There’s nothing quite as captivating as a morally ambiguous female lead or, better yet, a female villain. In a world that often demands women behave a certain way, crime fiction novels have become a megaphone for dismantling these stereotypes through eccentric or plain evil heroines. As charming as they are haunting, the following female characters have stuck with us way past their endings—from the horrifying twists in Colleen Hoover’s Verity to the systematic mind games that weave the plot of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. No, they’re not always crazy. They may not even be villains. But they’ll sure as hell get under your skin.
Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.
Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity's recollection of the night her family was forever altered.
Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents could devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue loving her.
by Shan Serafin
Sarah, his personal chef
Anna, his wife
Serena, his maid
Accountant Anthony Costello has a talent for manipulating both numbers and people, turning losses into profits, enemies into allies—and vice versa. When Costello is found murdered in his own home, three suspects had motive. All three had access to his home. And all three women are missing. Are they in the wind—or in the grave?
Eyes are on Detective Sean Walsh, whose personal connection to the case is stronger than leads to solve it. Neither the powerful bankroll behind Costello nor Walsh's vengeful superior officer can budge the investigation, yet as Walsh continues to dig, he uncovers even more reasons the women have to stay hidden—from the law, and from each other.
Every year, Dr. Clark searches for the worst man at Gorman University—professor, student, or otherwise—and plots his well-deserved demise. Thanks to her meticulous planning, she’s avoided drawing attention to herself...but as she’s preparing for her biggest kill yet, the school starts probing into the growing body count on campus. Determined to keep her enemies close, Dr. Clark insinuates herself into the investigation and charms the woman in charge. Everything’s going according to her master plan...until she loses control with her latest victim, putting her secret life at risk of exposure.
Meanwhile, Gorman student Carly Schiller is just trying to survive her freshman year. Finally free of her emotionally abusive father, all Carly wants is to focus on her studies and fade into the background. Her new roommate has other ideas. Allison Hadley is cool and confident—everything Carly wishes she could be—and the two girls quickly form an intense friendship. So when Allison is sexually assaulted at a party, Carly becomes obsessed with making the attacker pay...and turning her fantasies about revenge into a reality.
Villanelle (a codename, of course) is one of the world’s most skilled assassins. A catlike psychopath whose love for the creature comforts of her luxurious lifestyle is second only to her love of the game, she specializes in murdering the world’s richest and most powerful. But when she murders an influential Russian politician, she draws a relentless foe to her tail.
Eve Polastri (not a codename) is a former MI6 operative hired by the national security services for a singular task: to find and capture or kill the assassin responsible, and those who have aided her. Eve, whose quiet and otherwise unextraordinary life belies her quick wit and keen intellect, accepts the mission.
The ensuing chase will lead them on a trail around the world, intersecting with corrupt governments and powerful criminal organizations, all leading towards a final confrontation from which neither will emerge unscathed. Codename Villanelle is a sleek, fast-paced international thriller from an exciting new voice in fiction.
Carrie Lawrence doesn’t need a happily ever after. She’ll just settle for “after.” After a decade of helping her sister hide her victims. After a lifetime of lies. She just wants to be safe, boring, and not trekking through the woods at night with a dead body wrapped in a carpet.
Becca Lawrence doesn’t believe in happily ever after because she’s already happy. She’s gotten away with murder for a decade and has blackmailed her sister into helping her hide the evidence—what more could a girl want?
When thirteen bodies are discovered in their small town, people are shocked. But not as shocked as Carrie, who thought she knew all the details of Becca’s sordid pastime. When Becca swears she’s not behind the grisly new crimes, they realize the town has a second serial killer who has the sisters in his sights, and what he wants is . . . Carrie.
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