These books are right up your anti-heroine alley…
2013 may go down in publishing history as the year Fifty Shades of Grey and its spineless protagonist Anastasia Steele exhausted everyone, but it was also the year Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl swiftly climbed bestselling charts and th ename Amy Dunne provedanything but a generic coupling. This story of the complex and missing Amy, her unsympathetic husband and their toxic marriage captured readers and critics with gripping immediacy and caused many a case of commuter neckstrain. David Fincher’s film adaptation arrives in cinemas October 3rd and so far reviews for the movie have been straddling the four to five star line. While we wait to see Ben Affleck bring the smarm and Rosamund Pike the cool and creepily collected, we’ve got some book buying suggestions to fill that Gone Girl void and banish all thoughts of Anastasia Steele-esque protagonists.
Why not start with Gillian Flynn’s debut? A crime reporter with a troubled past – of course – returns to her hometown to investigate the murder of two girls. Creepiness abounds and there is a Victorian mansion. Apparently this one is heading for television, which might appease the critics of the male-centric True Detective.
A headline catching Hollywood socialite finds herself framed for the bloody murder of her mother and goes AWOL in a bid to seek revenge after she’s released on a technicality. The lead, Janie Jenkins, is 100% unapologetic and you will either love or hate her snarky voice. A weekend binge of a read if ever there was one.
If we had a drink for everytime we heard or read a fictional character call poison a woman’s weapon, we’d be very drunk watching ITV3 in the evenings. Dorothy L. Sayers detective Lord Peter may not be as well remembered as Agatha Christie’s Marple or Poirot but if you want to brush up on your 1920s Golden Age start here. Strong Poison is a mid-series pick but introduces the love interest of the noble amateur detective. Harriet Vane is a novelist on trial for her life after her lover is poisoned with arsenic and her character’s debut was so charged that fans wrote Sayers hate letters for having her male hero lust after a fallen woman.
In The Woods
Tana French is an Irish novelist and actress – buy local – who made quite the debut with In The Woods in 2007. Awards followed and the resulting Dublin Murder Squad series is on many a pre-order list. The Dublin setting and disturbing subject matter, the murder of a child, combine to make something different with a female Garda protagonist who is as far from frothy southside chick lit neuroses you can get.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Did someone say troubled protagonist? Lisbeth Salander is an ace hacker, a little bit distant but fairly morally justified in her extreme reactions. After two movie adaptations and two follow-on novels Salander and her end-the-misogyny mission seem hackneyed at this stage. However, her loud arrival signalled the dawn of publishing exec’s realisation that the complex woman is one who can make them a lot of money…
Follow Jeanne Sutton on Twitter @jeannedesutun