16 Best Thriller Books of All Time (Seriously)
What makes a good thriller novel? Is it the suspenseful storylines? The nail-biting moments that keep you up at night? Or is it the character development and compelling narratives that make you want to read more and more as the story unfolds?
In this article, we’ll explore some of the best thriller books of all time. You might be surprised by what shows up on our list!
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4 Best Thriller Novels of All Time
1. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
The novel explores human nature and the main theme being secrets. The book begins with ten characters, all strangers to one another, who are invited by an unknown host on an isolated island off the coast of Devon. One by one they start dying, and it is up to the last few survivors to figure out who’s behind these grisly murders.
2. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
This is one of the best psychological thriller books hands down.
It’s a gripping story from page one that will keep you up until late in the night as you devour every word on your Kindle screen. The main character is Theo Faber, a psychotherapist who treats Alicia Berenson who has seemingly gone mute after “killing” her husband. As the book unravels what truly happened that day, the plot twists and turns at every corner.
3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is a mind-bending masterclass in psychological suspense that will keep you thinking and guessing until the very end.
It follows Nick Dunne, who comes home one day to find his wife Amy missing and all signs point to something sinister had happened while he was away on business for five days.
As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love.
With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife?
The rest of the book unravels what actually occurred during those five days as we see events from both perspectives: how it unfolds through the eyes of each character makes this one of the best thriller books of all time!
4. The Woman At The Window by A.J Finn
This is one of the best thriller novels of all time, and here’s why.
It follows Anna Fox who lives alone – a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. Once an artist with a singular passion, she hasn’t picked up a paintbrush since her daughter disappeared over ten years ago.
For Anna each day is the same until she witnesses something shocking from her window; quickly realizing that only she can prevent another murder.
4 Best Psychological Thriller Books of All Time
1. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
What a chilling read, if you loved Shutter Island the movie – then I have news for you, it’s was originally an amazing psychological thriller novel!
In this book, we follow Teddy Daniels as he investigates the disappearance of an inmate from Shutter Island. As the story unfolds and more information is revealed, it becomes clear that there’s something far more sinister going on at the asylum than meets the eye.
2. The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins
This is one of the best psychological thriller books of all time because it will keep you up until late at night!
The book follows Rachel – a lonely divorcee who spends her train commute fantasizing about the seemingly perfect couple who live in a house that passes by on her daily train ride.
But when she sees something shocking happen there, everything changes, and soon her life begins to spiral out of control in an all too terrifying way…
I don’t want to give away any spoilers so I’ll just say this: if you haven’t read The Girl On The Train…what are you even doing?!!
3. The Guest List by Lucy Foley
On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one.
The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher.
It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey.
The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.
But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?
4. The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
This is one of the greatest psychological thriller novels ever written because it is absolutely chilling from beginning to end!
The book follows Vanessa, who after twelve years as a devoted wife and mother has decided to leave her husband. But before she can tell him about plans for their future, he reveals that he’s already met someone else—and now there are two women wondering what happened to their happy lives…
I don’t want to give away any spoilers so I’ll just say this: if you haven’t read The Wife Between Us yet – then do yourself a favor and get on it!
4 Best Crime Thriller Books of All Time
1. One by One by Ruth Ware
This amazing crime thriller book is great especially during the colder months like November or December.
“Getting snowed in at a beautiful, rustic mountain chalet doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world, especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a cozy fire, and company to keep you warm. But what happens when that company is eight of your coworkers…and you can’t trust any of them?
When an off-site company retreat meant to promote mindfulness and collaboration goes utterly wrong when an avalanche hits, the corporate food chain becomes irrelevant and survival trumps togetherness. Come Monday morning, how many members short will the team be?” – Goodreads
2. The Killing Tide by Lin Anderson
When it comes to incredibly well-written crime thrillers of all time, this is hands-down one of my go-to books. Can you tell why, from the synopsis?
The Killing Tide by Lin Anderson sees forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod investigating a mysteriously abandoned ship that has swept ashore in the Orkney Isles. With two gruesome cases – one with a burn victim and one with a boat full of dead bodies – Rhona has her hands full.
As evidence arises that connects the two cases, the team grows increasingly concerned that the truth of what happened on the ship and in Glasgow hints at a wider conspiracy that stretches down to London and beyond to a global stage.
3. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
This crime thriller book is great especially if you like British-based books as it’s incredibly funny.
In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves The Thursday Murder Club.
When a local developer is found dead with a mysterious photograph left next to the body, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly finds themselves in the middle of their first live case. As the bodies begin to pile up, can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?
Haha! I love this because who doesn’t fantasize about solving crimes? This book really brings out your inner Sherlock Holmes!
4.The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
If you’re searching best thrillers of all time and this book didn’t come up – I’d be shocked.
The Conti’s seem to have everything like an everyday modern family. A beautiful child, loving relationship, and wonderful home.
But one night, everything changes. At a dinner party next door – a terrible crime occurs and suspicion immediately falls onto the Conti’s.
Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years.
4 Best Mystery Thriller Books of All Time
1. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
If you’re looking for an incredible psychological thriller then this is definitely the book to read. It’s incredibly clever and all-around well written, I’m pretty sure it won’t disappoint!
Jane is a single mom who has just moved to town with her son Ziggy. When she meets Madeline, Celeste, and Renata, they form a delicate bond. But as her new group of friends – and Jane’s ex-husband – start to edge closer, secrets begin to surface – ones that could threaten the strength of their relationships and even put those around them in danger.
2. Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
Jules, our main protagonist is given the opportunity of a lifetime: to move into and live in one of New York City’s most luxurious apartment complexes for free.
All she needs to do? Stay in the apartment despite all the disturbing and frightening stories.
Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago.
When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story—until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.
3. Sadie by Courtney Summers
While this book is not necessarily in the traditional genre of thrillers, it’s still a great read that keeps you on your toes. It’s an incredibly raw and honest story about grief and loss—it will leave you feeling like your heart has been ripped out (in the best way possible).
Told in multiple POV’S one of which is an individual writing a podcast on this uncanny mystery and Sadie, our main female protagonist.
Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town while their drug-addicted mother lingers in and out of rehab facilities.
But when Mattie is found dead—Sadie refuses to let her sister go without finding the culprit behind her death. Sadie embarks on a journey like no other to figure out what truly happened to her sister.
Listen to the audio version of this book on Audible! It’s so worth it.
4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
This book is a must-read for any thriller lover. It’s one of the best mystery thriller books of all time.
“Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth.
He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.” – Goodreads
You can check out my other book reviews like my most recent one on An Ember in The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir if you’d like to read more content!
This blog post has 16 best thriller books of all time listed. All these thrillers are incredibly well written and they’re definitely worth your read. They’ll keep you on the edge of your seat, I promise!
Now go and grab yourself a copy and start reading one today!
I APPRECIATE YOUR REVIEWS. I WAS JUST CHECKING TO SEE IF BEN RICHARDS, CO-WRITER OF “the tunnel'” was listed. He is a European screen writer and novelist.
Love searching these lists. Helps in finding great books. And there are a lot!
I have read all but 4 on your list. I absolutely rapid fire page turned all the rest.
I am heading to the library to search out the remaining reads. Thank you for posting these. Also, the books are all unique thrillers with varying styles and POV; but all compelling. Kind regards, Jennie P.