The best thriller books of 2020

Here we share our edit of the most exciting thriller books of 2020, from tense courtroom dramas to gripping psychological page-turners, and look back at the very best crime thrillers of 2019.

10/10/2020
5 minutes to read

 From edge-of-your-seat psychological thrillers to gripping crime novels, 2020 is set to be a nail-biting year for thriller books. Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen return with their third novel, another stunning psychological thriller about a group of women who appear to have it all, while David Baldacci's hero Amos Decker returns in a new action-packed crime thriller.  Here, we’ve curated our edit of the best thriller books of 2020, and for even more inspiration we look back at the very best thrillers of 2019.

The best new thriller books of 2020

I Follow You

by Peter James

Book cover for 9781509816279

This nerve-shredding standalone thriller is a must-read for fans of Peter James. Marcus Valentine seems like he has it all. He’s a suave, charming and confident doctor with a happy family. But something, or someone, has always been missing. Then one day, he narrowly misses hitting a jogger with his car. As she runs off, he’s sure that she’s a girl from his past. A girl he’s never been able to forget. As he is consumed by his obsession with her, events take a tragic turn. 

Defend or Die

by Tom Marcus

Book cover for 9781509863624

Defend or Die is the second explosive thriller featuring former M15 agent Matt Logan.  Now part of a totally deniable government organisation known as ‘Blindeye’, they have the licence to do whatever it takes to protect the UK’s national security. When they start digging into the life of a Russian oligarch who may be connected to the threat of a terror attack in London, they soon discover a network of incredibly dangerous individuals who could tear the nation apart. 

Daylight

by David Baldacci

Book cover for 9781509874576

The third book in the Atlee Pine series from bestselling thriller writer David Baldacci sees Atlee teaming up with her old friend, military investigator John Puller. As they work together to investigate Ito Vincenzo, the man responsible for kidnapping Atlee’s sister, they uncover the lies and deceit that strike at the very heart of democracy. And the truth of what happened to Atlee’s sister will shock her to her core.  

The Hidden Girls

by Rebecca Whitney

Book cover for 9781447265863

This dark psychological thriller from debut author Rebecca Whitney is not to be missed. 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 . . . 

Walk the Wire

by David Baldacci

Book cover for 9781509874545

Amos Decker and Alex Jamison are called to the remote North Dakota Badlands when the remains of a woman are discovered on the Great Plains. The woman was a teacher at a school managed by a mysterious male-run sect, and no one seems to know who she is or where she came from. As they seek information from London, the local town at the centre of the fracking industry, they find that jealousy and deep rivalries exist between its richest investors. But it is the highly classified Air Force facility nearby that may really hold the answers . . .

Our Dark Secret

by Jenny Quintana

Book cover for 9781509839483

As a teenager in the 1970s, Elizabeth was clever and overweight, a perfect target for bullies. Then Rachel and her family moved to town, and everything changed. She was drawn to bright, beautiful Rachel like a moth to a flame. Their friendship wasn’t exactly equal, but Elizabeth would do anything for Rachel. Then the first body was found . . . When, twenty years on, another body is found, Elizabeth is desperate to keep the secrets of her teenage years secret. But she can’t keep running from her past. Can she? This intelligent crime thriller book is a must-read for fans of Jenny Quintana’s The Missing Girl.

The Darkest Evening

by Ann Cleeves

Book cover for 9781509889518

The Darkest Evening is the ninth novel in Ann Cleeves' Vera Stanhope series, a critically-acclaimed series of detective novels that follow Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope, and now a major ITV drama in its tenth series.

A classic country house mystery with a contemporary twist, Vera's latest case begins, when, driving home through a thick blizzard, she sees a car slewed off the road ahead of her and finds a young toddler, alone on the back seat.

Fearing for the child's safety, Vera takes the child and drives on to the nearest house, arriving at Brockburn, a run-down stately home to find a party in full swing, but outside in the snow, a young woman lies dead . . .

In a classic country house mystery with a contemporary twist, this is a crime thriller to savour.

Discover all of the novels in Ann Cleeves' Vera Stanhope series here.

Find Them Dead

by Peter James

Book cover for 9781529004304

Award-winning crime thriller writer Peter James is back with a gripping new Roy Grace book.  A Brighton gangster is on trial for conspiracy to murder, and on the first day of the trial, there is one person in the gallery observing the jurors with keen interest. The gangster’s henchmen need to influence two of the jurors if he is to be found not guilty – but which two? When Roy Grace is called to investigate a murder with links to the trial, he realises how powerful the accused really is. 

Discover all the Roy Grace books here.

If I Can't Have You

by Charlotte Levin

Book cover for 9781529032390

When Constance Little meets Samuel, a doctor at the GP surgery where she works as a receptionist, she knows that he’s the one. Samuel seems less sure, but if Constance has learnt anything in life, it’s that when you love someone, you never let them go. If I Can’t Have You is an all-consuming novel about loneliness, obsession and how far we go for the ones we love.

