Discover our top guide to the best plot twist books that will shock and surprise you.
Are you a fan of books with unpredictable and mind-blowing plot twists? The characters in these novels are so vividly portrayed that you’ll feel part of their world, trying to unravel the mystery alongside them. The storytelling in these books is masterful, and the surprises keep coming, making it impossible to put these books down.
So, grab your favorite beverage, snuggle up in your favorite reading nook, and get ready to be taken on an unforgettable journey through these captivating best plot twist books. If you’re interested in this topic, you might also like our writing tips for fiction!
- 1. Lost Ground by Michiel Heyns
- 2. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
- 3. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
- 4. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
- 5. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
- 6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
- 7. Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow
- 8. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
- 9. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
- 10. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
- 11. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
- 12. Atonement by Ian McEwan
- 13. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
- 14. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
- 15. Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane
- 17. The Quiet Patient, by Alex Michaelides
- 18. The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
1. Lost Ground by Michiel Heyns
Lost Ground is a crime novel by the famous South-African author Michiel Heyns. The novel’s protagonist, Peter Jacobs, is a South African expatriate living in London since he was 18. At the novel’s start, he’s a middle-aged man whose journalism career has not amounted to much. When his cousin is murdered in the small South African town where he grew up, he packs his bags and sets off for South Africa to learn about what happened.
As a gay and somewhat bitter man, Jacobs is far from the traditional Sherlock Holmes-like detective figure. At first, the reader assumes that he travels to South Africa out of concern for his deceased cousin, Desirée. However, it soon becomes apparent that Jacobs intends to use the story to try and revive his dwindling writing career. Although Jacobs is reasonably assured of the presumed guilt of Desiree’s husband, Hector, when he sets foot on South African soil, he soon finds that many surprises await him. One of the biggest surprises is reconnecting with his estranged best friend, Bennie.
“No, of course you had no idea. You’re like your cousin, you don’t know what effect you have on other people, so you sail through life not looking back at the people you’ve left behind in your wake. But the people you’ve left behind don’t stop feeling just because you’ve forgotten them.”Michiel Heyns, Lost Ground
2. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Although Great Expectations is over 160 years old, it’s one of those great books that never age. Apart from some of the best plot twists ever, Charles Dickens provides his readers with a cast of colorful characters in this novel. The story revolves around the boy Pip, whose badly-tempered sister raises him ‘by hand’—a round-about way of saying that she physically abuses and punishes him.
The often menacing and mysterious atmosphere of Great Expectations is introduced in the very first scene of the novel, in which Pip encounters an escaped convict in the graveyard where his parents are buried. A few years later, Pip gets asked to visit Miss Havisham and her adopted daughter, Estella.
He starts to visit them regularly and falls passionately in love with the aloof and cold-hearted girl. When he’s old enough to learn a trade, the visits stop. Four years into his apprenticeship, Pip learns that an anonymous patron has given him enough money to live as a gentleman. Thinking that Miss Havisham is his benefactress, Pip visits her. His assumption, however, could not be further from the truth.
“But I saw that everything within my view which ought to be white, had been white long ago, and had lost its luster and was faded and yellow. I saw that the bride within the bridal dress had withered like the dress, and like the flowers, and had no brightness left but the brightness of her sunken eyes. I saw that the dress had been put upon the rounded figure of a young woman, and that the figure upon which it now hung loose had shrunk to skin and bone.”Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
3. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
The psychological thriller, The Girl on the Train by British author Paula Hawkins will keep you on the edge of your seat as you flip from page to page. The novel’s title refers to Rachel Watson, a 33-year-old alcoholic divorcee who takes the train to and from London at the same time daily. Her daily commute takes her past her old house, where her ex-husband, Tom, now lives with his new wife, Anna, and their daughter, Evie.
Her attention, however, is transfixed chiefly on the house of another couple, Megan and Scott Hipwell, who live nearby. She fantasizes about their seemingly perfect relationship and happy family life. One day, however, everything changes. On her daily commute, she sees Megan kissing another man. The next day, Rachel wakes up injured and bloody after a night of heavy drinking and has no idea what happened. She learns that Megan is missing.
