100 books like 99 Red Balloons

By Elisabeth Carpenter,

Here are 100 books that 99 Red Balloons fans have personally recommended if you like 99 Red Balloons. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of We Need to Talk about Kevin

Kate Robards Author Of Only The Guilty Survive

From my list on thrillers inspired by real events.

Why am I passionate about this?

My new thriller centers around a small, mysterious cult and their shocking demise. For years, I’ve read true crime books on the subject, and I wanted to infuse the reality and truth of real-life events into my fictional novel. In a similar vein, these books represent a range of thrillers inspired by true events, ranging from cults to serial killers to teenage criminals. I hope you find these books as gripping and haunting as I do.

Kate's book list on thrillers inspired by real events

Kate Robards Why did Kate love this book?

I find this book to be an unsettling but impactful read, both thought-provoking and complex. We Need to Talk about Kevin follows the mother of a troubled teenager responsible for a school shooting.

It’s about nature versus nurture, the relationship between mother and child, and deeply seated guilt. It draws inspiration from real events, including the 1999 shooting at Columbine, which wasn’t the U.S.’s first mass shooting at a school, but it would become one of the most infamous.

Shriver’s novel raises unsettling questions about a mother’s guilt and self-justification and a community’s heartache and blame. I consider it to be a captivating and moving book.

By Lionel Shriver,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked We Need to Talk about Kevin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



Eva never really wanted to be a mother; certainly not the mother of a boy named Kevin who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker and a teacher who had tried to befriend him. Now, two years after her son's horrific rampage, Eva comes to terms with her role as Kevin's mother in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her absent husband Franklyn about their son's upbringing. Fearing that her own shortcomings may have shaped what her son has become, she confesses to…

Book cover of The Silent Patient

Alice McIlroy Author Of The Glass Woman

From my list on books featuring unreliable narrators.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved unreliable narrators and how they place us as readers into the role of detectives, piecing the "truth" of a story together. The narrators I’ve picked below vary in their intent: some deliberately deceive, and others do so unconsciously or through omission. In several, the twist hinges on the use of an unreliable narrator, while in others, narrative unreliability poses a moral dilemma for the reader. In a few, an added layer of unreliability emerges: the narrator’s perception is distorted by technology. In an age of AI, simulations, and deep fakes, the unreliable narrator is arguably more needed than ever, holding a mirror up to the unreliability of our own world. 

Alice's book list on books featuring unreliable narrators

Alice McIlroy Why did Alice love this book?

Many contemporary thrillers’ ultimate twist hinges on the use of an unreliable narrator. One of the best is Alex Michaelides’ internationally bestselling debut, The Silent Patient. It follows a psychotherapist trying to help his patient, Alicia, recover after she refuses to speak following the murder of her husband.

The novel is a perfect balancing act of suspecting Alicia yet finding her sympathetic in equal measure. I did not, for one moment, anticipate the ending and first-person unreliable narration is key to Michaelides’ masterful twist.

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 Last House on Needless Street

Kelley Skovron Author Of No Filter

From my list on deliciously dark horror novels that are more sad than scary.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm the author of over 15 novels written for kids, teens, and adults across several genres. The thing all my books have in common is that they are sad and they are dark. My most recent novel is my most distilled, compressed delivery of deliciously dark sadness yet! Oddly, I'm rarely sad in real life. My daughter suggested that I write books to get the darkness out of my head and onto the page, which I think is very insightful (she is my kid, after all). I enjoy the beauty in the breakdown, I savor the sublime catharsis of tragedy, and I want to share that perspective with everyone.

Kelley's book list on deliciously dark horror novels that are more sad than scary

Kelley Skovron Why did Kelley love this book?

I really don't know how Catriona Ward manages to balance the languid sadness and unrelenting tension so well.

Ward's profound empathy for every single character, no matter how flawed, is what twists your heart. At the same time, you feel as though you're on a roller coaster barreling at breakneck speed through pitch-black tunnels.

I wasn't always sure I understood what was going on from moment to moment, and that seems very much by design because, wow, what a twist! And the deeply felt depiction of the characters never made me feel like I was truly lost. I will indulge a great deal of mystery as long as it is presented by such a steady and skillful hand.

