Most readers have long since read and reread Gone Girl, and are looking for the next great psychological thriller to devour. The thriller is one of my favorite genres, and I've read quite a few. Here I've listed some of my personal recommendations for books to read once you've finished Gone Girl. Some are already quite well-known, some you may not have heard of yet. Hopefully you find at least one you haven't read yet!
*The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
These are classic originators of the narrator caught up in murder and mayhem. These were two of the first, and finest, books that dared to reveal to their readers that the previously trusted narrator may not be telling everything they know, whether they realize it or not.
The Turn of the Screw centers around a governess summoned to an old house, ostensibly to take care of two children. But when she starts to see and hear supernatural happenings, the reader must puzzle out if these are ghosts in the home, or ghosts in her mind.
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is, as the title suggests, primarily about the murder of a man named Roger Ackroyd. The narrator in this instance though is not the trusted and familiar detective Hercule Poirot, but a doctor the readers meet for the first time within these pages.
*Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
This book came out just a few months ago, and immediately gained positive comparisons to Gone Girl. The narrator, Ani FaNelli, lets the readers know right off the back that there is a secret hidden in her past, a reason why a documentary crew would want to meet with her to hear her side of the story. What that secret is builds slowly and expertly, and even if you guess part of it, as I did, you won't guess it all. This book layers reveal after reveal, carefully pulling you in and never letting you go.
*The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
This is probably the book to get the most immediate comparisons to Gone Girl. I was lucky enough to get a free autographed copy at a recent ALA convention. The Girl on the Train certainly earns its comparisons. It also features a blatantly unreliable narrator, who may or may not be more reliable than the police are giving her credit for, one who believes she has witnessed a murder, but cannot prove a thing.
The narrator of this is a woman suffering from dementia, who is the prime suspect in the murder of her neighbor. This is a very clever and well-done twist on the unreliable narrator motif, with the narrator herself not actually knowing what she has done, trying to figure it out along with the readers.
*Sister by Rosamund Lupton
Like Gone Girl, Sister is a psychological thriller that examines what happens when it turns out a missing loved one may not be who we always thought they were, and the search for answers that may be too painful to confront.
*Dominance, and Obedience, both by Will Lavender
Lavender is an author I strongly feels gets far less love than he deserves. While his books do not feature first-person narrators, they are expertly drawn psychological thrillers full of endless twists and turns. Obedience centers around a college class that has been told their one and only assignment is to solve the mystery of a missing girl before she is murdered; Dominance is also focused on a college class, this one taught by a literature professor who is still in jail, as he is believed to have killed two of his female students.
*The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon
This is the most recent of McMahon's books, but I absolutely recommend her previous works as well. The Night Sister also examines what the long-reverberating effects can be when we discover a loved one may not be what we always believed, or, sometimes more painfully, that they are what we suspected all along. Expertly tying in the past, the present, and even Alfred Hitchcock, The Night Sister brings a supernatural twist to the psychological thriller genre.
*Dark Places, and Sharp Objects, both by Gillian Flynn
If you loved Gone Girl, but haven't read Flynn's two earlier books, you definitely want to go get your hands on copies of these now. Flynn had her art perfected from the beginning, and both these books pack her patented sharp twists and turns, and expert revealing of secrets and lies from the past.
Dark Places has Libby Day for a narrator, though other characters do pop up in third person situations. Day was the lone survivor of The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas, a massacre that cost her mother and sisters their lives. Through The Kill Club, an underground society whose focus is true crime, Day begins to re investigate the crime, and learns that the brother she accused may not be guilty after all.
Sharp Objects takes Camille Preaker as its narrator, a reporter sent back to where she grew up to write on the murders of two girls. But Camille has a secret from her past, one that drove her to seek help in a psych hospital.
*Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
Like Gone Girl, Shutter Island takes what you think you know from the first half of the book, and completely and expertly turns it on its head. This book sends a U.S. Marshal to an isolated island and its mental asylum, and contains one of the greatest twists I've ever read. This was actually a favorite of my grandmother's as well.
*The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Like Gone Girl has become for Gillian Flynn, thus has The Goldfinch become for Donna Tartt-an immensely popular later work that sometimes overshadows the author's earlier writings. The Secret History is a tour-de-force of suspense, telling the tale of a group of college students who took things too far in their attempt to live outside society's norms and moral standards.
*Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
This is another brilliantly woven tale that questions just how much we can know about a loved one, especially when they are no longer there to answer our never-ending questions. McCreight is a master of a twist that packs an emotional punch, a twist that makes complete sense when you look back, but that you never saw coming. Reconstructing Amelia also plays with the idea of media, and, particularly in the vein of Gone Girl, what our own writings really say about us.
*Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris
When the narrator opens with the line, "If there's one thing I've learned in the past fifteen years, it's this: that murder is really no big deal", you know you're in for a thrilling ride. Add this to the club of amazing books that completely take what you thought you knew and thoroughly and believably turn it around.
So, have you read any of these books? Do you have any other recommendations? I'd love to hear from you!
The Bookkeeper's Apprentice