Need to Know
Imagine having a successful career in the CIA and building a wonderful family with a husband you love… then finding out that you’re not sure you truly know the father of your children. This thriller features a marriage that’s starting to show its cracks, and a spy determined to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Sharp Objects (Movie Tie-In)
Gillian Flynn’s novel follows a reporter as she returns to her hometown to investigate the murder of two girls. But living at her childhood home—with her mom, her mom’s husband, and her younger half-sister—proves more than challenging and she feels the pull of dangerous old habits. Sharp Objects is creepy as hell, and hard to put down.
The Dead Ex
There are several narrators in The Dead Ex, but at the heart of it is Vicki, who is trying to convince the police that she doesn’t know where her missing ex-husband is. Unfortunately, she suffers from epilepsy and her seizures and medications both cause memory loss. She can’t help but wonder: Could she have been involved in his disappearance?
Tell Me Everything
Malin and her close group of five friends are coming to their final days at Hawthorne College, and she has some deeply held secrets that are about to see the light of day. Tell Me Everything delves back in time as Malin remembers their first year on campus and her difficult childhood too. Murder, intrigue, and a cast of wealthy characters, all in a classically collegiate setting.
Since Abby left her hometown of Barrens, Indiana, a decade ago, she’s moved up onwards and upwards—she has a good job, apartment, and social life. Then, a case unexpectedly sends her back to Barrens, a place filled with dark memories. As she digs into her work, she becomes fixated on the connections she’s found between a local corporation and the disappearance of one of her high school bullies.
The setting is eighteenth-century France and the narrator is a man named Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, who has a supernatural sense of smell. Jean-Baptiste uses his unique ability to become a professional perfumer. In his obsessive hunt to develop new scents for his perfumes, he discovers that obtaining the most alluring scents involves some murder. (What else could you expect, really?)
The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik
This is a fantastic YA option, and it has an amazing new cover for the paperback. David Arnold immediately pulls you into the mind of a teenager, Noah, who suddenly starts seeing shifts and inconsistencies in the world around him after getting hypnotized at a party one night. He’ll need to look inwards to figure out why they’re happening and what they might mean.
Lies You Never Told Me
With abusive relationships (including a teacher-student relationship), addiction, gun violence, and other mature themes, Lies You Never Told Me is a YA thriller that doesn’t hold back. Its two narrators are Elyse and Gabe, two teenagers who don’t know each other, and you need both of their stories to see the full picture.
Everyone knows of Nabokov’s ever-divisive Lolita. You simply can’t trust this narrator who grows obsessed with a child.
Story of a Sociopath
As you can tell from the title, this novel is centered on a sociopath, Thomas Spencer, a man who seeks power and will let no one get in his way. Julia Navarro’s psychological thriller chronicles everything from Thomas’s childhood to later life. It clocks in at over 850 pages, but it’s possible to read it in just a few days once it hooks you.
What struggling writer Kif Kehlmann thought was going to be a quick and lucrative assignment—ghostwriting the memoir of the infamous con man Ziggy Heidl in six weeks for $10,000—grows into something much more nefarious. Through the story, Kif finds himself dragged into Ziggy’s shady world and questioning what he has signed up for.
Books with unreliable narrators keep you on your toes. Is what’s happening real? Is it imagined? Will you ever know?
Sometimes you find the answers you’re looking for, sometimes you don’t—but there’s something undeniably intriguing about books with narrators you can’t quite trust, even when you’re not exactly sure why you can’t trust them.
The next time you want to dive into unreliably narrated fiction, consider these eleven reads.
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Featured image: Ben Whishaw in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)