By Catriona Ward,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Last House on Needless Street as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The buzz...is real. I've read it and was blown away. It's a true nerve-shredder that keeps its mind-blowing secrets to the very end." ―Stephen King

Winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Horror Novel!
A World Fantasy Award Finalist!
An Indie Next Pick! A LibraryReads Top 10 Pick!
A Library Journal Editors' Pick! STARRED reviews from Library Journal and Publishers Weekly!
Named one of the "50 Best Horror Books of All Time" by Esquire!

"Brilliant....[a] deeply frightening deconstruction of the illusion of the self." ―The New York Times

Catriona Ward's The Last House on Needless Street is a shocking…

Book cover of I Let You Go

Sam Carrington Author Of The Couple on Maple Drive

From my list on psychological thrillers with a jaw-dropping twist.

Why am I passionate about this?

My love of all things to do with the human mind and behaviour led me to study for a psychology degree and it was then I also became interested in criminology. When I landed my dream job in a male prison, working with offenders on rehabilitation programmes, these interests intensified. I read a huge number of psychological thrillers – as well as writing seven of them – and find it exciting trying to come up with fresh plots and brilliantly devious twists! I hope you enjoy reading my selection on this list as much as I did.

Sam's book list on psychological thrillers with a jaw-dropping twist

Sam Carrington Why did Sam love this book?

The novel opens with a tragic hit-and-run. Jacob’s mother lets go of his hand for a few seconds – and in that moment, her little boy’s life is cruelly taken. Jenna, reeling from Jacob’s death, moves away for a fresh start, but her past soon catches up with her. This story completely turns on its head following the big twist halfway through the book and it made me go back to the beginning to re-read! At times harrowing, at times uplifting, this story will stay with me.

By Clare Mackintosh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Let You Go as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Don't miss the nail-biting new thriller from Clare Mackintosh - Hostage is out now.

Lose yourself in the sensational debut I Let You Go - the Sunday Times bestseller, number one ebook phenomenon and Richard & Judy Book Club pick.

A tragic accident. It all happened so quickly. She couldn't have prevented it. Could she?

In a split second, Jenna Gray's world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is…

Book cover of Behind Her Eyes

Michael Laimo Author Of Missed Connection

From my list on fast-paced thriller books with romance, twists and turns, and clever writing.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was 27, I thought it would be fun to write. I have no formal training, yet I have found success through reading exposure and trial and error for 30 years. Changing my voice was hard, but reading these books helped me define the kind of story I wanted to tell in my new novel, Missed Connection. Erotic thrillers truly are a guilty pleasure for me.

Michael's book list on fast-paced thriller books with romance, twists and turns, and clever writing

Michael Laimo Why did Michael love this book?

Sarah Pinborough made the leap from horror to thrillers and has hit it big with this incredible read. This was made into a popular Netflix series, and in this rare instance, the film remains true to the story told in the book.

With twists and turns, clever fast-paced writing, and a bit of sexiness to it, this book was also very influential in my switch from horror to erotic thrillers.

By Sarah Pinborough,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Behind Her Eyes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Don't Trust This Book Don't Trust These People Don't Trust Yourself And whatever you do, DON'T give away that ending...


Since her husband walked out, Louise has made her son her world, supporting them both with her part-time job. But all that changes when she meets...


Young, successful and charming - Louise cannot believe a man like him would look at her twice let alone be attracted to her. But that all comes to a grinding halt when she meets his wife...


Beautiful, elegant and sweet - Louise's new friend seems perfect in every way. As she…

Book cover of Lies, Lies, Lies

Lorna Dounaeva Author Of The Family Trap

From my list on reads to keep you awake all night.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of a number of psychological thrillers including The Perfect Family and The Wrong Twin. I like this genre because it really makes your blood pump. For the most part, these are ordinary people who get caught in extraordinary situations so it’s easy to relate. Once you start reading a really good thriller you can’t stop, it’s like riding a roller coaster. It feels exhilarating but it’s totally safe. And the really good ones get you thinking. What would I do in that situation? How would I react?

Lorna's book list on reads to keep you awake all night

Lorna Dounaeva Why did Lorna love this book?

