Monday, May 21, 2012

Suspense two ways: Hushed and The Circular Staircase

Two deliciously suspenseful books I wanted to share-- one new, modern and a little dark-- the other old-school style.

HUSHED by Kelley York
I heard about Hushed by Kelley York from Christa Desir-- I ordered the book in December, I think, and for some inexplicable reason only opened it last week. The premise sounded interesting-- here's the scoop, from Goodreads:

Eighteen-year-old Archer couldn’t protect his best friend, Vivian, from what happened when they were kids, so he’s never stopped trying to protect her from everything else. It doesn’t matter that Vivian only uses him when hopping from one toxic relationship to another—Archer is always there, waiting to be noticed.

Then along comes Evan, the only person who’s ever cared about Archer without a single string attached. The harder he falls for Evan, the more Archer sees Vivian for the manipulative hot-mess she really is.

But Viv has her hooks in deep, and when she finds out about the murders Archer’s committed and his relationship with Evan, she threatens to turn him in if she doesn’t get what she wants… And what she wants is Evan’s death, and for Archer to forfeit his last chance at redemption.

I loved it-- it was dark, yes, but also fascinating. York is especially skilled, I think, in leading us to change our minds about the main characters-- to see Vivian and Archer more clearly as time goes on, and to better understand what makes them tick. To really understand the nuances of their personalities. I think what I enjoyed most was Archer's transformation, and his relationship with Evan. It was so heartfelt, so sweet-- just amazing. 

Who hasn't been in a place where someone believes in you more than you believe in yourself? Evan believed in Archer so fully-- and it helped transform him.

Okay, so it's a suspense book, and I pick out the personal, sweet relationship to focus on. Go figure. I should also say the mystery was solid, the suspense was spine tingling and completely believable. There's something so interesting about seeing characters get in way over their head, and having NO IDEA how the author is going to get them out of it. York pulled it off in a logical, realistic way. 

I highly recommend it. 

THE CIRCULAR STAIRCASE by Mary Roberts Rinehart 

This is a classic whodunnit in the style of Agatha Christie-- and Roberts has been described as "The American Agatha Christie", though according to Wikipedia, her first mystery was published 14 years before any by Christie. In fact her, Wikipedia biography reads like a book of its own. Her father was a failed inventor, she created a character called "The Bat" that was one of the inspirations for "Batman", and the phrase, "The butler did it" was (inaccurately) based on one of her stories.

Here's the basic premise of The Circular Staircase:

A spinster Aunt and her niece and nephew rent a summer house in the country-- an enormous estate called Sunnyside. Despite the charming name, almost immediately people begin dying off, and there are all kinds of mysterious turns, strangers, odd noises, ghost sitings, and general mayhem. The spinster Aunt, who tells the story, refuses to leave the house until she gets to the bottom of the mystery, despite the dead bodies piling up!

I'm not certain what this cover is supposed to depict-- I don't think the sea or boats are mentioned even in passing.

It was a great classic mystery. The spinster Aunt was an especially fun character-- hard-headed, determined, and no-nonsense in the best way!

So, if you're looking for a classic or a modern suspense for summer reading, check these out!


  1. I hate that feeling when the characters get in way over their's why I can't watch/read anything mob related...but it is fascinating to find out how the author will get them out of it.

  2. I've always wanted to read a mystery by Rinehart. Now I've got one more reason. Thanks for the recommendation.

  3. I read HUSHED awhile back and thought it was fantastic, and THE CIRCULAR STAIRCASE sounds like all kinds of fun. I'm already trying to guess who did it. :) Thanks for the rec, Kat!

  4. Ooh! The Circular Staircase is calling to me! I LOVE Agatha Christie so I'm sure that I'll enjoy this one. Thanks for sharing! :D

  5. She's responsible for "the butler did it"? Awesome!
    It's been a while since I read a good whodunit--I'll have to add this to my list.

  6. I'm so glad you liked it. It is SUCH a fantastic book. Kelley writes in a way that just grips you and doesn't let go.

  7. This made my day. ♥ ! Thank you, and I'm so glad you enjoyed HUSHED. (And thanks, Christa-darling, for recc'ing it. :) )

  8. Angela- definitely check them out!

    Jennifer your mob comment cracked me up. I'm not sure what that says about me, but I SO KNOW what you mean. The Departed just about killed me for that reason. :0)

    I'd love to hear what you think of Rinehart, Connie. I think it was free on amazon for kindle.

    Katy- TCS was one of those where I was guessing the whole time, and totally wrong. :0) so glad you read Hushed, too.

    Samantha-- It's very Agatha Christie (or is AC very Mary Roberts Rinehart?). Either way, if you like that style, you'll love it.

    Right, Rebecca? Pretty cool, huh? It's very old-school, but kind of great that way.

    So true Christa-- thanks for putting it on my radar.

    Kelley- thanks for dropping by, and for producing such a great book. Looking forward to reading more of your work! :0)


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