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Get all the best psychological thriller books of all time. These bestselling novels include fan favorites like Gone Girl, Verity, The Last Mrs. Parrish, and more. They will shock, surprise, and disturb you as you compulsively turn the pages. Let’s dive into the most eerie books with plot twists!

verity by colleen hoover and the lovely bones by alice sebold.

Top 2 Bestsellers: Psychological Thriller Books for Adults


TIPS ON WHERE TO START: Since I founded The Literary Lifestyle in 2019, these two psychological thrillers have been favorites of mine and my readers. They are also bestselling sensations worldwide. So, they’re definitely books you need to read if you’re a newbie!

Best Psychological Thriller Books of All-Time: The List of Bestsellers

Psychological thriller books are a genre that contains mystery, suspense, and unexpected plot twists. They most often include crimes, especially murder. The narrators may be unreliable, immoral, or suffer from mental illness or substance abuse.

  1. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  3. Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
  4. In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
  5. The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
  6. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  7. The Plot by Jean Kanff Horelitz
  8. The Push by Ashley Audrain
  9. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  10. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  11. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
  12. Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney
  13. Verity by Colleen Hoover
  14. The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
  15. The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Detailing These Dark Psychological Thriller Books With a Twist

The best psychological thriller books of all time are ALL thrilling, but some also contain elements of mystery, psychological horror, historical fiction, etc. I’ve made notes of this for you in the book recommendations below.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Best for fans of the “original” thrillers you can’t miss and unreliable narrators

  • #1 New York Times bestseller
  • USA Today Book of the Year

My Review: ★★★★★

The Girl on the Train is one of the best books you can’t put down.

The unreliable main character, Rachel, rides the commuter train past perfect suburban homes every day. She watches strangers, including the same happy couple having breakfast on their deck. One day, though, she seeks something shocking. She tells the police and becomes intimately involved in what happens next.

I recommend this book if you are looking for a page-turning narrative! The ending is especially suspenseful. Lastly, the book is definitely way better than the movie for this one!

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Best for fans of the “original” thrillers you can’t miss and unreliable narrators

  • #1 New York Times bestseller
  • One of the best books of the decade by CNN, Time, and Entertainment Weekly

My Review: ★★★★★

Gone Girl is the original of the best psychological thriller books. It is one shocking and sinister book!

The story centers around married couple Nick and Amy Dunne. On their 5th wedding anniversary, good girl Amy goes missing, and Nick becomes a suspect in the domestic tragedy. The story takes dark and truly unexpected turns from there.

I recommend this book if you are looking for a darker thriller. I stayed up late to finish it, and I absolutely couldn’t put it down. The movie adaptation is also a solid take on the story that’s worth watching.

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Best for fans of ghost stories and haunted houses

  • Instant New York Times bestseller
  • One of USA Today‘s Best Books of 2020

My Review: ★★★★☆

Home Before Dark is one of the best Fall thriller books

A woman named Maggie returns to her childhood house. It was made famous by her father’s bestselling memoir, which described it as a haunted house of horrors with a sordid trail of deaths within its walls. Maggie’s family fled the house after living there for only three weeks after a series of ghostly encounters.  

Maggie was only five at the time and remembers nothing. She makes plans to renovate and sell the home.  But, after a grizzly discovery, the house gains notoriety once again.

Maggie goes on a quest to determine the true history of the horrors described in her father’s book and dark secrets are revealed.

Home Before Dark feels like both a slow burn and a page-turner at the same time.  It creatively blends Maggie’s adult story and her father’s book. The ending also delivers surprises.

Pick this one if you are cool with the idea of ghosts in a plot. As many readers have said, you will never think of The Sound of Music the same way again…

Related Post: Riley Sager Books Ranked

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Best for those looking for an unputdownable thriller

  • Instant New York TimesUSA Today, and Los Angeles Times bestseller
  • An NPR Best Book of the Year

My Review: ★★★★★

In a Dark, Dark Wood is about the bachelorette party from H-E-double hockey sticks. A lonely writer named Leonora is surprisingly invited to an old friend’s pre-wedding bash at a glass-encased home deep in the English countryside. She agrees to attend alongside another friend.

The bachelorette party storyline is told in the past. In the present, Leonora is both a patient in the hospital after an accident and a suspect for murder. She’s trying to remember what happened and how she got there. Thus begins a deadly spiral of events.

This is an exceptional thriller and first novel by a now-popular author. Leonora’s “present” situation keeps you completely glued to the pages to figure out her past.

