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LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD—the fairy tale that keeps on giving. [image credit (with apologies to Jessie Wilcox Smith): The Internet Weekly Report ]

How to tell a Granny from a Big Bad Wolf – Part IV.

In the earlier posts of my thriller review series here (okay, and here and here) I explored what Little Red Riding Hood would look like as a thriller, using Christopher Booker’s metaplot theory. (But this is definitely probably for now the last post in this thriller review series.)

If Little Red Riding Hood’s parents and siblings were all killed in a fiery crash on their way to Disneyland, and had to be identified by dental records because their fingers were all missing—Red only survived because she was adopted, and was left at home to care for the new puppy—and Granny’s murder is actually a horrific echo of her past, and if Red is then kidnapped by Granny’s mysterious assailant (The Woodsman, of course) who turns out to be her mother’s ex-husband—and she has to be rescued by her ex, the Big Bad Wolf, who Red rejected just because he happened to be, through absolutely no fault of his own, a sociopath—it’s an Intimate Psychological Thriller. Sooner or later, somebody will be locked in a closet.

Recently I read Fatal Collision by Thorne Moore, a character-driven intimate psychological thriller. My review is below.

Adam Winters is killed by a drunk driver. His devastated widow, Nicki, realises she is being stalked.

Offered an escape to a cottage by the sea, she and her daughter Willow arrive on the Pembrokeshire coast.

They settle into the community, but are drawn into troubles they have driven two hundred and fifty miles to avoid: family deceptions, jealousies, lies, a disappearance and a suspected killing.

Struggling to find peace with the past and truth in the present, Nicki discovers there is more than one sort of fatal collision.

My Review: 4 stars out of 5

If you wanted to write a solid by-the-tropes psychological thriller, Fatal Collision could be your textbook. It begins slowly, with recently widowed artist Nicki and her daughter Willow fleeing to the Pembrokeshire coast of south-west Wales to escape the stalker who lurks outside their home, leaving threatening notes and graffiti.

Arriving in a swirl of mist and shadows, the seacoast soon becomes a character itself, providing the two grieving women with sunlight and color, and rekindling Nicki’s artistic vision.

The last of the mist disintegrated before my eyes … and where one illusion had bewitched me, another burst out in its place: the sea, under a cobalt sky, a dazzling expanse of ultramarine, sparkling and flashing with the light of a million suns and moons and stars. The light of a limitless universe, folding around me.

But even as Nicki and Willow become more integrated with their new neighbors and surroundings, including a wealthy and attractive father and son, they encounter disturbing stories about missing women, and realize that something is very wrong.

Nicki begins to investigate out of concern for her new friends and for her daughter. In most thrillers, the detective will be aided by a sidekick. For Nicki, that role is filled by the voice in her head of her dead husband Adam. Like many couples who’ve been together for a long period, she knows what Adam would have told her, and lets herself hear that. Instead of becoming a crutch, this inner voice lets her recover her own artistic voice and agency, giving her the support she had depended on when Adam was alive. But it also provides companionship, someone to joke and even argue with.

The pace and setting of Fatal Collision are perfect complements to the thriller action. As Nicki uncovers the various plots, the pace increases until danger, violence, and discovery race together, while the setting contributes to the perfect remote, rugged atmosphere.

My only complaints are minor. I wasn’t altogether convinced that the killer—a psychopath capable of meticulous planning and control—would actually have risked everything to commit the crimes for the reasons given, and I was equally unconvinced by the lack of any apparent relationship between husband Adam’s fatal collision of the title, and the deaths Nicki is investigating.  Overall though, Fatal Collision is a terrific example of a classic thriller. It’s fast-paced, involves a truly evil villain, and offers a brilliant mix of action, limited violence, and suspense.