How to Get Your Thrills During Lockdown

Author Cate Holahan discusses the books that got her through lockdown, while also inspiring her to write her latest novel, Her Three Lives.

When the pandemic started, my suggested movie stream was filled with films about deadly viruses. Contagion. World War Z. Children of Men. Knowing that I enjoy thrillers, the algorithm behind my entertainment choices apparently decided to select several from the genre steeped in my current circumstances. 

I couldn’t watch any of them. For me, stories need to feel like an escape while also being relatable. Watching movies about a fast-spreading, lethal pathogen while living through stay-at-home orders because of a novel coronavirus threatened to heighten my existing anxieties to an intolerable level. I needed something less on the nose, stories that would address my feelings about being quarantined without smacking me in the face with too much reality.

This need was top of mind when writing Her Three Lives, my latest domestic suspense novel, coming out April 20. Greg, who tells the story along with his fiancée Jade, is confined to his home after suffering a traumatic brain injury during a break-in. During his recovery, he becomes glued to his computer and cell phone, obsessively monitoring live video feeds from his security cameras and other smart home devices. Much of the story’s tension stems from Greg’s obsession with surveillance, and his growing frustration with being stuck in the house. However, there’s no deadly disease lurking outside his door—though there may be a murderer inside his house. 

Here are several other fantastic novels that tap into our locked-in angst without the big villain being a microscopic organism. 

The Secrets of Us

(Thomas & Mercer, June 1, 2021) 

I was fortunate enough to read a review copy of this upcoming, unputdownable page-turner by Amazon bestselling author Lucinda Berry. The story involves two foster sisters, one of whom is confined to a mental institution after allegedly attempting to murder her husband, and the other who is desperate to prove her sister’s innocence while keeping a long-buried secret from their shared childhood. I truly felt for the character Nichole who is a prisoner of the hospital and also of her own mind.             

My Darling Husband

(Park Row, December 28, 2021)

In this upcoming thriller from international bestselling author Kimberly Belle, a happily married couple with two sweet kids is confronted by a masked home invader who demands ransom money and won’t let them leave. But are his motives strictly financial or do they stem from dark secrets being kept by the man of the house? Kimberly Belle never disappoints, and I’m looking forward to reading a book that promises to stir up all my feelings about confinement without making me paranoid about becoming ill. 

Don’t Look For Me

(St. Martin’s Press, September 15, 2020)

Bestselling author Wendy Walker’s latest is a fantastic thrill ride that features a grieving mother who is forcibly taken and conscripted to take care of a young girl by her kidnapper. Much of the action takes place in the small rooms where protagonist Molly Clarke must exist and also in Clarke’s own mind as she must decide how hard she’ll fight to return to her family. Walker is a master of character. I felt every bit of what this woman was going through, which made the heart-pounding ending that much sweeter. 

The Silent Patient

(Feb 5, 2019)

If you somehow missed this blockbuster book from Alex Michaelides back in 2019, go and get it now. A woman confined to a mental institution is refusing to utter a word after killing her husband, and the story hits home for anyone who has felt stuck in a situation and unable to say anything to make it any better. Add to that a doctor desperate for her to tell him what she knows, and you can’t stop reading. I couldn’t. 

Get Cate Holahan’s upcoming book Her Three Lives here:

Author Photo Credit: Nachama Photography

About Her Three Lives by Cate Holahan:

Her public life

Jade Thompson has it all. She’s an up-and-coming social media influencer, and she has a beautiful new home and a successful architect for a fiancé. But there’s trouble behind the scenes. To Greg’s children, his divorce from their mother and his new life can only mean a big mid-life crisis. To Jade, his suburban Connecticut upbringing isn’t an easy match with her Caribbean roots

Her private life

A savage home invasion leaves Greg house-bound with a traumatic brain injury and glued to the live feeds from his ubiquitous security cameras. As the police investigate the crime and Greg’s frustration and rage grows, Jade begins to wonder what he may know about their attackers. And whether they are coming back. 

Her secret life

As Greg watches Jade’s comings and goings, he becomes convinced that her behavior is suspicious and that she’s hiding a big secret.  The more he sees, the more he wonders whether the break-in was really a random burglary. And whether he’s worth more to Jade if he were dead than alive.


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