There are a few things that are cemented as a part of my identity, some good, some not so much: my codependent relationship with my 16-year-old dog, how many times I’ve watched Dance Moms all the way through (at least five), and being absolutely obsessed with anything scary.
I was a fan of thrillers and true crime far before they were trendy to love (if I do say so myself). I basically walked out of the womb concerned about what really happened to JonBenét Ramsey and I was watching scary movies when the appropriate thing would have been to stick to Toy Story. I also have always loved to read, which led to a lifetime of an obvious, beautiful collision of my interests: psychological thriller books.
After finishing 45 thrillers in 2023, if there’s one thing I know, it’s when a thriller book is worth recommending. Ready to find your next favorite book? These are at the top of my list, and I promise every one will have you on the edge of your seat.
This book is absolutely the best one I’ve read this year, if not one of the best I’ve read ever. It's become the book I recommend whenever a thriller newbie asks what they should read.
Blythe Connor is determined that she will be the warm, comforting mother to her new baby Violet that she herself never had. But in the thick of motherhood's exhausting early days, Blythe becomes convinced that something is wrong with her daughter—she doesn't behave like most children do. In the midst of the unsettling plotline, this story takes a deep dive into motherhood and what happens when it isn’t what you expect it to be.
This is one of the most terrifying, thought-provoking books I've ever read, and given that there's now a movie you can watch immediately after finishing it, it's the absolute perfect time to read it.
Seven-year-old Wen and her parents, Eric and Andrew, are vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet New Hampshire lake, where their closest neighbors are two miles away in either direction. One day Wen is playing outside when a stranger abruptly appears, and after talking for a while, tells Wen: "Your dads won’t want to let us in, Wen. But they have to. We need your help to save the world.”
This breakout bestseller got the coveted Reese's Book Club stamp, and will absolutely be considered one of the best books of the year.
Late October. After midnight. You’re waiting up for your eighteen-year-old son. He’s past curfew. As you watch from the window, he emerges, and you realize he isn’t alone: he’s walking toward a man, and he’s armed.
You can’t believe it when you see him do it: your teenage son kills a stranger right there on the street outside your house. You don’t know who. You don’t know why. You only know your son is now in custody, his future shattered. That night you fall asleep in despair. All is lost. Until you wake, and it's yesterday...
When I finished this book, I put it down and immediately texted my friends that it’s the best book I’ve read in a while. I can’t emphasize enough how truly shocked I was and how hooked I was from the beginning.
When Chloe Davis was 12, six teenage girls went missing in her small Louisiana town. By the end of the summer, her own father had confessed to the crimes and was put away for life, leaving Chloe and the rest of her family to grapple with the truth and try to move forward while dealing with the aftermath. Now, 20 years later, when a local teenage girl goes missing, and then another, that terrifying summer comes crashing back, with Chloe at the center of the mystery.
Amazon describes this book as Gone Girl meets Room, and I couldn't have said it better myself. Plus, Netflix just released a series you can binge-watch as soon as you're done.
A woman held captive in a shack in the woods finally escapes, but when she claims to be Lena, who had disappeared 14 years before, her family swears it isn't really her. The little girl who escaped the woods with her knows things she isn’t sharing, and Lena’s devastated father is trying to piece together details that don’t quite fit. Lena is desperate to begin again, but something tells her that her tormentor still wants to get back what belongs to him.
You know the books that hook you literally from page one, that just read with ease and don’t take any time to get into? This is one of them.
Shelby Tebow is the first to go missing. Not long after, Meredith Dickey and her 6-year-old daughter, Delilah, vanish just blocks away from where Shelby was last seen, striking fear into their once-peaceful community. Are these incidents connected? After an elusive search that yields more questions than answers, the case eventually goes cold. Now, 11 years later, Delilah shockingly returns. Everyone wants to know what happened to her, but no one is prepared for what they'll find.
If you're on #BookTok, you've likely heard of this hidden gem, and the hype is beyond deserved.
