The books that were crucial to Find You in the Dark, by Nathan Ripley
This book is a perfect thriller: an incredible plunge into the mind of a killer with moments of chilling realism, and horror flourishes like the murderer’s obsession with a William Blake painting that he wants to make a part of his body. Agent Will Graham’s disturbingly close identification with serial killers causes him deep distress but makes him the ideal investigator and protagonist.
The Talented Mr. Ripley
Tom Ripley’s combination of earnest ambition and murderous ability makes this, and the next two novels in Highsmith’s landmark series, a boon to anyone who loves to write and read about protagonists who are neither entirely likeable nor totally hateable.
Killer On The Road
The most intense first-person serial killer book I’ve ever read—I hesitate to recommend such an unpleasant novel, but it is masterfully written.
In a Lonely Place
Dorothy B. Hughes
I recently discovered this book, thanks to the writer and critic Sarah Weinman. Another first-person novel about a disturbed man, this novel foregrounds the women around the protagonist, allowing the reader to come to realizations about Dixon Steele through the suspicions of women who see through his chummy veneer. Tasteful, precisely written, and satisfying.