Wed, 15 Jun 2022 22:48:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 32 32 What Is Horror of Personality? Definition and Examples from Film Wed, 22 Jun 2022 08:00:00 +0000 Horror films don’t require monsters or supernatural forces to terrify audiences. While demons, boogeymen, and beasts still appear on screen, there’s another monster that has long dominated the horror space—the human. Stories that concern human monsters are part of a sub-category of horror called Horror of Personality. The villains in these stories are people with […]

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Horror films don’t require monsters or supernatural forces to terrify audiences. While demons, boogeymen, and beasts still appear on screen, there’s another monster that has long dominated the horror space—the human. Stories that concern human monsters are part of a sub-category of horror called Horror of Personality.

The villains in these stories are people with horrific personalities. They’re shown as normal people who either slowly descend into madness or are revealed to be evil at the end of the film. Ordinary and peaceful settings, such as suburban neighborhoods, are used to deceive the viewer into a false sense of security, while also emphasizing the horror waiting to be revealed.

Horror of Personality Examples

Here are a few examples of films under the horror of personality subgenre. Most of these were made during the 1960s, which is considered this genre’s era of inception.

1. Psycho

Having stolen $40,000 worth of cash, Marion Crane is on the run. Nothing is heard of her, or the money, ever again.

Concerned loved ones begin a panicked search. They find themselves gravitating toward a lonely motel, where the mother and son who manage it struggle to keep a secret.

2. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

Jane is an aging former child star who’s stuck taking care of her paraplegic sister, Blanche, who is also a former actress. Inside the walls of their aging mansion, Jane regularly mistreats her own sibling.

But Blanche isn’t one to take things lying down. As her sister plots to get rid of her, Jane begins to tighten her grip on Blanche while scheming to take back the fame that was stolen from her.

3. The Collector

Lonely and socially awkward Freddie has stalked art student Miranda Gray for a while now. No longer able to restrain himself, he abducts her and imprisons her in his cellar.

He intends to keep her there until she gets to know him—and until she learns to love him, whether she likes it or not.

4. Pretty Poison

Out on parole, mentally disturbed youth Dennis Pitt becomes attracted to teenager Sue Ann Stepenek. He pretends to be a secret agent and takes her on imaginary missions.

But Sue Ann gets too much of a taste for these “adventures.” And when her bloodthirst becomes uncontrollable, Dennis must take on the monster he’s accidentally created.

5. The Bad Seed

Christine and Kenneth Penmark dote on their eight-year-old daughter Rhoda. Pristine and proper, to their eyes she can do no wrong. That’s until Rhoda loses in a penmanship contest.

When the winning kid is found dead, Christine begins to suspect something’s wrong with her daughter. And when her own, true origin is revealed, she worries it may be her fault.

6. Halloween

Sx-year-old Michael Myers stabs his sister to death with a kitchen knife. He is sentenced and locked away in a mental hospital, under the watchful eye of his psychiatrist.

Fifteen years later, he escapes and returns home. There, he begins to stalk a group of teenagers, intent on making them his next victims.

7. Black Christmas

Winter break begins and a group of sorority girls starts receiving obscene phone calls from an unknown number. They egg the caller on, who promises to kill them.

One by one, the girls begin to disappear. Those who remaim begin to suspect that a serial killer’s on the loose—but they don’t realize just how close they are to the murderer.

8. Dressed to Kill

Sexually frustrated housewife Kate Miller has sex with a stranger. Later on, she is brutally murdered with a straight razor. Liz, a prostitute, witnesses the crime.

While the police think Liz did the crime, the real culprit schemes to kill her. Only the victim’s son believes Liz, and they work together to uncover the real killer.

9. Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte

Charlotte plans to elope with her married lover, only for him to back out. He is later decapitated by an unknown attacker with a cleaver. Charlotte finds the body and is believed to be the one responsible.

Thirty-seven years later, Charlotte, now a spinster, prepares to fight an impending construction project that will see her evicted from her property. To help her cause, she summons a distant cousin who, unbeknownst to her, may know what really happened all those years ago.

10. Strait-Jacket

Finding her husband and his mistress in bed, Lucy Harbin takes an axe and decapitates them both. Her three-year-old daughter, Carol, witnesses the crime. Lucy is later considered criminally insane and is committed to a psychiatric hospital.

Twenty years later, she is finally released and sent to live with her brother and his family, including Carol. While she slowly reconnects with the world, a slew of axe murders makes her doubt whether she’s really cured.

Human Monsters in Film

Classic horror films dealt with literal monsters—creatures that were distant from man, whether in an aesthetic or metaphysical sense. Furthermore, these villains were justified in their stories by supernatural or pseudoscientific means. Dracula is a vampire, Frankenstein’s monster is an animated corpse, and the Thing is a hostile alien.

However, a new kind of horror film came about sometime in the 1960s. Instead of demonic possession, supernatural violence, and monstrous destruction, the darkness of the human psyche that was explored. This is the era where deeply disturbed people became the villains of horror.

At its core, horror of personality concerns itself with the idea that humans are the real monsters. It’s a concept that’s been popular ever since, remaining a staple in modern horror cinema. Though now it exists more within genres such as psychological horror and thriller, dark drama, and black comedy.

Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is considered to be the catalyst of this genre. It’s inspired many films of the same vein and is still regarded as relevant in today’s cinematic landscape.

The horror comes from a viewer’s discomfort with the emotions, thoughts, and fears that people normally deny or repress. As such, these movies often carry heavy elements of suspicion, paranoia, doubt, trauma, and anger. Usually, the narrators are unreliable, creating a narrative that challenges the audience until the truth is revealed.

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10 Ecological Thrillers for the Environmentally Concerned Wed, 15 Jun 2022 08:00:00 +0000 Nature on the verge of destruction is one of the most compelling premises in storytelling. After all, where would humanity go when the world is already dead? People have recently become much more aware of Earth’s decay. Climate change, the extinction of flora and fauna, and various other natural crises affect almost everyone. A recent […]

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Nature on the verge of destruction is one of the most compelling premises in storytelling. After all, where would humanity go when the world is already dead?

People have recently become much more aware of Earth’s decay. Climate change, the extinction of flora and fauna, and various other natural crises affect almost everyone. A recent study even says that 85% of people on the planet are living with the effects of global warming.

Understandably, there’s a lot of fear and doubt spreading around. It’s what fuels the most gripping stories in environmental fiction.

Best Ecological Thrillers

Below is a list of works that concern the world at large and humanity’s place in it. Each one tackles a threat that, when ignored or denied, can create irreversible damage. It’s not just a few lives on the line, but an entire species, human or not.

1. Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy

Inti Flynn and her twin sister lead a team of biologists in reintroducing grey wolves into the Scottish Highlands. She hopes not only to rebalance nature, but also to heal from the tragedy that drove the sisters out of Alaska.

Some of the locals see the animals only as mindless killers, especially when a farmer is found dead. Inti knows the wolves aren’t to blame. To prove people wrong, she begins a wild journey into the dark heart of man. But the predator she’s hunting might be closer than she thinks.

2. The Disaster Tourist by Yun Ko-Eun

Yona works for Jungle, a leading travel agency that specializes in destinations devastated by disaster. But she’s about to lose her job after refusing her boss’s inappropriate advancements.

To save herself, she takes a paid “vacation” to the desert island of Mui. There, she needs to pose as a client and assess why it’s the company’s least profitable location. What she finds, though, is a plot to engineer a catastrophe. With her life on the line, she must choose whether to stop the conspiracy or help implement it.

3. Zodiac by Neal Stephenson

Sangamon Taylor is a chemist with a reputation for exposing water polluters. Tests reveal an alarming spike in PCB levels in the Boston Harbour, which can lead to public health issues. The toxic trail leads to Basco Industries and he decides to investigate.

All of a sudden, Taylor’s being followed, menaced, framed, and discredited. With his corporate foes circling in, he must acquire proof of the conspiracy before it’s too late.

4. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

A white whale ravages the seas and takes revenge against hunters of his kind. It destroys Captain Ahab’s ship and bites off one of his legs. Fueled by revenge, he takes on a new crew and chases after the whale.

But Moby Dick is just as cunning as his hunter. It’s only a matter of time before the monomaniacal captain clashes against the inhuman and, ultimately, uncaring force of nature.

5. Beneath the Mountain by Luca D’Andrea

Jeremiah Salinger moves to his partner’s isolated hometown nestled in the Italian Dolomites. He decides to make a film about a mountain rescue group that goes horribly wrong, leaving him the only survivor. He spirals into depression, blaming himself for the tragedy.

