The Ultimate List of Best Thriller Books
People ask us all the time what are the best thriller books you have ever read? This is such a difficult question to answer because there are so many amazing thrillers. Some with give you a surprise twist and others will make you want to keep your light on at night.
But, no matter what kind of thriller you love, we have a list of the best thriller books we have ever read.
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Ultimate List of Best Thriller Books
Best of 2022 // NYC Thrillers // Serial Killer Thrillers // Psychological Thrillers // Domestic Thrillers // Beach Thrillers // Winter Thrillers // Stalker Thrillers // Historical Thrillers // Survival Thrillers // Unreliable Narrator // Featuring a Psychologist // Thrillers with Kids // Haunted House // Paranormal // Mystery Thrillers // Thriller Books about Books // Dark Academia Thriller // Missing Person Thriller
Best Thriller Books of 2022
Woman on Fire by Lisa Barr
Buckle up for a stunning story in Lisa Barr’s newest book, Woman on Fire. Jules, an ambitious investigative journalist, is working on a story about a piece of art that was stolen by the Nazis during WWII.
But she’s not the only one looking to track down Woman on Fire. Margaux, a gallerist and art thief, also wants to get her hands on the painting.
As we learn the origins of the painting and the many hands it switched to over the years, we also discover the dark underbelly of the art world.
I was ENTHRALLED. I’ll be putting this pick from mystery books on every must-read list we do this year. It was thrilling and informative. Buy it now, and thank me later.
Thrillers Books Set in New York City
When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole
Sydney Green lives in Brooklyn where she has lived for almost her whole life. Her neighborhood is quickly changing as old neighbors move away. What starts off as fiction about gentrification and neighborhood dynamics, quickly becomes a fast-moving thriller.
Is Sydney being paranoid or are people out to get her? To make matters worse, Sydney’s mother is sick and she does not want to put all her burdens on her best friend. The only person Sydney can turn to is Theo but can she trust him? How far will people go to get what they want? I loved this thriller and how plausible it could be.
Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
Riley Sager is quickly becoming a must-read author for me. I absolutely loved this last book, The Last Time I Lied, so I was eager to pick this one up. The story is told via a dual timeline about 4 days apart.
Jules is hired to apartment-sit at a ridiculously wealthy building in NYC. But there are strange rules to protect the residents of the Bartholomew – no visitors, no disturbing the neighbors, and no spending nights away from the apartment. There are also some concerning urban legends surrounding the lush residence. Let’s just say I was glad I was not alone while I was reading this creepy tale.
Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton
This thriller was described, as Gone Girl Meets Gossip Girl and it didn’t disappoint! A stalker girl wants to live the life of her new friend and socialite.
But is it enough to be her friend or does she actually want to replace her?
Serial Killer Thriller Books
Survive the Night by Riley Sager
Riley Sager is back with a heart-pounding read about a girl who took a ride from a stranger to get home. She’s leaving college after finding out her best friend was murdered by a an unknown serial killer.
But as the night progresses, she begins to think that the stranger giving her a ride is actually the serial killer. Can she survive the night?
The Maidens by Alex Michaelides
What an amazing thriller. Alex Michaelides did it again! This books was insane with the twists and turns. It kept me in the edge of my seat and my heart beating a little faster!
Mariana is a therapist who is still grieving the loss of her husband when she gets a call from her niece, Zoe. Zoe’s best friend Tara is missing and Zoe is afraid something has happened to her.
One by one, When women start dying at Cambridge and Mariana gets deeply involved as she tries to solve the mystery.
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Recently made into an HBO mini-series, this story is another dark one from the writer of Gone Girl. This was a psychological thriller and mystery, and it was fabulous! I’ve recommended this story to so many people — it’s so much better than Gone Girl.
When 2 girls are found murdered in her dingy old town, a reporter is sent to investigate. In the process, she digs up some old wounds and resurrects family drama.
