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Best Thrillers of All Time

You’ve probably binge-watched all the top thriller movies out now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, but have you read the best thriller books of all time? We’re presenting our take on the best thrillers of all time, spanning the best psychological thrillers, crime novels, and mysteries.
  1. 1

    The Talented Mr. Ripley, Ripley Under Ground, Ripley’s Game

    Patricia Highsmith was a master of macabre scenarios and the grand dame of the psychological thriller. In Tom Ripley, she created one of literature’s most fascinating characters — charming, intelligent, utterly ruthless, and amoral. Over the course of five novels, beginning with The Talented Mr. Ripley, she built a character who was both completely without a conscious and yet unnervingly sympathetic. The Talented Mr. Ripley is equal parts a subtle character study and an edge-of-your-seat exercise in sinister thrills.

    The Talented Mr. Ripley, Ripley Under Ground, Ripley's Game Book Cover Picture
  2. 2

    Gone Girl

    Gillian Flynn has made a name for herself with incredibly dark, twisting narratives centered on complex, seemingly unsympathetic female characters. With Gone Girl, Flynn brought readers deep inside a narrative hall of mirrors — a slow burn, noir-tinged maze built to keep the reader constantly off-balance.The story of Nick and Amy’s courtship, crumbling marriage, and Amy’s eventual disappearance is an extraordinary exercise in literary sleight-of-hand. It’s nearly impossible to put down until the final devastating page.

    Gone Girl Book Cover Picture
  3. 3

    Those Bones Are Not My Child

    Published posthumously, Toni Cade Bambara’s final novel, Those Bones Are Not My Child, is described as her magnum opus by her editor and close friend Toni Morrison. Inspired by the tragic rampage of Atlanta serial killer Wayne Williams — who James Baldwin’s The Evidence of Things Not Seen also examines — Those Bones Are Not My Child unfolds with the disappearance of a twelve-year-old boy and his mother’s tireless search to find him. Throughout the pages of the novel, Bambara envelops readers into the mindset of a community turned upside down by violence and grief. From beginning to end, Bambara’s words simultaneously offer her audience a heartrending portrayal of a family altered by tragedy and an unflinching excavation of America’s past. As poignant as ever, Those Bones Are Not My Child is a compelling and urgent story about love, justice, and loss.

    Those Bones Are Not My Child Book Cover Picture
  4. 4

    Enduring Love

    In one of the most disturbing opening scenes in literature, two men are thrown together as part of a makeshift rescue team when a little boy is carried off in a runaway hot air balloon. But things only get more disturbing from there, when Jed becomes obsessed with Joe, his fellow rescuer. Based on a true story, McEwan’s penchant for detail and flair for obsession makes Enduring Love a perverse reverse-love story.

    Enduring Love Book Cover Picture
  5. 5

    The Shining

    While Carrie and Salem’s Lot introduced Stephen King as a writer to watch, The Shining firmly situated him as one of his generation’s preeminent voices in horror literature. The Shining was King’s first hardcover bestseller and it made him the household name he is today. King’s story of a troubled man’s slow descent into madness while serving as the winter caretaker of an isolated and haunted hotel makes The Shining a truly unsettling, unforgettable thriller.

    The Shining Book Cover Picture
  6. 6

    The Widow

    Troubled marriages have always proven to be great fodder for psychological thrillers — Fiona Barton’s debut novel, The Widow, is a perfect illustration of this. When her husband was suspected of a twisted crime, Jean stood by him, filling the dark spaces of their marriage with the façade of being a dutiful and perfect wife. But now, with her husband dead, there’s no longer a reason to stay quiet about the secrets she’s held … and the lies she’s told herself.

    The Widow Book Cover Picture
  7. 7

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

    Inspired in part by his experiences in the 1950s as an orderly in a mental health facility, Kesey’s novel left permanent scorch-marks on the American conscience, and as a result has been continually challenged in schools and libraries ever since. His anti-hero Randle McMurphy (played by Oscar-winner Jack Nicholson in the inevitable film adaptation) confronts institutional oppression head-on, and Kesey’s electric prose makes a strong case for the neglect of our inmate populations as a reflection on our society at large.

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Book Cover Picture
  8. 8


    After over two decades in the trenches of sci-fi and horror fiction, Koontz earned his first hardcover bestseller with 1986’s Strangers, which revolves around a band of individuals who find themselves drawn to a motel in the Nevada desert from thousands of miles apart, united in an escalating sense of terror which manifests differently in each of them. This page-turner signifies the moment when Koontz announced himself to the mainstream as an indisputable authority on the art of building suspense.

