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Literacy Lists: Psychopaths

After starting off last month with ‘Fairytale Retellings’ moving onto ‘Psychopaths’ might seem slightly strange although, let’s face it, some of the original versions of classic fairy tales are pretty grim (no pun intended). It also seems perfectly timed for me as Killing Eve is back on at last! And I’m currently re-watching Dexter. The definition of a psychopath, taken from The Online Cambridge Dictionary is:

 ‘a person who has no feeling for other people, does not think about the future, and does not feel bad about anything that they have done in the past’

They can also be quite charming when they want to be and seem to be a constant source of fascination in fiction. Characters like Villanelle from Killing Eve and Alice Morgan from Luther seem to be wildly popular with fans despite their atrocious actions.  I’ll admit that I got hooked on both of those shows and was constantly on the lookout for what those two characters would do next. Other examples that immediately spring to mind are Joe Carroll from The Following and Amy Dunne from Gone Girl.

Admittedly not every book on this list will necessarily feature a true psychopath – it’s hard to tell without reading them, besides anything else – but they’re all ones that seem to hint at such characters because who doesn’t love reading about charming individuals with non-existence morals?

Codename Villanelle by Luke Jennings

Naturally, as the TV show strongly inspired this list, ‘Codename Villanelle’ tops it. I’m eager to see how Villanelle is portrayed in the books. I’ve got to admit, though, that I’m also a little bit nervous about reading it. Why? Because Jodie Comer was utterly amazing playing her in the show and, for once, I’m worried over how the novel will compare.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I loved the movie of this and found Sharp Objects absolutely captivating – if unnerving – so this is another easy addition to this list. I’m really looking forward to seeing how Amy is painted in the novel.

You by Caroline Kepnes

Another example where I’ve seen the show but somehow failed to read the book. I’ve been meaning to read this one for ages though. And it gets bonus marks for containing stalker-ish behaviour because I find that subject fascinating too.

Sweetpea by C.J. Skuse

The last person who called me Sweetpea ended up dead… 

So that single line, coupled with the mention of a ‘kill list’ definitely seems to suggest that this book is perfectly at home on this list.

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

We all have secrets to keeping a marriage alive.
Ours just happens to be getting away with murder

This is also described as ‘Dexter meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith’ so obviously it’s on my TBR list.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

I had to include this as I love the television show, plan to read the books and its main character is a killer who claims to be incapable of love (I disagree with that statement, as his actions in the show seem to prove that he did care about his family). It’s definitely different to most of the books on this list however as the killer is only after bad people.

Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

I’ve already read this book and, unlike most others on this list, it’s not a crime or thriller novel. Nobody can argue that Lord Voldemort wasn’t a psychopath though; especially when you finally get to see more of his past as the charming, but heartless, Tom Riddle. Honestly I’d love to learn more about his youth.

Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice

It’s been years since I saw the movie adaptation of this but from what I remember Lestat definitely gave off the charming yet psychotic vibes that I’m looking for in this list. I also adore vampire novels so naturally I plan to read this.

Heartsick by Chelsea Cain

This one’s about a ‘beautiful female serial killer who mysteriously turned herself in’ and the ‘damaged Portland detective who can’t stay away from her’. Reading about it, the unusual connection makes me think of Alice Morgan and Luther again so I’m looking forward to checking this out.

Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer

I can’t believe I almost forgot about this book as I’ve been desperate to read it ever since it came out.  The premise is absolutely amazing although, I will admit that I’m not entirely convinced that the main character belongs on this list (she must have a conscience for trying to save her mother’s victim). Either way it still seems to promise the right kind of ‘vibes’ for this list and I’m one hundred percent desperate to read it.

As I said at the start of this list, I can’t guarantee that every book on here  contains a true psychopath. They all seem to hint at individuals with lapsed morals, dark habits and limited feelings however.

So, there you have it, ten of the books that I most want to read which seem to promise psychotic characters within their pages. I know that there are some pretty major ones that I’ve missed but I was aiming for the sort of fictional psychopath that people love to hate and almost secretly root for with this list, rather than the ones that leave you too terrified to sleep with the light off.

Do you like reading about characters like this in fiction or watching them on television and in films? What are your favourites from either category? Do you have any recommendations? Let me know in the comments below. Oh and please no spoilers for season two of Killing Eve!