A Reading List for Fans of THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN
It’s official: THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN has taken the world by storm. We’re now closing in on two years since its debut in January 2015, and the hype over this crime book shows no sign of slowing down. With the movie adaptation nearly one month away, and both the paperback edition AND a movie tie-in edition recently released, it’s the perfect time to break down the aspects that have made this book a breakout thriller – and recommend a next read based on which element of THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN you loved most.
Element 1: The Unreliable Narrator
Paula Hawkins turns the concept of unreliable narrator on its head, taking it one step further – her main character Rachel is a twofold unreliable narrator: both the reader and Rachel herself cannot rely on Rachel’s memories. Rachel’s alcoholism makes her unable to recall events surrounding the mystery at this book’s heart – and makes this mystery even more engrossing for the reader.
If you love a narrator who not only can't be trusted by the reader, but whose own memory of events might be a lie, read BLOOD WEDDING by Pierre Lemaitre
I binge-read BLOOD WEDDING (on sale September 6) in just about one day. This gripping, gruesome, mind-bending read will go down as one of my favorites from 2016. Sophie Duguet is young, successful, and happily married. When she begins misplacing her mail and forgetting where she parked her car the night before, she chalks it up to absentmindedness – those things happen to everyone, right? But her memory loss continues, and soon Sophie’s marriage has fallen apart and she finds herself experiencing periods of blackouts and complete disorientation. When one day Sophie wakes up to discover that the young child she nannies for has been brutally murdered, Sophie’s fears for her sanity reach their zenith, and she goes on the run to escape the law.
This book is incredible. Sophie is the ultimate unreliable narrator, and readers are immersed in her scattered thought process as she struggles to piece together the facts surrounding her increased memory loss, and the gruesome murder of a young boy. Complete with scenes of gore, detailed and vivid character development, sections of the book narrated by different characters, and plot twists that had me on the edge of my seat, BLOOD WEDDING deserves to be at the top of your fall thriller reading list. (Amazon link here.)
Element 2: Domestic Secrets
TGOTT exemplifies the domestic thriller genre. Hawkins deftly paints a portrait of the lasting effects of a painful and downright dangerous relationship – and the secrets that husband and wife can hide from one another.
If you love a gripping domestic thriller, read BEHIND CLOSED DOORS by B.A. Paris
I’ve recommended BEHIND CLOSED DOORS before, and I will continue to do so for as long as possible. This is the ultimate domestic thriller: a chilling and unputdownable story of the traumas and dark secrets that can be hidden in the homes of our neighbors and friends. This book has a traditional domestic thriller setup, but it's driven forward by a deeply sinister main character and a plot layered with shocking secrets. We meet Jack and Grace, an apparently perfect couple who seem to have it all – a beautiful home, plenty of money, and a loving relationship. Readers soon discover that there is much more going on behind the scenes. Why are some of the windows in their house covered with bars? Why does Grace never go out in public without Jack? And what is hidden in Jack and Grace's basement? Readers will be completely addicted to this sinister story of love gone horribly, horribly wrong. (Amazon link here.)
Element 3: A Twisty-Turny Plot
There's no denying it: TGOTT has a deliciously twisty and driving plot. With a rich cast of characters whose lives are woven together through deceit, betrayals, and secrets, TGOTT begs for readers to keep turning pages.
If you're looking for a thriller with intrigue, plot twists, and a fast pace, read THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 by Ruth Ware
There's something almost magical that happens when you crack open a mystery and find yourself immediately drawn into it, and fully immersed in its twisting and turning plot. THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN has had that effect on readers worldwide, and THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 had that effect on me this summer. When a travel journalist witnesses a woman being pushed overboard on a luxury cruise through the Norwegian fjords, she becomes desperate to get to the heart of this mystery - but the case takes a bizarre and sinister turn when she discovers that no one has been reported missing on the ship. Who was this woman, and who is responsible for her death? In this modern take on an Agatha Christie "locked room mystery," Ruth Ware crafts a gripping, wholly entertaining book, and I highly recommend it. (Amazon link here.)
THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN has set the bar for breakout crime novels. Personally, I liked it even more than GONE GIRL (okay, much more than GONE GIRL!). Each book on this list is an exemplary crime novel in its own right, and I hope this list will help you, fans of THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN (or fans of crime fiction in general), identify a book that will suit your taste in crime fiction.