Lots of books are described as "gripping" and "spellbinding." Many are said to be a "page-turner." Usually I enjoy such books, but do not literally feel forced to keep turning the pages. But I did while reading Dead Calm by Charles Williams.
Williams creates a wrenching dilemma for newlyweds John and Rae Ingram, who are taking their honeymoon on a sailboat in the South Pacific. They rescue a young man in a dinghy who says he has abandoned a sinking sailboat on which his wife and another couple died of food poisoning.
John rows to the other boat to investigate and finds all is not as the young man said. Meanwhile his wife, alone with the young man on their boat, discovers he is not as he seems. Options are limited since they are on sailboats, and, as the title suggests, there's no wind.
Williams turns this puzzle into suspense that really is "gripping" by having John and Rae think through their situations and try solutions only to be faced with new puzzles. He makes these characters real by including their emotions and ethics in the solutions they come up with.
I recall seeing the film based on this movie when it played in theaters in 1989. With Sam Neil and Nicole Kidman as the newlyweds, it got some rave reviews. The director and screenwriter made some changes in the story, as is routine. However all their changes were for the purpose of inserting horrifying sequences full of graphic violence. There is none in the story. I do not recommend the film.