Halloween is creeping up on us and it’s time for costumes, sweets, the clocks going back, scary movies and, of course books that keep you up all night reading and question the very fabric of human emotion. I’ve compiled a list of ten of the best Psychological Thrillers that tell a tale of murder, twist and turns, false turns and twisted characters. So without further ado lets get started.
Jason Dessen is walking home through the chilly Chicago streets one night, looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the fireplace with his wife, Daniela, and their son, Charlie—when his reality shatters.
It starts with a man in a mask kidnapping him at gunpoint, for reasons Jason can’t begin to fathom—what would anyone want with an ordinary physics professor?—and grows even more terrifying from there, as Jason’s abductor injects him with some unknown drug and watches while he loses consciousness.
When Jason awakes, he’s in a lab, strapped to a gurney—and a man he’s never seen before is cheerily telling him “welcome back!”
Jason soon learns that in this world he’s woken up to, his house is not his house. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born.
And someone is hunting him.
Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong.
Everyone’s invited…everyone’s a suspect…
For fans of Ruth Ware and Tana French, a shivery, atmospheric, page-turning novel of psychological suspense in the tradition of Agatha Christie, in which a group of old college friends are snowed in at a hunting lodge . . . and murder and mayhem ensue.
All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.
During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.
They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.
Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.
The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.
Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.
Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?
When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.
What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.
Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.
It was everything.
She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.
You need to know who your husband really was…
When Paula Gadd’s husband of almost thirty years dies, just days away from the seventh anniversary of their son, Christopher’s death, her world falls apart. Grieving and bereft, she is stunned when a young woman approaches her at the funeral service, and slips something into her pocket. A note suggesting that Paula’s husband was not all that he seemed…
When the two women eventually meet, a series of revelations challenges everything Paula thought they knew, and it becomes immediately clear that both women’s lives are in very real danger.
Both a dark, twisty slice of domestic noir and taut, explosive psychological thriller, After He Died is also a chilling reminder that the people we trust the most can harbour the deadliest secrets…
On Christmas Eve in 1988, seven-year-old Alfie Marsden vanished in the Wentshire Forest Pass, when a burst tyre forced his father, Sorrel, to stop the car. Leaving the car to summon the emergency services, Sorrel returned to find his son gone. No trace of the child, nor his remains, have ever been found. Alfie Marsden was declared officially dead in 1995.
Elusive online journalist, Scott King, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the disappearance, interviewing six witnesses, including Sorrel, his son and his ex-partner, to try to find out what really happened that fateful night. He takes a journey through the trees of the Wentshire Forest – a place synonymous with strange sightings, and tales of hidden folk who dwell there. He talks to a company that tried and failed to build a development in the forest, and a psychic who claims to know where Alfie is…
Intensely dark, deeply chilling and searingly thought provoking, Changeling is an up-to-the-minute, startling thriller, taking you to places you will never, ever forget.
‘Bold, clever and genuinely chilling with a terrific twist that provides an explosive final punch’ Deidre O’Brien, Sunday Mirror
‘A genuine genre-bending debut’ Carla McKay, Daily Mail
‘Impeccably crafted and gripping from start to finish’ Doug Johnstone, The Big Issue
‘With a unique structure, an ingenious plot and so much suspense you can’t put it down, this is the very epitome of a must-read’ Heat
Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.
Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.
Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….
The second novel from the author of The Chalk Man, about a teacher with a hidden agenda who returns to settle scores at a school he once attended, only to uncover a darker secret than he could have imagined.
A twenty-year-old local mystery that has never been sold.
A bone-chilling VHS tape depicting a horrific crime.
Neighbors with something to hide.
And a sister who is missing.
Emily has to find out the truth. But is her sister Madeline the victim…or the one to blame?
Home Is Where The Nightmare Is
Beautiful double room to let to single person
Lisa, a troubled young woman with a past, can’t believe her luck when she finds a beautiful room to rent in a large house. The live-in owners are a kind and welcoming couple. Everything is fine until she finds a suicide note hidden in her room. But when the couple insist this man didn’t exist and that Lisa is their first tenant, Lisa begins to doubt herself.
Compelled to undercover the secrets of the man who lived in the room before her, Lisa is alarmed when increasingly disturbing incidents start to happen. Someone doesn’t want Lisa to find out the truth.
As the four walls of this house and its secrets begin to close in on Lisa, she descends into a hellish hall of mirrors where she’s not sure what’s real and what’s not as she claws her way towards the truth…
Did this room already claim one victim?
Is it about to take another?
I loved the hunting party sfm I loveee this post bookmarking it
Thanks so much for reading 😘
Dark Matter is the only one I’ve read, but a lot of these are on my TBR, The Turn of the Key and Changling for sure😁
I hope you enjoy them when you get around to them.
The Turn of the Key sounds really good! Going to buy that one!!!
I hope you enjoy it!
ALL THE RUTH WARE….Turn of the Key did me in!
Isn’t Dark matter about to become a movie?
I believe so, yes. You know its a good book when it does you in!
Exactly! It is like…. this book killed me… here… now you read it
I loved Changeling and it definitely deserves to be on this list. Several of the others are on my TBR.
Thanks for reading the post Stephen.
I haven’t read any of these but I do have the Dark Matter audio book on hold and I’m hoping it’ll be available soon. And I reallly want to read Six Stories as wlel.
THE SILENT PATIENT!!!!!! I love, love, love that one!
Wow! I’ve only read The Silent Patient, which I loved and devoured in a single day. For someone who is terrified of anything scary, I sure do love psychological thrillers. And this list has given me a bunch of new books to add to my TBR list.
I have a couple of these on my TBR, so will try moving them up for October reads. Great post.
I loved The Hunting Party – have some of this on my tbr pile & will add others to my wishlist!
I have read The Turn of the Key. I was afraid of Ghosts reading that book 😂
I’ve read 4 of these and loved them all, so I’m taking your recommendation and adding 2 of these to my mountainous TBR list. Thanks!
awesome! all of these are particularly eerie. Hope you enjoy!