Best Psychological Thriller Books
Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel
Don’t let the gorgeous cover fo this book fool you. Darling Rose Gold is. a dark and sinister look at a dysfunctional and abusive mother-daughter relationship.
I couldn’t put it down, but it is a trigger for child abuse. I can’t give much about the story away without ruining it. If you are a thriller lover, this one is for you.
His and Hers by Alice Feeney
His and Hers is the best psychological thriller I have read this year. There are two sides to every story and this one had me guessing until the last page. I had to go back and re-read.
Anna Andrews works at the BBC and has her dream job as an anchor until she doesn’t and she will do anything to get it back. When she has to return to her home town to cover murders that are centered around her, nothing could complicate the situation more…..until her ex husband is the lead investigator.
Oh, and he knows the first victim as well. This book is a puzzle that isn’t complete until the last page.
The Dinner by Herman Koch
Two couples, one family out for dinner- what can happen? The family has come together because they must help their children after a horrific act. What follows is anything other than a fun family meal.
Domestic Thriller Books
The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
Everything that you think you know in this book is just an assumption. You can assume that you are wrong. I cannot say much about this book because I do not want to spoil anything but, it is such a perfect thriller.
Warning: do not start it if you don’t have time to finish it.
Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda
This tory mostly takes place during a car ride when a husband and wife are on their way up to their vacation home.
I can’t talk much more about what I loved about this book without giving away the plot. I will say that the narrator is unlike any I have read before and for all you fans of Gone Girl and Girl on the Train…this book is for you!
The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins
spoiler alert: This was a really fun and quick read but I didn’t find myself surprised at any of the twist and turns. The name of the book is itself a huge spoiler. I think I would have enjoyed it more with a name that didn’t give away the biggest surprise in the book. It is perfect for fans of gone girl. 3 stars
Thriller Books Set at the Beach
The Club by Ellery Lloyd
March 2022 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick
This book was a WILD ride and I loved every exhilarating twist and turn! The Home Club is clearly based on members-only celebrity clubs like SoHo House but the newest Home Club is opening on a private island and features an opening weekend to die for.
Literally, because it’s a murder mystery. Except we the readers don’t know who is murdered, how, or why at the beginning…but instead we are treated to various narrators telling the points of view of the weekend as it unfolds.
The layered approach to telling the story of the celebrity shenanigans and the murder of a key figure in the Home Group family had me flipping through the pages of this book. A truly enjoyable beach read!
Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins
This is the Ultimate Beach Read Thriller! It’s all about 2 girls who hire a couple to charter them a boat to a deserted island.
But the island isn’t so deserted after all. As their relaxing trip turns deadly, we learn about the back story that brought each person to their destination.
It’s a wonderfully addicting read that is great in audiobook format as well. This vacation thriller is a perfect choice for books like People We Meet on Vacation.
The Guilt Trip by Sandie Jones
👏 👏 👏. Okay Sandie, I see you! I loved this slow building drama/thriller about an old group of college buddies gathered again for a wedding.
The story was a slow build but the final chapters were FIRE. I couldn’t put it down.
Love Everything Beach? We do too! That’s why we created the Beach Hub with everything for the summer!!
Thriller Books set in Winter
Ski Weekend by Retkok Ross
This YA survival thriller had me on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading it. I can see why it has won so many awards. Fair warning if you read it before a ski trip- you might want to wait until you get back!
Six teens and a dog go on a ski weekend but how many of them will return? When Sam, her brother and 4 friends go on a ski weekend, the last thing they expect is to crash in a snowbank with little food and no cell phone reception. What would you do to survive?
One by One by Ruth Ware
As a thriller, this book is fast paced and heart thumping as one person after another winds up dead. As a mystery, I had a problem with the fact that I knew who the killer was from the very beginning.
Where does that leave my feelings on the book? Although there were no surprises for me, this survival thriller had me cringing throughout.
Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney
This newest book by Alice Feeney is another great read. Her books always have me turning the pages. The book starts with Adam and Amelia Wright headed to a weekend away in a remote Scottish getaway to save their marriage.
Told from the point of view of both Adam and Amelia, it is clear that one weekend away may not be enough. Each year of their marriage, Adam and his wife exchange traditional wedding gifts and she writes him a letter that she will not let him read.
Not every twist on this book is unexpected but there were a few shocks that were completely unexpected.
Thank you Flatiron for my copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Stalker Thriller Books
The Woman in the Window: A Novel by AJ Finn
If you love old movies, you will adore this book. It’s a spin on Hitchcock’s Rear Window and features an agoraphobic narrator who is often unreliable.
Anna Fox lives alone in her house. She is agoraphobic and cannot leave but, she can sit at her window and watch everyone in the neighborhood.
When she sees something across the street, she is sure that there has been a crime but, what is real and what is imagined? This thriller will leave you guessing until the end.
Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy
Thanks to Harper Audio and Libro.FM for my review copy. All opinions are my own. I was in the mood for a good thriller to go with this month’s reading challenge.
I absolutely loved this one. There were many twists and turns that I just did not see coming! I gasped out loud on more than one location as I watched this creepy book unfold. It’s easily one of my favorite thriller books of the year. I did not see the ending coming at all!!!
I See You by Clare Mackintosh
I was so excited to read this book. I absolutely loved Mackintosh’s other book: I Let You Go. This book is quite a different feel but is still a very good thriller.
I was left shocked and surprised to the last page. It was not predictable and had me thinking and questioning after I had finished the last page. It left me feeling creeped out for days after.
For more books like these, check out our list of Books with Stalkers.
Historical Thriller Books
The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal
This historical fiction novel is part mystery, part love story, and part thriller. MacNeal’s debut takes place in Victorian England during the time of The Great Exhibition.
Iris dreams of learning to paint like a true artist, while she tolls away with her twin sister in a doll shop. Silas is a curiosity collector that can’t seem to get Iris out of his head after their chance meeting, and Albie is the rag-a-muffin street urchin I wanted to take home.
Their stories weave together in a slow-burn until the blood pumping, heart racing conclusion. This made our list of the best books of 2019.
11/22/63 by Steven King
This historical fantasy book was brilliantly researched and had an amazing premise in which Jake Epping steps into a time hole to stop the assassination of Kennedy. Every time he leaves history, time resets itself. This means that if something does not go right, he can reset the clock and try again.
The historic details in this book were immaculate but, as much as everyone loved this book, I thought that it was much too long. You have to be prepared for almost 900 pages.
A Woman of Intelligence by Karin Tanabe
I was interested to read this book about a housewife turned female informant for the FBI. I went in interested to learn about the government’s efforts to root out Communism in the 50s but stayed to understand Katharina’s story.
I can’t imagine being a wife in the 50s. The ideals that society put on women were just too much. Too many constraints, too many rules, and far too much judgement.
I loved seeing Katharina find herself through her undercover work, but sometimes those scenes of her life at home were hard to read about because I came to despise her husband.
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for my review copy. All opinions are my own.
Love Historical Fiction? We do too! That’s why we created the Ultimate List of Historical Fiction carefully divided by time period.
Best Survival Thriller Books
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
I was so hooked by this murder mystery/thriller. A mysterious person is trying to right the wrongs of the past by luring unsuspecting criminals to a deserted island…and then murdering them one by one.
But who is the killer? Why are they killing? And just how long have they been stalking their prey?
The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse
Reese’s Book Club pick for February 2021
Oh boy was this a creepy story! I wish I had chosen to read it during the wintertime instead of the summer because seeing snow while reading it would have made it that much creepier.
With dead bodies piling up, and a blizzarding keeping the guests of the fancy santorium-turned-hotel stuck inside, will Elin be able to solve the mystery before she becomes a victim herself?
