T.O. Paine

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I love to read as much as I love to write.

Some of My Favorite Books

No visitors. No nights spent elsewhere. No disturbing the rich and famous residents. These are the rules for Jules Larsen’s new job apartment sitting at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile buildings. Recently heartbroken—and just plain broke—Jules is taken in by the splendor and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the occupants and staff, Jules is drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who reminds her so much of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew has a dark history hidden beneath its gleaming façade, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story—until the next day when Ingrid seemingly vanishes.

Searching for the truth, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s sordid past. But by uncovering the secrets within its walls, Jules exposes herself to untold terrors. Because once you’re in, the Bartholomew doesn’t want you to leave….

 

Cassie McDowell’s life in 1980s Minnesota seems perfectly wholesome. She lives on a farm, loves school, and has a crush on the nicest boy in class. Yes, there are her parents’ strange parties and their parade of deviant guests, but she’s grown accustomed to them.

All that changes when someone comes hunting in Lilydale.

One by one, local boys go missing. One by one, they return changed—violent, moody, and withdrawn. What happened to them becomes the stuff of shocking rumors. The accusations of who’s responsible grow just as wild, and dangerous town secrets start to surface. Then Cassie’s own sister undergoes the dark change. If she is to survive, Cassie must find her way in an adult world where every sin is justified, and only the truth is unforgivable.

 

What would it take to make you intervene?

When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it—until she realises they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert. But just as she’s decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls—beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard—has disappeared.

A year later, Anna is still missing. Ella is wracked with guilt over what she failed to do, and she’s not the only one who can’t forget. Someone is sending her threatening letters—letters that make her fear for her life.

Then an anniversary appeal reveals that Anna’s friends and family might have something to hide. Anna’s best friend, Sarah, hasn’t been telling the whole truth about what really happened that night—and her parents have been keeping secrets of their own.

Someone knows where Anna is—and they’re not telling. But they are watching Ella.

 

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are on the verge of adolescence, spending their days biking in search of adventure. The chalk men are their secret code, stick figures they draw for one another as hidden messages. But one morning the friends find a chalk man leading them to the woods. They follow the message, only to find the dead body of a teenage girl.

In 2016, Eddie is nursing a drinking problem and trying to forget his past, until one day he gets a letter containing a chalk man—the same one he and his friends saw when they found the body. Soon he learns that all his old friends received the same note. When one of them is killed, Eddie realizes that saving himself means figuring out what happened all those years ago. But digging into the past proves more dangerous than he could have known. Because in this town, everyone has secrets, no one is innocent, and some will do anything to bury the truth.

 

Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.

 

Jacob Finch Bonner was once a promising young novelist with a respectably published first book. Today, he’s teaching in a third-rate MFA program and struggling to maintain what’s left of his self-respect; he hasn’t written—let alone published—anything decent in years. When Evan Parker, his most arrogant student, announces he doesn’t need Jake’s help because the plot of his book in progress is a sure thing, Jake is prepared to dismiss the boast as typical amateur narcissism. But then . . . he hears the plot.

Jake returns to the downward trajectory of his own career and braces himself for the supernova publication of Evan Parker’s first novel: but it never comes. When he discovers that his former student has died, presumably without ever completing his book, Jake does what any self-respecting writer would do with a story like that—a story that absolutely needs to be told.

In a few short years, all of Evan Parker’s predictions have come true, but Jake is the author enjoying the wave. He is wealthy, famous, praised and read all over the world. But at the height of his glorious new life, an e-mail arrives, the first salvo in a terrifying, anonymous campaign: You are a thief, it says.

As Jake struggles to understand his antagonist and hide the truth from his readers and his publishers, he begins to learn more about his late student, and what he discovers both amazes and terrifies him. Who was Evan Parker, and how did he get the idea for his “sure thing” of a novel? What is the real story behind the plot, and who stole it from whom?

Books Similar To THE RESENTMENT

When overwhelmed stay-at-home mom Alexis finds herself at odds with her husband after she’s charged with a DUI, she is given one chance to get her family back: complete AA and admit her faults. The problem is, she’s never had a drinking problem and has no idea what caused the blackout that led to her arrest. Still, she’s committed to working through the program, if that’s what it takes to be reunited with her two young children. But when she connects with a new friend, Farrah – a confident, successful powerhouse of a woman Alexis can’t help but idolize – she’s empowered to take a closer look at her husband’s role in her downfall. What she finds shocks her to her core, quickly spiraling into something more sinister than she ever imagined. 

 

 

The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband—and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive.

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….

 

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple having breakfast on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

 

 

The danger isn’t all in your head . . .

Growing up, Kate Priddy was always a bit neurotic, experiencing momentary bouts of anxiety that exploded into full blown panic attacks after an ex-boyfriend kidnapped her and nearly ended her life. When Corbin Dell, a distant cousin in Boston, suggests the two temporarily swap apartments, Kate, an art student in London, agrees, hoping that time away in a new place will help her overcome the recent wreckage of her life.

