Behind the Book: The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

Editor’s Note from Kristen Beverly, HPB Buyer:

As a lover of psychological thrillers, when I first heard the plot of The Perfect Mother I was intrigued. It’s the story of a mother’s group and one of the babies goes missing. Seems simple enough. But place this mother’s group in the middle of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and add the fact that the baby goes missing while the moms are out partying together and things start to get more interesting. As the police hunt for the baby, the reader sees the lives of each of the mothers in the group put on full display. Marriages and friendships are put to the test as secrets are revealed about each character. This thriller definitely delivers the thrills – and Kerry Washington agrees. She’s already signed up to both produce and star in the movie! We procured this Q&A with author Aimee Molloy to tell us a little more about the book.

The Perfect Mother

After my first daughter was born in 2013, I signed up for September Babies, a new moms group in Brooklyn. I was a little skeptical about this initially, but the skepticism dissolved almost immediately. I had no family around to help and very little experience with infants. September Babies became my lifeline. Though some members met in person, most of our interaction was via a list serve—a place where people asked questions (Is this normal . . . ? Should I be worried . . . ? Will they ever sleep through the night?). I was blown away by the generosity and encouragement the members showed one another. Perhaps it was the sleep deprivation, but I envisioned us—a relative group of strangers—as a tribe of women who had banded together, and the question occurred to me: what if, God forbid, one of our babies went missing? I could see the members of the group, black war paint under our eyes, torches in hand, combing the streets until the baby was found. I remember I was riding the subway, my daughter strapped to my chest, and I pulled out a notebook, jotting down notes on this idea. A few years later, those notes became The Perfect Mother.

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Thrills and Chills: Reads for Fall

October is my favorite month, not only because it’s the true beginning of fall (I feel strongly enough about this that I will fight anyone who brings up that the equinox is in September!), but also because it’s the beginning of what I like to affectionately refer to as “creepy weather.” There’s something about fall and the approach of Halloween that bring both the cozy and spooky together, and I love to read a ton of mysteries and thrillers during this time.

Unfortunately, sometimes it can feel like this particular genre gets bogged down by a lot of work from dudes with names like James, Michael, John and Joe (no offense, guys), so I made it my personal mission to read thrillers from female authors this year. Here are several that were recently published that I think are worth checking out:


The Breakdown by B.A. Paris
I happened to read B.A. Paris’ 2016 debut novel Behind Closed Doors this summer and was thoroughly horrified. So horrified, in fact, that I rushed to the bookstore to buy The Breakdown as soon as it was released in July. It wasn’t anything like Behind Closed Doors, but I liked it even more due to its heavy paranoia factor. Paris navigates various aspects of mental health—from anxiety to depression and dementia—and utilizes memory loss in a truly gripping way; to the point where every time I closed the book, I wondered if I was losing my mind along with the main character. Continue reading

The Best of Alfred Hitchcock

English film director and producer Alfred Hitchcock was a pioneer of cinema, carving out a legacy for himself in the genres of suspense and psychological thrillers. His method of storytelling through withholding information from the audience makes his movies entertaining till the end. And these breakthrough techniques paved the way for generations of filmmakers to come.

His work ranges from the romantic comedy of Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941), to courtroom drama of The Paradine Case (1947), and dark film noir Shadow of a Doubt (1943).

Hitchcock directed more than 50 feature films in his career, and I’ve seen nearly all of them. So in honor of his birthday today, here’s my list of personal favorites — The Best of Alfred Hitchcock (and where to look to spot his trademark cameo appearance in each).

1. Rear Window (1954) – Starring James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter and Raymond Burr, Rear Window is an exceptional, suspenseful film. The story is confined almost entirely to the four walls of a studio apartment and the scenes observed across the courtyard from the window.

Cameo: Hitchcock is seen winding the clock in the songwriter’s apartment (00:26:10).


2. North by Northwest (1959) – Starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason, this mysterious story of mistaken identity features a memorable opening title sequence created by graphic designer Saul Bass. North by Northwest is often referred to as the first feature film to use kinectic typography. This film also features some of Hitchcock’s famous innuendos.

Cameo: Hitchcock can be seen missing a bus at the end of the opening credits (0:02:09).


3. Dial M for Murder (1954) – In this film – starring Grace Kelly, Robert Cummings, John Williams and Ray Milland – Hitchcock experimented with 3D for a depth effect in one scene. However, it’s reported that the public had grown weary of 3D when the film released, so it was only shown in a few screenings.

Cameo: Hitchcock can be seen on the left side in the class-reunion photo on the wall (00:13:13).


4. Notorious (1946)Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, Hitchcock regulars, are caught in the middle of a plot about Nazis, uranium and South America. Working undercover, they risk it all to reveal the truth.

Cameo: At the big party in Claude Rains’s mansion, Hitchcock can be seen drinking champagne and then quickly departing (01:04:44).


5. The Birds (1963) – Bodega Bay, California sets the stage for a sudden, unexplained series of attacks by birds. Jessica Tandy stars as “Tippi” in this horror film, loosely based on the 1952 story “The Birds” by Daphne du Maurier.

Cameo: A man walking dogs out of the pet store at the beginning of the film. They were two of Hitchcock’s own Sealyham terriers, Geoffrey and Stanley (00:00:02).


