Have you ever wondered what makes a psychological thriller such a compelling read? The best psychological thriller books will have your heart pounding from the beginning of the book until the end.
We have found that a lot of books that are psychological thrillers often have unreliable narrators as well. When you don’t know what to believe, you will feel the tension of the story.
Psychological thrillers will usually have complex plots that twist and turn with no clear ending. These are the books that are the most fun to read. There may or may not be a mystery component to the book. We believe that a book can be a psychological thriller and a mystery simultaneously. These are often our favorite thrillers.
These are the best psychological thriller books we have personally read. Do you agree? Did we include your favorite psychological thriller books?
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Best Psychological Thriller Books
Best Psychological Thriller Books
Rachel takes the same train every day and peers out the window watching people. She watched two people in particular as they led what appeared to be a perfect life until one day she saw something terrible while watching them.
She reports it to the police but, can they trust a dysfunctional alcoholic? This is a domestic thriller story that will have you questioning who is telling the truth from the beginning until the end. Unreliable narrators like Rachel make the best page-turners! You’ll never know what to believe!
If you love old movies, you will adore this book. It is a spin on Hitchcock’s Rear Window and features an agoraphobic narrator who is often unreliable.
Anna Fox lives alone in her house. She is agoraphobic and cannot leave, so she sits at her window and watches everyone in the neighborhood.
When she sees something across the street, she is sure there has been a crime but, what is real and what is imagined? Amy Adams stars in the Netflix adaptation of this book.
This is a psychological thriller book that almost everyone had heard of when it became a hit movie. It is the perfect example of what happens when a marriage goes terribly wrong. You will be questioning this book from the first page to the last.
On her fifth wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne mysteriously disappears. At the top of the suspect list is her husband Nick who seems perfect to the outside world. But, Nick and Amy are not who they appear to be.
There are so many twists and turns in this book that is the epitome of a domestic thriller and, if you love unreliable narrator books, this one is right up your alley. You may end up hating the characters, but this is one of the most popular thriller books ever written.
This popular thriller book was Michaelides’s debut novel and sold over 65 million copies for good reason. This psychological thriller sucked me in immediately – a woman murders her husband and then doesn’t say a word for 10 years.
Convinced he can help, a psychologist named Theo transfers to the facility where Alice is staying to try to get the real story behind the fateful night of the murder.
Soon, he will become obsessed with Alice and finding out the truth behind the murders.
Best Psychological Suspense Thriller Books
This is a domestic noir that will scare the pants off most mothers. It’s compulsively readable.
Blythe Conner comes from a long line of bad mothers, but she’s determined not to be one. When she has Violet, she struggles to connect with her.
The reader is left wondering if Blythe is a mother who sees the worst in her child or if there is actually something off with Violet; something that even her husband can’t see. There is a reason this domestic thriller was chosen by GMA, it is a crazy good read and will have you on the edge of your seat.
Warning: the topic is disturbing and may be triggering for some people
Shortly after being burglarized, a travel journalist boards a small luxury cruise liner to cover its inaugural voyage. When she thinks she sees a passenger thrown overboard – but everyone is still accounted for – she has to decide if what she saw was real or only in her head.
This book wasn’t as creepy as some of Ware’s others, but it still kept me on the edge of my seat. This book has an unreliable narrator which also makes a perfect psychological thriller. You just might want to wait until you are off a boat to read this one! If you love thriller novels, this book is a must-read.
To me, this is by far the creepiest of all of Lisa Jewell’s books. While I did have some idea of what the ending was going to be, I was not prepared for how creepy this thriller book would be.
I think the point of this was to take the fear factor up a few notches. This book left me wanting to keep my kids a little closer to home. If you are looking for books that are psychological thrillers, this is a creepy and heart-pounding pick.
Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter with her whole life ahead of her until she disappeared without a trace. Now, after ten years, her mother cannot stop looking for answers. When she sees a girl who looks just like Ellie, her unanswered questions begin to haunt her.
Find this book in Lisa Jewell Books / Psychological Thriller Books
Dark Psychological Thriller Books
I listened to this book and I have to say that I think it added so much to the suspense! I love the way the narrators added to the story.
Alice and Leo move into a house on “The Circle”, an exclusive gated community. When Alice discovers a hidden drawer containing letters from a woman named Nina, who was a patient of the previous owner—a therapist, she decides to find out more about the therapist who lived there before.
As Alice becomes obsessed with the past, she is met with lies and confusion until she is unsure what is true. It’s the perfect Halloween thriller book!
Find this book in Halloween Thrillers / Psychological Thriller Books
Don’t let the gorgeous cover of this book fool you. Darling Rose Gold is a dark and sinister look at a dysfunctional, abusive mother-daughter relationship.
For 18 years, Rose Gold thought that she was always one step away from death but no tests could ever find anything wrong with her. Her mother, Patty Watts goes to jail for 5 years for child abuse and when she gets out, Rose Gold lets Patty move in with her.
I couldn’t put this book down and I can’t give much about the story away without ruining it. If you are a thriller lover, this one is for you.
Content Warning: Child Abuse
Find this book in Best Psychological Thriller Books / Best Thriller Books
Delaney did it again with this heart-racing domestic thriller about newborns that were switched at birth. There were times when my heart was beating so quickly I had to ask people what would happen next.