    Strangers Book Cover Picture
  9. 9


    Otessa Moshfegh’s chilling and award-winning novel is a somber yet mesmerizing successor to the works of literary titans like Shirley Jackson and Flannery O’Connor. At the end of the opening chapter, Moshfegh’s protagonist, who works as a counselor at a juvenile correctional facility for teen boys, reveals the conceit of the novel in an unnervingly straightforward way: “This is the story of how I disappeared.” Moshfegh’s prose possesses a similar directness, each sentence reaching for the jugular of its reader. Gritty, grim, and notably haunting, Eileen holds a mirror up to the darkness that exists inside of each of us and does so without apology. As beautiful as it is alarming, this novel is more than a thriller. It’s a meditation on humanity.

    Eileen Book Cover Picture
  10. 10

    The Girl on the Train (Movie Tie-In)

    In Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train, the emotionally fraught Rachel Watson wrestles with her obsessive feelings for her ex-husband. As she tries to heal after their relationship dissolves, Rachel manages to sift through her thoughts and fears during her daily commute via train from Oxfordshire to London. Each day during the trek, the train passes the house she used to live in with her ex. In attempts to distract herself from the reality of their separation, Rachel shifts her attention to a home near her former home, occupied by a man and a woman who she imagines are happy and deeply in love. When the woman goes missing and her disappearance becomes fodder for the local tabloids, Rachel’s life is turned upside down. An exhilarating glimpse into one woman’s inability to cope with the past, The Girl on the Train articulates a distressing truth about violence and love.

    The Girl on the Train (Movie Tie-In) Book Cover Picture
  11. 11

    Dead Letters

    On the heels of her twin sister Zelda’s death, Ava leaves Paris to return to her hometown in New York. As she helps her parents plan Zelda’s funeral, Ava starts to question the details surrounding her sister’s death, which only multiply when she starts getting emails and DMs from the supposedly deceased Zelda. As Ava’s strange correspondence with her sister continues, she discovers that her twin faked her death as an attempt to escape a mountain of debt that she accrued due to substance abuse. Armed with clues to where her sister might be, Ava embarks on a journey that will change her life. Caite Dolan-Leach’s striking debut is an unpredictable examination of sisterhood, secrets, and intimacy.

    Dead Letters Book Cover Picture
  12. 12


    Published in 1938, Daphne du Maurier’s romantic thriller Rebecca has never gone out of print. A bestseller in its day and beyond, spawning a film adaptation by none other than the master of suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock, Rebecca takes inspiration from one of the greatest novels in the English language, Jane Eyre. A nameless narrator has married a European playboy and moved into his vast manse. But she finds herself haunted by the memory of his dead wife, Rebecca, and her still very loyal servant, Mrs. Danvers.

    Rebecca Book Cover Picture
  13. 13

    The Annotated Big Sleep

    When considering the thriller as literature, The Big Sleep should be one of your first destinations. Not only does it serve as the debut of hardboiled detective Philip Marlowe, it showcases Chandler’s ruthless economy with words, wringing the maximum amount of tension and atmosphere from the sparsest descriptions. The title (a euphemism for death) couldn’t be more misleading — once you begin, you’re barely going to blink until you’ve turned the last page.

    The Annotated Big Sleep Book Cover Picture
  14. 14

    Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

    John Le Carré’s spy classic Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is so complicated that most screen versions have failed to adequately adapt its complex plot. Through the winding narrative, Le Carré captures the essence of espionage and the futility of the work, even of war itself. Now considered one of the greatest spy thrillers ever written, even CIA agents, writing anonymously of course, called it “one of the most enduring renderings of the profession.”

    Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy Book Cover Picture
  15. 15

    In the Woods

    In the Woods introduced readers to the detectives of the Dublin Murder Squad, as well as the nuanced and emotionally resonant thrills of Tana French. The story follows Detective Rob Ryan and his partner Cassie Maddox as they investigate a bizarre murder with disturbing similarities to a horrifying event from Ryan’s past. It is an atmospheric, ingenious, and unflinchingly bleak thriller that’s sure to keep readers guessing until the final reveal.

    In the Woods Book Cover Picture
  16. 16

    The Hound of the Baskervilles

    Conan Doyle had basically abandoned the character of Sherlock Holmes until his reappearance in The Hound of the Baskervilles, first serialized in 1902. The novel and Holmes himself were both so popular with readers that Conan Doyle was compelled to bring him back from the dead. The novel has spawned countless television, film, and radio adaptations, and even its own psychological term, the Baskerville effect: the belief that there is an increased number of deaths from cardiac arrest on days of the month considered to be unlucky.