Also, since bachelorette parties can make for strange bedfellows, it’s a perfect, unique setting for a psychological thriller. It gives the reader an unlikely group of characters forced to come together and deal with each other in an isolated location. This has all the markings of a great, suspenseful read.

Related Post: Ruth Ware Books Ranked

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

Best for fans of popular thrillers about women vying for one man

My Review: ★★★★☆

In The Last Mrs. Parrish, the main character, Amber, is a woman with a plan for a bigger life — to take over the life of wealthy Daphne Parrish and become the new Mrs. Parrish. Amber and Daphne become friends and the pieces of Amber’s plans start to fall in place. But, there are unexpected results.

I recommend this wildly popular book if you want a very female-based thriller. It’s a longtime favorite of readers of The Literary Lifestyle. I thought it delivered on all of its promises really well too.

Related Post: Books Like The Last Mrs. Parrish

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Best for fans of family dramas

  • #1 national bestseller

My Review: ★★★★★

The Lovely Bones is one of my favorite books of all time. It’s a page-turner that follows the rape and murder of a young girl. However, its focus is on the aftermath in the years that follow. 

Yes, this is difficult content, but note that, at its core, it’s a meaningful story of a family dealing with grief alongside a thrilling hunt for the killer. 

If you like both thrillers and family dramas, The Lovely Bones is the perfect choice for you. It still gives me chills just thinking about it.

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Best for fans of unique thrillers

My Review: ★★★★☆

The Plot moves in directions that are more different and shocking than most thrillers. It’s about a once-respected author and current teacher who uses the fictional plot idea of a student who died. He does so to earn his way back into literary fame and fortune.

It seems to be working until he starts receiving threatening anonymous messages. His anxiety causes him to investigate the truth behind the story.

It’s one of the most unique thrillers I’ve read to date and an underrated gem. I loved how the suspense was related to a literary crime yet felt as gripping as violent crime.

The Push by Ashley Audrain

Best for fans of thrillers that explore dark family issues

My Review: ★★★★★

The Push is a shocking thriller with dark themes involving motherhood.

Blythe is a mother who believes her first child, Violet, may be evil at her core. But, she bonds with her son, Sam. As she struggles to figure out the truth about Violet and navigate these unfavorable feelings, the reader is left questioning what’s real and who is good and evil.

It’s the kind of thriller that really makes you think about life, particularly motherhood. I spent a lot of time digging into other readers’ thoughts on this one. It tackles generational trauma uniquely in the context of thrills.

Related Post: Ashley Audrain Books in Order

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Best for fans of classic thrillers

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…”

– Daphne du Maurier

My Review: ★★★★★

So begins the classic suspense novel Rebecca from the Rory Gilmore book list. Rebecca also happens to have recently been adapted to film for the Netflix Book Club. (I enjoyed both!)

It’s a slow burn, both creepy and atmospheric.

The main character is not Rebecca, whom the reader never meets. She’s a lower-class woman without a family, working as a servant. She meets and quickly marries a wealthy older widow who owns the swoon-worthy estate Manderley. Upon arrival, the “ghost” of his first wife, Rebecca, lingers in the memories of the staff, who loved her and still talk about her all the time.

But, like all thrillers, there’s so much more to the story and the truth behind Rebecca‘s tragic death.

The writing is immersive, and while there is resolution, the last 100 pages keep you wanting even more. You will assuredly be left wondering what a sequel would uncover. I recommend this one to all fans of thrillers. It’s a classic must-read in the genre.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Best for fans of dark academia and atmospheric thrillers

My Review: ★★★★★

The Secret History is a must-read for book lovers. It’s the ultimate thriller, suspense, and mystery book.  A favorite of celebrity book lovers Reese Witherspoon and Jenna Bush Hager, it’s a modern classic with some of the best writing (especially dialogue) I’ve ever read.

The Secret History is about an outcast from California, desperate to fit in at his preppy college in Vermont in the 1980s. He becomes friends with an eccentric group of his fellow Greek classmates. 

Ultimately, their dark obsession with their Greek studies has deadly consequences. The novel explores the lead-up to these events as well as the aftermath. The crew spirals downward as they process the gravity of their actions.

The ending has a lot of suspense, and there are a lot of payoffs for the reader. There’s really no way of “figuring out” where it will go.  You’ll also feel transported to the time and place and like you know the characters.

It’s my favorite psychological thriller on this list.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Best for fans of unexpected twists

  • Instant #1 New York Times bestseller

My Review: ★★★★☆

The Silent Patient is an insanely popular crime thriller for a reason: It contains a really amazing twist! A famous painter named Alicia Berenson, who’s married to a popular fashion photographer, shoots him five times in the face. She never speaks another word again.

