Vogue Summer Reading List: Thrillers by Violet Henderson

More summer reading from Vogue ……

Since it began, with an anarchist plan in 1915 as imagined by John Buchan in his 39 Steps, the literary thriller has never not been in fashion. After all, it’s jeopardy that makes the reader turn a page, and this literary genre has that in body bags. Two World Wars and one Cold War meant that for a long part of the twentieth century what thrilled was spy fiction, its most famous heroes emerging as Ian Fleming’s James Bond, and Alec Leamas, who stalks John Le Carre’s The Spy Who Came In From The Cold.

It was Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, which followed the fate of two murderers after they shot a sleeping family in Kansas, which blew the genre open. Suddenly suspense did not just lie in the security of state secrets, but in domestic tragedies, and the perpetrators of them. Back in 1936, with the publication of Jamaica Inn, a murder mystery which creaks with eerie intrigue (and is as readable today, as it was then), Daphne Du Maurier brought a female voice to the thriller canon. Her legacy continues. Gillian Flynn’s 2012 Gone Girl topped every best-selling list; it has shifted two million copies, and counting. It also influenced the genre, because this unputdownable beach read – which became the film that everyone went to see, starring Ben Afleck and Rosamund Pike – doesn’t have a hero or a heroine. In fact, every character is suspect; not even the narrative ends with a straightforward conclusion. Cue a host of unreliable narrators written in the Gone Girltradition – the most successful being Paula Hawkin’s The Girl on The Train, which has sold 800,000 copies since 2015 and this autumn will appear on the big screen, with Emily Blunt playing Rachel.

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