The best thrillers that shine a spotlight on female friendships

Who am I?

Thrillers with female leads and complex relationships are crammed into my bookshelves. As an only child whose school was an hour’s bus ride away with many friends living further away than that, I would have killed to have had a tight group of friends to hang out with. Well, maybe I wouldn’t have gone that far but it has left me fascinated by groups of friends who’ve known each other since the first day of school, ones who have each other’s backs through thick and thin. And I’m even more interested in what happens when they turn on each other.


I wrote...

Sticks and Stones

By Jo Jakeman,

Book cover of Sticks and Stones

What is my book about?

Sticks and Stones is an internationally acclaimed, twist-filled, revenge thriller about three women who form an unlikely alliance against their abusive ex and lock him in the cellar. "Reads like a darker Big Little Lies with all the female rage of Sharp Objects" – Bustle.com

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

Big Little Lies

By Liane Moriarty,

Book cover of Big Little Lies

Why this book?

I love this book, and the resulting TV series, because of the way it deals with harrowing subjects while showing the three main characters as funny, intelligent, and strong women, instead of weepy loners who sit around day-drinking. And the fact that it is set around their children’s school hits home for me as someone who, for many years, only made new friends through my kids’ playdates and school plays. Especially as those other mums became a lifeline for me through some serious ups and downs.

Big Little Lies

By Liane Moriarty,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

*Published as BIG LITTLE LIES in Australia and the United States*

Liane Moriarty, million copy selling author of The Husband's Secret brings us another addictive story of secrets and scandal.

Jane hasn't lived anywhere longer than six months since her son was born five years ago. She keeps moving in an attempt to escape her past. Now the idyllic seaside town of Pirriwee has pulled her to its shores and Jane finally feels like she belongs. She has friends in the feisty Madeline and the incredibly beautiful Celeste - two women with seemingly perfect lives . . . and their…


Cat's Eye

By Margaret Atwood,

Book cover of Cat's Eye

Why this book?

I do love a book that has someone going home to deal with past traumas and this, for me, is one of the best. In Cat’s Eye, Elaine is forced to confront the issues raised by being back in Toronto – namely being the memory of her former friend and subsequent tormentor Cordelia. It’s a devastating look at the relationship between bully and victim. It’s not always a comfortable read – especially if your school years weren’t all plain sailing – but Margaret Atwood writes it beautifully.

Cat's Eye

By Margaret Atwood,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cat's Eye as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Elaine Risley, a painter, returns to Toronto to find herself overwhelmed by her past. Memories of childhood - unbearable betrayals and cruelties - surface relentlessly, forcing her to confront the spectre of Cordelia, once her best friend and tormentor, who has haunted her for forty years. 'Not since Graham Greene has a novelist captured so forcefully the relationship between school bully and victim...Atwood's games are played, exquisitely, by little girls' LISTENER An exceptional novel from the winner of the 2000 Booker Prize

The Girls Are All So Nice Here

By Laurie Elizabeth Flynn,

Book cover of The Girls Are All So Nice Here

Why this book?

Sticking with the theme of facing past traumas, The Girls Are All So Nice Here is an unsettling yet compelling look into Ambrosia’s time at a prestigious college. When she gets an invite to a college reunion all her secrets threaten to come out. And there are plenty of those! But it’s the relationship she has with Sully that I find most fascinating. Ambrosia will go to any lengths to impress Sully but the relationship quickly becomes toxic. Thankfully my university reunion won’t be nearly as noteworthy as the most I ever did to try and impress anyone was buy them a pizza.

The Girls Are All So Nice Here

By Laurie Elizabeth Flynn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Girls Are All So Nice Here as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Gone Girl meets Mean Girls and The Secret History' Guardian

A darkly intoxicating novel of female friendship and obsession that will keep you turning the pages, perfect for fans of My Dark Vanessa and The Virgin Suicides

-----------------

Nice girls can do bad things...

When Ambrosia first arrives at prestigious college Wesleyan, she's desperate to fit in. But Amb struggles to navigate the rules of this strange, elite world, filled with privileged 'nice' young women - until she meets the charismatic but troubled Sully, with whom she forms an obsessive friendship.

Intoxicated by Sully's charm and determined to impress her,…


Shiver

By Allie Reynolds,

Book cover of Shiver

Why this book?

Shiver is one of the best books I read last year. Essentially it’s a locked room mystery set in the world of professional snowboarding. Milla gets an invitation to reunite with friends from her snowboarding days, but they’ve not been together since their friend, Saskia, went missing. And then, as is the way with edge-of-your-seat thrillers, they can’t get off the mountain, the storm’s closing in and someone is watching them. The truth about Saskia will come out one way or another. Milla and Saskia had been competitors, rivals, and then friends. It’s a complicated friendship and a fascinating look at professional sport and women at the top of their game, what they will sacrifice, and what they’ll do to win.

Shiver

By Allie Reynolds,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this propulsive locked-room thriller debut, a reunion weekend in the French Alps turns deadly when five friends discover that someone has deliberately stranded them at their remote mountaintop resort during a snowstorm.

When Milla accepts an off-season invitation to Le Rocher, a cozy ski resort in the French Alps, she's expecting an intimate weekend of catching up with four old friends. It might have been a decade since she saw them last, but she's never forgotten the bond they forged on this very mountain during a winter spent fiercely training for an elite snowboarding competition.

Yet no sooner do…

The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde

By Eve Chase,

Book cover of The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde

Why this book?

I can’t list thrillers that shine the spotlight on female relationships without featuring siblings. In this book, four sisters go to spend the summer with their aunt and uncle who haven’t recovered from their daughter’s disappearance five years previously. The main driver of the story is to uncover what really happened to Audrey Wilde but I was drawn in by the special relationship between the four sisters. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have any siblings that the bond intrigues me.

The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde

By Eve Chase,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Discover the spellbinding mystery from the Richard & Judy bestselling author of The Glass House

'An enthralling story of secrets, sisters and an unsolved mystery' KATE MORTON
'One of the most enthralling novelists of the moment' LISA JEWELL
______

When four sisters arrive at Applecote Manor to spend the summer, all is clearly not well.

They find their aunt and uncle still reeling from the disappearance of their only daughter, five years before. No one seems any closer to finding out the truth.

Why did Audrey vanish? Who is keeping her fate secret?

As the sisters are lured into the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in parenting, murder, and criminal investigations?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about parenting, murder, and criminal investigations.

Parenting Explore 127 books about parenting
Murder Explore 436 books about murder
Criminal Investigations Explore 239 books about criminal investigations

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Verity, and The Next Wife if you like this list.