Tag: psychological thriller

The Clarity Book Review

The Clarity

The Clarity is a first novel by Keith Thomas. Mr. Thomas writes for television and the movies. So his first book is not typical of a debut. I would categorize The Clarity as science-fiction horror story. If it were a movie, the release date would be late October. Warning: this book is full of suspense and some gruesome scenes.

A psychological experiment, primarily using orphans, is at the center of the plot. The main characters include a mother and daughter. The mom was part of the experiment, but escaped. Somehow the side-effects of the scientific trial are passed on genetically to her daughter.

Psychologist to the RescueBook Cover of The Clarity

The story begins in a run down complex on the outskirts of Chicago. A neighbor/babysitter asks Dr. Matilda Deacon visiting the building to look in on Ashanique, the daughter, while the mother, Jan, is at work. The brief visit intrigues the psychologist but the sudden return of the mom cuts the encounter short.

Unfolding events prompt Jan and Ashanique to contact Dr. Deacon for help. The action picks up as a murderer tracks all three down. The villain is also a former subject of the psychological study. He did not escape with the other participants of the science experiment. Now he is a killer controlled by the group continuing the study.

The plot has several twists and turns. A romantic interest for Dr. Deacon, a local policeman, enters the story. Kojo Omaboe serves as both a protector and a sounding board for Matilda. Their relationship lends reality to the story.

The sci-fi aspect of The Clarity revolves around the experiment. The scientists were focused on the brain. Both drugs and electroshock were used on the subjects. Some of the patients react differently and become the Null. This leads to great conflict with The Null patients seeking revenge.

Flashbacks

Memories and flashbacks are a major part of the book. The characters affected by the experiment are bombarded by reflections of past history, not necessarily their own. A key to the plot is the recovery of a chemical equation which would negate the memories. And the negative side effects.

Keith Thomas strikes terror in the reader’s heart with some of his scenes. Yet other parts of The Clarity are akin to existentialism. The idea of memory tracing back through DNA is hard to grasp. But as the side story of Dr. Deacon’s dementia ridden mother indicates, the memory process of the brain is still an unknown and uncontrolled. Who knows what powers the brain may hold?

The Clarity accurately conveys the threshold science is standing at with respect to unlocking the mysteries of the brain. Thomas weaves reality and future unknowns in a masterful way. The one caveat is the many gruesome scenes. They are graphic. The tortures sent chills through my body. I am not sure I could handle a film version unless my eyes were closed! If you want an edge of your seat thriller, The Clarity fits the bill.

The Twilight Wife Book Review

The Twilight Wife by A.J. Banner is a psychological thriller. Kyra is trying to recover from a serious diving injury. Her husband Jacob has brought her to an island off the Pacific Northwest Coast to recuperate. Only she does not remember her husband or much of the last four years. She can remember the far past, but is having trouble with forming new memory.

Atypical Amnesia

For example, Kyra can regurgitate scientific names of various sea creatures. But she cannot recall much of her wedding to Jacob. Her only memory of that day is his sudden appearance in the bridal waiting room asking her if the courtship has been too rushed.

Kyra stops taking the prescribed medicines and begins having flashes of memory. Unfortunately, what she remembers seems to indicate she had an affair with her husband’s best friend. Nightmares from the diving accident lead her to believe a third diver was involved. However, the intermittent access to the internet seems to point to just the two of them diving.

As Kyra attempts to make sense of herself as a Twilight Wife, Jacob persists as an ever devoted husband. His steadfast presence begins to suffocate. Kyra reaches out to some of the island people who recall her from the previous summer. Slowly, she believes some of the dreams may actually be reality.

A.J. Banner

A.J. Banner brings her characters to life. The reader feels the emotional roller coaster Kyra is experiencing. The conflict within Kyra is clear. She has trust issues revolving around Jacob and few memories of how they were together. Banner then throws twist after twist into the story. The characters react in ways which increase the suspense.

Finally, Kyra regains enough of her memory to realize she is in danger. The storyline falls into place, but things don’t necessarily end happily ever after as Banner throws in one final twist of fate on the last page. Life is a challenge.

The Twilight Wife is a good read. I think the twists and turns are entertaining. This is one of those stories where the end can be debated. If you belong to a book club this is a great selection. There are so many scenes to discuss. Put this on your list of reading material today. Visit A. J. Banner’s website by clicking here and you can get a sneak peek at the next book.

Two Days Out Book Review

Randall Silvis, author of Two Days Out, cannot be pigeon-holed into one genre. I have never read any of his previous works but found quite a bit of information on the web. His first public successes occurred in the 1980’s and Silvis categorized his first book as one of magic realism. Although Two Days Out does not contain any “chase scenes” I believe an adaptation could translate well onto the big screen.

The vocabulary present in the novel made me reach for a dictionary. Spume-strewn, susurrus, sibilance appear in the first chapter and I needed definitions for each. In this way, Silvis reminded me of Faulkner. He is an author with a literary bent.

Ryan DeMarco

Two Days Out is a psychological thriller introducing State Trooper Ryan DeMarco to the literary world. His personal past is tragic. An only son killed in a car accident twelve years past, and neither he nor his estranged wife can get past the incident.

Thus, DeMarco’s role in Two Days Out contains conflict. He is the lead investigator in the crime of a family murdered and a missing husband. Thomas Huston, a college professor and best-selling author is the man on the run. More complexities arise from the relationship between the two men. DeMarco has a hard time reconciling his knowledge of Huston’s personality with a man able to kill his entire family. He not only wants to find Huston, but he also wants to discover the trigger which caused the man to snap.

Thomas Huston

Thomas Huston also struggles to align his flashbacks of the murders and the man he is. The reader is compelled as much by the psychological struggle within Huston as with the plot. Silvis’ conveys the moral tussles of his prey in a manner which creates both sympathy and disbelief. Secondary characters paint a picture of Huston incongruous to the events. The twist and turns of the plot add further intrigue.

The Trigger

As the plot unfolds, Silvis directly involves the reader in the age-old literary theme of good vs. evil. The causal event is one that divides our nation. An act which always brings into question right from wrong and in the case of Two Days Out is the tipping point. The trigger event allows the reader to see the story-line as realistic. Furthermore, the writer advances a higher level of thought which compels each individual to reflect on morality.

I highly recommend Two Days Out for mature readers. There are a few scenes unsuitable for individuals in their early to mid-teens unless there is parent oversight. The description of the victims is disturbing. However, this novel addresses dilemmas which hopefully few will face. The story is compelling and worthwhile.