At the start of summer I decided to read The Girl on The Train after a friend recommended it. From that point on, I have been hooked on reading thrillers. Since I normally non-fiction or cookbooks in my spare time, reading fiction over the past few months has been such a fun treat! So, with darker days, cozy sweaters, and book-weather upon us, I wanted to share my top 10 thrillers for fall.
1. The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins
Have you read this yet? If not, go read it now; if so, go see the movie.
This story follows Rachel Watson, a divorced alcoholic, who commutes every day on the train to London, watching the houses and people go by. Rachel becomes particularly fixated on one couple (who happen to live down the street from her ex-husband and his new wife) and begins to make up names and a story about them. One day, the woman goes missing and although Rachel can’t remember the events of that evening, she begins to question what really happened and how she might be involved. Overall, this is an incredible read and you definitely won’t see the end coming.
2. In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
This book is so, so good. It follows Leonora, a reclusive crime writer, who gets invited to a weekend getaway out-of-the-blue by an old classmate. As if her staying in an eerie glass house deep in the English countryside isn’t creepy enough, she wakes up in a hospital 48 hours later without remembering anything that happened.
A few words of advice? You’ll probably have to look up some of the British lingo (note: hen party = bachelorette party) and don’t make the mistake of reading this when you’re traveling and staying in a hotel room by yourself. Trust me: you will not sleep well.
3. The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
I started this book when I was in Chicago for a conference and if I’m being totally honest, I will admit that it made me pretty paranoid about being kidnapped. In short: One night, Mia Dennett enters a Chicago bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn’t show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. At first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life.
Lessons learned: 1) Don’t go to bars alone. 2) Definitely don’t leave bars with strangers.
4. The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
This story follows Stan and Charmaine, a young urban couple, who have been hit by job loss and bankruptcy in the midst of a nationwide economic collapse. Having run out of options, they’re forced to live in their car, vulnerable to roving gangs, until they find the gated community of Consilience, which may be the answer to their prayers. If they sign a life contract, they’ll get a job and a lovely house . . . for six months out of the year. On alternating months, residents must leave their homes and serve as inmates in the Positron prison system. At first, this seems worth it: they will have a roof over their heads and food on the table. But when a series of troubling events unfolds, Positron begins to look less like a prayer answered and more like a chilling prophecy fulfilled.
The entire time I have been reading this all I can think is… What the heck is happening in this book?! I’m currently halfway through this one so I’ll have to report back once I know how it ends.
Update: This book is intriguing overall, but pretty strange. I definitely didn’t expect it to be so riskque and if I had finished it prior to this post I probably wouldn’t have included it on this round-up. Just a heads up. 🙂
5. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
I read this book after reading a few of the particularly more violent books (e.g. Under the Harrow and I’m Thinking of Ending Things) so this was a refreshing read because it was suspenseful without being as intense or violent.
Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all—a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story. I definitely recommend this book, but just know that it might make you want to interrogate your significant other to find out what secrets they’re keeping… 😉
6. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Lo Blacklock is a travel journalist who has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant, but as the week wears on, Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly wrong…
This is the second book by Ruth Ware and if I had to pick between the two I actually liked In a Dark, Dark Wood (mentioned above) slightly better because I found the plot more believable, but this one is still suspenseful and worth reading.
7. Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry
Here’s how I would describe this book: creepy… creepy… eek! it can get creepier??!! and, you guessed it… creepy.
When Nora takes the train from London to visit her sister in the countryside, she expects to find her waiting at the station, or at home cooking dinner. But when she walks into Rachel’s familiar house, what she finds is entirely different: her sister has been the victim of a brutal murder. Stunned and adrift, Nora finds she can’t return to her former life. An unsolved assault in the past has shaken her faith in the police, and she can’t trust them to find her sister’s killer. Haunted by the murder and the secrets that surround it, Nora is under the harrow: distressed and in danger. As Nora’s fear turns to obsession, she becomes as unrecognizable as the sister her investigation uncovers.
Note: This is one of the more violent books on this list and there are a few disturbing scenes that have violence against an animal so if you are sensitive to this (like myself), skip these scenes or potentially the book altogether.
8. I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
This book is a little messed up and even after reading a few online articles dissecting the plot further, I’m still not convinced I completely “got it.” I think the best summary is the way this Amazon reviewer described it: Enjoyable, Interesting, Creepy, Weird, but ultimately: “Well WTF was that?”
This book is not one I would read again (due to the disturbing images), but I decided to include it here because it was a super edgy and intense read. Note: If you are sensitive to violence or disturbing images, I would NOT recommend this book for you.
9. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
On their 5th wedding anniversary, Nick’s wife Amy disappears. As police dive deeper into what is presumed to be a murder, Nick begins to look more like a suspect. Especially when they find Amy’s diary revealing all the secrets hiding below the surface of their marriage.
It’s been a couple of years since I first read Gone Girl, but reading it again only made me see how completely twisted it is. But, of course, that’s also what makes it an exceptional book.
10. Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson
There seems to be a pretty common theme in this genre of not being able to trust your significant other. Believe me, this was super fun for my partner as I’ve read more thrillers and become increasingly paranoid and suspicious… of everything. 😉
Every day Christine wakes up not knowing where she is and her memories disappear every time she falls asleep. Her husband, Ben, is a stranger to her, and he’s obligated to explain their life together on a daily basis–all the result of a mysterious accident that made Christine an amnesiac. With the encouragement of her doctor, Christine starts a journal to help jog her memory every day. One morning, she opens it and sees that she’s written three unexpected and terrifying words: “Don’t trust Ben.” Suddenly everything her husband has told her falls under suspicion. What kind of accident caused her condition? Who is Ben? Who can she trust?