A political thriller of the highest order, The Shape of the Ruins by Juan Gabriel Vásquez (Riverhead $27), is a rare combination of literary, mystery, historical, and political whodunit. Already highly acclaimed, Vásquez considers this book to be the masterpiece he’s been attempting to write for years. Loosely centered on the brutal murder in the Bogotá streets of the Colombian Liberal General Rafael Uribe Uribe in 1914, this is a meta-novel about the author working with a conspiracy theorist investigating the killing, and the alleged massive government and church cover-up that pinned the murder on two unskilled workers. A circular, twisting novel that jumps around in time and perspective, and echoes other, later murders of the politicians Gaitan and Kennedy, this is a sweeping blend of fact, fiction, history, and speculation that explores the way dark moments in a country’s past eerily shape its present.
Foe is an unsettling blend of a psychological thriller with an examination of the structure and support of a marriage, all the while set in a creepy near-future with hazardous advances of technology. Junior and Henrietta live isolated on a rural farm, when a stranger, Terrence, shows up to announce that Junior is being considered for an involuntary mission into space aboard the Installation. As Terrence burrows into their quiet domestic life, and Junior is ever closer to departure, the real reasons for Terrence’s intrusion into their marriage become cloudy and creepy as the thriller builds to a climax flipped on its head.
You know the formula: Put a bunch of couples in a beautiful country bed and breakfast, but then add a snowstorm, subtract the power, and kill someone. Yet Shari Lapena executes it flawlessly, building the tension steadily as we learn more about each of the guests, and the storm increases intensity. Is it someone already present at the inn? Or is there an intruder that no one knows about yet? Who is next? An homage to the great mystery writers of the past, An Unwanted Guest will keep you entertained and on the edge of your seat until the killer is finally revealed.