The best locked room thrillers to get your heart pounding

Why am I passionate about this?

There’s nothing I love more than a good thriller, especially one with a locked room setting. I’m fascinated by how people react to psychological pressure, and what it would take for any of us to behave in extreme ways. With The Elevator, I wanted to push that locked room scenario to its limits: two characters, trapped together in a tiny space. This might also be the book that’s been gestating inside me for longest – my mum was trapped in a lift when she was pregnant with me! I hope some of the books on this list appeal to you, and that you enjoy them as much as I did.


I wrote...

The Elevator

By Claire Cooper,

Book cover of The Elevator

What is my book about?

When I step into the elevator, I barely notice the woman standing next to me. She seems out of place, her floaty linen clothes in a building full of suits. A minute later, there’s a sudden jerk. The elevator stops. The lights go out. The other woman is breathing noisily, clearly panicking. As we sit slumped against the mirrored walls, we start talking to keep calm. I tell her I moved halfway round the world to start again where no one knew what I was hiding. I tell her my darkest secrets, because she seems to understand, and we’re never going to see each other again, right?

But I’m wrong. We’re not strangers. None of this is an accident. And when the truth comes out, there’ll be nowhere to hide…

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of In a Dark, Dark Wood

Claire Cooper Why did I love this book?

I was glued to every page of this book!

It’s a claustrophobic thriller with a startling visual image at its heart: an ultra-modern glass cabin in the middle of a deep, dark wood. At night, the light against the glass means you can’t see out – but anyone outside can see right in. I loved the way Ruth Ware turned the rickety old building cliché on its head, turning light from a source of comfort into a threat. 

By Ruth Ware,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked In a Dark, Dark Wood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*AUTHOR OF THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 and THE LYING GAME
*INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY, AND LOS ANGELES TIMES BESTSELLER
*SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE

An NPR Best Book of the Year * An Entertainment Weekly Summer Books Pick * A Buzzfeed “31 Books to Get Excited About this Summer” Pick * A Publishers Weekly “Top Ten Mysteries and Thrillers” Pick * A Shelf Awareness Best Book of the Year * A BookReporter Summer Reading Pick * A New York Post “Best Novels to Read this Summer” Pick * A Shelf Awareness “Book Expo America 2015…


Book cover of And Then There Were None

Claire Cooper Why did I love this book?

And Then There Were None is a masterclass in plotting and misdirection by the Queen of the Locked Room Thriller.

And despite a large cast, it’s also amazingly economical in the way it’s written, coming in at under 55,000 words. I’m prone to overwriting – so it’s a great reminder to me that, no matter how complex I think my plot is, being ruthless when it comes to editing those early drafts will deliver a better reading experience.

By Agatha Christie,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked And Then There Were None as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Agatha Christie's world-famous mystery thriller, reissued with a striking new cover designed to appeal to the latest generation of Agatha Christie fans and book lovers.

Ten strangers, apparently with little in common, are lured to an island mansion off the coast of Devon by the mysterious U.N.Owen. Over dinner, a record begins to play, and the voice of an unseen host accuses each person of hiding a guilty secret. That evening, former reckless driver Tony Marston is found murdered by a deadly dose of cyanide.

The tension escalates as the survivors realise the killer is not only among them but…


Book cover of The Hunting Party

Claire Cooper Why did I love this book?

I read The Hunting Party on holiday – and was very glad I was on a beach, not in a remote lodge in the Scottish Highlands!

A group of old friends find themselves cut off by a violent blizzard, the perfect conditions for a locked room thriller. The atmosphere is deliciously creepy from the start, and the tension just keeps on building.

By Lucy Foley,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Hunting Party as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*The Sunday Times No.1 bestseller*

EVERYONE'S INVITED.
EVERYONE'S A SUSPECT.
AND EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT IT.

'Ripping, riveting' A. J. Finn
'Clever, twisty and sleek' Daily Mail
'Unputdownable' John Boyne
'Foley is superb' The Times
'Chilling' Adele Parks
'Terrific, riveting' Dinah Jefferies

In a remote hunting lodge, deep in the Scottish wilderness, old friends gather for New Year.

The beautiful one
The golden couple
The volatile one
The new parents
The quiet one
The city boy
The outsider

The victim.

