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A twist in the tale

Crime. It repels and thrills us. We shiver when we see the latest bloody event on the nightly television news, and then settle down with a cosy novel of murder in a country village. Who's the victim this time? 

It's an ancient genre of story - as Cain and Abel will tell you - but every so often, someone comes up with a fresh approach that turns it all on its head. The Turnglass author Gareth Rubin looks at the books that flipped the script.


The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie (1926)

You think you know Christie: The victims (spinsters in country villages, overbearing patriarchs in London townhouses, unlucky maidservants); the sleuth (in this case, the funny little Belgian), the format. But this time, your knowledge of the canon is your undoing. Because you're seeing it all from a perspective you never encountered before. One that breaks the rules....


The Secret History by Donna Tartt (1992)

Whodunnits are ten-a-penny, but now, in this gripping thriller, you have a Whydunnit. You discover at the very start who killed whom. But why on earth would the appealing, unassuming narrator of the tale get mixed up in such a plan?


Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1866)

Who said crime thrillers can't also be the highest form of literature? Until Raskalnikov came along, heroes were heroes. But our nihilistic protagonist brutally does in the old money-lender and only then wrestles with the consequences he had not stopped to consider.


Murders In The Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe (1841)

Not just the first true modern detective novel (an unexplained crime, physical clues, a police detective), and one that heavily influenced Conan Doyle, but also the first to depict an assailant that might not even be human. 


Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal by Roy Horniman (1907)

Ignored in its time and known now only as the basis for the classic black comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets, Israel Rank is perhaps the British answer to Crime and Punishment. It is a darker work than the film version and we cheer on the titular character as he wreaks severe revenge on his mother's aristocratic English family who threw her out for falling in love with a penniless Jewish musician.

The Turnglass

The Sunday Times Bestseller - turn the book, uncover the mystery

Pre-order HOLMES & MORIARTY - the clever and intriguing new crime mystery from Sunday Times bestselling author Gareth Rubin, out in hardback Autumn 2024.

'The Turnglass is a bold, breathtaking piece of writing that absolutely nails its two books in one conceit. I doubt I’ll ever read anything like it again, which is the highest compliment I can offer' Stuart Turton

'Not just a book, but an experience - one in which twists and turns are both on the page and in the very act of reading itself. Two haunting narratives conspire to create a dark, menacing tale that spans half a century of secrets as they echo back and forth - all while the sand slowly drains away . . . This is a story about stories and their perspectives, the passage of time and the slow march of the inevitable. Vivid, resonant, melancholy and beautiful' Janice Hallett

‘A stunning, ingenious, truly immersive mystery. The Turnglass is a thrilling delight' Chris Whitaker

Stuart Turton meets The Magpie Murders in this immersive and unique story for fans of clever crime fiction.

1880s England. On the bleak island of Ray, off the Essex coast, an idealistic young doctor, Simeon Lee, is called from London to treat his cousin, Parson Oliver Hawes, who is dying. Parson Hawes, who lives in the only house on the island – Turnglass House – believes he is being poisoned. And he points the finger at his sister-in-law, Florence. Florence was declared insane after killing Oliver’s brother in a jealous rage and is now kept in a glass-walled apartment in Oliver’s library. And the secret to how she came to be there is found in Oliver’s tête-bêche journal, where one side tells a very different story from the other.

1930s California. Celebrated author Oliver Tooke, the son of the state governor, is found dead in his writing hut off the coast of the family residence, Turnglass House. His friend Ken Kourian doesn’t believe that Oliver would take his own life. His investigations lead him to the mysterious kidnapping of Oliver’s brother when they were children, and the subsequent secret incarceration of his mother, Florence, in an asylum. But to discover the truth, Ken must decipher clues hidden in Oliver’s final book, a tête-bêche novel – which is about a young doctor called Simeon Lee . . .


'Rubin has pulled off the difficult trick of writing an ambitious novel that is also an easy, enjoyable read' The Times, Crime Book of the Month

'An intricate and thoroughly mesmerising tale of family plots and schemes across several generations' Guardian

'Your initial amazement at his ingenuity comes to sit alongside an appreciation of the heart and depth he brings to his stories. A risky idea, beautifully executed'The Telegraph

‘If immersive fiction is for you, you’ll adore this tête-bêche novel . . . Expect two very different stories that magically come together' Belfast Telegraph

‘Wildly clever and evocative, I adored it’ Angela Clarke