35 Chilling Psychological Thrillers and Mysteries to Add To Your Reading List Now

At least one of these books includes an unreliable narrator. That is, if you believe what we're telling you.

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Best Psychological Thrillers and Crime Books
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The best psychological thrillers and mysteries are a lot like movies: They keep you hooked from the moment you press play up until the final credits roll, with plenty of shocking twists and unexpected turns along the way. It's no wonder that many of them end up getting scooped up for film and TV adaptations by Hollywood.

For a few years now, readers have been living in something of a golden age for psychological thrillers, mysteries, crime novels, and other suspenseful reads, thanks in large part to hugely successful novels—and their film and TV adaptations—like Gone Girl and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, both of which spawned a thousand copycats with "girl" in the title. The publishing world has largely moved on from "girl" books (hilariously, now we see a lot of "women" books), but what hasn't changed is the sheer amount of surprising, shocking psychological thrillers and mysteries being published every season.

If you're addicted to shows like HBO's Sharp Objects (based on the novel by Gillian Flynn and starring Amy Adams) and can't read enough psychological thrillers like The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins (which was made into a film starring Emily Blunt), check out our list of some of the best recent psychological thrillers and crime novels, along with a few classics you might have missed.

Curious Toys, by Elizabeth Hand

Curious Toys, by Elizabeth Hand
Mulholland Books

Who's up for a historical fiction thriller? It's 1915 and Pin, the teenage daughter of an amusement park fortune teller, accidentally sees something appalling at the park: A man gets on a ride with a young girl, then gets off without her. Little did she know that the man is a serial killer with a history of preying on young girls in the park. Pin teams up with a mad outsider named Henry to try and stop him. This atmospheric novel will transport you to a world you've never imagined before.

To buy: $10, amazon.com.

Pretty Guilty Women, by Gina LaManna

Pretty Guilty Women, by Gina LaManna
Sourcebooks Landmark

A lot could go wrong on a wedding day. But not even the most seasoned planner can account for murder. After a man's body is discovered, four wedding guests—Ginger, Kate, Emily, and Lulu—all individually confess to the crime. The more you learn about each woman and their shared past, the more furiously you'll read so you can find out who really did it. There's a reason everyone keeps comparing this addicting book to Big Little Lies—it serves serious Monterey Five vibes. Somebody get Reese Witherspoon on the phone, because she needs to option it into a movie ASAP.

To buy: $16, amazon.com.

Mother Knows Best, by Kira Peikoff

Mother Knows Best, by Kira Peikoff
Crooked Lane Books

After her 8-year-old son dies because of a genetic mutation, Claire swears off the idea of having another kid. That is, until she meets a doctor running a genetic experiment focused on producing embryos with three parents. When word of their controversial (not to mention illegal) experiment leaks, things get out of hand pretty quickly. This is a book best read knowing as little information as possible ahead of time, so we'll just say this: Mother Knows Best is a thriller with a sci-fi twist that has the most original premise you'll read all year.

To buy: $12, amazon.com.

No One's Home, by D.M. Pulley

No One’s Home, by D.M. Pulley
Thomas & Mercer

Every new homeowner's worst nightmare? That the house they just bought is haunted. That's exactly what happens to the Spielmans in No One's Home. After they buy Rawlingswood, a foreclosed mansion, they soon discover the rumors are true: The house has a dark past filled with secrets, betrayal, and murder. And if they don't face their own personal demons, history is doomed to repeat itself. Part intriguing mystery, part twisted thriller, and part terrifying horror novel, this one will keep you up at night.

To buy: $12, amazon.com.

Little Voices, by Vanessa Lillie

Little Voices, by Vanessa Lillie
Thomas & Mercer

Unreliable narrator: Check. Unforeseen plot twists: Check. A protagonist who hears cruel voices in her head as she's dealing with postpartum depression: Check. Little Voices checks all of the boxes of a great thriller, and then some. It's about Devon, a new mom whose friend was just murdered. When the police name a suspect, Devon knows he's innocent—but the negative voices in her head aren't so sure. The more she learns about the case, she louder the voices get until she doesn't know what to do anymore. It's a fantastic, page-turning debut.

To buy: $12, amazon.com.

The Nanny, by Gilly Macmillan

The Nanny, by Gilly Macmillan
William Morrow

When Jo was 7 years old, her nanny, Hannah, vanished without any explanation. She was so distraught that it tarnished her relationship with her parents. Now, 30 years later, Jo is ready to face them—and realizes she must fill in the blanks about what really happened to Hannah during her childhood. Haunting discoveries, dark family secrets, lies on top of lies, and an unexpected visitor make for a dark, intriguing slow-burn of a thriller.

To buy: $13, amazon.com.

