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What to Read Next (No. 280): Summer Thrills
Featuring Nelson DeMille's "The General's Daughter" and C. J. Tudor's "The Drift"
Happy Friday, readers!
I’m deep into summer thriller season, with four of my last five reads being in that category. Today, I’m sharing a couple of those titles — one of them is in the old-school procedural mold of the early ‘90s and the other is a newer title that broke a couple conventions of the genre.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t recommend one of my favorite summer noir books: The Great Gatsby. You might remember it as the stuffy blue-covered assignment you read in high school, but it’s a slim, taut, and gritty crime novel. On a sentence by sentence level, it’s as close to perfect as any book I’ve ever read. I’ve revisited Gatsby a handful of times and it always gets better.
What are ya’ll reading and enjoying this summer? I’d love to hear!
The General’s Daughter by Nelson DeMille
I hadn’t read Nelson DeMille before listening to a great interview he did for the Dedicated podcast. After hearing about his old-school appreciation for the craft of writing and plotting, I had to read one of his books. The General’s Daughter, a book that led to the John Travolta blockbuster of the same name, was my first pick.
From the outset, it was clear that DeMille is a master of setting the scene. I really felt like I was there at Fort Hadley in the humid Georgian summer, looking for clues right along with military detectives Paul Brenner and Cynthia Sunhill.
The evidence they’re searching for pertains to the death of Captain Ann Campbell, whose legendary father is in charge of the base. Though Ms. Campbell appeared perfect and polished on the outside, Brenner and Sunhill quickly uncovered her darker habits. As the best mystery and thriller writers do, DeMille spends just as much time — if not more — on the psychology of the crime rather than just the details and twists of the plot itself (which were also very well done).
I really enjoyed The General’s Daughter and had a hard time putting it down. DeMille not only entertains (in a rather non-PC way, at times, just FYI), but also gets into some important discussions about gender and sex in the military — things that weren’t talked about nearly as openly back in 1992 when the book was published. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of his work.
The Drift by C. J. Tudor
If you’re feeling a bit warm and need some relief this summer, the wintery chills and cold-hearted twists of C. J. Tudor’s The Drift will cool you down in a hurry.
Tudor was not an author I was at all familiar with before coming across this title on Instagram. The dramatic cover caught my eye, as did the premise:
Three ordinary individuals — Hannah, a survivor of a disastrous accident; Meg, a former detective in a mysterious cable car; and Carter, living in an abandoned ski chalet — face imminent danger in their own settings while grappling with a deadly virus. As their survival hangs by a thread, they confront an even greater threat lurking in the shadows, one that could consume all of humanity.
This story is constructed as creatively as I’ve ever encountered, giving readers three different locked-room mysteries that all come together to make sense by the end. I couldn’t stop reading simply because I needed to know how the puzzle pieces fit together.
It’s interesting — I read the book about three months ago and gave it three stars. But as I write this, the distinct pieces of the story are more memorable than I thought they’d be when I first finished it. So perhaps it deserves an upgrade.
The character development wasn’t quite there, which was my initial complaint, but the premise and plotting were top-notch. I’m not sure I’ll be running to the stacks for more of Tudor’s books, but The Drift was enjoyable and I’ll definitely keep her in mind when I need a quick-reading thriller.
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