The most recommended psychological thriller books

Who picked these books? Meet our 743 experts.

743 authors created a book list connected to psychological thriller, and here are their favorite psychological thriller books.
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Book cover of Three Hours

Helen Matthews Author Of The Girl in the Van

From my list on important themes for book clubs to discuss.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a reader, I love a gripping page-turner but as a writer, thinker, and book club member I need more. My latest novel The Girl in the Van touches on the exploitation of young people by criminal drug gangs, a form of modern slavery. I’ve been passionate about raising awareness of human trafficking and modern slavery since researching my first novel, which led to me being appointed an ambassador for anti-slavery charity, Unseen. Modern slavery isn’t the only societal issue affecting the dispossessed in our world. Where better to explore these themes than in the pages of a book and through book club discussions? 

Helen's book list on important themes for book clubs to discuss

Helen Matthews Why did Helen love this book?

A school siege is a theme that will strike terror into the hearts of teachers and parents everywhere. It’s that planned-for scenario that will ‘never happen here’ (rural Somerset). And then it does. Lupton slows down the narrative so it feels as if events are unfolding at a pace close to real time. Alongside the stress and anxiety, Lupton draws on her characters’ stories to examine the world we live in and aspects of humanity. There are stories of first love and parental despair, we glimpse the mind of a psychopath and the stoic heroism of two Syrian refugee brothers, who’ve already been through hell at the hands of people smugglers. Dormant racism rears its ugly head. It’s a poignant read with plenty for book clubs to discuss. 

By Rosamund Lupton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE TIMES THRILLER OF THE YEAR AND A SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

'If you read only one thriller this year, make it this one: it is that good' DAILY MAIL

'Gripping...impossible to forget. It should be on every reader's bookshelf' MICK HERRON

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In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege.

Pupils and teachers barricade themselves into classrooms, the library, the theatre. The headmaster lies wounded in the library, unable to help his trapped students and staff. Outside, a police psychiatrist must identify the gunmen, while parents gather desperate for news.

In…


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 Serial Killer's Wife

Matt Witten Author Of Killer Story

From my list on thrillers you'll devour in one sitting.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been writing crime novels and TV shows for years. For TV, I wrote for Law & Order, Pretty Little Liars, CSI: Miami, and several other crime shows. In the book world, I used to write amateur sleuth novels, and now I write thrillers. My favorite form of relaxation is to get a cup of tea, put my feet up, and read a great thriller. They inspire me. As I read, I study how they’re structured. There’s nothing I appreciate more than a twist I didn’t see coming, a morally good character who turns out to be evil, or a flawed character who ultimately turns out to be good.

Matt's book list on thrillers you'll devour in one sitting

Matt Witten Why did Matt love this book?

This book is an entertaining thriller about a woman who discovers, or thinks she discovers, that her husband has killed at least one woman in the past. She needs to figure out how to extricate herself and her daughter from this situation in a way that will be least damaging to the two of them.

It's difficult to talk about this novel without spoilers, but the second half of The Serial Killer's Wife has great twists, and the ending packs a wallop. It's not often that a final twist surprises me as much as this one did!

By Alice Hunter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Serial Killer's Wife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*Read it before you watch it - now a major TV series for Paramount+*

'The final double twist is well worth waiting for' My Weekly

'Hooks you in to the drama straight away and does not let you go, even on the last page' The Sun

Every marriage has its secrets...

Beth and Tom Hardcastle are the envy of their neighbourhood - they have the perfect marriage, the perfect house, the perfect family.

When the police knock on their door one evening, Beth panics. Tom should be back from work by now - what if he's crashed his car? She…


Empire in the Sand

By Shane Joseph,

Book cover of Empire in the Sand

Shane Joseph Author Of Empire in the Sand

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a writer for more than twenty years and have favored pursuing “truth in fiction” rather than “money in formula.” I also spent over thirty years in the corporate world and was exposed to many situations reminiscent of those described in my fiction and in these recommended books. While I support enterprise, “enlightened capitalism” is preferable to the bare-knuckle type we have today, and which seems to resurface whenever regulation weakens. I also find writing novels closer to my lived experience connects me intimately with readers who are looking for socio-political, realist literature.