    The Hound of the Baskervilles Book Cover Picture
  17. 17

    The Expendable Man

    The wrong-man thriller is a reliable source of narrative tension across a wide variety of storytelling mediums. In her 1963 novel The Expendable Man, Dorothy B. Hughes delivers an unnerving plot, following a doctor whose travels in the Southwest lead to involvement in a murder investigation. But Hughes also incorporates larger sociopolitical themes, turning a gripping story into a social indictment.

    The Expendable Man Book Cover Picture
  18. 18

    The Martian

    Widely considered to be her masterpiece, and which Agatha Christie considered her most difficult novel to write, And Then There Were None highlights Christie at the height of her skill. The plot centers on a group of strangers brought to an island under various pretexts only to see those around them murdered as the night wears on. It is a tightly constructed, head-spinning murder mystery that expands on the classic “locked-room” style at which Christie excelled. If you were to read only one Agatha Christie novel, this is it.

    The Martian Book Cover Picture
  19. 19

    The Night of the Hunter

    The book that inspired a million knuckle tattoos, Davis Grubb’s Southern Gothic thriller may or may not be a strange biblical allegory. A corrupted chaplain with a mysterious past provides hideous insight into the nature of evil while stalking his juvenile prey. Later adapted into a classic expressionist film starring Lillian Gish, shout outs to this story can be spotted in a handful of disparate movies ranging from “Rocky Horror” to Do “The Right Thing.”

    The Night of the Hunter Book Cover Picture
  20. 20

    Double Indemnity

    A foundational text of noir literature, Cain’s classic story was adapted into the influential film of the same name, with the haughty Barbara Stanwyck taking the role of the book’s villainous vixen. The character Phyllis Nirdlinger (renamed Phyllis Dietrichson in the movie), who coerces an insurance agent into a deadly scheme, is emblematic of the femme fatale archetype so often seen in thrillers. But tragedy awaits anyone whose wishes are so wicked.

    Double Indemnity Book Cover Picture
  21. 21

    A Rage in Harlem

    Chester Himes’s Harlem Detective series has proven to be a groundbreaking piece of hard-boiled noir fiction — and it all started with A Rage in Harlem. Set in a Harlem that at once feels larger-than-life and authentic, A Rage in Harlem introduces Coffin Ed Johnson and Gravedigger Jones to a rough and tumble world of grifters, prostitutes, and dangerous vendettas. It’s a landmark piece of crime fiction that put Chester Himes in the company of names like James Ellroy and Raymond Chandler.

    A Rage in Harlem Book Cover Picture
  22. 22


    In this tautly plotted thriller, Jean-Patrick Manchette tells the story of Aimée, a hired killer laying low in an idyllic small town. Manchette blends tense scenes of underworld life with satirical depictions of small-town mores. The result is an upending of familiar genre tropes, delivered in a potent distillation.

    Fatale Book Cover Picture
  23. 23

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

    While Nordic noir existed long before the late Stieg Larsson introduced the world to a misanthropic hacker named Lisbeth Salander, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo brought the genre to an international audience in a way few others have. It is a bleak and labyrinthine exploration of a decades-old missing person’s case, long-held familial secrets, and the damaged psyche of one of the most fascinating heroines in recent memory.

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Book Cover Picture
  24. 24

    The Da Vinci Code

    You can chalk up this book’s historic success to the fact that it has something for truly everybody, staging an elaborate murder mystery at the exact point where religion, history, art, and conspiracy theories intersect, digging into cultural pressure points that remain sensitive to this day. The conversations regarding Brown’s research and creative license are just as intense, which makes reading this thriller something like an initiation into a secret society of truth-seekers, worthy of investigation by protagonist Robert Langdon himself.

    The Da Vinci Code Book Cover Picture
  25. 25

    The Other Lady Vanishes

    Set in 1930s California, Amanda Quick’s bestseller The Other Lady Vanishes opens with Adelaide Blake’s search for a fresh start in a resort town frequented by Hollywood bigwigs after her escape from a sanitarium. Quick’s heroine lands a job at an herbal tea shop where she becomes accustomed to determining the truth that lies beneath the masks that her glitzy clientele habitually wear, including Madame Zolanda the celebrity psychic whose presence threatens to expose details from Adelaide’s past that she’d rather not revisit. An enchanting mystery infused with nostalgia and suspense, The Other Lady Vanishes is as fascinating as the historic era that it resurrects.

