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100 of the best thriller novels of all time

In need of a new book to binge over the weekend? Consider some of these thrillers!
Thriller novels are so involving and absorbing that readers often find themselves unable to think of anything else, so long as they are in the story.

The thriller genre hasn't always dominated the industry the way it does today. In previous eras, romance, literary fiction, and historical fiction have all taken turns staking claim to the title of readers' most-preferred type of book. So why the increase in interest in these heart-racing novels?

Psychology Today explains that it all comes down to the demands of today's world. With so many people feeling overwhelmed with professional and personal obligations—from meeting deadlines and raising children to maintaining an active social life and keeping up with social media—they're desperate for a break. Thriller novels are so involving and absorbing that readers often find themselves unable to think of anything else, so long as they are in the story. These thrillers provide a respite from day-to-day life that is so desperately needed.

To honour the genre, Stacker compiled a list of 100 of the best thriller novels of all time using bestseller lists, Amazon rankings, and Goodreads ratings. The novels are presented in no particular order.

The list contains thrillers of every type: crime stories, suspense novels, mysteries, legal thrillers, courtroom dramas, psychological and domestic dramas, the list goes on and on. From the original mystery novel, "The Woman in White," to more current hits like "The Shadows," there's sure to be a title or two on the list that will catch your eye.

The book's cover featuring Ben Affleck, who starred in the movie.

Gone Girl

- Author name: Gillian Flynn
- Date published: 2012

After its release in 2012, this domestic thriller spent eight weeks in the #1 spot on The New York Times' bestseller list. Gillian Flynn's first big hit, "Gone Girl," follows the mysterious disappearance of it-girl Amy Dunne; her husband Nick's assumed involvement; and the lies, deceit, and secrets that exist between them. The nerve-fraying novel was so popular in the early ՚10s that it inspired a host of read-alike books.

The cover features a newspaper clipping with a headline reading, JFK Slain in Dallas, LBJ Takes Oath.


- Author name: Stephen King
- Date published: 2011

Though he's widely recognized as one of the best horror writers of all time, Stephen King carved out a spot for himself as one of the top thriller writers with the release of "11/22/63." King's 60th book, the novel follows Jake Epping, a 35-year-old English teacher, who discovers he can time travel. Epping undertakes a mission to halt the assassination of JFK, a mission that comes with horrible consequences that, left unresolved, threaten to alter the world.

The cover features a faded photo of a woman's face with a rip over her mouth.

The Silent Patient

- Author name: Alex Michaelides
- Date published: 2019

A recent release, "The Silent Patient" is about a well-known painter, Alicia Berenson, who hasn't uttered a single word since murdering her husband in cold blood. When a new psychotherapist joins Alicia's care team, he's determined to get her to reveal the truth about what happened that night while harbouring some secrets of his own. Raised in Cyprus, Alex Michaelides cites Greek myths and tragedies as the major inspiration behind his debut novel.

The cover, which shows a lone farm house surrounded by a vibrant sky at twilight.

A Time to Kill

- Author name: John Grisham
- Date published: 1989

One of the most established legal thriller writers working today, John Grisham has seen ongoing success with his first book, "A Time to Kill," which remains a favourite among his fans. After two racist men assault his daughter, Carl Lee takes matters of justice into his own hands and then seeks the help of his defense attorney friend Jake Brigance when the law attempts to hold him accountable. The book's critique of how race often plays a huge role in how justice is perceived is an important message for this moment in time.

The cover features a stately home on a small peninsula mostly surrounded by water under a dark and eerie sky.

And Then There Were None

- Author name: Agatha Christie
- Date published: 1939

Dame Agatha Christie holds the title of bestselling fiction author of all time, having sold an estimated 2 billion copies of her 78 crime novels. One of the most thrilling books in the queen of crime's repertoire, and her bestselling title, is "And Then There Were None." In the 1939 mystery, 10 guests are invited to a secluded island and begin dying one by one. For the survivors, it becomes a race against time to uncover the killer among them and the identity of their mysterious millionaire host.

The illustrated cover shows a crowd of people, with one man wearing a bright white pair of glasses.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

- Author name: John le Carré
- Date published: 1974

Released at a time when the real-life unveiling of Soviet double agents was still fresh in the minds of British citizens, "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" played into that collective memory. Dubbed "the greatest spy novel ever written" by NPR, the book follows George Smiley, a former SIS official, as he tries to identify and eliminate a mole in that national security agency. Unfortunately for Smiley, he may have finally met his match in the fictional Moscow Center, aka KGB, agent.

The cover is mostly black, with the top section showing the top half of a person's face looking through a foggy and rain-covered window.

Before I Go to Sleep

- Author name: S.J. Watson
- Date published: 2011

S.J. Watson's debut novel, "Before I Go to Sleep" has been translated into 40 languages and was a top seller in five countries, including France and the United States. A psychological thriller, the book centers on Christine Lucas, a woman who suffers from anterograde amnesia and wakes up each day unsure of her identity. She begins to keep a journal in hopes that her memory will return, but before long this log reveals that there's more going on than meets the eye.

The cover shows a blacked out silhouette of a woman's face with a bright light behind her.

The Couple Next Door

- Author name: Shari Lapena
- Date published: 2016

One of the bestselling novels of 2017, "The Couple Next Door" is a suspenseful domestic thriller. Shari Lapena's debut novel is about a young couple, Anne and Marco Conti, who seem to have it all, until one night, while they're at a dinner party next door, a horrible crime is committed. As the police try to untangle what happened, more and more secrets, including a host the couple have kept from each other, begin to trickle out, leaving one to wonder if another person can ever really be trusted.

The cover shows a man in a suit and hat, standing in a dark room with shadows cast upon him.

The Talented Mr. Ripley

- Author name: Patricia Highsmith
- Date published: 1955

Of the 22 books she wrote, Patricia Highsmith's psychological thrillers are perhaps her best known. In "The Talented Mr. Ripley," the first installment in the Ripley series, Highsmith introduces audiences to the charming, sinister, ruthless, and intelligent character, who isn't afraid of committing a little—or a lot—of violence in order to lay claim to the life he feels he deserves. Since the novel's 1955 release, several film adaptations of the same name have been made.