Shane's book list on exposing corporate, political, and personal corruption

What is my book about?

Avery Mann, a retired pharmaceuticals executive, is in crisis.

His wife dies of cancer, his son’s marriage is on the rocks, his grandson is having a meltdown, and his good friend is a victim of the robocalls scandal that invades the Canadian federal election. Throw in a reckless fling with a former colleague, a fire that destroys his retirement property, and a rumour emerging that the drug he helped bring to market years ago may have been responsible for the death of his wife, and Avery’s life goes into freefall.

Does an octogenarian beekeeper living on Vancouver Island hold the key to Avery’s recovery, a man holding secrets that put lives in jeopardy? Avery races across the country to find out, with crooked bosses, politicians, and assassins on his tail. Joseph spins a cautionary tale of corporate and political greed that is endemic to our times.

Empire in the Sand

By Shane Joseph,

What is this book about?

Avery Mann, a retired pharmaceuticals executive, is in crisis. His wife dies of cancer, his son’s marriage is on the rocks, his grandson is having a meltdown, and his good friend is a victim of the robocalls scandal that invades the Canadian federal election.

Throw in a reckless fling with a former colleague, a fire that destroys his retirement property, and a rumour emerging that the drug he helped bring to market years ago may have been responsible for the death of his wife, and Avery’s life goes into freefall.

Does an octogenarian bee keeper living on Vancouver Island hold…


Book cover of The Birthday Party

Martin S. Fridson Author Of The Little Book of Picking Top Stocks: How to Spot Hidden Gems

From Martin's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Financial analyst History buff Music lover

Martin's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Martin S. Fridson Why did Martin love this book?

I love the author’s style, which goes deeply into character and motivations in an unhurried way. 

The suspense in this noir builds powerfully as it takes the time to detail the remote setting of the events and interactions. Here is one thriller that definitely cannot be called a guilty pleasure, given the intense involvement to which it compels you.

By Laurent Mauvignier, Daniel Levin Becker (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Buried deep in rural France, little remains of the isolated hamlet of the Three Lone Girls, save a few houses and a curiously assembled quartet: Patrice Bergogne, inheritor of his family's farm; his wife, Marion; their daughter, Ida; and their neighbour, Christine, an artist. While Patrice plans a surprise for his wife's fortieth birthday, inexplicable events start to disrupt the hamlet's quiet existence: anonymous, menacing letters, an unfamiliar car rolling up the driveway. And as night falls, strangers stalk the houses, unleashing a nightmarish chain of events.

Told in rhythmic, propulsive prose that weaves seamlessly from one consciousness to the…


Book cover of Eat Him If You Like

Heather Parry Author Of Orpheus Builds A Girl

From my list on compelling creepy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a fiction and nonfiction writer originally from Rotherham, South Yorkshire but I now live and work in Glasgow. I have always loved dark books, even when I was a kid; I was firmly on the Goosebumps-Point Horror-Stephen King pipeline, and ended up in dark literary fiction. I love work that challenges the reader, makes them complicit, forces them to keep going despite everything because the writing is just so good. Here are five books I come back to time and time again. 

Heather's book list on compelling creepy

Heather Parry Why did Heather love this book?

Don’t be fooled by the fact that this is a tiny book – a novella, really, and a short one at that. It is no less creepy or affecting than the others on my list.

This is the story of a small French town gripped, briefly, by an illogical and insurmountable hysteria, and the way that played out for one very unfortunate man. Eat Him If You Like is both graphic and incredibly horrible, but the growing creepiness of the story comes from the fact that it is based on a real and brutal occurrence in nineteenth-century France.

You will be unable to turn away from how this unfolds, but those without strong stomachs – approach with caution!

