By now you may know that one of my favorite things in life is reading psychological thrillers. (You can find my past reading recommendations here.)
Although I haven’t had much time to read anything for fun since starting grad school, I rounded up this list of some of my faves that I read last summer and on a recent break during a bad bout of the stomach flu. (uggh)
And, since I’m a highly-sensitive person who has a hard time with disturbing images and stories involving violence (WHY am I into psychological thrillers again?!), if this is you too, you’ll find my notes below helpful as I try to warn about images of violence and abuse that others may be sensitive to. 😉
The Never List by Koethi Zan
OMG. You should definitely read this book, but you better know that if you do you might not sleep well and if you’re prone to feeling anxious (like me), this book will give you a lot to feel anxious about. 😉 This story centers on Sarah and her best friend Jennifer who create a list of things they will never do in order to stay safe. However, one night they take a cab ride and end up being held captive for three years. Although it’s very intesnse, the plot is solid and I could not put this book down. Note: this book has a lot of references to BDSM and torture, but isn’t graphic (especially compared to some other thriller novels out there).
The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
Have you ever wanted to kill your spouse? Thankfully my answer to this question is no, but this book answers this question while exploring the boundaries of when murder is acceptable. When Ted meets a stranger (Lily) on a flight after finding out his wife (Miranda) has been cheating on him, he jokes that he’d like to murder his wife. And instead of a normal reaction of polite laughter followed by awkward silence and then requesting a different seat (right?), Lily offers to help and together they begin to devise a plot to kill Miranda. This book is so good and twisted until the very last page.
Sister by Rosamund Lupton
It took me awhile to get into this book because of the style of the writing, but by about 1/3 of the way through I was hooked. Sister is written from Bee’s point of view, who returns home to London when she discovers her younger sister Tess is missing. Tess is later found dead and police conclude that she committed suicide. However, Bee doesn’t believe this so the book follows her journey of searching for the killer. This mystery kept me guessing the entire time and I really loved the twist at the end!
Silent Child by Sarah A. Denzil
What would you do if your child went missing, was presumed to be dead, and suddenly reappeared ten years later? This is what happened to Emma Price when her son Aiden went missing during a terrible flood. When Aiden returns, he is too traumatized to speak so Emma must figure out what happened to him before it’s too late. Note: As with any story about child abduction, this book is a bit dark, but it’s not too graphic.
The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda
Apparently I really love books with a suspicious murder because I couldn’t put this one down. Leah Stevens, a failed journalist, and her friend Emmy move to rural Pennsylvania to get a fresh start. Well, that is until a woman bearing a striking resemblance to Leah is found dead at the nearby lake and Emmy goes missing. This book has a ton of fun twists and turns that will keep you guessing!
The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
I am a huge fan of Ruth Ware’s other two books (In a Dark, Dark, Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10) so I was super excited to finally get my hands on this one. This book follows four friends who became close at boarding school where they invented the Lying Game: a game where they get points for telling lies to fellow students and faculty, but the one caveat is that they can never lie to each other. They haven’t spoken in fifteen years until one night the three of them receive a text from Kate simply saying “I need you.” What follows is a twisted story of psychological suspense and although it took me a couple of hours to get into the plot, I really enjoyed the ending.
A Stranger In The House by Shari Lapena
Well, there goes five amazing hours of my life! Last year I read The Couple Next Door, which was Shari Lapena’s first novel, and instantly became hooked on her writing. A Stranger In The House is stellar and I promise you won’t be able to put it down! I honestly read it in one entire sitting and I can’t wait for her next book.
The Night The Lights Went Out by Karen White
This is the book to read if you want a really chill thriller that suddenly picks up at the end. The story takes place in the suburb of Sweet Apple, Georgia and being a born-and-raised PNW gal like myself, I found it completely fascinating to read about life in the South. This book alternates perspectives from Merilee (a recently divorced mom) to her landlord Sugar. Although some parts of the plot seemed predictable, overall I thought this was a good read and a nice break from some of the more intense books on this list.
That Night by Chevy Stevens
I hate to play favorites, but this one is one of my favorites on this list. That Night centers around Toni Murphy, a thirty-four-year-old woman recently let out on parole. The story alternates between present-day and events leading up to the night that Toni’s sister was murdered. I find stories about prison interesting so this one definitely peaked my interest, but I also loved the author’s writing and intend to read more of her books in the future.
The Surrogate by Tania Carver
This book is so dark that you won’t be able to put it down. I have to admit that I was creeped out by the cover image so I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to finish the book, but I immediately got sucked into the story. The Surrogate is the first book in the series that follows Detective Inspector Philip Brennan as he investigates the death of several pregnant women who have been murdered and had their babies kidnapped. The story is super twisted, but if you like dark thrillers I highly recommend it.
The Creeper by Tania Carver
I have to go on a tangent for a second and talk about the author. If you’ve noticed from my reading lists, I usually opt for female authors because generally speaking, I’ve found that thrillers written by male authors contain sexual remarks about women or women’s bodies, and tend to be darker/more gruesome. As I was working my way through this book, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was reading a book written by a man. I kept noticing small remarks about male characters observing women’s body parts and I finally decided to research more about the author. Lo and behold, it turns out that Tania Carver is actually a pseudonym for Martyn Waites! I found this super interesting and you can read more about it here if it interests you too.
The Creeper is the second novel in the Detective Inspector Philip Brennan series and centers on a killer who stalks women. Overall the plot is immensely solid, very twisted, and I can tell you I honestly had nightmares because the first couple of chapters are so intense. (Note: I definitely wouldn’t recommend this book if you are sensitive to stories about stalking.)
Cage of Bones by Tania Carver
Are you noticing a theme now? Clearly, I’ve become obsessed with Tania Carver and this series. 🙂 Cage of Bones is the third novel in the Detective Inspector Philip Brennan series and starts with a child who is found in a cage made of human bones in an abandoned cellar. O.M.G. I couldn’t put this book down because I wanted so badly to know what was happening, and especially how Phil Brennan was tied into this all. Definitely a good read if you liked the first two books in this series!