Otherwise known as a surprise, the plot twist is a key feature in any good mystery; without a good plot twist (or 4 or 6 of them), the story will be, well, predictable and dull. A great writer knows not only how to write a great plot twist, but also when to write them in. So, do most readers love surprises, or is it just me?
In 2010, Sisters in Crime released The Mystery Book Consumer in the Digital Age, a report on consumer book-buying habits. Overwhelmingly, respondents indicated that they like mysteries for the surprises, the twists and turns that built the suspense and kept the reader guessing right to the end of the story.
Of course, the trick for the author is to provide plenty of surprises while still being fair to the reader. Nothing turns me off a story (and sometimes an author) than when they don’t play fair with me, the reader. But a juicy, unexpected twist? Bliss!
I found a list of seven books here with “…the best plot twists and surprise endings ever written.”
- Fight Club: A Novel (Chuck Palahniuk)
- Shutter Island (Dennis Lehane)
- Gone Girl: A Novel (Gillian Flynn)
- And Then There Were None (Agatha Christie)
- Atonement (Ian Mcewan)
- Tell No One (Harlan Coben)
- The Black Dahlia (James Ellroy)
What do you think, did these books have great twists? What books would you add? I have to say, I love Agatha Christie and she never disappoints me with her surprises. Craig Johnson (Walt Longmire Mystery Series) uses a deft hand to serve up great surprises that make his books a “can’t put down” treat. Julia Spencer-Fleming (Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries) is another writer who uses a judicious helping of plot twists that keep me reading way past my bedtime. Share your favorites–my TBR pile isn’t quite tall enough!