By Jean Teule, Emily Phillips (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Eat Him If You Like as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A true story. Tuesday 16 August 1870, Alain de Money, makes his way to the village fair. He plans to buy a heifer for a needy neighbour and find a roofer to repair the roof of the barn of a poor acquaintance. He arrives at two o'clock. Two hours later, the crowd has gone crazy; they have lynched, tortured, burned and eaten him. How could such a horror be possible? With frightening precision, Jean Teule reconstructs each step of one of the most shameful stories in the history of nineteenth-century France.


Book cover of Finding Claire Fletcher

Weldon Burge Author Of Harvester of Sorrow

From my list on police procedural series.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a writer of nonfiction and fiction and full-time editor since my college years, and a publisher (Smart Rhino Publications). I’ve read horror and suspense fiction all my life, but it’s only been in the past decade or so that my reading has turned more and more toward police procedurals, noir, and crime fiction. It was only natural that I’d turn to writing a police procedural series, starting with Harvester of Sorrow. I hope you’ll read all the wonderful books I’ve recommended!

Weldon's book list on police procedural series

Weldon Burge Why did Weldon love this book?

As a male writer, I find writing from a female point of view can often be difficult. Lisa Regan’s Finding Claire Fletcher, the first in her Connor Parks series, focused largely on a girl that has been kidnapped and held in captivity for years. As I read the book, I learned much from Regan’s use of the girl’s perspective, especially juxtaposed with that of Parks’ POV. 

By Lisa Regan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the first book in bestselling author Lisa Regan's new series, a one-night stand sets a detective on the trail of a terrifying unsolved crime.

With his career on thin ice and fresh ink on his divorce papers, Sacramento PD Detective Connor Parks goes searching for solace at the bottom of a bottle-and winds up in the arms of a beautiful woman. By morning she's gone, and the one clue she left behind sends Connor on a desperate mission to unravel a decade-old mystery-her abduction.

Presumed dead for the last ten years, Claire Fletcher has been living her life as…


Book cover of The Chestnut Man

Venezia Miller Author Of The Find

From my list on Nordic Noir to get you hooked on this genre.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an engineer with a PhD in electrical engineering and have spent more than twenty years of my career in the nanoelectronics industry researching how to create better electronic chips. The need to tell stories has always been there, but I never really envisioned a career as a writer. It wasn't until my 40s that I decided it was time to rekindle that passion for writing. I've always loved the dark atmosphere of Scandinavian noir TV series like The Killing and The Bridge with their often flawed and intriguing characters. So when I decided to write my first novel, it was almost a given that it was going to be a Nordic Noir thriller.

Venezia's book list on Nordic Noir to get you hooked on this genre

Venezia Miller Why did Venezia love this book?

It may be a cliche but my first experience with nordic noir was The Killing (Forbrydelsen). This Danish TV series in which inspector Sarah Lund goes in search of the murderer of a young girl fascinated me enormously. Not only because of the oppressive atmosphere that grabs you by the throat at times, but also because of the fantastic character development. The series was created by Søren Sveistrup, the author of the equally magisterial The Chestnut Man. The book begins when a young woman is found horribly mutilated in a playground on a chilly October morning. Next to her is a doll made of chestnuts and sticks. When a chestnut man is also found at the scene of a subsequent murder, it is clear that a serial killer is at work.

By Soren Sveistrup,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NOW A NETFLIX ORIGINAL SERIES

If you find one, he's already found you ....

From the creator of The Killing, “a full-throttle thriller in the tradition of classic Stieg Larsson” (A.J. Finn, author of The Woman in the Window).

Winner of the Barry Award for Best First Mystery/Crime Novel * A New York Times Book Review Best Book of the Year

A psychopath is terrorizing Copenhagen.

His calling card is a “chestnut man”—a handmade doll made of matchsticks and two chestnuts—which he leaves at each bloody crime scene.

Examining the dolls, forensics makes a shocking discovery—a fingerprint belonging to a…


Book cover of Cuckoo

Louise Stone Author Of S is for Stranger

From my list on to send shivers down your spine.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love psychological thrillers because I have firsthand dealt with OCD and gaslighting. Therefore, I find the human mind fascinating, and how the line between sanity and insanity is changeable. I think as humans we want to feel safe and hence, we box things into categories but all these thrillers I have recommended force you to look outside of the boxes and they can be chillingly thought-provoking. I am obsessed with writing that gives the reader such graphic insight into a character’s thoughts and actions. If you want unputdownable books, these are the ones for you!