    The Other Lady Vanishes Book Cover Picture
  26. 26

    Orient Express

    Green claims to have written Orient Express with the intent to get the book made into a film. Classified as an “entertainment” novel at the time (as opposed to more high-minded literature), the book’s tortuous narrative is not without intellectual or artistic merit. Following disparate passengers on an eponymous train trip, Green’s Depression-era anxieties are palpable on each page.

    Orient Express Book Cover Picture
  27. 27

    Red Harvest

    Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest has inspired numerous works since its publication in 1929, including films like Akira Kurosawa’s “Yojimbo” and Rian Johnson’s “Brick.” In telling the story of an investigator who pits two warring gangs against one another, Hammett ratcheted the detective novel up to another level, adding new layers of moral complexity.

    Red Harvest Book Cover Picture
  28. 28

    Y is for Yesterday

    Like the previous twenty-four novels in Sue Grafton’s acclaimed Alphabet/Kinsey Millhone series, Y is for Yesterday deftly and steadily ratchets up the tension through Grafton’s clever plotting and incisive character work. Y sees private investigator Kinsey Millhone embroiled in an unnerving mystery centered around a decade-old sexual assault and murder at an elite private school. Amidst this twisted drama, Millhone finds herself matching wits with a volatile sociopath who holds a longstanding grudge against the private eye. Unfortunately, Y is the last in the late Sue Grafton’s acclaimed and long-running series. It’s also one of her best.

    Y is for Yesterday Book Cover Picture
  29. 29

    The Secret History of Las Vegas

    Anyone who’s ever been to Vegas knows what a different world awaits once you step off the strip. Abani’s novel plays upon the reader’s dreams of the desert city, constantly shifting locations and perspectives to tell a sordid story about lives and histories spiraling far outside the mainstream, leaving investigators with a trail of horrifying murders to study. Those who prefer a revenge plot will find plenty to salivate over, but none of it would fly without Abani’s knack for convincing, utterly unusual characters.

    The Secret History of Las Vegas Book Cover Picture
  30. 30

    He Died with His Eyes Open

    Derek Raymond’s Factory novels, of which this is the first, offer a harrowing glimpse of police work and the psychological strain that the investigation of brutal crimes can have on those doing the investigating. Raymond creates an atmospheric, almost tactile sense of place here. It’s a memorably bleak take on the procedural.

    He Died with His Eyes Open Book Cover Picture
  31. 31

    Killing Floor

    The book that established wandering ex-military investigator Jack Reacher as a force to be reckoned with in the criminal underworld and spawned not one but three prequels (The Enemy, Night School, The Affair) has also cemented Child’s place among the genre’s great writers. Reacher makes for a bolder, more energetic protagonist than you’ll find elsewhere – “an unstoppable force,” according to his creator, which the body-count in Killing Floor seems to confirm.

    Killing Floor Book Cover Picture
  32. 32

    The Alienist (TNT Tie-in Edition)

    Caleb Carr’s turn-of-the-century page-turner is one part historical fiction, one part grisly procedural, and all parts murder mystery thrills. With 19th century New York City as its colorful backdrop, The Alienist introduced readers not only to the brilliant and driven psychologist Laszlo Kreizler, but also to a New York City populated with larger-than-life characters, seedy neighborhoods, and all manner of graft and vice. Throw in a brutal and well-constructed murder mystery and it’s not hard to see why this classic became an instant bestseller.

    The Alienist (TNT Tie-in Edition) Book Cover Picture
  33. 33

    The Hunt for Red October

    Tom Clancy has made himself synonymous with the tech-savvy military thriller. The Hunt for Red October is where it all started and remains one of his best. It laid the groundwork for much of Clancy’s later work, including the introduction of CIA analyst Jack Ryan. The novel is a well-hewn game of cat-and-mouse in which Jack Ryan tracks down a high-tech Soviet submarine and its crew of defectors. With The Hunt for Red October, Clancy cemented himself as a marquee thriller writer and proved he’s the best in the game.

    The Hunt for Red October Book Cover Picture
  34. 34


    Natsuo Kirino’s award-winning Out follows the intersecting lives of four women who work the night shift together at a factory in Tokyo where they assemble boxed lunches. The women become more than coworkers when Yayoi, the youngest of the four, seeks out their help after she murders her abusive, compulsive, gambler of a husband. Together the women cut up and dispose of Yayoi’s husband’s corpse, a gruesome act that seals their bond with each other. By covering up Yayoi’s crime, their bloodstained solidarity gradually turns the group into accidental vigilantes as they struggle to navigate life in a city dominated by the patriarchy’s grip. A literary predecessor of the #MeToo Movement and #TimesUp, Kirino’s Out is an ominous snapshot of trauma, vengeance, and survival.