Adele Parks was already accomplished at writing entertaining women’s lit well before she turned to psychological thrillers so the style is engaging and accessible. It feels like you’re reading the confessions of an old friend. This book has a great plot too, it has more twists than you can shake a stick at. I consider myself good at figuring out what’s coming, but not with this one. The pace is fast, the storytelling keeps you hooked, and you won’t see the bends in the road until it’s too late.

By Adele Parks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Daisy and Simon’s marriage isn’t what it seems…

After years together, the arrival of longed-for daughter Millie sealed everything in place. They’re a happy little family of three.

So what if Simon drinks a bit too much sometimes—Daisy’s used to it. She knows he’s just letting off steam. Until one night at a party things spiral horribly out of control. And their happy little family of three will never be the same again.

In Lies, Lies, Lies, #1 Sunday Times bestselling author Adele Parks explores the darkest corners of a relationship in free fall in a mesmerizing tale of marriage…

Book cover of The Ice Twins

Luke Dumas Author Of A History of Fear

From my list on Scottish-set thrillers to keep you up reading.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved Scotland ever since I spent a year studying abroad at the University of Edinburgh. In fact, I loved it so much that I returned to the University a couple of years later to complete my master’s degree in creative writing. Between the rugged dramatic landscapes, the stunning Gothic architecture, and the dark cold weather, Scotland was the perfect place to inspire a young aspiring suspense author such as myself—and the ideal setting for a creepy, atmospheric thriller like my debut novel. Although I’ve since moved back to the U.S., I’m always on the lookout for a Scottish-set thriller to take me back to the country where I left my heart but—blissfully—found my husband.

Luke's book list on Scottish-set thrillers to keep you up reading

Luke Dumas Why did Luke love this book?

I was gripped from the first page of this propulsive psychologic thriller set on a windswept Scottish island.

Just thinking about it, I can feel myself being transported back to the dreary, rain-lashed shores of Angus. I can feel the claustrophobia and desperation of Sarah’s dilemma. I found myself chained to the story, my understanding of the characters and their situation yanked to and fro with every new twist and turn. I couldn’t stop reading.

But like the best fiction, The Ice Twins stayed with me long after I closed the book. It encapsulates some of my favorite literary elements—a dark brooding atmosphere, characters at odds with their own perceptions of reality, and a suggestion of the supernatural.

By S K Tremayne,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the tradition of The Girl on the Train comes the UK bestseller The Ice Twins, a terrifying psychological thriller with a twisting plot worthy of Gillian Flynn.

One of Sarah's daughters died. But can she be sure which one?

A year after one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia, dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcroft move to the tiny Scottish island Angus inherited from his grandmother, hoping to put together the pieces of their shattered lives.

But when their surviving daughter, Kirstie, claims they have mistaken her identity--that she, in fact, is Lydia--their world comes crashing down…

Book cover of Anything You Do Say

Natasha Bell Author Of His Perfect Wife

From my list on complicated female protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been drawn to complex female characters in both reading and writing. Even in the 21st century, there are so many expectations placed on girls and women to conform to society’s narrow concepts of femininity. As a queer woman who grew up under the UK’s Section 28, I’ve always struggled to fit myself into these pre-assigned boxes, which is why I’m fascinated by those who step so firmly out of them. I teach as well as write and one of the most satisfying things about both is the time I get to spend examining character. I hope you’re as captivated by these difficult women as I am!

Natasha's book list on complicated female protagonists

Natasha Bell Why did Natasha love this book?

I love how clever this book is! It seems like a simple premise, but the Sliding Doors-style structure, allowing us to follow Joanna into two different versions of the future, prompted me to think of all the similar moments of fear I’ve experienced and how they, too, could have ended in an ‘impossible decision.’

I was thrilled, angered, and gripped by both storylines individually, but it’s the way they knotted unexpectedly together that made me ask: What would I have done in this situation?

By Gillian McAllister,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Anything You Do Say as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Would you run, or stay and call an ambulance, if it was you that pushed him?

'A terrific premise, delivered with panache' CLARE MACKINTOSH

'Dark and intense . . . an exhilarating, hold-your-breath read!' Prima

It's the end of the night. You're walking home on your own.

