If I could spend all day reading psychological thrillers, I totally would. (Someone somewhere has that job, right?)
I hope your summer is going amazing! For the past few months I’ve been trying to enjoy reading for pleasure as much as possible because I know I won’t have time to get sucked into my beloved psychological thrillers come fall when I’m in grad school. So, until then, you can find me on the beach reading a good book!
Here is my latest round-up of favorites which I would recommend adding to your reading list ASAP!
And, since I’m a highly-sensitive person who has a hard time with disturbing images or stories involving violence (WHY am I into psychological thrillers again?!), if this is you too, you’ll find my notes below helpful. There are no spoilers, but I did want to warn about images of violence and abuse that others may be sensitive to. 😉
Missing, Presumed: A Novel by Susie Steiner
“Edith Hind—a beautiful graduate student at Cambridge University and daughter of the surgeon to the Royal Family—has been missing for nearly twenty-four hours. Her home offers few clues: a smattering of blood in the kitchen, her keys and phone left behind, the front door ajar but showing no signs of forced entry. Manon instantly knows that this case will be big—and that every second is crucial to finding Edith alive.”
If you like BBC and police procedurals, this one definitely needs to get on your reading list. My only complaint is that for some reason I had a really hard time keeping track of the characters since some of them had similar names, but clearly, that’s a reader error. 😉
The American Girl: A Novel by Kate Horsley
This book centers around an American exchange student (Quinn Perkins) staying in France who is found unconscious from a suspicious accident. We also hear the story from the viewpoint of Molly Swift, a Boston journalist trying to uncover the truth.
Overall this book was creepy and had a great ending that wasn’t predictable. Please note that there are references to drugs and sexual violence.
The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell
I loved this story told from the perspectives of different families that live around a communal garden in London: “On a midsummer night, as a festive neighborhood party is taking place, preteen Pip discovers her thirteen-year-old sister Grace lying unconscious and bloody in a hidden corner of a lush rose garden. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?”
This book definitely kept me guessing and I loved hearing it from the different viewpoints of the characters.
Lullaby by Clare Seeber
“It’s every mother’s nightmare… One minute Jess Finnegan is strolling through the Tate Museum with her new husband Mickey and their 8-month old son. The next she is frantically searching for them—both have completely disappeared.”
For some reason, I really love/despise books where someone has gone missing because they simultaneously intrigue me, but also stress me out. I mean, what if this happens to me?! This one kept me on the edge of my seat, and although the ending seemed a tad predictable, it’s still a great read.
The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hammer
This book is so, so good: “Newly single mom Beth has one constant, gnawing worry: that her dreamy eight-year-old daughter, Carmel, who has a tendency to wander off, will one day go missing. And then one day, it happens: On a Saturday morning thick with fog, Beth takes Carmel to a local outdoor festival, they get separated in the crowd, and Carmel is gone.”
The perspective alternates from Beth to Carmel and I honestly finished this book in 48 hours because I couldn’t stop reading it. (Note: I’ve been listening to a ton of true crime stories lately and particularly struggle with stories about children being kidnapped because there’s often extreme physical abuse/violence. I honestly kept waiting for something terrible like this to pop up in the story, but don’t worry – it totally doesn’t, which made me only love this book more.)
All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker
This book centers around Jenny Kramer, a high-school student who is attacked one night at a party. Her parents decide to give her a treatment that will erase her memory of the attack in hopes that it will help her to heal. I really loved this story because it’s told from the point of view of her psychiatrist which makes for an interesting perspective as the plot moves along. This book is definitely a good read, but please note that it does have graphic images of sexual violence.
The Vanishing Year by Kate Moretti
“Zoe Whittaker is living a charmed life. She is the beautiful young wife to handsome, charming Wall Street tycoon Henry Whittaker. She is a member of Manhattan’s social elite. … What no one knows is that five years ago, Zoe’s life was in danger. Back then, Zoe wasn’t Zoe at all. Now her secrets are coming back to haunt her.”
