attention from the Huffington Post, The New York Times, and NPR among others. After a personal recommendation, I had to get a copy. It’s easy to read so you have until October 7th if you want to read it before seeing the movie! There are a couple of trailers out for it although there’s so much more to the story and they don’t give much away.

This story is the most realistic that I have read in a while. It is set in England, frequently on trains and a suburb just outside of London called Witney. Rachel takes the train twice a day past the house that she and her now ex-husband used to live. He kept living there with his mistress-turned-wife-and-mother. Due to Rachel’s infertility, depression, and blind drunkenness helped lead to the end of their marriage despite her still loving him. From the train, though, Rachel watches the next door neighbors whom she never knew, giving them an ideal backstory. However, the neighbors lives weren’t perfect and the wife goes missing which drives most of the plot. Questions surrounding the story are how do people live with the choices that they make and how well can people ever really know their loved ones?

The format itself is told in first person in journal-like entires broken up into morning and evening portions. The main and majority narrator is Rachel with Meghan the neighbor who goes missing and Anna the mistress-turned-wife. It’s an odd format as a psychological thriller, especially as at a cliff-hanger it usually jumps to a different character. Though with the pacing of the plot and the odd mystery, it’s easy to keep turning to pages to find out what happens next. One I was about a third of the way through, I became hooked and then about halfway I began hurtling towards the last page almost in a sprint to finish.

The writing itself is journalistic, with sparse yet detailed sentences that focus on action. This make sense since the author Paula Hawkins was herself a journalist. For this type of a mystery thriller, it works well. Some also have equated her writing to Alfred Hitchcock and I agree that there are similarities. She works for the small yet long build up, with unexpected story progression and honing in on certain details in a way that Hitchcock does with his films; instead of being an abrasive action-packed thriller, the pieces begin to come together over the entire duration and only come into clear focus right at the end, like a Hitchcock film.

The tone of the novel is quite eerie since it’s hard to know who to believe or how much to trust anyone. Plus Rachel makes so many bad decisions that are “cringe-worthy” (as my personal recommender told me) but it’s impossible to put the book down so as I reader I follower her along in her misguided actions, mainly due to her alcoholism. In a way, the story is a perfect storm that coalesces into a fantastically odd, enthralling thriller. As this is Hawkins first novel, I can wait for more from her!

Recommended?: For suspense and mystery lovers as well as readers who enjoy a fact-paced thriller. There’s a fair amount of violence, abuse, and of course adultry. That aside, the violence itself is low-key, although we will see if the movie ups it and adds in any gore.  If any of this doesn’t sound appealing to you as a reader, then you can go ahead and it this one since it isn’t going to become a classic that everyone should read, although it’s a fun fairly quick one.

The girl on the train book cover

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Read: The last man : a thriller by Vince Flynn

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UPDATE: Vince Flynn passed away on the day that I published this book review. I will leave the post as written but here is the Star Tribune’s coverage of Flynn as a writer and his life for those who want to know more.

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Vince Flynn is an author that I know only because of my grandpa. He reads voraciously and loves political intrigue, triller novels. Part of the reason he especially enjoys Vince Flynn novels is because Flynn is a Minnesota writer who built his famous career by working hard to be known in the state first. Flynn had an interview after the publication of this book in which he talks about the character Mitch Rapp, his fame, and his choices in the novel that is worth taking a look at to learn more about him.

So being Christmas present from grandpa on my bookshelf, I figured it was time to see what all the fuss was about. The last man by Vince Flynn starts off with Mitch Rapp flying to Afghanistan to “clean up” a mess as an off-the-books CIA operative to find a kidnapped and highly important CIA agent. Rapp shoots first, and never asks questions. However, there’s not much to go by, things look fishy like possibly an inside job, and the damn dog story doesn’t add up. Trying to track down some sort of lead, Rapp and his team visit the vet where the dog was put down but a bloody shoot out ensues with local Afghani police who are supposed to be working with Americans and in the fire, Rapp is knocked out. He tries to recover all of his memory while still finding out what happened to the kidnapped Rickman. Things go from bad to worse in a wild goose chase, only to be betrayed at the end of it all by someone Rapp trusted.

The novel lives up to its thriller claims and roped me into the story. While I’m not usually a reader of this kind of book, the intrigue hooked me. In a way, hear me out, the writing style reminds me of Dan Brown. Both Flynn and Brown write to create drama, action, mystery, and thrills. Page-turner is an overused term but sometimes it is apt especially for this. By the way, my grandpa loves Dan Brown, too! The writing itself is very approachable and easy to read, making it a quick book to get through when your caught up in it.

The plot lines and characters remind me of the TV show Homeland with Clare Danes. Since I really enjoyed that, it made it easier to pick up and keep reading this thriller that is also about the CIA, breaking rules and protocols, thwarting terrorist plots and kicking bad guys’ butts.

While I probably won’t read another by him, I’m glad to have read Vince Flynn and understand what he writes about. It’s a fun novel for a quick action-packed read that plays out like a movie script almost as you read. Plus now I can talk to grandpa about it!

Recommended?: Not for everyone. Are you looking for something new? Do you like Vince Flynn or the Mitch Rapp series? Love CIA thrillers? Then grab a copy right away! Highly recommended for male readers, or anyone who likes “beat ’em up” catch the bad guys action novels. Truly adult books for mature readers, as there are some passages are descriptive about killing, deaths and torture. To quote Die hard, which seems appropriate, “Yippee ki-yay, motherf*****!” Pardon the asterisks. Mitch Rapp made me post the quote. I didn’t want to.

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