Exciting unpredictable thrillers with intelligent characters?
September 24, 2012 9:23 AM   Subscribe

I just finished Gone Girl the other day and am looking for similar reads. Without spoiling anything this book features intelligent and unpredictable characters with twisty plotting, including a significant script flip halfway through. Would love similar page turners that keep you guessing without being too formulaic or lowest common denominator!
posted by yellowbinder to Media & Arts (26 answers total) 86 users marked this as a favorite
Fingersmith got me good, halfway through.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:34 AM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

The Basic Eight and Special Topics in Calamity Physics, for me, activated the same sort of cannot-put-this-down, up-until-3am urges.
posted by troika at 9:55 AM on September 24, 2012

I read a fair amount of this genre, and here are the three I've enjoyed the most:

Before I Go To Sleep

Never Let Me Go

Praying for Sleep
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:58 AM on September 24, 2012

Also, I haven't read Gillian Flynn's other books, but their blurbs make them look promising....
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:59 AM on September 24, 2012

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult would be my suggestion.
posted by LightMayo at 10:01 AM on September 24, 2012

Response by poster: Also, I haven't read Gillian Flynn's other books, but their blurbs make them look promising....

Yeah I have Dark Places, read about half of it last summer but it was pretty unsettling so I stopped, will probably give it another go soon.
posted by yellowbinder at 10:02 AM on September 24, 2012

Oh, one more: I also really liked Tell No One. And thinking about it, I'm not sure why I put Never Let Me Go in my answer above, it's really not twisty in the way Gone Girl is. But it's good.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:08 AM on September 24, 2012

Tana French's novels are pretty good for that. There are four in the Dublin Murder Squad series, I believe.
posted by mrfuga0 at 10:19 AM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

I can't tell you what happens, but "Feed" (penned under Seanan McGuire's pseudonym, Mira Grant) is a great read. I'm currently on the last book ("Blackout") of the trilogy.
posted by parilous at 10:28 AM on September 24, 2012

Gone Girl reminded me of several other books:

In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O'Brien (another wife-missing/unreliable narrator novel, even creepier than Gone Girl)
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
In the Woods by the aforementioned Tana French
Several of Laura Lippman's books.
posted by lunasol at 10:31 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Freaky Deaky - Elmore Leonard
The Little Drummer Girl - John Le Carre
Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson
The Butcher Boy - Patrick McCabe
The Grifters - Jim Thompson
Red Harvest - Dashiell Hammett
The Insult - Rupert Thompson

Just about any crime novel by Elmore Leonard or Jim Thompson is an exciting, unpredictable thriller with intelligent characters.

John Le Carre is often similar, but he's just as likely to have a story be more slow, labyrinthe, and melancholy. For example, I found Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy to be on the more slow and labyrinthine side of things, but its sequels, The Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley's People, both seemed faster-paced and more twisty. The Tailor of Panama and Absolute Friends are also both on the faster-paced side of things, whereas A Perfect Spy is much more contemplative.

My girlfriend recommends REAMDE by Neal Stephenson, but I haven't read it yet myself.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:33 AM on September 24, 2012

A Simple Plan is one of my favourites in that genre.
posted by backwards guitar at 10:53 AM on September 24, 2012

I think you could put We Need to Talk About Kevin in this category. Also Dan Chaon, Await Your Reply.

An oldie but a goodie: Daphne DuMaurier's Rebecca.

And if you like YA, Megan Whalen Turner's Queen's Thief series would be a good bet.
posted by JuliaJellicoe at 10:54 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Another vote for Fingersmith. It was a totally thrilling, twisty ride.
posted by kimdog at 10:55 AM on September 24, 2012

Denise Mina's books kind of remind me of Flynn's. You might start with Garnethill.
posted by scratch at 11:22 AM on September 24, 2012

Seconding Dan Chaon's Await Your Reply!
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:38 AM on September 24, 2012

Response by poster: Some promising answers here, so much better than Amazon's recommendations. Keep 'em coming, I already can't wait to dig into some of these!
posted by yellowbinder at 12:57 PM on September 24, 2012

I'm just beginning to read Mr. Peanut, by Adam Ross, which I picked up because someone compared something about it to Gone Girl.
posted by mskyle at 1:25 PM on September 24, 2012

Critic and author Sarah Weinman answered this very question a couple of months ago at Salon:

posted by kickerofelves at 3:15 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I also read and loved Gone Girl. I hadn't been held as raptly by a book since I read Laura Lippman's What the Dead Know. I've read and liked some of her other novels, but none as much as that one.

I stayed up until 3AM reading Still Missing by Chevy Stevens. Her other book Never Knowing is pretty good also.

Oooh! Also, Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson! (I see that someone above recommended this one. It's pretty great.)

We Need to Talk About Kevin is a great book that I read in one sitting that I will never, ever read again. I also second Never Let Me Go. It's slow to start and it'll keep you hanging for awhile on a thread of something-just-isn't-right-here until WHAM. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane. A Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin.
posted by Aquifer at 3:35 PM on September 24, 2012

I strongly urge you to read Dialogues of the Dead by Reginald Hill. It's part of a series, but don't let that put you off reading this one first. It's one of the best of the genre.

by Mark Billingham is also part of a series and it also doesn't matter if you've read the others. This one is more pulpy but it's very fast paced and well-plotted.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:16 PM on September 24, 2012

ANYTHING by Nicci French. I'm surprised no one has suggested it yet.
Start with "Beneath The Skin."
posted by jen14221 at 1:09 PM on September 25, 2012

Oh! And the Ruth Rendell novels. She also writes as Barbara Vine.
Start with "A sight for Sore Eyes."
posted by jen14221 at 1:14 PM on September 25, 2012

Also, if you end up liking Fingersmith, Affinity by the same author is also excellent, Victorian, and plot-twisty.
posted by JuliaJellicoe at 1:36 PM on September 25, 2012

Okay so I picked up Fingersmith on the advice of this thread and, yeah, add me to the chorus.
posted by troika at 1:55 PM on September 25, 2012

Response by poster: Following up, read In The Woods. Was decent for sure but without being too spoilery lacked resolution, which is ok sometimes for sure and maybe necessary in this case but didn't satisfy completely. I was recommending Gone Girl to my mom in the vaguest of ways and she recommended it right away, so there's that!

I got Fingersmith last night on the Kindle store, I had to change my country to US to access it, resulting in a sternly worded email demanding proof at 3:00 am, but it's mine now suckers! I thought there was no way I could get in when I first posted the thread so didn't read much about it, going almost totally blind and it is pleasing so far.
posted by yellowbinder at 12:16 PM on October 17, 2012

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