The best suspense books that will keep you up at night

The Books I Picked & Why

Timeline

By Michael Crichton

Book cover of Timeline

Why this book?

The premise is simple. A time travel story about a team of researchers who use technology to go back to the dark ages to rescue their professor. While we tend to romanticize the medieval time period, this is definitely not a place for the faint at heart as the group soon discovers. What it is, though, is the perfect setting for a suspenseful novel that includes Black Death, war, bandits, and English invaders, making survival almost impossible. The mixture of sci-fi, history, and advanced technology is a combination that will leave the reader with far more than just a run-of-the-mill adventure novel.


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The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus

By Richard Preston

Book cover of The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus

Why this book?

Imagine being on a flight to Kenya—my first of many trips to Africa—and picking up a scientific thriller about a virus discovered near the exact location you are headed. The nonfiction classification makes the read even more terrifying as Preston retells the story of the origins of the hemorrhagic fevers, and how they were discovered in a quarantine facility in the US. It’s a fascinating look at how too often reality is far more frightening than fiction, as it stretched my own imagination and made me wonder what if?


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The Negotiator

By Dee Henderson

Book cover of The Negotiator

Why this book?

Henderson was the first romantic suspense author I read who nailed the romantic thread without relying on tired cliches to keep the couple apart until the end of the book. Add to that her signature, page-turning suspense that takes Kate O’Malley on a terrifying fight for her life, and a compelling and bold hero, and you have the perfect combination of what I look for in romantic suspense.


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Mistress of Mellyn

By Victoria Holt

Book cover of Mistress of Mellyn

Why this book?

A slight genre shift from the typical romantic suspense novel is the Gothic romance, and Victoria Holt (the pen name for Eleanor Hibbert) was one of the best. Like many of the stories published in this genre, there is a young woman, Martha Leigh, hired on as a governess to a troubled widow whose wife died under mysterious circumstances. Settings—as in all gothic novels—play a strong role in this story with its foreboding mansion and the untamed cliffs of Cornwall.


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Murder on the Orient Express

By Agatha Christie

Book cover of Murder on the Orient Express

Why this book?

No list of page-turning novels would be complete without an appearance from Agatha Christie. As someone who has traveled extensively and loves international settings, this book ticks all the right boxes. It begins in Istanbul and then on to Yugoslavia on the famous Orient Express with Hercule Poirot, the Belgian detective who appeared in thirty-three of Christie’s novels and more than fifty short stories. When the train is trapped due to heavy snowfall and a body is found, it will be up to Poirot to solve the case.


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