After Anna reports seeing a drunken woman resembling Rachel staggering around the neighborhood on the night of Megan’s disappearance, the police question Rachel. Desperately wanting to discover what happened to Megan and herself on that fateful night, Rachel becomes a detective. What she finds is far worse than she could have suspected.
“My head leaning against the carriage window, I watch these houses roll past me like a tracking shot in a film. I see them as others do not; even their owners probably don’t see them from this perspective. Twice a day, I am offered a view into other lives, just for a moment.”Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train
4. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Rebecca is another classic novel that makes it onto this list of best plot twists ever. Penned by Daphne du Maurier, this gothic novel tells the story of an unnamed girl who works as a companion to a wealthy American woman while the latter is on holiday in Monte Carlo. During her time in Monte Carlo, the naïve young woman meets a wealthy Englishman, Maxim de Winter, and, against all odds, he asks her to marry him after only two weeks of courtship.
After their honeymoon, an elated Mrs. de Winter accompanies her husband to his mansion on the Manderley estate. Only once she sets foot in the house does the new Mrs. de Winter realize just how much the presence of Rebecca, the first Mrs. de Winter, still pervades. The lingering shadow that Rebecca casts is largely enabled by Mrs. Danvers, the housekeeper at Manderley. Having passionately adored Rebecca, Mrs. Danvers keeps telling the new Mrs. de Winter how beautiful and talented Rebecca was and how much Maxim loved her.
Feeling increasingly inferior and isolated, the new Mrs. de Winter is eventually driven to a point where she commits suicide. However, rockets are set off just before she jumps out of the window because a ship has struck a reef in the nearby bay. Consequent events reveal the truth surrounding the relationship between Maxime and Rebecca and what happened the night she drowned in a sailboat accident.
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. I stood in front of the iron gates at the beginning of the drive. When I had first seen those gates, they had been open wide to welcome me. Now, in my dream, they were closed.”Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca
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5. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
The Silent Patient, a psychological thriller and debut novel by British Cypriot author Alex Michaelides, is a page-turner of note. The plot contains shocking twists that will keep you riveted to the end. The narrator and protagonist of the story is Theo Faber, a psychotherapist turned amateur detective. His main obsession in the novel is Alicia Berenson.
As a famous painter married to a successful fashion photographer, Alicia seemingly has it all. That is until she shoots her husband five times in the face one night when he returns home late from a fashion shoot. Although the crime itself is enough to draw the public’s attention, it is the fact that she goes mute after the killing that captivates everyone’s imagination, including Theo Faber’s.
To access Alicia, Theo applies for a position at the Grove, the secure forensic unit where she is kept. Although she remains mute during their sessions, she gives Theo her diary, describing a masked man who had watched her in her home weeks before the murder. After a visit to Alicia’s cousin, in which Theo learns about an episode in her past, Alicia starts to speak. A series of plot twists slowly reveal the truth surrounding the murder—a truth you’re likely not to suspect.
“But I’m going too fast. I’m getting ahead of myself. I must start at the beginning and let events speak for themselves. I mustn’t color them, twist them, or tell any lies. I’ll proceed step by step, slowly and cautiously. But where to begin? I should introduce myself, but perhaps not quite yet; after all, I am not the hero of this tale. It is Alicia Berenson’s story.”Alex Michaelides, The Silent Patient
6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is the first of a trilogy of psychological thriller novels by Swedish author Stieg Larsson. This novel features two exciting detectives. The first is Mikael Blomkvist, a middle-aged journalist who has fallen on hard times at the beginning of the novel. He has been sentenced to three months in prison after losing a libel case for making disparaging remarks about billionaire Hans-Erik Wennerström.
Since he has some time on his hands before his prison sentence starts, he reluctantly accepts a freelance assignment offered to him by Henrik Vanger. Although Vanger officially asks Blomkvist to write the Vanger family history, his real assignment is to solve a cold case. The mystery surrounding the disappearance of Vanger’s great-niece over 40 years earlier was never solved.
