I haven’t read thrillers or detective stories for a long time. I think the last thriller I read was “Pirate Latitude” in 2009. That was 13 years ago. I have to say “Pirate Latitude” is quite an interesting book, which prompted me to buy another book from the author, titled “Dragon Teeth”, for which I could hardly endure the first 50 pages.
Then several days ago, I read Pooja’s review of the book “The Housemaid” by Freida McFadden and I quite like it. Most of the thrillers and detective stories I read in the past are quite depressing, but “The Housemaid” is not. If anything, it is a very positive story and leaves you very content and happy.
Remember how depressing “Death On The Nile” is? It is one of the best stories from Agatha Christi and very entertaining as well, but the underlying theme is so depressing that I had to gasp for air after watching each of its movie or TV rendition. Four women die needlessly just because of their love for (or association with) the cute boy Simon Doyle. Jacqueline is the most tragic of all. When she realizes that Simon wants to kill his rich wife Linnet, she has to step in to help him since she knows he is not going to make it without her help. And Jacqueline loves Simon so much that she’s willing to go to hell for it. One thing leads to another. Jacqueline ends up getting Linnet shot, getting the maid killed, getting the witness Mrs Otterbourne killed, and eventually getting Simon and herself killed. The plot is so well structured and the psychology of the characters are so precise that one is left quite absorbed in it, which explains the story’s enduring charm.
At first, Simon and Jacqueline thinks they just want to kill one person, but life doesn’t turn out as they planned. No surprise there. When the dust settles, five people (including the murderers) are dead and many people, I mean their relatives, friends, and other people involved, have their life forever changed.
Because of such depressing plot lines, I gave up on thrillers or detective stories. However, “The Housemaid” has revived my interest with a nice, positive, satisfactory theme. I like it so much that I got another book of the same author, “Never Lie” and finished it in three hours by skimming and skipping. Although I couldn’t get any quote from “The Housemaid”, I got several quotes from “Never Lie”. I particularly like it when the author explains psychological research and human behavior.
The plot is quite interesting. Tricia and her husband Nathan come to see a house in a suburb of NYC. A snow storm comes, the real estate agent doesn’t show up, and they are snowed in the strange house by themselves. And soon they realize the house used to belong to a psychiatrist, Dr. Adrienne Hale, who disappeared four years prior after publishing a popular book.
Tricia finds a secret room stashed with Dr. Hale’s tapes of her therapy sessions with her clients. Listening to them reveals all the secrets of the house, the doctor, and her patients. One patient is a mother who’s afraid that her son would kill her; another patient is a young woman who’s husband and best friends were murdered by strangers during a camping trip; EJ is a patient who suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder and he continues to blackmail the psychiatrist in order to get free therapy and some narcotics prescribed. Adrienne Hale eventually decides to take care of EJ by asking her boyfriend Luke to murder EJ.
And the ending is quite surprising to me. Some readers wrote on Goodreads that they guessed the ending half way through, but I didn’t. What you see is not what you eventually get and people’s identities, when eventually revealed, are quite surprising but still largely plausible if you reflect on the details from the beginning.
It’s quite a good read and I have gathered several quotes here:
On some level, I’m sure Mrs. Lawton knows what her daughter is. She’s not a stupid woman. But denial is a powerful defense mechanism.
If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.
And to be fair, I never liked Megan much. She was one of those people who always put everyone down every chance she got. The world is better off without her. Trust me.
Technically, I went through a red light. While I don’t endorse breaking the law, there are mental health benefits to doing so. A psychological study demonstrated that cheating or breaking rules resulted in an unexpectedly good mood afterward. As well as a brief sense of freedom from all rules. So perhaps we should all bend the rules sometimes.
She wants to be my friend. Or at least, she wants a pretend friendship, where we gossip, do lunch at a café, and act as though we don’t dislike one another.
Human beings don’t deal well with rejection. Back when our ancestors were hunters and gatherers, being ostracized from a tribe was akin to a death sentence. For that reason, rejection is experienced by human beings as being incredibly painful. Studies using functional MRI have shown the same areas of the brain become activated both during rejection and during real physical pain.
From a social psychological standpoint, traditional gender roles are often internalized for men. They feel obligated to make decisions and take control while women follow.