Category Archives: Linwood Barclay

And None Shall Ever Harm Cosette as Long as I am Living*

One way that crime writers ramp up the suspense in their novels is to put the sleuth’s loved ones in danger. The challenge with that plot point is to make the situation believable (and not melodramatic). This strategy has been used quite a bit in the genre, so authors who use it also run the risk of their stories seeming stale.

All of that said, though, it can be a useful plot point, and when it falls out naturally from the plot, it can work well. Here are just a few examples. I know you can think of many more than I can.

Agatha Christie’s The Big Four sees Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings pitted against a syndicate of four super-criminals who are bent on world domination. They’re responsible for several murders and abductions, and Poirot and Hastings know that, if they don’t catch and stop all four of the members, there will be more havoc. At one point, Hastings himself is abducted, and his wife (whom readers will remember from The Murder on the Links) is threatened. All of this spurs both Poirot and Hastings to even more action against the criminals, and Poirot, especially, uses some innovative strategies to stop them.

In Linwood Barclay’s Bad Move, science fiction writer Zack Walker decides that his family would be safer living in the suburbs than in the city where they currently live. So, he buys a house in a new suburban development called Valley Forest Estates. Everyone tries to settle in and adapt to the changed environment. But soon enough, things start to go wrong. First, Walker notices several repairs that need to be made to the new house. He goes to Valley Forest’s sales office to complain, only to witness an argument between one of the sales executives and an environmental activist. Later, he finds the activist’s body near a local creek. Before long, Walker finds that all is not as it seems in peaceful Valley Forest Estates, and he gets drawn more and more into a web of fraud and murder. At one point, his family is threatened, and placed in real danger. And that’s part of the tension that drives the plot (and Walker).

C.J. Box’s Three Weeks to Say Goodbye isn’t a part of his Joe Pickett series; it’s a standalone. In it, we meet Jack McGuane, a Travel Development Specialist for the Denver Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau. He and his wife, Melissa, are the loving adoptive parents of baby Angelina, whose teen mother chose to give her up for adoption. Then one day, everything changes. McGuane gets a call from the adoption agency through which he and Melissa found Angelina. It seems that her biological father never waived his parental rights and has now chosen to exercise them. At first, the McGuanes hope that the matter can be resolved. But that’s not to be. The baby’s biological father is eighteen-year-old Garrett Moreland, whose father, John Moreland, is a powerful local judge who’s squarely on his son’s side. The Morelands pay a ‘friendly visit’ to the McGuanes, during which Judge Moreland tries to bribe the McGuanes to give up custody of Angelina in return for the money to finance another adoption. The McGuanes refuse this, and the Morelands go from cajoling and bribes to threats, including a crude threat against Melissa. When that doesn’t work, Judge Moreland issues a court order requiring the McGuanes to relinquish custody of Angelina within twenty-one days. The McGuanes decide to do whatever it takes to keep their daughter, and ‘whatever it takes’ turns out to be more than either had imagined.

Michael Robotham’s Joe O’Loughlin is a London psychologist who sometimes gets involved in very dark murder investigations. And some of the people he goes up against are very dangerous threats to his family. For instance, in Shatter, he is called to a bridge where Christine Wheeler is prepared to commit suicide. He tries to intervene but isn’t successful. Then, the victim’s daughter, Darcy, visits O’Loughlin. She tells him that her mother was manipulated into committing suicide. O’Loughlin doesn’t see how that could happen, but he does agree to look into the matter. Then, there’s another death. It’s now clear that a vicious killer is at work, and once O’Loughlin gets close to the truth, the killer prepares to strike very close to home. It’s a terrible situation for O’Loughlin and for his family.

And then there’s Alan Carter’s Marlborough Man, which features police detective Nick Chester. He and his family have been moved from England to the Marlborough area of New Zealand’s South Island for their own protection. Chester was involved in an undercover operation that went wrong, and now some of the people involved are determined to kill him. They settle into their new home, and Chester starts working on the disturbing case of two child abductions and murders, five years apart, that seem to have been committed by the same person. Then, there’s another abduction. Now, the investigation team know that they only have a limited time to catch the killer. And the killer has targeted Chester’s family. That’s not to mention the danger they face from Chester’s former ‘associates’ in England. He’s going to have to work fast and effectively if his family is to stay alive.

