By definition a thriller has to be a thrilling story with mayhem and adversity. In this age of computer generated images, texting, and selfies, the average human being will not settle for less than good entertainment. Even the fairy tales that some of us grew up with have morphed into a television series called “Once Upon a Time.” In this series all sorts of characters are mixed together to create thrills and suspense. Rumpelstiltskin and Captain Hook are an unlikely pairing and did not go together in the basic fairy tale. But they work out in this TV series. Thus, a thriller novel can hardly get away with a happily ever after story. A thriller has to be a story that is rife with a series of unfortunate events like murder, kidnapping, abuse, theft, alcoholism, a terrifying storm, a monster, a ghost, a demented gargoyle and exorcisms⎯ all of these are wonderful misfortunes. To be counted among the best, a thriller novel must throw one of more of its characters into a tailspin of mind-blowing catastrophe.
“The Exorcist” by WilliamPeter Blatty gained fame and notoriety because of its subject matter. This novel is the story of a young girl who becomes possessed by demonic forces that not only take her over completely, these forces control her whole house. The author writes of a strong odor that permeates the room⎯so powerful that one can smell it upon entering the house. The young girl’s room is upstairs! Doors slam on their own, beds are lifted off the floor and cold temperatures permeate every room. The demon causes the child to vomit green matter and to turn her head 360 degrees. This is thrilling. And so very frightening! After I finished reading this one I had to destroy the novel before I could sleep. And then to compound matters, a film was adapted to the novel. I had to see the movie because I did not believe they would be able to reproduce the horror in that thrilling novel. And they did it. And this was before the days of CGI. It goes without saying that demonic possession is misfortune at its worst, and to witness it on the big screen was quite stressful.
In “A False Start,” a hit-and-run driver kills a woman at the beginning of the story. This unfortunate event paves the way for another character to escape a life of constant mental and physical abuse. The accident by itself was earth shattering, but as the reader dives into the story, one unlucky break leads to another, and soon the main character is running for her life. The suspense is created at every
move she makes. Her life’s pitfalls help to create the necessary ingredients for a thriller. Chaos reigns supreme!
For many years authors have woven tales in which characters are beset by some of the most unfathomable circumstances. In spite of obvious doom, these characters stand and meet whatever come their way. Sometimes they survive and end up in a better place and sometimes they do not. But that’s okay, because we as readers go along for the ride. We keep turning the pages until we reach the end. And we close the book with a degree of satisfaction. We’ve been taken on a thrilling adventure, and for a short time forget about our own lives as we experience the lives of the character in the story. We gain pleasure from the misfortune created for us by an author who sat down and put his best efforts forward to write a thriller. It was the duty of the writer to mold these unfortunate events into a story. And when this duty is done well the result is another best- selling thriller novel to add to the covetous list of best-sellers. Dear reader, do not despair, if it’s thrills you want, a plethora of reading is available by clicking a button in this age of e-books, downloading, and then settling back to read. Enjoy!