16 Plot Twists Even Bestselling Authors Didn’t See Coming

Posted on February 20, 2018 by

For those who love thriller books with plot twists, we’ve complied a list of some of the most unexpectedly twisted novels to come along in recent years! These books’ surprises are so shocking, even bestselling authors didn’t see the twists coming. Take a look at their recommendations below, complete with comments from the authors who couldn’t put them down. Publishers’ descriptions included.


The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife.
You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love.
You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.
Assume nothing.

Twisted and deliciously chilling, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen’s The Wife Between Us exposes the secret complexities of an enviable marriage — and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

Read between the lies.

Recommendation: Gilly Macmillan says, “The Wife Between Us delivers a whip smart, twisty plot in a taut, pacy narrative. It’s terrific and troubling. This is one scary love triangle where you won’t know who to trust. I loved it.”


The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all — a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years.

What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family — a chilling tale of  deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.

Recommendation: Tess Gerritsen says, “A twisty, utterly riveting tale that will send readers on a wild rollercoaster ride of emotions. Shocking revelations kept me turning the pages like a madwoman.”


In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

What should be a cozy and fun-filled weekend deep in the English countryside takes a sinister turn in Ruth Ware’s suspenseful, compulsive, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.

Leonora, known to some as Lee and others as Nora, is a reclusive crime writer, unwilling to leave her “nest” of an apartment unless it is absolutely necessary. When a friend she hasn’t seen or spoken to in years unexpectedly invites Nora (Lee?) to a weekend away in an eerie glass house deep in the English countryside, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. Forty-eight hours later, she wakes up in a hospital bed injured but alive, with the knowledge that someone is dead. Wondering not “what happened?” but “what have I done?”, Nora (Lee?) tries to piece together the events of the past weekend. Working to uncover secrets, reveal motives, and find answers, Nora (Lee?) must revisit parts of herself that she would much rather leave buried where they belong: in the past.

In the tradition of Paula Hawkins’s instant New York Times bestseller The Girl On the Train and S. J. Watson’s riveting national sensation Before I Go To Sleep, this gripping literary debut from UK novelist Ruth Ware will leave you on the edge of your seat through the very last page.

Recommendation: Peter Straub says, “I started In a Dark, Dark Wood on an airplane, kept dipping into it whenever I was left alone, devoured another big chunk on the flight home, and after that surrendered myself to it until the last revelation had bloomed, the final surprise had exploded, and the bittersweet conclusive turn had folded the final page.”


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The Girl Before by JP Delaney

The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

In the tradition of The Girl on the Train, The Silent Wifeand Gone Girl comes an enthralling psychological thriller that spins one woman’s seemingly good fortune, and another woman’s mysterious fate, through a kaleidoscope of duplicity, death, and deception.

Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.

The request seems odd, even intrusive — and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.

Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant — and it does.

After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space — and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.

Recommendation: Lisa Gardner says, “Riveting! One of the most compelling page-turners I’ve read in years. Twisty, turny, and with an ending not to be missed!”


The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

The mesmerizing debut about a coolly manipulative woman and a wealthy “golden couple,” from a stunning new voice in psychological suspense.

Some women get everything. Some women get everything they deserve.

Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more — a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted.

To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne — a socialite and philanthropist — and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive… if she didn’t have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life — the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces.

With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent.

Recommendation: Jane Green says, “A wonderfully clever story, filled with suspense and a shocking twist, that kept me turning the pages.”


The Silent Wife by A. S. A. Harrison

The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison

Jodi and Todd are at a bad place in their marriage. Much is at stake, including the affluent life they lead in their beautiful waterfront condo in Chicago, as she, the killer, and he, the victim, rush haplessly toward the main event. He is a committed cheater. She lives and breathes denial. He exists in dual worlds. She likes to settle scores. He decides to play for keeps. She has nothing left to lose. Told in alternating voices, The Silent Wife is about a marriage in the throes of dissolution, a couple headed for catastrophe, concessions that can’t be made, and promises that won’t be kept. Expertly plotted and reminiscent of Gone Girl and These Things HiddenThe Silent Wife ensnares the reader from page one and does not let go.

