Riley Sager recommends 6 books about danger in confined spaces

Riley Sager

Riley Sager Courtesy image

In Riley Sager’s new thriller, Survive the Night, a college student on a long drive home begins to suspect that she’s riding with a serial killer. Below, the author of Home Before Dark recommends six other books about people facing danger in confined spaces.

Misery by Stephen King (1987).

The good news: Author Paul Sheldon has just been rescued from a car crash by his biggest fan. The bad news: The rescuer is deranged Annie Wilkes, who imprisons the bedridden writer in her remote Colorado home. With fans like her, who needs enemies? Buy it here.

No Exit by Taylor Adams (2019).

What’s worse than being stranded at an isolated highway rest stop in whiteout conditions? Learning that one of the other people stranded there has kidnapped a child and is keeping her locked in a van. Adams wrings every drop of suspense out of a brilliant premise. Buy it here.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (1939).

When the queen of mysteries published this tale of 10 strangers summoned to an island only to get bumped off one by one, she invented a new subgenre — the isolated-vacation thriller. Some of the biggest sellers today — Lucy Foley’s The Guest List and Sarah Pearse’s The Sanatorium — are in Christie’s debt. Buy it here.

One by One by Ruth Ware (2020).

In a recent Christie riff, Ware takes us to a ski chalet in the French Alps, fills it with cutthroat app developers on a corporate retreat, and sets off an avalanche just as a killer strikes. Ware uses cold and a lack of supplies to push the characters, guilty and innocent alike, into ever tighter confines. Buy it here.

Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman (2018).

A genre bender about a woman afflicted by days-long waking comas that make her look like she’s dead, the no-good husband who buries her alive, and the long-lost love racing to save her before time runs out. Malerman takes the story of Sleeping Beauty, stuffs it in a coffin, and starts the clock ticking. Buy it here.

Room by Emma Donoghue (2010).

Donoghue’s novel about a boy and his mother held captive in an 11-by-11-foot space is a feat of narrative brilliance. It’s a bold move to tackle a story about captivity. It’s even bolder to tell it through the eyes of a 5-year-old who can’t quite grasp his very dire predicament. Buy it here.

This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.

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