Chilling Domestic Noir: The 24 Best Domestic Thriller Books
We were recently looking through our Ultimate List of Thrillers and found that so many of these books fall into the genre of domestic noir or domestic thriller books as they are also called.
This genre of domestic thrillers is based on personal relationships and what can happen when these relationships go very wrong. Every one of these books is filled with twists and turns, secrets, and enough gaslighting to keep even the most hard-core domestic noir fan gasping in surprise on the last page.
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Who are the best Domestic Noir Writers
Lisa Jewell, Ruth Ware, Alice Feeney, Jennifer Hillier, Kaira Rouda, Rachel Hawkins, and Hendricks & Pekkanen have all made a name for themselves and the best domestic thriller writers.
Best Domestic Noir Books of 2023
The Golden Spoon by Jessa Maxwell
Every summer for the past ten years, bakers come to a Vermont estate for filming a hit television show with the famous host and estate owner Betsy Martin. This year, something is off with the competition as things start to go awry on the set. Suddenly, a body is discovered in this locked room mystery.
I read this novel about food in a day and I absolutely loved it. As domestic thrillers go, it felt like Agatha Christie meets the Great British Baking Show. There is more than meets the eye with this cozy mystery and I loved every minute. As you get to know each character, the story becomes that much better they are equal parts delightful, hilarious, and suspicious.
The Soulmate by Sally Hepworth
Gabe and Pippa have their dream cottage by the sea, so they think. They quickly realize that this is the place people come to when they want to end it all. Gabe never fails to save them the one time he knew the victim. Is this a mere coincidence?
Sally Hepworth never fails to deliver an amazing roller coaster of a ride and this domestic noir is no exception. It is one of the best domestic thriller books of 2023.
Best Domestic Noir Books of 2022
The Family Game by Catherine Steadman
This might just be the best thriller of 2022. I was on the edge of my seat as Steadman expertly guided me through the twisted games of the Holbeck family. This NYC society clan may seem like an untouchable, elite group with everything, but inside their homes, dark and dangerous things are at play.
I loved watching Harry interact with her fiancé, Edward’s family for the first time. Seeing the Holbecks through her eyes was the perfect way to approach the story.
I couldn’t listen to this domestic thriller fast enough as each game unfolded, ending on a bloody Christmas Eve. If you read only one thriller book this year, let this be it! We cannot recommend this pick from ultimate beach reads 2023 more!
Things We Do in the Dark by Jennifer Hillier
I was about 10% of the way through when the story suddenly came to life. When Paris Peralta comes home and finds her husband dead in the bathtub, she panics, knocks herself out, and finds herself the suspect in his murder.
Paris finds herself under media scrutiny and gains the attention of people from her past. There is so much to this domestic thriller that is unexpected. I don’t want to ruin the surprises for you. But obviously, the mentions of Canada warm my heart!
Domestic Thrillers Involving Children
Playing Nice by J.P. Delaney
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 definitely one of the best domestic thriller books we have read!
The Push by Ashley Audrain
January 2021 GMA Book Club Pick
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 really is 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 that good.
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
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 absolutely loved it.
I should say that “the incident” is almost immediate. This was important to me so that it would not be heart-wrenching. I loved it.
The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
May 2021 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick
I raved about this book when I read it earlier this month! Well-chosen, Reese! The story of a stepmother and her daughter as they try to find the girl’s father after his abrupt departure. This is a powerful book about motherhood.
This mystery has so much heart as you see Hannah bond with and try to protect her new stepdaughter, Bailey. I did not see the ending of this book coming, but absolutely adored it. This is one of the mystery books that will keep you turning the page.
Then She was Gone by Lisa Jewell
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 book would be.
I think the point of this was to take the fear factor up a few notches. This book definitely left me wanting to keep my kids a little closer to home.
Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter with her whole life ahead of her until she disappears 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.
Domestic Thrillers About Husbands and Wives
The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins
This is a Jane Eyre classic retelling featuring a southern home decor influencer! Told by both the second wife and through the diary entries of the first, this domestic thriller is perfect for year-round reading.
Kirsten was shocked, Jackie guessed a lot of it, but we both enjoyed it a great deal. Who would have thought that so many influencer books would be thrillers?
Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney
This newest book by Alice Feeney is another great read. Her books always have me turning the pages. This hotel novel starts with Adam and Amelia Wright headed to a weekend away in a remote Scottish getaway to save their marriage.
Told from the point of view of both Adam and Amelia, it is clear that one weekend away may not be enough. Each year of their marriage, Adam and his wife exchange traditional wedding gifts and she writes him a letter that she will not let him read.
When reading a domestic noir you expect twists and turns because that is part of the fun. While I expected a few, some of them were completely unexpected!
The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
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 unreliable narrator book will have you on the edge of your seat.
Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda
This story mostly takes place during a car ride when a husband and wife are on their way up to their vacation home.
I can’t talk much more about what I loved about this book without giving away the plot. I will say that the narrator is unlike any I have read before and for all you fans of Gone Girl and Girl on the Train…this domestic thriller is perfect for you!