    Out Book Cover Picture
  35. 35

    Tell No One

    What’s the statute of limitations on a lifelong romance? A doctor’s grief over his wife’s murder transforms into intrigue – and then obsession – once he stumbles across the possibility that she might still be alive, a revelation that may beckon him to his own doom. One good plot twist deserves another, and another, which could be why this remains the author’s bestselling book to date. In addition to his hefty literary career, Coben has also written two crime drama series or television.

    Tell No One Book Cover Picture
  36. 36

    The Shadow of the Wind

    The Shadow of the Wind incorporates a host of elements that could each sustain a thrilling read: a young man caught up in a conspiracy he barely understands, an investigation of a mysterious death decades later, and the horrific authoritarianism of Franco-era Spain. Here, all of them are interwoven with the history of a mysterious novel — one that obsesses some and drives others to murder.

    The Shadow of the Wind Book Cover Picture
  37. 37

    The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

    John le Carré is truly in a class of his own. His densely-plotted spy fiction essentially reinvented the genre, largely due to le Carré’s own experiences working as spy and intelligence agent. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold launched le Carré’s career as an internationally bestselling author — and brought his intelligence career to an end. It also introduced readers to George Smiley, an unassuming and methodical man as far removed from the likes of James Bond as one could imagine. With its twisting narrative, duplicitous machinations, and devastating conclusion, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold remains the standard against which all other espionage fiction is measured.

    The Spy Who Came in from the Cold Book Cover Picture
  38. 38

    Basic Black With Pearls

    Kathy Reichs struck literary gold when she introduced the world to forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan in 1997’s Deja Dead. Reichs’s own background in the field of forensic anthropology adds believable authority and authenticity to the character, and Brennan’s curmudgeonly, oft-contrarian personality immediately appeals to readers. With 206 Bones, Reichs amps up the tension and danger while adding new dimensions to her well-hewn heroine.

    Basic Black With Pearls Book Cover Picture
  39. 39

    The Couple Next Door

    With Devil in a Blue Dress, Walter Mosley ushered in one of the most admired characters in American detective fiction: Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins. Set in the post-World War II period, Devil in a Blue Dress follows Rawlins, a black veteran living in Los Angeles who embarks on an unexpected career as a detective, unearthing long-buried secrets and corruption along the way.

    The Couple Next Door Book Cover Picture
  40. 40

    Monkey Beach

    Hideo Yokoyama’s sprawling police procedural Six Four is a meticulously constructed narrative about both crime and the aftermath of crime — specifically, an unsolved kidnapping that took place fourteen years before this novel begins. And while the idea of a long-dormant crime returning to the foreground isn’t a new concept, the attention to detail with which it’s handled here makes this book utterly gripping.

    Monkey Beach Book Cover Picture
  41. 41

    Girl Missing (Previously published as Peggy Sue Got Murdered)

    Percival Everett’s fiction rarely covers the same ground: His bibliography encompasses everything from satirical explorations of society to this, his take on the police procedural. Over the course of three linked novellas, Everett’s protagonist reckons with the impossible and Everett pushes the conventions of the genre to unexpected, unsettling places.

    Girl Missing (Previously published as Peggy Sue Got Murdered) Book Cover Picture
  42. 42

    American Tabloid

    With searing prose and a collection of antiheroes who push at the limits of morality, James Ellroy’s take on detective fiction (including the Los Angeles Quartet) revolutionized the genre. In American Tabloid, he moved from the local scene to the national one, describing a series of interwoven conspiracies leading up to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

    American Tabloid Book Cover Picture
  43. 43


    Several thematic elements recur in Brian Evenson’s books: religious fanaticism, toxic masculinity, and body horror among them. In telling the story of a detective whose life becomes entangled with a cult dedicated to self-mutilation, Evenson offers a distinctive spin on the private investigator genre, finding moments of horror and humor along the way.

    Kindred Book Cover Picture
  44. 44

    Jurassic Park

    While your first instinct may be to scoff at the idea of a high school-set thriller centering around the cutthroat world of competitive cheerleading, do yourself a favor and ignore that. Megan Abbott is an Edgar Award-winning writer who knows her way around both a good mystery and a good thriller. Dare Me is a subversive, nuanced look into insecurity, casual cruelty, and ruthless ambition. It’s Chuck Palahniuk by way of “Heathers” and odds are, it is not what you expect.

    Jurassic Park Book Cover Picture
  45. 45


    Romulus Ledbetter, the detective at the center of this tightly-wound murder mystery, is a paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave in NYC’s Inwood Park. By anchoring a noirish mystery to this non-traditional protagonist, Green finds new chords in the “unreliable narrator” trope – and due to the increasing urgency of issues related to homelessness, this tale’s power has continued to expand significantly since it was first written in 1994.

