6 grip-lit favourites from Louise Candlish
Grip-lit, domestic noir, psychological suspense. Call it what you will, we can’t get enough of it.
Louise Candlish is no stranger to the genre. Her new novel, The Swimming Pool, is as dark and thrilling as they come – so we asked her to tell us about her own favourite grip-lit reads. Packed with twists and turns, dangerous characters and sinister motives, these are books you won’t want to put down.
Over to Louise:
The Two Faces of January by Patricia Highsmith (1964)
By the grip-lit writer’s (and reader’s) idol-in-chief, Patricia Highsmith, The Two Faces of January is both a cat-and-mouse thriller and an uncertain love triangle involving fraudster Chester MacFarland, his young wife Colette, and young drifter Rydal Keener. It has the component I love in psychological suspense: when cold-hearted self-interest is complicated by the gentler human emotions of loyalty and love. Perfect.
About the Author by John Colapinto (2001)
This is one of my favourite books, a page-turner set in the New York book world, with a generous splash of black comedy. Aspiring writer Cal Cunningham steals his dead room-mate’s manuscript and embarks on a deception that may bring bestsellerdom but must surely end badly for all concerned. Cal is a marvellous anti-hero, a man whose ambitions outstrip his abilities. I’ve waited fifteen years for another Colapinto novel and at last Undone is here, though not yet out in the UK.
Little Face by Sophie Hannah (2006)
Never mind Gone Girl, this is the book that, in my opinion, spearheaded the current golden age of the psychological thriller or domestic noir. It really blew my mind at a time when not many books were blowing my mind. There is something very Gothic about Alice Fancourt’s peril – switched babies, a sadistic husband – and yet she finds herself at the heart of a thoroughly modern police investigation. Though it kick-started the hugely successful Culver Valley series, it is, for me, a standalone classic.
The Bed I Made by Lucie Whitehouse (2010)
I’m very keen on Lucie Whitehouse’s suspense novels. She guides us through the spiralling thought processes of the middle-class female with great skill. I do like a psychopathic love interest and here we have an excellent specimen in Richard, a stranger Kate meets in a Soho bar. Soon having reason to flee him, she hides out on the Isle of Wight – but can she ever truly escape him?
Alys, Always by Harriet Lane (2012)
I must have handsold a hundred copies of this book, which, like About the Author, has a protagonist who is on the make in privileged literary circles. Frances Thorpe is a both an opportunist and a skilled stategist in her ascent to the top of the famous Kyte family. The writing is precise and subtle, building up terrific tension.
When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen (2016)
I’m just packing this for a weekend away. Even though I’ve worked from home for thirteen years, I still pine for the human machinations of office life. This dark tale of new boss Rachel and her divisive, possibly dangerous, impact on a team of co-workers sounds right up my street.