1) The Grant County series by Karin Slaughter is one of the most chilling and extreme mystery series I've ever read. I've only read the first two books, but I don't think I could ever rid my brain of the horrific situations detailed in these books. The first book is about Sara Linton, a pediatrician, and her sheriff ex-husband, Jeffrey Tolliver, trying to catch a killer who rapes and kills women, leaving their mutilated bodies crucified. The second book starts with the sheriff having to shoot a girl that threatened to kill a boy in a skating rink. The story that ensues is fast paced and not for the faint of heart. I highly recommend them.
2) The Archie Sheriden series by Chelsea Cain is another that bridges the gap between mystery and horror. In Heartsick, Archie is a veteran cop that worked for 10 years to capture the notorious serial killer known as the Beauty Killer only to find that she was a psychiatrist working with the police named Gretchen Lowell. He only found this out when he was captured by her and horrifically tortured for 10 days. She is in jail, but another serial killer has cropped up, leading Archie to come out of his Vicodin hazed retirement. Gretchen Lowell is one of the most memorable literary monsters in recent history. In Heartsick, she influences almost every event in the novel from her jail cell, yet she is still shrouded in mystery. The reader never gets to see the story from her perspective or know very much about her past. She is a fascinating and unpredictable character. Her relationship with Archie is like the one between Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter, but much more intense because of the long time they spend together while Archie was tortured. He is both drawn to and repulsed by her. The first three books (Heartsick, Sweetheart, and Evil at Heart) in the series center around Archie and Gretchen. The fourth book comes out March 1 and shifts focus away from her while still remaining the engaging and fluid writing style that I've come to love. I just finished reading this one, so keep an eye out for the review!
3) The Portero series by Dia Reeves combines fantasy and horror in a way I've never seen. Don't let the fact that it's a teen series fool you. Portero is town full of surprise, violence, and monsters, both the literal and figurative kind. Bleeding Violet is the first book, which follows bipolar Hanna as she tries to cultivate some sort of relationship with her mother. She also has to overcome the Porterenes' disapproval of her AND watch out for dangerous creatures that may pop up. This fantastical world full of portals blends perfectly with the warped psychology of its inhabitants. This is especially true with the second book, Slice of Cherry, which centers around serial killing sisters Kit and Fancy Cordelle. These characters remain endearing and sympathetic even as they commit acts of violence using the magic world they discovered. I love this series and I consider it one of the most unique in both adult and teen literature.
That's it for this event until next year!