The Night Before, by Wendy Walker

Cover of The Night Before, by Wendy Walker
Courtesy of Macmillan Publishers

This is the story of a first date gone terribly wrong. Or is it? When Laura goes missing after a date with a guy she met online, her sister Rosie assumes the worst and springs into action to track her down. As the search unfolds, so many unexpected secrets reveal themselves. Wendy Walker's gripping thriller has so many genuinely shocking twists and turns, you won't know what—or who—to believe until the very last page.

To buy: $18, amazon.com.

Necessary People, by Anna Pitoniak

Cover of Necessary People, by Anna Pitoniak
Courtesy of Hachette Book Group

Stella is a reckless, outgoing wild child who loves being in the spotlight. Violet is her quiet, hard-working best friend who always cleans up Stella's messes. But their dynamic shifts when Violet moves to New York after graduation and makes a name for herself at a cable news network. Not to be one-upped, Stella worms her way into the picture and gets hired by the same network. This exciting, fast-paced novel will take you on a ride to see just how far Violet will go to achieve success.

To buy: $6, amazon.com.

The First Mistake, by Sandie Jones

Cover of The First Mistake, by Sandie Jones
Courtesy of Macmillan Publishers

Domestic suspense readers, rejoice: Sandie Jones is back with another page-turner, and this one is downright wicked. The First Mistake follows three people: Alice, the wife; Nathan, the husband; and Beth, the best friend. When Nathan starts acting differently, Alice leans on Beth for support. But soon, Alice must decide which one of them she can actually trust—or she can even trust either of them at all.

To buy: $13, amazon.com.

The Good Sister, by Gillian McAllister

Cover of The Good Sister, by Gillian McAllister
Courtesy of Penguin Random House

When Martha is struggling to balance her career with being a new mom, her sister Becky gladly steps in to take care of baby Layla. But soon after, Layla is found dead at just eight weeks old, and Becky is charged with the crime, though she swears she's innocent. Martha goes searching for the truth about her sister and finds family secrets she never thought possible. With such an ominous title and eerie book cover, you know it's going to be good.

To buy: $16, amazon.com.

Into the Jungle, by Erica Ferencik

Cover of Into the Jungle, by Erica Ferencik
Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

This is not your typical thriller about a suspicious kidnapping or a scorned ex-wife out for revenge. Into the Jungle is an action-packed, heart-pounding thriller all its own about survival. It follows Lily, a young woman on a journey through the wild jungle of Bolivia. Ferencik's vivid prose and hair-raising descriptions will make you feel like you're there with Lily, existing among "puppy-sized spiders" and "vengeful shamans with unspeakable powers."

To buy: $15, amazon.com.

One More Lie, by Amy Lloyd

Cover of One More Lie, by Amy Lloyd
Courtesy of Harlequin

You know that feeling when you're disturbed by something, but you still can't bring yourself to look away from it? That's the thrilling, suspenseful experience of reading One More Lie. The premise will send chills down your spine: A woman is released from prison after serving time for murdering a classmate at age 10 and changes her name so her accomplice can't find her. He has found her anyway. You'll be furiously flipping through the pages to find out what happens.

To buy: $12, amazon.com.

The Arrangement, by Robyn Harding

Cover of The Arrangement, by Robyn Harding
Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

No list of thrillers is complete without Robyn Harding. If you liked The Party and Her Pretty Face, you'll devour The Arrangement, a must-read novel about a struggling art student named Natalie who decides to find a sugar daddy online to help her get by. She discovers all of that and more in Gabe, a corporate finance attorney, and unexpectedly falls madly in love with him. But when Gabe makes it clear that he has no intention of leaving his wife, Natalie becomes obsessed, stalking him and his family—and soon, a body is found near his apartment.

To buy: $36, amazon.com.

The Lost Night, by Andrea Bartz

Cover of The Lost Night, by Andrea Bartz
Courtesy of Penguin Random House

Every puzzling mystery needs a great setting, and The Lost Night will take you back in time to 2009-era Brooklyn. Ten years ago, Lindsay's best friend Edie was found dead with a suicide note after night of drinking. But when Lindsay uncovers forgotten memories of that night, she begins to question what really happened to Edie. We bet that when you reach the final page, you'll cry, "That ending!" Read this smart, engrossing novel now—Mila Kunis already optioned it for TV.

To buy: $16, amazon.com.

House on Fire, by Bonnie Kistler

Cover of House on Fire, by Bonnie Kistler
Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Complicated family dynamics + unexpected tragedy = page-turning tension. House on Fire is about Leigh, Pete, and their happy blended family. One night, Pete's son Kip crashes his truck into a tree and gets arrested for drunk driving. He's also charged with manslaughter, as Leigh's daughter Chrissy was in the car and died in the crash. Loyalties are tested and relationships are strained as they try to get to the bottom of what really happened—especially after Kip changes his story and claims Chrissy was the one driving.

