Susan Larson
Milton Public Library director

I love when a book grabs my attention and holds it so strongly I don’t want to put it down. When I have to stop reading, the story keeps calling to me, until I can get back it.

That’s what happened with “The Girl on the Train,” a psychological thriller by Paula Hawkins. This, her first book, exposes gaslighting, the abusive tactic narcissists use to brainwash someone over time. The term comes from the 1944 Alfred Hitchcock movie “Gaslight,” in which a husband manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she is losing her mind. Rachel, the girl on the train, is drowning her pain in alcohol, which only complicates her life when she finds herself in the center of a missing person investigation.

When I finished Hawkins’ book, I searched for other psychological thrillers featuring women protagonists and discovered a string of them published over the last year. These books are filled with danger and intrigue.

In “The Trapped Girl” by Robert Dugoni, a woman’s body is discovered submerged in a crab pot in the waters of Puget Sound. Detective Tracy Crosswhite’s investigation reveals the victim had gone to great lengths to conceal her identity. But why? Crosswhite and her team unravel a mystery with many twists. The book is No. 4 in Dugoni’s Tracy Crosswhite series, but you can read this without or before having read the others.

“Into the Water” is the second novel by Paula Hawkins. In it, Jules ignores a phone call from her sister, thinking she’s crying wolf. But she isn’t.

In “The Lying Game” by Ruth Ware, four boarding school best friends, notorious for playing a lying game, find it coming back to haunt them with deadly consequences none of them imagined.

“The Woman in Cabin 10” is another book by Ruth Ware. Travel writer Lo Blacklock has been given the assignment of a lifetime, covering the inaugural voyage of a boutique cruise ship. One night she witnesses a woman being thrown overboard. She reports it to the captain, but no passengers or crew are missing. It’s a mystery that entraps her.

After a personal tragedy, Jane is looking for a fresh start. The apartment at 1 Folgate St. seems the perfect place to begin anew. But after moving in, Jane learns about the death of the home’s previous tenant, and the similarities she shares with that woman. “The Girl Before” by JP Delaney is being made into a movie by director Ron Howard.

While these books include dark stories, they also feature women who persevere and overcome. As Rachel says in the film adaptation of “The Girl on the Train,” “Anything is possible, because I am not the girl I used to be.”