But soon after her arrival at Corbin’s grand apartment on Beacon Hill, Kate makes a shocking discovery: his next-door neighbor, a young woman named Audrey Marshall, has been murdered. When the police question her about Corbin, a shaken Kate has few answers, and many questions of her own—curiosity that intensifies when she meets Alan Cherney, a handsome, quiet tenant who lives across the courtyard, in the apartment facing Audrey’s. Alan saw Corbin surreptitiously come and go from Audrey’s place, yet he’s denied knowing her. Then, Kate runs into a tearful man claiming to be the dead woman’s old boyfriend, who insists Corbin did the deed the night that he left for London.

When she reaches out to her cousin, he proclaims his innocence and calms her nerves . . . until she comes across disturbing objects hidden in the apartment—and accidently learns that Corbin is not where he says he is. Could Corbin be a killer? And what about Alan? Kate finds herself drawn to this appealing man who seems so sincere, yet she isn’t sure. Jetlagged and emotionally unstable, her imagination full of dark images caused by the terror of her past, Kate can barely trust herself . . . So how could she take the chance on a stranger she’s just met?

Yet the danger Kate imagines isn’t nearly as twisted and deadly as what’s about to happen. When her every fear becomes very real.

And much, much closer than she thinks.

Books Similar To THE EXCURSION

Richard Connell was well-known for his masterful short stories and achieved great professional success, with his work often appearing in “The Saturday Evening Post” and “Collier’s” magazines. His most popular tale, “The Dangerous Game”, also published as “The Hounds of Zaroff”, is a perfect example of Connell’s impressive talent and distinct style. Still frequently adapted for stage and screen nearly a century after it first appeared, it is the fascinating and exciting tale of Sanger Rainsford, an experienced big-game hunter. Rainsford suddenly finds himself the hunted when he is ship-wrecked on a seemingly deserted island. There he finds General Zaroff, a retired military man, who has grown bored of hunting animals and now spends his time hunting human sailors who get stranded on his island. Rainsford must fight for his life against the clever Zaroff in Connell’s suspenseful and intriguing tale.

 

 

A kidnapped little girl locked in a stranger’s van. No help for miles. What would you do?

On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers.

Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate.

Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?

There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one?

Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape.

But who can she trust?

 

Everyone’s invited…everyone’s a suspect…

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.

The trip begins innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps, just as a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.

Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead. . . and another of them did it.

Keep your friends close, the old adage says. But how close is too close?

 

Quinn Alexander has committed an unthinkable crime.

To avoid spending her life in prison, Quinn makes a run for it.  She leaves behind her home, her job, and her family. She grabs her passport and heads for the northern border before the police can discover what she’s done.

But when an unexpected snowstorm forces her off the road, Quinn must take refuge at the broken-down, isolated Baxter Motel. The handsome and kindly owner, Nick Baxter, is only too happy to offer her a cheap room for the night.

Unfortunately, the Baxter Motel isn’t the quiet, safe haven it seemed to be. The motel has a dark and disturbing past. And in the dilapidated house across the way, the silhouette of Nick’s ailing wife is always at the window. Always watching.

In the morning, Quinn must leave the motel. She’ll pack up her belongings and get back on the road to freedom.

But first, she must survive the night.

Books Similar To THE TEACHING

Stefan Malmström based KULT on his experiences with the Church of Scientology in Hässleholm, Sweden. His book is inspired by shocking and real events . . .

THE PAST WILL NEVER LET YOU GO . . . 

When a four-year-old girl and her father are found dead in the Swedish city of Karlskrona, the police quickly conclude it was a murder-suicide, a tragedy requiring no further investigation.

But Luke Bergmann, a reformed criminal still haunted by his violent past, believes they are wrong. The dead man, Viktor, was his best friend, and Luke knows he would never commit such a horrific crime.

When more bodies turn up, Luke is certain the same killer has struck again. Alone, he embarks on an investigation which reaches back through decades to his friend’s involvement with a sinister cult and dark secrets are exposed as Luke struggles to keep his own long-buried demons hidden away.

And when Luke finds himself in a killer’s sights, his search for the truth becomes the fight of his life.

Can Luke get justice for Viktor and his daughter and prove his best friend was not a murderer, or will the shadows of the past overwhelm him?

 

J. P. Pomare based IN THE CLEARING  on a real life cult that has fascinated Australia for decades.

Four days to go

Amy has only ever known life in the Clearing, amidst her brothers and sisters–until a newcomer, a younger girl, joins the “family” and offers a glimpse of the outside world.

 Three days to go

 Freya is going to great lengths to seem like an “everyday mum,” even as she maintains her isolated lifestyle, hoping to protect her young son and her dog.

 Two days to go

 When news breaks of a missing girl–a child the same age as Freya’s son, Billy–Amy and Freya find themselves headed for a shocking collision.

 One day to go

 

Emma Cline’s THE GIRLS is inspired by  Charlie Manson and the Manson Family murder of Sharon Tate.

Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. 

Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. 

As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence.

 

Lisa Jewell’s THE FAMILY UPSTAIRS is inspired by an amalgamation of real-life, cult stories.

Be careful who you let in.

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.

 

To view the full list of thrillers I’ve read, see me on GoodReads.

Have we read the same books? Lets connect.

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