If you love a suspenseful story, these page-turning psychological thriller books will keep you up all night long.
Who doesn’t love a good mystery?
There’s something fun about trying to work out the solution to an impossible problem. You get to play detective, searching for clues throughout the story.
Yet, there is something unique about psychological thriller books. You get the intrigue of a good mystery while at the same time, the author completely messes with your head.
Who can you trust if you can’t even trust the narrator? How can you find the truth when everyone is lying or misperceiving reality?
If you are ready to jump into a suspenseful story, you can’t go wrong with these top-notch psychological thriller books.
Best Selling Thriller Books
Gone Girl took the book world by storm with its look at a marriage gone terribly wrong. On her fifth wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne mysteriously disappears. At the top of the suspect list – her seemingly perfect husband Nick. Both husband and wife aren’t who they seem to be, so expect plenty of twists and turns (and lots of language) in this hit thriller. You might not end up loving the story or the characters, but I promise you, you’ll find them memorable enough to land it among the best thriller books of all time.
Taking the same train to work every day, Rachel is fascinated by a woman who lives along her route. Every day, Rachel gets a glimpse into this woman’s “perfect” life. Until one day, when Rachel witnesses something shocking. Unreliable narrators like Rachel make for the best page-turners because you can never figure out what is true and what is not. Love it or hate it, The Girl on the Train is one of the most talked-about psychological thriller books of the last decade.
On a remote island, the perfect wedding turns deadly in this thrilling mystery. The high-profile wedding between a television star and a magazine publisher is supposed to be the perfect event. Set off the coast of Ireland, all the stops have been pulled out. Yet once the guests arrive, past conflicts come into play and someone turns up dead. Was it the bride? The best man? The wedding planner? Foley keeps you guessing until the end, giving each suspect a firm motive to want to commit murder.
One night, famous painter Alicia Berenson shoots her husband in the face 5 times, and then never utters another word again. Now criminal psychotherapist Theo Faber is determined to get the truth from this silent patient while his own life is falling apart. Even though I will admit the twist was well-done, I thought this was an overrated bestseller. Yet, with over fifty weeks on the bestseller list, most readers tend to disagree.
A. J. Finn
One of the top thriller books soon becoming a movie, this psychological thriller peeks into the life of Anna Fox, a New York City recluse. While spying on the family across the street, Anna witnesses a shocking event, but no one will believe her. With its unreliable narrator and layers of secrets, The Woman in the Window will keep you guessing to the end.
A tale of secrets and lies among perfectly respectable parents, powerful Maddie, gorgeous Celeste, and timid Jane. The three women’s lives cross ending in an (accidental?) death. Discussing serious topics like domestic abuse, Big Little Lies perfectly balances humor and suspense to keep you coming back for more.
Journalist Mikael Blomkvist takes on the investigation into the 40-year-old disappearance of Harriet Vanger, the teenage daughter of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden. He teams up with Lisbeth Slander, a pierced and tattooed hacker whose troubled past has left her with a capacity for ruthlessness. It is a thrilling read, but, be warned, there is quite a lot of violence and language.
Lo Blacklock is a travel writer sent to cover a luxury cruise through Norway’s fjords. When she thinks she witnesses a murder, Lo becomes enthralled in figuring out what happened to the woman in Cabin 10. This psychological thriller is a quick fun read that will keep you wanting more. Good thing Ruth Ware is a great author to binge read with plenty of exciting titles to choose from.
After a car accident, bestselling author Paul Sheldon finds himself lovingly nursed back to health by Annie Wilkins. She is Paul’s biggest fan and has no intention of ever letting him leave. Instead, she insists that he write a new book bringing her favorite character in his Victorian romance series back from the dead.
Best New Psychological Thriller Books
When she was six years old, Margot’s next-door neighbor and best friend, January, was murdered in their small hometown. Now a big-city journalist, Margot returns home to help care for her uncle when another girl disappears. Determined to find the missing girl and solve January’s murder, Margot begins to wonder how well she knows her neighbors.
On New Year’s Eve 1999, five teenagers working the night shift at a Blockbuster in New Jersey are attacked, with only one survivor. Police quickly identify a local teenage boy as a suspect, but he disappears before they can arrest him. Fifteen years later, it happens again at an ice cream store. Now FBI Agent Sarah Keller must investigate both incidents, looking for a connection, while stirring up memories for the first survivor and the brother of the accused, who has always proclaimed his brother’s innocence.
This debut novel from the cohost of the true-crime podcast Morbid gives a dual-perspective thriller told from the viewpoints of a serial killer and the medical examiner hot on his trail. In the Louisiana bayou, forensic pathologist Dr. Wren Muller gets drawn into a deadly cat-and-mouse game with a brutal serial killer with a taste for medical experimentation.
