5 thrilling books to read before you see the film in 2018
From 'Red Sparrow' to 'The Spinning Man,' these novels are must-reads for lovers of thrills, chills and dramatic characters.
While the cinematic halls of 2018 are plastered with blockbuster films featuring superheroes, dinosaurs and other larger-than-life characters, there are also several dramatic adaptations of thrilling novels poised to make the leap from the page to the silver screen. Below are just a few of the page-turners readers should crack open before punching their ticket to the theater.
'The Spinning Man'
American author George Harrar's 2004 novel "The Spinning Man" is a dark psychological mystery about a college professor and the disappearance of a local high school cheerleader. The film based on the book, starring Australian actor Guy Pearce and Odeya Rush, a rising Israeli actress, is already being favorably compared to the 2014 thriller "Gone Girl."
According to Irish actor Pierce Brosnan, who plays a detective in the film, director Simon Kaijser is faithfully adapting Harrar's dark novel. “In Simon’s hands, it has a spellbinding, bleak menace to it,” he told Variety. “This is such a character study. Especially in its depiction of the disintegration of a marriage."
According to Harrar, the distinction that sets "The Spinning Man" apart from other crime thrillers is the uncertainty surrounding its main protagonist. "Readers are accustomed to trusting the narrator in any novel," he explained. "At some point in 'The Spinning Man,' you have to decide whether you will continue to believe Evan’s explanations, given the mounting circumstantial evidence against him."
'The Devil and Sherlock Holmes'
Over a period of several years, American journalist David Grann traveled the world collecting true accounts of "ambition, deception, passion, and folly." His 2010 tome, "The Devil and Sherlock Holmes," collates these unsettling short stories into one paperback, presenting a view of humanity that's part entertainment, part cautionary tale.
"One of the things that I learned in doing these stories is often we think we know the truth or the truth seems totally logical," Grann, author of "The Lost City of Z," told NPR. "But unlike Sherlock Holmes, we're very fallible. We're very mortal, and we can't always see the pieces."
"The Old Man and the Gun," one of the short stories that appears in "Devil," will soon be released as a major motion picture starring American actors Robert Redford and Casey Affleck. The true tale revolves around Forrest Tucker, a career criminal who successfully escaped from prison a mind-boggling 18 times. Rumors are swirling that this may mark the last time Redford appears in front of the camera.
"If this really is Redford's final movie in front of the camera, we did our best to send him off well," wrote director David Lowery in his personal blog. "I've made two movies with him now and am a luckier person and better storyteller for it."
Based on the bone-chilling novel by British author Tim Lebbon, "Silence" tells the tale of a family struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic world terrorized by blind, bat-like creatures called Vesps. Because the creatures only hunt using their advanced hearing, the family decides to hike to a remote haven where quiet may be their only hope.
"I’m not sure why I love them so much," Lebbon said of his attraction to writing end-of-the-world stories. "I’ve always loved reading apocalyptic fiction, from an early age, so I naturally progressed to writing it. There’s a fascination there, because humanity will likely end one day. And it’s also a fertile place for telling stories of extremes – of characters, situations, landscapes and decisions."
Helmed by Hollywood horror director John R. Leonetti and Alexandra Milchan, an Israeli producer known for "The Wolf of Wall Street" and AMC's upcoming anthology series "The Terror," the adaptation of "Silence" promises to freak out audiences with its eerie clam and dark, wild setting. The film currently stars American actor Stanley Tucci, Australian actress Miranda Otto and former "Mad Men" star Kiernan Shipka.
Starring American actor John Travolta and acclaimed Israeli actress Moran Atias, "Speed Kills" is based on the best-selling book by author Arthur Jay Harris. The true story revolves around the life of Donald Aronow, an American designer, builder and racer of some of the fastest speed boats ever created. His work eventually caught the eye of both the U.S. government and smugglers, who respectively used his boats to fight crime and shuttle drugs. In 1987, Aronow was murdered under mysterious circumstances in Miami by two men who were later discovered to be former business associates.
"I like biopic films,” Travolta told Deadline. "They are fascinating to me, and real-life characters are always interesting to play. … This is a great story."
According to American filmmaker John Luessenhop, creating a biopic about Aronow was an easy decision after reading Harris' novel. "Once I starting learning about Don Aronow’s life, I jumped at the opportunity to bring this story to the big screen," he said. "John Travolta is the perfect actor to bring Aronow’s story to life."
If you're interested in cozying up with a nail-biting espionage thriller, American author Jason Matthews' "Red Sparrow" should be next on your hit list. Matthews, a retired officer of the CIA’s Operations Directorate, based his fictional account of Russian and American spies on his own experience recruiting and managing foreign agents.
"Story comes first, in my view," he told Newsday. "Of course, details that are authentic, that are evocative, make any plot stronger. As a reader, I can appreciate, for example, medical dialogue that is authentic, even if I don't have experience in that life. And I think that equal parts of experience and imagination fuel the same fire: Having met outlandish characters in my career enabled me to concoct the fictional ones."
A film adaptation of "Red Sparrow," starring American actress Jennifer Lawrence as a Russian spy and Australian Joel Edgerton as her American counterpart, appears to faithfully adhere to all of the twists and unpredictable plot turns of Matthews' novel.
"I find the spy genre very interesting," director Francis Lawrence said of his decision to make the film. "And what’s interesting to me about this is that it doesn’t seem to fall into a category that’s too polarizing, the kind of John le Carré political genre or 'gadgety' Bond or 'Mission Impossible.' It’s somewhere in between."
"Red Sparrow" is slated for release on March 2.
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