Keep warm with chilling thrillers

On cold and snowy days, find a perfect companion with a cool thriller.

A woman finds her husband cheating on her — with a clone of herself in “The Echo Wife” by Sarah Gailey, a blend of Stepford Wives and Orphan Black.

Evelyn is a scientist finally getting her recognition for her cutting edge work, who seems to have it all, except her husband just left her for another woman, Martine. While those in her social circle might be surprised at Nathan’s deceit, they don’t know how far it goes — he stole Evelyn’s work on cloning to create a copy of her that is submissive, obedient and eager to please — and that is Martine.

When Evelyn gets a panicked call from Martine, she feels compelled to go to her — and finds that she has killed Nathan because she dared question him and he tried to kill her. And Evelyn can’t let Nathan’s secret out or she will lose her funding. How far is she willing to go?

This is a crazy good story — interesting themes and keeps the reader guessing what Evelyn will do next. Is Martine as Stepford Wife-y as she seems? Will Evelyn kill her and be done with it? It seems like a lot of people didn’t like the ending, but I did, it seemed fitting.

“The Echo Wife” is published by Forge.


A girl searches for her missing sister who got swept up with a strange organization and soon finds herself falling under the spell of its charismatic leader in the young adult novel “The Project” by Courtney Summers.

Lo has been estranged from sister, Bea, since their parents’ death, when Bea took off with The Unity Project, leaving her with their great-aunt. Bea was pulled into the purportedly charitable organization thanks to its enigmatic leader, Lev Warren. Now Lo is pulled into the Unity Project’s range once again thanks to a man claiming his son was killed by them, wanting the magazine she works for to expose them. Lo thinks she can use this as a story to prove her worth at work, so she goes into investigation mode — and is soon seduced by Lev himself. Now that she’s in, will she figure out what happened to her sister? Will she be able to get out? Will she want to?

A story of cults and their charismatic leaders, this is a story with an interesting premise. I sometimes had trouble following the rapid POV (and time!) changes, but overall it was a perfectly good way to spend an evening.

“The Project” is published by St. Martin’s Press.


A woman with a secret past goes on vacation only to have it be hijacked, literally, in “Water Memory” by Daniel Pyne.

Aubrey’s grown children and she are still reeling from the death of her husband to cancer. Her adult children have always felt slighted by their mother’s job at an insurance agency that took her away a lot on business trips. But what no one knows is that Aubrey was actually a black ops agent and her various injuries from jobs may be now affecting her memory. Trying to rest and recover — and hopefully find a way to reconnect with her kids again — she decides to regroup on a vacation on a cargo ship with a few other passengers. The other passengers are a varied assortment of people, including a mysterious woman who seems to have her eye on Aubrey — but then a group of pirates board the ship determined to grab the cargo and let no one stand in their way. The problem is they didn’t expect an ex-black ops agent — and especially a female one — to be on board. They mistakenly overlook Aubrey, and that may prove to be their downfall.

Very much like “Die Hard” on a ship, with a woman, the reader will cheer on this new “Joan McClain” as Aubrey lays waste to the pirates — and discovers who is behind their sinister plot. This is a great action thriller that will entertain readers.

“Water Memory” is published by Thomas and Mercer.


Three wives of a polygamous husband all must work together to figure out who murdered him in “Black Widows” by Cate Quinn.

Rachel, Emily and Tina are three very different women who live on a remote property in Utah with their husband, Blake, who has decide to live a plural marriage. When he goes missing one day and then is found dead, the police get involved and all three women are a suspect. Rachel, the former FLDS member, Emily the quiet one and Tina, the former addict, all have reasons they could have done it and secrets from their pasts they don’t want known. But who is a killer?

This was a different take on the usual wife finding husband’s killer trope, and delivered a surprise at the end. I thought the pacing was a bit off and seemed stretched out at times as the book went through all three wives’ point-of-view — there were over 100 chapters. But it’s ultimately an interesting story that entertains.

“Black Widows” is published by Sourcebooks.

Contact Amy Phelps at aphelps@newsandsentinel.com.


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