6. Strangers on a Train (1951) – Based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith, Hitchcock directed this suspenseful tale starring Farley Granger and Robert Walker. The premise: Two men meet casually on a train, and one speculates on a foolproof murder plot.

Cameo: Look for Hitchcock boarding a train with a double bass instrament case, just as Farley Granger’s character gets off in his hometown (00:10:34).


7. Vertigo (1958)Kim Novak plays the blonde lead opposite James Stewart in this entertaining thriller. Hitchcock used the camera technique dubbed as the “Vertigo Effect” where the camera moves in the opposite direction as the zoom to create a sense of the image stretching.

Cameo: Hitchcock can be spotted in a grey suit walking in the street with a trumpet case (00:11:40).


8. Psycho (1960) – This horror film is based on a novel of the same name by author Robert Bloch. There are many icons of the genre within Psycho, including the infamous shower scene. However, the depiction of violence and sexuality brought controversy to this film during its release.

Cameo: Through the window as Janet Leigh’s character returns to her office, you can see Hitchcock wearing a cowboy hat (00:06:35).


9. Suspicion (1941) – This film was the first time actor Cary Grant worked with Hitchcock. Joan Fontaine won Best Actress Oscar for her outstanding, anxiety-ridden performance in Suspicion.

Cameo: Spot Hitchcock from a distance, mailing a letter at the village post office (00:46:54) and walking a horse across the screen at the hunt meet (00:00:04).


10. To Catch a Thief (1955)Grace Kelly‘s third and final appearance in a Hitchcock film, alongside co-star Cary Grant, To Catch a Thief is set in the French Riveria. It’s more lighthearted and witty than many of Hitchcock’s other films, but loaded with double-entendres.

Cameo: The not-so-subtle appearance of Hitchcock… sitting to the left of Cary Grant’s character on the bus (00:00:10), as shown in the picture at the beginning of this post.


11. Spellbound (1945) – Exploring the realms of pscyhoanalysis, Spellbound features a dream sequence (pictured above) which was designed by surrealist painter Salvador Dali. This film, starring Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman, also entangles romance with suspense in the way that Hitchcock does so well.

Cameo: Look for Hitchcock exiting an elevator at the Empire Hotel, carrying a violin case and smoking a cigarette (00:43:15).


12. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) – This remake of Hitchcock’s own 1934 film of the same name, starred Doris Day and James Stewart. It won an Academy Award for Best Song for “Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)” performed by Doris Day

Cameo: Hitchcock is watching acrobats in the opening scene at the Moroccan marketplace. His back is facing the camera (00:00:33).


If you’re a fan like me, stay tuned for the upcoming (Sept. 25) release of the “Masterpiece Collection” of Hitchcock on Blu-Ray, 15 movies of digitally remastered suspense — I can hardly wait! Which is your favorite Hitchcock film? If you’ve seen them all, let me know which one you think I should watch next.

Enjoy the plot-twisting thrill – Meredith

Meredith is Associate Creative Director at Half Price Books Corporate.
You can follow her on Twitter at @msquare21.

Thriller Anniversary

The historic, epic, magnanimous album, Thriller, was released this very day in 1982. Our HPB corporate operations director tells a great story about a night he was managing the main Dallas location, around the time of Thriller-mania. A non-descript “large” bodyguard entered Half Price Books and asked if it was ok for Michael Jackson to come in and shop. It was late on a weekend evening, so there were scarce employees or customers in the store. A quiet Michael Jackson did some browsing (JUST LIKE YOU AND I) and left with a few treasures (JUST LIKE YOU AND I). We didn’t have any security cameras to capture the moment at the time and no employees bugged the uber-celeb for a photo or an autograph…we’re cool like that.

What a bummer that such a talent is gone too soon. We’ve sold a lot of Michael Jackson records, cassettes, CDs, books and movies through the years, but Thriller’s top of the list. What a cool moment in history, agree?

— Becky

Review of The Ninth Day by Jamie Freveletti

Available at HPB MarketplaceA few weeks ago, our friends over at Harper Collins sent us an advanced copy of The Ninth Day, by Jamie Freveletti, available to the public today (look for it at!) The Ninth Day is the third book in a series about Emma Caldridge — Running from the Devil is the first and Running Dark is the second.

To be quite honest, I wasn’t expecting much from the small mass market paperback, but once I started this book, I seriously couldn’t put it down.

The novel starts off with Emma Caldridge, a biochemist looking for pharmaceutical plants in Arizona, running from but ultimately held captive by drug merchants in Mexico. After discovering that Emma knows about plants, the drug merchants demand that she determines which disease is making both their marijuana plants and the humans around them sick. After a person starts to show symptoms, they have just nine days before dying a horrible death. If Emma does not find the cure, she will be fed to the armadillos.

I found this book to be a fascinating read. It is full of details and bits of knowledge about plants and diseases. I felt like I was learning as I was reading, and the information was presented in such a way that it made sense. However, The Ninth Day is not for a squeamish reader, as there are many descriptions of the horrible things this mystery disease does to the body, along with lots of violence.

This would be the perfect book to read while hanging out by the pool or during a flight. While this book is the third in a series, I do not feel it is necessary to read them in order. The Ninth Day has enough action to capture your attention and keep it until the very last page.

So, what’s your favorite thriller? Any other Freveletti books you love?

— Kristen B.