Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: Stories from the Trailblazers of Domestic Suspense by Sarah Weinman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Let me just say, I love this book. I can’t say it’s my usual genre. I’ve read exactly one female-oriented murder mystery since junior high, and I didn’t like it. But, being a supporter of women writers everywhere, I felt obliged to read this one. I could not have been more delightfully rewarded.
The book grabbed me from the first story, which was so deliciously twisted I could not stop reading. The collection’s editor, Sarah Weinman, could not have chosen a more gripping start to the anthology. “The Heroine” by Patricia Highsmith starts us off with a bang. In it, psychologically disturbed Lucille gets a job as a nanny in an idyllic home and sets about to prove her devotion to the children no matter what it takes. The short story is concise and compulsively readable. I couldn’t put it down, and luckily for me, and other busy readers, it’s short enough at 22 pages to breeze through in one short sitting, so I didn’t have to. The ending isn’t unpredictable, but so exactly right that you’re not sure the author will go there. And then she does.
Most of the stories continue in this vein. They are quick reads, they are suspenseful, they are daring, and above all they are shockingly, breathtakingly, savagely honest. (Excuse the adjective overload, I tend to pile a lot of them on when I’m deep in the squee of book love). Like most books, this one is not without flaw. Some of the stories have little holes, but I found myself not even caring. The stories were too damn good. And trust me, I never say that. I find all the little holes and loose threads and I pull at them and obsess about them until they unravel the credibility of the story. But this time, I really didn’t care. It was too good to care about any nit-picky flaws. And there weren’t many.
I’ll admit, I’m not usually a short story fan. That is, I didn’t know I was until I read this book. I haven’t read short stories since college, and I usually like to lose myself in the world of a novel, the tension and plot development and depth of character that can only come with a full-length novel, or at least a novella. But I may have to rethink that. This collection was delightfully twisted fun from start to finish. Each story had something new to think about, something to offer, some new twist that had me grinning from ear to ear while I read, hardly stopping to breathe. Most of the women who wrote these shorts also wrote novels, which I am going to have to check out very soon. They are some talented, incredibly clever writers. It’s a shame, nearly a sin, that these authors have been swept so far under the rug and ignored so thoroughly that I’ve never heard of thirteen of the fourteen featured in this book.
I was going to do a giveaway, but I’m going to be greedy and hang on to this one. I can’t bear to let it go so soon. I am going to do a more thorough read when I’m not under pressure to finish by deadline. But go get yourself a copy. This book is a hit, from the cover to every single page within. Recommended for everyone! (Over 12).
Disclaimer: I received this book for review from the publisher.
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