An overheard conversation about a triple murder years ago breathes new life into him. He grows obsessed, and the investigative itch pulls him deeper into the case. But in this small town—isolated and insular—poking around might unearth long-buried secrets that can fracture the community.

6. A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet

Twelve children are on a forced vacation with their families in a lakeside mansion. Their parents, more interested in partying, leave them largely to their own devices.

A massive storm arrives and creates a flood. Convinced by their parents’ inability to take care of them, the kids strike out independently. But their newly found tranquility can only last for so long.

7. Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice

Winter is coming and a small Anishinaabe reserve loses power. Food supplies dwindle and panic sets in. A small band of members struggles to maintain order.

Unexpected visitors arrive from a ruined society to the south and take control. Tensions rise and so does the death toll. Frustrated, a group of friends turn to an unlikely leader in the hopes of seeing their community prosper again.

8. Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

Mars has always beckoned to humanity. For any person with a spacefaring dream, conquering the desolate planet has always been the first step to the space age.

Now, a hundred people are sent in to terraform the planet. If successful, transnational corporations would gain access to martian resources. But not everyone agrees humanity has the right to colonize the planet, especially when done with such reckless haste.

9. The New Wilderness by Diane Cook

American cities have become overcrowded, resource-draining places. Bea’s five-year-old daughter, Agnes, is slowly dying from the perpetual smog and pollution. Her only chance is the Wilderness State, the last swath of untouched, protected land.

Along with eighteen other volunteers, they take part in an experiment to see if humanity can exist with nature without destroying it. They must hunt and forage without leaving a trace behind. The wilds will test everything they are, including the bonds they share.

10. The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey

Just home from the jungles of Southeast Asia, George Hayduke finds the pristine lands of the American West being violated. Industrial development is ruining nature, befouling the air, and contaminating the waters.

Along with three other misfits, George decides to fight back. The group takes on strip miners, dam builders, bridge makers, and anyone else that threatens the natural habitat.

What Is an Ecological Thriller?

Ecological thrillers are best defined as rousing stories with a widespread threat that is aggravated by ecological factors. Nature is central to the narrative but isn’t the main villain.

This way, authors are able to expound on the relationship between humanity and the world. It includes society’s responsibilities to nature and the consequences that come from failing them.

This rules out a ton of science fiction, horror, and other thrillers. Man-eating sharks (Jaws), genetically engineered dinosaurs (Jurassic Park), and carnivorous plants (The Ruins) are thrilling, but they’re not eco-thrillers. Though there’s an element of human meddling in the stories, the villain ultimately comes from nature.

Instead, think of industrialists deforesting an entire continent, society turning a blind eye to the ocean’s pollution, and people dying from winter because of insufficient housing. All of these have relevance in this age of rapid natural destruction.

Essentially, an ecological thriller is a reminder of real-life environmental issues that need to be addressed. And that nature is both beautiful and terrible, depending on how we take care of it.

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12 of the Best British Crime Dramas to Add to Your List Wed, 08 Jun 2022 08:00:00 +0000 When it comes to crime shows, British television is a powerhouse. They’ve consistently produced high-level crime dramas known for their talented casts, clever dialogue, and multi-dimensional plots. Over the years, there has been a surge of interest in these shows. And thanks to streaming sites like Netflix, shows such as Sherlock and Peaky Blinders have […]

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When it comes to crime shows, British television is a powerhouse. They’ve consistently produced high-level crime dramas known for their talented casts, clever dialogue, and multi-dimensional plots.

Over the years, there has been a surge of interest in these shows. And thanks to streaming sites like Netflix, shows such as Sherlock and Peaky Blinders have reached a wider audience.

British Crime Dramas

British crime dramas usually range from tight, single-season storylines to sprawling epics you can binge on. Some are slow burners, while others are heart-pounding narratives. It’s safe to say that whatever flavor of crime you’re into, British television has it.

Below is a list of British crime dramas that have consistently awed audiences and critics alike.

1. The Stranger

A mysterious woman approaches a married man and reveals a secret that sends him spiraling down a rabbit hole as he seeks the truth. He’s not the only victim, though: the stranger knows other secrets, and leaves murder and destruction in her wake.

Based on Harlan Coben’s novel of the same name, The Stranger is a miniseries with only eight episodes. That doesn’t stop it from delivering an explosive plot that keeps you guessing until the end.

Watch it on Netflix.

2. Line of Duty

Line of Duty steps into the shoes of the Anti-Corruption Unit 12 within the police department. Corruption is pervasive, so those in the AC12 investigate and put to justice the bad cops who take advantage of the system.

It’s one of the most popular British crime dramas, consistently winning awards and with a steady increase in viewership. It’s also known for its many shocking twists, which leave the audience unsure of what or who to trust.

Watch it on Amazon Prime and Hulu.

3. Bodyguard

Police Sergeant David Budd works for the Royalty and Specialist Protection Branch in London’s Metropolitan Police Service. When he’s tasked to protect a politician he despises, he must struggle to separate his beliefs from his ability to get the job done.

While the series focuses on politics and terrorism, Budd’s PTSD and issues that stem from it are also explored. There’s currently only one season available, but a second season is being developed.

Watch it on Netflix, Amazon, and Vudu.

4. Happy Valley

Don’t expect much happiness in Happy Valley. Catherine Cawood juggles the care of her grandson (a product of rape) and sister (a recovering drug addict and alcoholic) while still coming to terms with her daughter’s suicide. Added to this are the murders, drugs, and human trafficking she must deal with as a police sergeant.

The series has been lauded for the way it tackles sensitive issues such as addiction and sexual violence. There are two seasons already available and a third on the way.

Watch it on Netflix and Vudu.

5. Broadchurch

A world-weary detective joins forces with a local investigator when a child’s body is found on the beach. The murder sends shockwaves through the close-knit community, pushing residents down a hole of fear and suspicion.

The series has met critical acclaim since its first season. The third season concludes the whole series so you can definitely binge it to the end.

Watch it on Amazon Prime and Vudu.

6. Luther

John Luther’s dedication, unorthodox methods, and occasional violence have made him a legendary figure in the police force. But that dedication has a price of being consumed by the crimes he investigates. Part of his worries is his peculiar relationship with a serial killer.

This award-winning show has five seasons in total that you can binge. And though a sixth season is unlikely, there’s an upcoming film that will serve as a continuation for the series.

Watch it on Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Vudu.

7. Giri/Haji

Tokyo detective Kenzo Mori travels to London in search of his brother, who is accused of murdering a Yakuza’s nephew. He must discover if his brother is guilty—or even alive—before a gang war erupts back home. In the course of his investigation, he comes in contact with London’s criminal underworld.

Giri/Haji means Duty/Shame in Japanese, and the show delivers a new brand of crime drama. Unfortunately, it was canceled after just one season despite receiving critical acclaim. The eight-episode series remains a must-watch for crime drama lovers though.

Watch it on Netflix.

8. Sherlock

Back from Afghanistan, Dr. John Watson rooms with Sherlock Holmes, a man with exceptional intellect and powers of observation. Before long, the two find themselves solving mysteries that the police can’t handle.

This series’ modern approach has been met with much praise and might have caused a revival of shows based on the character of Sherlock Holmes. Four seasons are available, each with three hour-long episodes. A potential fifth is still up in the air.

Watch it on Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Vudu.

9. Peaky Blinders

Set in the years after WW1 and based on a real-life gang of the same name, Peaky Blinders follows the Shelby family as they establish a criminal empire. But with Britain in the midst of economic upheaval, other gangs are looking to carve out their own place.

It’s consistently earned awards through its six-season run. It’s also one of those shows that go down in pop culture history, with its influence on hairstyle and fashion.

Watch it on Amazon Prime and Netflix.

10. Criminal: UK

This hit series gives a fresh new take on the police procedural. Each standalone episode is confined to a police interrogation room, where a specialized interrogative unit mentally spars with suspects to find answers to cases.

The show is part of Netflix’s anthological series, Criminal. There are currently three other shows, each set in different countries but with the same premise. Two seasons are already available for the UK version.

Watch it on Netflix.

11. The Fall

Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson is sent to Northern Island to help out with a case that’s been open for more than 28 days. When it becomes clear a serial killer’s on the loose, she and local detectives must work together to find and capture him.

Unlike most crime series, the identity of the killer is revealed right from the start. This turns the series into a cat-and-mouse game as both sides work to outsmart the other. There are three seasons in all, but the creators are open to a continuation.

Watch it on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

12. Marcella

After an abrupt divorce, Marcella Backland decides to go back to active duty as a detective. She resumes her investigation into an open murder case whose unidentified killer has become active again.

The show tackles mental illness along with the usual pursuit of criminals. The series is still ongoing, with three seasons already available for viewing.

Watch it on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Vudu.

