The Three by Sarah Lotz

The Three stats with a bang: four bangs, in fact, as four passenger flights crash simultaneously at points around the world. Miraculously, three passengers survive, from three of the flights. That's a big, high concept punch with which to open but what happens next is much more subtle and much more mind-bending than the reader might expect. Because everything following the first few pages of this ingenious thriller is presented as a verbatim documentary book, published some months after the air crashes, in the style of Studs Terkel or Haruki Murakami's Underground. In fact, we later discover, not even the first few pages fall outside this metafictional conceit.

I don't know how Lotz pulls off the trick of making this documentary format so direct and so compelling but it has a lot to do with her great gift for ventriloquism, and for bringing to life her dozens of characters with the smallest and deftest of touches. And it gives Lotz massive sweep. Over time we realise that, although the book is a compelling human drama, with a delicious set of mysteries at its centre, what it's most about, at least for this reader, is how fragile and easily manipulated our wider culture is. The real threat that drives this pacy thriller comes not from any one (or three) threatening individual, but from the hive mind - from all of us.