Louise's book list on to send shivers down your spine

Louise Stone Why did Louise love this book?

This book really influenced the direction I took with my own thriller writing. I remember not being able to put it down.

Julia Crouch is supremely talented at setting the happy family scene whilst bringing in an underlying threat that may bring the ‘perfect family’ to its knees. The joy of psychological thrillers like this one is the feeling of being a voyeur. You are invited into this deliciously idyllic life which slowly disintegrates in front of you. A must read!

By Julia Crouch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A dark, juicy, deliciously unsettling, read-it-in-one-sitting psychological drama. Rose has it all - the gorgeous children, the husband, the beautiful home. But then her best friend Polly comes to stay. Very soon, Rose's cosy world starts to fall apart at the seams - her baby falls dangerously ill, her husband is distracted - is Polly behind it all? It appears that once you invite Polly into your home, it's very difficult to get her out again...


Book cover of Blood Sugar

Tamim Ansary Author Of The Invention of Yesterday: A 50,000-Year History of Human Culture, Conflict, and Connection

From Tamim's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Storyteller Afghan American History buff Secular mystic

Tamim's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Tamim Ansary Why did Tamim love this book?

On the surface, Blood Sugar seems like a suspense thriller told in workman-like prose without literary pretensions: it just sets forth what happened next and next and next, hooking you with suspense that keeps tightening until your fingers are sore from gripping the book.

Many might finish the novel and see nothing more. I however saw Rotschild doing here what Nabokov did in Lolita. The key lies in the fact that the story is told in first person by an unreliable narrator. After you’ve finished it, you find yourself pondering what really happened and who the various characters really are—because, remember, you don’t know anything about any of them except through the eyes of that unreliable first-person telling the story. 

By Sascha Rothchild,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

She's accused of four murders. She's only guilty of three...

When Ruby was a child growing up in Miami, she saw a boy from her school struggling against the ocean waves while his parents were preoccupied. Instead of helping him, Ruby dove under the water and held his ankle down until he drowned. She waited to feel guilty for it, but she never did.

And, as Ruby will argue in her senior thesis while studying psychology at Yale, guilt is sort of like eating ice cream while on a diet - if you're already feeling bad, why not eat the…


Book cover of Murder in the Family

Stephen Henning Author Of Jesus of the North

From Stephen's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Writer Runner Sci fi lover Film maker Cat lover

Stephen's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Stephen's 9-year-old's favorite books.

Stephen Henning Why did Stephen love this book?

Murder in the Family is a hurricane of fresh air in the whodunnit genre. It was one of my holiday reads, and from the moment I started, I didn’t want to put it down.

I was even disappointed when my flight touched down because I wanted to keep going. The worst part about the book was nearing the end, because I knew that there’d be no way my second book could live up to it. I haven’t felt like that about a book in years.

It’s written in the style of a script from a Netflix true crime show. If I’d known that in advance, I might not have bought it, because I would have assumed that would get tedious. But Cara Hunter writes with such skill that it reads like you’re watching the show. In summary: Amazing!

By Cara Hunter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE *INSTANT* NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY AND TORONTO STA BESTSELLER *THE FIRST EVER STAND-ALONE FROM AUTHOR OF THE DI ADAM FAWLEY MILLION-COPIES-SOLD SERIES*

**A Financial Times Best Book of 2023**

**A Guardian Best Crime and Thriller book of 2023**

'This devilishly clever, ground-breaking novel will keep you guessing' IAN RANKIN

'This book had me riveted to the page. It is original, inventive and totally 21st Century... Just brilliant!' JANICE HALLETT

From the author of IN THE DARK and CLOSE TO HOME comes a brilliant standalone thriller you'll never forget

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IT WAS A CASE THAT GRIPPED THE NATION

LUKE…