The cover features a silhouette of a man in front of a stack of large circular structures.

The Black Echo

- Author name: Michael Connelly
- Date published: 1992

One of the foremost American crime authors, Michael Connelly is perhaps best known for his character Harry Bosch. "The Black Echo," which was Connelly's debut novel, introduces the Los Angeles police department homicide detective as he attempts to solve the murder of a fellow Vietnam veteran. The novel, which won an Edgar Award, is also the inspiration for the third season of the Amazon series "Bosch."

The cover, which has a colorful illustration of a city street lit up by streetlights.

The Lincoln Lawyer

- Author name: Michael Connelly
- Date published: 2005

In "The Lincoln Lawyer," Michael Connelly introduces readers to Mickey Haller, the half-brother of his famous character Harry Bosch. In the novel, Haller defends folks all around Los Angeles while working out of the backseat of his Lincoln Town Car. When he agrees to defend Louis Roulet, a wealthy realtor, against assault charges, things take a sudden turn, and Haller comes face-to-face with an evil he never thought existed.

The ominous cover features a black and white cartoon-like illustration of a younger girl holding a black cat with an older girl standing behind her, with several boys and men behind them.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

- Author name: Shirley Jackson
- Date published: 1962

"We Have Always Lived in the Castle" is a mystery thriller by Shirley Jackson. Told by the fully unreliable narrator Mary Katherine Blackwood, the short book slowly uncovers the connection she shares with her sister Constance and the crime that has cut the girls off from the rest of their small Vermont town. The twisted tale was ranked the #2 book released in 1962 by Goodreads users.

The cover shows a small boat tied to the end of a dock, painted in vibrant warm tones.

Tell No One

- Author name: Harlan Coben
- Date published: 2001

The first of Harlan Coben's novels to land a spot on The New York Times bestseller list, "Tell No One" is a fast-paced thriller about a man desperately searching for his missing wife. Dr. David Beck's wife disappeared eight years ago, but when he receives a message containing a phrase only the two of them shared, he becomes convinced she's still alive. Without telling anyone his plans, he begins a reckless search for the missing woman, unaware he's being hunted himself.

The illustrated cover shows a woman swimming with a massive and terrifying great white shark emerging from the depths beneath her.


- Author name: Peter Benchley
- Date published: 1974

Peter Benchley, a former journalist, penned a simple story about a beach town being terrorized by a great white shark in an attempt to salvage his floundering career in the early 1970s. Luckily for him, the book was a smashing success. Thanks to his editor Thomas Congdon's incredible marketing strategy, "Jaws" remained on The New York Times hardback bestseller list for 44 weeks and was turned into a movie directed by none other than Steven Spielberg.

The sepia-toned cover features bare tree branches.

In the Woods

- Author name: Tana French
- Date published: 2007

The first novel in Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series, "In the Woods" tells the story of a decades-old crime that seems to be repeating itself in modern-day Ireland. Rob Ryan, a detective, is the lone survivor of a mysterious incident he can't fully remember. When an eerily similar crime occurs in the same woods where Ryan lost his memory, he begins to investigate, hoping that solving the case will jog his memory about what happened to him when he was merely a child.

The cover shows a close-up portrait of a man's face looking directly into the camera.

American Psycho

- Author name: Bret Easton Ellis
- Date published: 1991

A genuinely horrifying book, Bret Easton Ellis' "American Psycho" was an instant classic. The suspenseful novel follows Patrick Bateman, a 26-year-old Wall Street investment banker who happens to be a psychopath. While his daily life seems to fit the ideal of the American dream, Bateman leads a whole different—and terrifying—life come nightfall.

The bright red cover features the novel's title in black letters.

Dark Matter

- Author name: Blake Crouch
- Date published: 2016

In the opening pages of "Dark Matter," college physics professor Jason Dessen is knocked unconscious only to awake in some sort of alternate universe. In this new reality, Dessen is a celebrated genius, his wife is no longer his wife, and his son never existed. Desperately attempting to make it back to "reality," Dessen must confront a shadowy foe, true evil, and part of himself he's never been willing to confront.

The cover shows the bottom half a man's face smiling, with a broken tooth and a bloody nose.

Fight Club

- Author name: Chuck Palahniuk
- Date published: 1996

Chuck Palahnuik's most widely read book, "Fight Club" is about an unnamed, insomniac narrator and the mysterious Tyler Durden, who helps him establish the eponymous fight club. Beyond knowing the first rule of fight club—"you don't talk about fight club"—this is a book you're better off knowing very little about before diving into it. Just trust the hundreds of thousands of reviewers on Goodreads, and read the novel first before indulging in the Brad Pitt movie version.

The illustrated cover is bright red and features a skeletal hand.

The Bone Collector

- Author name: Jeffery Deaver
- Date published: 1997

Once one of the leading minds in the field of forensics, Lincoln Rhyme has all but retired from the police force after an accident left him a quadriplegic. Until, that is, a diabolical killer seemingly challenges him to a battle of wits. Jeffery Deaver's "The Bone Collector" was turned into a crime drama in early 2020, and the thrilling tale was brought to the small screen on NBC.

The cover features a man's face cast in shadows.

The Silence of the Lambs

- Author name: Thomas Harris
- Date published: 1988

Popular from the jump, by 1999, more than a decade after it was published, Thomas Harris' disturbing psychological thriller "The Silence of the Lambs" had sold more than 10 million copies. The novel follows Clarice Starling, a young FBI agent who forms a relationship with an imprisoned cannibalistic serial killer, Hannibal Lecter, to catch another active killer, dubbed Buffalo Bill. To catch Buffalo Bill, Starling must dive into the dark mind of not one, but two, of the evilest criminals the world has ever seen.

The cover shows a business man standing beneath skyscrapers.

