Top Ten Tuesday is the weekly meme hosted by the gals at The Broke and the Bookish. Every week we post our top ten books on the given topic of the day. Don't forget to check in to see what books other bloggers are posting as their Top Ten.
Top Ten Books Whose Endings Left Me Agog, Agape and Aghast (not necessarily in a bad way):
Don't worry. No Spoilers. Far as I can help it, anyway.
1) THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD by Agatha Christie
When I read this Hercule Poirot mystery for the first time, many, MANY years ago, I remember wondering how Christie was able to do what she did in this tale of murder in the English village of King's Abbott. Of course I re-read it looking for the clues and still couldn't rightly figure it out, though I spotted a few sleights of hand.
This is the book that instantly catapulted Agatha Christie into the Valhalla of the Mystery Gods. It is definitely considered her most memorable and influential book But I can't really say anymore without giving away the magician's trick.
2) AND THEN THERE WERE NONE by Agatha Christie
The second most famous of Christie's shocking endings, I suppose. A bunch of people gather on an island off the English coast at the palatial home of a wealthy man whom none of them actually knows. They are cut off from the mainland except by boat and the boatman seems to have disappeared.
The tension builds as murder by murder, each of the visitors is bumped off. Who could possibly be killing them off one by one? And why?
3) THE MAN IN THE BROWN SUIT by Agatha Christie
Christie used a similar sleight of hand in this book published previously to THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD - but no one seems to have noticed. Certainly this book didn't approach the notoriety that TMORA did.
When a daring young woman takes a sea voyage in search of clues to the identity of the man in the brown suit, she finds adventure, romance and intrigue. Not to mention, kidnapping and murder.
Note: I could easily fill this list with books by Agatha Christie alone since she was the Queen of Surprise Endings, but I'll restrain myself.
4) GARBO LAUGHS by Elizabeth Hay
Hay is a wonderful Canadian writer whom I discovered by accident and boy am I glad I did. GARBO LAUGHS is the story (more or less) of Harriet Browning who, denied her fair share of movies as a child, now indulges herself in daily movie-thons to the exclusion of everything else, i. e. reality and her family.
What happens when a woman would rather be watching movies than living life? Wait and see.
The ending comes out of left field and left me shocked, but bemused and sort of glad.
5) PASSAGE by Connie Willis
A doctor and a group of her students are studying the scientific effects of near death experiences at a labyrinthine hospital.
This sci-fi story, by the incomparable Connie Willis (thank you yet again Nancy Pearl for introducing me to Willis) contains one of the most shocking events I've ever happened upon in a book. Actually, this twist occurs in the middle of the story, but its effects reverberate for the rest of the book. In the end you still can't quite believe what happened. So I'm including it in this list because it is such a cataclysmic thing - story-wise.
I know I'm building it up, but trust me, you will NEVER see this coming and once it does, you may put the book down and walk away.
I did, for awhile. Then I came back to see what happened next. Willis is a very daring writer.
I am not ordinarily a sci-fi reader and this book is not really what you might think of as sci-fi, but I don't know what else to call it.
6) BY A SLOW RIVER by Philippe Claudel
A retired policeman obsessed with the long ago murder of a young girl recounts a grim narrative of life as it was lived in his small French village during WWI. Does one murder matter when just a few miles away, young men are killing each other over a few yards of muddy ground?
The unflinching ending will surprise and dismay.
7) A QUEER KIND OF LOVE by George Baxt
Pharaoh Love is an openly gay NYC Detective. He gets along because the higher-ups and his mates at the cop shop admire his flamboyant knack for catching murderers. His arrest record is unmatched.
The idea of an openly gay homicide cop is a bit far-fetched considering these books were published in or around 1994, but Pharaoh Love is one of Baxt's best creations and if you've never read any of the gritty, razzle-dazzle Love books, I recommend them. This one especially has quite a surprise ending which may or may not leave you smiling.
George Baxt was also the author of many mysteries which involved Hollywood stars and/or celebrities helping solve crimes. i.e. THE WILLIAM POWELL AND MYRNA LOY MURDER CASE. To see a complete listing of all Baxt's books, please check here.
8) ETHAN FROME by Edith Wharton
A grim story of forbidden love in a cold and harsh New England setting. Ethan Frome is a man who married the wrong woman and lives to deeply regret it when love in the form of his wife's young and lovely cousin comes to stay.
The ending, not what you'd expect, is still ghastly.
9) BRAT FARRAR by Josephine Tey
Eight years after a 13 year old boy named Patrick Ashby 'committed suicide' - his body was never found - he turns up again to claim an estate. Or does he? Patrick's twin brother says the young man calling himself Brat Farrar is an impostor, but the rest of his family accepts him.
10) PLOT IT YOURSELF by Rex Stout
A series of brutal murders is set in motion when a book organization which represents authors and publishers hires Nero Wolfe to stop what is obviously a lucrative swindle involving an especially egregious form of plagiarism.
Whodunit will shock you.