‘I’ve read so many crime novels that I’m rarely surprised by plot twists or startling solutions. So I was pretty sure that I knew where things were heading when I recently read Fredric Brown’s The Far Cry – but he totally pulled the wool over my eyes. What an ending! So, fellow fans of GA fiction, which are the novels that have left YOU open-mouthed? No spoilers, please . . .’
I posted this on the Facebook page of the Golden Age Detection group and got some very interesting responses – and a list of books to be added to the TBR pile.
The subject of shocking plot twists seemed worth exploring further here. I am not talking simply about failing to guess whodunit. I mean the kind of twist that takes your breath away, and yet in retrospect makes perfect sense. Recently with a couple of novels famed for their plot twist, I guessed correctly in the first chapter and that’s always a disappointment. So it’s not often that a writer pulls the rug from under my feet and I love it when they do.
Sarah Waters’s extraordinary novel, Fingersmith, did that to me. Hats off to her. Lawrence Block did it too with Out on the Cutting Edge. In GA fiction the end of John Dickson Carr’s The Burning Court left me open-mouthed.
Other suggestions from my Facebook friends included Ira Levin’s A Kiss Before Dying, Thomas H Cook’s The Instruments of Night and Red Leaves, Elizabeth Daly’s The Book of the Dead and Robert Barnard’s Death of an Old Goat.
Further contributions are very welcome. Over to you!
PS The Golden Age Detection group is friendly and lively. If you are not already a member, do come and join us.
Looking back, it may have been a mistake to choose this novel of the supernatural by Sarah Waters as my holiday reading. I never sleep well the first night or two in a hotel and this did turn out to be the kind of novel that you really don’t want to be thinking about as you lie there awake in the dark. No, you really don’t want to think about it, but somehow you find that you can’t think of anything else.
When I began to read THE LITTLE STRANGER, I found it a bit slow and didn’t warm to the characters either. I began to skip a bit, feeling too tired by the effort of packing and travelling to give it the full concentration that it needed. Then bit by bit it began to grip until I was absolutely agog. I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t read it, but the force of the ending makes you want to read the novel all over again to see how she does it. I don’t admire it quite as much as I do FINGERSMITH, but it is pretty damn good. And though it is broad daylight as I write this, there are parts of this novel that I don’t care to think about when I am alone in the house. At least I think I’m alone in the house. Surely those weren’t footsteps on the stairs . . . it must be the cat . . . but surely I put the cat out . . .