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9 Dark and Creepy Thrillers to Read This Fall

Lock the doors and prepare for a chilling ride.

You may want to read these dark thrillers during daylight hours — we can’t promise you’ll fall asleep if you crack one open at night.

Joanne Camas

The Whisper Man

By Alex North

Tom Kennedy is devastated by the sudden death of his wife. So he relocates to the small village of Featherbank, believing that the change in scenery will allow him and his son Jake to heal. Except, the town’s history includes Frank Carter — a.k.a. the Whisper Man — who once abducted and murdered five boys. Carter was apprehended years ago, but now a child has vanished and someone is using the Whisper Man’s tactics to stir panic in town. As Tom races to protect his son, detectives Pete Willis and Amanda Beck are determined to crack the case and find the missing boy before it’s too late. Alex North’s bestselling debut thriller is pure nightmare fuel, one that’s sure to “satisfy readers of Thomas Harris and Stephen King” (Booklist, starred review).

Coming February 2023: The latest Alex North novel, The Angel Maker, is a suspenseful thriller about the mysteries of fate, the unbreakable bond of siblings, and a notorious serial killer who was said to know the future. Read more.

The Maidens

By Alex Michaelides

This bestselling psychological thriller by Alex Michaelides, author of The Silent Patient, will draw you in with its smart and suspenseful plot and refuse to let you go. Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on a Greek professor at Cambridge University and his devoted students, who call themselves The Maidens. When one member of The Maidens is found murdered, Mariana will stop at nothing in her quest to expose the professor – even if it means putting her own life in danger.

Night Film

By Marisha Pessl

Ashley Cordova’s death is ruled a suicide. Case closed, right? Hardly. Investigative journalist Scott McGrath believes she was murdered, and he’s determined to find out what happened to the young woman. As he digs deeper into Ashley Cordova’s demise, McGrath is drawn into the dark and mysterious world of Ashley’s reclusive moviemaker father, the cult horror auteur Stanislaus Cordova. Stanislaus hasn’t been seen in public for over 30 years; the last time McGrath investigated Cordova, the fallout from his efforts destroyed his marriage and ruined his career. What will the journalist lose this time? Haunting and suspenseful, Night Film is thrilling literary entertainment, boasting a plot that “feels like an M.C. Escher nightmare about Edgar Allan Poe” (The Washington Post).

Penpal

By Dathan Auerbach

What if you could only piece together fragments of your childhood? What if the cracked memory that emerged was more disturbing than anything you could imagine? Dathan Auerbach invites you on such a journey in his cult horror thriller. Penpal follows an unnamed narrator as he confronts the twisted mystery of his past. There’s no linear timeline to this novel — instead, chapters jump through the years, adding layer upon layer of complexity and dread. The result is a thoroughly chilling narrative that rattles your nerves and lingers in your mind long after you turn the last page.

Home Before Dark

By Riley Sager

Bestselling author Riley Sager is a master at crafting pulse-pounding narratives, and this dark thriller is no exception. Deep in the woods of Vermont is a foreboding estate known as Baneberry Hall. Twenty-five years ago, Maggie Holt lived in the manor with her parents – until the family fled from Baneberry in the dead of the night. Their terrifying ordeal was immortalized in House of Horrors, an Amityville Horror-like narrative penned by Maggie’s father. But now that Maggie’s father has passed, Maggie stands to inherit the house. Determined to renovate the property and prepare it for sale, Maggie returns to Baneberry Hall. It isn’t long, however, before she senses the otherworldly evil her father once described and unlocks the door to the manor’s sinister secrets.

The Silence of the Lambs

By Thomas Harris

It’s nearly impossible to crack open this novel without envisioning Anthony Hopkins’ brillant portrayal of Hannibal Lecter. And yet, Thomas Harris’s bestselling thriller is a classic in its own right – and will get under your skin just like the blockbuster film that it inspired. Harris’s electric writing brings the determined Clarice Starling to life as she hunts down a killer known as Buffalo Bill. But to unravel the killer’s motives and stop him before he strikes again, Starling must first venture into the dangerous mind of former psychiatrist and convicted cannibal killer Hannibal Lecter.

You

By Caroline Kepnes

Following Joe Goldberg, the deranged stalker in this bestselling dark thriller by Caroline Kepnes, is like watching an approaching train wreck. You know what’s about to happen but you can’t turn away. Joe works at a bookstore in the East Village. When an aspiring writer named Guinevere Beck stops by, he decides he wants to know all about her. That part is frighteningly easy – Beck spills everything on social media, so Joe leverages her posts to track her every step and “randomly” bump into her on the street. But as Joe’s obsession grows, he begins to take over Beck’s life, and will stop at nothing until he has her forever. You is a riveting page-turner for the digital era, one that messes with your head and compels you to seriously reconsider your social media habits.

Come Closer

By Sarah Gran

This razor-sharp psychological thriller by Sarah Gran delves into obsession, paranoia, and madness. Something strange is happening to Amanda, a successful architect who’s happily married. Weird sounds reverberate through her home, violent dreams plague her at night, and she begins behaving in increasingly bizarre ways that she can’t explain. It isn’t long before Amanda’s grip on reality begins to slip. What is this strange new voice echoing in her head? And why is it pressuring her to do such disturbing things? As danger mounts, Amanda fights to reclaim her sense of self, offering an unsettling glimpse of a mind spinning out of control.

In the Woods

By Tana French

Tana French’s debut thriller is the kind of narrative that chills you to your bones, just like a dark and misty fall evening. Four children disappear into the woods outside of Dublin. Just one of the children, a young boy named Rob Ryan, emerges, his sneakers soaked with blood. Twenty years later, Rob Ryan is now a detective with the Dublin Murder Squad. He’s done his best to bury the dark episode from his childhood. But when a 12-year-old girl is murdered in the same woods of his youth, Ryan and his partner, Detective Cassie Maddox, must reckon with the ghosts of the past if they hope to crack the case. Far more than a standard police procedural, In the Woods is a richly atmospheric narrative that plumbs our darkest depths.

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