When Chloe Davis was twelve, six teenage girls disappeared from her small Louisiana town and her father was convicted as a serial killer. As her wedding approaches, Chloe fears the past is repeating when teen girls start vanishing. Is she imagining the parallels to her past or is the past truly coming back to haunt her?
Up-and-coming British actress Mia Eliot heads to Hollywood to get her mind off her recent shocking breakup. While auditioning, Mia does a favor for another actress which turns into much more of a hassle than she expected. Yet, the next time they meet, Mia swears that Emily is a completely different woman, and no one believes her.
On their annual girls’ trip, Emily and Kristen are having the time of their lives in Chile. On the last night, Emily comes back to the hotel to find Kristen with a dead body. Kristen claims she killed him in self-defense. Except, the same thing happened last year to Emily. As Emily’s guilt over the cover-ups reaches a boiling point, Kristen makes a surprise trip to visit her and Emily has serious doubts about their friendship.
All children have imaginary friends, but Georgina begins to wonder when her seven-year-old son tells her he met a new friend, New Granny, at the park. Is Georgina just overreacting with the death of her mother still so painful? What if his imaginary friend isn’t imaginary? A great psychological thriller book with an unreliable narrator to read, Ryan does an excellent job throwing in plenty of red herrings, keeping you on your toes the whole time.
After winning a trip to a remote Scotland getaway for the weekend, Adam and Amelia try one last-ditch effort to save their marriage. Amelia is tired of Adam putting his work as a screenwriter before her and Adam is just tired of Amelia. As things start to unravel and their past is revealed through secret anniversary letters Adam has never read, you find that someone is lying and someone doesn’t want them to end happily ever after.
See all of 2020’s Best Thrillers!
Classic Psychological Fiction Books
If you want a quick classic mystery, Agatha Christie is the way to go. You’ll have fun trying to figure out whodunit on an isolated island mansion where the suspects start dying off one by one. I’ll be impressed if you figure it out. I never do. A classic for a reason, this novel is surprisingly short, leaving you plenty to read even more psychological thriller books.
Daphne du Maurier
Daphne Du Maurier’s classic story is by far one of the best thriller books you can read. Working as a lady’s maid in Monte Carlo, the narrator is swept off her feet by the handsome widower Maxim de Winter. After a rushed courtship and impulsive marriage, she returns as his wife to his beautiful estate, Manderley. Yet, she quickly learns she is not the true mistress of the estate, as the household will not let her forget the memory of Rebecca, de Winter’s first wife who drowned the year before.
When two strangers meet on a train, everyday life becomes anything but ordinary. A successful architect in the middle of a divorce, Guy Haines happens to sit next to Charles Anthony Bruno on the train. Bruno, a total psychopath, manages to convince Haines to “swap murders” so they can each get away scot-free in this psychological thriller that was the inspiration for Alfred Hitchock’s film of the same name.
Top Psychological Thriller From Repeat Authors
Ruth Ware writes some of the best psychological thriller books, and her debut novel is no exception. Ten years since they last spoke, Nora is unexpectedly invited to her old friend Clare’s bachelorette party. Nora hopes it will be the chance to put the past behind her, but when she gathers with six strangers at the isolated Glass House, you can tell that something is off.
At an exclusive French ski resort, the shareholders for the up-and-coming social media company Snoop must decide on an offer of a billion-dollar sale. One person doesn’t make it back to the lodge after skiing, and things go from bad to worse when an avalanche hits threatening them all. Would someone be willing to resort to murder to get their way? Among the new thriller books, Ruth Ware’s latest is the perfect thriller to read right now.
Struggling to make ends meet, Hal Westaway is startled to receive a letter saying she is a beneficiary to the estate of her grandmother. Although she knows it’s a case of mistaken identity, Hal decides to try to use her greatest asset – her ability to read people – in a desperate attempt to claim some of the money.
As a child, Olivia disappeared one night while sleepwalking, only to be found safe days later. After years of enduring fame, Olivia moved away and changed her name. With the 20th anniversary of her miracle rescue coming up, she starts sleepwalking again, only to wake up to the dead body of someone she used to know. An edge-of-your-seat thriller, I couldn’t get enough of this mystery. With well-rounded characters and surprises that just keep coming, it’s earned its place among the recent psychological thriller books.
In a Maine resort town, Avery Greer and Sadie Loman strike up an unlikely friendship. Avery is a local while Sadie belongs to one of the wealthy families who vacation on the coast. Inseparable for almost a decade, Avery is rocked when Sadie commits suicide. Suspecting that others blame her for Sadie’s death, Avery Greer is determined to clear her name and discover the truth.
