Of Toddlers and Thrillers


I read three thrillers back to back to back last week as I baby-sat Piglet getting him used to his school. Although it’s still a bit early for him (he’s only 18 months), we decided to put him in school as we thought next year might be cutting it a little too late. December baby woes! Either the youngest one in the set or the oldest one. Since he’s the unflappable Piglet after all, we decided to let him be the baby of this year’s batch.

The teachers advised me to sit in the school for an hour’s time in case I was needed. But to sit away from him, not play with him, and avoid eye contact with him unless he gets really agitated.

So, that’s what I have been doing. And to kill the time waiting, been reading thrillers.

Here’s what I read the past couple of weeks.

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

Oslo in November. The first snow of the season has fallen. A boy named Jonas wakes in the night to find his mother gone. Out his window, in the cold moonlight, he sees the snowman that inexplicably appeared in the yard earlier in the day. Around its neck is his mother’s pink scarf.

Hole suspects a link between a menacing letter he’s received and the disappearance of Jonas’s mother—and of perhaps a dozen other women, all of whom went missing on the day of a first snowfall. As his investigation deepens, something else emerges: he is becoming a pawn in an increasingly terrifying game whose rules are devised—and constantly revised—by the killer.

Fiercely suspenseful, its characters brilliantly realized, its atmosphere permeated with evil, The Snowman is the electrifying work of one of the best crime writers of our time.

~Synopsis from Good Reads

This is the second Harry Hole book I am reading although it is not the second in the book series. The first book The Bat under-delivered a bit on the thrills front. But this book more than makes up for it.

The basic story is very chilling. It’s about a serial killer who calls himself The Snowman, who seems to have been successfully killing women for years until Harry Hole comes along to investigate the latest one.

The transformation of The Snowman – a normally very lovable object into a creature of darkness is done very well in this book. The descriptions of the mist, the eyes of the snowman, and even the carrot nose is really spooky and brought the chills down my spine.

The suspense also really worked for me. The book starts off a little clichéd, but then takes off very well. I also liked the logical reasoning and how the rationale of the killer was brought out. Many, way too many serial killer books take the easy way out, amplifying the gore factor without focusing on the most important part – logical deduction and rationale for the crimes.

Thankfully, this book bypasses both these thriller traps and does a really good job delivering the thrills. I must say though, perhaps because I am a seasoned thriller reader,I guessed the killer pretty much early in the novel.

However, that didn’t diminish my enjoyment of this book one bit. The book was still an enjoyable ride.

Very crisp and well-written thriller and I am definitely coming back for more Harry Hole.

Note: While writing this review, I just realized that Harry and his love Rakel’s names both match the names of Harry Bosch and Rachel Walling from Michael Connelly’s crime series. An homage, you think, or just a co-incidence?

Next up is

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

What do I say about this one that hasn’t already been said before and which doesn’t reveal any spoilers?

This is a story about Nick and Amy Dunne. On their fifth anniversary Amy goes missing, and Nick becomes the chief suspect. What really happened to their marriage? And what happened to Amy? Told in alternating viewpoints of Nick and Amy, this is one clever book.

The story is super-interesting and I was never sure whose viewpoint to believe. Even now, at the end of the story, I still feel I didn’t get who lied where and at what point.

Anyway, this book is an interesting thriller, but what I really love is how well Nick’s and Amy’s characters are written and how the book subtly talks about the relationships between men and women and the way they are played out in today’s society.

Here’s a longish quote where Amy vents her anger over the existence of the cool girl (a type of girl, according to Amy, who tries to play it cool in order to snag a man without actually being really cool):

Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl.

Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding.

Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.

And here again, she vents about commercials:

Tampon commercial, detergent commercial, maxi pad commercial, windex commercial – you’d think all women do is clean and bleed.

Ooh, that Amy. I love it when she finally gives in to her rage. She’s one hell of a character and I am not telling you more because you really need to read this book without knowing anything more about it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t resist peeking at the ending, and it spoiled the fun of reading this book for me. Because the book was amazing, but the end just totally went over-the-top unbelievable. I couldn’t really get into it.

Still a great book and worth reading.

And btw, I heard this book is likely to be made into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon as Amy. I totally see her as Amy. Brilliant casting!

You still have the energy for one more review? I hope so, because here it comes.

Ghostman by Roger Hobbs

Ghostman by Roger Hobbs

Ghostman is a debut offering by Roger Hobbs. This is a classic heist or rather two heists gone wrong type of story. The Ghostman is a man who is paid to make people or things disappear. In this book, after a heist in Atlantic City goes horribly wrong, he is called in to clean things up and make the mess disappear.

This is a good book. Decent thriller and good timepass in the sandpit, where I had absolutely no problems putting down this book to attend to Piglet and then picking it up again and being able to carry on where I left off. In short, slightly brain-dead thriller book. Also, slightly predictable in the style of David Baldacci, Lee Child and other such American thriller writers.

Where this book wins though is the amount of research done. I loved reading about terms, and crime detection and evasion techniques I never knew about before. The author once worked in security I believe, so I guess a lot of inside knowledge has gone into the book.

It’s also very fast paced and quick-moving without a moment of boredom. What it isn’t is memorable. But, that’s absolutely OK. Not every thriller book needs to be an instant classic.

So, anyway, that’s how I spent a lot of last week. Reading books and watching this.

Piglet is still not fully adjusted to school yet, but do I mind the time spent there when I could be in office catching up on work? Not one bit 🙂

Thanks to the publishers of all the 3 books for sending me these books to read and thereby helping me spend time in such an enjoyable way.

Note: If you live in India and wish to purchase this book, head on over to shoppingwish.in to find the best deals. Here are the search results I got for
Gone Girl, Ghostman, and The Snowman. Some pretty decent deals here.

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