There are many other examples, too, of plot points where sleuths’ family members are in danger. Sometimes, that element of suspense and tension works very successfully. Other times, of course, it can be overdone and pull the reader out of the story. These are only a few examples. Your turn.


*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Claude-Michel Schönberg and Herbert Kretzmer’s Fantine’s Death (Come to Me).


Filed under Agatha Christie, Alan Carter, C.J. Box, Linwood Barclay, Michael Robotham

‘Cause You Say What I Need to Hear*

No-one is perfect. We all make errors in judgement, and we all make mistakes. That’s why it’s so helpful to have someone in our lives who will tell us the truth, whether we want to hear it or not. That person doesn’t have to be cruel or harsh, but does have to be able to bring us up short when it’s necessary.

For instance, I’m a writer. Some of what I write is not good at all. It helps that I have a husband an honest critic who will tell me when what I’ve written doesn’t make sense. Or isn’t realistic. Or isn’t interesting. Or…

Fictional characters need those honest people, too. In crime fiction, sleuths sometimes need someone to tell them, for instance, that they’re getting too close to a case. Or that they’re forgetting something important. Or…

In a lot of cases (certainly not all), that honest person is a spouse or partner. For Donna Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti, it’s his wife, Paola Falier. She is not at all afraid to tell him when he’s not seeing things clearly, or when he’s forgetting something. For example, in Fatal Remedies, she takes a drastic measure to call police attention to a travel agency that’s mixed up in sex tours of Thailand that sometimes involve children. She ends up getting herself (and her husband) into trouble over the matter, but she does serve as his conscience. She doesn’t allow him to become complacent, or to stop doing his job the best he can.

Tony Hillerman’s Emma Leaphorn plays a similar role at times. Her husband, Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, is a member of the Navajo Nation, and a member of the Navajo Tribal Police (now the Navajo Nation Police). Emma is a solid judge of character, and she has a keen sense of people. So, her husband often tries out his theories on her as he’s working out what probably happened in a given case. She’s not at all afraid to tell him when he’s completely wrong, too. She doesn’t do it in a harsh way; but she is honest when she thinks he’s on the wrong trail or misjudging someone.

In Linwood Barclay’s Bad Moves, we meet science fiction writer Zack Walker. He’s concerned for his family’s safety, since they live in a city. So, he moves the family to a new home in a suburb called Valley Forest Estates. His practical wife, Sarah, agrees to the move, but she has her reservations. Still, everyone settles in. Then, Walker witnesses an argument between one of Valley Forest’s sales executives and a local environmentalist. When he later finds that same environmentalist dead near a local creek, Walker gets drawn into a murky case. More than once throughout the novel, Sarah tells him he’s getting too involved, and tries to warn him of the consequences. And he knows she’s right. He can’t help himself, though, and ends up in real danger. Sarah’s not afraid to let her husband know when he’s being rude, or selfish, or….  And, although she makes her point clear, she’s not a nag. She’s just a very honest person.

Angela Savage’s Bangkok-based PI Jayne Keeney is learning to depend on her partner, Rajiv Patel, to tell her what she sometimes doesn’t want to hear, but needs to hear. When they first meet, in The Half-Child, he is fascinated by her PI work, and wants to join her. What’s more, he finds her attractive, so he’s motivated to work with her. But Keeney is accustomed to making her own choices and living independently. It takes her some time to learn that Patel has much to offer as a business partner as well as a partner in life. She doesn’t always agree with what he has to say, but she knows he is smart, perceptive, and truthful with her.

That trustworthy person – the one who will tell you what you need to hear – doesn’t necessarily have to be a partner. For instance, Anthony Bidulka’s Saskatoon-based PI Russell Quant isn’t married (although he’s had a few relationships). But he does have a group of friends who care enough about him to tell him the truth. One is his mentor, Anthony Gatt, who owns a very successful upmarket menswear business. Gatt’s known Quant for a long time, and isn’t afraid to give him good advice, and even ‘rein him in’ when it’s necessary. And the advice he gives isn’t just sartorial. Another person who will tell Quant the truth, even when it’s not exactly pleasant, is his enigmatic friend Sereena Orion Smith. As the series begins, she lives next door to Quant, and they take care of each other’s dogs when one or the other is out of town. She is also a friend, and she isn’t afraid to tell Quant when he’s wrong or is making a mistake. And it’s interesting to see how Quant reacts to these two people, who are among the few he really heeds.

