On books with a twist
Probably once a year, I read The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, and it really holds up. It’s a big wordplay game involving a giant fortune, and it hooked me on mysteries as a kid because the twist at the end is so incredibly ingenious. Ian McEwan’s Atonement is a gorgeous book that deals with the nature of storytelling. The twist in that book is wrapped up in the fictions that become real — if we tell ourselves a story long enough, does it actually become true?
No list of twisty books would be complete without Presumed Innocent, with a gut punch of a shock. Scott Turow is so smart about putting you in the head of an unreliable narrator that you forget that he’s unreliable, that he might be withholding information from you. I’d also go with Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. Anyone who’s read the book or seen the first season of the television series knows what twist I’m thinking of: a character dies quite unexpectedly. When I read it, I thought, O.K., Mr. Martin, I see we’re in for a really good time, because you have the guts to dismiss characters whenever and wherever you need to.
A lot of Agatha Christie’s books have those fun twists at the end, but for me The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is the one. The shock is such a game changer that you really have to go back immediately and reread it. Actually, the book is even more fun on the second reading, which is the key to a really good twist; you’re not rereading to catch an error but because you’re thrilled by the game of it all.
Flynn’s new (and fabulously twisty) novel is Gone Girl
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