6 Thrillers to Read While You Wait for The Girl on the Train

In early 2015, a debut novel titled The Girl on the Train garnered quite a bit of hype when it opened at No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list—and stayed there for 13 weeks.

On October 7, the highly anticipated movie adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ novel opens in theaters, starring Emily Blunt as a troubled woman who becomes involved in a missing person case after seeing something suspicious from her seat on the train.

If you have already read The Girl on the Train and need to get your female led psychological thriller fix elsewhere while you wait for the film, pick up one (or more!) of these six page-turners:

1. Until You’re Mine, Samantha Hayes

Claudia is a wife and stepmother who is pregnant with a much-wanted first baby of her own. But there’s something about her new nanny that Claudia cannot trust, and a series of violent attacks on pregnant women in the area only heightens her vulnerability.

Why You’ll Love It: This thriller shares some major themes with The Girl on the Train, including characters struggling with infertility and an “outsider” who becomes enmeshed in a family’s life. (Instead of a passerby on a train, Until You’re Mine features a nanny with a murky motive for working in a particular family’s home.)

Click here to buy Until You’re Mine on Amazon

2. Sharp ObjectsGillian Flynn

Fresh from a brief stay at a psychiatric hospital, Camille returns to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her family. Now, installed in her old bedroom, Camille must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming.

Why You’ll Love It: The Girl on the Train was constantly compared to Gone Girl, but Gillian Flynn’s other thrilling novels are also un-put-down-able and possibly even more disturbing. Readers who felt empathy for Rachel’s instability in The Girl on the Train might feel similar emotions for Camille as she fights to overcome her own psychological struggles in Sharp Objects.

Click here to buy Sharp Objects on Amazon

3. Black-Eyed Susans, Julia Heaberlin

Nearly two decades ago, Tessa was found barely alive in a Texas field—the lone survivor of a serial killer. But when events suggest the wrong man was sent to prison, Tessa turns to the lawyers working to exonerate the man she testified against. As the clock ticks toward his execution, Tessa fears for her sanity and the safety of her teenaged daughter.

Why You’ll Love It: In The Girl on the Train, Rachel suffers memory loss and confusion from her alcohol abuse. In Black-Eyed Susans, Tessa struggles to move on with her life after surviving an attack by a serial killer that she can barely remember. And in both novels, there may still be a killer on the loose.

Click here to buy Black-Eyed Susans on Amazon

4. The PassengerLisa Lutz

After leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone and flees town. She meets Blue, who recognizes the hunted look in her eyes, and forms an uneasy―and dangerous―alliance. It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Tanya and Blue have the courage, ingenuity and desperation to try.

Why You’ll Love It: Like Rachel’s chapters in The Girl on the Train, this story is told from the point of view of a woman with secrets and an agenda of her own, which means her memories can’t always be take at face value. If you appreciated the added layer of mystery created by Rachel’s unreliable account of events, you’ll enjoy this narrator’s uncertain past and hidden motives.

Click here to buy The Passenger on Amazon

5. The WidowFiona Barton

After Jean’s husband dies, she doesn’t have stay quiet anymore. There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing, but now there are people who want to hear her story. The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything.

Why You’ll Love It: Whereas a grown woman goes missing in The Girl on the Train, it is a young girl who disappears in The Widow. In both novels, the main characters might know more about the missing person than they let on, and both women have to confront uncomfortable rumors (or truths) about their husbands and their marriages.

Click here to buy The Widow on Amazon

6. Pretty GirlsKarin Slaughter

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, but when Claire’s husband is unexpectedly killed, the estranged sisters reunite to investigate a horrifying discovery that dredges up painful memories of their family’s past.

Why You’ll Love It: OK, we admit it—this book isn’t really that similar to The Girl on the Train other than its focus on a missing girl. BUT, if you are looking for another book to keep you up reading until 3 a.m., this book certainly delivers.

Click here to buy Pretty Girls on Amazon

What are you reading? Do you have any other favorite thrillers to add to this list?

  • Megan! Thank you so much for this list! I always love your writing, both here on The Every Girl, and also on your own personal blog! So excited to get started with this list of thrillers!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Elise! 🙂 If you finish this list and want more, feel free to check out my mysteries & thrillers shelf on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/6924236-megan-tristao?shelf=mysteries-and-thrillers.

  • Nicole

    Thank you thank you for this list!! I’ve also read Gone Girl and Girl OTT, from this list, I’ve read Pretty Girls – very good read and very good to keep your attention!
    Thank you!

