Thrill, mystery, surprise, and suspense are the key ingredients of books with puzzling terminus. This Buzzle article enlists some books with mysterious endings. You must read them for their engaging content and inscrutable closing.
What is mystery-perfect?
Murder is perhaps the most commonly used elements for writing a mystery. Detailed descriptions of the crime scene, the activities of the victim just prior to the murder, and a subtle suggestion about the presence of a mysterious criminal, make a perfect setting.
Mystery is intriguing. It is always successful in making a story engaging. Such stories keep the readers glued to them till the mystery is solved. Be it the electronic media or the humble world of books; a mystery well-knit always earns an excellent readership. You expect a certain thing to happen and the story suddenly takes a different turn. Going through interesting twists and revealing surprising aspects of the characters, the book ends on a note where the readers are left mystified.
The writers use this tactic to clutch the readers in a series of mysteries, minor and major, and compel the reader to finish the book at lightning speed. Sometimes, the writer also withholds some of the answers to critical questions that have been already highlighted in the novel. This leaves room for the readers to use their mind and arrive at logical conclusions. In this article, we shall look into some of the leading works where not only the story weaves interesting accounts that virtually surprise the readers, but also ends in a mystery, leaving the readers with an overwhelming want for more details.
The Secret Place
Author: Tana French
Publication Date: 2014
The Secret Place is one of the books in the series, Dublin Murder Squad. The location is a girl’s boarding school, which happens to be the scene of murder of a teenaged boy. The case is unsolved, and a year post the murder, the cops come across a note which says ‘I know who killed him’. The note is found on the notice board in the school premises, a place where the girls used to post notes of observation, frustration, or merely a chit of slangs. The place is known as the Secret Place, and the note bears no name of the writer who wrote the statement.
The Woman in White
Author: Wilkie Collins
Publisher: All The Year Round
Publication Date: 1860
The Woman in White is yet another mystery that sets a nail-biting experience for the readers. The story has a mentally challenged look-alike of one of the protagonists. She is maliciously driven into a marriage that was not forceful, but was already decided earlier and therefore she was left with no other option. Post marriage there are attempts to mar her true identity and to take hold of her patriarchal property. How her tragic end is reversed and how the story ends in the same house where it all started leaves room for the readers to sit and contemplate.
The Quiet American
Author: Graham Greene
Publisher: William Heinemann London
Publication Date: 1955
The next best book in the line of books with surprising ends is The Quiet American. The book is a narration of a wartime that prevailed in Indochina. It narrates the experiences, occurrences, and feelings of two men who are two key characters of the story. The book can be rated in the superlative despite the fact that it ends with a paradoxical question that whether America’s role in the world politics is always in the right spirit. The powerful book has been adapted into films twice by the cinema fraternity.
A Simple Plan
Author: Scott Smith
Publication Date: 1993
A Simple Plan, as the title describes the story, the piece of narration does not even carry an iota of simplicity. Bogged down by unfavorable circumstances, financial crunch, and very different achievements or under achievements in life, three men are the crucial characters of the story which is a brilliant narrative of the eerie situations that the men get entrapped in, with of course no control over the situations. The story highlights the vice of greed which eventually leads the men into committing genocide, and also contributing to their own peril. The end says about how the money for which there was so much hue and cry, was finally lost forever, with none being able to get the same. There is a strange sense of realization that dawns upon one of the characters of the story which leaves a mysterious puzzle that the reader tries to crack.
A Crime in the Neighborhood
Author: Suzanne Berne
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: 1997
The story revolves around the murder of a young boy whose events of death were relayed by a young girl. However, the turning point in the story is the hallucinating thought that the girl suffers. She contemplates herself as the detective who embarks on the journey of finding out the criminal. She also maintains a neat account of evidences that she catches hold of in her personal diary. The writer also draws similarities of the incident with the infamous Watergate incident. The narrator, Martha too has a broken family caused by her father’s act of fleeing with her aunt. At the end, the twist in the end of the story is whether the evidence and narrations given by Martha regarding the victim’s murder are at all related to the truth and reality.
The Paying Guests
Author: Sarah Waters
Publication Date: 2014
Sarah Waters is an acclaimed writer with many successful works in her kitty. Here we talk about the aforementioned title that has garnered much critical acclaim. The backdrop is set in London, in the 1920s. The story shows the adverse circumstances that London had to face at that point of time owing to multiple reasons, the prime being World War I. Mrs. Wray and her unmarried daughter Frances decide to let their once luxurious apartment on rent, and in the process they take up a young couple as tenants. What follows is an unexpected and inexplicable mystery which doesn’t seem to end even in the trailing sections of the story.