British Crime Shows

This is the era of television crime shows. All over the world, you’ll find crime dramas of different blends being produced, and those made in Great Britain are some of the best there are.

There’s just something about crime underlined by snarky, British humor and chilling mind games, which is further intensified by the stark backgrounds they unfold in.

Part of what makes these shows so distinctive is their refusal to wallow in death and darkness—something that most crime shows fall into. You see shootings, beatings, and murder in their most horrible form. Graphic violence becomes the story, instead of being the catalyst.

Instead, British crime dramas move away from the usual action scenes. This gives them space to explore grief, guilt, redemption, and consequences on both sides of the crime. It’s also given them a way to address real-life issues such as sexism, mental illness, and racism, making their shows highly emotional, realistic, and memorable.

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A Brief Introduction to Honkaku Detective Fiction Wed, 01 Jun 2022 15:52:09 +0000 After a day of celebration, the family patriarch retires to his room. Suddenly, the other guests hear a bloodcurdling scream. The patriarch is found dead, stabbed with a weapon that’s nowhere to be found. The room is locked, and every person is accounted for. There is no way someone could get in, do the deed, […]

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After a day of celebration, the family patriarch retires to his room. Suddenly, the other guests hear a bloodcurdling scream. The patriarch is found dead, stabbed with a weapon that’s nowhere to be found.

The room is locked, and every person is accounted for. There is no way someone could get in, do the deed, and leave without a trace. Who could have done this impossible crime?

The plot above is an example of what a honkaku is. It’s a literary genre of Japanese detective fiction that is most similar to European whodunits.

What Is a Honkaku?

Honkaku is a Japanese word that roughly translates to “orthodox.” Japanese crime author Haruta Yoshitame defines it as “a detective story that values the entertainment derived from pure logical reasoning.”

This kind of story functions much like a complex puzzle that needs to be solved purely through logic and deduction. In this, honkaku usually follows the same set of rules codified by mystery writers from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction—by which it was inspired.

Writers take special care to follow the rule of “fair play” because a hard but still solvable mystery is satisfying, while an unsolvable one is merely frustrating. This is important, as some of the mysteries can rise to a Rube Goldberg level of complexity.

Because of this, writers often highlight information in their novels. They add lists of characters, maps, floor plans, and other diagrams to help the reader visualize and solve the crime.

A honkaku usually takes place under “impossible” circumstances such as a locked room, where the crime is initially thought possible only if the culprit were of supernatural origins. The goal of the detective (and the reader) is to then disprove this by giving the crime a logical solution.

The genre was pioneered by writers such as Edogawa Rampo, Seishi Yokomizo, and Keikichi Osaka. It was popular from the 1920s to the 1940s, before it was replaced by crime novels that focused on psychological elements. However, the genre still exists in some form to this day.

Examples of Honkaku

If you want to experience what a Japanese whodunit is like, here are a few honkakus that you might want to look at.

1. The Honjin Murders by Seishi Yokomizo

The Ichiyanagi household is awoken by a terrible scream followed by the sound of eerie music. A newly married couple is found brutally murdered inside their locked room. The only traces found are a strange handprint and a bloodied katana thrust into the snow outside.

Kosuke Kindaichi is called to the case. But with such strange clues and a large pool of suspects, can the amateur detective solve the impossible crime?

2. The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada

An artist is found dead inside a locked room. With the body is a diary, and inside is the artist’s plan to chop up six of his daughters, stepdaughters, and nieces to create the perfect woman.

What’s more baffling is that the plan is enacted perfectly after the artist’s death. It’s a mystery that’s haunted Japan for 40 years—and now Kiyoshi Mitarai must solve it within a week.

3. The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji

Six members of a university mystery club arrive at an island where the last remaining building, the Decagon House, was host to a brutal murder less than a year ago. And one by one, they begin to fall.

Meanwhile, two members of the club who didn’t go to the meeting begin receiving mysterious letters. Something is afoot, and the island is at the center of this mystery.

4. My Annihilation by Fuminori Nakamura

An anonymous man plans to steal another man’s identity. He begins readings the man’s journal, but what he finds inside are the writings of a dangerous person.

Then he is captured, named as the man he was trying to impersonate, and taken to a facility. From there, identities begin to blur, and we begin to wonder who’s currently speaking and whether they’re telling the truth.

5. The Master Key by Masako Togawa

The K Apartment for Ladies is about to be moved in a highly-publicized road project. Its occupants are less than thrilled, especially the ones hiding secrets beneath its foundations.

Then the master key is lost, stolen, and re-stolen—and with it, the ability to open every door and unlock every mystery lurking within the building.

6. Malice by Keigo Higashino

Acclaimed novelist Kunihiko Hidaka is found murdered just a night before he was supposed to immigrate to Canada. His body is found inside his locked office, within his locked house.

Those who found him—his wife and best friend—have solid alibis… or so it seems. It’s not the who or how that Detective Kyochiro Kaga must find out, but the why. A cat and mouse game ensues as he tries to make sense of why the crime was done in the first place.

7. The Village of Eight Graves by Seishi Yokomizo

 The Village of Eight Graves takes its name from an old legend. While taking refuge within the village, eight samurai are massacred for the treasure they possess.

Centuries later, the village is again struck by tragedy. A villager goes on a murder spree before vanishing into the woods. His infant son survives the slaughter.

In the present, a slew of poisonings begins to trouble the village. At the center is a mysterious young man, who must find out why the deaths are happening and why he’s being framed.

8. The Black Lizard and Beast in the Shadows by Edogawa Rampo

The Black Lizard features a master jewelry thief and the detective pursuing her. Though both are attracted to one another, they also can’t compromise the ideals and circumstances they live by.

Beast in the Shadows follows a mystery writer who begins an affair with a married woman. Her claims of being menaced by an ex-lover get him involved in a tale of secret identities, violent sexuality, and questions about innocence.

9. The Tattoo Murder Case by Akimitsu Takagi

Kinue Nomura’s torn body is found inside a locked room. The only thing missing is the part of her that bore one of the most beautiful full-body tattoos ever made.

Kenzo Matsushita, a doctor, is the first to discover the macabre scene. As his detective brother investigates the case, he feels compelled to assist in every way. But Kenzo has a secret and his involvement twists the case into something as intricate as Kinue’s missing tattoos.

10. The 8 Mansion Murders by Takemaru Abiko

The 8 Mansion, so called for its figure-8 shape, is the scene of two impossible crimes. First, the owner’s son is shot dead with a crossbow. Then a witness to the first murder is killed the same way.

Police Inspector Kyozo Hayani is called to the case. And while a culprit is swiftly identified and arrested, the detective knows someone else has blood on their hands.

11. The Devotion of Suspect X  by Keigo Higashino

Yasuko Hanaoka lives a quiet life, working in a bento shop and taking care of her daughter. Then her ex-husband, Togashi, appears to extort money from them.

The situation escalates into violence, with Togashi ending up dead on the floor. It’s a good thing their next-door neighbor knows how to cover up a body. And when the body does turn up, the case becomes a high-stakes battle between two cunning minds on opposite sides of the crime.

12. Devils in Daylight  by Junichiro Tanizaki

After a sleepless night, Takahashi receives a call from an old friend, Sonomura. He claims to have decoded a secret message and knows exactly when and where a murder will take place. And if they don’t hurry, they’ll miss seeing it later tonight!

But Takahashi knows Sonomura suffers from a mental illness and is reluctant to believe him. Still, they stake out the scene, and to his shock, become witnesses to a slaughter.

Japanese Detective Fiction

Honkaku-ha is only one particular school within Japanese detective fiction. There’s also the shakai-ha (“social school”), which was a more realistic story that deals with society’s place in crime. It was created as an answer to honkaku’s perceived lack of realism and plausibility. This is much like how hardboiled fiction came to be as a reaction to Western whodunits.

There’s also shinhonkaku-ha (“neo-orthodox school”), a modern revival of the honkaku school. The distinction between the two can be difficult. Like honkaku, shinhonkaku focused on puzzle-like crimes, but tended to embrace the mystery’s implausibility. It sometimes goes into metafictional levels, where the prose draws the reader to the fact that it is fiction, and need not follow reality.

Japanese detective fiction offers crime stories beyond the Western world. While the Golden Age of Detective Fiction (mostly British and American writers) does have a large influence over the genre, Japanese writers have worked hard to create their own blend of crime fiction—thus, the three schools above.

And thanks to increasing efforts to translate these works, more people can now enjoy whodunits written from different cultural, social, and political perspectives.

