The summer beach reads usually involve some kind of beach itself. Romance, sun, sand. Or adventure, sun, sand. Or tragedy, sun, sand. You get the idea.
But after the crazy success of last year’s Gone Girl, dark and twisty is all the rage again. If you’re looking for something dark and twisty to serve as a nice counterpoint to your sun and sand, I’m rounding up some great reads for you. And rest assured, these are all books I’ve read (okay, I didn’t finish one of them, but I’m almost all the way through so I think you can take my word for it). (Links to affiliate partners Amazon, B&N and Powell’s with each book.)
The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth L. Silver. Basically this is Gone Girl meets The Pelican Brief. Or if Lionel Shriver wrote a legal thriller. Noa is on death row for murder and has never agreed to any appeals until a big-time attorney who also happens to be her victim’s mother steps in and insists she wants clemency. Noa isn’t a traditionally likeable character, but she’s definitely an interesting one. As we flash back to Noa’s old life and discover how she became a killer and what really happened everything you think you know changes. Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Amazon
Poppet by Mo Hayder. While this is a great police procedural, it also has a very high creepy factor as it’s set in large part in a mental institution where the patients are mysteriously dying while insisting they’re plagued by a ghost. If you like a dash of horror, this is a great pick. Really well plotted and with some great characters, it’s a book that will have you reading in the dark even though you know you shouldn’t. It’s also a book in a series with Detective Jack Caffery, but I haven’t read any of the other books and it worked just fine for me. If you’re looking for a procedural series this could be a good one to try. Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Amazon
Asylum by John Harwood. Continuing the mental institution theme, this is a traditional gothic novel set in 1800′s England in a psychiatric “hospital” in the countryside. Georgina wakes up to find herself there one day, she’s forgotten everything that’s happened for the last month and the staff is insisting she checked herself in under a different name. The more she tries to prove who she is, the more trapped she becomes. A novel that uses letters, journals and other writings really well, this is a very dark and twisty book. Don’t be afraid of the historical setting, it’s far from scary and full of all kinds of old-fashioned and still-awesome plot twists. Mistaken identity, doubles, captivity, secret romances, hidden wills, lost letters, etc. I also recommend John Harwood’s previous novel, The Seance for more gothic goodness. Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Amazon
Coming Later This Summer
The Never List by Koethi Zan. You want high-concept? I’ve got that. Jennifer’s family suffered through some terrible tragedies. To protect herself she and her best friend Sarah made The Never List, things to avoid at all costs in order to stay safe. But one day they break a rule only to find themselves held captive for three years. And Jennifer never made it out. Ten years later, Sarah is pulled back into these harrowing years when the man who kidnapped them is put up for parole and she believes his letters from prison contain a secret she must decode. Interested yet? It’s out July 16th, make sure you put it on hold or pre-order so you don’t miss out. Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Amazon
Kind of Cruel by Sophie Hannah. If you’ve read any other Sophie Hannah novels you know she’s pretty great at dark and twisty. She always has interesting female protagonists and does a great job of throwing in some serious suspense. I devoured her new book within a day or so, it’s all about Amber, who decides to see a hypnotherapist to help her insomnia. When she finds herself speaking the unusual titular words, “Kind of Cruel” while under hypnosis she finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation where those words are one of the only clues. Out August 6th. Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Amazon
Any other dark and twisty on your radar for summer? Share in the comments!