Vanger also brings in another investigator, Lisbeth Salander, to help Blomkvist in his investigation.
Salander, probably one of the most interesting detective characters in fictional history, is pierced, tattooed, and answers to nobody but herself. Together, the two detectives form an unlikely bond. Their investigation into the disappearance of Harriet Vanger leads them on a dangerous path. Prepare yourself for some shocking plot twists and nail-biting moments.
“What she had realized was that love was that moment when your heart was about to burst.”Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
7. Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow
Presumed Innocent was Scott Turow’s first novel, putting him on the literary map. The book is a legal thriller that centers on Rusty Sabich, a prosecutor who becomes the prime suspect in the murder investigation of his colleague and lover, Carolyn Polhemus. As the story unfolds, the mounting evidence against Rusty seems to lead to a damning verdict. However, his defense team begins to unravel inconsistencies in the case and consider other suspects, complicating the already complex case. The revelation of the actual killer shocks readers and forces them to reassess the events leading up to that point in the story.
“It is like the network of crazing that sometimes seeps through glass in the wake of an impact.”Scott Turow, Presumed Innocent
8. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is a classic murder mystery featuring her famous detective, Hercule Poirot. Poirot is called to solve the case when wealthy businessman Roger Ackroyd is found dead. However, the book’s plot twist sets it apart as a genre masterpiece. The twist alters the story’s direction and challenges readers to reevaluate everything they thought they knew about the case. Christie’s twist is brilliantly executed, adding depth and complexity to the story and cementing The Murder of Roger Ackroyd as a timeless classic that should not be missed.
“It is odd, when you have a secret belief of your own which you do not wish to acknowledge, the voicing of it by someone else will rouse you to a fury of denial.”Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
9. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Never Let Me Go is a Nobel prize-winning novel, and rightfully so. It’s a hauntingly gorgeous book that chronicles the lives of Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy, three adolescent friends who attended a remote English boarding school in the 1990s. As the story continues, it becomes increasingly evident that their upbringing is fundamentally unpleasant.
Towards the book’s conclusion, a clever narrative twist progressively reveals the truth. Ishiguro’s deft handling of the plot twist gives the narrative and its themes a new level of complexity as it explores the boundaries of science, ethics, and the human condition. Never Let Me Go is a moving and thought-provoking book that readers will remember long after they get to the last page.
“By then, of course, we all knew something I hadn’t known back then, which was that none of us could have babies.”Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go
10. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
Stephen King’s The Dead Zone is a thrilling novel that follows Johnny Smith, a man who wakes up from a five-year coma with extraordinary abilities. As he grapples with his newfound powers, Johnny becomes involved in a political conspiracy that leads to a challenging choice. Towards the end of the book, a surprising turn of events challenges Johnny to make a difficult moral decision that would alter the course of the future and change his life in ways he can only imagine.
In true Stephen King style, the author adds a twist at the end that no one could have predicted. Throughout the book, King’s masterful storytelling keeps readers engaged and guessing until the end. Overall, The Dead Zone is a gripping psychological thriller that offers a thought-provoking examination of the human condition and our understanding of right and wrong.
“She committed her own kind of sin, Johnny. She presumed to know the mind of God.”Stephen King, The Dead Zone
11. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars is a fascinating novel that depicts an affluent family’s annual summer reunion on a private island. The book’s twists and turns are like a maze, with the narrative twist at the conclusion as its crowning treasure. Dark secrets lie behind the idyllic surface, with a satisfying plot twist at the end that clarifies everything.
Lockhart uses language and tempo expertly to produce an engaging and thought-provoking book. We Were Liars exemplifies the effectiveness of narrative and the value of plot twists that readers will remember long after they finish the book.
“The universe is seeming really huge right now,” he told me. “I need something to hold on to.”E. Lockhart, We Were Liars
12. Atonement by Ian McEwan
Atonement explores the catastrophic ramifications of a single action by taking the reader on a trip through time and memory. The storyline’s surprise radically upends the reader’s expectations. Briony Tallis is a young girl who makes a catastrophic mistake when she wrongly accuses her sister’s boyfriend of a crime.