The Firm

- Author name: John Grisham
- Date published: 1991

While "The Firm" wasn't John Grisham's first novel, it was his first hit. The success of "The Firm" eventually earned his first novel, "A Time to Kill," a wide release. After signing with the law firm Bendini, Lambert & Locke in Memphis, Tennessee, newly minted lawyer Mitch McDeere begins to suspect there might be more to the company than meets the eye. When the FBI approaches him with its own concerns, McDeere realizes he will have to act fast if he wants to leave the company alive.

The cover features an oil painting of a young woman posed in a white dress.

The Woman in White

- Author name: Wilkie Collins
- Date published: 1859

Wilkie Collins' "The Woman in White" is widely considered to be one of the first mystery novels. Although it was written in 1859, the mistaken identity story still holds up today. Published serially in Charles Dickens' All the Year Round magazine, Collins' story was immensely popular in its own day, selling out of its first run in a single day.

The cover features a sepia-toned photograph of three middle-aged men wearing turbans.

The Moonstone

- Author name: Wilkie Collins
- Date published: 1868

Wilkie Collins established another genre, the detective novel, with his 1968 work "The Moonstone." A tale of romance, theft, and murder centers around an enormous diamond's disappearance. While maybe not a put-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat thriller, "The Moonstone" certainly earns its spot on the list, as it paved the way for every other detective novel ever written.

The illustrated cover shows a blurry image of a dark figure on the peak of a roof surrounded by a dark and cloudy sky.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

- Author name: Ken Kesey
- Date published: 1962

Set in a psychiatric hospital, Ken Kesey's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" is, at its core, about the thin line that separates sanity from madness. Featuring memorable characters like horrible Nurse Ratched and the antagonistic McMurphy, the novel was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film of the same name in 1975. Whether you're a thriller aficionado or just dipping your toes in the genre, this classic is a must-read.

The novel's cover is bright green, yellow and red, with abstract line drawings of dragons.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

- Author name: Stieg Larsson
- Date published: 2005

Stieg Larsson, the author of the international bestseller "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," died of a heart attack in 2004, a year before his novel's release, and never got to enjoy its incredible success. The mystery thriller is about Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander, two individuals hired to investigate the disappearance of a member of one of Sweden's wealthiest families, and the various evils and corruption they discover along the way. While it starts slowly, the novel picks up toward the end, becoming impossible to put down.

The cover is mostly black and features a clock-like image with a strange symbol in the middle.

The Andromeda Strain

- Author name: Michael Crichton
- Date published: 1969

Written by Michael Crichton while he was attending Harvard Medical School, "The Andromeda Strain" is a thrilling and imaginative tale about what would happen if extraterrestrial microbes were to make their way to Earth. When everyone in a small Arizona town begins to drop dead, a team of scientists is deployed to find out why and to stop the other-worldly pandemic before it wipes out the entire country. This medical thriller may not be Crichton's best-known novel, but it's certainly worth a read.

A mostly black cover that is stylized to look like someone has ripped a snowman-shaped figure from the paper, revealing the author's name, the novel's title, and a small smudge of blood.

The Snowman

- Author name: Jo Nesbo
- Date published: 2007

Jo Nesbo is a Norwegian crime author and the creator of the detective Harry Hole. In her 2007 release, "The Snowman," Hole is responsible for uncovering the identity of the country's first serial killer, an individual who preys on single mothers and whose signature is a larger-than-life snowman left at the scene. In 2017, a film version of the story was released, although, in a stark juxtaposition to the novel, it was widely panned by critics.

The illustrated cover shows an image of a lone farmhouse with a large car-sized spider climbing down its web from the sky.

Along Came a Spider

- Author name: James Patterson
- Date published: 1993

As of 2022, James Patterson's Alex Cross series is already at 30 books. "Along Came a Spider," released in 1993, was the start of it all. In this first book, homicide detective Alex Cross and Jezzie Flanagan, the first female head of the Secret Service, must work together to take down Gary Soneji, a psychopathic murderer and kidnapper who is hellbent on committing the crime of the century.

The cover shows a sepia-toned old photo with a silhouette of a cloaked figure walking along side horse-pulled carriages.

The Alienist

- Author name: Caleb Carr
- Date published: 1994

A modern classic, "The Alienist" spent six full months on The New York Times bestseller list upon its release in 1994. Set in New York City in 1896, the novel follows a newspaper reporter and a psychologist as they attempt to solve a string of gruesome murders by establishing a psychological profile for the killer, a revolutionary tactic at the time. In 2018, a 10-part television series based on the book aired on TNT.

The cover features an enlarged image of a microscopic virus.

The Hot Zone

- Author name: Richard Preston
- Date published: 1994

In 1992, Richard Preston wrote an article for the New Yorker titled "Crisis in the Hot Zone." This essay was the foundation for his 1994 nonfiction thriller "The Hot Zone," about an outbreak of the Reston virus in Washington D.C. among a group of imported monkeys in a lab. The book goes on to touch on similar viruses that are deadly to humans—think the Ebola virus, Sudan virus, Marburg virus, or Ravn virus—and how easily transmutable they are, how horrific the symptoms can be, and how quickly they can wipe out large portions of the population.

The cover shows the large trunk of a tree with an elephant and a face carved into it, in a green-glowing forest.

The Elephant Tree

- Author name: R.D. Ronald
- Date published: 2010

R.D. Ronald's first novel "The Elephant Tree" focuses on three characters: Mark, a police detective; Scott, a small-time drug dealer; and Angela, a young career criminal. The trio's paths overlap in an unlikely way, and present realities mixed with revelations about the past that leave all of them uncertain about whom they can trust. A criminal thriller, it has plenty of twists, and presents a unique take on drug culture.

The cover features a circular British Union Jack over the French flag.

The Day of the Jackal

- Author name: Frederick Forsyth
- Date published: 1971

In 1972, "The Day of the Jackal" won the Edgar Award for best novel. The story, by an English author named Frederick Forsyth, is about an assassin hired by the Organization of American States to kill the president of France, Charles de Gaulle. Complicating matters for those trying to protect de Gaulle, and for readers of this legendary spy thriller, no one knows Jackal's identity.