    Rant Book Cover Picture
  46. 46

    The Witches of Eastwick

    Gorky Park established Smith as a powerhouse in the thriller genre, and with good reason; this masterpiece of Cold War-era espionage inspired two follow-up novels and a film adaptation. Although deeply entertaining, the book’s more artistic aspirations have led to comparisons to Romantic literature, in which the Soviet Union’s oppressive regime serves as the backdrop for the unfolding of an international (and existential) conspiracy.

    The Witches of Eastwick Book Cover Picture
  47. 47

    Nineteen Seventy-Four

    David Peace made a powerful first impression with this, the first novel in his Red Riding Quartet, which follows a host of corrupt police, sinister criminals, and haunted locals grappling with an interwoven array of crimes and conspiracies. Nineteen Seventy-Four follows a journalist investigating a murder, who gradually becomes convinced that there is more to it than meets the eye, setting in motion a series of unsettling events.

    Nineteen Seventy-Four Book Cover Picture
  48. 48

    The Eight

    It’s almost impossible to read Sallis’s existential neo-noir without hearing the thumping synth lines of the Refn adaptation’s soundtrack, but the book provides a handful of subtleties that simply can’t be conveyed in a movie. Sallis’s menacing minimalist prose paints a much starker picture of the shadowy highways that the nameless main character slinks about at night; the tone of the text is closer to that of Sartre’s than Tarantino’s. A bloody postmodern fairy tale, Drive will certainly keep you under its spell.

    The Eight Book Cover Picture
  49. 49

    The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

    What separates a person’s altruism from their cruelty? Can our basest instincts be suppressed? Stevenson explores man’s depraved desires in his 1886 novel about a mad scientist who unlocks a diabolical alter ego after using himself as a test subject for an experimental psycho-pharmaceutical. Did Jekyll’s serum drive him insane or simply unlock the depravity he had been keeping at bay? And can he be stopped before it’s too late?

    The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Book Cover Picture
  50. 50

    The War of the Worlds

    Perhaps best known for inciting a nationwide Halloween panic decades after its original publication, H.G. Wells’s taut novel traces a Martian invasion with almost uncanny verisimilitude. Presented as a factual account of events, Wells’s fictional story about an extraterrestrial attack would go on to inspire scores of sci-fi writers and real-life scientists for centuries to come. Meanwhile, the extreme violence of the aliens serves as both an existential parable for the uncaring cosmos and a cruel reminder of the inherent viciousness of war.

    The War of the Worlds Book Cover Picture
  51. 51

    Pattern Recognition

    Feuding advertising executives set their nefarious sites on marketing prodigy and so-called “cool hunter” Cayce Pollard in this dystopian thriller. Written before the era of Instagram, Gibson’s dark predictions about the ubiquity of lifestyle branding were almost entirely realized with the invention of social media some years later. The impeccably precise fashions of the book even spawned a collaboration between the author and Buzz Rickson, bringing the protagonist’s signature look to life.

    Pattern Recognition Book Cover Picture
  52. 52

    The Woman in White

    The young Walter Hartright is walking home one night in London when he’s accosted by a desperate woman in white. He realizes later one of the women in the family he befriends bears an eerie resemblance to the woman in white. Published in 1859, the book is considered by many scholars to be the first “mystery” novel ever written. While The Woman in White‘s epic case of mistaken identity makes it feel like something out of Shakespeare, the greedy machinations of its villains are undeniably modern.

    The Woman in White Book Cover Picture
  53. 53

    The Little Stranger (Movie Tie-In)

    Sarah Waters, author of cult classics Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith, delves into the gothic Victorian ghost story with 2009’s The Little Stranger. After WWII, a doctor visits a decrepit old house inhabited by a similarly aged family who find themselves in dire straits, claiming the house is haunted. Diverting from her other work on the lesbian experience, The Little Stranger is a compelling thriller that at its heart, like all great ghost stories, is a fascinating allegory of a rapidly changing world.

    The Little Stranger (Movie Tie-In) Book Cover Picture
  54. 54


    The story behind the idea for Frankenstein is nearly as fascinating as the novel itself: Mary Shelley was said to have written it one stormy night after a dare from Lord Byron. While her finished product was undoubtedly terrifying, creating one of the most recognizable and beloved monsters in Western civilization, the themes about creation have more in common with the experience of motherhood than they do with playing God. Frankenstein is a deeply felt thriller that could have only been written by a woman familiar with the devastating and dangerous risks of creation.

