Love and Lies: our favourite warped crime/thriller relationships
This month on Crime Files we're celebrating the most sick, creepy, dangerous and downright wrong relationships in crime/thriller fiction. Here, we've picked out just a few of our favourites.
Posted on July 15, 2016 in Best of
Before I Go To Sleep
For me, the book that first broke through what we now deem grip-lit with an unreliable narrator was Before I Go To Sleep. Published in 2012, S J Watson (clever initialising of the authors name to nudge readers into thinking it was a female writer) wrote a very clever, manipulative, edge-on-the-seat who dunnit thriller. At almost every chapter the reader is challenged to change their mind about what they thought they knew. It follows the life of Christine who, owing to a brutal attack which left her with amnesia, wakes up every day unable to remember who she is and the life she’s built. The one person Christine does trust is the one person who may only be telling her half the story.
It’s a perfect plot and one that invokes fear at every turn. You don’t know who to trust and what tricks Christine’s memories play on her. If you want fast-paced drama laced with deception, Before I Go To Sleep is that book.
He Died with his Eyes Open
Before David Peace there was Derek Raymond. In this, the first of his pitch black Factory series, a unnamed narrator investigates the death of a middle-aged alcoholic who was brutally beaten to death. As the narrator tries to piece together the man’s life through a series of voice recordings he left behind he becomes increasingly close to the dead man and eventually, is drawn to his surviving girlfriend, who may very well be implicated in his murder. The relationships in this book are drawn in a way unlike almost anything I have read since, and Raymond’s dark, violent and nihilistic voice creates an atmosphere that can affect you for months afterwards.
Not since The Silence of the Lambs have I come across a relationship that is so compellingly sick and wrong! I haven’t read Chelsea Cain’s Gretchen Lowell books for several years now but my recollection of both the blood and gore and the disturbing relationship between Detective Archie Sheridan and serial killer Gretchen is vivid. Not one to read just before bed…
As the saying goes, you never really know what’s going on inside a marriage, and it’s hard to think of a more twisted relationship in a crime novel that reflects this than Gone Girl’s Nick and Amy Dunne. Gillian Flynn brilliantly manipulates both her two main characters and the reader as she takes you deeper into their warped love affair. The narrative pulls you from one to the other until you just don’t know whose side you’re on and, of course, the denouement spins it all round a bit more to leave you reeling. It’s safe to say that the Hollywood adaptation is not a great date movie. Human nature at its monstrous best (or rather worst).