The best suspense books that will keep you up at night

Why am I passionate about this?

As an avid reader growing up, this list of books was influential in not only fostering my love of story, but also for inspiring me to become a writer. These books showed me what makes a page-turning story; from creating a rich setting to developing authentic characters with tension-filled dialogue, to heart-pounding twists and turns. In the end, the readers are taken on a suspenseful journey that will keep them up all night. 


I wrote...

The Catch

By Lisa Harris,

Book cover of The Catch

What is my book about?

After a harrowing attempt on a judge's life at the courthouse, Deputy US Marshals Madison James and Jonas Quinn are tasked with finding a missing woman and an endangered child in connection to the murder of the judge's wife. What seems like a fairly straightforward case becomes hopelessly tangled when the marshals discover that the woman they are searching for is not who they think she is.

Madison and Jonas are forced into a race to find the woman and the child before the men who want her dead discover her location. And in a final showdown that could cost her everything, Madison will come face-to-face with the person who murdered her husband.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Timeline

Lisa Harris Why did I love 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.

By Michael Crichton,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Timeline as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this thriller from the author of Jurassic Park, Sphere, and Congo, a group of young scientists travel back in time to medieval France on a daring rescue mission that becomes a struggle to stay alive.
 
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
 
“Compulsive reading . . . brilliantly imagined.”—Los Angeles Times
 
In an Arizona desert, a man wanders in a daze, speaking words that make no sense. Within twenty-four hours he is dead, his body swiftly cremated by his only known associates. Halfway around the world, archaeologists make a shocking discovery at a medieval site. Suddenly they are swept off to…


Book cover of The Hot Zone

Lisa Harris Why did I love 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?

By Richard Preston,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Hot Zone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling landmark account of the first emergence of the Ebola virus.

Now a mini-series drama starring Julianna Margulies, Topher Grace, Liam Cunningham, James D'Arcy, and Noah Emmerich on National Geographic.

A highly infectious, deadly virus from the central African rain forest suddenly appears in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. There is no cure. In a few days 90 percent of its victims are dead. A secret military SWAT team of soldiers and scientists is mobilized to stop the outbreak of this exotic "hot" virus. The Hot Zone tells this dramatic story, giving a hair-raising account of the appearance of…


Book cover of The Negotiator

Lisa Harris Why did I love 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.

By Dee Henderson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

FBI agent Dave Richman from Danger in the Shadows is back. He's about to meet Kate O'Malley, and his life will never be the same. She's a hostage negotiator. He protects people. He's about to find out that falling in love with a hostage negotiator is one thing, but keeping her safe is another!

Introducing the O'Malleys, an inspirational group of seven, all abandoned or orphaned as teens, who have made the choice to become a loyal and committed family. They have chosen their own surname, O'Malley, and have stood by each other through moments of joy and heartache. Their…


Book cover of Mistress of Mellyn

Lisa Harris Why did I love 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.

By Victoria Holt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Mount Mellyn stood as proud and magnificent as she had envisioned...But what bout its master--Connan TreMellyn? Was Martha Leigh's new employer as romantic as his name sounded?  As she approached the sprawling mansion towering above the cliffs of Cornwall, an odd chill of apprehension overcame her.  TreMellyn's young daugher, Alvean, proved as spoiled and difficult as the three governesses before Martha had discovered.  But it was the girl's father whose cool, arrogant demeanor unleashed unfimiliar sensations and turmoil--even as whispers of past tragedy and present danger begin to insinuate themselves into Martha's life.  Powerless against her growing desire for the…


Book cover of Murder on the Orient Express

Lisa Harris Why did I love 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.

By Agatha Christie,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Murder on the Orient Express as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE MOST WIDELY READ MYSTERY OF ALL TIME—NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE DIRECTED BY KENNETH BRANAGH AND PRODUCED BY RIDLEY SCOTT!

“The murderer is with us—on the train now . . .”

Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Without a shred of doubt, one of his fellow passengers is the murderer.

Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man’s…


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Wrightsville Beach

By Suzanne Goodwyn,

Book cover of Wrightsville Beach

Suzanne Goodwyn Author Of Wrightsville Beach

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been writing all my life, but was never able to find my voice until I had my daughters. It was for them I wrote “Wrightsville Beach”. I wanted to show them what a good relationship should look like and how their decisions make a difference in where they will go. I want my readers to relive that feeling of falling in love and to be sent in unexpected directions, as life so often does to us. I want you to enjoy it so much, you don’t want to put the book down until it’s finished and once you do, to sit and reflect on it, savoring the feeling it has left behind.

Suzanne's book list on smart women trying to figure it all out

What is my book about?

Two years ago, devastated by the sudden death of his older brother, Hank Atwater went on a drinking rampage that ended in his being arrested. Since then, he has been working to rebuild his reputation in his hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina, with little luck. But everything changes after a chance meeting with Jess Wade, a UNCW student studying to be a marine biologist. Hank and Jess feel connected to each other in a way neither has ever felt before.

But when Hank’s past leads to a frightful incident, it ends their relationship. Jess leaves to work on the beach…

Wrightsville Beach

By Suzanne Goodwyn,

What is this book about?

Two years ago, Hank Atwater made a terrible mistake. Devastated by the sudden death of his older brother, Rob, he went on a drinking rampage that ended in his being arrested for aggravated assault. Sober since then, he has been working to rebuild his reputation in his hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina, with little luck.

Working a dead-end delivery job, Hank uses surfing and running to deal with being ostracized as he waits for his probation to end. But everything changes after a chance meeting with Jess Wade, a UNCW student studying to be a marine biologist. Hank and Jess…


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