The Next Chapter

Elisabeth de Mariaffi recommends three of her favourite thriller and mystery reads

The Canadian author and columnist reviews Dark Things I Adore by Katie Lattari, The Verifiers by Jane Pek and Deep House by Thomas King.
Elisabeth de Mariaffi is a Canadian author. (Ayelet Tsabari)

As a reader and a writer, Elisabeth de Mariaffi loves a novel where the stakes are high and the suspense builds.

After the success of her thriller novels such as Hysteria and The Retreat, the St. John's author spoke with Shelagh Rogers about three recent page-turners that will have you glued to your seats.

Dark Things I Adore by Katie Lattari

Dark Things I Adore is a book by Katie Lattari. (Sourcebooks,

"This one I would classify as a cat-and-mouse thriller, much more so than like a whodunit. There's two different timelines, which I think makes a book really interesting — and as I have just found myself, it means that the writer basically had to write two novels, so we should just applaud her right out of the gate.

"The present day storyline is about the protagonist, a woman named Audra. Audra is a brilliant fine arts student at a prestigious art college in the United States. And her thesis advisor is a brilliant man named Max Durant. He has a strong reputation as an artist, but he also has a reputation as a fairly predatory professor. 

This one I would classify as a cat-and-mouse thriller, much more so than like a whodunit.

"Our second timeline is back in 1988, and there's a couple of very interesting things that happen there. It takes place at a remote art colony, and you guessed it, it's exactly where we've just seen our protagonist setting. And one of the great devices that is used, it's not really a hippie colony, but it's a very artsy art colony. So it's not like a whodunit, it is a what I call a 'What Exactly Happened Here?'"

The Verifiers by Jane Pek

The Verifiers is a novel by Jane Pek. (Vintage, Angela Yuan)

"This is my favourite book that I've read this year so far. Wow. I love it. This is a great mystery book for mystery junkies.

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"It takes place in New York City. The protagonist is a 20-something named Claudia Lin. She loves gothic romance, but she also has always bonded with her mother over their favourite Chinese detective series. Even though she has an English degree, her older brother has gotten her a job at a financial services firm. And what the family doesn't know is she's quit that job and she's gone to work for a semi-secret organization called Veracity. 

This is a great mystery book for mystery junkies.

"Veracity is the place you go if you've met someone through an online dating or an online matching service, and there's something about them that's making you feel suspicious.

"They don't call themselves private investigators — they call themselves verifiers. They're going to verify, look into this person and verify who they really are. This is how we begin the novel, of course, with a very interesting client coming in. Claudia gets assigned to her case, and two weeks later, that client is dead."

Deep House by Thomas King

Book cover of a mountain and its reflection in the water with a yellow-orange sky. White and yellow text overlaid.
Deep House is a mystery novel by Thomas King. (HarperCollins, Sinisa Jolic/CBC)

"This is the sixth book in a detective series that King has been writing. And this is so fun for me. And I'll tell you why. I took exactly one creative writing course in my bachelor's degree, and King was the instructor. It's atypical for genre fiction to be included on creative writing fiction reading lists. But he did.

"This was like a million years ago. He included Walter Mosley's first book in his series about Easy Rawlins called Devil in a Blue Dress. This is before the movie. So really, sort of as a young writer, opened my eyes up to what, you know, mystery and detective fiction could do in genre fiction.

This is the sixth book in a detective series that King has been writing. And this is so fun for me.

"So his detective series is about Thumps DreadfulWater. He is a Cherokee ex-cop who has now moved to the small, peaceful town of Chinook, which is somewhere in the northwestern United States. And like all small towns in this situation, for some reason it has a weirdly high body count. 

"What King does so well is what I call the reluctant protagonist: DreadfulWater just wants to live his life. I have never read any of these books before and I had no trouble just jumping in. So if you're a purist, absolutely go back to the first book in the series." 

Elisabeth de Mariaffi's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

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