Unexpected twists, unreliable narrators, complex characters, and dark secrets, psychological thrillers offer them all. That’s why it is so hard to stop reading one until you have turned that last page. If you are looking for such immersive titles to lose yourself in, here’s a list of ten must-read psychological thrillers.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Gone Girl is the book that shot Gillian Flynn to international fame, and rightly so. This story of Amy and Nick Dunn, their unravelling marriage, Amy’s disappearance and perhaps even murder, builds in intensity and has every ingredient that will boggle your mind. There’s nothing more I can tell you without spoiling the suspense except this – go read it!
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
This is the story of Rachel, who takes the same train to work every day and becomes obsessed with a perfect-looking couple whose house she can see from her window seat. But when she spots the woman from that house with a different man, Rachel is stunned and decides to take matters into her own hand. As Rachel makes decisions that will involve her in matters she should stay away from, the reader goes into a mind-boggling journey as we struggle to know what’s real and what’s part of her imagination.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Michaelides’ debut novel, The Silent Patient, is the story of Alicia Berenson, a famous painter who killed her husband and has been mute ever since; and Theo Faber, a criminal psychotherapist who wants to know what really happened. As Theo and Alicia come into each other’s contact, the readers go down a rabbit-hole which gets more and more intriguing till the point when the knife finally twists.
The Woman in the Window by A J Finn
Anna Fox hasn’t stepped out of her home for the past ten months. Her only contact to the outer world is through her camera which she uses to spy upon her neighbours along with finishing bottles of wine. When a new family shifts into her locality, and she witnesses an act of violence in their house, nobody is ready to believe her. Was it all Anna’s hallucination or did something really happen? Read this book to find out!
The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
The Kind Worth Killing is a modern retelling of Patricia Highsmith’s classic Strangers on a Train. When Ted Severson comes across Lily Kintner at an airport bar, their talk soon turns into serious subjects and Ted tells Lily how he wishes he could get rid of his wife. Lily says she would help Ted and the duo start planning the murder in earnest. But all is not as it seems and soon, they are engaged in a cat-and-mouse game where the stakes are as high as life and death.
Verity by Colleen Hoover
Lowen Ashleigh is a writer nobody knows. When she gets an offer to ghost-write for the injured bestselling author Verity Crawford, she accepts it. But when she reaches Verity’s home to collect the research material, she comes across a diary that’s meant for nobody’s eyes except Verity’s. The secrets it contains have the potential to change everything that Verity has built for herself. This, along with Lowen’s attraction towards Jeremy, Verity’s husband, drives the book towards an explosive conclusion.
The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
When Rowan Caine accepts her new post as nanny for the Elincourt family in the scenic Scottish Highlands, she is looking at a new beginning. Soon, however, she is left alone with the children and there’s something sinister going on in the mansion. When one of the kids loses their life, Rowan is thrown into prison. The entire novel is her account to her lawyer in which she claim to be innocent of murder even as she accepts that she hasn’t always been perfect. But the one question we must ask ourselves is this – is Rowan telling the truth?
Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney
Sometimes I Lie takes the reader into the mind of Amber Reynolds who is lying in a hospital in a coma. She has no memory of how she got here, but has a suspicion that her husband might be responsible. As she tries to make sense of what happened, readers witness her life unfold as the narrative moves between her present, her life a week ago, and her childhood twenty years ago. Tightly written and cleverly plotted, this book is sure to keep you hooked.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Big Little Lies follows the life of a group of women whose lives are changed when Jane comes to live in their town with her young son. As Jane tries to fit in, she makes some friends and offends a few, creating tensions in the fragile friendships that existed before her as long buried secrets and other skeletons in the cupboard start tumbling out.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Rebecca is the story of an unnamed woman who marries the rich Maxim de Winter and goes to live in his palatial house only to realise that the ghost of his previous wife, Rebecca, is all around her. As she tries to make a life for herself, Rebecca’s presence threatens to ruin everything. A classic which has been adapted for screen by Alfred Hitchcock, Rebecca is a must-read.
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About the Author
Sneha Pathak has a PhD in English Literature and has taught at college and university level. She currently works as a freelance writer/translator. Her writings have appeared in various publications such as Muse India, Purple Pencil Project, The Wise Owl Magazine, The Curious Reader, Mystery and Suspense Magazine etc. She recently published her first book of translation, an anthology of stories translated from Hindi. Follow her here: Instagram