Staff Picks Genre Study - Domestic Noir: The Crime Genre You Didn’t Know You Needed

Wednesday, February 1, 2023
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If you are anything like me, you may have already become an expert in the domestic noir genre, without even realizing it. Ever since the publication of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, back in 2012, I have been voraciously reading every book that allows me to take a peek behind the curtain into other people’s seemingly perfect lives. Reading the works of authors like Liane MoriartyDonna Tartt, and Lisa Jewell has afforded me a look at domesticity gone frightfully awry.

When reading these titles, we often find things are wickedly worse than we could ever imagine. As we examine the entanglements of flawed characters, it offers us a chance to work through our own primary relationships and learn how to achieve our own less murdery version of domestic bliss. Who knew that reading these crime thrillers could actually be cathartic and enlightening? 

If you cannot get enough of domestic strife, clever villains, and questionably happy endings, then you may want to check out some of these recent domestic noir titles.

The Push by Ashley Audrain

Blythe Connor is determined that she will be the warm, comforting mother to her new baby Violet that she herself never had. But in the thick of motherhood's exhausting early days, Blythe becomes convinced that something is wrong with her daughter - she doesn't behave like most children do. Or is it all in Blythe's head? Her husband, Fox, says she's imagining things. The more Fox dismisses her fears, the more Blythe begins to question her own sanity, and the more we begin to question what Blythe is telling us about her life as well.

The Maid by Nita Prose

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by. Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter - she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection. But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect.

The Wife Between Us by Sarah Pekkenen

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions. You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife. You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement - a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love. You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle. Assume nothing.

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all - a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night, when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately lands on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

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