The best suspense novels featuring messed up marriages

The Books I Picked & Why

The Plot

By Jean Hanff Korelitz

Book cover of The Plot

Why this book?

Any book about a struggling author has automatically gotten my attention, and this one is a doozy. The Plot is about Jake, a promising young novelist with a well-received first book, but who can’t manage to write a second. He’s teaching in a third-rate MFA program when a student comes to him with the plot for a book, a story too good not to steal. And steal it Jake does, as soon as he hears the student has died. Suddenly Jake is wealthy, famous, praised and read all over the world, success beyond his wildest dreams until an e-mail arrives with the message, you are a thief. Suspenseful and compulsively readable, with an ending you won’t see coming.

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Confessions on the 7:45: A Novel

By Lisa Unger

Book cover of Confessions on the 7:45: A Novel

Why this book?

Lisa Unger is an auto-buy author for me, but Confessions on the 7:45 might just be my favorite of her books. Selena strikes up a conversation with a stranger on the train during her commute home. The woman confesses she’s stuck in an affair with her boss, prompting Selena to confess her husband is sleeping with the nanny. A chance meeting…or is it? The women part ways, presumably never to meet again, and then the nanny disappears and strange messages begin appearing on Selena’s phone. Strangers on a Train, anyone? This is a top-notch thriller and a masterclass in plotting -- Unger at her absolute best.

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Behind Closed Doors

By B.A. Paris

Book cover of Behind Closed Doors

Why this book?

Holy crap, this book. It’s one of those you gulp down in one sitting, then go back and read for a second time to find all the clues you missed. Jack and Grace are the perfect couple. They have charm, elegance, wealth…except her friends wonder why she never seems to answer the phone or be able to meet for coffee even though she doesn’t work, or why she never takes anything with her when she leaves the house, not even a pen. And those metal shutters on all the downstairs windows, what are they for? Creepy and intense and dazzlingly devious, this is one live-wire of a novel.

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The Younger Wife

By Sally Hepworth

Book cover of The Younger Wife

Why this book?

When Stephen announces he’s getting remarried, his adult daughters aren’t happy with the news. His fiancé is too young, she’s a gold digger, and let’s not forget the fact he's still legally married to their mother, his first wife, now in a care facility for dementia. But Stephen doesn’t see it as a problem; he’s already initiated the divorce. Sally Hepworth is a genius at developing compelling, well-rounded characters, ones with real secrets and problems you root for them to solve. And marriages don’t get much more messed up than this one.

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The Wife Upstairs

By Rachel Hawkins

Book cover of The Wife Upstairs

Why this book?

Jane is a broke dog-walker in a well-to-do community in Alabama, a neighborhood where no one notices when discarded tchotchkes and jewelry go missing. And then she meets Eddie. Rich, brooding Eddie, a handsome widower whose wife tragically drowned in a boating accident. As the two fall for each other and Jane moves into his palatial home, she becomes increasingly haunted by the legend of his first wife…and what’s that strange knocking coming from upstairs? A Gothic classic with a Southern twist.

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