So, you read Gone Girl in one white-knuckled sitting. Then, in no time flat, you tore through our previous suggested list of novels to fill the Gone Girl-shaped hole in your life. That’s okay: You’re our kind of people, the kind of people who can’t get enough sociopathy, murder, twisty plotting, and great writing. We got you. Here are another 11 books you should read if you love Gillian Flynn’s iconic thriller.
The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
No one captures the simultaneous beauty and horror of life better than Tartt. In her first novel, she combines class warfare, social anxiety, and a twisted, completely unexpected mystery that still feels fresh more than two decades after publication. Tartt’s tale of six students at a small, exclusive college in New England who take their classics studies a little too seriously is an effective subversion of the mystery/twist genre, because the reader knows what happened; the twist involves why. Add in Tartt’s sumptuous prose and you have a modern classic that will hit that Flynn sweet spot.
In the Woods, by Tana French
Dipped in dread, this brilliant debut novel plugs into that fear we all have that our perception of the world around us might not be reliable. After suffering a horrific childhood trauma during which his two best friends disappeared mysteriously, main character Rob grows up remembering nothing about the event. As a homicide detective, he’s put on a case in the same woods 22 years later—a case with a lot of similarities to the incident he experienced as a kid. As stress begins to crack Rob open, the reader is challenged to pay attention, draw her own conclusions, and be prepared for the unexpected.
Reconstructing Amelia, by Kimberly McCreight
“Amelia didn’t jump.” These three words change everything about a daughter’s unexpected suicide, and the plot they set in motion as that daughter’s secret life is slowly exposed is equal parts breathless twists and white-knuckle tension. If you love books that expertly set up detailed worlds and characters and then, just as you’re getting comfortable with them, begin tearing them apart and gleefully revealing truths that change everything, Reconstructing Amelia is the book for you. For fans of Flynn’s Amazing Amy, the discovery of the truth behind the superficial image will be a thrill.
The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
Rachel is the definition of an unreliable narrator: an alcoholic still reeling from the end of her marriage, she’s prone to blackouts and rages and has a dangerous obsession with her ex-husband, Tom, and his new wife, Anna. Though unemployed, Rachel gives shape to her days by taking a commuter train into London—and every day she watches out the window for “Jason and Jess,” attractive strangers whose lives she likes to fantasize about. Meanwhile, “Jess,” whose real name is Megan, is less happy than she seems, mitigating her suburban ennui with a secret life outside of her marriage. Megan’s sudden disappearance kicks off a police investigation and gives Rachel an opportunity to lie her way into Megan’s life. The two women’s voices, plus Anna’s, entwine in a time-jumping narrative that will shock you.
The Dept. of Speculation, by Jenny Offill
One of the pleasures of Gone Girl is its puzzle-like nature. It offers you bits and pieces, then challenges you to put them together (especially after the Big Twist forces you to reread and reconsider earlier parts of the book). For readers who loved attempting to solve that puzzle, The Dept. of Speculation is a perfect followup. Written as a series of fragmentary thoughts in the mind of an unnamed wife struggling with a failing marriage, a new baby, and an existential crisis, there’s no central mystery to figure out—the whole story’s one big mystery, challenging you to put the pieces together and identify the connective tissue on your own.
All the Birds, Singing, by Evie Wyld
Variously brutal, lyrical, bleak, and filled with life, this is a novel that sets up a compelling personal mystery, then challenges you to hang on for the ride as it takes you on a tour of one damaged person’s psyche. Jake, a woman escaping a past that left her scarred both mentally and physically, is living on an isolated island off the coast of England, and someone is viciously killing her sheep. It might be local hooligans, it might be a mysterious man walking the island, or it might be the legendary beast that lives in the woods. The central mystery of what drove Jake to the edge of the world will keep you glued to the page.
Cartwheel, by Jennifer duBois
A novel that asks the question, “Can we ever really know anyone?,” Cartwheel centers on Lily Hayes, an American student in Buenos Aires on an exchange program. When her dull roommate Katy is murdered, Lily is the main suspect—and the investigation turns up an ocean of often contradictory details about who Lily is and the life she’s been leading. No two readers will completely agree on what happened or how it happened in this twisted puzzle of a book, making it an ideal book club choice.
Dare Me, by Megan Abbott
Putting a dark spin on the concept of girl power, this story of the high school pecking order, mean girls, and the disruptive arrival of a charismatic, boundary-pushing adult would be fascinating even without the crackling mystery of an apparent suicide that propels the second half. No matter which table you sat at—or sit at—during lunch in high school, this book will immediately evoke the pressures and confusion of adolescence, and play with your expectations as Abbott weaves an intricate web of relationships between smart, jealous, hateful, amazing, and above all complicated young women.
Nobody Is Ever Missing, by Catherine Lacey
One of the dark joys of Gone Girl is the opportunity it gives us to see the world from a sociopath’s point of view. Nobody Is Ever Missing is another chance to climb inside a disturbed mind and slowly piece together the fevered fragments of memories. Haunted by the death of her sister and wrestling with a growing rage and an urge to commit violence, a wife and mother leaves home without telling anyone and begins an adventure of hitchhiking and homelessness that leads her to question reality and her own existence. We may not get any real resolution from this startling book, but as with many of the best reads, the journey is everything.
Visitation Street, by Ivy Pochoda
Two teenage girls take a raft out onto the East River, engaging in that purely teenage insanity that boredom can sometimes inspire. Only one girl returns alive, bruised and unsure what happened. This dense and fully realized story of a mysterious disappearance, a living, breathing neighborhood, and the people who inhabit it is mesmerizing. If you loved the detailed way Flynn explored Amy and Nick’s shared and separate lives in New York and the Midwest, you’ll enjoy Pochada’s portrait of a Brooklyn neighborhood caught midway between its blue collar past and its gentrified future. It’s the perfect backdrop for the story’s compelling series of mysteries and their revelations.
Save Yourself, by Kelly Braffet
Treading on some of the same public-shaming ground that made Flynn’s book feel so real and scathing, Save Yourself explores the intertwined lives of five people dealing with small-town judgment and shame. The story explores the depth of pain people can endure while being watched by everyone around them, including brothers dealing with their father’s drunken hit-and-run killing of a child and teenage sisters coping with their fundamentalist father’s morality campaigns and school bullying. It all spirals into a violent, unexpected climax that’s equal parts tense and emotional.
The Bad Seed, by William March
This all-time classic thriller tells the tale of another “amazing” girl who conceals darkness and violence under her pretty and charming exterior—except Rhoda Penmark is only nine years old when her mother begins to suspect the girl is already a serial murderer. This chilling and tension-filled novel treads some of the same psychological ground as Gone Girl: how someone seemingly perfect, with every advantage, can secretly be a monster.