Recommendation: Kate Atkinson says, “What a deliciously wicked pleasure The Silent Wife was to read. I love books where I can’t guess the outcome, although I was rooting for Jodi all the way. A very clever, very funny comedy of manners spliced with a domestic thriller.”


The Lie by Hesh Kestin

The Lie by Hesh Kestin

A provocative thriller about a dynamic Israeli lawyer–famous for defending accused Palestinians — whose views are tested when her own son is taken captive by Hezbollah: ”The Lie is what great fiction is all about” (Stephen King).

Dahlia Barr is a devoted mother, soon-to-be divorced wife, lover of an American television correspondent. She is also a brash and successful Israeli attorney who is passionate about defending Palestinians accused of terrorism. One day, to her astonishment, the Israeli national police approach Dahlia with a tantalizing proposition: Join us, and become the government’s arbiter on when to use the harshest of interrogation methods–what some would call torture. Dahlia is intrigued. She has no intention of permitting torture, but can she change the system from within? She takes the job.

As Dahlia settles into her new role, her son Ari, a 20-year-old lieutenant in the Israel Defense Forces, is kidnapped by Hezbollah and whisked over the border to Lebanon. The one man who may hold the key to Ari’s rescue is locked in a cell in police headquarters. He is an Arab who has a long and complicated history with Dahlia. And he’s not talking. Yet.

A nail-biting thriller that “will stay with you” (The New York Times Book Review), The Lieis an unforgettable story of human beings on both sides of the terror equation whose lives turn out to share more in common than they ever could have imagined. “An utterly riveting thriller that is likely to rank as one of the year’s best… The Lie has everything: memorable characters, a compelling plot, white-knuckle military action, and an economy and clarity of prose that is direct, powerful, and at times beautiful” (Booklist, starred review).

Recommendation: Stephen King says, “The Lie by Hesh Kestin. Awesome. It reminded me a little of the best plot twists in Homeland.”


The Wife by Alafair Burke

The Wife by Alafair Burke

His Scandal
Her Secret

From New York Times bestselling author Alafair Burke, a stunning domestic thriller in the vein of Behind Closed Doors and The Woman in Cabin 10 — in which a woman must make the impossible choice between defending her husband and saving herself.

When Angela met Jason Powell while catering a dinner party in East Hampton, she assumed their romance would be a short-lived fling, like so many relationships between locals and summer visitors. To her surprise, Jason, a brilliant economics professor at NYU, had other plans, and they married the following summer. For Angela, the marriage turned out to be a chance to reboot her life. She and her son were finally able to move out of her mother’s home to Manhattan, where no one knew about her tragic past.

Six years later, thanks to a bestselling book and a growing media career, Jason has become a cultural lightning rod, placing Angela near the spotlight she worked so carefully to avoid. When a college intern makes an accusation against Jason, and another woman, Kerry Lynch, comes forward with an even more troubling allegation, their perfect life begins to unravel. Jason insists he is innocent, and Angela believes him. But when Kerry disappears, Angela is forced to take a closer look at the man she married. And when she is asked to defend Jason in court, she realizes that her loyalty to her husband could unearth old secrets.

This much-anticipated follow-up to Burke’s Edgar-nominated The Ex asks how far a wife will go to protect the man she loves: Will she stand by his side, even if he drags her down with him?

Recommendation: Lisa Scottoline says, “A subtly sneaky, emotionally complex, and utterly addictive novel of psychological suspense, The Wife delivers on all fronts. Burke always comes through with twisty plots and strong female characters, but she’s at the top of her game here.”


The Dinner by Herman Koch

The Dinner by Herman Koch

An internationally bestselling phenomenon: the darkly suspenseful, highly controversial tale of two families struggling to make the hardest decision of their lives — all over the course of one meal.

It’s a summer’s evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse — the banality of work, the triviality of the holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.

