There is nothing quite like a slow-burn revenge. In books, films, and television, we all enjoy watching one character carefully plot their retaliation. In some cases, it comes off without a hitch, or maybe a few hiccups. Sometimes it doesn’t go exactly as they hoped; sometimes it goes horribly wrong. But all of it makes for great entertainment. After all, who hasn’t dreamt of avenging themselves on people from their past?
Well, here’s a list of eight books that you can vicariously live through other people’s plots and plans of retribution. Warning: some of these avengers are the victims…but some are not.
Murder Your Employer
It’s like a university but instead of an education in the humanities or economics, you learn the art of murder. The final test is deleting “the most deserving victim.” Told as a sort of How to Guide, this book follows the lives of three new students who each have a worthy victim in their lives. Can they learn the skills for success? Or will they literally die trying? It’s witty and a touch terrifying.
Aunty Lee's Chilled Revenge
The third in this cozy series, Aunty Lee is taking a forced vacation, thanks to an ankle injury. But her cafe Aunty Lee’s Delights doesn’t have to close thanks to her new business partner and friend Cherrill. The cafe hosts the meeting of a newly resurrected animal rescue society that Cherrill belonged to but after a British expat killed her puppy, it disbanded. So while the group is resuming operations, that ex-pat has returned—angry and vengeful.
But when she’s found dead and another person involved in the original scandal, it’s clear that someone is taking their own revenge. Can Aunty Lee figure out what really happened in the past and save her friend?
Virgil Wounded Horse provides extra-legal justice when the legal system inevitably fails on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. But at the same time he’s giving out lessons that no one will forget, he is trying to raise his nephew who is having difficulty in school. He’s given the opportunity to investigate a drug cartel that’s bringing drugs onto the reservation but when his nephew gets caught up in the drug trade, Virgil has a personal mission to make the perpetrators pay and stop the drug cartel.
The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu
Getting involved with a crime syndicate is the easy thing; getting out is another. Min Tsu falls into a crime syndicate that gives him everything, most importantly the skills to kill. But love intervenes and he and his beloved Ada run off to start a new life. Sadly, they are found; Ming is forced to work on the railroad and Ada is just taken. Finding allies in a traveling magic show in a man named the Prophet who can see the future and other performers, he sets across the West with his special set of skills to get back his new life.
Kieran Watts was responsible for the death of Ellen Saint’s son. So he had to die. But two years later, Ellen sees Kieran in the flat across the street, a building called the Heights. Shocked and angry, Ellen now has to kill him again if he doesn’t get her first. The story is told from several points of view including Ellen’s ex-husband Vic, a journalist, and others as Ellen single-mindedly tries to avenge herself…again.
Ike Randolph hadn’t accepted his son’s lifestyle but when he learns that Isiah and his white husband Derek are murdered, it hits Randolph hard. He thought there would be time to save their relationship but that is now gone. Buddy Lee, Derek’s father, finds Randolph with a plan: use his underworld contacts to find out who killed their sons. It’s a harsh and brutal journey as two ex-cons try to find the truth…and closure the hard way.
The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida
This is not your traditional revenge novel but frankly, nothing about this novel is conventional. Maali Almeida was not a good man but even he is surprised when he wakes up dead with no memory of how he died. He has seven moons to make peace with the world and pass over or risk being stuck as a ghoul or ghost on Earth. He suspects his death was political motivated; as a photojournalist, he had taken photos of the Sri Lankan civil war, which made him unpopular with a lot of people. He decides he must spend his seven moons trying to lead his most beloved friends to negatives that will expose the violence and brutality. It’s a crazy narrative as the narrative shifts back and forth between time/death and living as Almeida follows one ghost or another. It won the Man Booker Prize for a reason.
Fortune Favors the Dead
Did Abigail Collins’ dead husband take his revenge on her during a seance? That’s what Lillian Pentecost and her right-hand woman Willowjean “Will” Parker have to figure out. Pentecost and Parker had been working together for three years after a chance meeting where Parker saved Pentecost’s life. They’ve been hired to figure out what happened during a Halloween party when a séance went wrong and the hostess’s head was bashed in with a crystal ball. The same room her husband had shot himself in, almost one year before to the day. Was it revenge from beyond the grave or can Pentecost and Parker find a living culprit who had their own reason to enact violence on Collins? It’s the first in the Nero Award-winning Parker and Pentecost series with book four Murder Crossed Her Mind coming out in December.