July 31st – August 6: “The book you would recommend?”

thriller-roundtable-logo5This week we’re joined by ITW Members Billy Lyons, Mary Torjussen and Tal M. Klein to discuss the book they would recommend for those who are vacationing or staying at home – which is your one recommendation?


Billy Lyons became an avid reader and writer of horror fiction in early childhood. He is the author of two published short stories. “Cell 334” was published in the November 2014 edition of Another Realm Magazine. “Black-Eyed Children, Blue-Eyed Child” was published in High Strange Horror, a horror anthology published in 2015 by Muzzleland Press, where Billy is a contributing writer of book and magazine reviews. Blood and Needles is his debut novel.


Tal M. Klein was born in Israel, grew up in New York, and currently lives in Detroit with his wife and two daughters. When she was five years old, his daughter Iris wrote a book called I’m a Bunch of Dinosaurs that went on to become one of the most successful children’s book projects on Kickstarter – something that Tal explained to Iris by telling her, “your book made lots of kids happy.” Iris then asked Tal, “Daddy, why don’t you write a book that makes lots of grownups happy?” Tal mulled this over for a few years, and eventually wrote his first book, The Punch Escrow. It won the Inkshares Geek & Sundry Hard Science Fiction publishing contest, and will be the first book published on the Geek & Sundry imprint.


Mary Torjussen lives on the Wirral, across the River Mersey from Liverpool in England and Gone Without a Trace is set there. She worked for many years as a teacher and studied for an MA in Creative Writing at the same time. When she was offered voluntary redundancy she grabbed the chance to spend some time writing and gave herself a year to write a book that would be published. Within eighteen months she had sold rights to Headline in the UK, Berkley in the US, Random House in Germany as well as foreign language rights to France, Russia, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia. TV and film rights have been sold to Ecosse.


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  1. For a beach read this summer, I’d take Matt Coyle’s thriller, “Night Tremors.” Just in case I breezed through that novel, I’d open Doug Lyle’s “Deep Six.”

  2. It’s so hard to just choose one novel, isn’t it? I’m afraid I have to choose two, but think they should be read one after the other, in chronological order.

    Charlotte Bronte’s novel, Jane Eyre, has long been a favourite of mine but it was only years later when, quite by chance, I read Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea that I understood Jane Eyre better. I’ve not heard of that with any other book, where one provides the back story for a novel written 120 years before. (I’d love to know if anyone is aware of a similar pairing.)

    Wide Sargasso Sea tells the story of Bertha, the mad woman in Rochester’s attic and reading it was like being kicked in the stomach. No matter what I’d thought of Rochester – and he is considered one of the heroes of classic fiction – I’d never really considered his wife, Bertha. I’d completely accepted his side of the story and had actually felt sorry for him.

    It’s one of our most basic fears that we should be unacknowledged, that no-one should know of our existence, that our utter, all-encompassing misery should be ignored. That Bertha’s own husband had propagated that ignorance seemed suddenly appalling. That I, amongst so many other readers, hadn’t acknowledged her myself, was unforgivable.

    Wide Sargasso Sea was so important to me as a writer. It showed me the importance of a back story, of knowing your characters and allowing them to determine plot. Jean Rhys took my favourite novel, Jane Eyre, and told me more about the characters than Charlotte Bronte could. In writing the backstory to a nineteenth century classic, she created a twentieth century classic and I believe to know the full story, the two should now always be read together.

  3. I’d like to recommend Devil’s Call by J. Danielle Dorn. It’s a brilliantly authored hybrid Western Fantasy novel that will have its spell on you from the very first sentence. i>Devil’s Call is an incredibly fresh approach witchcraft lore. The protagonist’s thirst for vengeance had me gritting my teeth from page to page. Dorn’s voice is raw, authentic, and gripping. I know it sounds like a cliche, but I seriously could not put this book down. I’ve read it cover to cover several times and continue to love it.

  4. I’m going to be a little bit lazy and paste a review I wrote a few years back for Stephen King’s Revival, but only because I love the book so much. It’s a brilliant novel, one of this century’s most important additions to weird fiction. Fans of Lovecraftian horror and Stephen King alike are sure to enjoy it.

    “Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t” is a phrase meant to be taken quite literally in Stephen King’s brilliant, yet disturbing, 2014 novel Revival. Man or woman, young or old, hero or villain, sinner or saint; we’re all damned.

    Revival tells the story of Jamie Morton, and how his life is shaped by an on-again, off-again relationship with the Reverend Charles Jacobs. Jamie first meets Jacobs a few days after his sixth birthday when Jacobs, the new minister of the local Methodist church, stops by to introduce himself. The two quickly become fast friends.

    Jamie first learns of the reverend’s fascination with electricity when Jacobs heals Jamie’s deaf brother with a strange electronic contraption of his own creation. He gives God all the glory for theracle, but the awed tone in his voice as he describes the mystery behind the machine suggests that it’s very likely the good reverend’s devotion has switched to something besides Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

    Everything changes for both Jamie and Jacobs when a tragic automobile accident takes the life of Jacob’s wife and son. Shortly after their funeral, a bitter Jacob returns to the pulpit and delivers what will forever be known as The Terrible Sermon, in which he renounces his faith and suggests that if his congregation wants to believe in something real they should turn to the infinite power of electricity. He is summarily fired and quietly leaves town for parts unknown.

    After The Terrible Sermon, Jamie throws his faith to the wind as well. From here, we follow these characters through a winding path of mystery surrounding the true power behind Jacob’s new faith.

    Revival is perhaps King’s most terrifying work to date, mainly due to the insidious nature of the horror found between its covers. At first, readers will find the story similar to much of King’s writing, chock full of themes of redemption, youth’s inherent innocence, and love. This comfortable familiarity only serves to suck the reader into a false sense of security, so much so that when the hammer finally drops, he or she is completely unprepared for the sheer terror that is the last thirty pages of the book.

    If there is one criticism of Revival, it is that its protagonist Jamie Morton is achingly similar to those found in other King novels. Once could very easily take Jamie Morton and replace him with Dan Torrance from Doctor Sleep, Edgar Freemantle from Duma Key, or Dale Barbara from Under the Dome and no one would know the difference. The idea of the beleaguered, worn-down, genuinely nice guy who must find redemption by fighting his way out of some supernaturally-fueled existential crisis is starting to wear a little thin.

    Even so, the writing is brilliant, the story captivates from beginning to end, and King proves yet again that he can scare the living hell out of his readers any time he takes a notion. Revival is a masterpiece of supernatural fiction, one that further cements King’s reputation as one of the greatest writers of our generation.

    Still, there’s a tiny part of me that wishes I’d never read it. This is especially true late at night, when I lay in bed unable to sleep because I can’t stop thinking about those last thirty pages.

    When this happens, I often think back to the prayer of my youth, the one that contains the words: If I should die before I wake. And if I should, where would I find myself? In Heaven, Hell, or, if Revival is to be believed,
    “the land beyond death, a place full of insane colors, mad geometry, and bottomless chasms where the Great Ones live their endless, alien lives, and think their endless, malevolent thoughts.”

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