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10 of the Best Psychological Thriller Books

By Jessica Dukes
Best Psychological Thrillers

These thrilling reads will mess with your head.

There’s no denying the mind-bending, nerve-jangling appeal of a good psychological thriller. If you’re in the mood for a new-to-you book packed with twists and turns, we’ve got you covered.

A book cover with a natural landscape viewed through cut-out letters of the title, "the plot," suggesting a story deeply rooted in intrigue and mystery.

The Plot

By Jean Hanff Korelitz

Professor Jacob Bonner had a bit of success with his first novel. Now, however, he’s plagued by years of unproductive writing and worries that he’ll never publish anything of merit again. To make matters worse, one of his creative-writing students, Evan, is working on a novel destined to be a bestseller, eclipsing anything Bonner could hope to achieve. But then, Evan dies. In a fateful move, Bonner steals the plot of his student’s story and publishes it as his own. And just as he suspected, this new work of fiction is a smash hit. Of course, Bonner’s newfound fame is only safe so long as he keeps his dirty secret hidden. And when Bonner receives an email threatening to expose him as a fraud, he knows his career and his life are at risk of being destroyed. Jean Hanff Korelitz is the author of You Should Have Known, which was recently adapted into HBO’s The Undoing. The Plot is the author’s latest thrilling tale, and it has been hailed by Stephen King as “insanely readable.”

A book cover of "the silent patient" by alex michaelides, featuring a partial face with lips sealed, hinting at the theme of silence or secrecy.

The Silent Patient

By Alex Michaelides

As one half of a successful London power couple, Alicia seems to have the perfect life. That’s why it’s so difficult to understand why Alicia kills her husband one night… and then stops speaking altogether. The longer she remains silent, the greater the mystery becomes in the eyes of the public and to Theo Faber, a criminal psychotherapist. He’s determined to solve this case, but that means getting inside Alicia’s mind. Keep an eye out for Michaelides’ next pulse-pounding tale, The Maidens, out June 15, 2021!

Silhouette of a contemplative figure seated by a large window with a cat perched on the sill, casting shadows in a room that exudes mystery and introspection.

The Man in My Basement

By Walter Mosely

Charles Blakey is stunned when Anniston Bennet, a white man, shows up at his front door asking to live in his basement for the summer. The request comes with an offer Charles can’t refuse: $50,000, which is the amount that Charles needs to keep the Blakey family home out of foreclosure. Reluctantly, Charles welcomes Anniston into his basement, and that’s when things get strange. Anniston’s requests and behavior are increasingly troubling. It isn’t long before the pair find themselves in a dangerous dance of power, manipulation, and morality. Walter Mosley is a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America and the author of the celebrated Easy Rawlins crime fiction novels. This stand-alone psychological thriller is considered one of Mosley’s best works.

Cover of tana french's novel "in the woods," featuring stark tree branches against a white background, with the title and author's name prominently displayed.

In the Woods

By Tana French

In the summer of 1984, Rob Ryan was the victim of a violent attack, and he has suppressed the memory of it for years. Now a detective, Ryan is investigating the case of a murdered child at the scene of his own attack. It isn’t long before Ryan and his partner, Cassie Maddox, discover horrifying links between the present-day case and Ryan’s traumatic past. The first of the Dublin Murder Squad series, this thriller established French as a crime writer to watch.

A colorful book cover of liane moriarty's "big little lies," featuring a burst of confetti, suggestive of both celebration and chaos.

Big Little Lies

By Liana Moriarty

When tragedy strikes a small coastal community, only a few people know what really happened. A man is dead, and now a group of people connected to the deceased must band together to protect the truth. Like all well-intentioned secrets, their clandestine bond festers until it threatens to destroy them all. If you’re one of the few who have neither read Moriarty’s book nor seen the blockbuster HBO adaptation, you’re in for a treat. Read the book first — it’s quite different from the show.

A book cover for gillian flynn's "gone girl," featuring the title and author's name in white text on a black background, with a distinctive design element of what appears to be a swirling pattern in white on the left side, suggesting disarray and tension.

Gone Girl

By Gillian Flynn

Nick and Amy, in keeping with their Perfect Couple title, are about to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary with a romantic dinner. But when Amy disappears, it doesn’t take long for all eyes to turn to Nick. His evasive statements combined with Amy’s shocking diary entries quickly put Nick at the top of the suspect list. Pressure mounts from the media, the police, and Amy’s own family to do something about Nick. He was far from a perfect husband, but was he capable of murdering Amy? Just when you think you’ve got this one figured out, Gone Girl delivers a killer plot twist that will leave you reeling.

The cover of the novel "the terror" by dan simmons, featuring a sailing ship trapped in ice and a group of people braving a harsh, snowy landscape.

The Terror

By Dan Simmons

In 1845, the crew of the HMS Terror is on a mission to find the storied Northwest Passage when their ship becomes stuck in the Arctic ice. Two years later, the ice has still not melted enough for them to make their way out. Rations and coal are nearly gone, and the ice is destroying their ship in slow motion. Frostbite and starvation threaten to wipe them out entirely. But an even greater threat prowls the Arctic darkness: a monster they can’t see but they know is stalking them. If you’re a fan of historical thrillers threaded with supernatural horror, this is the one that will keep you up all night.

A book cover of the novel "you" by caroline kepnes, featuring a blurred image of a person walking, with a dark backdrop and the recommendation quote "hypnotic and totally original." by stephen king at the top. the cover also includes a badge indicating that it is now a lifetime series.


By Caroline Kepnes

If you’re at all frustrated with the ever-expanding presence of social media in your life, this psychological thriller will really hit home. When Joe Goldberg sees Guinevere Beck in his bookstore, it is love at first sight. A quick Google search leads Joe to her social media accounts, giving him everything he needs to arrange an “accidental” run-in at a local bar. Eventually they’re dating, although Guinevere remains clueless about the extent to which Joe has been studying her and manipulating their lives. In the end, Joe’s charade hits a wall, and only an extreme solution will preserve his obsessively constructed life.

A mysterious and ominous book cover displaying the title "the cabin at the end of the world" by paul tremblay, with endorsements from stephen king, set against a dark, grunge-textured background with red and orange hues that evoke a sense of urgency and foreboding.

The Cabin at the End of the World

By Paul Tremblay

Wen is only seven years old when Leonard, a stranger, appears at her family’s vacation cabin to tell her that she needs to save the world. Of course, she has no idea what he means, nor does she understand why more people are arriving and threatening her two dads in the cabin. What follows is an un-put-down-able tale of surviving the literal end of the world. This thriller about the power of love will linger in your mind for a long time.

Cover of the novel "room" by emma donoghue, featuring the title in childlike handwriting with a note about the book becoming a motion picture.


By Emma Donoghue

Jack and his Ma have lived in an 11-by-11-foot room for all of his five years. The room is the only reality Jack knows, and Ma tries desperately to create a life for him while keeping him safe. Their biggest threat is Old Nick, their kidnapper, who visits occasionally. Ma knows that eventually Jack will understand his circumstances. Before it ends in tragedy, she decides to finally plot his escape. Hold your breath — this one is intense.

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