    • Thanks, Nicole! I agree Pretty Girls kept my attention almost exclusively – I was reading it at breakfast, at lunch, during any break I could get!

  • Kathleen

    The woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware is a good one too!

    • Thanks, Kathleen! I haven’t read that one yet but have heard great things. I did enjoy Ware’s first book–In a Dark, Dark Wood–so I’ll have to move this one up on my TBR! 🙂

      • The Everygirl

        All of these recs are making us want to head to the book store…right.now.

  • Jane

    Just ordered three of these books — I’ve been looking for something captivating to read after finishing Girl on the Train two weeks ago! THANK YOU!!

  • lilyelle

    gah, can’t wait to read these! The Shining Girls is also really thrilling and can’t-put-downable. Even though it’s not strictly about ONE strong female lead, it’s still got some major girl power and weird, twisty, psychological thrills.

    • Oooh, the more female leads, the better! Thanks for the rec. I just added The Shining Girls to my Goodreads account so I won’t forget. 🙂

  • Janice Freeman

    This list is great! I HIGHLY recommend adding My Girl by Jack Jordan to your list. A psychological thriller with an EPIC plot twist. I finished it about a month ago and I my mind is still blown.

    • The Everygirl

      We can’t wait to check it out!

    • Thanks, Janice! Just added on Goodreads. 🙂

  • LindaParvinHutchinson

    Honestly, wasn’t a big fan of The Passenger. Pretty bizarre story and lacking in authenticity. IMHO IG: @bookbimbo

    • That’s a valid review, Linda! Have you read any great thrillers lately that you would recommend? 🙂

      • LindaParvinHutchinson

        My Girl by Jack Jordan was a wild ride. Loved it Megan Stroup Tristo

      • LindaParvinHutchinson


  • Sondra Caskey

    So excited to check these books out! The Girl on the Train looks like it’s going to be an awesome movie!

    • Thanks, Sondra! I hope you like the books you pick. 🙂 From what I’ve seen, I think The Girl on the Train might be a rare movie that is BETTER than the book … but I’ll have to wait until Oct. 7 to find out. 😉

      • Sondra Caskey

        Yes! I absolutely agree with you. When I watched the movie trailer it gave me goosebumps haha I haven’t read the book yet, so I better get started on it!

  • I loved Pretty Girls!! Really great book. I have to disagree with The Widow and Black Eyed Susans — they both had so much potential, but I felt they didn’t really go anywhere. Thanks for the list!

    – Dara || http://www.peoniesandhoneybees.com

    • I loved Black Eyed Susans, but I do agree that The Widow had a pretty typical storyline to other thrillers I’ve read recently. But I think there are some interesting parallels Girl on the Train fans might like! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • donna w.

    The Widow is on my fall reading list! I’m really into thrillers lately and I can’t wait to check these out.

    I highly recommend:

    Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight. I re-read this legal thriller earlier this week and I loved it just as much (if not more) this time around. The story litigation lawyer and single mother Kate receives a call from her fifteen-year-old daughter Amelia’s private school saying she has been suspended and Kate needs to come and pick her up. When she arrives at the school, she finds out her daughter is dead. McCreight does an amazing job exploring the issues of bullying, especially in the age of social media, mean girls, and modern parenting.

    I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh. I flew through this one in three days. I had to keep reminding myself to breathe throughout. Mackintosh’s twelve years experience on the British Police force makes this one incredibly realistic. A beautifully-written, perfectly-paced thriller. So many twists. One of my favourite reads this year!

    Before the Fall by Noah Hawley. My weekend plans took a backseat to finishing this thriller. “Just one more chapter” quickly turned into “but I’ve only got 150 pages
    left.” A twist-filled story about survival, the race to uncover the
    truth in the aftermath of tragedy, the public’s insatiable appetite for
    information, and the lengths the news media will go to get the story.

    Happy reading!

    • Thanks for sharing your recs, Donna! I totally agree with I Let You Go; I did not see that twist at ALL. I didn’t enjoy Before the Fall quite as much, but I thought the take on American “news-opinion” media was quite interesting. Also, thanks for reminding me to read Reconstructing Amelia – I have heard great things!

  • jalspose

    The couple next door is a great one

    • Thanks for sharing! That one was definitely a super fast read for me. If you like quick thrillers, you might also want to try Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris. 🙂