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9 Must-Read Novels with Jaw-Dropping Plot Twists — Reader Recommended!

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I’ve been pushing myself to get back into reading actual books — but it’s hard when you read for a living!! Even reading the best books can feel like work when your eyes are tired.

But I’m really making it a point, so I thought I’d start with my favorite genre: suspense thrillers. I love books with a plot twist, so I got on PA’s Facebook page (are you following us?) and asked the PA community what their favorite books were — specifically, books with a crazy plot twist!

Here are the books they recommended…

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

This book was recommended multiple times — definitely at the top of my list!

Now a Starz original series, Outlander takes place in the Scottish Highlands in 1945. A former British combat nurse, Claire Randall has just returned from the war. Finally reunited with her husband, they take a second honeymoon to the British Isles. She walks through a standing stone and suddenly finds herself an “outlander” in Scotland… in 1743! What happens in her parallel universe will have you on the edge of your seat, turning page after page long past your bedtime!

Get a copy of Outlander on Amazon.

Fingersmith by sarah waters

Fingersmith by Sara Waters

Okay, I started trying to summarize this one for you, but the characters and plot are so tightly interwoven, my summary would probably just confuse you… so here’s the summary from Amazon:

“Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a “baby farmer,” who raised her with unusual tenderness, as if Sue were her own. Mrs. Sucksby’s household, with its fussy babies calmed with doses of gin, also hosts a transient family of petty thieves — fingersmiths — for whom this house in the heart of a mean London slum is home.

One day, the most beloved thief of all arrives — Gentleman, an elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the maid to Maud Lilly, a naïve gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her seduction, then they will all share in Maud’s vast inheritance. Once the inheritance is secured, Maud will be disposed of — passed off as mad, and made to live out the rest of her days in a lunatic asylum.

With dreams of paying back the kindness of her adopted family, Sue agrees to the plan. Once in, however, Sue begins to pity her helpless mark and care for Maud Lilly in unexpected ways… But no one and nothing is as it seems in this Dickensian novel of thrills and reversals.”

Get a copy of Fingersmith here.

The girl on the train by paula hawkins

Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The title may make you think, “What could possibly be exciting about a girl on a train!?” Well, you’ll see! It’s about Rachel, who takes the same train ride twice daily. I can’t reveal anything more without spoiling it for you, but it’s a shocker. And it’s being made into a movie — make sure you read the book first 🙂

Get it here on Amazon.

Lost among the living by simone st. james

Lost Among the Living by Simone St. James

In 1921 England, three years after Jo Manders’ husband Alex disappeared in the war, she is still devastated over his loss. She’s now working for her husband’s wealthy, snooty Aunt Dottie. When they travel to the family’s allegedly cursed, ghostly estate in Sussex, Jo begins to realize her husband’s origins and past are not what they seem…

Find Lost Among the Living on Amazon.

The man in the brown suit by agatha christie

The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie

The Queen of Mystery strikes again! It’s one of my life goals to eventually read all of her novels.

From the back cover:

Pretty, young Anne came to London looking for adventure. In fact, adventure comes looking for her — and finds her immediately at Hyde Park Corner tube station. Anne is present on the platform when a thin man, reeking of mothballs, loses his balance and is electrocuted on the rails.

The Scotland Yard verdict is accidental death. But Anne is not satisfied. After all, who was the man in the brown suit who examined the body? And why did he race off, leaving a cryptic message behind: “17-122 Kilmorden Castle”?

Get it here on Amazon.

gone girl by gillian flynn

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

If you haven’t read this one — or even heard of it! — you’re missing out! (Don’t watch the movie first!!)

Gone Girl centers on the twisted marriage of Nick and Amy Dunne. Perfection on the outside. Misery on the inside. Seemingly perfect Amy suddenly disappears one morning and the world thinks Nick is guilty. Is he? Or is something else to blame?

Get it here on Amazon 🙂

BONUS: If you’ve already read Gone Girl, be sure to read Gillian’s other novels, Sharp Objects and Dark Places too!

The gold coast by nelson demille

The Gold Coast by Nelson DeMille

The “Gold Coast” is a famous stretch of land on the North Shore of Long Island that was once the center of wealth and power in America. DeMille’s tale centers on the lives of two men — John the Wall Street exec and Frank the Mafia don — and how their lives collide. John’s gorgeous wife Susan gets caught up in the middle, of course, making The Gold Coast a tale of suspense, passion, and betrayal. A must-read for sure!

Get it here on Amazon.

Rebecca by daphne du maurier

Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier

In an isolated gray stone mansion on the windy coast of Cornwall, the second wife of Maxim de Winter recants the series of events that unfolded back when she first embarked on her new life — as the young bride of a man she hardly knew.