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What Is Hardboiled Fiction? Mon, 16 May 2022 08:00:00 +0000 An eternally inebriated detective still wearing his clothes from the day before. A messy office full of cheap furniture and loose files. A mysterious client with a suspiciously easy case. These are the typical images of a hardboiled detective story. Hardboiled detective fiction is a tough, unsentimental, and cynical kind of detective story. It zeroes […]

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An eternally inebriated detective still wearing his clothes from the day before. A messy office full of cheap furniture and loose files. A mysterious client with a suspiciously easy case. These are the typical images of a hardboiled detective story.

Hardboiled detective fiction is a tough, unsentimental, and cynical kind of detective story. It zeroes in on the violence and corruption that exists in society, and presents it against unsavory urban backgrounds.

The genre was created as a response to traditional detective fiction. While classic detectives were confident, quirky, and almost supernaturally skilled at investigation, hardboiled detectives were doubtful, deeply flawed, and often luckless individuals.

A Brief Background of Hardboiled Fiction

In its earliest use, the term hardboiled didn’t describe a type of crime fiction, but the cynical attitude characters had in response to violence and society.

Crime writer Carroll John Daly is credited with creating the first hardboiled story. It was titled “The False Burton Combs”, which was published in Black Mask magazine in December 1922.

The genre was later popularized by Dashiell Hammett, a former Pinkerton Agency detective and frequent contributor to pulp fiction magazines. His detectives, the Continental Op and Sam Spade, are considered two of the most influential hardboiled characters in crime fiction.

These stories differed from the usual formula of cozy mysteries, which were set in isolated manors inhabited by meek servants, mysterious aristocrats, and warring relatives. Instead, hardboiled fiction presented raw narratives that highlighted character and societal flaws. This kind of storytelling was later refined by writers such as James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, and George Carroll Sims.

Hardboiled started and became a staple in pulp magazines, so much that “pulp fiction” became an interchangeable term for the genre. This is most prominent in the Black Mask magazine, where editor Joseph T. Shaw vigorously encouraged writers of the genre.

It’s also closely associated with noir fiction due to their many similarities, especially with their emotional outlooks on society. However, while hardboiled ends with characters having a clean ethical slate, noir is murkier.

Characteristics of Hardboiled Fiction

To best understand what hardboiled fiction is, you should first understand what it’s not. As the counterpoint to classic detective fiction, it displays many of the elements that are usually not found in the latter. Here are a few characteristics unique to this literary genre.

1. The Language

Hardboiled prose is characterized by its economy. Descriptions are restricted to concrete objects, rather than ideas. Adjectives are kept to a minimum. The prose talks about what is done and what is said, rather than what is felt.

In this, it emulates much of Ernest Hemingway’s writing style, but it was also influenced by financial concerns during the genre’s heyday. Back then, writers were paid by the word and editors were keen to keep costs low by removing unnecessary words.

This paired-down writing style evolved sometime in the 1980s. Rather than focusing on only one narrative voice, writers such as James Ellroy began adding epistolary elements into their prose. The inclusion of newspaper and radio reports heightened their story’s sense of realism.

2. The Detective

The hardboiled investigator is presented as a tough, independent, and solitary figure that originates from the frontier heroes of the 19th century. Think of cowboys reimagined in an urban setting. Most are professional detectives, but the genre doesn’t require them to be.

These investigators almost always get emotionally involved with the cases they handle. They lose their cool and find it hard to remain in control when faced with higher and higher stakes. As such, they make mistakes or commit injustices that can prove fatal in the future.

A lot of them are also depicted as highly flawed individuals. They are gamblers, chain-smokers, alcoholics, and often estranged from their families. The problems that stem from these flaws are often explored alongside the cases they handle.

All of these are in direct contrast to detectives of classic detective fiction, who are always portrayed as competent and without fault. They’re always confident and in control, even in the face of unexpected developments. Readers are always assured that they’ll piece together the clues, solve the crime, and catch the culprit.

3. The Setting

A hardboiled story is usually set in a city. The setting itself becomes a character in the story, where the harshness of city life becomes a focal point in the narrative.

The city tends to be a dark and dangerous place. Gangsters have a strong presence and the legal system has become as corrupt as organized crime itself. As such, violence and crime have become normal aspects of life, making many people cynical about society.

Good things rarely happen in the city. Even when they do, the situation is always bittersweet. The crime may be solved, but the characters are still unable to escape the systemic corruption that allowed the crime to happen in the first place.

This is in contrast to classic detective fiction, whose settings are often closed-off to the larger world. These are country homes, trains stuck in isolated locales, and out-of-the-way manors. If they are in the city, it’s usually in a locked room or building. The isolation allows for a cleaner ending, as the investigation focuses only on the crime and the immediate setting.

4. The Plot

Hardboiled plots rarely focus on the solution of a crime. The detection doesn’t focus on making sense of clues and putting order to the chaos the crime has brought; rather, the crime ends in a violent climax that usually makes things messier than they already were.

The detective is on a quest, but the journey is far more interesting than its destination. They struggle with moral and physical dilemmas that develop throughout the investigation. These dilemmas, along with the detective’s flaws and subsequent decisions, are the focus of the narrative.

There is some resolution to the crime and chaos, but it’s rarely complete or satisfying. A villain might be put away, but it’s not the villain that needs to be arrested. In the end, the detective walks away from the aftermath and waits for the next case to come, all the while wondering if they did the right thing.

Plots from classic detective fiction are more predictable, with most following the same rough outline. A crime is committed and the detective comes in sniffing for clues. It culminates with them retracing the crime, accusing a culprit, and laying out how they came to their hypothesis.

Examples of Hardboiled Fiction

Here are a few examples of hardboiled fiction. Some of these are classics, while others are a modern version of the genre.

Double Indemnity by James M. Cain

Walter Huff is an insurance agent with a talent for sniffing out troublesome clients. But when he meets the seductive Phyllis Nirdlinger, he can’t help but fall in love despite his instincts blaring red.

It doesn’t take long for him to deduce that she wants to get rid of her husband, and not much longer to decide to help. Knowing that insurance pays double on accidents, they plot to kill him, make it look like a railroad accident, and avoid arousing suspicions from everyone else.

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

A crippled millionaire hires private investigator Philip Marlowe to work on a blackmail case involving one of his daughters. But it proves far more complicated when he finds evidence of kidnapping, extortion, and pornography scattered all around the case.

Closing in on the trail, he is shot at, knocked out, and finding dead bodies everywhere. The perpetrators are closer than anyone suspects, and they’re willing to add anyone who needs shutting up to their body count.

Fast One by Paul Cain

Gerry Kells is currently living a comfortable life. But chaos is about to ensue as Prohibition ends and the first days of the Depression come in.

Various crime bosses are looking to control Los Angeles, and they need his particular talents as a former enforcer to win. But he has no intentions of going back—even when they frame him for murder, or threaten him with death.

I, The Jury by Mickey Spillane

Private detective Mike Hammer arrives at his friend and fellow investigator Jack Williams’ apartment to find him dead. The death is cruel, with Williams shot in the stomach to make it slow and painful.

Hammer is consumed by vengeance, vowing to kill the murderer in the same excrutiating way. But his investigations take him into a vast conspiracy involving narcotics, violence, and heartbreak.

The Glass Key by Dashiell Hammett

A gang war is in danger of flooding the streets, sparked by the murder of a local senator’s son. Crime boss Paul Madvig hopes to use the crime to further his political ambitions. He sends his friend Ned Beaumont, an amateur detective, to investigate the case.

But when evidence points to Madvig as the culprit, Beaumont is left doubting who to trust. And falling in love with Madvig’s love interest isn’t helping his situation one bit.

Hard Stories and Harder Characters

Hardboiled fiction is a genre that offers no illusions. Rather, it focuses on the darker elements that other crime fiction skips over or ignores. When you read hardboiled stories, you get into the nitty-gritty aspects of humanity.

The characters here are like people you know about in real life. The crimes being tackled are the type that you can possibly read about in newspapers. The settings explored are similar to their real-world counterparts. As Raymond Chandler said in his The Simple Art of Murder, the world “is not a very fragrant world, but it is the world you live in.”

This doesn’t mean it’s always dark, though. There are occasional wins: justice is served, hapless victims survive, and bad guys go down in a cathartically violent way. The genre simply prefers to go with endings that are realistic, so completely happy endings are rare.

The protagonists become focal points for moral, ethical, and physical dilemmas. How they react to these dilemmas mirrors what you might possibly feel when faced with similar situations. The right decisions they make in the face of an overwhelmingly corrupt world inspire people to always choose the right path.

Because the protagonists are everyday people with flaws, anyone can relate. They’re a reminder to everyone that heroism isn’t rare, but something anyone can tap into no matter how unremarkable they believe themselves to be.

