7 Thrillers With Unusual & Brilliant Structures

When I’m asked what genres I love to read, I inevitably reply, “mysteries and thrillers!” The next question I’m bound to receive is this one: “The reading experience isn’t ruined for you? Don’t you figure out whodunnit every time?”

I’ll admit, six books into my career writing thrillers, murder mysteries, and domestic suspense, my eyes are wide open to certain tricks of the trade. Yes, I’ve been known to see a twist coming or to clock a red herring for what it is. But knowing how the sausage is made has rarely lessened my enjoyment because no, I almost never figure everything out. Thriller-writers are a wily bunch. Crafty suspense novelists know how to deliver a story with layers, a series of reveals, and multiple twists-and-turns to keep even the most experienced readers on their toes. And experimenting with form is one of the most effective ways to entice readers who have grown hip to the most beloved genre conventions.

In my latest domestic suspense novel, The Split, I employed one of my absolute favorite storytelling techniques—the split reality structure, also known as “sliding doors,” a nod to the 1990 Gwyneth Paltrow film—to craft a thriller with two interlocking mysteries and two twisty endings. Twenty-eight-year-old Jane Connor (dependable, highly functioning, and unlucky in love) answers a call from her flighty younger sister Esme informing her that she’s left her high society husband and needs a place to stay. Jane’s response splits her life into two realities: one in which Esme comes to live with Jane in their childhood home, forcing the sisters to reckon with the darkness in their past and the distance between them now, and the other in which Esme vanishes into the night, leaving Jane tortured by regret.

I hope readers will have as much fun taking the journey through Jane’s two realities as I had creating them. If you’re drawn to thrillers with unusual—and well-executed—structures, here are seven more contemporary thrillers to add to your reading list:

About the Author

Kit Frick is a MacDowell Fellow and International Thriller Writers Award finalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She studied creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and received her MFA from Syracuse University. The author of The Split, the young adult thrillers Before We Were Sorry (originally published as See All the Stars), All Eyes on UsI Killed Zoe SpanosVery Bad People, and The Reunion, as well as the poetry collection A Small Rising Up in the Lungs, Kit loves a good mystery but has only ever killed her characters. Honest. Visit Kit online at KitFrick.com and on Twitter and Instagram @KitFrick.