Dublin Thrillers | Fiction Reviews

redstarHoward, Catherine Ryan. The Liar’s Girl. Blackstone. Feb. 2018. 349p. ISBN 9781504782548. $24.99. F

Ten years ago, Alison’s college lover, Will, was jailed as a serial killer. Four young women were drowned in Dublin’s Grand Canal, and Will confessed to the crimes. Alison left school and scuttled to a new life abroad. When the murders begin again, the police call Alison back to reopen the case, beginning with a reinterview of Will. After many flashbacks, readers are left to wonder, was Will innocent? What really happened the night Alison’s friend Liz was killed? Can the dashing Garda (police officer) Malone find the clues? This interesting twist on the college campus thriller leaves the reader craving answers to the tantalizing questions posed by Irish novelist Howard (Distress Signals). Finding that she’s been sleeping with a serial killer, with her best friend as the first victim, puts the central character in a shocking predicament. And being forced to confront the crime after ten years plays out a satisfying and tightly wound tale. VERDICT Readers of Paula Hawkins, Tana French, and Ruth Ware will love this exceptionally well-crafted thriller.—Susan Clifford Braun, Bainbridge Island, WA

Perry, Karen. Girl Unknown. Holt. Feb. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9780805098747. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780805098754. F

The Connollys are an ordinary Dublin family, content, despite private challenges and heartbreaks. Then, one of David Connolly’s freshman history students appears in his office at the university and announces that he is her father. The girl, Zoe, is the daughter of David’s college sweetheart. Zoe is charming, magnetic, and lovely—but, it becomes increasingly apparent that she is also deeply troubled. Is she simply a lost teenage girl desperate for a relationship with a parent, or something more insidious? In alternating chapters, David and his wife Caroline narrate their evolving relationships with Zoe, as she enters their home and becomes entangled in every aspect of their lives, affecting their marriage, their careers, and their children, Robbie, 15, and Holly, 11. VERDICT Two competing unreliable narrators create an unsettling, intense atmosphere in this domestic thriller. Though the foreshadowing can feel heavy-handed at times, Perry (The Innocent Sleep) delivers a twist ending that will make readers want to start again from the beginning. [See Prepub Alert, 8/13/17.]—Lindsay Morton, P.L. of Science, San Francisco

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