    Frankenstein Book Cover Picture
  55. 55


    No one on this book’s editorial team, not even Benchley himself, thought a novel about a killer shark would resonate with readers. Benchley was criticized for the lack of characterization when it came to the human characters, but readers praised the intense scenes featuring Jaws himself. The novel’s inclusion in the Book of the Month Club captured the attention of Steven Spielberg, who turned it into the seventh-highest-grossing film of all time. Years later, Benchley expressed guilt over giving sharks a bad name, insisted Jaws was fiction, and became a passionate marine life conservationist.

    Jaws Book Cover Picture
  56. 56

    Darkly Dreaming Dexter

    If you only know Dexter Morgan by way of Showtime’s acclaimed adaptation, this is the perfect time to get acquainted with Jeff Lindsay’s original vision for the sociopathic vigilante. While the first season of “Dexter” follows the events of Darkly Dreaming Dexter pretty closely, there’s a surreal and almost supernatural element to the novels — particularly in the later entries in the series — that add an entirely new and intriguing side to Dexter Morgan.

    Darkly Dreaming Dexter Book Cover Picture
  57. 57


    The understated emotional terror of Silence of the Lambs is amped up in the third episode of Harris’ quadrilogy about America’s favorite fictional cannibal. The eponymous antihero faces a severely disfigured villain who literally drinks the tears of orphan children while Clarice Starling’s soul hangs in the balance. Featuring surreal subplots about suffocation by eels and oversexed female bodybuilders, the book could be interpreted as a psychotic exploration of gender — but there’s plenty of ultra-violence to keep those with less Freudian interests engaged.

    Hannibal Book Cover Picture
  58. 58

    A Time to Kill

    John Grisham is the undisputed king of the legal thriller. As both a former practicing attorney and politician, he brings a fascinating sense of authenticity to the high stakes schemes that populate his thrillers. While The Firm made him an immediate household name, Grisham really hit his stride with A Time to Kill. This shattering tale of racial tensions, vigilante justice, and horrific crime is as thought-provoking and unsettling as it is thrilling.

    A Time to Kill Book Cover Picture
  59. 59

    Prior Bad Acts

    The personal and the political intertwine in this courtroom procedural. Despised by the police for her liberal politics, a Minneapolis Judge who showed leniency towards a serial killer may become the escaped murderer’s next target. Hoag may have started her career as a romance writer, but the tight prose and deeply dynamic characters of Prior Bad Acts proves her adeptness in more than one genre.

    Prior Bad Acts Book Cover Picture
  60. 60

    The Body Farm

    Attica Locke’s debut novel is an engrossing and skillfully constructed conspiracy thriller tinged with a healthy dose of noir. Set in Houston in 1981, the story centers on Jay Porter, a strip mall lawyer who deals mostly in personal injury cases. An evening boat ride with his wife takes a desperate turn after Porter saves a woman from drowning. That simple, impulsive act thrusts Porter into the center of a dangerous conspiracy that climbs into the highest echelons of Houston society. Locke balances deft characterization, searing social commentary, and just the right amount of suspense to keep readers glued to the page.

    The Body Farm Book Cover Picture
  61. 61

    Big Little Lies (Movie Tie-In)

    While HBO’s award-winning adaptation shed a new light on this thriller from Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies was a riveting bestseller before Reese Witherspoon and company entered the picture. Set in a small, posh, Australian community, Big Little Lies traces a tangled web of lies and secrets that eventually proves deadly.

    Big Little Lies (Movie Tie-In) Book Cover Picture
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    Alias Grace (Movie Tie-In Edition)

    Soulmates by Jessica Grose is a searingly insightful and humor-infused satire that centers on a mysterious murder, a yoga cult, and the residual fallout of a failed marriage. Just as Dana starts enjoying her post-divorce life, her ex-husband Ethan’s photo appears on the front page of the New York Post with the headline “Nama-Slay: Yoga Couple Found Dead in New Mexico Cave.” While Dana tries to make sense of her ex’s bizarre death and its ties to a New Age yoga cult, she uncovers shocking details that irrevocably alter her understanding of Ethan’s past and the relationship that they shared. A timely and cultural critique that brings to mind NXIVM, the Lululemon murders, and Wild Wild Country, Soulmates is a gratifying exploration of contemporary culture’s existential crises and our collective search for meaning.

