Dark mystery or noir sub-genre takes the reader beyond your average whodunit plot. This subgenre is filled with sinister and psychological twists and turns, leaving readers in suspense and often with jaw-dropping endings. Most may be familiar with more popular works within this subgenre that have been adapted for the big screen; such as Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl or Paula Hawkins The Girl on the Train. However, there are many other equally worthy novels that are must-reads for lovers of dark mystery!
By Gillian Flynn
Dark Places written by Gillian Flynn, published in 2009, follows the character Libby Day as she searches to uncover the truth of what happened the night her mother and two sisters were brutally murdered.
Twenty-five years ago, Libby Day witnessed the gruesome massacre of her family that left only Libby and her brother alive. Libby, now estranged from her brother Ben, has always been convinced that her devil worshipping brother was guilty of committing the heinous crime that forever altered her life. Ben now sits in prison, convicted of his family’s murders; however, Ben has a group of supporters on the outside who are determined to prove his innocence.
Libby, short for cash, agrees to further investigate her family’s past and the horrific night she witnessed as a small child. Throughout her investigation Libby begins to doubt her own memories and finds herself deep within a complex and dangerous web, leading to the truth of what really happened twenty-five years ago.
By Kelly Braffett
For those who love and worship the master of horror, Stephen King, prepare to experience something just as wonderful; Kelly Braffet, Stephen King’s daughter-in-law, earns a spot on this list for her novel titled Save Yourself, published in 2013. While this isn’t a mystery novel in the traditional sense, its dark atmosphere and psychological twists allows this book to creep into this category.
Alternating perspectives, this story follows the lives of struggling teens who have fallen victim to their upbringings. There is extreme disfunction within these character’s lives and their paths cross in dark, creative, and dangerous ways. Beginning intentionally slow and building in richness, descend down and path that leads further and further into a pit of sinister antics.
By Gillian Flynn
Gillian Flynn, once again, makes this list with her first novel titled Sharp Objects published in 2006. Protagonist Camille Preaker, learns of the unusual death of two girls from Preaker’s hometown. Preaker works for a newspaper and is offered to work a story on the girls murders. Readers will soon learn of Preaker’s troubled past and her horrific family secrets. This novel is filled with sadistic twists and turns that will leave readers shivering for days and appreciating their own family dynamics!
By James Patterson and David Ellis
James Patterson and David Ellis’s novel The Black Book, published in 2017, is arguably one of Patterson’s best works. The Chicago P.D. is really a family, and so is the city of Chicago; they just aren’t always operating for the same sides.
This novel begins when Detective Patti Harney and her father, Chief Daniel Harney for the Chicago P.D. finds their son and brother, Detective Billy Harney, murdered inside a condo. Billy’s partner, Detective Katherine Fenton, was also found deceased within the condo owned by the assistant state’s attorney Amy Lentini. Amy Lentini’s body was also among those murdered. Get ready to put on your detective hat and enter the streets of the most dangerous, corrupt, and sexy city in one of the most suspenseful novels ever written.
By James Ellroy
The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy, published in 1987, follows a fictional tale of the real life Elizabeth Short’s murder. Two officers find themselves on the case of Elizabeth Short after finding her gruesomely murdered. Consequently, both officers find themselves in a deadly web of love, seduction, corruption, infatuation, and lies. This case may be enough to make anyone go mad, let alone getting close to those hiding secrets. Who will officer Bleichert stay loyal to, can he avoid temptation, and what will he do once he learns the shocking truth about what happened to Elizabeth Short?
By Stephen King
Arguably saving the best for last, is Stephen King’s Secret Window, Secret Garden, published in 1990. Novelist Mort Rainey has just went through a devastating discovery when he finds his wife cheating on him. He then is confronted by a man named John Shooter, who accuses Rainey of plagiarizing his story. Rainey, who knows this isn’t true, initially begins to ignore Shooter. Shooter however, continues to terrorize Rainey in unthinkable ways. Rainey begins to spiral downward as he struggles to cope with recent events and those around him seem to realize that Shooter’s story isn’t adding up. Rainey’s sanity is beginning to waver, but he’s desperate to prove the truth. This is a novel you want to buckle up for because it will take you on the psychological ride of your life!