One Redditor's search for the whodunnit mysteries with the most shocking twists has turned up some great book recommendations. Posted by Russser to r/books on Wednesday, the request, "Which 'whodunnit' novel truly shocked you when you found out who did it?," generated a wide variety of responses that include several Agatha Christie titles, a graphic novel, some lesser-known works, and even a novel in translation. I've collected 10 of the most popular and the most obscure below, so if you're looking for a fun and shocking mystery to read, this is the place to start.
I have a confession to make. Outside of my book club, I don't read very many mysteries or thrillers. I know, I know, that's pretty bad, but hear me out. If I'm going to read a mystery novel or watch a thriller, I don't want to figure it out halfway through, and I don't want it to cheat — I'm looking at you, Now You See Me. — by not giving me any clues whatsoever as to who the actual killer is. Yes, I realize that that's asking mystery writers to thread the proverbial needle, but that's what good fiction should do, particularly genre fiction.
This is all to say that the books mentioned here are the kind of mysteries and thrillers that even the most genre-hating among us can enjoy. Check out the Redditors' suggestions below, and then share your favorite shocking titles with me on Twitter!
1'Sharp Objects' by Gillian Flynn
Russser named this novel in their original post, saying they were "fairly surprised by the outcome." Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn's first novel, Sharp Objects, centers on a journalist whose investigation into the murder of two young girls in her hometown leads to a reunion with her estranged family.
2'The Search for Joseph Tully' by William H. Hallahan
Redditor cyborg-waffle recommends this horror thriller set in a Brooklyn apartment building slated for demolition. When an editor wakes up every night convinced that someone has come to kill him, his neighbors offer various arcane and religious solutions to his problem, to no avail. As they secure other lodgings, the editor is left alone with only his night terrors and paranoia to keep him company.
3'And Then There Were None' by Agatha Christie
This classic mystery topped Redditors' list of suggestions. Some of the key plot details from And Then There Were None may seem cliché today, but trust me: This is where it all started. The story focuses on a group of 10 seemingly unconnected adults invited to a weekend getaway at a mysterious benefactor's island mansion. Their host is nowhere to be found — and soon they will be, too.
4'Watchmen' by Alan Moore
Two Redditors, Emilythequestioning and BowBigT, recommend Watchmen. Alan Moore's Hugo Award-winning graphic novel revolves around a group of superheroes — "vigilantes" — whose careers are cut short by an act of Congress that outlaws their work. When his old friends start to die, one masked vigilante, Rorschach, throws himself into the investigation, unsure of where it will lead.
5'Big Little Lies' by Liane Moriarty
In this best-selling novel recommended by kushqueenATL, three school moms — Jane, Madeline, and Celeste — bond over their problems in love and life. But what begins as a much-needed friendship ends in the murder of a fourth, who has deep connections to the trio.
6'Shutter Island' by Dennis Lehane
The basis for the Leonardo DiCaprio movie of the same name, Shutter Island tells the story of two U.S. Marshals who travel to an asylum located on the titular island to investigate the disappearance of a patient who drowned her children. You'll never guess where this one will wind up.
7'The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael' by Ellis Peters
Ellis Peters' Cadfael novels center on a 12th-century Benedictine monk, formerly a well-traveled soldier and sailor, who solves murder mysteries without the use of modern-day forensic science. Between 1977 and 1994, Peters published 21 novels featuring Brother Cadfael.
8'Indian Killer' by Sherman Alexie
Recommended by Redditor SerendipiaPeru, Sherman Alexie's Indian Killer pitches readers into the middle of a city terrorized by "the Indian Killer": a serial murderer who scalps his victims. The prime suspect is a white man raised by Native American parents, but is he really the killer?
9'On the Street Where You Live' by Mary Higgins Clark
Pangloss_ex_machina recommends this novel from acclaimed crime writer Mary Higgins Clark, in which a criminal defense attorney purchases the estate her family sold more than a century earlier, after a young relative went missing. But when a work crew discovers a skeleton buried on the grounds, the attorney begins looking for a connection to the relative she lost before she was born.