To buy: $22, amazon.com.

My Lovely Wife, by Samantha Downing

Cover of My Lovely Wife, by Samantha Downing
Courtesy of Penguin Random House

If you read a lot of thrillers, it may take a lot to surprise you. By now, you don't get distracted by red herrings and can spot a plot twist coming from a mile away. But My Lovely Wife will shock even the savviest suspense readers. The premise alone is intriguing: A couple murders people to keep their relationship fresh. We don't want to say too much more, because the less you know, the better. But trust us: You won't be disappointed.

To buy: $30, amazon.com.

Beautiful Bad, by Annie Ward

Cover of Beautiful Bad, by Annie Ward
Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers

Sometimes, a book completely takes you on a ride, and there's nothing you can do but hold on and keep turning the pages. Beautiful Bad starts at the end with a bloody crime scene in a house in the suburbs. From there, it unfolds through multiple narrators and across multiple timelines. Just when you settle into one voice and setting, Ward whisks you off to the next one, giving you just enough information to keep you hooked. You'll be so intrigued to find out who the killer is, you won't stop until you do.

To buy: $23, amazon.com.

An Anonymous Girl, by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Cover of An Anonymous Girl, by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
Courtesy of Macmillan Publishers

In 2018, co-authors Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen blew us away with their wickedly twisted novel The Wife Between Us ($11, amazon.com). It's no surprise that An Anonymous Girl is just as intensely gripping. It follows Jessica, a woman who signs up for a psychological study about ethics and morality to make a quick buck. But the more she shares with Dr. Shields, the more paranoid she becomes that her responses are being used for something else. It's psychological suspense at its best.

To buy: $12, amazon.com.

The Perfect Girlfriend, by Karen Hamilton

Cover of The Perfect Girlfriend, by Karen Hamilton
Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers

We've all had moments of wanting to be the perfect partner to someone. In The Perfect Girlfriend, Juliette takes things to the next level to impress Nate. She cleans his apartment, buys his favorite food, and goes to great lengths to prove that she's, well, perfect. Sweet, right? The only problem is, Nate broke up with Juliette six months ago. But she's determined to win him back, starting by becoming a flight attendant on the airline he works for. Juliette may not be perfect, but this obsessive love story sure comes close.

To buy: $10, amazon.com.

No Exit, by Taylor Adams

Cover of No Exit, by Taylor Adams
Courtesy of Macmillan Publishers

There's something extra theatrical about psychological thrillers that take place in one location. The protagonist has nowhere to run and "the call is coming from inside the house," if you will. In No Exit, a young woman named Darby gets stranded at a highway rest stop with four strangers during a blizzard. When she discovers a little girl locked in an animal crate in the van next to her, she realizes she's in the presence of a kidnapper and she must tread carefully. No Exit is filled with twists and turns that will make your hair stand on end.

To buy: $27, amazon.com.

The Woman Inside, by E. G. Scott

Cover of The Woman Inside, by E. G. Scott
Courtesy of Penguin Random House

When Rebecca and Paul first become romantically involved, Paul is married and Rebecca is his mistress. Their affair is intense and leads Paul to leave his wife for her. Two decades later, Paul is cheating once again, and his mistress begins stalking Rebecca. Lies, revenge, questionably reliable narrators, deceit—Scott's domestic thriller The Woman Inside has it all.

The Witch Elm, by Tana French

The Witch Elm by Tana French
amazon.com

Crime novel fans are obsessed with author Tana French (In the Woods, The Likeness) for the way she always delivers a mix of gorgeous writing, suspense, and atmospheric details not often found in other books in the genre. The Witch Elm is no different. After he's robbed and beaten in a random incident, Toby returns to his family's Dublin mansion, Ivy House, to care for his dying uncle and forget the past. But when a mysterious skull turns up on the property, Toby will have to confront secrets from his past.

To buy: $15; amazon.com.

Watching You, by Lisa Jewell

Watching You
amazon.com

Tom, a mysterious local teacher, becomes an object of obsession of two women in his community in this domestic thriller. His neighbor Joey's crush on him becomes something much more intense, while Jenny, one of his students, is convinced he's stalking her mother. In Watching You, author Lisa Jewell untangles a web of rumors and lies and delivers a twist that truly shocked us.

To buy: $13, amazon.com.

Our Kind of Cruelty, by Araminta Hall

Our Kind of Cruelty, by Araminta Hall
Macmillan

Mike vows to devote his life to being the perfect boyfriend to Verity—a vow he intends on keeping long after the relationship ends. Our Kind of Cruelty is a glimpse into an unraveling mind and a voyeuristic story of compulsion and infatuation that feels wholly original.

To buy: $20; amazon.com.

