The best books to showcase why readers love psychological and domestic thrillers

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been passionate about psychological thrillers since my mind was blown by Gillian Flynn’s 2012 seminal thriller, Gone Girl, and that twist that I never saw coming. I’ve since written six of my own psychological thrillers and I’ve become fascinated to understand why we’re so drawn to ordinary characters propelled into extraordinary worlds. A mash-up of the crime, thriller, and horror genres, psychological and domestic thrillers often feature husband and wife couples in ordinary neighbourhoods where children and adults go missing, serial killers lurk among us, and real evil lurks behind the front door of innocent-looking homes.


I wrote...

The Warning

By AJ Wills,

Book cover of The Warning

What is my book about?

After losing everything in a devastating house fire, the cracks in Justin and Megan’s marriage are starting to show. A move to the country should be the fresh start they desperately need, but the old lodge on the Treloar estate, with its crooked chimneys and dark foreboding walls, is more sinister than Megan ever imagined.

She tries to make the best of it for her husband’s sake, but the house is haunted by the secrets of Justin’s past. And when she discovers a phone hidden in the loft, her world is turned upside down once again. A chilling text message carries a warning she can’t ignore. Whatever you do, don’t trust your husband…

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Gone Girl

AJ Wills Why did I love this book?

One of the tropes we crave in psychological and domestic thrillers is the killer twist that pulls the rug from under our feet and leaves us questioning everything we thought we knew.

Gone Girl was the book that sparked my interest in psychological thrillers and it was that twist that did it for me. It comes at the midway point and it completely blindsided me.

Like many subsequent books in the genre, it features an apparently ordinary husband and wife, but who are keeping dark secrets behind closed doors. It’s an utterly compelling read and a brilliant examination of the dark side of the human character.

By Gillian Flynn,

Why should I read it?

26 authors picked Gone Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE ADDICTIVE No.1 BESTSELLER AND INTERNATIONAL PHENOMENON
OVER 20 MILLION COPIES SOLD WORLDWIDE
THE BOOK THAT DEFINES PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER

Who are you?
What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren't made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on…


Book cover of The Girl on the Train

AJ Wills Why did I love this book?

A book that spawned a hundred copycats (well, several at least), I immediately fell in love with the hero of the story, Rachel, and her descent into alcoholism and depression following a traumatic divorce.

It’s told through multiple perspectives to cleverly unveil the truth. You never really know quite what’s going on throughout, especially as Rachel’s memory is invariably impaired by her heavy drinking.

It’s dark, disturbing, and brilliantly written with a twisty plot that will you scratching your head until the shocking final scenes.  

By Paula Hawkins,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Girl on the Train as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The #1 New York Times bestseller, USA Today Book of the Year and now a major motion picture starring Emily Blunt.
 
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple having breakfast on their deck. She's even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It's…


Book cover of Behind Closed Doors

AJ Wills Why did I love this book?

One of the most compelling aspects of the psychological or domestic thriller genre is the exploration of the horrors that go on inside the lives of ordinary people and this thriller is no exception.

It’s even called Behind Closed Doors! It’s a great title and perfectly captures the theme of the book – how a seemingly ordinary couple are caught up in a horrifyingly abusive relationship. It’s unsettling from the first chapter and only gets worse.

But like driving past a motorway pile-up, you can’t stop looking, desperately hoping there’s a happy ending in sight.

By B.A. Paris,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES AND USA TODAY BESTSELLING DEBUT PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER YOU CAN'T MISS!

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

“A hair-raising debut, both unsettling and addictive...A chilling thriller that will keep you reading long into the night.” ―Mary Kubica, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Good Girl

“This is one readers won’t be able to put down.” ―Booklist (starred review)

"A can’t-put-down psychological thriller.” ―Library Journal (starred review)

“This debut is guaranteed to haunt you...Warning: brace yourself.” ―Bustle (10 New Thrillers to Read This Summer)

“The sense of believably and terror that engulfs…


Book cover of Before I Go to Sleep

AJ Wills Why did I love this book?

What could be worse than losing your memory every time you went to sleep, and waking up each morning not knowing who you are?

That’s the premise explored in this 2011 thriller by SJ Watson and one which keeps you turning page after page. Once again, the setting is an ordinary domestic one. The key characters are a husband and wife, but wow, that twist really comes like a sucker punch to the chest. 

By S.J. Watson,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Before I Go to Sleep as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Mesmerising and unsettling . . . The best debut thriller for years' Sunday Times

Now a major film starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong

Over 7 million copies sold worldwide
____________

Memories define us.

So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep?

Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love - all forgotten overnight.

And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.

Welcome to Christine's life.

____________

Readers are obsessed with Before I Go To Sleep:

***** 'A genius plot with an incredible twist. Before…


Book cover of The Last Mrs. Parrish

AJ Wills Why did I love this book?

Clever twists that subvert your expectations have become one of the key components of a successful psychological thriller and this one was one of the best.

It’s since been reiterated in subsequent thrillers, but to my mind this was the first and the best. The trope in The Last Mrs. Parrish is the interloper coming into the family home and causing chaos, in this case, Amber Patterson, who decides she wants a slice of the perfection pie apparently being lived by socialite Daphne Parrish.

But of course, nothing is quite as it seems…

By Liv Constantine,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Last Mrs. Parrish as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Deliciously duplicitous. . . . equally as twisty, spellbinding, and addictive as Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl or Paula Hawkins's The Girl on the Train."-Library Journal (starred review)The mesmerizing debut about a coolly manipulative woman and a wealthy "golden couple," from a stunning new voice in psychological suspense.Some women get everything. Some women get everything they deserve.Amber Patterson is fed up. She's tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more-a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted. To everyone in the exclusive town…


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The Wallace House of Pain: A Novelette

By S.M. Stevens,

Book cover of The Wallace House of Pain: A Novelette

S.M. Stevens Author Of The Wallace House of Pain: A Novelette

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Animal lover Renewable energy advocate Alternative music lover Mother

S.M.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Activist Xander Wallace and his straitlaced father do not have an easy relationship. Jim’s views on race, immigration, gender, sexuality, and even Millennials alienate his son no matter how hard Xander tries to find common ground. Toss in Jim’s second marriage ten months after Xander’s mother died, and it’s a volatile cocktail. How, against this backdrop, will Xander ever dare to bare his soul and reveal his greatest secret?

Winner of a 2023 American Fiction Award, a First Place prize in the Chanticleer International Book Awards, and a 5-Star Readers’ Favorite review.

The Wallace House of Pain: A Novelette

By S.M. Stevens,


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