The Boy at the Keyhole
There's nothing as chilling as adult-level creepiness seen through the eyes of a child, Neil Gaiman-style (think The Ocean at the End of the Lane ). When 9-year-old Samuel finds himself left alone in his family’s English estate with his stern and unloving nanny, Ruth, he begins to suspect that she’s done something terrible to his mother. As he tries to uncover the truth, his imagination — or is it real? — conjures a surreal, nightmarish world. The whole novel (the adult debut for a children's author) is captivating, but the ending’s a real knockout. Movie rights have already been sold.
The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel that Scandalized the World
Vladimir Nabokov’s creepy classic was inspired by Sally Horner, a real 11-year-old girl who was abducted by an older man from her New Jersey hometown in 1948. Weinman tells her heart-wrenching true story with gripping detail, while demonstrating how Nabokov quietly incorporated it into his best-selling Lolita . She doesn’t pass judgment on Nabokov’s fascination with the subject, but it’s hard not to wonder about the guy as you tear through this page-turner. Note that just as absorbing, if not more so, is the fictionalized version of Horner’s story that came out in August, Rust & Stardust, a novel by T. Greenwood.
Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker
The great-grandnephew of Dracula author Bram Stoker has cowritten a rather gory prequel/bio to the classic, based on Bram’s notes and, apparently, experiences in 19th-century Ireland. Along with the world’s most famous bloodsucker, a young Stoker is in the story, later revisited (and freaked out) by his childhood caretaker. It’s a horror story for true fright-seekers.
It’s not easy being private investigator V.I. Warshawski. In Paretsky’s 20th novel to feature the unstoppable feminist Chicago sleuth, our heroine finds herself in a tangled web of international criminals (Russian mob operatives, ISIS backers, rogue ICE agents) while working to save an old friend’s nephew from a murder arrest. While characters from previous books pop in, this can be read as a standalone.
The Feral Detective
If the plot sounds weird, it is, as well as super-entertaining: A misfit private investigator who lives in a dilapidated trailer at the edge of Los Angeles, Charles, teams up with a wry, anxious New York woman, Phoebe. She’s seeking her best friend’s missing daughter, Arabella, who may have been drawn into the surreal world of a cultish group of outcasts squatting in the Mojave Desert — the same world where Charles, who is rather feral, was raised. Movie rights have been sold for this winner, as well as for Lethem's acclaimed earlier novel Motherless Brooklyn.