Then you hear the sound every woman dreads. Footsteps. Behind you. Getting faster.

You're sure it's him - the man from the bar who wouldn't leave you alone.

You make a snap decision. You turn. You push. Your pursuer tumbles down the steps. He lies motionless, face-down on the floor.

Now what?


Book cover of Missing Daughter

Judy Penz Sheluk Author Of Skeletons in the Attic

From my list on cold case mysteries with a twist…or three.

Why am I passionate about this?

In addition to being an author, I’m an avid reader, averaging about a book a week. While I enjoy a good historical fiction or NYT bestseller, my go-to is mystery and suspense, and has been since the day my mother first introduced me to Nancy Drew. I’m especially drawn to cold case mysteries, multiple POVs, and complex plots and characters, but I can dive headfirst into a fast-paced beach read with equal pleasure. As a writer by profession, I truly believe reading is the best teacher and I have learned from, and enjoyed, every one of these recommendations immensely. It’s my hope that you'll discover a new-to-you author and love the book you choose.

Judy's book list on cold case mysteries with a twist…or three

Judy Penz Sheluk Why did Judy love this book?

While not your typical cut-and-dried cold case mystery—the first half of this suspense thriller centers around the present-day case of Maddie Lane, a 12-year-old girl who is either a runaway or abducted from her bedroom—the second half is set four years in the future, and in my opinion, this is where the book really comes into its own. I found the past/present structure—no back and forth, no fancy flashbacks—refreshing, and Mofina does a fine job detailing the scrutiny Maddie’s family faces in the aftermath of her disappearance, while slowly and methodically revealing not only their secrets but their feelings of guilt.

By Rick Mofina,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Families with nothing to hide don’t have so many secrets

Life can change in an instant. For Ryan and Karen Lane, it happens on the morning they discover their twelve-year-old daughter’s window open, their beloved Maddie missing from her bed.

Police investigate. Suspicions swirl. A teenage boy admits he was outside her bedroom window the night she disappeared. A halfway house for convicts recently opened in the neighborhood. The Lane family is thrown into turmoil, then detectives turn their sights on them.

No one is ruled out. Not Karen, with her tragic past, who argued with her daughter. Not Ryan,…

Book cover of The Lake House

Loretta Marion Author Of House of Ashes

From my list on mysterious old houses with a haunting presence.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author of mysteries with three published books in the genre to date. Novels involving a mysterious house will immediately grab my attention. Throw in an otherworldly presence and I’m hooked. So it was no surprise when my muse guided me to create a mystery series that centers around a Victorian home haunted by the spirits of its original inhabitants. Inspiration came from personal experience—a real-life ghostly encounter in my New England country home which bordered an ancient cemetery—and influence from classic tales that delve into the paranormal and the psychological. This is the type of book I will always rush to read (and write).

Loretta's book list on mysterious old houses with a haunting presence

Loretta Marion Why did Loretta love this book?

The Lake House was recommended to me because the style of writing and the themes of the story have been compared to my own books. I especially enjoy the techniques of interweaving present-day stories with tales from the past and employing multiple perspectives. Kate Morton’s characters are always well-developed, and her descriptions provide atmospheric depth. The country lake home, Loeanneth—beautifully described in its prime—is an abandoned, crumbling estate decades later. Family secrets abound and having two unrelated mysteries at work brings texture to the story. As a writer, I do appreciate when one of the main characters is an author, and I enjoyed observing Alice Edevane's approach to her writing life. Be patient as the mystery twists and builds. You won’t be disappointed!

By Kate Morton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

June 1933, and the Edevane family's country house, Loeanneth, is polished and gleaming, ready for the much-anticipated Midsummer Eve party. But by the time midnight strikes and the fireworks light up the night skies, the Edevane family will have suffered a loss so great that they leave Loeanneth forever. Seventy years later, after a particularly troubling case, Detective Sadie Sparrow retreats on an enforced holiday to her beloved grandfather's cottage in Cornwall. Venturing further into the countryside on her daily runs, she stumbles upon a long-abandoned house surrounded by overgrown gardens and dense woods, and learns the terrible story of…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in family secrets, kidnapping, and missing persons?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about family secrets, kidnapping, and missing persons.

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