We love a mystery. There’s nothing better than a good book that keeps us up past our bedtime and makes us sleep with the lights on. A book that keeps us turning pages, makes us fall in love with the characters and be afraid for them — or of them.
Here are 10 of the best thrillers of the year, from cults to family secrets, from serial killers to silent patients, and from office-place revenge tales to courtroom dramas that tackle topical issues.
By Orrin Grey
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Entertainment Weekly called this No. 1 New York Times bestseller, “a mix of Hitchcockian suspense, Agatha Christie plotting, and Greek tragedy.” That would be a tall order for anything other than one of the most critically acclaimed thriller novels of the year. Alicia Berenson seemed to have it all—until she murdered her husband. In the six years since, she hasn’t spoken a word. Theo Faber, her new therapist, thinks that he can change all that—but the closer he gets to his silent patient, the more dangerous discovering the truth may be.
A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson
Who amongst us wouldn’t rush to the defense of our 18-year-old daughter if she stood accused of killing a much older man? Yet, when Stella Sandell’s parents find themselves in that position, they’re forced to question what they know about their daughter — and about themselves — in this chilling “page-turner” that forces us to confront “the compromises we make with ourselves to be the people we believe our beloveds expect.” (New York Times Book Review)
The Whisper Man by Alex North
“If you like being terrified, The Whisper Man has your name on it,” The New York Times said of this multigenerational novel from Alex North. Still grieving from the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy and his son Jake move into a new house in a new town. But the town has a dark history — a serial killer who abducted and murdered five people. Before he was caught, they dubbed him “The Whisper Man.” Now he’s sitting in prison, but people have started disappearing again, and Jake hears a voice whispering at his window…
An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
“You won’t see the final twist coming,” promises People magazine of this deliriously dark journey into two women’s psyches. When Jessica Farris agrees to join an ethics study, she’s just looking to make some quick money. Things quickly turn personal, though, when she attracts the attention of the study’s organizer, the strange and perhaps sinister Dr. Shields. Shields seems to know exactly what Jessica is thinking — and what secrets she may be hiding. As the two are drawn closer and closer, both of their lives will intertwine in dangerous ways.
The Lost Man by Jane Harper
A “twisty slow burner” (Kirkus starred review) that’s “as forceful and atmospheric as a brewing storm” (author A.J. Finn), the latest thriller from bestselling author Jane Harper kept us enthralled from page one. When Outback cattle rancher Cameron Bright is mysteriously found dead of apparent heat stroke, his brother Nathan is forced to consider that their family secrets might have played a role in his brother’s death. As Raleigh News & Observer put it, “Harper unfolds the story expertly so that the ending is both unexpected and entirely logical.”
My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
This “dark and irresistible debut” (People) reads like a combination of “Dexter meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith.” Every couple has ways of helping to keep their marriage afloat, of keeping the relationship fresh, year after year. For some it’s vacations, or date nights without the kids. The couple in this book are no different, except their way of keeping their marriage alive includes getting away with murder.
The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
Sometimes, the past is better left buried. When Libby Jones learns who her birth parents were, it seems like her whole life is about to change — especially when she also learns that she’s the heir to their mansion on the banks of the river Thames. What Libby can’t know — not yet — is that the family had dark secrets, and that those secrets are on a collision course with her life, even as she moves closer to learning the truth about where she came from.
Spare Room by Dreda Say Mitchell
When Lisa finds a suicide note in the room that she has recently rented from a kindly live-in couple, she is disturbed. When the couple tell her that no one has ever rented the room before, she begins to question her sanity. Driven to investigate the mysterious note as strange things begin to happen around her, she’ll have to figure out the truth before she becomes the room’s next victim.
The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag
“A bit of Patrick Süskind’s Perfume and a bit of Sherlock Holmes, this wolf has some bite to it,” NPR said of this ornate historical thriller, while USA Today said that it, “reads like a season of True Detective.” When it first came out, The Wolf and the Watchman was named the Best Debut Novel of the year by the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy — and now it’s available in English. When a mutilated body is pulled from the rancid bog on Stockholm’s Southern Isle, it kicks off a mystery with implications that will resound from the gutters and the workhouses to the palaces of the crowned heads.
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
Written by a former trial lawyer, this “gripping” (Time) courtroom drama brings verisimilitude and timely themes to its story of truth, lies, and “the unwavering hope of a better life, even when all hope seems lost.” (Washington Post) When Young and Pak Yoo immigrated to America to give their daughter a better life, they started a small business, like so many others had before them. Their business, however, involved a “miracle submarine” — a hyperbaric chamber that acts as an experimental treatment for a range of conditions. When the tank explodes and two people die, it’s clear that it wasn’t an accident. What’s less clear is who did it and why — and what other secrets will come to light as the mystery unfolds.