In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
Leonora is invited to a cabin in the woods for a girls’ weekend getaway. What should be a fun weekend turns into anything but fun.
As the memories and pieces of the weekend slowly come back, the tale of what really happened in the woods comes together as well.
Best Thrillers with Unreliable Narrators
Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Rachel takes the same train every day and peers out the window watching people. She watched 2 people in particular as they lead what appears to be a perfect life until one day she sees something terrible while watching them.
She reports it to the police but, can they trust a dysfunctional alcoholic? This story will have you questioning who is telling the truth.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
I chose this book as my choice for unreliable narrator and it did not disappoint. I will not spoil and give too many details about it.
A group of four friends who spend every summer together on a private island. Money, family, love and an accident leads to secrets and lies.
This book was the perfect suspense which I did not expect. Even though I knew that the narrator was unreliable, I still had no idea where this story was going.
Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker
All I can say is wow!!! This book kept me in suspense from the first page to the last. I love reading a book that leads you down a path, so perfectly choreographed that it’s like a dance.
This family story is so twisted and multilayered, the final layers are not peeled away until the last pages of the book. This book is truly unputdownable- far and away the best psychological thriller I have ever read.
For more books like these, check out our list of books with Unrealiable Narrators.
Best Thriller Books Featuring a Psychologist
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
This thriller has been a best seller on all the major book charts recently, so I was really excited to dive in when my library hold came through.
The premise sucked me in immediately – a woman murders her husband and then doesn’t say a word for 10 years.
Convinced he can help, a psychologist transfers to the facility she is staying out to try to get the real story behind the fateful night of the murder.
The Therapist by B.A Paris
I listened to the book and I have to say that I think it added so much to the suspense! I love the way the narrators added to the story.
Alice and Leo move into a house on “The Circle”, an exclusive gated community. When Alice finds out a secret about the house, she wants to find out more about the therapist who lived there before.
As Alice tried to uncover secrets, she is met with lies and confusion until she is not sure what is true.
Thank you Macmillian Audio for my copy of this book. All opinions are my own
The Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell
This book was firmly OK. I’m normally a big fan of Lisa Jewell’s writing, but this one didn’t have me flipping pages at top speed.
The story is about a person who is sexually assaulting women, a girl gone missing, a lonely incel, and a philandering child psychologist and his family. It had promise but lacked the plot to fully draw me in.
Best Thriller Books Involving Kids
The Push by Ashley Audrain
January 2021 GMA Book Club Pick
This is a book that will scare the pants off most mothers. It’s compulsively readable.
Blythe Conner comes from a long line of bad mothers, but she’s determined not to be one. When she has Violet, she struggles to connect with her.
The reader is left wondering if Blythe is a mother who sees the worst in her child or if there really is something off with Violet. Something that even her husband can’t see.
The Perfect Daughter by DJ Palmer
When police come to Grace’s door, she is terrified that something has happened to her teenage daughter, Penny. Instead, she finds out her daughter has been arrested for murder.
What follows is a year and a half in a Psychiatric facility while Penny awaits her trial and try to determine if the multiple personalities are real or a made up ruse to get away with murder. Because Eve, the protector, has kept Penny and the other personalities away.
This thriller is brilliantly crafted and had me guessing until the very end. Thank you to Macmillian Audio for my ALC of this book. It was amazing to listen to as each personality had a distinct voice. I couldn’t put it down!
Playing Nice by J.P. Delaney
Delaney did it again with this heart-racing thriller about newborns that were switched at birth. There were times that my heart was beating so quickly I had to ask people what would happen next.
I was on the edge of my seat for the entire last half of the book and found myself wishing I had medication to calm me down! It was thrilling up until the very last page. A perfect book to read or add to your list!
Best Haunted House Thriller
Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
It is so strange that I have read four paranormal fiction this month! Maggie Holt spend three weeks in a house that became the subject of a best-selling novel written by her father.