It’s actually a good thing to have someone who will tell the truth when we need to hear it. It’s not fun to be told you’re wrong, or that you’re about to make a big mistake, or that you need to do something. But advice like that can be very helpful. Do you have someone in your life like that? If you’re a writer, who do you depend on to let you know when something you’ve written – er – needs a little work?


*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Mark Mendy’s Down (with Stban and Julie Elody).


Filed under Angela Savage, Anthony Bidulka, Donna Leon, Linwood Barclay, Tony Hillerman

I’ve Got Something to Say*

One way in which authors add some ‘leaven’ to their stories is to put in side comments – sometimes even full-on asides to the reader – to add in extra information. Among other things, these side comments can also be used to lighten a situation and to provide character background. They’re there in fiction, and they’re certainly there in crime fiction.

Like any other tool, side comments have to be wielded carefully. Otherwise, they break up the narrative too much. Too many side comments can also be confusing. But when they’re used well, they can be effective.

Some authors use side comments to address the audience quite directly. That’s what John Burdett does in his Sonchai Jitplecheep novels. Sonchai is a member of the Royal Thai Police. He mostly works in Bangkok, although some cases take him to other places. More than once in this series, he gives insight into the Thai culture by speaking directly to the reader (whom he addresses as farang (foreigner)). For instance, in Bangkok Tattoo, the body of a CIA agent is found in a brothel, and the most likely suspect is one of the brothel’s top earners. Here is a comment Sonchai makes to the reader about many Bangkok sex workers:

‘These are country girls, tough as water buffalo, wild as swans, who can’t believe how much they can make by providing to polite, benevolent, guilt-ridden condom-conscious farang exactly the same service they would otherwise have to provide free without protection to rough, whoremongering husbands in their home villages. Good deal? Better believe it (Don’t look at me that way, farang, when you know in your heart that capitalism makes whores of all of us).’

Sonchai makes other comments to the reader about Buddhism, about the Thai way of doing things, and so on.

Linwood Barclay’s Zack Walker, whom we meet in Bad Move, is a science fiction writer. In that novel, he and his family move from the city to a suburban development called Valley Forest Estates. Walker thinks the move will make the family safer, but it doesn’t turn out that way. Instead, he gets involved in a case of murder, fraud, and more. At one point, he has this to say about himself:

‘How many assholes know they’re assholes? So I guess what I’m saying is that if I know I’ve behaved like an asshole on certain occasions, then there’s no way I could actually be one. But I’d understand if you remain unconvinced. By the time you’ve heard this story, you might say, ‘Man, that Zack Walker, he’s a major one.’’

It’s interesting, convoluted logic, and Walker makes other comments about the way he thinks in other parts of the story.

Sometimes, authors use the aside to give character background and offer some depth. For example, Agatha Christie does this in Murder in Mesopotamia. That novel’s focus is an archaeological expedition taking place a few hours from Baghdad. The narrator is an English nurse, Amy Leatheran, who’s been hired by the expedition’s leader, Dr. Eric Leidner. It seems his wife, Louise, is having anxiety problems, and he wants a nurse to help allay her fears and tend to her needs. Nurse Leatheran is a practical and observant nurse, and sometimes makes comments from that perspective. For example, at one point, she’s describing another character, Sheila Reilly:

‘I had a probationer like her under me once – a girl who worked well, I’ll admit, but whose manner always riled me.’

When Louise Leidner is murdered one afternoon, Hercule Popirot is persuaded to interrupt his travels in the Middle East to investigate, and he finds out the truth. The story is told from Nurse Leatheran’s point of view, and it’s interesting to see how she views Poirot.

Christopher Brookmyre’s Quite Ugly One Morning introduces Edinburgh journalist Jack Parlabane. One morning, he stumbles onto the scene of a brutal murder. It all starts when Parlabane hears a commotion in the flat below and decides to go down and see what’s going on (and hopefully get the people in the flat to be quiet). He forgets his key, though, and locks himself out of his own flat, clad only in boxers and a T-shirt. Here’s what Brookmyre tells us next:

‘Now, the rational course of action for any normal human being at this point would be to enlist the help of the conveniently present police in securing the services of a locksmith, or at least the services of a few standard-issue Doc Martens. But even if he hadn’t been reluctant to enter into any dialogue with Lothian and Borders’ finest, he’d probably still have seen climbing in from another flat as the easiest solution.’