Something’s not right in the house. If you’re into sinister mystery, this book is for you!

From the back cover:

“For in every corner of every room were phantoms of a time dead but not forgotten — a past devotedly preserved by the sinister housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers: a suite immaculate and untouched, clothing laid out and ready to be worn, but not by any of the great house’s current occupants. With an eerie presentiment of evil tightening her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter walked in the shadow of her mysterious predecessor, determined to uncover the darkest secrets and shattering truths about Maxim’s first wife — the late and hauntingly beautiful Rebecca.”

Red Queen by victoria aveyard

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

In a world divided not by the color of the skin but by the color of the blood, Red Queen dives into the life of  Mare Barrow, a “Red” whose livelihood hangs on her ability to steal from the rich, powerful “Silvers,” who all have special abilities that give them power over the lowly Reds.

One day, Mare discovers — in the presence of the Silver king — that she has a power of her own. Desperate to cover up the fact that she is a red, the king forces Mare to pretend to be a Silver, even betrothing her to one of his sons.

Mare’s new life is based on a lie and on a hierarchy that has left deep wounds in the lives of her friends and family — The risks she takes to both maintain and mask her identity will keep you on the edge of your seat!

You can find Red Queen on Amazon. Aveyard’s creating a trilogy based on Red Queen. Glass Sword is the second book in that trilogy, followed by King’s Cage and War Storm.

Your Turn!

Which books have you read that have a mind-blowing plot twist (or two)?! I’d love to read them all! Will you share a link in the comments below?

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  1. I’m an avid reader (just look at my kindle!) but I do have favorites that I go to when I want something to engage my mind. Deborah Harkness and her 3-book series about witches, warlocks, vampires, time travel and other magical things are well written. The books are 300+ pages each but extremely engrossing.
    For the current political season, try Joseph Flynn and his series of books about the first female president and her husband, the former police detective turned PI. Start the series with The President’s Henchman and go from there.
    A series I am currently re-reading is by Terri Reid. Main character is a former police officer turned PI with a special gift…she can see ghosts. She helps the ghosts figure out why they are stuck and move toward the light. If she solves a murder mystery or two, so much the better. Book 18 just came out so I will probably be reading that one sometime next week.

  2. Wow, a typo on a proofreading website. I’m so proud that I can embarrass myself in new and exciting ways!

  3. I get very “twitchy” if I don’t have a book on deck to read! I usually go by author more than the book itself. Here are some of my suggestions:

    1. I agree with the Diana Gabaldon selection. There are also many sequels, all wonderful.

    2. Also agree with the Nelson DeMille selection. I enjoy just about anything by him.

    3. Anything by the following authors: Harlan Coben, Dan Brown, Steve Berry, Lee Child. Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books don’t usually have plot twists, but they are very entertaining!

    4. Stephen King is mostly known for horror, obviously, but there are some other things he has written that I have really enjoyed. “11/22/63” is one of these.

    5. I have read most Agatha Christie books, but I will go back and re-read some of them at times because I enjoy her writing so well! Dick Francis is another one like that for me. I have read his books over and over again.

    1. Try Dean Koontz, I believe he is just as good or better than Stephen King (not as far fetched though). I am a huge fan! There is also a newer writer that I believe has a few excellent self-published books out there, his name is William J. Ryan and the books that I recommend are; The Copper Pit, Lords, The 3 K’s, The Extermination of Kings series of three, and Love and the Joy of Murder.
      He has others out there in different genres, but I like these the best. They kept me on the edge of my seat! The Extermination of Kings series was so good that I got frustrated waiting for the next book to come out!

      1. Oh! I just found out that William J. Ryan’s book; Love and the Joy of Murder became a finalist in the Hollywood Screenwriting Competition! From what I read, his screenplay of Love and the Joy of Murder placed 14th in the Action/Adventure genre as a feature!

  4. I am an avid Agatha Christie fan — anything Agatha! I’m also a John Grisham fan. I LOVE spy-espionage suspense and a good murder mystery (not horror) with tons of plot twists. Absolutely cannot do wicked and gruesome horror and chick-flik type books (or movies).

  5. I recently discovered Liane Moriarty. If you need recommendations, Big Little Lies and The Husband’s Secret are two books that I thoroughly enjoyed.

  6. I just finished reading The Girl on the Train (it was excellent!) and hope to see the movie soon. I read Gone Girl before I saw the movie. I look forward to checking out the other book recommendations. I can’t believe I’ve never read Agatha Christie’s books! I started reading Mary Higgins Clark’s books in order — our little local library has almost all of them, and they can get the ones they don’t have in a matter of days — but they’re starting to be a bit repetitive so I’ve been looking for alternatives. Has anyone else read Mary Higgins Clark’s books?