The Half Sister

by Sandie Jones

Book cover for 9781529033014

Sisters Kate and Lauren have always been there for each other, but a knock at the door during their weekly Sunday lunch turns their world upside down. Because the woman at the door is claiming to be their half sister – which would mean she’s the daughter or their beloved late father. Kate and Lauren refuse to believe Jess’s lies, but it soon becomes clear that the sisters are hiding secrets of their own . . . This is a page turning thriller from the author of The Other Woman.

Sisters

by Michelle Frances

Book cover for 9781509877171

The sibling rivalry runs deep between Abby and Ellie. They were never close as children, and not much has changed since then. Abby always resented Ellie for being their mother’s favourite, while Ellie is jealous of Abby’s perfect husband and beautiful home on the Italian island of Elba. When Abby invites Ellie to stay, they hope they can finally put aside their differences, but with their mother also there simmering tensions soon explode. And Abby begins to suspect that her mother and sister are keeping a dangerous secret . . .

The Last Trial

by Scott Turow

Book cover for 9781529039085

Kindle County’s most revered courtroom advocate, Sandy Stern, has been persuaded to defend his old friend Kiril Pafko, despite being eighty-five years old and in precarious health. The former Nobel prize-winner has been charged in a federal racketeering indictment with fraud, insider trading and murder. As Stern begins to question everything he thought he knew about his friend, he finds his duty to defend his client and his belief in the judicial system facing a terrible final test. This masterful legal thriller unfolds with page-turning suspense.

One Good Deed

by David Baldacci

Book cover for 9781529027501

Murder, secrets, revenge, and just a touch of romance combine in this noir-inspired thriller with a twist which is sure to keep you gripped until the very last page. Aloysius Archer wants to start a new, peaceful life in Poca City after serving a prison sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. But he takes on more than he bargained for when he starts work as a debt collector for local business tycoon Hank Pittleman and becomes involved with some of the town's most dangerous residents.

Explore more of David Baldacci’s books here.

The Secret of Cold Hill

by Peter James

Book cover for 9781509816255

When Cold Hill House went up in flames, so did the memories of its violent history. Now it's been replaced by a new development of ultra-modern houses, and although construction is still underway, the first two families can't wait to move into their new homes. But it's not long before they start to feel uncomfortable in their new homes. And one thing the estate agents never mentioned; no one ever lived beyond forty in Cold Hill House . . . This is a spine-chilling thriller from the author of the Roy Grace series

Girl in the Rearview Mirror

by Kelsey Rae Dimberg

Book cover for 9781509895847

This page-turning thriller about power and privilege will have you on the edge of your seat. Finn Hunt leaves her life in the Midwest behind for a fresh start in Arizona. When she finds a job as a nanny for the young daughter of a US senator, she also finds herself being pulled into the family's privileged life. But when a strange woman begins to follow Finn and her young charge, she realises that the senator and is family are hiding some dark secrets. 

Recursion

by Blake Crouch

Book cover for 9781509866670

Barry Sutton is on a quest for the truth. Across the country people are waking up with memories of a life they have not lived. Are they victims of a mysterious, new disease affecting memory? Or is something terrible happening to the very fabric of reality? Recursion is the follow-up to the time twisting science fiction thriller Dark Matter.

Witness

by Mandasue Heller

Book cover for 9781529024265

Holly Evans is constantly on the move with her over-protective mum. When they move into an illegal sub-let in Manchester, Holly feels settled for the first time in her life, but why is she forbidden to go out, or even open the door when her mum's not there?

This gritty thriller paints a dark picture of Manchester's underworld, and will have you gripped until the last page.

Black 13

by Adam Hamdy

Book cover for 9781529035131

Black 13 is the exhilarating first spy thriller book in Adam Hamdy’s Scott Pearce series. Radical extremists are rising and governments, the military and intelligence agencies are outmanoeuvred, borders are breaking down and the people in power are puppets. In this new world, one man will make a difference. That man is Ex-MI6 agent in exile, Scott Pearce.

Blood in the Water

by Jack Flynn

Book cover for 9781447298298

Homeland Security agent Kit Steel is comitted to combating terrorism. And she's after the blood of her nemesis, Vincente Carpio, one of the world's most ruthless and dangeroud criminals. He was responsible for the death of her husband and young son, and Kit is determined to keep him behind bars forever. But the manipulative Carpio still has influence on the outside, and he's just waiting for the right moment to strike . . . 

A Window Breaks

by C. M. Ewan

Book cover for 9781529009675

If your family was targeted in the middle of the night, what would you do? After a horrible tragedy, a family retreat to rural Scotland for a much-needed escape. But, in the dead of night, a group of strangers break into the house. As the family fight for their lives, long-kept secrets are revealed and everything could be lost. This nerve-shredding thriller book will keep you up at night.

The Knock

by Jessie Keane

Book cover for 9781509854998

Dora O’Brien’s life started to go bad when she began to mix with the wrong company. Pregnant, homeless and under the power of corrupt policeman Donny Maguire, Dora struggles with drink and drugs. Her daughter Angel grows up in the shadow of her mother’s abusive relationship, but when things turn murderous, she’s forced to grow up fast. Survival is the only thing that matters, and sometimes being on the wrong side of the law is the safest place to be . . . This is crime fiction at its most gritty. 