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10 Cliffhangers from Literature, Film, and Television Mon, 09 May 2022 17:39:23 +0000 You know how it goes: you’ve been riveted by a movie or TV episode for the past hour, enjoying scene after action-packed scene. The hero and villain finally come face to face, weapons ready. But just as they leap toward each other’s throats, the screen cuts to black. To be continued… It’s a cliffhanger, a […]

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You know how it goes: you’ve been riveted by a movie or TV episode for the past hour, enjoying scene after action-packed scene. The hero and villain finally come face to face, weapons ready. But just as they leap toward each other’s throats, the screen cuts to black. To be continued…

It’s a cliffhanger, a plot technique writers use to end a part of a narrative while retaining the audience’s interest in the story. Viewers can’t wait to continue on, desperate to learn what happens next.

What Is a cliffhanger?

A cliffhanger is an abrupt end that offers no resolution of conflicts. It leaves the story at a crucial moment, often with characters in peril, or just after a shocking revelation. It mostly happens at the end of a story, but it can also end a scene in a film, a chapter in a book, or a TV episode.

Excitement is built up throughout the narrative, which you expect to culminate into something epic. Then you’re suddenly left in the dark, making you inevitably ask, “What happens next?” It becomes an itch that you urgently want to scratch. The suspense gives off a sense of urgency that propels you forward in the story.

Cliffhangers are one of the oldest techniques in storytelling, having been used as far back as the Middle Ages. The term itself came about with Thomas Hardy’s A Pair Of Blue Eyes, which was released in installments. He ends a part of it with one of his characters hanging off a cliff.

5 Cliffhangers in Literature

Here are a few brilliant examples of cliffhangers taken from literature. Some of them deal with a story’s end, while others are mini cliffhangers that occur in between chapters.

1. One Thousand and One Nights

The frame story of One Thousand and One Nights involves a king named Shahryār discovering his wife’s unfaithfulness. Growing bitter, he has her executed and begins marrying women only to have them killed the next day. One of these women is Scheherazade, who serves as the narrator of the book.

She narrates a series of stories for 1,001 nights, with each night ending in a cliffhanger. Hooked, the king postpones her execution every day to hear the rest of the stories.

2. A Dance of Dragons by George R.R. Martin

The latest book in Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire has one of the series’ most beloved characters, Jon Snow, deciding to march to battle. His officers, considering it a betrayal of the Watch’s neutrality, turn on him and stab him in the belly.

This is the last scene narrated from his point of view. The ambiguity of it has made fans speculate about his fate, creating various theories on whether he survives or not. In fact, they’ve been waiting for an answer since 2011.

3. Pet Sematary by Stephen King

Louis Creed and his family move to a small town with a pet cemetery that can resurrect the dead. However, anything that comes back to life is a malevolent version of itself.

His wife and child die after several unfortunate events. The novel ends with Louis playing solitaire, when his wife’s reanimated corpse sneaks up behind him, lays a cold hand on his shoulder, and croaks “Darling.”

4. The Odyssey by Homer

After the Trojan War, Odysseus is unable to come home because he angered the god of the sea, Poseidon. Back at home, his son, Telemachus, shares his absent father’s house with his mother and her unwelcome suitors.

Growing tired of the intrusion, Telemachus goes on a journey to find his father. On the way, he is ambushed by the suitors. His fate isn’t shown, and the story shifts to Odysseus’ adventures instead. It’s revealed later on that he survives.

5. The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens

Little Nell Trent lives with her grandfather in his shop of odds and ends. They become beggars after her grandfather’s unfortunate attempt to ensure her an inheritance.

Originally published as a serial, Dickens ends part of the story with Nelly in a poor state of health. Fans reportedly stormed the New York City docks, shouting at arriving sailors (who might have already read the final chapters from the UK), “Is little Nell alive?”

Cliffhangers from Film and TV

Here are a few more examples of cliffhangers, taken from film and television.

6. Lost

A commercial airplane breaks apart in midair, crashing into an island somewhere in the Pacific. The survivors stick together to survive, finding the island more mysterious than it looks. They find the “hatch,” a manmade structure, early on in the first season.

As the season progresses, they contemplate what to do with it while piecing together clues from the seemingly uninhabited island. In the last episode, they blow it open, showing a dark hole leading into the ground. The episode immediately ends, leaving watchers to speculate about what’s inside.

7. Dallas

In this series, J.R. Ewing was a character who frequently double-crossed business associates, fought with his family, and had his wife wrongfully committed to a sanatorium.

In the final episode of the third season (“Who Shot J.R.?”), he hears a noise outside his office and is shot twice when goes out to look. Viewers had to wait until the first episode of the fourth season (“Who Done It?”) to learn who the shooter is.

It was such a popular cliffhanger that many other American shows followed suit.

8. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

Because of a previous debt, Jack Sparrow finds himself being pursued by Davy Jones, the dark lord of the Seven Seas. After many misadventures, he is chained to his ship and dragged to Davy Jone’s Locker.

His crew escapes, seeking shelter with the voodoo witch, Tia Dalma. They agree on rescuing their captain and are suddenly greeted by the resurrected Hector Barbossa. The scene quickly cuts to the credits, leaving their adventures for the next film.

9. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

After being rescued from the 75th Hunger Games, Katniss is taken to District 13, where she is introduced to the leaders of the Rebellion. They rescue her fellow tribute, Peeta, who was left in the Capitol’s clutches during the last film.

Katniss is shaken when realizes Peeta has been “hijacked,” making him attack her on sight. Coin, leader of the resistance, ends the film by announcing a major operation against District 2, the only remaining district loyal to the Capitol.

10. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Princess Leia, Chewbacca, and Han Solo are captured by Darth Vader. Han is frozen in carbonite and is set to be given to Jabba the Hutt. Though the first two are eventually rescued, Bobba Fett escapes with Han, leaving the latter’s fate unknown.

Luke Skywalker arrives and battles with Vader, where he loses an arm and learns that Vader is his father. The movie ends with him getting a prosthetic arm and the gang readying themselves to find Han.

Good and Bad Cliffhangers

Just like with a plot twist, a cliffhanger is all about the execution. Done well, it makes the audience frustrated and excited. This gets them in the mood to learn about what’s coming next. That eagerness is rewarded when they finally get to the next part.

Done poorly, it merely gets them frustrated. As cliffhangers are often done in end scenes, this can leave them with a strong negative impression of a particular work. Or worse, the cliffhanger is left unresolved due to unfortunate events such as a show being canceled or the creator dies.

There are cliffhangers that are intentionally left unresolved. Essentially, they’re ambiguous endings that provoke the readers to speculate. They create their own endings based on a combination of information taken from the work and their own imagination. This allows the audience to construct the ending that they want.

Take, for example, The Princess Bride. While the movie version ends in a happily ever after, the original ending is less certain. The party rides off into the sunset on the prince’s stolen white horses. A series of mishaps ensue, letting the prince’s men close in on them. The author did say he believes they got away, though.

Good cliffhangers are bait for the audience’s curiosity. It leads them smoothly from one story to another while keeping the same level of interest and excitement. As a result, people will always want more of the story.

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10 Spine-Chilling Novels About Sociopaths Mon, 25 Apr 2022 16:18:21 +0000 How many times have you imagined punching someone because of an insult? How about conning your way into a life of luxury? We all have dark urges, but most of us recognize that they’re bad and rarely act on them. Then there are those who don’t recognize these urges, or just don’t care about the […]

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How many times have you imagined punching someone because of an insult? How about conning your way into a life of luxury?

We all have dark urges, but most of us recognize that they’re bad and rarely act on them. Then there are those who don’t recognize these urges, or just don’t care about the consequences. Maybe that’s why they’re some of the most cathartic characters in literature.

Books About Sociopaths

Many literary sociopaths are charming, witty, and intelligent. This combination of traits allows them to hide behind seemingly normal facades. The truth is that they never play by the same social rules that we do, and that makes them some of the greatest villains we have in fiction.

Below are 10 books featuring the most compelling sociopaths ever written.

1. The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

A product of a broken home, the young and handsome Tom Ripley has one goal: a life among the rich elites. And through his new friend Dickie Greenleaf, he finally tastes the easy life. Reluctant to let go, he finds a way to make it permanent—even if it means murder.

With his victim’s entire fortune at his disposal, he enjoys a lavish lifestyle—and anyone who starts to suspect he’s a fraud ends up dead.

2. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

Sixteen-year-old Frank Cauldhame lives on a small island somewhere in rural Scotland. Apart from his father, he’s entirely isolated from the world. He spends most of his time with rituals that include killing animals and putting their heads on poles, and forcing wasps to choose their own demise.