But criminal psychotherapist Theo Faber is determined to get her to talk. In the process, he goes down a twisted part of revealing why he is so consumed with her silence.

The Silent Patient is a really quick and unique thriller that’s practically guaranteed to please. It’s a must-read for fans of epic plot twists.

Related Posts: Summary of The Silent Patient | Alex Michaelides Books

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Best for fans of popular thrillers

  • New York Times bestseller

My Review: ★★★★☆

Sometimes I Lie is a stunning, shocking, and open-ended debut book that will leave you wanting more books by Alice Feeney.

Just after Christmas, Amber Reynolds is in a coma. While she believes her husband doesn’t love her anymore, she also admits that “sometimes she lies.” She can’t remember what happened, but she believes her husband and sister were involved.

The story jumps between pre-accident and post-accident timelines and reveals childhood diary entries. It will undoubtedly take you by surprise and make you question all the characters and their motives.

It kept me up past midnight finishing it, and then I researched everything I could find about dissecting the epic ending. If you love books that keep you engaged beyond the final page, this one’s for you.

Verity by Colleen Hoover

Best for fans of truly macabre thrillers

  • New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestseller

My Review: ★★★★★

The single most common reaction I hear to Verity is, “OMG!” It’s the one book I always recommend to those looking for a psychological thriller or an escape book. I read it in one sitting, and I know several others who have done the same.

Struggling writer Lowen accepts a job from Jeremy, the husband of best-selling author Verity Crawford, to complete her books after she sustains terrible injuries. As Lowen sorts through Verity’s materials, she finds Verity’s autobiography, which is filled with an array of chilling events that will take you to dark places. At the same time, Lowen develops feelings for Jeremy.

There’s so much more to this story, but I will leave it for you to find out. I recommend this book to any and every thriller reader who doesn’t mind really dark and depraved content.

Related Post: Books Like Verity | Verity Book Club Questions | Trigger Warnings for Verity

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Best for fans of books involving two female and one male lead

  • Instant New York Times bestseller

My Review: ★★★★☆

The Wife Between Us delivers on twists. Naive Nellie is a teacher who senses she is being followed as she plans her wedding to the older Richard. Previously, Richard had dumped his first wife, Vanessa, who was forced to start over from the bottom. Vanessa is determined to stop Richard’s wedding.

The twists come in the way the story is told, and it will keep you intrigued and surprised! I can still recall the moment the twist hit while I was reading it, as it was both surprising and satisfying! I recommend this book if you really like plot twists.

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Best for fans of unreliable narrators

  • #1 New York Times bestseller

My Review: ★★★★☆

The Woman in the Window is one of the few thrillers that really held my attention throughout. It has an unreliable narrator: an agoraphobic, alcoholic woman who believes she witnessed a neighbor in an apartment across from hers being stabbed. Then, the woman appears totally fine.

As the aftermath unravels, the reader learns the truth about the narrator’s past. She risks it all as she tries to figure out what happened. The result is one very suspenseful ending.

It’s a popular modern thriller that really delivers on everything thriller readers love. For that reason, it’s hard not to like this one.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a psychological thriller book?

Psychological thriller books contain mystery, suspense, and unexpected plot twists. They most often include crimes, especially murder. The narrators may be unreliable, immoral, or suffer from mental illness or substance abuse.

Who is the best author of psychological thrillers?

Some of the most popular authors of psychological thriller books include Gillian Flynn, Liv Constantine, Ruth Ware, Riley Sager, Alice Feeney, Alex Michaelides, and Paula Hawkins.

What is the difference between a thriller and a psychological thriller?

A thriller focuses on suspense and action through fast-paced plots. A psychological thriller dives deeper into characters’ minds, exploring their mental states, inner conflicts, and emotional instability.

What is the best thriller to read?

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is one of the most popular thriller books of all time. Its shocking plot twists, deep psychological themes, and fast pace captivated readers worldwide. The book was also adapted into a popular film.

What is a dark psychological thriller?

A dark psychological thriller dives into the most disturbing aspects of the human psyche. It blends suspense with themes of shocking crimes, psychological depravity, and the darkest sides of human nature.


The best psychological thriller books of all time are popular novels with shocking twists that keep you glued to the pages. To recap and help you decide what to read next, the top 2 picks are:


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One Comment

  1. Downloaded several from this list and can’t wait to read them! Wondering if you have any recommendations from author Freida McFadden? So far, from her, I’ve read One by One and The Wife Upstairs.