The cover featuring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington in the TV adaptation.

Little Fires Everywhere

- Author name: Celeste Ng
- Date published: 2017

Celeste Ng's literary thriller "Little Fires Everywhere" might not be the high-stakes story that many of the other books on this list are, but it's still a nail-biting novel. Set in the planned suburb of Shaker Heights, it follows the members of the rule-following Richardson family and the free-spirited Mia Warren as their lives become more and more entwined, eventually changing the fate of their community forever. In early 2020, Hulu released a miniseries based on Ng's second novel.

The illustrated cover shows a piece of paper that has a man in a wheelchair coming out of a typewriter, along an axe silhouette and a leg x-ray.


- Author name: Stephen King
- Date published: 1987

One of Stephen King's most suspenseful novels, "Misery" is about Paul Sheldon, a bestselling novelist, and victim of a horrible automobile accident. His biggest fan, Annie Wilkes, volunteers to be Sheldon's nurse, but unbeknownst to him, she's also psychotic. The book, which King had originally intended to publish under a pseudonym, won multiple awards the year after its release.

The illustrated cover shows vines across a black background.

The Family Upstairs

- Author name: Lisa Jewell
- Date published: 2019

In Lisa Jewell's "The Family Upstairs," 25-year-old Libby Jones inherits the London mansion that once belonged to her birth parents. Unbeknownst to Libby, she's not the only one who's been waiting on this inheritance, and as she digs deep into her family's past, which includes ties to a cult, things quickly take a darker turn. Jewell's book is about how secrets, even secrets that aren't our own, can shape our lives for better or worse.

The illustrated cover shows the blurred image of what one may see while on a fast-moving train.

The Girl on the Train

- Author name: Paula Hawkins
- Date published: 2015

When British author Paula Hawkins released her novel "The Girl on the Train" in 2015, many critics hailed it as the next "Gone Girl." A domestic thriller, the novel is about a commuter who catches a glimpse of a shocking domestic event that eventually changes the course of the lives of all those involved. Extremely popular, the book held the top spot on The New York Times fiction bestsellers list for 13 consecutive weeks.

The cover shows a chair from above against a red background.

The Holdout

- Author name: Graham Moore
- Date published: 2020

"The Holdout" is set 10 years after the close of a murder case that shocked the world with its lack of a criminal conviction. A true-crime docuseries has brought together the jurors of that infamous case to discuss their surprising original verdict, and things get even more twisted when one of their own turns up dead in the hotel room of another. Graham Moore, a New York Times bestselling novelist and Academy Award-winning screenwriter, wrote this legal thriller about how justice is perceived.

The cover shows the view from a boat headed toward a stately building a top of mountainous peninsula on a dark and stormy night.

The Guest List

- Author name: Lucy Foley
- Date published: 2020

A magazine publisher and her television star beau have just welcomed a select group of guests to a remote island off the coast of Ireland to celebrate their wedding when a murder occurs. Everyone on the island has a motive and a secret, and it's up to the reader to discover who did it before the police do. Lucy Foley's "The Guest List" is an exciting addition to the genre of isolated, closed-circle mysteries and is sure to keep you on your toes every step of the way.

The cover shows what looks like two photographs of a man, one overlaying the other.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

- Author name: Robert Louis Stevenson
- Date published: 1886

While the twist of Robert Louis Stevenson's famous novella "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" is well known, the original book is still well worth a read. It follows a London lawyer, John Gabriel Utterson, who is determined to investigate a possible connection between his close friend Dr. Henry Jekyll and Jekyll's unlikely new associate, the evil Edward Hyde. The book is made all the more chilling when we realize it is, at its core, about how easily the evil inside of us can take control of our lives if we don't keep it in check.

The illustrated cover shows a view of the trees and a scary sky from the ground, with a fire-like glow coming from the right side of the page.

Miracle Creek

- Author name: Angie Kim
- Date published: 2019

"Miracle Creek" is a courtroom drama, legal thriller, and Angie Kim's debut novel. After an explosion kills two people at a controversial medical treatment center, it quickly becomes clear that it wasn't simply an accident. When the case goes to court, everyone associated with the center finds themselves being tried for the crime. In 2020, the book won the Edgar Award for best first novel.

The cover features three broken windows. Behind each is a shadow-casted person.


- Author name: Karin Slaughter
- Date published: 2006

A warning: "Triptych" by Karin Slaughter is gruesomely graphic and won't be enjoyable for those without a stomach of steel. The murder mystery is about a horrific serial killer targeting women all over Atlanta and the cops, once lovers and now enemies, who are attempting to track him down. Things get even more convoluted when an ex-con accidentally stumbles upon the killer's trail, unwittingly becoming the key to the whole case.

The cover shows the close-up of a women's face behind black bars.

Alias Grace

- Author name: Margaret Atwood
- Date published: 1996

Based on a true story, Margaret Atwood's historical and psychological thriller "Alias Grace" is about a young servant girl, Grace Marks, who is accused of a murder she has no recollection of committing. When a young mental health expert attempts to unlock Marks' memories so that he might prove her innocence, he gets a lot more than he bargained for. The disturbing novel was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and was released as a miniseries on Netflix in 2017.

The cover features the back of a shirtless woman laying on her side.

The Surgeon

- Author name: Tess Gerritsen
- Date published: 2001

The first book in Tess Gerritsen's Rizzoli & Isles series, "The Surgeon" is part medical thriller, part romantic suspense, and totally absorbing. When a serial killer takes to the streets of Boston using his professional knowledge to torture and kill isolated women, detectives Thomas Moore and Jane Rizzoli set out to stop him. Things heat up when the duo realizes he's targeting a doctor named Catherine Cordell, a past victim who believes she shot and killed him years ago.

Lock Every Door

- Author name: Riley Sager
- Date published: 2019

In "Lock Every Door," Jules Larsen, eager to start a new life, gladly accepts every condition that comes with her new job as an apartment sitter in the Bartholomew, one of New York City's most high-profile buildings. When Jules meets a fellow apartment sitter named Ingrid, who reminds her of her lost sister, things begin to change—especially after Ingrid reveals that the building is not all that it seems and is hiding a dark secret. After Ingrid disappears into thin air, Jules is determined to escape and uncover the building's past, regardless of the danger.

