Sunday, September 27, 2020

For Fans of Gone Girl

“I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.”

~ John Locke (1632-1704), English philosopher

Bestselling novelist Gillian Flynn hit a nerve with the mesmerizing, intense, near-claustrophobic Gone Girl, which featured a marriage gone terribly, horribly awry, shifting perspectives, devilish plot twists, and characters that managed to be realistic, dark and creepy, and unreliable by turns. It’s already under development for the big screen (as is her earlier novel Dark Places), but if you want to read something similar, try one of the books mentioned below.

The Perfect Ghost by Linda Barnes

Perfect GhostPsychological Suspense. As in Gone Girl, The Perfect Ghost contains plentiful plot twists and unreliable characters motivated by love, rivalry, and revenge. The story follows Em Moore, half of an autobiography-ghostwriting team, after the death of her co-author (and lover). He’d handled the parts of the job that required speaking to people, but she’s determined to finish the biography of film director Garrett Malcolm; slowly but surely she becomes spellbound by his charismatic personality, despite foreboding signs of dark family secrets and professional troubles. Parallels to Hamlet (currently in production on Malcolm’s estate) add to an atmosphere where nothing is as it seems.

The Dinner by Herman Koch

Psychological Suspense. Over the course of an evening at a fashionable Amsterdam restaurant, two couples move from small talk during the appetizer to weightier issues as the meal continues. Brought together by their sons — who have done something terrible — we learn more about what ties the families together, and what seems to be a skewering of upper-class values turns into something far more serious. On the face of it, The Dinner may not seem to have much in common with Gone Girl. However, both successfully mix literary prose with taut suspense and dark humor, and feature unlikable, unreliable narrators who slowly reveal details of the crimes that have torn apart their families.