And that’s exactly what Parlabane tries to do. But when he goes to the downstairs flat and heads for one of its windows, he’s seen by a police detective, and gets drawn into a web of murder and high-level corruption. In this case, the aside gives us some information about Parlabane, and adds some wit to the story.

In Janice McDonald’s Another Margaret, Edmonton-based sessional instructor Miranda ‘Randy’ Craig gets involved in a mystery surrounding enigmatic author Margaret Ahelers, whose work Craig studied for her master’s thesis. Craig knows that Ahlers has been gone for years. So, how has a new Ahlers novel just been released? Is this a case of forgery? Or has an unpublished manuscript been found? The mystery leads to real danger and connects with another mystery Craig encountered years ago. Craig’s partner is police detective Steve Browning, who plays an important role in this novel. At one point, they go out to dinner together. During the meal, they discuss an alumni reunion that Craig is helping to plan (she is a graduate of the University of Alberta). Browning asks if he’s invited, and Craig assures him that he’s welcome:

‘‘I love you, Steve Browning.’
‘Mutual, I’m sure.’
Steve drove us to his condo…and we proved it to each other. There is nothing better than feeding steak to a red-blooded Canadian man, I am just saying.’ 

That one-line aside is witty, and it gives the reader a quick break from the plot of the story.

Asides can serve several purposes in a story. They can be funny, they can reveal character traits, and more. But, like all tools, they are best used in moderation, so that the flow of the story isn’t interrupted. What’s your view? If you’re a writer, do you use asides? Do you have a preference when it comes to your reading?


*NOTE: The title of this post is the title of a song by Reef.


Filed under Agatha Christie, Christopher Brookmyre, Janice MacDonald, John Burdett, Linwood Barclay

Why Are There Always So Many Other Things to Do?*

One of the things that writing requires is discipline. Sticking with a project, not letting yourself get too distracted, and seeing it through, are all difficult to do. That’s especially true with today’s social media and instant accessibility through email, text, and so on.

And then there’s the fact that a lot of writers do their writing at home. So, there’s always laundry, bills, pets, gardening, and all sorts of other things to pull the attention away from that manuscript. Trust me. Am I right, authors?

It’s that way in crime fiction, too. Writers try to make time to write, and when they’re on deadline, that’s even more important. And, yet, they do get pulled away from the manuscript, especially when there’s a murder investigation. Don’t believe me? Here are a few examples.

Agatha Christie’s Ariadne Oliver is a detective story writer. She’s well-enough known and popular enough that her publisher knows her books will sell. But that doesn’t mean she has no pressure to write. She does get distracted, though. For instance, in Mrs. McGinty’s Dead, she’s working on an adaptation of one of her novels for the stage when she gets drawn into a case that Hercule Poirot is investigating – and that ends up impacting her, too. Of course, Mrs. Oliver doesn’t welcome all distractions. Late in the novel, Poirot telephones her for a very important reason. She, however, sees it another way:

‘‘Have you got to ring me up just now? I’ve thought of the most wonderful idea for a murder in a draper’s shop…’’

She’s not happy to be interrupted, but what she tells Poirot helps to solve the case. Of course, fans of Mrs. Oliver know that sometimes, she welcomes distractions…

In Ellery Queen’s Calamity Town, Queen takes some time away in the small New England town of Wrightsville. He’s there to get some writing done, and he’s looking forward to some peace and quiet while he stays in a guest house owned by John and Hermione ‘Hermy’ Wright. But soon enough, he gets distracted by family drama among the Wrights. It seems that their youngest daughter, Nora, had been engaged to a young man named Jim Haight. He jilted her, though, and left town abruptly. Now, Haight’s back, and everyone hopes that Nora will give him short shrift. Instead, to everyone’s shock, she takes up with him again and, in fact, they marry. Then, evidence comes up that Haight may be planning to kill his bride for her money. Queen isn’t sure that’s true, but there’s no denying the evidence. Then, on New Year’s Eve, Haight’s sister Rosemary, who’s been staying with the family, dies after drinking a poisoned cocktail. The assumption is that Haight is the murderer, and that the cocktail was intended for Nora. Haight is duly arrested and put on trial. The only people who question his guilt are Queen, and Nora’s sister, Pat. Together, the two look for the real truth behind Rosemary’s death. Queen fans will know that this isn’t the only time when Queen is pulled away from his writing…