Gods and Beasts
Author: Denise Mina
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Publication Date: 2012
This is a thorough work of crime, which has taken a toll on many, and is now investigated by a strong-headed woman investigator. Like many of her other novels, Denise has a woman protagonist. The novel has meticulous descriptions of three different crime activities that have been intelligently gelled together by the writer. At the end of the story the prime mystery is solved, but the writer has left room to visualize and decode things that have been left.
Author: Gillian Flynn
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication Date: 2012
Gone Girl is one such piece of literary artifice that projects multiple angles of the same situations and the characters who live those situations. The reader makes up an opinion about the whole gamut of characters and situations, only to be disillusioned eventually. Whatever the apparent view is, the truth is far from it. The story is of a married couple who suffer a loveless marriage. There is treachery, illicit affairs, murder, and lies that abound the plot. The most dominant aspect is hatred. But at the end of it all, the couple comes back together, despite strong mutual resent. The reader keeps thinking if staying together was all they both wanted, then why was the ado all together?
The Black Dahlia
Author: James Ellroy
Publisher: The Mysterious Press
Publication Date: 1987
Elizabeth Short’s murder triggered the author to pen this down. It is one of the books in the LA Quartet series that the author has written. This book happens to be one of the most gory crime novels. The minute descriptions of the murder and the victim’s body will send chills through the spine. Then we have two dedicated cops who take up the case with a bout of extra zeal, to find the murderers. In the end we see that two prime characters are married to one another and also beget a baby girl in the same city where Short was born. This again leaves the reader with an underlying doubt, will history repeat itself?
Author: Thomas Berger
Publisher: Barnes and Noble
Publication Date: 1975
The plot is of murder. There is a man who has a family consisting of a wife and teenaged son. The man is unhappy with his wife and wants his mistress as his next wife. Quite obviously, he contemplates a murder. The twist is in the overall plan. The ending is unexpected.
The above was a list of mysteriously ending books. Books have a greater impact and appeal for the reader, and books with mysterious endings are a notch higher.
Books are riveting, tantalizing, scandalizing, and totally bamboozling; they have the power to seize you with their rich imagination and astound you with their unforeseen endings (you will have figured that by the aforementioned list of books). Reading a book can be likened to setting out on a journey. The plot of the story serves like an itinerary that takes the readers to places that pave the way for the final destination. But what if this journey is to sheer off on an unplanned course just when you think you have reached the end of it? That’s exactly what happens with some of the following books that will shock you or leave you contemplating by dint of their twisted and unexpected endings.
And Then There Were None
Author: Agatha Christie
Publisher: Collins Crime Club
Publication Date: 1939
This book is a potent concoction that will shake you vehemently out of your complacency. A modern classic, And Then There Were None is enmeshed with mystery and thrill that will make it difficult for you to keep the book down once you lay your eyes on the moreish and captivating plot. The story follows eight guests who are invited on an island off the Devon coast. The host of the island is cloaked in mystery since none of the guests have met him since the time they have arrived. With a butler and a housekeeper to attend to the guests, the count of people living in the island goes to 10. The inchoate feeling of eeriness takes an ugly form when the guests find themselves in a morbid game.
The Long Walk
Author: Stephen King as Richard Bachman
Publisher: Signet Books
Publication Date: 1979
One walking competition,100 contestants, with one absolute rule – to not lose one’s pace because if one does he loses his life. Stephen King’s The Long Walk is an unsettling pot pourri of fear, dreams, hopes, horror, and frustration whose twisted ending will leave you baffled and a little frustrated.
Author: Ian McEwan
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Publication Date: 2001
Atonement is a tangling plot that roots you to the spot with its powerful storytelling; the one that skillfully flits from domestic crisis to perils of naiveté to atonement, speckled with perceptible horrors of WW II. A masterpiece by Ian McEwan, Atonement’s ending will stun you with its unpredictability.
Author: Dennis Lehane
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: 2003
Like it or lump it, you can definitely not stop thinking about it. As if the surreal hotchpotch of past and present, bizarre psychiatric experimentation, and the shady island itself wasn’t enough to perplex the readers that we are given the final confuse d’etat as we would like to call it in the equally mind-boggling ending.