books

'I read books for a living. Here are the most addictive thrillers of 2021 so far.'

I read and review books as part of my job and there's nothing I like more than a fast-paced, twisty thriller. 

There's nothing more satisfying than racing to the end of a book and discovering a twist so unexpected, it makes you gasp out loud. 

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A twist so satisfying you'll yell "what the bloody hell just happened", go back and re-read parts of the book, and wonder how you never saw it coming.

These are the books you remember for years to come and make you wish you could go back in time and experience that twisty goodness again. 

Here are the most unputdownable thrillers of 2021 so far: 

The Guest List by Lucy Foley 

Image: HarperCollins Australia/Mamamia.  A Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick, Lucy Foley's The Guest List is the kind of book you'll inhale in one day. 

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It's set on a remote island off the windswept Irish coast, where guests have gathered for the wedding of TV celebrity Will Slater and women's website mogul Jules Keegan. 

By the end of the night, someone will be dead, and every single guest will be a suspect. 

The Guest List is a thrilling page-turner and who-dunnit that's perfect for fans of Agatha Christie, Ruth Ware and Paula Hawkins. 

Read it if you like: Destination weddings, friends with secrets, and plenty of plot twists. 

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris 

Image: Bloomsbury/Mamamia.  The Other Black Girl has been described as The Devil Wears Prada meets Get Out.  

The debut novel from Zakiya Dalila Harris follows the story of 26-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers, who is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. 

When Hazel starts working in the cubicle next to her, Nella thinks she'll finally have someone who'll understand the microaggressions and isolation she experiences every single day. 

Then a note appears on her desk: LEAVE. WAGNER. NOW. 

The Other Black Girl is full of twists that will keep you guessing right up until the final page.  

Read it if you like: Short yet threatening notes, making friends with your desk buddy, Get Out, and one final twist. 

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

Image: Allen & Unwin/Mamamia.  The Last Thing He Told Me is another Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick and it will soon be adapted into a TV series starring Julia Roberts. 

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So, yep, there's going to be a lot of hype around this book. But here's what happens in the story:

Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to smuggle a note to his new wife, Hannah. The note simply says: PROTECT HER. 

As Hannah's increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered, his boss is arrested for fraud. Then Hannah realises Owen's 16-year-old daughter Bailey may hold the key to his true identity and the reason for his sudden disappearance. 

Fans of Liane Moriarty and Celeste Ng will love this unputdownable thriller.

Read it if you like: Missing and mysterious husbands, beautiful writing, and somewhat happy endings. 

The Housemate by Sarah Bailey

Image: Allen & Unwin/Mamamia.  Sarah Bailey has already made a name for herself as one of Australia's best new crime writers with her Detective Gemma Woodstock series. 

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The Housemate is her first standalone novel outside of the series. It follows the story of Melbourne crime reporter Olive Groves, who was one of the first reporters on the scene of the infamous 'Housemate Homicide' in the early 2000s, which left one housemate dead, one missing and one charged with murder. 

When the missing housemate turns up dead almost a decade later, Olive is once again covering the case and is about to find out the truth is closer than she thought. 

Read it if you like: The Dry, share houses, notorious Australian crimes, and epic twists. 

Magpie by Elizabeth Day

Image: HarperCollins Australia/Mamamia.  Magpie follows the story of 28-year-old Marissa who falls in love with a man named Jake and soon moves in with him. Not long after, they're over the moon when Marissa becomes pregnant with their first child. But not everything is quite what it seems.

Lisa Taddeo described Magpie as "a book that needed to exist in the world" and she's completely right.

It's terrifying, beautifully written and ultimately uplifting. 

Read it if you like: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, bird metaphors, and mid-book twists. 

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

Image: Hachette Australia/Mamamia.  Alex Michaelides is the king of the killer plot twist. His debut novel, The Silent Patient, has sold over a million copies worldwide. Now his second novel is set to do the same. 

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Set at Cambridge, The Maidens follows the story of Mariana Andros, a group therapist who is still reeling from the sudden death of her husband 18 months prior. 

When her niece Zoe's best friend is murdered at St Christopher's College at Cambridge, Mariana returns to her old campus and is soon dragged into a murder mystery packed full of twists and turns.

Read it if you like: Greek mythology (or pretending that you do), remembering your good ole' college days, twisty plots, and anything by Gillian Flynn.

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Image: Allen & Unwin/Mamamia.  The Plot is the new thriller from Jean Hanff Korelitz, the best-selling author of You Should Have Known, the book the hit mini-series The Undoing was based on. 

This fast-paced thriller follows the story of Jacob Finch Bonner, a once promising young novelist who is now teaching a third-rate MFA program and struggling to survive. 

When Jacob hears that one of his most arrogant students has died, he decides to steal the plot of his book. 

The book is an instant bestseller, but just as Jacob is enjoying the fruits of his success, he receives an email that reads: You are a thief. 

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Read it if you like: Literary scandals, The Undoing, threats from beyond the grave, and plots within plots within plots. 

We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz

Image: Penguin Australia/Mamamia.  We Were Never Here could best be described as Thelma and Louise meets Gone Girl

Emily is on holiday with her best friend, Kristen, in the stunning mountains of Chile. It's the holiday of a lifetime, until the final night of the trip, when Emily returns to their hotel suite to find it covered in blood. 

Kristen claims a backpacker attacked her, and she had no choice but to kill him in self defence. 

Emily helps her hide the body but soon she begins to doubt Kristen's versions of events. 

Read it if you like: Gone Girl, holidays with your best friend, burying bodies, and a healthy dose of doubt. 

Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz

Image: Allen & Unwin/Mamamia.  In Before You Knew My Name, debut author Jacqueline Bublitz takes the dead girl narrative and flips it on its head. 

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The book follows the story of Alice Lee, who arrives in New York City with $600 to her name and the desire to start over. A month later, she's dead. 

Ruby Jones has also moved to the city hoping to start over. Then she finds Alice's body in the Hudson River. 

Told from Alice and Ruby's perspectives, Before You Knew My Name doesn't ask whodunnit. Instead, it asks: Who was she? And what did she leave behind?

Read it if you like: Reading stories from a different perspective, going behind the headlines, and anything that flips the narrative on the traditional whodunnit. 

Keryn Donnelly is Mamamia's Pop Culture Editor. For more of her TV, film and book recommendations and to see photos of her dog, follow her on Instagram

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