Lately it seems that the phenomenal success of Gone Girl has turned a whole new audience onto unsympathetic protagonists who are unreliable narrators to boot. Add to this some complex plotting and master story-telling, and readers can never be quite sure where these books are going.
Thus contemporary mysteries with women at the heart of them are some of my favorite books right now. I happened upon them by accident, in effect by writing one!
So here are my curated favorites, some old, some new, but all with a combination of page-turning propulsion, fabulous plots, and great writing too. Enjoy.
The new mistress of creating characters that are glacially creepy ratchets up the impending unease as the book edges to its unmentionable conclusion.
A wicked tale full of wicked characters (an unsuitable wife, a female would-be assassin, to name two) and dysfunctional viewpoints. Sublime writing and more than a few sit-up-straight surprises.
An excruciating read. Seemingly every five minutes you’re back at the beginning, and your quest to find out just what’s really going in Christine’s confused, distressing life starts all over again. Brilliant.
A compulsive page-turner of a book that, even though the secret itself is perhaps more obvious than some of the other twists alluded to here, succeeds because it ties so neatly together the lives of three different women whose motivations you are desperate to understand.
A beautifully-written poignant search for a lost mother, with an unguessable mystery at the heart of it. I loved this book.
An apparent car accident, a missing child who may or may not exist, a woman who has fake memories. Just what is going on? Slowly the mystery unveils itself in sleep-depriving fashion.
Another major bestseller in the UK, when a daughter goes missing, the whole fabric of a family’s life falls apart, and it seems no-one knew each other very well at all. A dual time-frame story brought to life by elegant measured prose.