Must-read thrillers written by women

From high-flying US politics to murders in rural Devon, and from swirling conspiracies to stifling relationships, these thrillers written by women take us into some dark and intriguing places.

Talented female writers are behind this collection of gripping, gritty and sometimes glamorous thriller novels. Amongst them are former presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, co-author of political thriller State of Terror; bestseller Danielle Steel; and Ann Cleeves who brings us the troubled tale of Detective Matthew Venn, who is mourning his father as well as investigating a murder.

Read on for our selection of just some of the very best thriller books by female authors.

State of Terror

by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Book cover for State of Terror

This gripping and acclaimed international political thriller was co-written by Hillary Rodham Clinton, the 67th US secretary of state, and Louise Penny, an award-winning New York Times bestselling novelist. Take your seat in the knife-edge world of international politics . . . A new government has just been sworn in, and secretary of state Ellen Adams is intent on serving her country. But a shocking global threat is on the horizon, in the form of a terrorist organisation that is devastating Europe. Ellen looks back at the former president's damaging impact on international affairs. Was he worse than ineffectual? Could he have been a traitor?

Magma

by Thora Hjörleifsdóttir

Book cover for Magma

This poetic novel, translated from Icelandic, explores the dark side of desire. Twenty-year old Lilja has fallen for an elegant intellectual older man. But he is also a narcissist and a manipulator. Blinded to his faults, and desperate to explain away his behaviour, she accepts his infidelity and machinations. Lilja is unable to escape this toxicity, until an ultimatum forces the issue, and she can choose whether to be free.

The Long Call

by Ann Cleeves

Book cover for The Long Call

Set in north Devon, The Long Call is written by Sunday Times bestseller and creator of Vera and Shetland, Ann Cleeves. At the point where the rivers Taw and Torridge meet and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father is buried. When he left the rigid evangelical community he grew up in, Matthew lost his family too. Now he is back, to mourn his father, and to run his first case in the Two Rivers area. A body has been found – a man with an albatross tattoo on his neck has been stabbed to death – and the search for a suspect leads Matthew into the deadly heart of the community he left behind.

The Golden Couple

by Greer Hendricks

Book cover for The Golden Couple

The Golden Couple is the new addictive page-turning psychological thriller from Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, the authors of the bestselling The Wife Between Us.

Marissa and Mathew Bishop seem like the golden couple . . . until Marissa cheats. In a desperate attempt to repair her family, Marissa takes a chance on maverick therapist Avery Chambers, who lost her licence due to controversial methods. But when the Bishops step into Avery’s office, it soon becomes clear that the biggest secrets in the room are still hidden, and it’s no longer simply a marriage that’s in danger. 

Not all of them are who they seem, and matters are about to turn deadly . . . 

Daisy Darker

by Alice Feeney

Book cover for Daisy Darker

Daisy Darker is arriving at her grandmother’s house for her eightieth birthday. It is Halloween, and Seaglass – the crumbling Cornish house perched upon its own tiny private island – is at one with the granite rocks it sits on. The Darker family haven’t all been in the same place for over a decade, and when the tide comes in they’ll be cut off from the rest of the world for eight hours. When the tide goes back out, nothing will ever be the same again, because one of them is a killer . . .

The Murders at Fleat House

by Lucinda Riley

Book cover for The Murders at Fleat House

The sudden death of a pupil in Fleat House at St Stephen’s – a small private boarding school in deepest Norfolk – is a shocking event that the headmaster is very keen to call a tragic accident. But the local police cannot rule out foul play and the case prompts the return of high-flying Detective Inspector Jazmine ‘Jazz’ Hunter to the force. Jazz begins to probe the circumstances surrounding Charlie Cavendish’s tragic death, but events soon take another troubling turn when Charlie is exposed as an arrogant bully, giving those around him a motive to switch the drugs he took daily to control his epilepsy. As staff at the school close ranks, the disappearance of another young pupil and the death of an elderly Classics master provide Jazz with important leads, but as snow covers the landscape and another suspect goes missing, Jazz must also confront her personal demons . . .