From his matter-of-fact explanation of why he kills animals to his telephone conversations with his equally sociopathic brother, Frank looks at the world as if everything in it needs killing.

3. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

Rebecca “Becky” Sharp is strong-willed, cunning, and very poor—but that’s not going to stop her from climbing the ranks of English society.

Whether it’s seducing other women’s men, stealing from creditors, or running any other financial con, she’s more than willing to do anything to get ahead, including murder.

4. No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

A drug deal goes awry, leading to a shootout that kills everyone involved. The drug money ends up missing, and hitman Anton Chigurh is hired for its recovery. And Anton isn’t afraid of turning small towns into warzones to complete his mission.

Chigurh is a juggernaut who decides the fates of his victims with the flip of a coin. Ruthless and remorseless, he inflicts violence on others as if they were mere livestock lined up for slaughter.

5. The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson

Lou Ford is a 29-year-old deputy sheriff in a small Texas town. To those he serves, he’s just a run-of-the-mill cop leading a mundane life. But beneath the facade is a cunning sociopath with sadistic tastes.

While his usual outlet for his desires is harmless, falling into a sadomasochistic relationship with a prostitute opens up a gateway to darker activities. Now he’s ready to have more than just a taste of the things he’s long deprived himself of.

6. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Humbert Humbert has an obsession. Haunted by an unfulfilled love during his adolesence, he falls crazily in lust with his landlady’s 12-year-old daughter, Dolores.

Desperate for the smallest physical touches, he looks for every opportunity to get closer. There’s nothing he won’t do and no crime he won’t commit to finally be with his Lolita.

7. I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells

John Wayne Cleaver knows he’s in danger of becoming a serial killer. He’s obsessed with killers, is fascinated by fire, and abuses animals for the fun of it. But John doesn’t want to be a serial killer, so he lives by a set of rigid rules to help him mimic normal life.

All of that is thrown out the window when a serial killer comes to visit. Now John’s against an unpredictable threat that’s slowly eroding his own self-control.

8. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Just two days before his 16th birthday, Kevin Khatchadourian goes on a killing spree. He claims the lives of seven high school students, a cafeteria worker, and a much loved teacher.

Now, two years later, his mother continues to face the stigma of his actions. To finally be free, she must come to terms with what her son has become, and how much of it was her fault.

9. East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Cathy Ames delights in using and destroying the people she interacts with. In her youth, she drives one of her teachers to suicide, seduces a married man, and frames two innocents for rape.

As she grows older, her depravity goes deeper. She bails on her family, poisons her employer to steal her business, and blackmails all of her patrons. There’s nothing she won’t do to always get what she wants, despite already having everything she needs.

10. Tampa by Alissa Nutting

Celeste Price is drop-dead gorgeous, rich, and married to a devoted, albeit alcoholic, husband. However, her devotion lies elsewhere—14-year-old boys.

To slake her sexual thirst, she uses her position as a middle-school teacher and picks one of her students as the object of her obsession. And after every school year, she’s always ready to throw them away, caring only for her pleasure. But this year’s student might be more attached and more determined than all the others.

Why Sociopaths Make Interesting Characters

The medical field calls sociopathy by another name: “Antisocial Personality Disorder”. They describe it as a pervasive pattern of disregard for consequences and for the rights of others.

Sociopaths have a conscience, though it is weak. They can feel empathy and remorse, but it won’t stop them from doing hurtful things for their own benefit. They know their actions are wrong, but rationalize why they can and should do them. They’re also impulsive and hot-headed, often going into fits of rage.

It’s a complex condition that lends itself well to fiction. You can make them terrible monsters that are able to kill at the slightest provocation, or you can explore the deeper implications of their disorder, examining how and why they act in a particular way.

Many of us control our actions and desires because of our sense of right and wrong, but it doesn’t mean those impulses disappear. This is probably why many also enjoy reading and watching sociopathic characters.

These characters aren’t constrained by the rules that shackle our own decisions. They’re free of the guilt, drama, emotional consequences, and moral dilemmas. It makes them dangerous, unpredictable, and compelling characters that are satisfying to experience from a safe distance.

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12 Supernatural Thrillers to Keep You up at Night Mon, 28 Mar 2022 15:52:27 +0000 What’s greater than a thrilling mystery? Why, a thrilling supernatural mystery, of course! Ordinary thrillers are heart-pounding enough—but throw in some ghosts, curses, and demons, and you create a story that drags you deep into its refreshingly strange and terrifying world. The mysterious becomes surreal—with both protagonist and reader unable to explain what’s going on. […]

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What’s greater than a thrilling mystery? Why, a thrilling supernatural mystery, of course! Ordinary thrillers are heart-pounding enough—but throw in some ghosts, curses, and demons, and you create a story that drags you deep into its refreshingly strange and terrifying world.

The mysterious becomes surreal—with both protagonist and reader unable to explain what’s going on. It then becomes a personal challenge to set aside your beliefs and confront something unexplainable and unsettling.

As you turn each page, these books seep into your imagination and latch on to your fears. And yet, despite the possibility of something horrific, you still find yourself reading on.

Best Supernatural Thriller Novels

From possessed criminals to the occult, or anything outside the realm of science, below is a list of supernatural thrillers that are sure to entertain even the most veteran fan.

1. Fellside by M.R. Carey

Jess Moulson is going to prison. In a heroin-induced rage, she sets fire to photos from her current toxic relationship, which burns down the whole building. Ten-year-old Alex Beech, an upstairs neighbor, dies in the blaze.

Fellside prison isn’t a place anyone wants to be in. Faced with the possibility of staying there for the rest of her life, Jess must face her guilt while avoiding the prison’s internal intrigues.

But she didn’t expect the whispers—and one of them has a message for Jess.

2. The Woman in the Woods By John Connolly

In the beautiful Maine woods, a secret is uncovered. Rain washes away the soil from a shallow grave, exposing the body of a young woman, who is discovered to have given birth shortly before her death. But where is the baby?

Veteran detective Charlie Parker is hired to join the search. But others are also interested, and they’re not afraid to leave bodies in their search.

Meanwhile, a young boy is about to receive the call of his life—from a toy phone and a dead woman, no less.

3. Pines by Blake Crouch

Ethan Burke travels to the town of Wayward Pines, Idaho with a clear goal: uncover the mystery behind the disappearance of two federal agents who went missing in town just a month ago.

But Wayward Pines is a weird place. Within minutes of arriving, Burke gets into an accident and wakes up with no ID and no way to contact the outside world.

As he digs deeper into his vanished colleagues, he finds himself increasingly shackled to the mysterious town. Soon he faces the possibility that the only way to get out is to die.

4. Wendigo by Vaughn C. Hardacker

The Wendigo is a creature of malice with the need to consume flesh. To John Bear, it’s nothing more than a scary legend told by his grandfather to scare children.

At least that’s what he thought, until a man is found butchered deep in the frozen woods, his heart missing. The only tracks around the corpse can’t possibly be human.

Convinced it’s the work of a Wendigo, John must figure out a way to stop a creature he once believed only existed in stories. And still, the snow continues piling up, further isolating their already remote outpost from the rest of the world.

5. Poe Must Die by Marc Olden

The most powerful psychic in the world is in search of King Solomon’s fabled throne. Buried beneath it is the secret to life and death—power he intends to use to unleash hell on earth for his lord, Lucifer.

In New York City, writer Edgar Allan Poe drowns himself in rotgut, trying to forget the pain of his beloved’s death. But soon a bare-knuckled fighter arrives with a letter that’ll change his life. Together, they must confront a horror far more than even those in Poe’s imagination.

6. A Mind to Kill by Brian Freemantle

Gerald Lomax’s office is one without privacy, a literal box of glass. So when his second wife, Jennifer, comes and stabs him to death, everyone gets an unobstructed view. It’s an open-and-shut case, with 16 eyewitnesses to the crime.

But Jennifer still claims she’s innocent. Her unusual defense? That Gerald’s deceased first wife is the real killer, possessing her body to take revenge on her cheating husband from beyond the grave.

7. Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Detective Gabriella Versado is no stranger to corpses, but her latest case is something else entirely. Half boy and half deer, this victim is just one of the many grotesque bodies being found across Detroit.

Unknown to her, Versado’s daughter has taken up the dangerous hobby of pedophile baiting. Meanwhile, a washed-up journalist craves a story that’ll revive his career, and a homeless man seeks to protect the family he has created.

As the body count piles up, all four are drawn to the killer’s dream to remake the world in his image.

8. The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

Ten-year-old Alex Connolly is in need of serious counseling. Along with trying to cope with his mother’s suicide attempt, he often blacks out and harms himself and others. At the center of it is his imaginary friend Ruen, who urges him to indulge in this self-destructive behavior.

