aving spent the best part of my childhood evenings sat on the sofa gasping incredulously as Hercule Poirot announces the murderer from a line-up of characters both highly questionable and amusing in equal parts, I would like to think of myself as somewhat of a whodunnit connoisseur.
Naturally thriller novels have come a long way since the days of Agatha Christie or Arthur Conan Doyle where the detective, with all their wit and knowledge, put us to shame for accusing the most obvious of characters.
Not only have thriller novel detectives and storylines modernised, but so has the genre itself with thrillers now encompassing everything from a murder mystery, a stealthy horror or a jaw dropping twist.
If you’re new to the thriller genre or are looking to delve into the next great thriller series then it’s worth checking out authors such as Lisa Jewell, Harlan Coben, and Lee Child as well as the classics mentioned above – all of whom have published many thriller novels and series.
If you’re wondering where your next gasp of surprise and irritability of not guessing the ending will come from, then read on to discover the best thriller books from cult classics to new genre defining reads.
The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewel
In a nutshell: Teenage love turned incredibly sour
Award winning novelist Lisa Jewel has released countless thrillers all with their own dark twists and shocking revelations but The Night She Disappeared, her latest lockdown novel, is in another category entirely. This multi-layered story flicks between three time periods and perspectives simultaneously: a teenage couple with a newborn baby, their grandmother raising the child and a detective novelist moved from London to a lazy Surrey village. Eventually all paths will intertwine to reveal a terrible secret.
The Beach House by Beverley Jones
In a nutshell: Gripping story of a double life
This gripping thriller explores what it’s like to have a picture perfect life but with a deep and secret past. Set between Oregon in the US and a Welsh village, the book revolves around protagonist Grace Jenson who returns home one day to discover a dead body in her kitchen. From this she realises that her past, which she tried so hard to bury, has come back to haunt her and she must finally face up to what happened 17 years ago.
Nobody But Us by Laure Van Rensburg
In a nutshell: A complex couple both harbouring secret identities
This debut novel by French writer Laure Van Rensburg is not one to be missed this summer. Inspired by a true story shared during the MeToo movement, this book explores the power dynamics and the issue of consent between a questionable couple who have gone away for a, supposedly, romantic weekend getaway to a cabin deep in the forest.
Summer Fever by Kate Riordan
In a nutshell: A sexy summer read with a twist
If you’re looking for a summer read to devour by the pool or on the beach, look no further than Summer Fever. Set in the idyllic but remote Italian town of Luna Rossa, the book follows a struggling London-based couple who open a holiday home for other couples but not all is as it seems as they welcome their first couple to stay. With constant simmering undertones, this book will make you wish you were on holiday in Italy; just not with this group of people.
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
In a nutshell: A disgruntled journalist explores the dark secret of her childhood village
Written by the same author as Gone Girl, a story with an unforgettable jaw dropping twist, this book will equally shock and amuse readers. It follows a Chicago-based journalist with her own vices, who is sent back to her all-American childhood town to investigate the murders of two little girls – and what she discovers will change her life forever. The book has also been turned into a chilling TV series featuring Amy Adams.
IT by Stephen King
In a nutshell: A horror novel that exploits our darkest fears
Written in 1986 by the king of thrillers, Stephen King, IT is his 22nd book and still holds as much grip over readers today as it did 30 years ago. The book has soared back into popularity following the chilling film series from 2017 and 2019. The story explores themes such as childhood trauma, the power of memory and what lies beneath the surface of seemingly idyllic American towns.
That Green Eyed Girl by Julie Owen Moylan
In a nutshell: The dangerous repercussions of forbidden love and deceit
Set in the smoky jazz bars of 1950s New York, this debut novel by Julie Owen Moylan brings to life an array of powerful, bold and complicated women – all of whom have their own stories and secrets. The mystery at hand is soft and gently unfolds to climax into a satisfying but heartbreaking ending.
Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan
In a nutshell: An unravelling marriage in the era of the MeToo movement
Published in 2018, but regained fame in recent months thanks to the powerful Netflix drama based on the book, Anatomy of a Scandal explores society’s entrenched ideas of class, toxic masculinity and privilege all through the lens of a high-profile marriage unravelling at the heart of British politics.
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
In a nutshell: The iconic Hercule Poirot investigates his first case
Fans of Agatha Christie will have no doubt read the first of the Poirot novels along with the other 33 books he appears in. However, this collectors edition brings the story to life with a beautiful hardback cover and wonderful illustrations throughout, meaning whether you’re a diehard Christie fan or a first time reader you’ll want to re-read this novel to re-examine what you thought you knew.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carré
In a nutshell: Cold war espionage thriller of a Russian mole at MI6
The first in Le Carré’s Karla trilogy, Tinker Tailor Spy is a cold war thriller like no other. Shrouded in history, spymaster George Smiley is brought out of retirement and instructed to hunt down the Moscow Centre mole who has infiltrated Britain’s Intelligence Service. As one of the greatest espionage novels of all time, you’ll be unable to put this book down.