The Whisper Man

- Author name: Alex North
- Date published: 2019

Alex North has concocted a truly terrifying tale in "The Whisper Man," his 2019 release. When Tom Kennedy and his son Jake move to a new town, they quickly learn about a former serial killer who terrorized the town years prior, whispering at the windows of his young victims to lure them to their deaths. When the whisperings begin again, the father-son duo finds themselves wrapped up in the middle of an investigation that looks as though it may come to a conclusion too late.


- Author name: Daphne du Maurier
- Date published: 1938

When the unnamed narrator of "Rebecca" arrives at Manderly, her new husband's estate in Cornwall, she finds that the previous Mrs. de Winter still retains a firm hold over the estate, the help, and her widower husband. Seeking to uncover the mystery surrounding Rebecca's death, the new Mrs. de Winters worries that the evil pervading Manderly will end her own life and her marriage. Touted for its subversive allusions to same-sex relationships, Daphne du Maurier's chilling book has firmly established itself as a classic work.

A Simple Favor

- Author name: Darcey Bell
- Date published: 2017

In 2018, Darcey Bell's hit novel "A Simple Favor" was adapted into a film starring Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick. The book tells the story of two friends, widowed mommy-blogger Stephanie and Emily, a high-powered PR executive. When Emily mysteriously disappears one day, Stephanie, sure Emily would never just walk away from her life, begins to investigate, uncovering more secrets along the way than she'd ever anticipated.

Clear and Present Danger

- Author name: Tom Clancy
- Date published: 1989

After the head of the FBI seizes a large sum of money from a drug cartel in the opening pages of "Clear and Present Danger," the criminal group responds by assassinating him. Jack Ryan, a senior official in the CIA, is tasked with finding an appropriate response, but soon begins to suspect duplicity from some of his own men. Ryan must act quickly to ensure justice is upheld before more lives are lost.

We Need to Talk About Kevin

- Author name: Lionel Shriver
- Date published: 2003

In "We Need to Talk About Kevin," Eva Khatchadourian, the mother of a 15-year-old school shooter named Kevin, attempts to come to terms with her son's horrific actions. Told through a series of letters written to her estranged husband Franklin, Eva relates the entire story of Kevin's life and shocking secrets of her own. Gritty and powerful, this is a must-read for those trying to understand the balance of nature vs. nurture or a parent's responsibility for a child's actions.

The Last Mrs. Parrish

- Author name: Liv Constantine
- Date published: 2017

The psychological suspense novel "The Last Mrs. Parrish" is about Amber Patterson, a jealous, lonely woman who seeks to enmesh herself with the glamorous Parrish family to make her life more exciting. When skeletons from her closet begin to pop up, Amber's plan looks as though it may fall apart, rendering all her social climbing useless. Many readers have reported gobbling up this addictive thriller in a single sitting.

The Woman in Cabin 10

- Author name: Ruth Ware
- Date published: 2016

Described as compulsively readable, Ruth Ware's psychological thriller "The Woman in Cabin 10" is set on an ultra-exclusive cruise ship sailing in the North Sea. One night, a travel journalist onboard witnesses a woman being thrown overboard, but things become increasingly twisted when every passenger is accounted for the following morning. Reminiscent of Agatha Christie's work, this is a must-read for anyone who loves a good mystery.

Behind Closed Doors

- Author name: B.A. Paris
- Date published: 2016

In "Behind Closed Doors," Jack and Grace have a picture-perfect marriage—at least from the outside. What's happening when no one else is looking is an entirely different story. This all-too-realistic suspenseful thriller has hundreds of thousands of ratings on Goodreads.

The Zombie Room

- Author name: R.D. Ronald
- Date published: 2012

Mangle, Decker, and Tazeem, the main characters in "The Zombie Room," meet while serving time in prison and work together to run a lucrative scam upon their release. When they stumble upon a sex-trafficking operation, the trio worries they may finally be in over their heads. Still, they must muster up the courage to save a young girl named Tatiana before it's too late.

The Chestnut Man

- Author name: Søren Sveistrup
- Date published: 2018

A handmade doll made of matchsticks and two chestnuts is the calling card of the Chestnut Man, a psychopath who is terrorizing Copenhagen. When the fingerprint of a long-missing girl is found on one of these dolls, two detectives drop everything to sort out the riddle and finally unmask this mysterious killer. "The Chestnut Man" is the thrilling debut of Søren Sveistrup, creator of the hit TV show "The Killing."

Big Little Lies

- Author name: Liane Moriarty
- Date published: 2014

In 2015, "Big Little Lies" won Liane Moriarty the Davitt Award, which is given to an outstanding work of Australian crime fiction each year. Moriarty's adrenaline-pumping book starts with a death and works backward, attempting to unravel whether that death was merely an accident or, more sinisterly, murder. In 2017, HBO turned the novel into a miniseries starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman.

The Last Flight

- Author name: Julie Clark
- Date published: 2020

Julie Clark's "The Last Flight" was dubbed an instantaneous classic. The book is about two women, desperate to escape their lives, who switch places. When one dies, the other, suddenly granted the freedom to start over completely, assumes her identity. But with the new life comes old secrets, and this golden opportunity may not be as desirable as it once seemed.

Fierce Kingdom

- Author name: Gin Phillips
- Date published: 2017

When terror breaks out in a zoo moments before closing time, Joan must use her intimate knowledge of the park to keep her son and herself safe. As they run and hide, trying to stay one step ahead of danger, the boundary between animal instinct and human duty is tested over and over again for Joan. At its core, "Fierce Kingdom" struggles with the question—for whom should a mother risk her life?

No Exit

- Author name: Taylor Adams
- Date published: 2017

Taylor Adams' "No Exit" is an edgy thriller set in the middle of a blizzard. When a snowstorm traps Darby Thorne on her way to see her mother, she seeks shelter in a remote highway rest stop with four other strangers. In the back of one of their vans, Darby discovers a kidnapped young girl locked in an animal cage and must uncover which of her fellow individuals is a psychopathic kidnapper.