Not an accident - a murder among friends.


Book cover of The Second Stranger

Claire Cooper Why did I love this book?

This is another chiller thriller, set in a remote hotel in the Scottish Highlands. (Note to self: only holiday in Scotland in the summer!)

The hotel is closed to guests, and Rennie Yorke is working what should be her final shift when a storm blows in and seals off her exit. But she’s not alone for long – an injured man arrives at the door, claiming to be a police officer who was transporting a dangerous prisoner when his car crashed, and the prisoner escaped. Rennie lets him in – but shortly afterward another man arrives, making the same claim.

It’s a brilliant hook, and I was completely immersed in trying to work out who was telling the truth and who was lying. 

By Martin Griffin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Second Stranger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

ONE DETECTIVE. ONE MURDERER. BUT WHICH IS WHICH?

Remie Yorke has one shift left at the Mackinnon Hotel in the remote Scottish Highlands before she leaves for good. Then Storm Ezra hits.

As temperatures plummet and phone lines go down, an injured man stumbles inside. PC Don Gaines was in a terrible accident on the mountain road. The only other survivor: the prisoner his team was transporting.

When a second stranger arrives, Remie reluctantly lets him in from the blizzard. He, too, is hurt. He claims to be a police officer. His name is also Don Gaines.

Someone is lying…


Book cover of The Birthday Reunion

Claire Cooper Why did I love this book?

The Birthday Reunion combines the classic elements of a locked room thriller with a look at the dynamics of female friendships, a topic I always find fascinating.

It’s set on an exotic and remote tropical island, with some glamorous characters. I read it on a couple of typically grey days in London, and could almost feel the sunshine. It proves locked room thrillers don’t always have to be set on dark and stormy nights!

By Claire Seeber,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Birthday Reunion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

‘I was utterly gripped’ ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘Definitely one of the best books this year’ ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘Had me glued to my Kindle!’ ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘Six stars!... I absolutely adored this book!’ ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Four friends. One dream getaway. But who will make it out alive?

When the gold-rimmed invitations arrive through the doors of best friends Simone, Hannah and Vicky they’re instantly taken aback. Their ex-friend Jodie is inviting them to a lavish Mediterranean villa to celebrate her birthday. They haven’t spoken in years since she betrayed them in the worst way. So how did they make the guestlist?

They all have their reasons…


You might also like...

Legacy of the Witch

By Kirsten Weiss,

Book cover of Legacy of the Witch

Kirsten Weiss Author Of The Mysteries of Tarot: A Work of the Imagination

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

When I joined the Peace Corps in the early nineties, I wasn’t allowed to take much luggage. I decided to bring a Tarot deck, figuring I’d finally have time to learn it while parked in an Estonian forest. That Tarot deck opened up a world of Renaissance mysticism and magic, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Tarot cards and readings feature prominently in many of my cozy mystery novels, not the least of which are the Tea and Tarot mysteries. Now my imaginary Tarot reader from that series, Hyperion Night, has recently written his own Tarot guidebook, The Mysteries of Tarot.

Kirsten's book list on how to read Tarot

What is my book about?

Seeker: As societies grow increasingly fragmented, hopelessness, nihilism, division, and despair are on the rise. But there is another way—a way of mystery and magic, of wholeness and transformation. Do you dare take the first step? Our path is not for the faint-hearted, but for seekers of ancient truths...

Legacy of the Witch is a spellbinding, interactive tale of a woman’s midlife quest to understand the complexities of her own heart. A paranormal women’s fiction murder mystery for anyone who’s wondered if there might be more to their own life than meets the eye…

Legacy of the Witch

By Kirsten Weiss,

What is this book about?

Seeker: As societies grow increasingly fragmented, hopelessness, nihilism, division and despair are on the rise. But there is another way—a way of mystery and magic, of wholeness and transformation. Do you dare take the first step? Our path is not for the faint-hearted, but for seekers of ancient truths.

All April wants is to start over after her husband’s sudden death. She’s conjuring a new path—finally getting her degree and planning her new business in bucolic Pennsylvania Dutch country. Joining an online mystery school seems like harmless fun.

But when a murdered man leaves her a cryptic message, she catches…


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