8 Thrillers With Unique Settings
‘Without Saying Goodbye’, my latest book, relies strongly on its setting in Anglesey, North Wales. Anglesey, or Ynys Môn in Cymraeg (the Welsh language), has been a place of sanctuary dating right back to the time of the Druids who fled the Romans to establish a stronghold there. My two characters, Cerys and Lily, find their own safe space on the little island, which is tucked off the edge of North Wales and buffeted by the Irish Sea. Here I’ve taken a look at some other thrillers that really use their unique settings to the best advantage.
Two sisters get a call to tell them their reclusive mother has died and this leads them on a trail to investigate the death of the third sister, brutally murdered many years ago. Secrets lurk behind the locked gates of the isolated women’s commune of Two Cross Farm.
Even if you guess the plot twist in this one, it’s a book that will keep you reading to find out why and the ultimate destination. I sometimes find the characters don’t hold me enough in crime thrillers to stay with the book but I had no problems with this one and stayed hooked to the end. I didn’t guess the twist in this one for ages.
The Quality of Silence
This is a thriller that really does utilize the landscape. Rosamund Lupton is a writer with great skill and style and she gets the opportunity to show that off to the maximum in this book set against the background of a vast and frozen Alsaka in winter. Yasmin arrives in Alaska to be told her husband has been killed in a catastrophic accident but things don’t add up and she embarks on a journey to find out what’s happened, taking her daughter Ruby with her. Ruby is ten years old and deaf, and the mother/daughter relationship in this book is powerful. Together they journey through dangerous terrain with the increasing knowledge that someone is following them. A book in which the landscape and extreme cold is almost a character in its own right.
Nine Perfect Strangers
I love Lianne Moriarty’s style of writing, though Big Little Lies is my ultimate favorite. I’ve never seen the adaptations as I feel it would spoil the books for me.
Boutique health resort Tranquilium House is supposed to bring healing and transformation but it’s nine latest visitors may be about to find differently as they all arrive hoping to drop their personal baggage and experience 10 days of relief and hot stone massages.
But what is the resort’s eccentric director up to in her mission to rejuvenate them?
What I liked about this was the cast of characters, some of whom really got me in the feels. Always a winner with me, and that sums up why I love her books.
The setting for this book is an isolated hotel, high up in the Swiss Alps. Elin is a detective taking time out, and she arrives at the hotel in the middle of a threatening storm, following an invitation to celebrate her estranged brother’s engagement. The hotel has only recently been converted from an abandoned sanatorium and something about the place makes her nervous, as does her brother’s behavior. And the following morning, his fiancée vanishes. A book that really uses its location to the best effect to evoke a sense of creepiness and mystery.
One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
So familiar that we barely think of it in terms of a thriller now, but the battle between McMurphy and Nurse Ratched, set against the backdrop of a psychiatric facility and told through the eyes of Chief Bromden, who pretends to be mute, is certainly worth reading. I like my fiction unconstrained by genre whenever possible and this metaphoric exploration of the battle between power and oppression also provides a window into what is now thankfully a historic perspective into mental health treatment. All wrapped up in a keen plot! The setting here is absolutely crucial to the plot of the book and will send shivers down the spine of anyone who has ever had experience of the mental health system. I used to work with children with mental health issues and this chills me to the bone.
The Girls of Summer
A shout-out here for a book you won’t have seen yet which is released this month. I was fortunate enough to read it some time ago as Kate is with my agent. Fabulous and evocative setting on a Greek island. You can taste the sun and sea in this book as you read it.
At 17, Rachel spent a summer on a remote Greek island and fell in love. She never got over Alistair, and even though when they meet again 16 years later she is married to another man, she still feels a pull towards him. But as she is forced to re-examine her memories of that time when she reconnects with another girl from the island, she has to come to terms with what was done to them in that seemingly-idyllic spot and why.
Using the island landscape and culture beautifully, this book explores the theme of exploitation and consent and was impossible to put down.
Discover the Book
Without Saying Goodbye
Cerys leaves her life behind in a fiery wreck. Lily slips away from hers early one morning, silent as a shadow. Both are mothers. And both are desperate.
When the two women are thrown into each other's paths, they strike a tentative bond. Cerys is a mother with no children to care for anymore, and Lily is doing all she can to take care of a four-year-old on her own. But each keep secrets from the beginning—the scars, the loneliness, and, most importantly, who they actually are. They need to work together to survive, but how can they trust each other? Because everybody knows: the longer a secret is kept, the worse its consequences will be when the truth comes out.
As the past catches up with them in the form of a deranged father with a shotgun, Lily especially finds herself backed into a corner. But mothers will do what they must to protect their children, no matter who else gets hurt along the way. A deeply emotional and complex thriller that explores motherhood, love and the desperate need to protect it... at any cost.
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