McEwan’s deft writing builds suspense and tension, keeping the reader guessing until the last page. The novel twist delves further into the story’s preexisting themes of remorse, forgiveness, and the transformative power of narrative. The unexpected events will cause readers to reevaluate their assumptions and perspectives on the narrative.
“The cost of oblivious daydreaming was always this moment of return, the realignment with what had been before and now seemed a little worse.”Ian McEwan, Atonement
13. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
The Couple Next Door is a suspenseful read from beginning to end, with a shocking and sudden plot twist that will make readers reevaluate their previous assumptions. Anne and Marco are young parents who decide to host a dinner party next door while they leave their baby daughter at home.
Upon their return, they discover their daughter has disappeared, prompting a desperate search. The devastating event that will alter everything is revealed when the reader thinks they know how the story will end. The plot twist deepens the story’s exploration of deceit, betrayal, and the extent to which individuals will go to keep their secrets safe.
“It’s much easier to make money if you don’t care who you hurt. If you have scruples, it’s much harder to get rich.”Shari Lapena, The Couple Next Door
14. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Sharp Objects is a dark and compelling thriller that probes the depths of the human mind. Troubled journalist Camille Preaker returns to her hometown to investigate several deaths. When she investigates the case further, she learns disturbing information that will alter her life forever.
She has been hiding terrible truths about her history the whole time. Like a rollercoaster, Flynn’s writing takes readers through twists and turns before reaching an explosive conclusion that will leave them gasping for air. The plot twist deepens the story’s exploration of trauma, abuse, and the corrosive effects of keeping secrets from loved ones.
“It’s impossible to compete with the dead. I wished I could stop trying.”Gillian Flynn, Sharp Objects
15. Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane
Shutter Island is a riveting psychological thriller that follows two U.S. Marshals, Teddy Daniels, and Chuck Aule, as they investigate the enigmatic disappearance of a patient from a hospital for the criminally insane. As the duo digs deeper into the case, they unearth sinister secrets about the hospital and its patients, elevating the narrative’s suspense and intrigue.
Yet, the plot twist occurs when the investigation progresses, confounding readers and forcing them to review all the events they previously read. The twist in Shutter Island is ingeniously crafted, with Lehane manipulating the reader’s expectations and perceptions to create a mind-bending reading experience.
“The idea is to obfuscate. Confuse the listener until they believe out of exhaustion more than any sense of truth.”Dennis Lehane, Shutter Island
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Owens, Delia (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 379 Pages - 08/14/2018 (Publication Date) - G.P. Putnam's Sons (Publisher)
17. The Quiet Patient, by Alex Michaelides
The Quiet Patient by Alex Michaelides is a riveting psychological thriller with a plot surprise that erupts on the reader like a bomb, shattering assumptions made along the way. Theo Faber is a therapist who gets infatuated with his patient Alicia Berenson when she becomes silent after being suspected of murdering her husband. Theo’s investigation into Alicia’s background reveals disturbing truths, leading to unexpected events that readers won’t see coming.
The writing of Michaelides is like a maze. The reader is led through twists and turns before arriving at a mind-boggling finale. The plot twist deepens the exploration of pain, guilt, and the shadowy parts of the human psyche, making for a rich and engaging novel.
“Choosing a lover is a lot like choosing a therapist. We need to ask ourselves, is this someone who will be honest with me, listen to criticism, admit making mistakes, and not promise the impossible?”Alex Michaelides, The Quiet Patient
18. The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
Donna Tartt’s The Secret History is a gripping novel that peels back the layers of academia and delves into the human psyche like an onion. The plot twist hits readers like a bolt of lightning, illuminating the dark corners of the characters’ lives and leaving readers in shock.
The novel follows a group of elite New England college students who become entangled in a web of lies and deceit that leads to an unexpected twist, like a sudden turn in a winding road. Tartt’s writing is intricate and complex, weaving each thread into a web of revelations that keeps readers on the edge of their seats until the very end.
“For if the modern mind is whimsical and discursive, the classical mind is narrow, unhesitating, relentless.”Donna Tartt, The Secret History
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