Lake Placid Memorial Library Library Columns

Thrills and Psychological Chills by Samantha Roll

Sam Roll
Samantha Roll

Do you ever have that aha moment when you discover a new author, series, or genre? It’s something special, isn’t it? I’m usually one for nonfiction or if I’m reading fiction I go for sci-fi–but, really I like anything that has a good twisty plot and makes me think. However, this past month I discovered that I really like psychological thrillers. I think they are my new thing and so I’m here to tell you all about them, including the ones that made me feel this way.

It all began with “We Were Never Here” by Andrea Bartz, a Reese’s Book Club Pick that took me around the globe and gave me serious doubts about friendship and loyalty. How could it not with the secrets, lies, and bodies piling up between Emily and Kristen? The first time one of them kills someone in self-defense was in Cambodia, but then it happens again in Chile. The main question: can lightning really strike twice? And can they really trust each other? This was a really great first foray into the subgenre but it left me wanting more…

“The Other Me” by Sarah Zachrich Jeng has a sci-fi element to it. Or does it? Maybe it’s all in Kelly’s head. I had a hard time putting this one down. In any case, it’s about a woman who steps through a door at a party and is suddenly back in her hometown. She’s married to someone she barely knew from high school and is living an entirely different life. The thing is, she remembers both her before and her after, and while part of her trusts and loves her husband the other part isn’t so sure about him.

“Never Saw Me Coming” by Vera Kurian was another real page-turner. Picture this: seven college students are part of an unusual clinical study at the psychology department. The reason for their participation? All of them are psychopaths. Now, I know what you’re thinking and while it’s true there are murders in this book the twist is it’s the psychopaths themselves who are being targeted. Kurian is a great writer and actually managed to stump me to the very end. She also had me rooting for our protagonist, Chloe, whose goal in life (besides not getting killed) is to murder a guy who grievously wronged her in the past. It takes a good writer and someone with in-depth knowledge to pull something like this off so it makes perfect sense that Kurian has a PhD in Social Psychology. It’s not every day I discover a new favorite author but I did here! Kurian’s work solidified my love for the subgenre too.

“For Your Own Good” by Samantha Downing takes place in a prestigious private school and features a teacher that cares a little too much about his students and might, just maybe, go well above and beyond the call of duty in teaching them how to be better people. That job is usually reserved for the parents but sometimes they’re bad people who need to learn a lesson too, according to Teddy Crutcher. This book isn’t about solving a string of murders but rather the mind games the characters play with each other. It was pretty good too, until the ending. That’s okay because it’s been optioned by Robert Downey Jr. and Greg Berlanti for HBO Max so hopefully they can fix that part.

I can safely say that psychological thrillers are my new thing. I have my eyes on several more, including “Sleepless” by Romy Hausmann and “In My Dreams I Hold a Knife” by Ashley Winstead and, of course, anything that Vera Kurian might publish in the future. If you’re an expert or just in the same mood feel free to drop me some recommendations next time you’re in or if you haven’t yet tried this subgenre, as you can tell, I highly recommend it.

Visit your local library at or follow us on Facebook at the Highlands County Board of County Commissioners page. You can find the latest information on book club, author, and other events there too. Don’t forget to stop by your Friends of the Lake Placid Memorial Library Used Book Store on November 19th and 20th for a special all-items-ten-cent sale! The bookstore is located in the same building as your Lake Placid Memorial Library and all proceeds return to benefit your library in various ways, such as technology, programming, shelving, carts, and other things that don’t always make the budget.