Best Book Club Books: Thrillers

By Jessica Dukes and Brandon Miller

A thriller is a mystery with a twist. There’s a problem to solve, but the stakes are impossibly high and failure is always a breath away. Choose a thriller for your next book club meeting, and you’ll have plenty to talk about as you question the hero’s actions, dissect the villain’s motives, and wonder what you would do under such extreme circumstances.

Check out these thrillers and get ready for some page-turning suspense!

The Angel Maker by Alex North

The Angel Maker

By Alex North

Katie Shaw’s world was shattered when a stranger viciously attacked her little brother Christopher when they were kids. Now fully grown, Katie still wrestles with the guilt and struggles to separate real-world threats from the dangers in her mind. Then she gets a phone call that Christopher has vanished. As Katie races to her brother’s aid, a grisly crime unfolds nearby. Someone has brutally murdered a distinguished professor of fate and free will, hours after the victim dismissed his staff. Detective Laurence Page pieces together the clues, which lead back to Christopher’s brutal assault and a spectral serial killer who, legend says, possessed the impossible power to see into the future. Internationally bestselling author Alex North delivers yet another delicious nightmare in this propulsive new tale of murder and the machinations of destiny. 

Download the discussion guide.

Locust Lane

By Stephen Amidon

At first glance, Emerson, Massachusetts, is a picture-perfect American suburb: Its lawns are trimmed, the homes are immaculate, and its residents feel they have physical and financial security. But fear and violence lurk beneath the surface. When young Eden Perry is found dead in the big house on Locust Lane, neighbors draw their curtains and turn their backs on one another. An investigation commences, and a set of suspects emerge: three local teens, all of whom were partying with Eden on her last night alive. As authorities close in, the desperate parents of the teens will do whatever it takes to protect their own — even if it means ensuring that another family takes the fall.

Download the discussion guide.

The Maidens

By Alex Michaelides

Acclaimed author Alex Michaelides returns with a brilliant tale that’s packed with suspense and shocking plot twists. Group therapist Mariana Andros is on a mission — a mission to prove that charismatic classics professor Edward Fosca is the killer she knows he is. Her obsession with Fosca began when a student was murdered at Cambridge University — the first of two young women to turn up dead on campus. Central to the mystery of this psychological thriller is The Maidens, an all-female secret society to which the first victim belonged. The Maidens adore Fosca, and Fosca casts a chilling spell over his followers. But why would he go after one of his own? And what do the murders have to do with the dark rituals of Greek mythology? Mariana is willing to risk everything to prove Fosca’s guilt and expose the killer, even if it means putting her own life on the line.

Download the discussion guide.

The Plot

By Jean Hanff Korelitz

Frustrated novelist Jacob Finch Bonner is teaching at a third-rate writing program when he makes a fateful decision that will both grant him fame and lead him into darkness and despair. When Finch Bonner discovers that his student Evan Parker has died without ever finishing his novel-in-progress, Bonner decides to steal the book plot and claim it as his own. Fast forward a few years, and Bonner is riding high on the success of his novel. That is, until he receives an ominous message threatening to expose him as a thief. Now Bonner is in a race to unmask his anonymous tormenter while keeping his secret under wraps. Just who was Evan Parker? And where did this killer plot idea come from?

Download the discussion guide.

The Shadows by Alex North

The Shadows

By Alex North

Twenty-five years ago, young Charlie Crabtree committed a murder so heinous that the crime took on a twisted life of its own, attracting a ghoulish fan base online and inspiring more than one copycat. The slaying also left little Paul Adams, who knew both Crabtree and Crabtree’s victim, forever changed. As a child, Paul was desperate to leave town and put the bloody episode behind him. But now he must return home to care for his ailing mother. It isn’t long before things take a very dark turn. A copycat killer strikes the nearby town of Featherbank. Paul’s mother is convinced there’s a lurking presence inside the house, while Paul is sure he’s being followed. And the most haunting detail of all? After the murder all those years ago, Charlie Crabtree was never caught; he just vanished into thin air.

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The Kingdoms of Savannah

By George Dawes Green

The Moth founder George Dawes Green delivers a swirling tale of Gothic noir in this beguiling Southern mystery. On a balmy spring night in Savannah, Georgia, a man is murdered and his companion snatched off the streets. Society queen Morgana Musgrove takes on the case, with all her personal demons in tow. For help, she enlists her four adult children, all of whom are wary of Morgana’s demanding personality and scheming ways. As simmering tensions threaten to boil over, the family embarks on a zigzagging investigation across and below the streets of Savannah that will expose long-buried secrets and shake Savannah society to its core. 

Download the discussion guide.

