Lately I have been trying to read more suspense and thriller books, because it's a genre I know hardly anything about, and it's only growing in popularity. In fact, one of my librarian friends tells me that many books that would have been published in years past as "mysteries" are now being published as "thrillers," because thrillers are more popular.
Now, I am not qualified to say what makes a thriller a thriller, or a suspense novel a suspense novel, or how they differ (and how they all differ from mysteries). If you want to talk about the nuances of nonfiction genres, like True Crime or Micro-histories, I could argue all day about those. But novels? I'm just not fussy enough to make the distinction.
All of that said, I did recently read Erin Hart's novel Haunted Ground, and really enjoyed it. I think I'm going to call it suspense, because, although it kept me wanting to turn the pages, I tend to think of "thrillers" as James Patterson-esque hack books, with two-page chapters and widely spaced text, with lots of chapter-ending cliffhangers and very little in the way of character development or graceful prose. This book was different; actually, when I started it, I thought the text was going to be a bit too dense. But once I got about thirty pages in, the author had me hooked.
The story is this: an Irish farmer, digging his own peat for fuel, comes across a perfectly preserved human head. The authorities call Irish archaeologist Cormac Maguire and American pathologist Nora Gavin, both of whom have some expertise about such "bog bodies," and soon they find themselves investigating both the historical mystery of who the head belonged to, as well as the more modern mystery of the disappearance of the wife and child of the local British "lord of the manor." Sparks may or may not fly between Maguire and Gavin; I'm not telling. All told there's a couple of great mysteries here, plus lots of fascinating information about British and Irish history.
I'm giving it a big thumbs up (it reminded me, a bit, of another one of my favorite British suspense authors, Minette Walters), and I'm excited to get the next two books in the series. Suspense novels may actually be making a little inroad into my reading heart.