Merritt Coletto and her husband, Luca, have the life they dreamed of: a coastal home, a promising future, and a growing family. That dream ends with a late-night knock on the door. Weak, broken, and emaciated, it’s Luca’s first wife, Lydia. Missing for 10 years, presumed dead, and very much alive, she has quite a story.
This is a quick, fast-paced read, and is one of those books you can knock out in a single day (mostly because you won't be able to put it down).
True crime writer Wylie Lark doesn’t mind being snowed in at the isolated farmhouse where she’s retreated to write her new book. A cozy fire, complete silence. It would be perfect, if not for the fact that decades earlier, at this very house, two people were murdered in cold blood and a girl disappeared without a trace. When Wylie finds a child in the snow outside and takes them in, things get a whole lot more strange.
This was the very first book I read in 2023, and it got a hard five-star rating from me. Stacy Willingham writes twists into the final pages of her novels like nobody else, and I actually liked this one even more then A Flicker in the Dark (even though I gave that one five stars too!).
One year ago, Isabelle Drake's life changed forever: her toddler son, Mason, was taken out of his crib in the middle of the night while she and her husband were asleep in the next room. With little evidence and few leads for the police to chase, the case quickly went cold. However, Isabelle cannot rest until Mason is returned to her—literally. The caveat? Except for the occasional catnap or small blackout where she loses track of time, she hasn’t slept in a year, which makes it even harder to figure out who she can trust… including herself.
When my mom recently asked me what book she should read on her upcoming vacation, this was the one I recommended—and even she (a non-thriller lover) gave it five stars. If you love lots of unexpected twists, this one is for you.
Simon and Vicky couldn’t seem more normal: a wealthy Chicago couple, he a respected law professor, she an advocate for domestic violence victims. A stable, if unexciting marriage. But one thing’s for sure … absolutely nothing is what it seems. The pair are far from normal, and one of them just may be a killer. When the body of a beautiful socialite is found hanging in a mansion in a nearby suburb, Simon and Vicky’s secrets begin to unravel. And while both Vicky and Simon are liars, just who exactly is conning who?
Ashley Audrain, my beloved author of The Push (my most-recommended thriller ever), knocked me off my feet again with her newest novel, The Whispers. Between the two, she’s solidified herself as one of my top three favorite thriller authors, no questions asked.
On Harlow Street, the well-to-do neighborhood couples and their children gather for a catered barbecue as the summer winds down; drinks continue late into the night. Everything is fabulous until the picture-perfect hostess explodes in fury because her son disobeys her. Everyone at the party hears her exquisite veneer crack—loud and clear. Before long, that same young boy falls from his bedside window in the middle of the night. What happens next, over the course of a tense three days, as each of these women grapple with what led to that terrible night?
For lovers of Behind Closed Doors, this unconventional domestic thriller kept me captivated from the very first page.
Cora thinks her husband, Finn, is cheating—she just needs to catch him in the act. That’s where Paige comes in. Paige lost her son to a hit-and-run last year, and she’s drowning in the kind of grief that makes people do reckless things like spying on the locals, searching for proof that her son’s death was no accident…and agreeing to Cora’s plan to reveal what kind of man Finn really is. All the while, their reclusive new neighbor, Georgia, is acting more strangely every day. But what could such a lovely young mother possibly be hiding?
Then She Was Gone solidified Lisa Jewell as one of my favorite authors years ago, and her latest thriller—albeit a bit unconventional—didn’t disappoint.
Celebrating her 45th birthday at her local pub, popular podcaster Alix Summer crosses paths with an unassuming woman called Josie Fair. Josie, it turns out, is also celebrating her forty-fifth birthday. They are, in fact, birthday twins. A few days later, Alix and Josie bump into each other again, when Josie shares she has been listening to Alix’s podcasts and thinks she might be an interesting subject for her series. Josie’s life appears to be strange and complicated, and although Alix finds her unsettling, she can’t quite resist the temptation to keep making the podcast. Slowly she starts to realize that Josie has been hiding some very dark secrets, and before she knows it, Josie has inveigled her way into Alix’s life—and into her home.