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Spotlight – Must-Reads

Reviewing and recommending new fiction and nonfiction across all genres.

The Churchgoer

By Spotlight - Must-Reads

The Churchgoer by Patrick Coleman literary / crime Harper Perennial – July 2019 Slow-burn, atmospheric, literary noir—a subgenre of crime fiction that’s rich with history in the publishing world. Some of the finest writers to ever dip their quills into ink—Raymond Chandler, James Ellroy, and Patricia Highsmith, for example—were masters of literary noir, preeminent in pushing the subgenre to the forefront of the book industry. A prospective work of the genre must not only adhere to the classic plot structure of crime drama, but also serve as a deep psychological probe into the minds of its morally ambiguous, oftentimes self-destructive characters. Said work also can’t skimp on ambience. In order to be considered literary noir, the backdrop and tone of the story should be vivid, dripping in subtext and intrigue at every turn, and serve as practically its own character. It is a high bar, and is one that many…

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The Silent Patient

By Spotlight - Must-Reads

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides psychological thriller Celadon Books – February 2019 The page-turning psychological thriller. It’s a genre absolutely saturated with thousands upon thousands of novels. Especially in today’s marketplace—where readers increasingly demand lightning quick stories that satisfy their bottomless hunger for suspenseful plot twists—it is a difficult task for authors to balance those demands while also sculpting a piece with deeply-layered characters and high emotional resonance. Achieving all those elements—or hitting the “bullseye”—with equal skill and visceral effect is a tall, tall order. The Silent Patient not only strikes that bullseye right in its center, but blows it out of the water. The book is an electrifying debut from screenwriter-turned-novelist Alex Michaelides about a criminal psychotherapist (Theo Faber) and his obsession with a mental institution inmate (Alicia Berenson), a woman who has taken a vow of silence ever since she was convicted of murdering her husband. As…

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