I got into reading thrillers a couple of years ago, after the summer of my internship when I was in a massive reading slump, and had newly joined Bookstagram. After seeing The Girl On The Train everywhere, I decided to pick it up (and got the last copy at the bookstore!).
Looking back now, I wouldn’t say Hawkins’ novel was too exceptional of a thriller, but it’s remarkable to me because it got me out of my reading slump. It also introduced me to this genre that I had not yet tapped into: crime fiction and thrillers. With time, I’ve been adding more thrillers to my cart, to the extent that I now half about half a dozen thrillers waiting to be read (all bought in the same haul), and I’d read them all in a single week if I could.
So here’s a list of some of the best thrillers that I’ve read and would recommend forever.
- THE CROW GIRL by Erik Axl Sund
At over 700 pages long, this tome seems overwhelming. But once you start it’s impossible to put down. THE CROW GIRL is a psychological thriller with an expert insight into criminal psychology and dissociative identity disorder. The novel is grotesque, dark and shocking beyond belief. I was hooked and honestly, would read it again if it wasn’t for the nightmares.
2. WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW by JoAnn Chaney
This is my most recent read on the list. It’s a literary thriller that picks up years after the notorious serial killer, Jack Seever, is put behind bars. It explores the idea of how evil rubs off on people by looking at Seever’s wife, the journalist and the detectives working on his case. It’s a fascinating read that offers intense character studies. I couldn’t guess the ending until I was right there.
3. LITTLE DEATHS by Emma Flint
This book was heartbreaking to read, even more so when I found out it’s based entirely on true events. It explores the damage caused by inherent sexism of the police and community on a case. It filled me dread to see the police so determined to convict a woman for murder just because of her lifestyle and resolve to compose herself in the face of grief. You can read my full review here.
4. THE HEAVENS MAY FALL by Allen Eskens
I’m craving a second read of this novel because Warda (@i.reads) recently read and loved it, and her updates made me miss this court room drama. I was surprised by what a page turner this was, and how vivid the characters were. It kept me guessing until the end and shocked me beyond belief. I couldn’t recommend this enough.
5. DEAR MR M by Herman Koch
There are many narrative layers in this novel, but it begins with the perspective of a writer’s stalker. In signature Koch style, this book explores a cast of unsavory characters and situations. Koch has the ability to capture people in their essence. Although I felt the novel was a bit slow in the middle, I was captivated by the two protagonists; the writer and his stalker.
6. UNDER THE HARROW by Flynn Berry
It’s been a while since I read this, but I recall it being an intense psychological thriller that I was completely gripped by. The writing is quite vivid and filled with descriptions that perfect the mood of the book. Plus, I loved that we see a technically dead character brought back to life through the narrator’s memories. I also liked that the author did not abuse the unreliable narrator format.
7. SECURITY by Gina Wohlsdorf
This is a slasher thriller told from the perspective of dozens of security cameras in a luxury hotel that’s ready to open its doors. The unique perspective is taken a step further with interesting writing structures (you’ll see when you read it). I was surprised to find a tender love story in the midst of it all. This book has an insane twist at the end, and it’s impossible to ever see it coming. Plus, it’s filled gore which I secretly love.
8. GOOD AS GONE by Amy Gentry
This was a fast paced read, so if you’re into domestic thrillers I’d recommend this one! It’s about a young woman who returns home years after she’s kidnapped, but the question is, is it really her? I loved that this book makes you ask questions and look inside of yourself, while being quite thrilling in the process. It also explores the relationship between women and what happens when you get stuck in a vicious cycle.
9. THE TRAP by Melanie Raabe
I love books about reclusive people, and this is one of them -but with a twist: Linda, a successful novelist, writes a book to catch her sister’s killer. It was a little difficult for me to get properly invested in the story, but once I was in it was difficult to stop reading. It’s an atmospheric read and offers a parallel narrative which is actually Linda’s novel, but I like it offers insight into her character as well. There were lots of twists in this one!
If you’ve read any of these books I’d love to know about your experience.
The thrillers on my TBR:
- Night Film by Marisha Pessl
- Disclaimer by Renee Knight
- Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
- The Primrose Path by Rebecca Griffiths
- The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
- Stalker by Lars Keplar
- What She Left by T. R. Richmond