  7. The two books I remember that really turned around on me were Three by Ted Dekker and UnLunDun by China Meiville. Don’t be discouraged by the second one being something of a children’s book, it’s totally worth the read.

  8. I don’t know if it’s quite the type of twist you’re talking about, but I love Kate Morton. She writes historical fiction. There are two different storylines: one in the present day and one in the past. The storyline involves solving a mystery of something that happened in the past. Usually, I get pretty close to guessing what’s going to happen, but there’s always an element that I didn’t see coming!

  9. I’m so glad two of my favorites, “Rebecca”, and “Gone Girl” made this list!

    I highly recommend Stephen King’s 11/22/63. It’s like nothing else he has ever written.

    And my all-time favorite, “Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett. Really, any novel by Ken Follett, but especially “Pillars”.

    If you love dogs, “A Dog’s Purpose” is in my top TWO dog books. Bring tissues, though.


  10. I, myself, am an avid reader and while I enjoy a wide variety of books, some of my favorites is the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. This series is a humorous mystery series that just take you away ?

  11. I would suggest any of Sharon Bolton’s (a.k.a. S.J. Bolton) novels. They are my absolute favorites for a can’t-put-it-down read. Some of them are stand-alone novels, and others are in a series, but they’re all great!

  12. Try author Angela White’s Life After War series. It’s apost-apocalyptic fantasy series. Also try author JF Perkin’s renewal series. Both are on Kindle.

  13. The Mayfair Witches series by Anne Rice are among my favorite books. They are compelling and engrossing and believable. I dragged my feet on finishing the last one because I didn’t want to be without them in my life. Goofy, I know but you have all been there I’m sure. I personally liked the Witches series better than her Vampire Chronicles series but can’t really articulate why now. It has been years and years since I read them. I should probably read them again. Good idea, Amber!

  14. Ted Dekker’s Three is a crazy twisted book! Love it!

    Eeny Meeny by Matthew Arlidge

  15. I just finished “In a Dark, Dark Wood” and it definitely had a twist to it. I also agree with the Kate Morton recommendation. My favorite is “The Forgotten Garden.”

  16. Ahhh! Lots of possibilities here. I’ve been combing through my library’s mystery series and pickings are getting a little thin. I like to read series, and read them in order. For some reason, libraries will buy a book in the middle of the series, or skip one or two, which results in their getting lots of recommendations from me.

    I love The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. According to Wikipedia, it has never gone out of print since its first publication in 1985.

    A true gem of a series is by M. J. (Melanie) McGrath, featuring Edie Kiglatuk, an expert Inuit hunter and guide. The Boneseeker, third in the series, was nominated for the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year (published in 2014). It was up against Stephen King and Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling), if that tells you anything about the quality of her writing. She plans more Edie Kiglatuk books. I have reminders set to check for a new one every six months or so.

    Try the Fiona Griffiths series by Harry Bingham (you’ll get a HUGE surprise), Maureen Coughlin series by Bill Loehfelm, Loon Lake series by Victoria Houston, and the Hollywood Station series by Joseph Wambaugh.

    I’ve also been exploring Scandinavian writers. I’m currently loving the Max Beck series (ten books). There’s another author whose name and books escape me now.

    For older mystery fiction you can’t beat Agatha, but please check out Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe series, with a protagonist who never willingly leaves his house, is a gourmet (as well as gourmand), and raises orchids in his rooftop greenhouse.

  17. Ooh, and I forgot Ngaio Marsh in the older mystery fiction category.

  18. Anything by Sandra Brown

    The “Death Series” by J.D. Robb. But watch out! The first one is “Naked in Death” and once you get started you will want to read everyone.

  19. Sorry about the mistake! “Everyone” should be every one. Shame on me for sending a comment with a mistake to a proofreader!

  20. The Prey series by John Sandford is excellent, along with his series in which Virgil Flowers is the protagonist (my latest favorite).
    Even though they’re non-fiction the books written by retired FBI profilers John Douglas and Robert Ressler had me reading into the wee hours of the night.
    The Temperance Brennan books by Kathy Reichs, on which the TV series Bones was based, is in my opinion far better than the show ever was.
    Then there’s Nevada Barr’s novels about the adventures of US Park Ranger Anna Pigeon.
    And finally, the early works of Patricia Cornwell (Dr. Kay Scarpetta series) can keep you turning the pages.
    Wow! Never realized how many series I read! Hope this helps!

  21. Memoirs of a Geisha. I read that and Gone Girl around the same time. Two different books but couldn’t put either down.

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