A knowing nod to Hitchcock's Psycho
Do Not Disturb - Freida McFadden
Hollywood Upstairs Publishing
Released: 7th September 2021
Psychological Thriller Fans rating - 76% ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Genre: Mystery / suspense
Premise: Quinn Alexander has killedher controlling husband after he pushed her too far and makes a run for it before the police find out what she’s done – but a snowstorm forces her to take refuge at a creepy motel which isn’t as safe as she’d hoped.
In summary: The story of a woman on the run after murdering her controlling husband, that's told from three different perspectives with clever nods to Hitchcock's Psycho
This was the second Freida McFadden thriller I’ve read based on the unusually high number of recommendations I’d seen in online book clubs.
I love the easy style of McFadden’s writing and the short, punchy chapters which entice you to read ‘just one more’ until the book’s finished and it’s two o’clock in the morning.
This book also cleverly plays with the readers’ expectations and twists them out of recognition. In this case, there’s a knowing nod to Hitchcock’s Psycho.
There’s a creepy motel (Baxter Motel even sounds similar to Bates Motel!) and a strange woman silhouetted in the window.
And so McFadden encourages you to believe you know what’s going on and how the story’s going to play out – until she pulls the rug from under your feet and you realise she’s played you all along.
The story is about Quinn Alexander, who has murdered her controlling husband as the novel opens.
Desperate not to be caught, she makes a run for it, but when she’s pulled over in a snowstorm with a faulty taillight, she’s forced to take refuge in a motel for the night.
That’s where she meets owner, Nick and the curious lady in Room 202 who’s watching her every move.
The book cleverly switches POVs between Quinn, her sister, Claudia and the motel owner’s wife, Rosalie who give a different perspective on the events that unfold.
But rather than flip-flopping between characters from chapter to chapter, McFadden gives each character a substantial section of the book so you have the time and space to really understand each of them.
Of course, there are twists and turns along the way with plenty of misdirection, although not a big earth-shaking twist that you could say rocks you to the core and completely throws you.
Also, it’s marketed as a psychological thriller but I would classify more as a mystery / suspense as it’s missing some of the key thriller essentials, such as a hero who becomes the victim.
That said, this is a really easy, enjoyable story that’s great to while away a few hours during the winter months in front of a fire.
A definite Psychological Thriller Fans recommended read.
Quinn Alexander has committed an unthinkable crime.
To avoid spending her life in prison, Quinn makes a run for it. She leaves behind her home, her job, and her family. She grabs her passport and heads for the northern border before the police can discover what she’s done.
But when an unexpected snowstorm forces her off the road, Quinn must take refuge at the broken-down, isolated Baxter Motel. The handsome and kindly owner, Nick Baxter, is only too happy to offer her a cheap room for the night.
Unfortunately, the Baxter Motel isn’t the quiet, safe haven it seemed to be. The motel has a dark and disturbing past. And in the dilapidated house across the way, the silhouette of Nick's ailing wife is always at the window. Always watching.
In the morning, Quinn must leave the motel. She'll pack up her belongings and get back on the road to freedom.
But first, she must survive the night.
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AJ Wills is the bestselling author of multiple psychological thrillers. He was a journalist for more than twenty years and has been writing full-time since March 2021. He's married to fellow thriller writer, AJ McDine.