Domestic Noir- Is It For You?

Domestic Noir banner Hachette Aus

Are you a fan of domestic noir? I am – most definitely, so much so I will be setting up a separate page to list and identify novels that I have read that fit into this genre. Stay tuned.

Will you like this sub genre ? I think you will or already are – there have been some great examples of this sub genre making headlines lately; Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, Under Your Skin, The Bones of You (review scheduled, this one is fantastic!) …  to name a few. Well the lovely people at Hachette Australia recently circulated this very relevant explanation and have given me permission to  post it here:

“What is domestic noir, I hear you ask, and why would I want to read it?

Well, if you’ve read Gone Girl, The Silent Wife, Under your Skin, What Lies Within or The Girl on the Train, you’ve already dipped your toe in to the thrilling, murky pool of what we here at Hachette Australia have dubbed Domestic Noir. It’s always gripping, sometimes gritty, with scenery that could be your home and scenarios you hope you never find yourself in.

We asked Gone Girl publisher Kirsty Dunsheath why we’re so fascinated by this nail-biting genre: ‘I think we’ve long known that some of the most dramatic situations can be domestic – what takes place at home, behind closed doors. Within the intimacy of family life, of partnerships, we share our innermost thoughts and feelings, we lay ourselves bare and in doing so, we also reveal our weakest points. It is a truism that those we love the most have the greatest power to hurt us, because they know exactly what makes us angry, or disappointed, or frustrated, also what drives us and makes us feel content or fulfilled.’

Kirsty goes on to say that ‘It is that dynamic, where passions are the strongest and most keenly felt, that provides such rich territory for writers. What if we explore all those simmering tensions and take them to extremes?  What if, after several years of being together, we were to wake up one day and no longer recognise the person lying next to us?… I think readers identify with this, they are aware of the way couples can manipulate each other, the little power plays – often unintentional and without malice – within a close relationship. It is simply that we know what makes each other tick.’ ”


What novels have you read and loved that fall into this category? I am starting a wish list.

18 thoughts on “Domestic Noir- Is It For You?

    • Hi Elizabeth – some though not all of the work by these authors might fit – no murder or twist/psychological suspense type thing in The Swimmer for me, or in many of the others here – I think they are more social comentary /contemporary fiction I think- maybe the couple of Jaye Ford’s I have read would work. Honey Brown’s Dark Horse works for me in this sub genre, I must look at my read list and see what else I have previously read that works. Some good reads here but the element of psychological suspense isn’t always present. Maybe Kylie Kaden’s Missing You could fit? What do you think?

      • Hm, I wasn’t sure. I loved Dark Horse, and I think I get what you mean about the subgenre needing a twist. That would discount the others. I haven’t read Kylie Kaden’s Missing You. (I must!) Thanks for the heads up on the other titles, too. I loved Sharp Objects and Dark Places, as well as Tarnished, but haven’t read most of the others. (Not such a fan of Gone Girl, but that may be because of the hype.)

      • Elizabeth, Gone Girl – I read too late – to much hype and too many others now doing this…so wasnt so special but if I had read when released maybe I would have regarded more highly. I looked up my tags of psychological thriller – these fit better. Missing You starts with you reading Aisha’s thoughts, wondering if she is about to die…a great hook. I think this genre is also about the twist or even the reveal that what appears to be perfect ( in the domestic setting) actually is the opposite – what you should fear is the person next to you/family/etc before I Go To Sleep – SJ Watson works well in this genre – hints/doubts/whose truth/whose memories are accurate type thing…Maybe Australian women are just starting to write in this style?

      • You could be right, Carol. The other one I forgot to mention was Anna George’s What Came Before. Maybe that fits better? (I’ll have to read more of the non-Aussies to get a better idea.)

  1. Interesting post, Carol. Certainly domestic noir is getting mroe and more notice these days. Might I also add Helen Fitzgerald’s The Cry to some of the recent fine domestic noir releases? I suppose people differ on what ‘counts’ in this sub-genre, but I think that one does.

  2. Liane Moriarty seems to be the Australian writer who has cornered that market (at least, amongst those who are known abroad). Big Little Lies and The Husband’s Secret seem to be at least partly domestic noir. I think quite a lot of Sophie Hannah’s books are – she’s not Australian and she’s been writing way before this trend was dubbed ‘domestic noir’, but I think she still counts. Karin Alvtegen’s ‘Betrayal’ is less well known but would fit into this category, I think – she’s a Swedish writer.

    • Great suggestions Marina Sofia – Liane Moriarty is an author I have wanting to read for ages. Sophie Hannah has written a lot of books… I have only read one – some time ago, I have read one by Karin Altvegen – again some time ago. I must look out for Betrayal.

  3. I’m really more of a police procedural girl myself – there’s more opportunity in them for a bit of humour usually, to lighten things up. But I did love Before I Go to Sleep – the first domestic noir arguably? And I second Marina Sofia’s recommendation of Little Big Lies.

  4. Could you put The Good Girl in this category? It kind of works there with the different family relationships involved. I’m so glad to have a label for these books. Domestic Noir.

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