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
This is one of the domestic thriller books that almost everyone has heard of when it became a hit movie. It is the perfect example of what happens when a marriage goes terribly wrong.
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 them, but this is one thriller you will not forget.
The Wives by Tarryn Fisher
The Wives was definitely high on my list of thrillers for 2019. This pick from domestic thriller books will lead you around and around, back and forth, so that you never really have an idea of which direction you are going.
This is a fun and quick read that is perfect for a quiet night in, a relaxing afternoon, or any occasion at all. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the ending but the fact that I am still thinking about it says something. Imagine your husband has two other wives. Now imagine that one of them is being beaten by that man. Who is the man you married?
One Little Secret by Cate Holahan
Finally! A thriller that actually thrilled me! One Little Secret is a who-dun-it murder mystery about 3 couples who sublet a house in the Hamptons for a week. When one of them turns up dead, it’s up to Detective Watkins to figure out who did it.
There were secrets unveiled on almost every page, but the last 50 or so had me gasping out loud repeatedly. I totally did not see the ending coming. If you are looking for a great thriller, look no further!! This is perfect for fans of The Silent Patient and Woman in the Window.
Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman
June 2018 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick
Another former Reese Book Club pick, this thriller was a slow build with an explosive finish. When two newlyweds find something in the water on their honeymoon, the story picks up the pace and I couldn’t put it down.
I really loved how the heroine changes over the course of this domestic thriller. It felt very realistic based on the circumstances.
Stalker Domestic Thriller Books
Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Rachel takes the same train every day and peers out the window watching people. She watched 2 people in particular as they lead what appears to be a perfect life until one day she sees 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. Unreliable narrators like Rachel make the best page-turners! You never know what to believe.
The Woman in the Window: A Novel by AJ Finn
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 but, she can sit at her window and watch everyone in the neighborhood.
When she sees something across the street, she is sure that there has been a crime but, what is real and what is imagined? Amy Adams stars in the Netflix adaptation of this unreliable narrator book.
Too Good to be True by Carola Lovering
This is one of the most enjoyable thrillers I’ve read in a while. Even after I was surprised by twist after turn, the story kept moving in an unexpected direction. I love a thriller that I not only did not expect the ending but that I actually like some of the characters and where the story ends.
Skye Starling is engaged to a handsome older man who seems to be the answer to her crippling OCD. When Skye realizes that Burke is actually happily married and is using Skye, the story starts to twist and turn.
The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
December 2017 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick
I read this one because it was a Reese Witherspoon pick AND because I had 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, but I still found it to be enjoyable.
Best Domestic Thriller Books for the Beach
The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
I love Lisa Jewell. As I read her books I find each one creepier than the last. This book starts with Libby’s 25th birthday when she inherits a multi-million dollar home. She knows that she was adopted at 10 months old but, she doesn’t know the truth about what happened to her family. She is shocked to find that the story that she was told is not what happened to her family.
25+ years ago Henry, his sister, and his parents are living a very privileged life. When he is 12 years old, things change when David moves into the house with his wife and kids with no plans to leave. He is charismatic and alluring to everyone except Henry. The story moves between past and present until the two stories come together and you finally understand what happened in the house all those years ago. I love listening to full cast audiobooks and this one was no exception. If you love Lisa Jewell, check out our post: The Best Lisa Jewell Books Ranked: Complete List
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
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 novel was recently turned into a show on HBO starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, and more. If you have not read this pick from books about motherhood, we definitely recommend it.
The Family Plot by Megan Collins
CREEPY THRILLER VIBES ALERT. The premise of this book is perfect for true-crime documentary fanatics.
The Lighthouse children are named after famous murder victims. They live in a creepy house, known as murder mansion to locals, and live an isolated life.
After their father dies, Dahlia and her two siblings return home for the first time since her twin, Andy, disappeared 9 years earlier. When they bury their father, they find Andy’s body already in his family plot.
Dahlia vows that she won’t leave again until she uncovers Andy’s murderer, but the family secrets she unearths might turn her into the next victim.
Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger
Things are not what they seem in this psychological thriller that was more creepy than mysterious. I enjoyed this twisted tale. When Selena is on her way home from the office one night, she begins a conversation with a stranger, but nothing is really as it seems.
Is she a stranger? Why does she seem familiar? This missing-person domestic thriller will keep you on your toes and make you check over your shoulder.
Bring Me Back by B.A Paris
I love a really good psychological thriller and this book definitely satisfied the craving. The story begins when Finn and Layla are on vacation. Finn goes to the bathroom and when he comes back, Layla has disappeared and is never seen again.
Fast forward 10 years — Finn is engaged to Ellen, Layla’s sister. The domestic noir story moves along a twisted path that will lead you to a very unexpected ending.
Ultimate Beach Reads 2023: The Hottest Summer Reads
If you are looking for more great beach reads? Check out our post.
What is your favorite domestic thriller?
Ultimate List of Thrillers
Love Thrillers? We created this list and carefully divided it by sub-genre. These will definitely keep you on your toes.