The best thriller books that will make you question reality

Why am I passionate about this?

I read all kinds of thrillers, but the ones that intrigue me the most are those where you’re not only uncertain of who murdered who, or what happened when, but of whether what you’re reading is real or not. For me, those kinds of mysteries elevate the genre to something profound – philosophical problems worked out through the medium of murder and mayhem. Covering both conspiracy narratives and those strange stories where everything feels like a dream, here are some of my favourites.


I wrote...

The Eighth Detective

By Alex Pavesi,

Book cover of The Eighth Detective

What is my book about?

All murder mysteries follow a simple set of rules. There must be two or more suspects. One or more victims. Eventually, one of the suspects must be revealed as the killer…

In the 1930s, Grant McAllister, a mathematics professor turned author, worked out these rules, illustrating his ideas with a collection of crime stories. Then Grant disappeared. Julia Hart has finally tracked him down. An editor for a prestigious London publisher, she has some questions about his work. And she wants to know why he stopped writing. But she’ll soon find out that some stories are best left untold.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Foucault's Pendulum

Alex Pavesi Why did I love this book?

Long before The Da Vinci Code, Umberto Eco wrote this epic novel featuring the Knights Templar. It's the story of the employees of a small publishing house, who for their own amusement dream up a wild conspiracy theory connecting multiple historical events. It's all fun and games until they realise there may be some truth to their theory. Soon their lives are in danger.

By Umberto Eco,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Foucault's Pendulum as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Three book editors, jaded by reading far too many crackpot manuscripts on the mystic and the occult, are inspired by an extraordinary conspiracy story told to them by a strange colonel to have some fun. They start feeding random bits of information into a powerful computer capable of inventing connections between the entries, thinking they are creating nothing more than an amusing game, but then their game starts to take over, the deaths start mounting, and they are forced into a frantic search for the truth


Book cover of Endless Night

Alex Pavesi Why did I love this book?

This is Agatha Christie's creepiest novel. A love story between a chauffeur and an heiress, who move to a majestic house in the countryside and find themselves the victims of a local curse. Strange things start to happen. But is any of it real? The shocking truth doesn't become clear until the last few pages.

By Agatha Christie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

- combining love, death and melodrama blended together as only Agatha Christie can.

Gipsy's Acre was a truly beautiful upland site with views out to sea - and in Michael Rogers it stirred a child-like fantasy.

There, amongst the dark fir trees, he planned to build a house, find a girl and live happily ever after.

Yet, as he left the village, a shadow of menace hung over the land. For this was the place where accidents happened. Perhaps Michael should have heeded the locals' warnings: 'There's no luck for them as meddles with Gipsy's Acre.'

Michael Rogers is a…


Book cover of The Music of Chance

Alex Pavesi Why did I love this book?

Paul Auster is known for taking motifs from noir and playing around with them. Of all his books, this one works the best as a straightforward thriller. A pair of drifters attempt to hustle some millionaires out of their money but get outsmarted. After a disastrous poker game, they end up in debt to their victims, who set them to work building a useless decorative wall. It's one of those novels that reads like it could all be a dream.

By Paul Auster,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Music of Chance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Nashe comes into an inheritance and decides to pursue a life of freedom. He meets Pozzi, a gambler, who exerts a terrible fascination over, him and together they take a desperate gamble. By the author of "The New York Trilogy", "Moon Palace" and "The Invention of Solitude".


Book cover of Death and the Seaside

Alex Pavesi Why did I love this book?

A short, mind-bending novel about a young woman writing a story who starts to encounter incidents from her story in real life. This book is a delight. From that intriguing opening, it evolves into a tale of sadness and isolation, set against the backdrop of a fading British seaside town.

By Alison Moore,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

With an abandoned degree behind her and a thirtieth birthday approaching, amateur writer Bonnie Falls moves out of her parents' home into a nearby flat. Her landlady, Sylvia Slythe, takes an interest in Bonnie, encouraging her to finish one of her stories, in which a young woman moves to the seaside, where she comes under strange influences. As summer approaches, Sylvia suggests to Bonnie that, as neither of them has anyone else to go on holiday with, they should go away together - to the seaside, perhaps.

The new novel from the author of the Man Booker-shortlisted The Lighthouse is…


Book cover of American Tabloid

Alex Pavesi Why did I love this book?

I'm not a conspiracy theorist but this is arguably the most believable book on this list. An account of the JFK assassination, following three fictional characters who are mixed up in it. It's a true epic of conspiracies and double-crosses, gangsters and federal agents, written in Ellroy's unique staccato style.

By James Ellroy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first novel in Ellroy's extraordinary Underworld USA Trilogy as featured on BBC Radio 4's A Good Read.

1958. America is about to emerge into a bright new age - an age that will last until the 1000 days of John F Kennedy's presidency.

Three men move beneath the glossy surface of power, men allied to the makers and shakers of the era. Pete Bondurant - Howard Hughes's right-hand man, Jimmy Hoffa's hitman. Kemper Boyd - employed by J Edgar Hoover to infiltrate the Kennedy clan. Ward Littell - a man seeking redemption in Bobby Kennedy's drive against organised crime.…


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Price of Vengeance

By Kurt D. Springs,

Book cover of Price of Vengeance

Kurt D. Springs

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Teacher Cook Barista Guardian

Kurt's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Liam was orphaned at the age of two by a group of giant carnivorous insects called the chitin. Taken in by High Councilor Marcus and his wife, Lidia, Liam was raised with their older son, Randolf in New Olympia, the last remaining city on the planet Etrusci.

As an adult, Liam becomes a soldier. After being cut off from the city, Liam finds that there is an alien intelligence behind the chitin. To defeat it, he must discover who he is and how to use his powers. Then, Liam discovers that a traitor, responsible for his birth parents' deaths, had murdered his beloved foster parents. Will the price he has to pay in his quest for vengeance prove to be an even more unbeatable foe?

Price of Vengeance

By Kurt D. Springs,

What is this book about?

"From the cover to the opening pages, Price of Vengeance grabs the reader and takes them on a wild ride. Fasten your seat belts for this book." -S. J. Francis, author of Shattered Lies

What is the Price of Vengeance? One could understand why Liam was angry. He was orphaned at the age of two by a group of giant carnivorous insects called the chitin. Taken in by High Councilor Marcus and his wife, Lidia, Liam was raised with their older son, Randolf in New Olympia, the last remaining city on the planet Etrusci.

As an adult, Liam becomes a…


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