    Alias Grace (Movie Tie-In Edition) Book Cover Picture
  63. 63

    Sailor & Lula

    Straddling a line between familial drama and haunting thriller, Jung Yun’s Shelter was a fascinating debut and a thought-provoking page-turner. Set against the backdrop of the 2008 housing crisis, Shelter is an examination of precarious family ties, racial tensions, the twenty-first century immigrant experience, and the dwindling nature of the American dream. Shelter is a devastatingly timely read and one that is both difficult to finish and impossible to put down.

    Sailor & Lula Book Cover Picture
  64. 64

    The Dinner (Movie Tie-In Edition)

    An international bestseller, Dutch novelist Herman Koch’s The Dinner begins ominously as two couples meet for dinner to discuss their teenage sons, who are cousins. But just what have the boys gotten themselves into? Let’s just say it’s not your run-of-the-mill class-cutting infraction. Like other popular thrillers, The Dinner toys with its reader through an unreliable narrator and generally unlikeable characters. But in the end, the book is a mirror to contemporary politics, whether the reader likes the reflection or not.

    The Dinner (Movie Tie-In Edition) Book Cover Picture
  65. 65

    At Night We Walk in Circles

    Cook studied the ingredients of great thrillers like Jaws and Seven Days in May before concocting Coma, which later became a seminal text in the medical thriller sub-genre. Later adapted into a film by Michael Crichton, Coma unravels the mystery behind two patients who failed to regain consciousness after routine surgeries. Exploring the unique challenges faced by female medical professionals, the novel has some pretty gruesome twists and turns before reaching its morbid denouement.

    At Night We Walk in Circles Book Cover Picture
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    The MaddAddam Trilogy Bundle

    The man-made doom spelled out for the world in Oryx & Crake ripples darkly across two more books, weaving together survivors’ tales into a symphony of strife, ultimately determining the fate of our species as well as the new race created in our image. Atwood’s laser precision for narrative keeps the installments lean and mean, without sacrificing the characters’ vivid emotional realities, or sparing us from the impact of decisions being made on our behalf as we sleepwalk into the future.

    The MaddAddam Trilogy Bundle Book Cover Picture
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    The Secret History

    It’s hard to believe Donna Tartt’s homage to the classic murder mystery, swathed in equal parts bohemian co-ed drama and Greek tragedy, is in fact her debut novel, published when she was barely 30. The book begins with the murder laid bare. The suspense lies in the telling of the close-knit group of friends and why they felt driven to commit murder on the campus of their liberal arts college, which closely resembles Tartt’s own alma mater, Bennington.

    The Secret History Book Cover Picture
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    Everything I Never Told You

    Celeste Ng’s New York Times bestseller begins with the death of Lydia Lee, the beloved daughter of a multiracial Chinese-American family from a suburban town in 1970s Ohio. When Lydia’s body turns up in a lake, her family is left to reckon with the loss of a daughter who they hoped would fulfill all of their dreams. Through the lens of Ng’s masterful storytelling, Everything I Never Told You captures a family faced with the realization that the daughter they loved so deeply lived a life filled with secrets. Beautifully written and undeniably moving, Ng’s novel is as suspenseful as it is perceptive.

    Everything I Never Told You Book Cover Picture
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    Blood Meridian

    McCarthy’s bleak masterpiece strips back any veneer of respectability related to America’s origins, following a young protagonist who joins a band of bounty hunters paving the way for Westward expansion by slaughtering Native Americans and others who stand in the way. Mercenary instincts give way to pure nihilism, and a shattering conclusion that underscores the destiny that awaits those who willingly give up (or even sell) their humanity.

    Blood Meridian Book Cover Picture
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    The Girls

    Emma Cline’s widely applauded debut The Girls is as memorable as the 1960s real-life cult that inspired it. Volleying between the adult and teenage perspective of Evie, a young woman in search of herself and her place in the world, Cline’s bestseller is a lush portrait of adolescence, friendship, and the dangers of blind faith. Equally shaped by her own shortcomings and the flaws of others, the confessional recollections of Cline’s narrator are a testament to the way desire can change a person for better or worse. A perfect companion to Joan Didion’s The White Album or Dianne Clarke’s memoir Member of the Family, The Girls is a lyrical page-turner that you’ll want devour in one sitting.

    The Girls Book Cover Picture
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    The Conformist

    Is the absence of empathy a driving force of fascism? Asking frighteningly prescient questions about the nature of obedience, Moravia explores the sociopathic psychology inherent in totalitarian societies. The Conformist traces protagonist Marcello’s growth from an animal-killing child into a deeply emotionally repressed adult. His ceaseless quest for normality in a culture that demands callousness leads him on a murderous path, for which he reveals shockingly few regrets.

    The Conformist Book Cover Picture

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