Murder! Mayhem! Psychological torture! How can we resist?
When I was a child, I always loved going to my grandmother's to visit—not just because she made the best biscuits in the world but because my sister and I couldn't wait to sneak into her bedroom to read the true crime magazines she kept hidden at the bottom of her hope chest. One Christmas we bought her a subscription to her favorite magazine. While she read each issue cover-to-cover, she was horrified by the gift, telling us, "I don't want the mailman to know I read that!"

Let's face it, back then there was a reason the word trashy often preceded the word thriller. Today, even though most contemporary crime fiction has left graphic exploitation behind, there is still a certain stigma attached to reading thrillers, as if enjoying a book that has a page-turning plot means your taste is unbecoming and, worse, not serious. The truth is that most of our enduring works of literature have some sort of crime at their center, whether it's the murderous rampages in Hamlet, the lone gunman of The Great Gatsby, or the tense courtroom scenes in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Here are some of my favorites:

Where Are the Children?
By Mary Higgins Clark

This classic was written almost 40 years ago, but the plot—about a woman who is accused of killing her own children—is as timely and tense as ever.


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