This disquieting psychological crime novel is one of the most talked about books of the past year, partly for the simple reason that people love discussing other couples’ marriages. In this case, it’s the Dunnes: Amy’s a trust fund girl from the Upper East Side who inspired her psychologist parents’ children’s books, Nick’s a refugee from declining New York magazine journalism. After their careers crash simultaneously, Nick moves them home to recession-ravaged Missouri, where his parents are dying and his twin sister’s also retreated. When Amy goes missing on their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick is obviously going to be scrutinised by the police and a public used to spouses coming unstuck on real crime shows and 24-hour news.
This episodic novel swings back and forth between Nick’s story in the days after Amy’s disappearance and his wife’s diary building up to the same event, until their accounts collide halfway through. The plotting is audacious but it’s the knife-edge narrative that makes this such a queasily disturbing, compulsive read – a 21st century Patricia Highsmith. Gone Girl is a crime thriller but it’s also a novel about the uncertain conspiracy involved in being a couple. As a reader, you pick a side, change your mind; but you’re never sure whether husband or wife will get the last word.