Suspects

by Danielle Steel

Book cover for Suspects

Theodora Morgan is fashion royalty, although she prefers to keep a low profile, especially in recent months. It's been one year since her husband, industry mogul Matthieu Pasquier, and their son were kidnapped and held for ransom – a nightmare that ended in tragedy.

The case has gone cold, but CIA operative Mike Andrews has reason to believe that high-society ‘networkist’ Pierre de Vaumont might be hiding a dark secret. Posing as a lawyer, Mike begins a covert mission to uncover the truth and when Mike and Theo meet their connection is instant, but Theo is completely unaware of Mike’s true objective or identity . . . or that the life she is rebuilding is in grave danger.

The Favour

by Nora Murphy

Book cover for The Favour

Smart professional women, Leah Dawson and McKenna Hawkins share a lot, though they have never met. They both live in sunny affluent areas with picket fences and gorgeous gardens. Both are married to men who are intent on having 'the perfect wife.' When the two women do finally cross paths, they recognise each other, each instinctively knowing that the other lives in hell, a hell of their husband's making. There is no escape from hell . . . Or is there?

We Had To Remove This Post

by Hanna Bervoets

Book cover for We Had To Remove This Post

Translated by Emma Rault

Kayleigh needs money. That’s why she takes a job at a social media platform whose name she isn’t allowed to mention. Her job: reviewing offensive videos and pictures, rants and conspiracy theories, and deciding which need to be removed. It’s gruelling work, yet Kayleigh is good at her job, and in her colleagues she finds a group of friends, even a new girlfriend — and for the first time in her life, Kayleigh’s future seems bright. But soon the job seems to change them all, shifting their worlds in alarming ways. When her colleagues begin to break down; when Sigrid, her new girlfriend, grows increasingly distant and fragile; when her friends start espousing the very conspiracy theories they’re meant to be evaluating; Kayleigh begins to wonder if the job may be too much for them. She’s still totally fine, though – or is she?

Into the Dark

by Fiona Cummins

Book cover for Into the Dark

The kettle is still warm, all the family’s phones are charging on the worktop, but the house is deserted . . . 

In fifteen-year-old Riva Holden’s bedroom, scrawled across the mirror in blood, are three words: Make Them Stop.

In a gorgeous Art Deco home looking out to the bay of Midtown-on-Sea, a terrible crime has come to light. An entire family – Piper and Gray and their two teenage children – has vanished. Cue the arrival of DS Saul Anguish, a brilliant detective with a difficult past. As he begins to untangle the painful story of the disappearance, he must face his own demons.

The Mother

by Yvvette Edwards

Book cover for The Mother

Marcia Williams thought she knew her son. She thought he was safe. She was wrong.

Marcia is heading to the Old Bailey. She's going there to do something no mother should ever have to do: to attend the trial of the boy accused of her son's murder.

She's not meant to be that woman; Ryan, her son, wasn't that kind of boy. But Tyson Manley is that kind of a boy and, as his trial unfolds, it becomes clear that it's his girlfriend Sweetie who has the answers Marcia so badly needs and who can - perhaps - offer Marcia some kind of hope for the future. But Sweetie is as scared of Tyson as Ryan should have been and, as Marcia's learned the hard way, nothing's certain.

The Hidden Girls

by Rebecca Whitney

Book cover for The Hidden Girls

Ruth is a new mother recovering from postpartum psychosis, and after months of hearing voices she’s no longer sure of her own judgement – and neither, it seems, is anyone else. When she hears a scream from a petrol station one night, she thinks it must be her mind playing tricks again, and the police and her husband agree. But what if there was a scream? Someone could be in trouble. They could need Ruth’s help . . . 

The Party House

by Lin Anderson

Book cover for The Party House

Ravaged by a pandemic which comes to their community via outsiders, the residents of Blackrig village in the Scottish Highlands are angered when they learn that the nearby estate is planning to reopen its luxurious 'party house.' Part of the property is damaged and, in the resulting confusion, the body of a young girl is found. Seventeen-year-old Ailsa Cummings had gone missing five years before and – till now – her body had never been found. Suspicion falls on the estate's gamekeeper Greg. Can his new lover Joanne learn to trust him? And, with secrets abounding, can Greg trust her?