The Shadows

- Author name: Alex North
- Date published: 2020

Alex North's second novel, "The Shadows," starts with Paul Adams returning to his hometown to care for his ailing mother. When a string of murders takes place, copying one his childhood friend Charlie Crabtree committed years ago, Paul gets sucked in, and his mental state begins to unravel. After all, some things are better left in the shadows.

A Good Marriage

- Author name: Kimberly McCreight
- Date published: 2020

In Kimberly McCreight's "A Good Marriage," Amanda Grayson, the wife of her old friend Zach Grayson, is found murdered, and Lizzie Kitsakis jumps in to defend her old pal. While working to establish his innocence, Lizzie stumbles upon a trove of secrets being kept by Amanda, Zach, and the entire community—secrets that threaten to tear Lizzie's own life apart.

Our Man in Havana

- Author name: Graham Greene
- Date published: 1958

Graham Greene's spy novel "Our Man in Havana" has been adapted into a movie, an opera, and a stage production. A satirical story, it follows an MI6 man, a former vacuum cleaner salesman turned secret agent, who dislikes his job and files bogus reports out of spite. When the stories he makes up begin coming true, he must scramble to make things right or risk losing his income and reputation.


- Author name: Ottessa Moshfegh
- Date published: 2015

A literary thriller, Ottessa Moshfegh's "Eileen" is darkly comedic in the same vein as much of Shirley Jackson's work. It follows the titular character Eileen, a deeply disturbed secretary at a boy's prison who cares for her alcoholic father. When a new counselor, Rebecca Saint John, shows up at the prison, a fiery passion is unearthed in Elieen, a passion that eventually leads to a grisly crime.

Helter Skelter

- Author name: Vincent Bugliosi, Curt Gentry
- Date published: 1974

Vincent Bugliosi was the prosecuting attorney in Charles Manson's 1970 trial. Bugliosi is able to give a unique and in-depth take on the terrifying way the cult leader was able to attract victims, exert his power over young women, and convince them to commit some of the goriest murders in recent history. "Helter Skelter" dives deep into every aspect of the case and Manson's psyche.

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

- Author name: John le Carré
- Date published: 1963

A former secret agent, John le Carré crafts thrilling spy novels thanks to his unique insider knowledge. In "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold," le Carré focuses on the shadowy practices of international espionage. The story is about a British intelligence agent desperate to leave the profession but must undertake one final, risky assignment involving East Germany before being granted his freedom.

The Broken Girls

- Author name: Simone St. James
- Date published: 2018

Simone St. James' "The Broken Girls" centers around Idlewood Hall, a fictional boarding school for troubled girls. Told in a dual timeline manner, the tale bounces back and forth between a group of students living there in the 1950s and a journalist investigating the mysterious disappearance of one of these girls in 2014. When the journalist makes a shocking discovery, secrets that were never meant to come to light begin to surface, and a host of voices too long silenced are finally heard.

The Postman Always Rings Twice

- Author name: James M. Cain
- Date published: 1934

When "The Postman Always Rings Twice" was first published in 1934, it was instantly banned in Boston for being salacious and violent. The novel is about a drifter who takes up work at a California diner, falls in love with the owner's wife, begins a racy affair, and gets caught up in a murder scheme. James M. Cain's book has widely been considered one of the most important crime novels of the 20th century.

The Dinner

- Author name: Herman Koch
- Date published: 2009

Dutch author Herman Koch penned this darkly suspenseful thriller about an extended family that has come together to decide their teenage sons' fates over a single meal. The sons were both involved in a horrific, life-changing crime, and the book explores the lengths parents are willing to go to for their beloved children and the dark side of genteel society. 


- Author name: Emma Donoghue
- Date published: 2010

Inspired by the real-life case of Elisabeth Fritzl, a young woman who was kidnapped and held hostage by her own father in the cellar of his house for 24 years, "Room" is a bone-chilling crime novel. The tale is narrated by a 5-year-old boy named Jack, the son of a kidnapped woman, and follows the duo as they attempt to escape their small world for a much larger one. In 2015, a movie starring Brie Larson was released based on the award-winning book.

Murder on the Orient Express

- Author name: Agatha Christie
- Date published: 1934

"Murder on the Orient Express" features Agatha Christie's most famous character, Hercule Poirot. After a murder takes place on the transcontinental train carrying Poirot and a host of other passengers, the Belgian detective must discover who, on the snow-trapped train, is responsible for the death. An isolated, closed-circle mystery, this novel will keep you guessing all the way to its shocking ending.

The Bourne Identity

- Author name: Robert Ludlum
- Date published: 1980

The basis for a series of films starring Matt Damon, "The Bourne Identity" novels are spy thrillers written by Robert Ludlum in the 1980s. This first installment in the saga opens with a man floating in the middle of the Mediterranean sea who can remember nothing about who he is, where he came from, or why he's being pursued by a group of assassins attempting to take his life. Assisted by Marie St. Jaques, the man sets out to reverse his amnesia and uncover his life's truth before it's too late.

The Odessa File

- Author name: Frederick Forsyth
- Date published: 1972

When a young German reporter is instructed to cover the suicide of a Jewish Holocaust survivor in "The Odessa File," he uncovers a much bigger story than he imagined. There's a secret, Mafia-like organization; surviving Saal-Schutz agents; and a plot to carry out Hitler's "final solution." The spy thriller was turned into an equally absorbing movie starring Jon Voight and Maximilian Schell in 1974.

Gorky Park

- Author name: Martin Cruz Smith
- Date published: 1981

Set in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, "Gorky Park" is about Arkady Renko, a homicide investigator who's assigned to the case of three murders that took place in Gorky Park, one of Moscow's biggest public parks. As he attempts to unwind the mystery, things get increasingly dangerous for Renko, especially when the KGB, FBI, and NYPD become involved.

