The best psychological thrillers with secrets from the past

Who am I?

I am a writer of psychological thrillers. I have a keen interest in psychology and how events and experiences in our childhood shape who we become. When I work on a new book, I always build a detailed profile of my characters’ childhoods – and as I write thrillers, these are often challenging ones with issues like narcissistic parents or siblings, coping with grief, mental illness, or bullying. My plot will always be at least partly driven by the secrets my characters form in their childhood or early life, and so I also really value this depth in the psychological thrillers I read.


I wrote...

Every Little Secret

By Sarah Clarke,

Book cover of Every Little Secret

What is my book about?

From the outside, it seems Grace has it all. Only she knows about the cracks in her picture-perfect life… and the huge secret behind them. After all, who can she trust?

Her brother Josh is thousands of miles away. Her best friend Coco walked away from her years ago, their friendship irreparably fractured. And her husband Marcus seems like a different man lately. But when her seven-year-old daughter makes a troubling accusation, Grace must choose between protecting her child and protecting her secret… before she loses everything.

The books I picked & why

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When I Was Ten

By Fiona Cummins,

Book cover of When I Was Ten

Why this book?

The opening to this psychological thriller is stunning. Beautifully written, dark, tense and emotional – there is no way you can’t read on. And the rest of the book is equally good. There’s a complex plot that is revealed in bite-sized chunks at just the right time, the two main characters are likeable and authentic, and Cummin’s writing style keeps you just on the right side of ‘on edge’ throughout the book. But the reason this thriller really stood out for me is how it explores intense relationships formed in childhood under extreme conditions, and how they play out in adulthood decades later.

When I Was Ten

By Fiona Cummins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When I Was Ten as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When I Was Ten is the stay-up-all-night thriller by acclaimed crime author Fiona Cummins.

'Grips like a vice' - Val McDermid
'Absorbing, tense and beautifully paced' - Daily Mail

Twenty-one years ago, Dr Richard Carter and his wife Pamela were killed in what has become the most infamous double murder of the modern age.

Their ten year-old daughter - nicknamed the Angel of Death - spent eight years in a children's secure unit and is living quietly under an assumed name with a family of her own.

Now, on the anniversary of the trial, a documentary team has tracked down…


Our Little Cruelties

By Liz Nugent,

Book cover of Our Little Cruelties

Why this book?

This is a story about three brothers. It starts with the funeral of one of them (you don’t know which) and goes back over their lives to unravel the mystery. They are all very different and none of them are likeable, and yet I found myself invested in all of them, trying my hardest to like them despite what they did – to each other and more widely. The book explores some serious issues around mental health and addiction, and I felt Nugent did this incredibly well – with both sympathy and clearly lots of research. The story is also told very skillfully. It uses multiple characters and jumps between timelines but reads very smoothly.

Our Little Cruelties

By Liz Nugent,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Our Little Cruelties as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Liz Nugent is a force to be reckoned with' Lisa Jewell

'Brilliantly observed family life and a plot that is part rollercoaster, part maze. Loved it!' Graham Norton

'MAGNIFICENT. Her best yet, and that's really saying something' Marian Keyes
______________

Three brothers are at the funeral. One lies in the coffin.

Will, Brian and Luke grow up competing for their mother's unequal love. As men, the competition continues - for status, money, fame, women ...

They each betray each other, over and over, until one of them is dead.

But which brother killed him?
______________

'Dark, beautiful, devastating - pure…


That Night

By Gillian McAllister,

Book cover of That Night

Why this book?

The first thing that drew me into this book is the feeling of “I could see that happening… what would I do if it were me?” The second really enticing element comes when McAllister introduces a future timeline where the three siblings have had a falling out and their cover-up plan seems to have not worked. There is then a constant question of how did they get from here to there? The book is further enriched by the interesting relationships between the two sisters and brother. They each have their role in the family dynamic, largely set by a traumatic event in their childhood, and these have a significant impact on how they respond – individually and collectively – to this new highly stressful event.

That Night

By Gillian McAllister,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked That Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLING RICHARD & JUDY SUMMER PICK AND THIS SUMMER'S MOST COMPULSIVE NOVEL

'Incredibly tense and gripping' ADELE PARKS
'Kept me guessing and kept me fooled. Clever, pacy and so gripping that my heart raced' C.L. TAYOR
'This absolutely blew me away. Properly unputdownable' 5***** READER REVIEW
'Another unputdownable what-would-you-do thriller, rich with McAllister's trademark twists and emotional depth' ERIN KELLY
________

What would you do to protect your family?

ANYTHING.

During a family holiday in Italy, you get an urgent call from your sister.

There's been an accident: she hit a man with her car and he's…


The Family Upstairs

By Lisa Jewell,

Book cover of The Family Upstairs

Why this book?

I heard that Lisa Jewell had the idea for this book after seeing a woman sleeping on the beach in France with her children and wondering what her story was. If that’s true, it shows what an incredible imagination she must have to build such an original and intriguing plot from that one image! The story centres on a house in Chelsea, but is really the tale of a mix of extreme characters living together, causing a terrible event, and the one truly innocent person in it all unravelling the truth 25 years later. Told via two timelines, this is one of those ‘just one more chapter’ kind of books. 

The Family Upstairs

By Lisa Jewell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'I swear I didn't breathe the whole time I was reading it. Gripping, pacy, brilliantly twisty.' CLARE MACKINTOSH

'Creepy, intricate and utterly immersive: an excellent holiday read.' GUARDIAN

'A twisty and engrossing story of betrayal and redemption.' IAN RANKIN
____________________________

FROM THE #1 BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THEN SHE WAS GONE

In a large house in London's fashionable Chelsea, a baby is awake in her cot. Well-fed and cared for, she is happily waiting for someone to pick her up.

In the kitchen lie three decomposing corpses. Close to them is a hastily scrawled note.

They've been dead for several days.…


Sometimes I Lie

By Alice Feeney,

Book cover of Sometimes I Lie

Why this book?

The first thing that stood out for me about this book is that the narrator is in a coma – scared of the people who are supposed to love her, but unable to defend herself. The second thing is the title. Sometimes I Lie sets you up for an unreliable narrator, which I love in a thriller – especially when you’re not quite sure who is even telling the story at certain points in the book. This is a clever thriller that manipulates your thinking constantly. I found my loyalties constantly changing, which meant I could never quite trust anyone – and also that I couldn’t stop reading it!

Sometimes I Lie

By Alice Feeney,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Sometimes I Lie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

ALICE FEENEYS NEW YORK TIMES AND INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

“Boldly plotted, tightly knotted—a provocative true-or-false thriller that deepens and darkens to its ink-black finale. Marvelous.” —AJ Finn, author of The Woman in the Window

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:
1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

Amber wakes up in a hospital. She can’t move. She can’t speak. She can’t open her eyes. She can hear everyone around her, but they have no idea. Amber doesn’t remember what happened, but she has a…


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