Our House, by Louise Candlish

Our House, by Louise Candlish
Amazon.com

When Fiona Lawson returns to her family home, her ex-husband and two sons are nowhere to be found. Instead, she is greeted by a family of strangers in the midst of moving into her house. In an attempt to create stability during a tumultuous divorce, Fiona falls for a series of lies weaved by more than just her ex.

To buy: $14; amazon.com.

Give Me Your Hand, by Megan Abbott

Barnes and Noble Book Sale Give Me Your Hand, by Megan Abbott
barnesandnoble.com

Diane and Kit, two high school rivals, find themselves competing once again—this time for a coveted research lab position. Caught between integrity and ambition, they're forced to confront the thing that drove them apart as well as the dark secrets that continue to draw them together.

To buy: $10; amazon.com.

Social Creature, by Tara Isabella Burton

Social Creature, by Tara Isabella Burton
Amazon.com

Readers will recognize hints of The Talented Mr. Ripley in this disturbing tale of female friendship in the age of social media. Through the relationship between party girl Lavinia and bookworm Louise, Burton carefully captures her characters' hidden desires and impulses.

To buy: $7; amazon.com.

Something in the Water, by Catherine Steadman

Something in the Water, by Catherine Steadman
Penguin Random House

Newlyweds Erin and Mark slip away to Bora Bora for a seemingly idyllic honeymoon—that is, until they stumble upon something they were never supposed to see. A haunting story—which Reese Witherspoon selected for her online book club—of inconvenient truths and a couple who never quite knew each other to begin with.

To buy: $15; amazon.com.

Sunburn, by Laura Lippman

Sunburn, by Laura Lippman
Amazon.com

A sudden death rocks the otherwise quiet beach town of Belleville, Delaware, where Polly and Adam meet at a neighborhood bar. Lippman masterfully conjures an addictive summer love affair between two strangers, who are forced to confront what they know (and what they don't know) about each other after a chilling tragedy.

To buy: $13; amazon.com.

Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

Cover of Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
Courtesy of Penguin Random House

Gillian Flynn changed the thriller genre as we know it with her domestic thriller about a wife gone missing. "That" moment in Gone Girl was the twist read and discussed 'round the world. It was so simple, yet so unexpectedly deceiving. Whether or not you believe the novel lives up to the hype, there has been no buzzier thriller in the last decade. The book has become a new benchmark in literary reviews; every thriller that's been published since hopes to be heralded as "the next Gone Girl." Many have come close, but none have surpassed it yet.

To buy: $16, amazon.com.

In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote

Cover of In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
Courtesy of Penguin Random House

There's no denying that true crime is having a resurgence. If you love true crime thrillers, it's worth going back to the title that launched the genre: Truman Capote's hybrid "nonfiction novel" In Cold Blood. In 1959, Herbert Clutter, his wife Bonnie, and their two children were murdered in their home in Holcomb, Kansas. Intrigued by the investigation after reading about it in The New York Times, Truman Capote arrived to write about the case. Written with extensive detail and poignant prose, In Cold Blood was unlike anything anyone had ever read before. And it remains one of the best suspenseful books of all time.

To buy: $10, amazon.com.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson

Cover of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson
Courtesy of Penguin Random House

Lisbeth Salander, the titular character of Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, is one of the most complicated and misunderstood characters of all time. A hacker with a penchant for revenge, she doesn't always make the smartest decisions. But her wild genius is the perfect balance to Mikael Blomkvist's levelheaded temperament. As they research a mysterious disappearance from decades ago, every new lead and clue is invigorating. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a slow burn of a psychological thriller, but it's an incredibly satisfying one.

To buy: $9, amazon.com.

Time to Kill, by John Grisham

Cover of Time to Kill, by John Grisham
Courtesy of Penguin Random House

No list of thrillers is complete without two things: a John Grisham novel and a legal thriller. A Time to Kill checks both of these boxes. This courtroom thriller, set in a small town in Mississippi, also explores racial violence, among other themes. It's not Grisham's best-known work, but it is his most compelling—and it's the most powerful title on this list.

To buy: $13, amazon.com.

Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane

Cover of Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane
Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers

A lot of books claim to be groundbreaking, original psychological thrillers. But no book has executed the concept better than Shutter Island. The novel, about a man investigating the disappearance of a patient at a mental hospital, is chillingly suspenseful from start to finish. It has all the makings of a great thriller: a brilliant plot, atmospheric writing, and an unexpected ending.

To buy: $13, amazon.com.

The Shining, by Stephen King

Cover of The Shining, by Stephen King
Courtesy of Penguin Random House

Stephen King fans could argue that any of his works belong on this list. But in the search for the best thrillers of all time, The Shining checks every single box. King knows what readers want—heart-racing moments mixed with a sense of overwhelming dread—and he delivers. As the suspense builds, his main character descends into madness. But no matter how horrified you get, you still won't be able to put it down.

To buy: $9, amazon.com.

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