5 Best Books is a Weekly Meme hosted by Cassandra at her blog, INDIEREADERHOUSTON.
First things first: Define monster. I'm using a broad definition of the word.
In truth, almost every mystery and/or thriller I read has some sort of monster in it. A murderer, by definition, is usually a monster. He doesn't necessarily have to have claws or horns or fangs or be covered in fur or scales or whatnot. A monster doesn't always have to be repulsive either. There can be wonderful monsters. (As in my first book choice.) Are we agreed?
I've left off the more obvious monster-type books because I'm saving those for a Halloween post.
Okay, then let's get to my variations on a theme:
1) JURASSIC PARK by Michael Crichton
I've only read three of Crichton's books - but these three I really enjoyed because the subject matter appealed to me. Besides JURASSIC PARK, I've read THE LOST WORLD and TIMELINE.
In JURASSIC PARK, the 'monsters' are wondrous - dinosaurs brought into the modern age. A 'monstrous' idea that almost immediately goes wrong. Dinosaurs have already had their time on earth, they don't belong here. But now that they are here, you can hardly blame them if they behave according to their genetic instructions. They intrude. We intrude. It's a clash destined for a bad end.
2) KRAKEN by China Mieville
A religion that worships giant squids is only one of the 'monstrous' ideas put forth by the sharply inventive mind of China Mieville. His style is commonly defined as 'the new wierd'. But I just call it monstrously inventive.
The Kraken of the title is a desiccated Giant Squid being exhibited in London's Natural History Museum where Billy Harrow is the mollusks curator. When the the squid and the tank full of chemicals in which his intact monstrousness floats, is somehow whisked from the museum practically under the noses of Billy and the staff, it is the beginning of an apocalyptic adventure the likes of which very few of us have ever encountered.
Though somewhat confusing in scope, especially near the end, this remains a terrific dystopian read full of stunningly vibrant ideas, visuals and thoroughly vile and icky villains.
One of my favorites ideas posited by the author: that somehow the ocean comes visiting on dry land. Staying - intact - at a house in London. How this can happen - who knows? You have to read it.
3) THE HARRY POTTER BOOKS by J.K. Rowling
Though I enjoyed the series as a whole, my favorites (besides THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN)
are the last two massive tomes which I consumed in one great orgy of reading.
And I ask you - who is a bigger or fiercer monster than he who must not be named? Well, what the heck, I'll go ahead and name him anyway: Voldemort.
4) RELIC by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
A monstrous killer on the loose in NYC's American Museum of Natural History. The police are baffled. It appears the killings are the work of some half man/half lizard relic brought back from the Amazon - part of the new Amazonian exhibit about to open at the Museum.
Very few do eerie in the dead of night better than Preston and Child. Their books are not great literature, just terrific thrilling tales usually involving a deranged killer with an inventive (and often incredible) modus operandi encased inside a labyrinth of outrageous clues and fantastic plot twists.
I love a dark tale that takes place in a museum. I always imagine that a museum in the dead of night would not be the cheeriest place to be. I read RELIC ages ago and as usual, most of it exists in a fuzzy haze in my brain, but I think this is the oh-so-eccentric FBI agent Pendergast's debut.
5) KEEPING THE DEAD by Tess Gerritsen (I read this when it had another and better title, THE KEEPSAKE.)
Another murder in a museum thriller, perfect for an October night. This time it's Boston's Crispin Museum where, in a dusty corner, a forgotten mummy is found. But the contents turn out to be most emphatically NOT two thousand years old. Instead, they are the remains of a modern day murder victim.
When another 'mummy' victim turns up in another dark corner of the museum, who will stop the Archeology Killer? Boston's crime fighting duo, forensic pathologist Maura Isles and homicide detective Jane Rizzoli are called in to solve this strangest of cases.