A is for Alibi

- Author name: Sue Grafton
- Date published: 1982

The first installment in Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone series, "A is for Alibi" follows the former cop turned private investigator as she attempts to help an accused murderess clear her name. Grafton continued the story of Kinsey Millhone through 24 letters of the alphabet, leaving only the letter Z unfinished at the time of her death in 2017.

Never Let Me Go

- Author name: Kazuo Ishiguro
- Date published: 2005

Part dystopian sci-fi tale, part mystery thriller, Booker Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro's sixth novel "Never Let Me Go" critically examines collective morals and how society chooses to treat the vulnerable. His gripping story follows three friends—Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth—as they grow up at a boarding school called Hailsham, step into the real world, and discover the truth about the reasons for their existence. In 2019, The Guardian included the book on its "100 Best Books of the 21st Century" list.

A Madness of Sunshine

- Author name: Nalini Singh
- Date published: 2019

Nalini Singh is best known for her paranormal romance series, but her standalone novel "A Madness of Sunshine" is one of the best thrillers to come out in recent years. Set on the rugged coast of New Zealand, the story is about a string of murders that terrorize a small, close-knit town. When yet another young woman disappears without a trace, residents begin to wonder if they really know each other as well as they think.

The Sun Down Motel

- Author name: Simone St. James
- Date published: 2020

Something sinister is happening at the Sun Down Motel in Upstate New York. At least that's what Carly Kirk believes when she sets out to investigate the mysterious disappearance of her aunt from the roadside inn. Simone St. James' second offering, "The Sun Down Motel," was an instant bestseller, equal parts compelling and creepy.

The Great Influenza

- Author name: John M. Barry
- Date published: 2004

The horrors of "The Great Influenza" are certainly compounded by the shared experience of the coronavirus pandemic, but even if the world wasn't working its way out of a global pandemic, this nonfiction historical thriller would still be capable of sending chills down your spine. Written in 2004, the book dives into the terrifying reality of the last global pandemic: the 1918 flu, or the Spanish flu. The novel was so influential it inspired President George W. Bush to create a comprehensive pandemic plan in 2005.

The Shadow of the Wind

- Author name: Carlos Ruiz Zafón
- Date published: 2001

A story within a story, "The Shadow of the Wind" is believed to have sold more than 15 million copies worldwide. Set in Barcelona in 1945, the book is about a young boy named Daniel Sempere who's obsessed with a book by an author named Julian Carax. Realizing that his copy of the book may be one of the only Carax novels in existence, Sempere sets out to uncover the truth behind the author's life and disappearance, as well as the systematic destruction of the wordsmith's work.

Killing Floor

- Author name: Lee Child
- Date published: 1997

Lee Child's debut novel, and the first book to feature Jack Reacher, "Killing Floor" is one of the best thrillers to come out of the past few decades. In the book, Reacher, an ex-military policeman, is accused of a murder he didn't commit. While attempting to clear his name, he stumbles upon some heavy criminal activity that he takes it upon himself to stop. Heavy on violence, the book reads like an '80s action movie in the best way possible.

Bird Box

- Author name: Josh Malerman
- Date published: 2014

A horror-thriller, "Bird Box" is set in a post-apocalyptic universe where mysterious beings rule the Earth, driving anyone who lays eyes on them to deadly madness. Malorie, a single mother to a girl and boy, sets out to bring her children to safety, attempting to make a 20-mile downriver journey in a rowboat blindfolded, all while being pursued by "something." In 2018, the novel was turned into a movie starring Sandra Bullock.

Angels & Demons

- Author name: Dan Brown
- Date published: 2000

The first Dan Brown book to feature his symbologist character Robert Langdon, "Angels & Demons" finds the sleuth diving deep into the world of the Illuminati. After the murder of a Swiss researcher, Langdon uncovers a plot to blow up the Vatican, and, accompanied by a scientist named Vittoria Vetra, must traipse through some of the most forgotten parts of the holy city-state in order to stop the destruction from happening. While the novel received heavy criticism for its scientific and religious inaccuracies, fans still loved the thriller, begging Brown to release more.

The Da Vinci Code

- Author name: Dan Brown
- Date published: 2003

After a midnight murder takes place in the Louvre, symbologist Robert Langdon and cryptologist Sophie Neveu begin to sift through bizarre riddles and clues left in Leonardo da Vinci's works, looking for an answer to the mysterious death. On the way, these two sleuths uncover secret societies and find themselves being hunted by a sinister operative who will stop at nothing to keep them from bringing the truth to light. Six short years after its release Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" had sold a whopping 80 million copies.


- Author name: Dean Koontz
- Date published: 1987

Dean Koontz's novel "Intensity" is a perfect mix of horror, thriller, and suspense. After a sociopathic serial killer breaks into the house where she's staying, killing everyone but her, college student Chyna Shepard follows him, intent on putting an end to his violent reign of terror and assisting his next intended victim. More than any other book on this list, "Intensity" is sure to leave you sweating bullets and racing through every page just to see how it all ends.

Sharp Objects

- Author name: Gillian Flynn
- Date published: 2006

While "Gone Girl" is far and away Gillian Flynn's best-known book, it wasn't her first. Instead, that honour lies with "Sharp Objects," a dark family tale about a reporter who returns to her hometown to cover the deaths of two preteen girls. A psychological puzzle, the story gets more compounded and confusing with the turn of every page, but the ending comes together in an incredibly satisfying way.

Eye of the Needle

- Author name: Ken Follett
- Date published: 1978

Ken Follett is best known for his historical fiction work, but "Eye of the Needle" isn't your ordinary way-back-when tale. Instead, it's about a German agent who uncovers a secret that could lead to a sure victory for the Axis powers. While the best agents the Allied powers have to offer are attempting to track "the needle" down, a lonely woman living on a secluded island finds the outcome of the war lies solely in her hands.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

- Author name: Arthur Conan Doyle
- Date published: 1901

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Hound of the Baskervilles" brought his most famous character, Sherlock Holmes, back to life after his apparent death in "The Final Problem." In this full-length book, Holmes investigates the phantom hellhound, or possible murderer in disguise, that has haunted Baskerville hall for generations and has seemingly set its sights on the newest heir. A classic detective chiller, this is a must-read for all thriller fans.

