From the publication of her phenomenal debut, In a Dark, Dark Wood, Ruth Ware's novels have drawn comparisons with the novels of the Queen of Suspense, Agatha Christie. But Ware is just as celebrated for her uncanny ability to stamp her stories with something uniquely hers, as she does in her latest, One by One, one of our picks for best mystery and thriller of the month.
Though it's an homage to Christie's And Then There Were None, Ware weaves in a distinctive, clever take on Christie's classic, updating the class-conscious plot with a modern-day tale of hipster techies and corporate double-dealing at an exclusive French ski resort snowed in by an avalanche. And she raises the bar on the red herrings for which Christie was famous.
We asked Ware what she's read and loved this year, and her selections included a mystery pick, some interesting nonfiction titles, and a literary fiction pick she said "utterly seduced" her. Here are her picks for the year:
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
I was utterly seduced by Bennett's tender, compassionate, deeply thoughtful novel. It entwines the stories of identical twins Stella and Desiree, from their shared childhood in the small black town of Mallard, to their adult lives—while Desiree has returned with her daughter to Mallard, Stella passes for white in a Californian suburb, keeping her past hidden even from her husband. Lyrically told, and filled with characters who will get under your skin and stay there, this is a mesmerizing read.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
This is a novel that's almost impossible to categorize. Is it a comedy? A tragedy? A farce? One thing is for certain, it's not a whodunit, since we know from page one the identity of the killer—narrator Korede's beautiful, wayward sister Ayoola. As events spiral out of control you'll find it impossible not to root for Korede—but the question of where Korede's loyalties lie is more complicated and will keep you turning pages until the explosive ending.
Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez
Did you know women are 47% more likely to be seriously injured in a car accident, and 17% more likely to die? Probably because we're smaller, weaker, have thinner bones, right? Actually no—it's because car seats and safety tests are designed around men as the "standard" body. And that's only the start. From finance to medicine, right down to what order the city council plows the snow off the streets in winter, this is a fascinating, data driven look at the invisible ways gender affects our lives.
The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson
I'm late to the party on this one, since it came out in 2009, but this funny, disturbing and thought-provoking investigation into the bizarre underbelly of US military intelligence got me through several long trips earlier this year—I highly recommend the audiobook, narrated by Ronson himself. Fantastical, and yet at the same time deeply human, the whole book is very much a "truth is stranger than fiction" read, although the question of how much exactly is the truth is one that Ronson flirts with throughout.
Author photo credit: Gemma Day Photography
Ruth Ware, hailed as "the Agatha Christie of our generation” by David Baldacci, describes her favorite reads of the year, in mystery and more.