During the three weeks in the house, the family was haunted by ghosts before there were eventually forced to flee. 25 years later, Maggie is shocked to learn that her father still owned the house when he died and the house is now hers.
As Maggie returns to the house to find out what really happened, she might be in for more than she bargained for.
The Family Plot by Megan Collins
CREEPY THRILLER VIBES ALERT. The premise of this book is perfect for true-crime documentary fanatics.
The Lighthouse children are named after famous murder victims. They live in a creepy house, known as murder mansion to locals, and live an isolated life.
After their father dies, Dahlia and her two siblings return home for the first time since her twin, Andy, disappeared 9 years earlier. When they bury their father, they find Andy’s body already in his family plot.
Dahlia vows that she won’t leave again until she uncovers Andy’s murderer, but the family secrets she unearths might turn her into the next victim.
The Girl Before by JP Delaney
The house the story was set in is utterly fascinating. The female characters I loved, but I hated the architect. He was creepy in such a subtle way, but it totally made my skin crawl.
I was compulsively turning pages and staying up late into the night to find out what happened to Emma and Jane. Oh, and the ending was perfection. I can’t wait to see this adapted to the big screen!
Girls of Brackenhill by Kate Moretti
Thanks to Netgalley and Thomas&Mercer for my review copy, all opinions are my own. Holy gothic thriller, batman. This book is literally the stuff of paranormal legend.
Missing girls, ghosts, murder, and a legit creepy castle where it all goes down? Cue images of me staying up past my bedtime as I tried to get over the scary things happening in this book. I had chills a few times while reading.
I wish I had a few more answers at the end, but I think that’s part of the point, to leave the reader to decide what they think happens next.
Plain Bad Heroines by Emily Danforth
I started Plain Bad Heroines and I did not know what to think. I was debating giving up on the book for a little while because I just wasn’t sure where the book was going. Fast forward. I loved it and I am glad I stuck with it. This book is unlike any other book I have ever read. It has all the makings of a cult horror. It is scary, complex and so well written.
The lines of reality and fiction are perfectly blurred. It is a book about a book and making a movie about that same book. ( follow that? Lol) The story intertwines the lives of all those that read the book and the mystery and supernatural that follows them 🐝. I don’t usually read horror but I loved this book. Thank you to @librofm for my copy! If you’ve read this I have to talk to someone about it!!!
The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould
Something is dark and scary in Snakebite, Oregon where teenagers go missing and the weather is wonky. When Logan Ortiz-Woodley travels to her fathers’ hometown to film their ghost hunters television show, he dad becomes a suspect and is certainly acting strange.
This YA paranormal fiction was a really different read than anything I had read before.
For more books like these, check out our list of Creepy Halloween Thriller Books.
Mystery Thriller Books
The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
I raved about this book when I read it earlier this month! Well chosen, Reese! The story of a stepmother and her daughter as they try to find the girl’s father after his abrupt departure.
This mystery has so much heart as you see Hannah bond with and try to protect her new stepdaughter, Bailey. I did not see the ending of this book coming, but absolutely adored it.
The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz
What a ride! Jean Hanff Korelitz’s thriller is quite something. It’s one I just adored even if I did figure the big twist out early on. It’s the journey with this book.
Jacob is a formerly successful writer who is struggling to write his next great novel. His student Evan dies without having published his own incredible story, so Jacob decides to write it himself to great critical acclaim.
But then someone starts threatening to expose him for the theft of the story, launching him into the truth behind the tale he wrote about.
Thanks to Celadon Books for my review copy. All opinions are my own.
The Royal Secret by Lucinda Riley
I love guilty pleasure royal romances, but this is so much more! Part romance, part mystery, this book has something for everyone and is an amazing beach read. A young journalist is given a mystery to uncover after an old actor passes away, but her investigation quickly turns deadly. I felt all the feelings on this one. There were a couple of times where I was truly angry at the author, but in the end, I really enjoyed it!
