2023 Pet of the Year Contest

Four Books that Have Great Twists

Cindy Burnett
Click the Buzz Me button to receive email notifications when this writer publishes a new article or a new article in this column is published.
Murder in the Family

Murder in the Family by Cara Hunter is formatted in a unique way and has a stunning ending.

I love when I read a thriller that can surprise me at the end – a twist that completely makes complete sense but that I did not see coming. This is a hard thing for an author to accomplish. They have to drop clues in just the right places, but not be so overt with the hints or details that the reader can figure it out. Here are four books where the authors walked this tightrope very effectively:

Cover Story by Susan Rigetti – NYU student Lora Ricci’s internship at ELLE Magazine introduces her to the cut throat world of fashion and the wealthy people who populate the industry. When Cat Wolff, a contributing editor to the magazine and daughter of a wealthy mogul takes Lora on as a mentee, Lora is initially thrilled. She agrees to become Cat’s ghostwriter and drops out of school to focus full time on writing. As the two begin working on the book, Lora soon realizes that all is not as it seems; Cat comes and goes at all hours, and bills seem to go unpaid. The book and its format (emails, FBI reports, diary entries and more) are fabulous, and I recommend going into it with little knowledge of the story to ensure nothing gets spoiled. It is a wild and crazy ride and just so well done.

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager – Baneberry Hall, a Victorian mansion in a remote area of Vermont, is the setting of Riley Sager’s latest thriller. Twenty-five years ago, Maggie and her parents Ewan and Jess Holt lived in the house for three weeks before fleeing in the dead of night never to return. Following their dramatic escape, Ewan wrote a non-fiction account, entitled House of Horrors, recounting the terrors and evil hauntings they experienced while living at Baneberry. Following Ewan’s death and with no memory of the events that he relays in House of Horrors, Maggie returns to the house determined to put the past behind her and prove that the property is not haunted. Alternating between the chapters of House of Horrors and Maggie’s present-day inhabitance of Baneberry Hall, the story slowly unfolds as Maggie begins to experience the events that happened in her father’s book and begins wondering if Baneberry is actually inhabited by ghosts. The story starts slow but picks up momentum as the creepiness factor ratchets up, and I thoroughly enjoyed the clever and unexpected ending.

The Lost Man by Jane Harper – Set in the dry, sparsely-occupied Australian Outback, The Lost Man opens with the discovery of a local man’s body miles from the nearest house. As the story unfolds with alternating flashbacks and present-day narratives, one of the two remaining brothers, Nathan, works to solve the mystery of who killed his brother and realizes that there is more to Cameron’s death than meets the eye as family secrets slowly come to light. Harper’s pacing is perfection – she can write a mystery novel like no other, and her stunning ending will catch readers by surprise.

Murder in the Family by Cara Hunter – British crime writer Cara Hunter’s U.S. debut is a winner that kept me completely engaged from beginning to end. Twenty years ago, Luke Ryder was murdered in the garden of his swanky London home – and the killer was never found. In the present day, his stepson, TV director Guy Howard, hopes to solve the case by revisiting the crime through a Netflix docu-drama series entitled “Infamous”. Guy has assembled a panel of experts in various fields to sift through the evidence and hopefully solve the case. Using a unique format divided by episodes and in script format, the investigation and evidence are presented in the form of emails, text messages, and newspaper articles and reviews, as well as discussions among the “experts” as they sift through the documents and debate the relevance of each detail. I am a huge fan of stories told in unique and clever formats, and Murder in the Family is a clear standout with a stunning ending.

For more book recommendations and bookish thoughts, see Cindy’s monthly Buzz Reads column, her Thoughts from a Page Podcast or follow @ThoughtsFromaPage on Instagram. Find upcoming Conversations from a Page events here.

To leave a comment, please log in or create an account with The Buzz Magazines, Disqus, Facebook, or Twitter. Or you may post as a guest.