Books like Gone Girl: Five Irresistable Thrillers

A phenomenon like Gone Girl comes along rarely in the book world. Just two years after becoming a massive literary sensation, the film – which ended up being quite good – was catapulted into theaters with a screenplay penned by original author Gillian Flynn. And the film, in turn, has since reignited interest in the book.

If you’re just now getting around to finishing it, then you’re no doubt looking for other books like Gone Girl.

Fortunately, you’re in luck. Here are five great thrillers that share similar tones and/or themes.

Cartwheel by Jennifer DuBois

When Lily Hayes arrives in Buenos Aires for her semester abroad, she is enchanted by everything she encounters: the colorful buildings, the street food, the handsome, elusive man next door. Her studious roommate Katy is a bit of a bore, but Lily didn’t come to Argentina to hang out with other Americans.

Five weeks later, Katy is found brutally murdered in their shared home, and Lily is the prime suspect.

But who is Lily Hayes? It depends on who’s asking. As the case takes shape—revealing deceptions, secrets, and suspicious DNA—Lily appears alternately sinister and guileless through the eyes of those around her: the media, her family, the man who loves her and the man who seeks her conviction.

With mordant wit and keen emotional insight, Cartwheel offers a prismatic investigation of the ways we decide what to see—and to believe—in one another and ourselves.

In Cartwheel, duBois delivers a novel of propulsive psychological suspense and rare moral nuance. No two readers will agree who Lily is and what happened to her roommate.

Cartwheel will keep you guessing until the final page, and its questions about how well we really know ourselves will linger well beyond.

Bury Me Deep by Megan Abbott

In October 1931, a station agent found two large trunks abandoned in Los Angeles’s Southern Pacific Station. What he found inside ignited one of the most scandalous tabloid sensations of the decade.

Inspired by this notorious true crime, Edgar®-winning author Megan Abbott’s novel Bury Me Deep is the story of Marion Seeley, a young woman abandoned in Phoenix by her doctor husband.

At the medical clinic where she finds a job, Marion becomes fast friends with Louise, a vivacious nurse, and her roommate, Ginny, a tubercular blonde.

Before long, the demure Marion is swept up in the exuberant life of the girls, who supplement their scant income by entertaining the town’s most powerful men with wild parties.

At one of these events, Marion meets—and falls hard for—the charming Joe Lanigan, a local rogue and politician on the rise, whose ties to all three women bring events to a dangerous collision.

A story born of Jazz Age decadence and Depression-era desperation, Bury Me Deep—with its hothouse of jealousy, illicit sex and shifting loyalties—is a timeless portrait of the dark side of desire and the glimmer of redemption.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

This is one trilogy you won’t want to miss. To be fair, the opening book really drags as Larsson takes his sweet time with backstory and character development. But the payoff, my friends, is huge.

Disgraced crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist has no idea of the levels of conspiracy he will uncover when is enlisted to investigate the unsolved disappearance nearly forty years ago of a Swedish industrialist’s niece.

And when the pierced and tattooed computer savant Lisbeth Salander joins him, together they unearth layers and layers of secrets and scandals that permeate the highest levels of society, from politics to finance to the legal system itself–at the bottom of which lies unimaginable cruelty perpetrated on the weak.

In the course of these three shocking, unputdownable thrillers, we encounter one of the most heroic of survivors, as she battles some of the most heartless villains ever imagined.

ps – if you decide to see the films, see the Swedish version first.

The Schwarzschild Radius by Gustavo Florentin

A rope, an axe, a propane torch, leather masks, and video equipment. What do all those things have in common? You’ll have to read Gustavo Florentin’s brilliant new crime thriller, The Schwarzschild Radius, to find out. Meet the lovely Rachel Wallen, a Columbia University student searching for her missing sister, Olivia. Her quest leads her to a strip club, the private homes of the rich and powerful, and most importantly, to Transcendence House – a refuge for runaways in downtown Manhattan.

There she meets Father Massey, whom People Magazine dubbed “hippest man of the cloth,” and the Washington Post called “a Roman Catholic priest with a vision.” But is he really so pious behind closed doors? It just so happens that Father Massey worked closely with Olivia in the weeks before her disappearance.

Enter Detective John McKenna, a veteran of 21 years who’s getting close to retirement. But after interviews with the Wallen family, McKenna soon discovers the existence of a third sister, and some very dark family secrets.

As fictional detectives go, Detective McKenna is a breath of fresh air. As in classic noir, he’s a no-frills loner with none of the eccentric superpowers that color a lot of contemporary sleuths. That departure is a good thing, especially considering the fact that his character is surrounded by charismatic figures such as Father Massey.

Florentin’s restraint not only showcases his skill as a writer, but also renders McKenna’s investigation all the more compelling as he’s drawn into a world of unimaginable cruelty and pain.

Addictive from the very first paragraph, The Schwarzschild Radius is a taut crime thriller that never lets up.

The Facades by Eric Lundgren

Along the streets of the once-great Midwestern city of Trude, the ornate old buildings lie in ruin.

Shrouded in disappointment and nostalgia, Trude has become a place to ‘lose yourself’, as one tourist brochure puts it: a treacherous maze of convoluted shopping malls, barricaded libraries and elitist assisted-living homes. One night at Trude’s opera house, the theatre’s most celebrated mezzo-soprano vanishes during rehearsal.

When police come up empty-handed, the star’s husband, a disconsolate legal clerk named Sven Norberg, must take up the quest on his own.

But to discover the secret of his wife’s disappearance, Norberg must descend into Trude’s underworld and confront the menacing and bizarre citizens of his hometown: rebellious librarians, shifty music critics, a cop called the Oracle, and the minister of an apocalyptic church who has recruited Norberg’s teenage son.

Faced with the loss of everything he loves, Norberg follows his investigation to the heart of the city and through the buildings of a possibly insane modernist architect called Bernhard, whose elaborate vision will offer him an astonishing revelation.

 

Bella Wright

Bella Wright blogs about books, film and media.

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