Celebrating her debut novel, Forgotten Bones, a police procedural featuring a schizophrenic college professor who sees ghostly visions that mirror details of an open murder case, Vivian Barz creates a list of her favorite mysteries with skewed (and confused) narration.

Readers, trusting souls that we are, rely on the narrator to deliver details of the truth as the story unfolds. But what happens when the narrator is someone who can’t be trusted, whether it be because of madness, obsessive love, physical illness, drug addiction, memory loss, or even the occasional supernatural intervention? What if the so-called “facts” contradict details presented within the story? Do we, as observers, fill in the blanks with our own version of the truth, or do we relinquish control and allow the story to take us where it needs to go? At any rate, it’s prudent to buckle down, because, with mysteries like these, you’re sure to be in for a bumpy ride . . .

The Deep — Nick Cutter

A mysterious plague called the ‘Gets is causing humanity to lose its mind on a universal scale, yet hope is restored when a potential cure is discovered eight miles below the ocean’s surface. When the communication system dies on a team of scientists, Luke Ronnick must travel on a last-ditch rescue mission to the darkest depths of the Pacific—and his psyche—where unimaginable horror awaits.

“Secret Window, Secret Garden” — Stephen King

In this Stephen King novella, acclaimed novelist Mort Rainey has been living alone peacefully in his desolate Maine cabin, until one day a man named John Shooter shows up at his door and claims that he stole his story. Shooter demands that Mort, reeling from a bitter separation from his wife, makes good on the supposed theft. Or else.

Pines — Blake Crouch

Special Agent Ethan Burke travels to Wayward Pines in search of two missing federal agents. However, shortly after embarking on his mission he suffers an accident that lands him in the hospital—and that’s only the beginning of his problems. Something is amiss in the sleepy little town, and soon Ethan is realizing that the more he learns, the less he truly knows.

Before I Go to Sleep — S.J. Watson

Christine Lucas, a woman suffering from anterograde amnesia, wakes up every morning with no knowledge of who she is. The only source of information she trusts is the journal she’s been keeping to help document her daily life. As she delves deeper into her reading, she begins to suspect that the life she’s been living might be a dangerous lie.

Horns — Joe Hill

Ignatius “Ig” Perrish awakens to find that he has inexplicably sprouted a pair of horns from his temples. Stranger still, the people he thought he knew begin to tell him their deepest secrets and darkest desires, revealing to him an ugliness he never assumed possible. With his new talent for uncovering the truth, Ig embarks on a desperate mission to find the man who raped and murdered his girlfriend, though the answer he seeks may not be the one he expected.

Filth — Irvine Welsh

Bruce Robertson is a deeply unlikeable individual. As detective sergeant, he frequently abuses his power, executing crimes that are just as bad (if not worse) than those perpetrated by the criminals he pursues. His latest murder case has him unraveling, but perhaps for reasons he cannot bear to imagine. While he hides temporarily behind drugs, sex, and violence, he must eventually face the truth. And himself.

Dark Places — Gillian Flynn

Traumatized after witnessing the murders of her family, sole survivor Libby Day testifies in court against her brother, an alleged member of a Satanic cult, as a child. Twenty-five years later, Libby begins to suspect that her testimony was coerced, and that her brother might be innocent after all. As clues unravel, she is confronted with a traumatic past she thought she’d buried long ago.

Vivian Barz grew up on a farm in a small Northern California town of less than three thousand people. With plenty of fresh air and space to let her imagination run wild, she began penning mysteries at a young age. One of Barz’s earliest works, a story about a magical scarecrow with a taste for children’s blood, was read to her third-grade class during show-and-tell. It received mixed reviews. 

Vivian kept writing, later studying English and film and media studies at the University of California, Irvine. She resides in Los Angeles, where she is always working on her next screenplay and novel.

Barz also writes under the pen name Sloan Archer.

Her debut novel, Forgotten Bones, is out now.

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