Lilian Jackson Braun’s James ‘Qwill’ Qwilleran is a newspaper journalist (he’s written a book, too). As a result of an odd series of events, he ended up in the small town of Pickax, in rural Moose County. Now, he does a twice-weekly column, Straight From the Qwill Pen, for the local paper. He’s become somewhat of a celebrity in the area, too. Like most journalists, Qwill is naturally curious. And he follows up when he thinks there might be a good story in something that’s happening. Since he’s in the newspaper business, he understands about deadlines, and he does his best to keep them. But, because he’s curious, he often gets involved in murder investigations. And sometimes, that distracts him from filing his stories promptly. In more than one novel, he rushes to the newspaper office with his copy just in the nick of time (much of this series was written before it was common to email copy).

Linwood Barclay’s Zack Walker is a science fiction author whom we meet in Bad Move. He’s worried about his family’s safety, living as they do in a big city. So, he persuades his wife, Sarah, to go along with his plan to move to a new suburban development, Valley Forest Estates. Along with the increased safety, Walker is looking forward to having more space, and hopefully more time, for writing. And that’s what he’s working on when he starts to get distracted. First, there are some problems with the new house the family has bought. So, Walker goes to Valley Forest’s sales office to lodge complaints and requests for service. While he’s there, he witnesses an argument between one of the company’s sales executives, and a local environmentalist named Samuel Spender. Then, later on the same day, Walker finds Spender’s body near a local creek. Before he knows it, Walker’s drawn into a web of murder and intrigue in his quiet, suburban development, and drawn away from his writing.

And then there’s Lynda Wilcox’s Verity Long, whom we meet in Strictly Murder. Long isn’t, strictly speaking, a writer, herself. She’s PA to successful crime writer Kathleen ‘KD’ Davenport. While Davenport is popular and sells well, that doesn’t mean she can be heedless of deadlines and commitments to her publisher. So, Long has to do her job, too. And her job is mostly to find and research old unsolved crime cases that Davenport can use as inspiration for her work. But Long does get distracted from her research at times, especially when she stumbles across cases of modern-day murder.

See what I mean? Writers really need to have focus and discipline. Otherwise they get distracted by all sorts of things, including murder. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must get back to work on my novel. Oh, wait, there’s that laundry to do. And shouldn’t I be looking over this month’s bills? And there’s that meeting later on…


*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Paul McCartney’s Distractions.


Filed under Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, Lilian Jackson Braun, Linwood Barclay, Lynda Wilcox

We’ve Got a Falling Barometer and Rising Seas*

If you read enough crime fiction, you soon learn to expect that something bad – perhaps very bad – is going to happen. After all, most crime fiction is about bad things happening. Much of the time, the terrible thing that happens is murder.

Even though crime writers know that their readers expect something awful to happen, they still want to draw those readers in. Sometimes, they do this by building the tension right from the beginning. It’s a bit like storm clouds gathering and building up the suspense that happens just before a major downpour. Authors have different ways of doing this, but no matter what way the author chooses, it can build suspense and get the reader turning and swiping pages.

Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, for instance, begins as a group of ten people travel to Indian Island, off the Devon coast. They’ve all been invited to spend time there, and, for different reasons, each has accepted. As the various guests arrive, we follow their thoughts, and tension begins to build. It builds even more when it becomes clear that the host is not there. It’s all a bit odd, but everyone settles in. After dinner that evening, each person is accused of causing the death of at least one other person. Later, one of the guests suddenly collapses and dies of what turns out to be poison. Then, there’s another death. Now the survivors begin to see that someone has deliberately lured them to the island and is trying to kill them. They’ll have to find out who that person is if they’re to stay alive. We may not know from the start who the killer is; right away, though, as the people gather, we know that something very, very bad is going to happen.