You Are Not Alone

by Greer Hendricks

Book cover for 9781529010770

Shay Miller has no job, no apartment and no boyfriend. When she witnesses a young woman throw herself in front of a train, she realises she could end up in the same spiral. But soon she meets a group of women who seem to have their lives together, and who invite her to join them, telling her, ‘You are not alone.’ As she is pulled deeper under the spell of the glamorous Moore sisters her life gets better and better, but what price does she have to pay? You are not alone. Is that a promise, or a threat? You Are Not Alone is set to be one of the most unforgettable psychological thrillers of 2020.

The Fifth Column

by Andrew Gross

Book cover for 9781509878444

It’s 1939 and Europe is on the brink of war. As Charles Mossman encounters a hate-filled Nazi sympathiser rally in New York, he confronts one of them, with deadly consequences. Two years later he is released from prison and all he wants is to make amends to his family. But support for the Allies is driving the Nazi sympathisers underground, and Charles is certain that dark forces are exploiting them.

When I Was Ten

by Fiona Cummins

Book cover for 9781509876969

Dr Richard Carter and his wife were murdered in what was one of the most infamous double murders of the modern age. Their daughter, ten-year-old Sara Carter, spent eight years in a children’s secure unit for the crime, and is now living a quiet life under an assumed name.  with a family of her own. On the anniversary of the crime, journalist Brinley Booth is tasked with tracking down Sara and her older sister Shannon. But Brinley isn’t just a journalist – she’s also the sisters’ childhood friend. And confronting what really happened on the night of the murders will have consequences for them all. This is another gripping read from thriller writer Fiona Cummins.

Genesis

by Robin Cook

Book cover for 9781529019148

At first, it is thought that social worker Kera Jacobsen died of a tragic drug overdose. But when Chief Medical Examiner Laurie Montgomery and her pathology resident Dr Aria Nichols start to investigate they find that Kera was ten weeks pregnant when she died. Could the father be the key to cracking the case? Aria investigates using a controversial new DNA tracking technique, but when Kera’s best friend is found murdered she realises there is someone out there who really doesn’t want Kera’s secrets to come to light. This is another tense read from the master of the medical thriller Robin Cook. 

Saint X

by Alexis Schaitkin

Book cover for 9781529014303

When Claire is just seven years old, her teenage sister Alison vanishes while they are on holiday with their parents on the Carribean island Saint X. When Alison’s body is found days later two men are arrested, but the evidence is slim, and they’re later released without charge. As the story hits the tabloids, the lives of Claire and her parents are changed forever.

Years later, Claire is living in New York when she unwittingly gets into a taxi with one of the men accused of her sister’s murder. Sure this is fate, she engineers another meeting and begins an obsessive search for the truth. This moving, atmospheric novel has all the tension of a crime thriller novel as it hurtles towards a devastating end.

In this episode of Book Break, Emma explores all the different types of thrillers there are to read: 

The best thriller books of 2019

The Neighbour

by Fiona Cummins

Book cover for 9781509876938

The Lockwoods have just moved into their brand new home, ready for a fresh start. But the other residents on The Avenue hold some dark secrets, there’s even a killer among them. DC Wildeve Stanton has been investigating the killer for six months when the next victim makes things personal. Will she stop the murders before someone else falls prey?

An Anonymous Girl

by Greer Hendricks

Book cover for 9781529010732

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study with the mysterious Dr Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money and leave. But things quickly get out of hand and Jessica finds herself caught in Dr Shield’s manipulative experiments, no longer able to trust what is real in her life.

Redemption

by David Baldacci

Book cover for 9781509874415

Redemption is the fourth book in bestselling author David Baldacci’s thrilling Amos Decker series. FBI consultant Amos Decker returns to his home town of Burlington, Ohio to mark the birthday of his daughter who was brutally murdered, along with his wife, four years ago. But then he is tracked down by the first man he ever arrested for murder, and realises he may have made a fatal mistake all those years ago.

Read an exclusive extract from Redemption here.

Dead at First Sight

by Peter James

Book cover for 9781509816415

Roy Grace is back in this new thriller from best-selling author Peter James. Across the globe people are being tricked by the same internet scam - the person they met online, who they loved dearly, does not exist. But this scam comes with a deadly price for anyone who tries to expose it.

Absolute Proof

by Peter James

Book cover for 9781447240952

When investigative reporter Ross Hunter answers the phone to Dr Harry Cook, his life changes forever. Harry claims that he’s been given absolute proof of God’s existence, and he wants Ross’s help to get the world to take him seriously. The credibility of all the world’s religions is under threat, if Ross can survive enough to present the evidence . . .

Listen to Peter James and Hugh Bonneville discuss Absolute Proof and more.

For even more edge of your seat recommendations, watch the Book Break episode below, where Emma shares the psychological thrillers everyone is going to be talking about this year: