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Paula Hawkins, Linden MacIntyre thrillers among CBC's top mystery picks

02/28/2015 02:45 EST | Updated 04/30/2015 05:59 EDT
Whether you're a long-time mystery novel fan, or just getting into the genre, CBC books columnist Erin Balser has three page-turning reads she says will lure even the most reluctant reader.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Likened by The New York Times and People to Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train is another twisting story told from an empowered female narrator's not-to-be trusted perspective, said Balser in an interview with North by Northwest's Sheryl MacKay

The main character is Rachel, who takes the train to London everyday and always passes a home where a young couple live. Rachel creates an elaborate back story for the couple, and when the wife goes missing, Rachel gets "a little too invested and a little too involved in the investigation," said Balser.

"She gets more and more unreliable alongside this mystery of what happened to the wife — where is she? Who took her? Did she run away?" Balser said .

Punishment by Linden MacIntyre

Linden MacIntyre, the former co-host of the CBC's Fifth Estate, explores justice and vengeance in his latest novel. Punishment centres on Tony Breau, a former corrections officer in a Kingston penitentiary who has been forced to retire.

​He then moves back home to a small town, which has been rocked by a murder.

"Some people would say this isn't traditional mystery, but it does what Linden is so well-known for," Balser said. "He is excellent at writing about messed-up people in messed-up small towns."

The Devil You Know by Elizabeth de Mariaffi

Elizabeth de Mariaffi's debut novel is about a rookie crime reporter in Toronto who, while covering the case of serial rapist and killer Paul Bernardo, is haunted by the mysterious disappearance of a childhood friend. As Evie Jones tries to find out what happened to the friend, she discovers she's being followed.

"Elizabeth grew up during this time in Toronto. She has first hand knowledge of what it was like to be a young woman — to have that uncertainty, to have that lack of safety and security, to always be looking over your corner," said Balser.

"Elizabeth does such a good job of taking this factual reality and what it was like being in Toronto during the Paul Bernardo era and taking these two fictional stories and this fictional character and using the facts to inform her own story and enhancing it."

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