The best books to satisfy your dark, suspense craving

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved dark stories. There is something especially human about being lured by that part of us we bury. How secret desires and thoughts get teased out in ways we don’t really experience in real life. Which is why I write suspense novels. Sometimes you just want to go there! Here are some books that I find hit that fix.

I wrote...


By Ellen Won Steil,

Book cover of Fortune

What is my book about?

One drop of blood for a chance at a multimillion-dollar windfall. Is it a philanthropic gesture from a billionaire widow? Some suspect a darker motive behind the DNA lottery―one tied to the eighteen-year-old mystery of an infant’s unidentified remains that mars the history of idyllic Rosemary Hills, Iowa. Right after the blood lottery is announced, three local women fall under suspicion of knowing something about that night, and their carefully kept secrets threaten to spill out too.

Soon, unimaginable revelations of the past will collide with the present―and not just for Cleo, Jemma, and Alex. In this seemingly ordinary community, they aren’t the only ones with long-buried secrets.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Sharp Objects

Ellen Won Steil Why did I love this book?

There is no question (in my mind anyways) that Gillian Flynn is the master of suspense and we’re all just spectators in her ring.

This is the suspense book that really did it for me and made me want to run to my laptop and write. Yes, the infamous Gone Girl, that launched her career is likely more well-known. But I vividly remember getting chills, tingles, and inspiration as I read this terrifying yet thrilling story about troubled reporter, Camille Preaker and the demons she faces going back to her hometown. 

Sometimes there is nothing darker than confronting unresolved issues from your childhood. Especially when this involves murder, small-town nostalgia, and a hypochondriac mother.

By Gillian Flynn,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Sharp Objects as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family's Victorian mansion, Camille finds…

Book cover of All the Missing Girls

Ellen Won Steil Why did I love this book?

No matter how much you may love a certain genre, you can inevitably fall into a reading slump. Too much of a good thing, right?

I will begrudgingly admit, the “missing” or “murdered girl” trope can sometimes get a bit dull without a new touch. Which is why when I came across Megan Miranda’s adult debut told entirely in reverse (from Day 15 to Day 1) was I ever floored with delight!

How absolute genius is it to take a twisty, shocking story about the disappearance of two girls, decades apart but give it to reader backwards? I found myself deeply engrossed not only in the propulsive story but intrigued by the unique way I had to process the timeline.

By Megan Miranda,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


A New York Times Book Review “Editors’ Choice”
Entertainment Weekly — Thriller Round-Up
The Wall Street Journal — 5 Killer Books
Hollywood Reporter — Hot Summer Books…16 Must Reads

“This thriller’s all of your fave page-turners (think: Luckiest Girl Alive, The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl) rolled into one.” —TheSkimm

“Both [Gillian] Flynn’s and Miranda’s main characters also reclaim the right of female characters to be more than victim or femme fatale… All the Missing Girls is set to become one of the best books of 2016.” —Los Angeles Review of Books

“Extremely interesting…a…

Book cover of The Silent Patient

Ellen Won Steil Why did I love this book?

I don’t know about you, but reading was one of “the things” that got me through the pandemic. Where else was there to escape to but in a thrilling suspense book?

Very pregnant with my second child and stir crazy, this insane, twist of a story came in the nick of time. When I say this one had a twist, I mean it was one of those that made me close the book. Push it aside from shock. Quickly open again and charge through to the ending. 

Oh, just the age-old tale of the psychotherapist tasked to work with a patient who not only refuses to speak. But shot her husband five times in the face.

By Alex Michaelides,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked The Silent Patient as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


"An unforgettable―and Hollywood-bound―new thriller... A mix of Hitchcockian suspense, Agatha Christie plotting, and Greek tragedy."
―Entertainment Weekly

The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband―and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive.

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five…

Book cover of The Silence of the Lambs

Ellen Won Steil Why did I love this book?

Yes, yes, I’m sure you’ve seen the movie. Who hasn’t watched Anthony Hopkins slither his tongue in such a way that makes you want to crawl away and hide forever? But the real important question here is: have you read the book?

This fact may reveal me as a little weird and that’s okay: I was obsessed with this movie as a child. I couldn’t get enough of the taut, haunting relationship between Hannibal and Clarice.

When I finally got around to reading the book, I was annoyed with myself for waiting so long. Letting the words of Hannibal go from the pages into your mind is somehow extra disturbing.

By Thomas Harris,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked The Silence of the Lambs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As part of the search for a serial murderer nicknames "Buffalo Bill," FBI trainee Clarice Starling is given an assignment. She must visit a man confined to a high-security facility for the criminally insane and interview him.

That man, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, is a former psychiatrist with unusual tastes and an intense curiosity about the darker corners of the mind. His intimate understanding of the killer and of Clarice herself form the core of Thomas Harris' The Silence of the Lambs--an unforgettable classic of suspense fiction.

Book cover of Remember Me

Ellen Won Steil Why did I love this book?

I’m going even further back with this one. Unusual pick certainly, a YA novel from 1989 that I stole off my sister’s shelf circa 1994.

I was ten and ready for something darker than The Baby-Sitters Club. This was one of those early reads that made me want to write in the first place. The first real suspense book that had me staying up late, wondering how does one create a story like this? I still have that book, tattered and sitting on my shelf as a reminder of that first spark.

Christopher Pike is able to write stories to young readers in a timeless way. The nostalgia and sheer thrill from this story about a young woman who finds herself dead after falling four stories will bring you back to nights with covers over your head. Did she jump or was something more sinister behind her death? Only her ghost can find out the truth.

By Christopher Pike,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Remember Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13.

What is this book about?

In this harrowing thriller from bestselling author Christopher Pike, a teen girl must solve the mystery of her own murder before the killer strikes again.

After a night spent out with friends, Shari Cooper wakes up in her bed not sure how she got home. And things only get stranger when her family acts like she’s not even there. Nothing Shari says gets a response and nothing she does can get someone to even glance at her. Then the hospital calls.

Shari’s mom starts to cry. The blood drains from her dad’s face. And still no one will tell her…

You might also like...

Ballad for Jasmine Town

By Molly Ringle,

Book cover of Ballad for Jasmine Town

Molly Ringle Author Of Sage and King

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Novelist Editor Sociolinguist HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) Good witch

Molly's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

A human child raised by the fae is an uncommon thing. But Rafi was such a child.

Now grown, half-fae but mortal, he lingers on the edge of human society in Miryoku, a nearby town sharing a border with fae territory. He doesn’t want to join the human world properly; he just wants to play music with a local cover band and avoid the cruelest members of his fae family.

Then, he meets Roxana, and his world shifts. She’s a human metalworking witch, up for a friendly fling with Rafi before she and her twelve-year-old daughter move away from Miryoku…

Ballad for Jasmine Town

By Molly Ringle,

What is this book about?

A law-abiding metalworking witch and a form-shifting half-fae musician embark on a secret romance, but soon become caught in escalating tensions between fae and humans that threaten their hometown. The second story after the popular Lava Red Feather Blue comes alive in Ballad for Jasmine Town.

The town of Miryoku has ocean views, fragrant jasmine vines, and a thriving arts scene, including a popular nineties cover band. It also sits on the verge, sharing a border with fae territory, a realm of both enchantments and dangers.

Rafi has been unusual all his life: a human born to a fae mother,…

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