The Great Gatsby

Susan Isaacs loves a rogue: Here are her nine favorites

The best-selling writer, whose new novel features a sinister narrator, lists the 9 antiheroes closest to her heart

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    Briony Tallis, age 13, “misinterprets” a young man’s passion for her sister, makes an accusation that leads to his imprisonment and … Is she wicked or simply young? An epic about character, history and art.

    “Atonement,” by Ian McEwan

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    Can there be redemption for a sociopath? A sickening but edifying look at a dystopia narrated by truly-bad boy Alex.

    “A Clockwork Orange,” by Anthony Burgess

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    The ultimate look into the mind of a murderer, but it’s not just Rodion Raskolnikov who grips us — it's nearly all the characters. Like so many great novels about crime, it’s also about the culture in which the criminal lives.

    “Crime and Punishment,” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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    A professional assassin — icy cold, completely committed — is out to murder French President de Gaulle. Splendid tension, considering the reader knows from the outset that the plot failed: De Gaulle died of a heart attack in 1970.

    “The Day of the Jackal,” by Frederick Forsyth

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    The fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby inspires mystery and dark rumors. And the novel’s narrator, Nick Carraway, a seemingly bright-enough young man from the Midwest, becomes more tarnished as the work progresses. None of the characters from America’s heartland is who he or she seems to be.

    “The Great Gatsby,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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    OK, the story does show its age a little; it was published in 1722. But ambitious Moll is a character of loose morals and strong will. She was the bad girl of her day, but what a survivor!

    “Moll Flanders,” by Daniel Defoe

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    The nameless protagonist, a Catholic priest, fights his own corruption, weakness and drunkenness during the 1930s, when the anti-clerical Mexican government turns against the Church. A fine novel about sin and redemption.

    “The Power and the Glory,” by Graham Greene

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    The protagonist is Clarice Starling, an FBI agent, who is resolute and brave. But the character everyone adores is Hannibal Lecter, psychopath, bon vivant and psychiatrist. You can hope for redemption for the two serial killers in this novel, but don’t count unanswered prayers.

    “The Silence of the Lambs,” by Thomas Harris

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    The five novels about Tom Ripley form the Ripliad. (How cool is that?) "The Talented …" introduces the most charming sociopath you’d ever want to meet. Or never want to meet.Ripley loves the good life, and in this and Highsmith’s other four, he will do what is necessary to see that he lives it.

    “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” and the whole Ripley series, by Patricia Highsmith