There’s a similar sense of the tension building at the beginning of Patricia Moyes’ Dead Men Don’t Ski. In that novel, Scotland Yard’s Henry Tibbett and his wife, Emmy, are on their way to a skiing holiday at Santa Chiara, in the Italian Alps. They’ll be staying at the Bella Vista Hotel, and they soon find that several other people on the trip are staying there, too. As the group arrives at the hotel, there are already undercurrents of unease, and it’s easy to sense that something awful is about to happen. And it soon does. One of the guests, an Austrian businessman named Fritz Hauser, is shot, and his body found on a ski lift. Capitano Spezzi and his team arrive and begin to investigate. When it comes out that Tibbett is with Scotland Yard, Spezzi grudgingly, and then more willingly, works with him. In the end, and after another death, they find that Hauser brought his fate on himself, in a manner of speaking.

Håkan Nesser’s Mind’s Eye starts as a teacher named Janek Mitter slowly wakes up after having had far, far too much to drink. He was so drunk that, at first, he doesn’t remember who he is or where he is. That sense of disorientation starts to build the suspense right away. Slowly, Mitter remembers who he is, and that he’s at home. Just as he’s beginning to get his bearings, he discovers the body of his wife, Eva Ringmar, in their bathtub. Inspector Van Veeteren and his team investigate, and it seems at first that all of the evidence points to Mitter as the killer. But he insists that he is innocent, and it’s not long before Van Veeteren starts to believe him. Mitter is still convicted, though, and remanded to a mental hospital until his memory recovers enough to assist the police. Not long afterwards, he himself is brutally murdered. Now, Van Veeteren knows that MItter was telling the truth, and works backwards to find out who would have wanted to kill both Mitter and his wife.

In Megan Abbott’s Die a Little, we are introduced to Pasadena schoolteacher Lora King. She’s very close to her brother, Bill, so she’s understandably very interested when he starts to date former Hollywood seamstress’ assistant Alice Steele. From the moment Alice makes her appearance, there’s a sense that something isn’t quite right. And that feeling gets even stronger as Bill and Alice continue to date, fall in love, and decide to marry. At first, Lora tries to be nice to her new sister-in-law for Bill’s sake. The more she finds out about Alice’s life, though, the more repelled she is by it. And the more questions she has about Alice. At the same time, she is drawn to that life, so she has conflicting feelings when there’s a death, and Alice seems to be mixed up in it. Telling herself that it’s to protect her brother, Lora starts to ask some questions. But long before the death, in fact, from the beginning of the story, we know that something bad will happen.

We know that about Linwood Barclay’s Bad Move, too. Science fiction novelist Zack Walker decides that he and his family should move from the city that he considers too dangerous to the suburbs. The Walkers choose Valley Forest Estates as their new development, and move in. But right from the beginning, we know there’s going to be trouble. First, Walker notices some problems with the house that need to be fixed. Then, he witnesses an argument between a Valley Forest executive and a local environmentalist. Later, he finds that environmentalist dead near a local creek. Before he knows it, Walker’s involved in a web of conspiracy and murder. But we know right from the beginning that this move is going to present real problems…

And then there’s Herman Koch’s The Dinner. This book follows the structure of a meal, with sections that have titles such as ‘Appetizer,’ ‘Main Course,’ and ‘Dessert.’ Within each section are the various chapters. At the beginning of the book, two couples meet for dinner at a very exclusive Amsterdam restaurant. Paul Lohman and his wife, Claire, meet Paul’s brother, Serge, and Serge’s wife, Babette. In some ways, there’s little indication of what’s to come. But very soon, there’s a sense of uneasiness, especially as we learn about Paul’s relationship with his brother. Little by little, we learn the real reason the two couples have met. Their fifteen-year-old sons have committed a horrible crime. Now, the four adults have to decide what they will do. As the novel goes on, we learn about what happened, and we learn about the histories of these dysfunctional people. And that sense that something is wrong starts early in the book.

Sometimes, especially if you’re a crime fiction fan, you know right away that things will turn awful. Little nuances, the atmosphere, and other clues can give the sense that trouble is on the way. And that can draw the reader in.


*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Billy Joel’s Storm Front.


Filed under Agatha Christie, Håkan Nesser, Herman Koch, Linwood Barclay, Megan Abbott, Patricia Moyes