The Silent Wife

- Author name: A.S.A. Harrison
- Date published: 2013

A.S.A. Harrison's first and final novel, "The Silent Wife," is about the disintegration of a marriage and a wife who becomes a killer. While neither character is particularly likable, the cold, frightening portrayal of a relationship on its last legs will surely keep you on the edge of your seat.

Shutter Island

- Author name: Dennis Lehane
- Date published: 2003

Set on Shutter Island, home to Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, Dennis Lehane's novel is a mind trip to the utmost degree. "Shutter Island" starts with U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his partner Chuck Aule being sent to the island to investigate the disappearance of a dangerous inmate, Rachel Solando. It doesn't take long, however, before things begin to unravel, and it turns out that very little on the island may be as simple as it appears.


- Author name: Clifford Irving
- Date published: 1990

Texas lawyer Warren Blackburn is defending two accused murderers in two separate cases at the beginning of "Trial." Several chapters of Clifford Irving's legal thriller later, the two cases merge, becoming one convoluted crime, and things go off the rails. A gripping book, the Library Journal claimed "most readers will want to read this at one sitting."

The Woman in the Window

- Author name: A.J. Finn
- Date published: 2018

A.J. Finn is a pen name used by Daniel Mallory, a former editor who was called out in 2019 for the web of lies he'd spun about his origins and family history. By that point, his debut novel, "The Woman in the Window," was a bestseller and had been optioned for a movie, which was released in 2020. The book is about a recluse in New York City, who sees something she shouldn't while watching the neighbours out her window and gets caught up in the drama that follows.

Anatomy of a Murder

- Author name: Robert Traver
- Date published: 1958

The basis for the classic Otto Preminger film of the same name, "Anatomy of a Murder" was written by a Michigan Supreme Court Justice under the pen name Robert Traver. In a thrilling courtroom drama, the novel is about a lawyer, Paul Biegler, defending Frederick Manion, a man accused of murdering an innkeeper, against what seems like an insurmountable pile of evidence. The 1958 release is a true classic.

The Wife Between Us

- Author name: Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen
- Date published: 2018

A slower-paced thriller, "The Wife Between Us" is, at its core, about a love triangle. It may sound like a simple premise, a jealous ex-wife obsessed with her replacement, but in actuality, it's anything but. Steven Spielberg's production company, Amblin Partners, bought the movie rights to the co-authored mystery in 2017.

Jurassic Park

- Author name: Michael Crichton
- Date published: 1990

Before it was a hit film directed by Steven Spielberg, "Jurassic Park" was a novel by Michael Crichton. While the story of a remote island filled with cloned dinosaurs will be familiar to most readers, there's still something new, fresh, and fun to be uncovered by reading the original book.

Murder Must Advertise

- Author name: Dorothy L. Sayers
- Date published: 1933

Dorothy L. Sayers, a contemporary of Agatha Christie, was also a major player in the golden age of detective fiction. One of her best works, "Murder Must Advertise," sees Sayers' detective, Lord Peter Wimsey, investigating an advertising firm with links to multiple murders and possible ties to more nefarious business. While the novel may not be as heart-pounding as other books on this list, Sayers' work still deserves recognition, as it paved the way for modern-day thrillers.

Into the Water

- Author name: Paula Hawkins
- Date published: 2017

Paula Hawkins, the author of "The Girl on the Train," returns to thriller writing with "Into the Water." Told from the viewpoint of 11 different characters, the novel unravels the mysterious and seemingly connected deaths of two women found drowned at the bottom of the same river. Playing on the deceptiveness of memory, this book will leave you unsure if you can trust yourself, let alone anyone else.

In Cold Blood

- Author name: Truman Capote
- Date published: 1966

"In Cold Blood" started as a series of articles published in The New Yorker before being fleshed out and turned into a book by Random House. The true-crime thriller looks at the murder of the Clutter family, as well as the investigation, trial, and conviction of their killers. It's important to mention there are assertions the book isn't entirely factual, as author Truman Capote transcribed all of his work from memory without the assistance of notes or recordings, adding extra little flairs where he saw fit.


- Author name: James Patterson
- Date published: 2013

A standalone thriller by James Patterson, "The Mistress" is about a man named Ben Casper who suffers from a mental illness that presents itself as an obsession with various things, including a woman named Diana Hotchkiss. When Diana is found dead outside her apartment, Ben is convinced it was murder and begins a massive hunt to find Diana's killer, uncovering the woman's twisted double life along the way. As he rushes to solve the case, he begins to worry that the killer is also coming after him.

The Pelican Brief

- Author name: John Grisham
- Date published: 1992

After two Supreme Court justices are assassinated, law student Darby Shaw writes a legal brief guessing the real reason these two men were targeted. When an attack is made on her life, she joins forces with a hungry young reporter named Gray Grantham to uncover the truth about what's really going on in Washington D.C. John Grisham's third novel "The Pelican Brief" is a twisting, turning thrill ride, and is darker than many of his other works. 

In a Dark, Dark Wood

- Author name: Ruth Ware
- Date published: 2015

Ruth Ware's "In a Dark, Dark Wood" opens at the close of a bachelorette party with a young woman lying in a hospital bed, unable to remember anything from the past few days, an unsolved murder, and a childhood friendship built on more than a few secrets. The novel jumps between timelines as a crime writer tries to piece together exactly what happened that fateful weekend. The thrilling tale is just light enough to make a great beach read.


- Author name: Caroline Kepnes
- Date published: 2014

The basis for the Netflix hit "You," this Caroline Kepnes book is truly chilling. Keeping in line with the show's first season, the book follows Joe, an East Village bookseller, as he becomes obsessed with Guinevere Beck, an aspiring writer, and goes from stalker to boyfriend and back to stalker. A creepy read from page one, Goodreads called the novel "a terrifying exploration of how vulnerable we all are to stalking and manipulation."