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Riot Recommendation: Thrillers with Strong Female Leads

Rebecca Joines Schinsky

Chief of Staff

Rebecca Joines Schinsky is the executive director of product and ecommerce at Riot New Media Group. She co-hosts All the Books! and the Book Riot Podcast. Follow her on Twitter: @rebeccaschinsky.

This installment of Riot Recommendation is sponsored by Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. 

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? 

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?


Many a thriller begins with the search for a missing woman and the evildoers responsible for abducting and/or killing her. We’re all too accustomed to reading about women as victims, and the beginning of Gone Girl sets us up to do just that. But there’s more to Amy Dunne than “alpha-girl perfectionist.” Her diary reveals a determined woman who knows what she wants and who has an opinion to share about, well, almost everything. Her strength is undeniable, even if some of her actions are not exactly role model-worthy.

There’s no rule requiring that strong girls be “good girls,” so in this Riot Recommendation, we want to hear about your favorite thrillers with strong female leads–whatever you take “strong” to mean, and however it manifests itself in the characters. What books fit the bill?