Maggie Holt has always lived in the shadow of her father’s bestselling horror book – a “true” story of their twenty days living in a haunted house when she was five. Having inherited the infamous house from her father, she is determined to fix it up. Ghosts aren’t real, so there’s nothing to worry about, right? Jumping between her father’s novel and Maggie’s return to the house, Sager keeps you on edge the whole time.
When her roommate is murdered on campus, Charlie is desperate to get away. She posts a notice on her college rideshare board and snags a ride back to Ohio from a handsome stranger. However, Charlie quickly realizes that Josh isn’t who he seems. Charlie’s fragile state of mind will keep you gripped to this cat-and-mouse game.
Psychological Thrillers: books You Might Have Missed
Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
From the beginning, you will assume you are reading a book about a jealous ex-wife obsessed with her replacement. But appearances can be deceiving. Considered one of the best thriller audiobooks of recent years, The Wife Between Us will keep you glued to your seat with unreliable narration and plenty of plot twists.
Shortly after her 25th birthday, Libby Jones learns that she has inherited an abandoned London mansion from her biological parents. Adopted as a baby, Libby is excited to learn about her birth family. But her family history is much more than she anticipates when she finds out her parents committed suicide as part of a cult, and her siblings vanished. As scary as that is, the truth is even darker. A dark and disturbing tale, you can’t look away as the truth of what happened so long ago gets more and more twisted. For those who love dark psychological books, you won’t be able to put down this top pick from the best thriller books of 2019.
The creepiest award from the best new thrillers goes to Romy Hausmann’s German bestseller which builds to an incredibly thrilling ending. Kept locked in the woods in a windowless shack, Lena and her two children live as virtual prisoners to her “husband.” When Lena escapes, the nightmare should be over. Yet things don’t seem to be adding up, and Lena isn’t who she claims to be.
Coveting the life of elite socialite Daphne and her husband Jackson, Amber Patterson sets out on a mission to insinuate herself into the Parrish family. Quickly she becomes Daphne’s most trustest confidante and companion, and Amber is determined to take the life she knows should be hers. Until she learns that the Parrishes have a secret of their own.
B. A. Paris
If you love psychological thriller books about seemingly perfect couples, B. A. Paris has a great book for you. You’d think Jack and Grace are the perfect couple, so in love that they are never apart. Until you realize that Grace never answers the phone, can never meet for coffee even though she doesn’t work. And why are there bars on the windows?
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A Few More Good Thriller Books
When their babysitter bails at the last minute, new parents Anne and Marco Conti decide they can still attend a dinner party at their next-door neighbor’s house. Despite checking on baby Cora every half hour, when they return home, she is gone. Suspicion immediately falls on the panicked couple because they are both hiding secrets.
How far would you be willing to go for someone you love? Koreda has the routine down pat when her little sister calls in a panic. This is the third time Ayoola has killed her boyfriend in “self-defense” and Koreda knows equally what to do. When Ayoola begins dating Koreda’s boss and long-time love interest, Koreda must decide where her loyalties lie in this darkly comic psychological thriller book.
After fifteen years of marriage, domestic life doesn’t suit Millicent and her husband any longer. They have the kids and the house in the suburbs, but life has become rather dull. That is, until the couple decides that getting away with murder will be the perfect way to keep their marriage alive.
Five-year-old Jack has lived his whole life in Room. It’s his whole world where he lives with his Ma all day long. At night, Ma shuts him up in the wardrobe for protection when Old Nick visits. What Jack doesn’t realize is that his mother doesn’t view Room as home, but as a prison where she is being held captive. Narrated from Jack’s perspective, Room haunts you with unimaginable horrors witnessed through the innocence of a child.
Lisa’s loving overprotectiveness of her sixteen-year-old daughter Ava chafes at the burgeoning independence of Ava’s teenage years. When she meets a handsome client at work, Lisa wonders if now is the time to open up a little more and allow someone new into her life. But when her daughter makes it on the front pages, Lisa realizes that her past is catching up to her and someone wants to make her pay.
After killing their mother, an attacker drags two young sisters into the woods. One runs for her life and the other does not. Twenty-eight years later, defense attorney Charlotte is the first person on the scene of a school shooting in their hometown. Now, Charlotte and Samantha are forced to relive that horrible moment and confront the truth they have never shared.
Emily has found the perfect man in Adam and is ready to tie the knot. Yet one thing stands in the way of their union – Adam’s mother. Pammie is determined to be the only woman in her son’s life, and you’ll be shocked to discover how far she is willing to go to eliminate the competition.
What Do You Think Are the Best Psychological Thriller Books of All Time?
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with my list of psychological thriller books? What thrillers did I forget to add to my list? Which psychological thrillers on my list did you find overrated? As always, let me know in the comments!
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