Friday, February 17, 2012

Tess Gerritsen's five favorite thrillers

Tess Gerritsen is the best-selling author of the Jane Rizzoli crime thrillers.

One of her five favorite thrillers, as told to Daisy Banks at The Browser:
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

The first thriller you have chosen is Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, which has one of the most evocative opening lines of any novel: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

This a modern – well, 1930s – version of Jane Eyre. In the grand tradition of Gothic novels, it features an innocent young woman and a scary house with secrets. The heroine marries a widowed Englishman and moves into his mansion, where the servants are still mourning his stunning first wife, Rebecca. Throughout the story, she feels the first wife haunt the house, and she can never quite measure up to her. And then the heroine begins to wonder: What if Rebecca was murdered? What if my husband did it?

Rebecca has many different sides to her as a character, depending on who is describing her.

Yes, it is a little bit like [Akira Kurosawa's film] Rashomon in that you look at this dead woman from different points of view. The housekeeper Mrs Danvers sees the late Rebecca as a queen, an object of total worship. The heroine sees her as a flawless and beautiful ideal that she can never match up to. Then you find out that, from the husband’s point of view, Rebecca was in fact a monster.

What makes it such a good thriller?

The exploration of who this dead woman really was, and whether her husband might have killed her. That’s the underlying theme for a lot of good crime novels – the unknowable person. We all walk around with a public face, but we don’t really know what is underneath that mask. Crime fiction is about finding out who the real person is.

And what they are capable of!
Read about the other thrillers Gerritsen tagged at The Browser.

Rebecca appears on Mary Horlock's list of the five best psychos in literature and Derwent May's critic's chart of top country house books.

Also see Tess Gerritsen's six favorite books featuring female sleuths.

--Marshal Zeringue