I’m not sure if I would call this book a thriller, but I thought the overall plotline was interesting enough to include here. Overall I liked the book, but my main critiques are Zoe’s character and the way she interacts with her husband and that I thought the ending was a tad predictable… but you can be the judge on that one. 😉
The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer
Okay, it’s been a long time since I read a Stephanie Meyer book, but I will admit that I was pretty obsessed with the Twilight series back in the day. So, when I saw that she came out with a new book in the thriller genre, I was definitely intrigued. Overall I liked this book, but I have to admit that the romance threw me a little bit. Compared to the other books that I’ve been reading this one was a bit more mellow (which actually ended up being a nice break), but it was nice to see a strong female heroine who can take care of herself!
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
With this series recently coming out on Hulu, I decided to read the book first and I’m personally glad I did.
“This story is set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States and is now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men in its population.”
This book honestly gives me the creeps and it blows my mind that it came out in 1986. I can’t say too much more without spoilers, but I think it’s definitely worth reading.
The Likeness by Tara French
This is the second Tara French book I’ve read and although I hate to play favorites, she is hands-down one of my favorite writers. The Likeness is the second in her Dublin Murder Squad series (I’d definitely recommend reading In The Woods first) and follows detective Cassie Maddox. Cassie had recently transferred out of the murder squad, but when a woman is found murdered, Cassie is called to the scene only to discover that the woman is virtually her twin. Like Tara’s first book, this one is somewhat long, but the plot is solid the entire way through.
Into The Water: A Novel by Paula Hawkins
So, I have to start this with a disclaimer: I really, really thought I was going to love this book and I really wanted to, but I’m lukewarm on this one. I decided to include it here because I still think Paula Hawkins is a great writer, but in my opinion, don’t get your hopes up because this one isn’t as great as The Girl On The Train. (And I totally thought I was alone on this until I saw all the other lukewarm Amazon reviews.)
“A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.”
Pro’s: I definitely liked parts of the story and the overall unfolding of the plot. Con’s: This story is told from so many perspectives that it’s hard to follow and I found the ending a bit predictable. Note: this book also has graphic sexual images that may be disturbing.
With Malace by Eileen Cook
“Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron’s senior trip to Italy was supposed to be the adventure of a lifetime. And then the accident happened. Waking up in a hospital room, her leg in a cast, stitches in her face, and a big blank canvas where the last 6 weeks should be, Jill comes to discover she was involved in a fatal accident in her travels abroad. … Wondering not just what happened but what she did, Jill tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.”
Overall this book is a great, quick read and I really liked how police interviews and media excerpts were woven into the story.
Black-Eyed Susans: A Novel of Suspense by Julia Heaberlin
“As a sixteen-year-old, Tessa Cartwright was found in a Texas field, barely alive amid a scattering of bones, with only fragments of memory as to how she got there. Ever since, the press has pursued her as the lone surviving “Black-Eyed Susan,” the nickname given to the murder victims because of the yellow carpet of wildflowers that flourished above their shared grave. Tessa’s testimony about those tragic hours put a man on death row.
Now, almost two decades later, Tessa is an artist and single mother. In the desolate cold of February, she is shocked to discover a freshly planted patch of black-eyed susans—a summertime bloom—just outside her bedroom window. Terrified at the implications—that she sent the wrong man to prison and the real killer remains at large—Tessa turns to the lawyers working to exonerate the man awaiting execution. But the flowers alone are not proof enough, and the forensic investigation of the still-unidentified bones is progressing too slowly. An innocent life hangs in the balance. … She has no choice but to confront old ghosts and lingering nightmares to finally discover what really happened that night.”
This book is one of my favorite thrillers on this list. It drew me into the plot immediately and I loved how it switched perspectives from present-day Tessa to her teenage self. If you like creepy thrillers, this one is a must-read for summer! 🙂
What books are you loving this summer? Share in the comments below!1