Each couple has a 15-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

Tautly written, incredibly gripping, and told by an unforgettable narrator, The Dinner promises to be the topic of countless dinner party debates. Skewering everything from parenting values to pretentious menus to political convictions, this novel reveals the dark side of genteel society and asks what each of us would do in the face of unimaginable tragedy.

Recommendation: Gillian Flynn says, “The Dinner begins with drinks and dark satire, and goes stealthily and hauntingly from there. It’s chilling, nasty, smart, shocking, and unputdownable.”


The River at Night by Erica Ferencik

The River at Night by Erica Ferencik

A high-stakes drama set against the harsh beauty of the Maine wilderness, charting the journey of four friends as they fight to survive the aftermath of a white water rafting accident, The River at Night is a nonstop and unforgettable thriller by a stunning new voice in fiction.

Winifred Allen needs a vacation.

Stifled by a soul-crushing job, devastated by the death of her beloved brother, and lonely after the end of a 15-year marriage, Wini is feeling vulnerable. So when her three best friends insist on a high-octane getaway for their annual girls’ trip, she signs on, despite her misgivings.

What starts out as an invigorating hiking and rafting excursion in the remote Allagash Wilderness soon becomes an all-too-real nightmare: A freak accident leaves the women stranded, separating them from their raft and everything they need to survive. When night descends, a fire on the mountainside lures them to a ramshackle camp that appears to be their lifeline. But as Wini and her friends grasp the true intent of their supposed saviors, long buried secrets emerge and lifelong allegiances are put to the test. To survive, Wini must reach beyond the world she knows to harness an inner strength she never knew she possessed.

With intimately observed characters, visceral prose, and pacing as ruthless as the river itself, The River at Night is a dark exploration of creatures — both friend and foe — that you won’t soon forget.

Recommendation: Heather Gudenkauf says, “The River at Night is a dark, twisting, unrelenting thriller that kept me frantically turning the pages well into the night.”


Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Behind Her Eyes by Saran Pinborough

Louise is a single mom, a secretary, stuck in a modern-day rut. On a rare night out, she meets a man in a bar and sparks fly. Though he leaves after they kiss, she’s thrilled she finally connected with someone.

When Louise arrives at work on Monday, she meets her new boss, David. The man from the bar. The very married man from the bar…who says the kiss was a terrible mistake, but who still can’t keep his eyes off Louise.

And then Louise bumps into Adele, who’s new to town and in need of a friend. But she also just happens to be married to David. And if you think you know where this story is going, think again, because Behind Her Eyes is like no other book you’ve read before.

David and Adele look like the picture-perfect husband and wife. But then why is David so controlling? And why is Adele so scared of him?

As Louise is drawn into David and Adele’s orbit, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong. But Louise can’t guess how wrong — and how far a person might go to protect their marriage’s secrets.

In Behind Her Eyes, Sarah Pinborough has written a novel that takes the modern day love triangle and not only turns it on its head, but completely reinvents it in a way that will leave readers reeling.

Recommendation: Charlaine Harris says, “Behind Her Eyes is as twisty as a steep mountain road, and just as nerve-wracking. The shocks just keep coming around those blind curves.”


Swerve by Vicki Pettersson

Swerve by Vicki Pettersson

When Kristine Rush’s fiancé is abducted from a desolate rest stop en route from Las Vegas to Lake Arrowhead, California, she is forced to choose: return home unharmed or plunge forward into the searing Mojave desert to find him… where a murderer lies in wait.

One road. One woman. One killer.

Speeding against the clock, and uncertain if danger lies ahead or behind, Kristine blazes an epic path through the gaudy flash of roadside casinos, abandoned highway stops, and a landscape rife with unimaginable horrors. Desperate to save her doomed husband-to-be, she must summon long forgotten resources to go head-to-head against an unpredictable killer. And she’d better hurry. Because she only has 24 hours… to make one hell of a trip.

Recommendation: Kim Harrison says, “Summed up in four words: one twisted, horrifying ride. Vicki Pettersson’s Swerve kept me up the night after I finished it.”


Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

Her perfect life is a perfect lie.

As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.

There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that’s bigger than it first appears.

The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for — or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

Recommendation: Lauren Weisberger says, “Fresh, funny, biting, and shocking — Luckiest Girl Alive kept me riveted from cover to cover. I absolutely loved it.”


You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

How far will you go to achieve a dream? That’s the question a celebrated coach poses to Katie and Eric Knox after he sees their daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful, compete. For the Knoxes there are no limits — until a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community and everything they have worked so hard for is suddenly at risk.

As rumors swirl among the other parents, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself irresistibly drawn to the crime itself. What she uncovers — about her daughter’s fears, her own marriage, and herself — forces Katie to consider whether there’s any price she isn’t willing to pay to achieve Devon’s dream.

From a writer with “exceptional gifts for making nerves jangle and skin crawl” (Janet Maslin), You Will Know Me is a breathless rollercoaster of a novel about the desperate limits of parental sacrifice, furtive desire, and the staggering force of ambition.

Recommendation: Fiona Barton says, “The tension starts in the second paragraph of page one and insinuates itself brilliantly throughout, unsettling and wrong footing me. I read it, holding my breath like Devon before the big leap. Loved every minute.”


It’s Always the Husband by Michele Campbell

It's Always the Husband by Michele Campbell

Kate, Aubrey, and Jenny first met as college roommates and soon became inseparable, despite being as different as three women can be. Kate was beautiful, wild, wealthy, and damaged. Aubrey, on financial aid, came from a broken home, and wanted more than anything to distance herself from her past. And Jenny was a striver — brilliant, ambitious, and determined to succeed. As an unlikely friendship formed, the three of them swore they would always be there for each other.

But 20 years later, one of them is standing at the edge of a bridge, and someone is urging her to jump.

How did it come to this?

Kate married the gorgeous party boy, Aubrey married up, and Jenny married the boy next door. But how can these three women love and hate each other? Can feelings this strong lead to murder? When one of them dies under mysterious circumstances, will everyone assume, as is often the case, that it’s always the husband?

A suspenseful, absorbing novel that examines the complexities of friendship, It’s Always the Husband will keep readers guessing right up to its shocking conclusion.

Recommendation: Janet Evanovich says, “A brilliant, twisting read that kept me guessing until the final page. A roller coaster friendship among three college roommates ends in murder years later — unless the husband did it. I read my eyes out!”


The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

Some people are so good at making perfect look easy.

They call themselves the May Mothers — a collection of new moms who gave birth in the same month. Twice a week, with strollers in tow, they get together in Prospect Park, seeking refuge from the isolation of new motherhood; sharing the fears, joys, and anxieties of their new child-centered lives.

When the group’s members agree to meet for drinks at a hip local bar, they have in mind a casual evening of fun, a brief break from their daily routine. But on this sultry Fourth of July night during the hottest summer in Brooklyn’s history, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is taken from his crib. Winnie, a single mom, was reluctant to leave six-week-old Midas with a babysitter, but the May Mothers insisted that everything would be fine. Now Midas is missing, the police are asking disturbing questions, and Winnie’s very private life has become fodder for a ravenous media.

Though none of the other members in the group is close to the reserved Winnie, three of them will go to increasingly risky lengths to help her find her son. And as the police bungle the investigation and the media begin to scrutinize the mothers in the days after Midas goes missing, damaging secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are formed and fractured.

Unfolding over the course of 13 fraught days and culminating in an exquisite and unexpected twist, The Perfect Mother is the perfect book for our times — a nuanced and addictively readable story that exposes the truth of modern mothers’ lives as it explores the power of an ideal that is based on a lie.

Recommendation: B.A. Paris says, “I raced through The Perfect Mother, desperate to find out what would happen. Both the writing and the characterization are excellent, and it was so easy to identify with these women and the pressure they are under.  I absolutely loved it — a true page turner!”

Release date: May 1


Which of these books do you plan to read? Share in the comments!


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