It’s good to share. Especially when it comes to murder. After all, a murder shared is a murder that’s harder to solve, right?
The idea of the murder share or murder swap is perhaps most famously immortalized in Strangers on a Train. Two strangers agree to commit murder for each other. Each will have an alibi. Neither will be suspected.
But there are other books where murder is not a solo event but a shared experience. Which is all very well, as long as you trust your partners in crime . . .
The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets stunning and mysterious Lily Kintner.
Over a few drinks, the strangers start a game of truth. Ted talks about his stale marriage and cheating wife and jokes that he could kill her. Lily, as you do, offers to help. ‘After all, some people are the kind worth killing . . .’
Back in Boston, Ted and Lily’s bond strengthens as they begin to plot his wife’s death. But Lily hasn’t been entirely honest with Ted about her past. The murderous duo find themselves embroiled in a game of cat-and-mouse. . . with a savvy detective on their tail.
Double Indemnity by James M. Cain
Walter Neff, an insurance salesman, meets the seductive wife of a client, Phyllis Dietrichson, and they embark on an affair.
When Phyllis proposes to kill her husband for the insurance money, Walter helps her devise a scheme where she will receive double the proceeds of an accident insurance policy based on a double indemnity clause.
Walter pushes Mr Dietrichson onto train tracks and when he’s found dead police initially accept it as accidental death. But, of course, there’s always someone who’s suspicious. In this case, Lola, Phyllis’s step-daughter and Walter’s best friend, Barton Keyes.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
It’s Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their home on the Mississippi River.
Nick soon becomes prime suspect, not least because of Amy’s diaries painting their marriage as somewhat less than perfect and Nick as an abusive husband. Oh, and the fact he’s sleeping with one of his students. Nick is evasive and cold —but is he really a killer?
If you’ve not read the book, the ‘co-conspirator’ to Amy’s disappearance/murder is a genuinely twisted reveal and the ending reminds us that sometimes you really do choose the partner you deserve.
My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
Millicent and her husband have it all: beautiful family, lovely home, and many happy years of marriage. But things have gotten a little stale in their relationship. So, what’s a couple to do to spice things up? Murder people together, of course.
Here is a husband so thoroughly devoted to his partner that he’s happy to indulge his wife’s darkest desires. From stalking potential victims to figuring out how to dispose of a body, Millicent’s husband will do whatever it takes to keep his beloved satisfied.
Well, almost. Even devotion has a line and when it’s crossed, husband and wife find that ‘till death do us part’ may be the only way out of their homicidal wedded bliss.
You Owe Me a Murder by Eileen Cook
The heroine of this YA novel is 17-year-old Kim. Her boyfriend has just dumped her for another girl. Now, Kim’s stuck on a class trip to London with him and his soulmate, and Kim is pretty mad about it. In fact, she’d really like to kill her ex.
Handily, at the airport, she meets a British girl named Nicki. The pair get drunk, Kim reveals how much she hates her ex and Nicki says she feels the same way about her mum. When Nickie suggests they swap murders Kim plays along, thinking it’s all a joke – until her ex meets an untimely demise at a train station, and it looks like Nicki might actually be dead serious.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
The novel begins with the narrator, Richard, and his friends—twins Charles and Camilla, Francis, and Henry—killing their friend Bunny. From there the novel winds back to when everything started.
All six students study Greek under Professor Julian Morrow, a mysterious, wealthy man who is deeply passionate about his subject. They are so devoted to Morrow and their studies of Greek culture and history, including the myths, legends, and language, that Henry, Camilla, Charles, and Frances decide to perform a bacchanal (a ceremony to connect with Dionysus), and “lose control completely.” Eventually, they succeed, but in the process, there is a brutal murder.
Bunny, whose family is struggling financially, finds out about the murder and decides to blackmail the others. The friendships that knit the six students together unravel in the most terrible way.
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
A man on a train is murdered. Everyone on the train car—12 people, plus Poirot—had the opportunity to do it. All are acting pretty suspiciously. And the victim is a child-killer who got off, so anyone would have a good motive to kill him.
The train has been snowed in so Poirot must catch the murderer before the train begins to move and the murderer makes their escape.
The biggest clue is that victim was stabbed multiple times, always by the same weapon, but with varying degrees of strength. Could there are have been two murderers, Poirot wonders?
Nope. There were 12. Every single person on the train car collaborated to commit the murder and avenge the family of the murdered child. The number twelve is significant because the murderers on the train make up an ad hoc “jury” that executes the victim.
Perhaps the best ever reveal—they all did it.