I was on the edge of my seat for the entire last half of the book and found myself wishing I had medication to calm me down! It was thrilling up until the very last page. A perfect book to read or add to your list and one of the best psychological thriller books we have read!
When police come to Grace’s door, she is terrified that something has happened to her teenage daughter, Penny. Instead, she finds out her daughter has been arrested for murder.
What follows is a year and a half in a psychiatric facility while Penny awaits her trial and experts try to determine if the multiple personalities are real or a made-up ruse to get away with murder. Because Eve, the protector, has kept Penny and the other personalities away.
This thriller is brilliantly crafted and had me guessing until the very end. Thank you to Macmillian Audio for my ALC of this book. It was amazing to listen to as each personality had a distinct voice. If you are looking for books that are psychological thrillers, this is one that I couldn’t put down!
Psychological Mystery Books
This domestic thriller grabbed me, shook me, and then gently put me down. I was given a ride and wasn’t sure what hit me. This book had a few things that I was not expecting and I loved it.
The book begins with a mother’s worst nightmare. Her son slips out of her grip and into the street where he is struck and killed by a car. This happens almost immediately. This was important to me so that it would not be too heart-wrenching. This is one of the best psychological thriller books I have ever read.
June 2020 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick
I’ve just read THE thriller
The murder sets the scene and then we get the story in flashbacks without knowing who is murdered until the end. I’ve become very picky about thrillers recently and this one is hands down my favorite of the year so far. It also made our Best of 2020 list!
Can you guess who the killer is? I can’t wait to see this added to the list of Hulu book adaptations.
This book is Liane Moriarty at her finest. It’s all about a group of mothers in a community who share some big lies. Their friendships take center stage, but there is a fair amount of family drama as well in this domestic noir. This is one of the most popular thriller books around.
This novel was recently turned into a show on HBO starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, and more. This book has a little bit of everything from ex-husbands and scandals. Sometimes little lies are so much more.
Psychological Thriller Books for Adults
His and Hers is the best psychological thriller I have read this year. There are two sides to every story and this one had me guessing until the last page. I had to go back and re-read.
Anna Andrews works at the BBC and has her dream job as an anchor until she doesn’t and she will do anything to get it back. When she has to return to her hometown to cover murders that are centered around her, nothing could complicate the situation more…..until her ex-husband is the lead investigator.
Oh, and he knows the first victim as well. This book is a puzzle that isn’t complete until the last page. It’s one of our best books of 2020 picks.
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Everything that you think you know in this book is just an assumption. You can assume that you are wrong. I cannot say much about this book because I do not want to spoil anything but, it is such a perfect domestic thriller.
Warning: do not start it if you don’t have time to finish it. Nellie is so excited about her upcoming wedding that is just days away. She cannot shake the feeling that someone is following her. This is a psychological thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat and question what you think you know!
The OG psychological thriller book, Rebecca is a book set in Cornwall that will leave you checking behind you when you walk down a dark hallway.
The new Mrs. de Winter is haunted by her husband’s first wife, Rebecca. The deceit will have you second-guessing everything you read while you yell at the pages.
One of the most acclaimed psychological thriller authors, this novel is Daphne Du Maurier at her best. It is a chilling novel about a naive second wife discovering the truth behind the wife who came before her.
The Netflix book adaptation stars Lily James – and it reignited this popular thriller book’s success. If you have not read this book, it is a perfect book for fall.
I read this popular thriller book because it was a Reese Witherspoon pick AND because I heard wonderful things about it. Unfortunately, I read The Wife Between Us back in January so I completely predicted what was going to happen in this book.
As with all thrillers, especially domestic thrillers, when the element of surprise is missing, it’s not as good a read. Still, I found this stalker book to be enjoyable if only because of the plotting of Amber Patterson. I adored being in the head of the villain. If you are looking for a very readable psychological thriller book, this is a great pick.
Psychological Thriller Books for Young Adults
Hello Dark Academia. Centered around Devon and Chiamaka, the only black students at an elite private school, this is one wild thriller.
After being chosen by prefects on the first day of their senior year, Devon and Chiamaka quickly become the targets of the mysterious Aces – a dangerous gossip girl-type character out to ruin their lives.
I was on pins and needles as this thriller unraveled, addressing systemic racism in private institutions in the process.
This YA locked room mystery is one of my favorites on the list. It is the breakfast club meets murder and I am obsessed. The Brain, the Beauty, the Criminal, The Athlete, and the Outcast are all in detention together. Only, Simon, the outcast is dead before he can leave the room.
With everyone holding onto secrets and everyone with a motive, can you figure out who did it? if you are looking for the best mystery books, this YA psychological thriller book is one where you will not guess the ending.
At a prestigious private school in New England, a group of kids known as “The Players” rule the school. They get top grades, get into the best schools, and rule the social scene. This is one of the books set in high school that makes me glad I never have to go back.
But when one of the girls in the group is murdered, her best friend Jill begins to investigate who the real murderer is and just how dark their privileged world is. This is a book that will make you think about what privilege means and the lengths people will take to get what they want.
What is a Psychological Thriller Book?
The best psychological thriller books will usually have complex plots that twist and turn with no clear ending. These are the books that are the most fun to read. There may or may not be a mystery component to the book. We believe that a book can be a psychological thriller and a mystery simultaneously. These are often our favorite thrillers.
If you love psychological thriller books, you will find more in this list of popular thrillers
If you love this list of the best psychological thriller books, you will love this list of unreliable narrator books.