The best psychological thriller books to read right now

You may not know who to trust while you're reading them, but you can definitely have confidence in our choice of the best psychological thriller books.

Psychological thriller books have the book-buying public gripped – but what’s their secret?

In contrast to an action thriller, or detective novel, a psychological thriller puts us right at the heart of a story that feels like it could happen to us. They often have more domestic, everyday settings, and the suspense – the thrill, if you like – has its roots in the mental or emotional state of the characters, and our own uncertainty about them: their honesty, perception and motives. Narrators in psychological thrillers are often unreliable, or compromised, and while we root for the protagonist, we are never 100 percent sure we can trust them . . .

So which are the best psychological thriller books you should be seeking out today? Here's a selection of new and recent fine examples of the genre.

One of the Good Guys

by Araminta Hall

Book cover for One of the Good Guys

Hall taps into one of the great questions of the modern age: when men routinely say they are "one of the good guys", and so are their mates, why are there so many incidents of violence, coercion and abuse of women by men? Lennie is an artist living in a tumbledown cottage on the coast, and into her life comes Cole, licking his wounds after a rough breakup. But when women start to go missing in the local area, Lennie starts to wonder if Cole's as perfect as he seems. Has she made a dreadful mistake in trusting him?

People Like Her

by Ellery Lloyd

Book cover for People Like Her

People Like Her brings the psychological thriller firmly into the social media age, with protagonist Emmy an Instagram sensation thanks to her refreshingly honest posts about being a young mother. But Emmy isn't all she seems, and someone out there knows the truth about her. A tense and thoroughly contemporary thriller.

The Escape

by Ruth Kelly

Book cover for The Escape

Kelly's novel is very much a "careful what you wish for" story. Adele and Jack are offered the chance to renovate a crumbling chateau in France by a mysterious benefactor – a dream come true for anyone. But when Adele's video updates of the work suddenly stop, her sister Erin is left to try to untangle the reasons behind the couple's disappearance in the face of sinister townsfolk.

Bright Young Women

by Jessica Knoll

Book cover for Bright Young Women

Set in 1978, Knoll's book is inspired by the real-life case of a serial killer who targeted a college sorority. A young woman whose friends are brutally murdered gets drawn into the mystery, which will colour her life for four decades. On the other side of America, another is convinced the sorority killer is the same man responsible for the death of her friend. The two women find themselves on a trajectory towards each other which will have shocking consequences.

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A Nearly Normal Family

by M.T. Edvardsson (translated by Rachel Wilson-Broyles)

Book cover for A Nearly Normal Family

A worldwide bestseller, this book by Swedish author Edvardsson taps into that great fear of parents, the question that has kept many of us awake at night: what would you do if your child did something seriously, criminally wrong?  That's what happens to Adam and Ulrika when their teenage daughter Stella is accused of murder, and they must navigate the tricky path between protecting their child and realising that they don't know everything there is to know about their beloved daughter.

Black Thorn

by Sarah Hilary

Book cover for Black Thorn

Award-winning Sarah Hilary comes back with a brand new novel for Spring 2024, which asks the question many of us might wonder in idle moments: just how much do we really know about our neighbours? Blackthorn Ashes is an exclusive new housing development in Cornwall, but its promise of paradise is destroyed  as the bodies start to pile up. Six families. Six people dead. Agnes is determined to get to the truth in this tense and claustrophobic page-turner.

The Trade Off

by Sandie Jones

Book cover for The Trade Off

Set in the world of journalism, The Trade Off follows hard-nosed deputy editor Stella, who will do anything for a good story, and rookie reporter Jess, who finds herself out of her depth when a contact is killed. But who can Jess trust, even inside her own organisation? And how important is the truth to her boss?

The Golden Couple

by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Book cover for The Golden Couple

Writing team Hendricks and Pekkanen follow their bestseller The Wife Between Us with this story of Marissa and Mathew, who seem to the rest of the world to be the perfect couple. But there's trouble in paradise and when Marissa cheats on her husband, she goes to an unorthodox therapist to help repair their marriage. But Avery Chambers has secrets of her own, and Marissa and Mathew realise they are not going to get simple marriage guidance from the maverick therapist as things turn very dark and dangerous.

The House Hunt

by C. M. Ewan

Book cover for The House Hunt

Lucy is selling the house lived in by her and her boyfriend, and when the estate agent calls to say she's running late and could Lucy show a prospective buyer around the property, she thinks nothing of it. At first. Because Lucy very quickly gets the sense that the man viewing the property isn't just after a new house. He has plans for her. This is a taut, twisty thriller that once again taps into contemporary fears, to hugely suspenseful effect.