The best twisty novels you’ll never solve but always remember

Joanna Davidson Politano Author Of A Rumored Fortune
By Joanna Davidson Politano

Who am I?

I’m an expert on twists not as a writer, but as a reader. I could see through most mystery and romance novel twists, having read so many, but once I discovered gothic fiction, which is built around unpredictable twists and delightfully shadowed settings, abandoned old manor homes, locked doors, and secret tunnels, I had hit the jackpot. At last, my type of story! I read and re-read these novels until I could see how the author managed to shock me (I love to be shocked). I’d use what I learned, as well as “writing blind” (without plotting), to make certain my writing always surprised me—and my readers too. 


I wrote...

A Rumored Fortune

By Joanna Davidson Politano,

Book cover of A Rumored Fortune

What is my book about?

Tressa Harlowe's father did not trust banks, but neither did he trust his greedy extended family. He kept his vast fortune hidden somewhere on his estate in the south of England and died suddenly, without telling anyone where he had concealed it. Tressa and her ailing mother are left with a mansion and an immense vineyard and no money to run it. It doesn't take long for a bevy of opportunists to flock to the estate under the guise of offering condolences. Tressa knows what they're really up to. She'll have to work with the rough and rusticated vineyard manager to keep the laborers content without pay and discover the key to finding her father's fortune—before someone else finds it first.

The books I picked & why

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Rebecca

By Daphne du Maurier,

Book cover of Rebecca

Why this book?

Rebecca was the first book that made me fall off my chair. I had read so many “nice” stories that followed expected patterns, and this one seemed to start out the same way, and then BAM—everything’s upside down. One brief statement made by the hero, and the entire book, everything that has happened, means something completely different. The hero’s pain and grief, the intense feelings toward his late wife, it all means the opposite of what we think, and it ratchets up the suspense like a rollercoaster suddenly spinning you upside down. This book’s twisty plot totally thrilled me, and it gave me “permission” to break from formulaic plots and chase down every dark shadow and abandoned castle my heart longed to write about.

Rebecca

By Daphne du Maurier,

Why should I read it?

24 authors picked Rebecca as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

* 'The greatest psychological thriller of all time' ERIN KELLY
* 'One of the most influential novels of the twentieth century' SARAH WATERS
* 'It's the book every writer wishes they'd written' CLARE MACKINTOSH

'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .'

Working as a lady's companion, our heroine's outlook is bleak until, on a trip to the south of France, she meets a handsome widower whose proposal takes her by surprise. She accepts but, whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory…


The Blue Castle

By L.M. Montgomery,

Book cover of The Blue Castle

Why this book?

This was the first book I ever hugged. I desperately wished for this ill-fated romance to work out, since I adored the characters, but she was dying. And he didn’t love her. Until the twistiest of all romance twists came about—not only was the heroine not dying, but the hero had a secret identity and the heroine had managed to fall in love with him twice. Twists that catch me off guard are gold. Even better are twists that also bring a happier ending than you could have dreamed up for them. I read this during an intensely sad season in my own life, and to be caught off guard by a (twisty) happy ending did wonders for my heart.

The Blue Castle

By L.M. Montgomery,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Blue Castle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From L.M. Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables, comes another beloved classic and an unforgettable story of courage and romance.

Valancy Stirling is 29 and has never been in love. She's spent her entire life on a quiet little street in an ugly little house and never dared to contradict her domineering mother and her unforgiving aunt. But one day she receives a shocking, life-altering letter―and decides then and there that everything needs to change. For the first time in her life, she does exactly what she wants to and says exactly what she feels.

At first her family…


The Woman in White

By Wilkie Collins,

Book cover of The Woman in White

Why this book?

The Woman in White is the first book whose twist made me cry out in shock. I was a newly published writer, trying to create fresh twists when everything felt overdone, obvious, and expected, but this book’s twist crept up behind me while I was waiting for something else to happen and scared the daylights out of me! Not only did the author completely divert my attention away from what was coming, but he did it in the middle of the book! You expect a twist at the end, but throw a monkey wrench right in the middle and I’m hooked until the final chapter. 

The Woman in White

By Wilkie Collins,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Woman in White as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

HarperCollins is proud to present its range of best-loved, essential classics.

'The woman who first gives life, light, and form to our shadowy conceptions of beauty, fills a void in our spiritual nature that has remained unknown to us till she appeared.'

One of the earliest works of 'detective' fiction with a narrative woven together from multiple characters, Wilkie Collins partly based his infamous novel on a real-life eighteenth century case of abduction and wrongful imprisonment. In 1859, the story caused a sensation with its readers, hooking their attention with the ghostly first scene where the mysterious 'Woman in White'…


The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

By Agatha Christie,

Book cover of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Why this book?

This is the first book I threw against the wall. It was so incredibly shocking, so surprising of an answer, that I almost felt duped. Almost. Except that the answer to the entire mystery was so brilliant that I could only stare at that thrown book in awe. To have the narrator—the main character of the entire book—actually be the murderer? And be helping with the investigation? I still can’t believe she pulled it off. That’s hundreds of pages of internal dialogue, reactions, and details the author had to cleverly manage to keep it a surprise. This upside-down, inside-out sort of mystery inspired me to dig deeper than expected answers and take risks I never would have.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

By Agatha Christie,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Murder of Roger Ackroyd as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The classic "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd", finally at a fair price!The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is a work of detective fiction by British writer Agatha Christie, first published in June 1926 in the United Kingdom. It is the third novel to feature Hercule Poirot as the lead detective.

In 2013, the British Crime Writers' Association voted it the best crime novel ever.


Gone Girl

By Gillian Flynn,

Book cover of Gone Girl

Why this book?

Gone Girl is the first book that jerked me around like a rollercoaster. And I loved every minute! Most books save the big twist for the end, but Flynn cleverly inserted a giant twist pretty early on in the book—then continued adding them at every turn. It’s a breathless ride through surprises, new layers, and huge problems you never saw coming. Every chapter threw more problems on her characters, and I couldn’t wait to see how they’d overcome each issue. It also had the characters on their toes—and keeps readers at attention all the way through. The twists in Gone Girl were incredibly fresh and unexpected. Flynn would travel down a familiar path, only to yank readers in a new, unexpected direction in a few short paragraphs. 

Gone Girl

By Gillian Flynn,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked Gone Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE ADDICTIVE No.1 BESTSELLER AND INTERNATIONAL PHENOMENON
OVER 20 MILLION COPIES SOLD WORLDWIDE
THE BOOK THAT DEFINES PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER

Who are you?
What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren't made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on…


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