A Nearly Normal Family

By M. T. Edvardsson

Imagine your teenage daughter being accused of brutally murdering a businessman 15 years her senior. All the hard questions must be asked, but in the end the only one that matters is how far you’d go to protect your relatives. It’s a riveting family and courtroom drama.

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The Whisper Man

By Alex North

Tom and his young son, Jack, move to a new town in hopes of leaving a tragedy behind them. Little do they know that their new home harbors a secret pain of its own. A serial killer who has been locked up for years seems to have returned, and local children are once again in danger.

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The Silent Patient

By Alex Michaelides

Theo, a criminal psychologist, has waited years to handle Alicia’s case. No one can explain why she would kill her husband and ruin their storybook life, much less why she stopped talking after the murder. The longer her silence, the more notorious her crime becomes to the public. It’s the most important case of Theo’s life, but her silence is a danger to them all.

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The Other Woman

By Sandie Jones

Adam and Emily are in love and plan to spend their lives together, but Adam’s mother has other ideas. Pammie seems to be every woman’s nightmare — a controlling mother who insists on meddling in her son’s life. Emily endures Pammie’s schemes at first, but realizes too late that she’s caught in a dangerous love triangle, although not the one she expects.

The Last by Hanna Jameson

The Last

By Hanna Jameson

World War III brings the nuclear annihilation of four major cities, effectively ending global communication and stranding the attendees of an academic conference at a hotel in Switzerland. Two months later, the twenty survivors each have to decide their part, if any, in rebuilding civilization. But first, the death of a young girl in the hotel could derail any hopes of peace. Discussion questions are here.

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

Jar of Hearts

By Jennifer Hillier

Fourteen years ago Angela disappeared in high school. Now, her remains have been found near her best friend’s property and a new investigation drags old secrets into the light. Arrests are made, but are they justified, especially now that new and similar murders have begun?

The Water Cure

By Sophie Mackintosh

Grace, Lia, Sky, and their mother live on a secluded island. They can never leave, but they’re also protected from all the violence and misogyny of the mainland. One day, three people land on their shores — two men and a boy — threatening to destroy their safe world and their identities forever. Discussion questions are here.

The Troop

By Nick Cutter

Scoutmaster Tim Riggs is deep in the Canadian wilderness on his annual camping trip with a troop of young scouts when an uninvited visitor crashes their campsite. What follows is an evil infection, and a truly horrifying and gory struggle to make it out of the woods alive.

Those People by Louise Candish

Those People

By Louise Candlish

If you’ve ever had annoying neighbors (and who hasn’t?) you’ll identify with this story … to a point. The neighbors here take their revenge a bit too far, which makes it difficult to explain themselves when a baffling murder happens on the block. Discussion questions are here.

Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk

Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead

By Olga Tokarczuk

Written by the winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature, this murder mystery takes place in a remote Polish village. A killer is on the loose, and the dead bodies are piling up with no leads in sight. If only the local police would pay attention to Janina, a reclusive scholar, who probably knows who’s terrorizing them all.

The Mother-In-Law

By Sally Hepworth

Lucy has never had a comfortable relationship with her mother-in-law, the ever-perfect Diana. Suspicions run wild when Diana is found dead, her suicide note mentioning terminal cancer, although an autopsy finds no trace. If Lucy didn’t kill her, who else would want the family matriarch out of the picture? Discussion questions are here.

The Memory Police

By Yoko Ogawa

The memory police have one job: ensure that whatever disappears is forgotten, including people. A young writer challenges their authority when her troubled friend “disappears” into hiding in her basement. Telling the story of a disappearance is dangerous, but it may break the memory police’s hold on society once and for all.

Ruth Ware - Turn of the Key

The Turn of the Key

By Ruth Ware

Rowan’s well-paying job as a live-in nanny in a splendid home seems too good to be true. Indeed, when she’s accused of murdering one of the children in her care, her dream job becomes a nightmare. Told from her prison cell, Rowan tries to explain what happened. Other employees, the children, and even the house itself are all suspect. Discussion questions are here.

The Guardians

By John Grisham

Grisham’s 2019 release is one of the most exciting legal thrillers since A Time to Kill. A young, black man is sentenced to life in prison for killing his own attorney, and his only glimmer of hope comes 22 years later when a small non-profit agrees to reinvestigate his case. His new attorneys soon find themselves a target, as a murder case evolves into a full-blown hunt for corruption.

Ninth House - Leigh Bardugo

Ninth House

By Leigh Bardugo

Ivy League secret societies are heavy with power and violence … and magic. Alex, a high school dropout, can’t understand why she’s given a free ride to Yale until she’s told the conditions. She’s to infiltrate and report on the university’s occult practices — an education beyond any she’d get in a classroom, and one that endangers her life.

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