Dr. Anya Molokova is familiar with these symptoms. After all, she’s seen it in her daughter before. Suspecting Alex is schizophrenic, she begins to treat the child.

But as soon as she does, strange incidents begin to occur, which leads her to the question: What if Ruen wasn’t so imaginary after all?

9. The Outsider by Stephen King

An 11-year-old boy’s brutalized body is found. All evidence and eyewitnesses point to one person: Terry Maitland, one of the city’s most beloved citizens. The case is airtight, with DNA evidence further cementing his guilt.

But Terry claims to have been out of town for a teacher’s conference during the murder. Several others confirm his attendance, throwing an impossible wrench into the case.

But what if someone’s been wearing Terry’s face? With the death toll rising, everyone and anyone can be the killer.

10. The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Every day, Aidan Bishop must suffer the sight of Evelyn Hardcastle’s murdered body. And every day, he wakes up and finds himself in the body of a different guest.

To stop the loop, he must discover the identity of the killer. The catch is, he must do it in eight days. Failing to do so will restart the entire process and wipe out his memories, sending him back to the very beginning.

But two others are competing to unmask the killer—and only one of them will be permitted to leave.

11. Within These Walls by Ania Ahlborn

Cult leader Jeffrey Halcomb drove his followers into committing ritual murder/suicide. Since that day, he’s been silent about his crimes, refusing to share the details or motivation for the event. But now, years later, he’s finally ready to divulge his secrets.

Washed-up true-crime writer Lucas Graham sees this as a way back to the glory days. With nothing left to lose, he moves into the farmhouse where Halcomb spilled the blood of his worshippers.

But Halcomb did promise his followers eternal life… and they are still very much alive within these walls.

12. Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

Kate Reese and her son, Christopher, flee an abusive home in the middle of the night. They end up in Mill Grove, Pennsylvania, far off the beaten path—the perfect place to start anew.

Then Christopher disappears for a week, only to return unharmed. But now there’s a voice that only he can hear. It urges him to complete a mission only he can perform: build a treehouse before Christmas, or something terrible will happen to everyone in town.

Thrillers with Supernatural Elements

Genre mixing almost always results in a product that’s greater than the sum of its parts. It adds an extra dimension to a story, giving it a different kind of depth.

Thrillers, in particular, take on aspects of the weird and unnerving when you mix supernatural elements into their narratives. These are things usually reserved for genres such as weird fiction, horror, and fantasy.

The books in this list can be initially shocking to long-time readers of thriller fiction. But while they border other genres, they still primarily deliver the high stakes, dynamic characters, and sense of dread that the thriller genre is known for.

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12 New Thriller Books Released in 2022 Wed, 16 Mar 2022 08:00:00 +0000 If you’re an avid fan of thriller fiction, chances are you devour books like a kid devours candy. You only need to get hooked once and you suddenly find yourself constantly yearning for stories that are intense, suspenseful, and mysterious. And the more books you read, the more difficult it becomes to find one that […]

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If you’re an avid fan of thriller fiction, chances are you devour books like a kid devours candy. You only need to get hooked once and you suddenly find yourself constantly yearning for stories that are intense, suspenseful, and mysterious.

And the more books you read, the more difficult it becomes to find one that you haven’t read yet. So it’s great that there are tons of thriller writers who are always up for the challenge to satisfy your literary cravings.

Best New Thriller Books

Ready to dive into some mystery and mayhem? From unrestrained crime thrillers to psychological page-turners, below is a list of new thrillers books released in 2022.

1. The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

Jess, ever the bad decision-maker, leaves her job under less than ideal circumstances. Broke and alone, she decides to travel all the way to Paris and crash with her half-brother Ben. But when she shows up at his very nice apartment, Ben is nowhere to be found.

The longer Ben stays missing, the more Jess digs into his disappearance. But it’s difficult to search for clues when the neighbors are downright hostile. They know something, and it’s up to Jess to find out exactly what.

2. A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

When Chloe Davis was only 12, six teenage girls went missing in her town during the summer. Her father confessed to the crimes, leaving her family shattered.

Now Chloe’s all grown up and preparing for her wedding. Determined to keep the happiness she’s worked hard to achieve, everything needs to be perfect. But then a local girl goes missing, quickly followed by another.

For the second time in her life, is Chloe about to confront another killer?

3. Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins

Meroe island lies in the middle of the Pacific, far away from anything else. It’s a paradise with a history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and murder—the perfect place for an adventure.

A party of six settle down for the perfect vacation—until a stranger sails in looking for a different kind of relaxation. Cracks begin to emerge as each couple is revealed to be not as perfect as they claim.

When one of them goes missing and another ends up dead, those remaining begin to wonder what darkness lies beneath this sunny paradise.

4. Nine Lives by Peter Swanson

Nine people receive a list with their names on it in the mail. They don’t know each other, they each have different professions, and they’re located all over the country. They dismiss the list as junk.

But then horrible things begin happening to the people on the list. First, a well-liked man is found drowned in Maine. Then a man is shot in the back in suburban Massachusetts.

FBI agent Jessica Winslow, also on the list, seeks to find the connection between all of them. As she struggles to identify what binds them all, she must also discover whose name will be crossed off next.

5. The Maid by Nita Prose

Molly Gray struggles with social skills and regularly misreads other people’s intentions. With the help of her gran, she learns how to navigate the world. Gran’s been dead for a few months, but Molly’s coping just fine and focusing on her job as a hotel maid… that is, until she enters a suite and finds the infamous Charles Black dead in his bed.

And because of her unusual demeanor, the police quickly peg Molly as the culprit. Good thing she has friends to help her crack the case before she’s sent away for a crime she didn’t do.

6. The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James

In 1977, two men were killed seemingly at random, but with the same gun. The prime suspect, rich and eccentric Beth Greer, was acquitted and subsequently isolated herself in her mansion.

Fast forward to 2017: Shea Collins runs the Book of Cold Cases, a true-crime website she started to cope with trauma from her past. In need of a story for the site, she asks Beth for an interview and is surprised to be granted one at Beth’s residence.

But unseen dangers lurk in Beth’s mansion. And the deeper Shea dives into the case, the more she worries that she’s being manipulated by a stone-cold killer.

7. The Night Shift by Alex Finlay

New Year’s Eve, 1999. Four teenagers working late at a Blockbuster Video are attacked and only one survives. Police quickly identify the culprit, the boyfriend of one of the victims, but he flees before they can arrest him.

Fifteen years later, teenagers are once again attacked, this time in an ice cream store. Again, only one of them survives.

Now FBI agent Sarah Keller must delve into the events of both nights, looking for a connection. To do so she must stir up the memories of the first survivor and the brother of the accused, who has always maintained his brother’s innocence.

8. Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner

Helen lives an idyllic life in London’s upscale Greenwich Park. The only thing missing is a child she and her husband can dote on. And after suffering multiple miscarriages, their dream is finally on the way.

Everything’s thrown out of the loop when Helen meets the reckless, single mother-to-be Rachel in maternity class. She smokes, drinks, and is the opposite of everything maternal—but she’s always fun to be with.

As their friendship grows, Rachel’s behavior becomes more erratic. Soon, Helen realizes that Rachel has a secret that could ruin all of their lives.

9. The Perfect Escape by Leah Konen

Sam, Margaret, and Diana all bond after going through their divorces at the same time, but they don’t really know each other that well. Still, they plan a weekend getaway to distance themselves from their bad experiences.

Trouble starts when their car breaks down halfway into their trip. Stranded in a remote mountain town, they begin to realize how little they know about each other.

Then Diana fails to return after a night out, and an ex-boyfriend shows up. As odd coincidences pile up, they begin to realize that their unfortunate detour may not be an accident after all.

10. The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks

Marissa and Matthew Bishop seem like the perfect couple—until Marissa cheats. Now she’s desperate to fix things for the sake of their eight-year-old son, and because she loves her husband.

Avery Chambers is a therapist. And while she’s lost her license, her unorthodox methods are so successful that clients keep flocking to her door. From children of domineering parents to assault victims, she can help those desperate to leave their trauma behind.

And the Bishops are desperate. But as Avery looks deeper into their relationship, there is much more than any of them suspect.

11. The Other Family by Wendy Corsi Staub

Nora Howell, her husband, and their two daughters are eager for a fresh start. As newcomers to Brooklyn, they expected to live in a shoebox. But the brownstone they find is not only bright and gorgeous, but has a huge kitchen and a backyard.

The catch: its previous owners were victims of a triple homicide that remains unsolved. Strange things begin happening around the house and the eldest daughter becomes convinced that a stranger is watching them.

And one of the Howells will know his face, because one of them is hiding a secret that can shatter the family.

