From Patrick Bateman of AMERICAN PSYCHO to Nick and Amy Dunne in GONE GIRL, we have seen many unlikable, manipulative, and even downright evil literary characters capture the public’s imagination. At Off the Shelf, we’re not immune to the charms of some of these bad seeds, either. Here are several of our favorite novels featuring despicable, unpleasant, and just plain terrible characters.
The novel that inspired one of the greatest noir films of all time, DOUBLE INDEMNITY features a seductive femme fatale attempting to convince an insurance salesman to help her kill her husband. James M. Cain’s hard-boiled and edgy classic warns that you can’t always trust beauty.
ZOMBIE might be Joyce Carol Oates’s most distressing work of fiction. Written from the perspective of a sex offender who yearns to kill and craft his very own zombie, this disturbing novel effortlessly explores the twisted, evil desires of a psychopath.
Flannery O’Connor’s haunting debut explores faith, redemption, family, and even God. When Hazel Motes returns from 4 years in the army, he’s determined to escape fate and his complicated feelings about religion. Of course, nothing goes as expected. Darkly comic and biting, this novel will stick with you long after you finish it.
Devoid of compassion, teenage gangster Pinkie Brown believes he is the embodiment of evil. With razors and sulfuric acid, he indifferently kills his enemies—including Hale, a reporter who threatened the livelihood of the mob. But Pinkie wasn’t prepared for Ida Arnold, an angel who is doggedly determined to avenge Hale’s murder.