Is there anything more delicious than a big twist in a book? In the best mysteries with a twist, the narrator leads you down one path, but then you realize at the end that they’ve actually taken you off the main path in the forest. While it can happen in many different types of writing, in mysteries, it can mean that the person you thought was an innocent bystander is actually the murderer. Or maybe the victim was actually alive all the time! Or maybe everything you understand about the narrative has been completely wrong.
Of course, the best mysteries with a twist are those that surprise you but are rooted in the story. We don’t want a big twist that comes out nowhere kinda like a Deus ex machina. Much like the clues for the murderer should be littered throughout for the reader, a good twist needs to have clues that give the reader a fighting chance…even if it is tiny.
While there are some pretty prominent examples of mysteries with big twists (I’m looking at you Agatha Christie), I’m including more recently published or translated works that have big twists. Obviously, I won’t spoil the twist since that stinks but if you want that big aha, these are the mystery books to find them.
The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
Using her signature style of shifting narratives, Foley’s latest focuses on the people living in a very expensive apartment in Paris. Jess has fled England to her half-brother Ben’s apartment, but when she arrives he’s not there. Without many resources to draw on in a strange city, Jess tries to find out where Ben is and why everyone in the apartment building doesn’t want her there.
All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris
Winner of the Lefty Award for Best Debut Novel this year, All Her Little Secrets focuses on successful corporate attorney, Ellice Littlejohn, working at Houghton Transportation Company. She’s got a great job, beautiful apartment, and her troubled past is behind her. But when she finds her boss and lover murdered in his office at work, things begin to spiral out of control. She finds herself offered her boss’s old position before the body gets cold. Things go bad to worse when a family member may be caught up in her boss’s murder. Can she save herself, solve the murderer and keep her family safe? Will her past stay behind her? Bonus: her next book Anywhere You Run comes out on October 25, 2022.
The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett
Told as a series of voice memos and emails, the Twyford Code focuses on Steven Smith, who was formerly incarcerated and is now trying to live a life without crime. He remembers that as a kid he became fascinated with this book he found and his teacher’s fascination with it. But he recalls that she went missing and he decides that he has to figure out what happened. The book, he learns, may be more than just a book.
The IT Girl by Ruth Ware (July 12, 2022)
Ruth Ware’s books are famous for their twists, and her forthcoming book does not disappoint. Hannah Jones is trying to live her life after the murder of her college roommate, the dazzling April Coutts-Cliveden, in her first year. But when she finds out that the man convicted of April’s murder has died, the memories of the events leading up to her death won’t leave Hannah. Plus there’s a journalist who gives her troubling information that Hannah fears that she may have fingered the wrong man. The story alternates between the past and the present where Hannah is happily married and pregnant with her first kid with one of her friends/classmates in college. Did she testify against the wrong person? If so, who really killed April?
The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji, translated by Ho-Ling Wong
While the book was published in 1987, it has recently been translated into English. Taking a new page out of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, seven college friends in a mystery club decide to camp out in the infamous 10-sided house on Tsunojima Island, the site of nasty murders. But when one by one the friends start showing up dead, they now have to turn their efforts into figuring out who is killing them and why.
The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill (June 7, 2022)
Gentill is at the top of her game once again. In this standalone mystery, an author is writing a story about four strangers who become friends in the Boston Library when they hear a woman scream. Later that day, they learn that a young woman was in fact murdered at the library. They all have to be innocent of the crime, right? But with Gentill, nothing is straightforward. You discover that this story is a draft sent to a Boston-based aspiring writer who is keen to help the writer with her work. It’s a fantastic mystery coupled with a great look into the writing process.
The Cartographers by Peng Shepard
Nell Young wanted nothing more than to work side by side with her esteemed father at the New York Public Library in the map department. But when they have a falling out and she is fired from her job, she becomes estranged from him and her old life. One day, she gets called to the library by the police because her father has been found dead. While in his office, she finds hidden in his desk the map that cost her everything. Why did her dad have this map? Did he really die of mysterious causes? Has Nell’s life been mapped out or can she draw herself a new future?
True Crime Story by Joseph Knox
This one is for fans of true crime stories. One day a young college student, Zoe Nolan, goes missing from her university dorm room. She is not found. Her disappearance rocks the lives of everyone who knew her. A writer, Evelyn Mitchell, decides to dig into the story of the missing woman, interviewing her twin sister, other family members, classmates as Mitchell tries to get to the bottom of this mystery. Mitchell ends up bringing Joseph Knox to help her with the book, drawing him into the mystery. The more Mitchell learns, the more complicated everything is. Can they figure out what happened to Zoe?
The Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf
After the death of her best friend and Scrabble champion, Najwa Bakri decides to compete for the Scrabble crown, even though it was where Trina Low was killed. But when Low’s Instagram account starts posting new content suggesting that there was more to her death, Bakri decides to investigate and figure out what happened to her best friend.
I hope that these books provide you with extremely satisfying but unpredictable twists. They certainly tingled my brain cells! To find that perfect for you book recommendation, turn to TBR!