12. Cherish Farrah by Bethany C. Morrow

Farah Turner is one of only two black girls in her community, and the only one with black parents. The other girl, Cherish Whitman, was adopted by a wealthy white family.

Cherish’s parents spoil her at a level that even upper-class black parents can’t reach—something Farah likes to exploit. And when Farah’s family is unexpectedly faced with foreclosure, she is determined to embed herself in the Whitmans’ lives—even when strange things begin happening in their household.

But when the Whitmans take her in closer, she begins to wonder who’s really in control.

New Thriller Books in 2022

There are definitely a lot more must-read thriller books out there aside from the ones on this list. And the year’s still young, so expect tons more to be released. That’s probably going to be more than you can read, but still, if you’re a book lover, you’ll probably put a respectable dent on your reading list this year.

Whether you’re looking for serial killers, deranged cults, cozy murders, and other thriller staples, I hope you find this list helpful. Happy reading!

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15 Twisty Books Like The Silent Patient Wed, 09 Mar 2022 14:49:11 +0000 The literary market has been saturated with psychological thrillers following the success of books like Gone Girl (2012) and The Girl on the Train (2015). Despite the flood of similar titles, Alex Michaelides’s The Silent Patient (2019) stands out as one of the genre’s best stories. In Michaelides’s story, a famous painter murders her husband […]

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The literary market has been saturated with psychological thrillers following the success of books like Gone Girl (2012) and The Girl on the Train (2015). Despite the flood of similar titles, Alex Michaelides’s The Silent Patient (2019) stands out as one of the genre’s best stories.

In Michaelides’s story, a famous painter murders her husband seemingly without motive and falls into absolute silence. Then comes a psychotherapist who becomes increasingly obsessed with her case. It’s a riveting read that drags you into its taut and twisty depths.

The problem is, the author has written only one other book so far—The Maidens, released in 2021. What’s a fan to do when they’re craving more?

Books Like The Silent Patient

The Silent Patient is unique, but there are books that offer the same mysterious characters, tragic circumstances, page-turning events, and things that aren’t what they seem. Here is a list of these books that you’re sure to love.

1. The Woman In The Window by A. J. Finn

Anna Fox is a recluse who suffers from agoraphobia following a traumatic car incident. To pass the time, she drinks wine, watches old movies, and spies on her new neighbors, the Russels.

Never did she imagine that her hobby would lead her to see something she shouldn’t. As her already fragile world falls apart, she must separate reality from imagination while dealing with a threat that is definitely real.

2. The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Libby Jones arrives home to a letter she’s been waiting for her whole life. In it is the answer to her true identity, along with her birthright: an abandoned mansion located in one of London’s most fashionable neighborhoods.

But by claiming it, she’s also accepting a darker inheritance—an unsolved mystery and the hidden players bidding their time for her to make herself known to them.

3. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Journalist Lo Blacklock is given the assignment of a lifetime: a week-long cruise aboard a luxury ship gliding through the waters of the beautiful North Sea. All she expects is an enjoyable trip along with other pleasant guests.

Then she witnesses a horrifying sight: a woman being thrown overboard. But no passenger is missing and the ship sails on as if nothing has happened. Only Lo knows the truth and is left to discover what has gone terribly wrong.

4. Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Jack is an attorney who has never lost a case. Grace is the ultimate housewife. Together, they’re the neighborhood’s dream couple. They’re rich, gorgeous, and utterly inseparable.

But beneath the glitz and glamour is something sinister. Why does Grace never answer the phone or meet up for coffee? How can she stay slim despite preparing such elaborate meals? And why are there heavy metal shutters installed on the windows?

5. The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

On the way to Boston, Ted strikes up a friendship with the stunning and mysterious Lily. Over a game of truth, they reveal to each other their most intimate secrets.

But when Ted jokes about killing his cheating wife, he never expected Lily to offer her help. After all, some people are just the kind worth killing. What Ted doesn’t know is that Lily’s hiding a dark history—one that draws them into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse.

6. I See You by Clare Mackintosh

Zoe is a creature of habit, following her daily routine like clockwork. Every day, she takes the same route to the train station, waits at the same spot, and sits on the same seat. And someone’s been watching her each time.

While returning home, she finds her own face on a newspaper advertisement. As other women begin appearing in the same ad, she realizes they’re all falling victim to violent crimes—and she might be next.

7. The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

Amber Patterson is tired of being poor, unimportant, and invisible. While she hates the rich and privileged women in her town, she’ll do anything to join their ranks.

But Amber has a plan to change her life. It starts with befriending the town’s top socialite, the filthy rich and drop dead gorgeous Daphne Parrish. Everything that Daphne has, Amber wants—and she’s making damn sure she’ll get it all in the end.

8. The Perfect Marriage by Jeneva Rose

Sarah Morgan is a high-powered defense attorney and a partner at her law firm. Her husband, Adam, is a struggling writer who feels increasingly distant from his ever-working wife.

Adam begins a passionate affair that abruptly ends when his mistress is found murdered. Now his only hope is the wife he betrayed, who must put aside her emotions to take on her toughest and most personal case yet.

9. The Night Before by Lisa Jackson

Caitlyn Bandeaux wakes up covered in blood and with no memory of the night before. It seems her estranged husband is the latest victim of a serial killer plaguing the town. But could the killer be Caitlyn herself?

Unsure of what’s real or who to trust, Caitlyn is left with no choice but to piece together her fragmented memories and learn what really happened—preferably before someone else ends up dead.

10. Come Closer by Sara Gran

Amanda, a successful and happily married architect, suddenly finds her otherwise normal life derailed. She begins hearing voices and having bad dreams. She starts smoking again, and for some inexplicable reason, burns her husband with a cigarette.

As her condition steadily worsens, her marriage, reputation, and future are put to the test. But is she simply going mad, or is there something sinister behind her self-destructive behavior?

11. Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

It’s been ten years since Laurel’s daughter, Ellie, vanished without a trace, and Laurel’s still trying to mend her shattered life. She finds another chance in the form of a man she unexpectedly meets in a cafe.

But the sight of his daughter has her spiraling back down into the depths of despair and unanswered questions. What happened to Ellie? Why does Poppy look so much like her? And who is Floyd, really?

12. The Couple On Cedar Close by Anna-Lou Weatherley

Cedar Close, a place where nothing ever seems to go wrong. That is until the body of Robert Mills is found sprawled in his bedroom floor. Downstairs, his wife Laurie sits alone in the dark with her head in her hands.

She knows she’s not the killer, but it’s hard to convince everyone when she can’t remember the hours leading up to Robert’s death. Is there a chance, however small, that she did kill her husband?

13. The Good Neighbor by R.J. Parker

When Leah Talbot hits a deer, her salvation comes in the form of a nearby house where the charming and handsome Martin Tate opens the door and invites her in. And though she’s not there long, she feels she owes him a big favor.

Returning the next day to thank him, Martin is no longer there. In his place are the police and the body of the sole female occupant of the house.

It doesn’t take long for Martin to resurface though. But this time it’s Leah he’s after.

14. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

An impetuous marriage sees the unnamed narrator as the new Lady de Winter. What she doesn’t realize is how large and sinister the shadow her husband’s late wife, Rebecca, will cast on their marriage.

Despite being dead, Rebecca’s malice lives on in the unspoken guilt of the Lord de Winter, the obsession of the housekeeper, and the seemingly perfect reputation she left behind. With her marriage already strained, the new Mrs. de Winter must find a way to deal with the old one’s persisting spectre.

15. The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

When one of her niece’s friends is murdered in school grounds, psychotherapist Mariana Andros becomes interested in an elusive group of female students called The Maidens. She’s certain that their professor, Edward Fosca, is the murderer.

But Fosca—handsome, charismatic, adored by all—is untouchable. And when the murders continue, her interest begins to turn into an obsession. Soon, she’s willing to sacrifice everything for the truth, including her life.

Psychological Thrillers You Can’t Put Down

Books like The Silent Patient have a way with time. You become so focused on the story that you rarely feel time passing by as you flip through hear-stopping scenes, shocking twists, and excellent character development.

You’re almost always surprised that you’ve finished the book, and find that you’ve been reading for hours. All that’s left is to sit back down and contemplate what you’ve just read.

There’s a rush of satisfaction and disappointment in finishing a book you loved reading. You enjoy the journey it’s given you, but can’t help wishing for more. This is called a book hangover, and it’s a bit of a pain to deal with. What other delights would there have been if the story just ran a little longer?

One of the best cures to a book hangover is finding stories with similar plots, atmosphere, or characters. If you enjoyed Michaelides’s novel, then hopefully the 15 books above can satisfy your literary cravings as well.

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