Thriller Books About Book
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
June 2021 GMA Book Club Pick
Wow. I’m still processing this genre-defying novel. It’s a social commentary and a thriller all in one. It makes me want to sit down and discuss it with everyone.
Nella is the only black girl at her publishing house until Hazel is hired. Thinking she’s found an ally, instead, she begins to wonder if Hazel might be an enemy instead.
As Hazel’s career soars, Nella is left questioning her identity, her ideals, and what it means to be a black woman in the business world, while trying to uncover who is behind the scary notes she keeps receiving.
Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson
This is one of the best mystery thrillers that I have read in a long time. I loved this book from beginning to end. Years ago, Malcolm, a bookseller, wrote a blog post that included books with the most unsolvable murders.
One day, an FBI agent comes to his store to ask him about that post. She believes that someone is using it as a recipe for committing murders. The book has twists and turns and is so well-written!!!
The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
There is a murder mystery within a murder mystery in this well-written and thoughtful book.
In this book, you are uncovering the murder of a mystery author while also reading his book. Are they interconnected? The idea is truly unique and so well executed. I just loved it.
Anthony Horowitz is one of the well-known Jewish writers whose mysteries will keep you guessing until the last page.
Love books about books? We do too! That’s why we created the Ultimate List Books about books
Dark Academia Thriller Books
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
Hello Dark Academia. Centered around Devon and Chiamaka, the only black students at an elite private school, this is one wild thriller.
After being chosen by prefects on the first day of their senior year, Devon and Chiamaka quickly become the targets of the mysterious Aces – a dangerous gossip girl type character out to ruin their lives.
I was on pins and needles as this thriller unravelled, addressing systemic racism in private institutions in the process.
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
I could not put this story down when I first read it. It takes place in a suburban suburb of Philly and explores the vicious habits of the old money elite.
There are so many big reveals in this book but beware – there is a trigger inducing rape scene in the story that is difficult to read. The author drew from her own experience when writing it so proceed with caution if that’s a trigger for you.
Broken Girls by Simone St. James
The story moves back and forth between Vermont in the 1950’s and 2014. Idlewild Hall is a school where girls were sent to be forgotten. It was shut down decades ago and is rumored to be haunted but, is suddenly bought by an unknown benefactor who intends to restore it and reopen it.
Fiona Sheridan is a journalist, whose sister died on the property of Idlewild in the 90’s. She cannot let go of the past and decides to write a story on the school, and its history.
What they discover on the property of Idlewild takes the reader on a thrilling mystery and Idlewild slowly gives up its dark secrets. I loved the mystery and could not put the book down. The paranormal component wasn’t over the top which made it readable with just the right amount of fear factor.
For more books like these, check out our list of Dark Academia Books
Best Missing Person Thriller Books
Bring Me Back by B.A Paris
I love a really good psychological thriller and this book definitely satisfied the craving. The story begins when Finn and Layla are on vacation. Finn goes to the bathroom and when he comes back, Layla has disappeared and is never seen again.
Fast forward 10 years — Finn is engaged to Ellen, Layla’s sister. The story moves along a twisted path that will lead you to a very unexpected ending.
Then She was Gone by Lisa Jewell
To me, this is by far the creepiest of all of Lisa Jewell’s books. While I did have some idea of what the ending was going to be, I was not prepared for how creepy this book would be.
I think the point of this was to take the fear factor up a few notches. This book definitely left me wanting to keep my kids a little closer to home.
Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger
Things are not what they seem in this psychological thriller that was more creepy than mysterious. I enjoyed this twisted tale. When Selena is on her way home from the office one night, she begins a conversation with a stranger, but nothing is really as it seems.
Is she a stranger? Why does she seem familiar? This missing person thriller will keep you on your toes and make you check over your shoulder.
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