December 6, 2018 I read some fantastic thriller books this year! There are plenty more five-star thriller books that I could have included in this post, but for purposes of this blog post, I compiled a smaller, top-ten list.
For me, I love a thriller with unreliable narrators and an engaging story-line. I choose books based on whether the book summary appeals to me or not. In addition, I also love character-driven stories and characters that I can relate too. I love interesting characters who have a sense of humor too. When I’m reading any book, I want to experience many different types of emotions. For instance, I like when the author can occasionally make me laugh with something funny the character did or said. One of the thrillers that I read this year, which did an excellent job of providing some humorous elements, while also maintaining mystery and suspense was The Other Woman by Sandie Jones. I’m also drawn to books with crazy narrators, like You by Caroline Kepnes. Furthermore, I have a tendency to like unlikeable narrators. Crazy narrators fascinate me. Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone had a crazy, narcissistic narrator, whom I liked so much! The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine, had a malicious narrator— whom I didn’t necessarily like—but I still enjoyed reading from her point of view.
These are some key elements I look for when choosing a thriller, and typically the books that I’ll give 5-star reviews to. However, there are many different elements of a thriller book that make it enjoyable for me; and I have compiled a list of my top-ten favorite thrillers below. (All of these books were ones that I read this year.)
The Thirst by Jo Nesbo
#1 International Best Seller
In this electrifying new thriller from the author of Police and The Snowman, Inspector Harry Hole hunts down a serial murderer who targets his victims . . . on Tinder.
The murder victim, a self-declared Tinder addict. The one solid clue—fragments of rust and paint in her wounds—leaves the investigating team baffled.
Two days later, there’s a second murder: a woman of the same age, a Tinder user, an eerily similar scene.
The chief of police knows there’s only one man for this case. But Harry Hole is no longer with the force. He promised the woman he loves, and he promised himself, that he’d never go back: not after his last case, which put the people closest to him in grave danger.
But there’s something about these murders that catches his attention, something in the details that the investigators have missed. For Harry, it’s like hearing “the voice of a man he was trying not to remember.” Now, despite his promises, despite everything he risks, Harry throws himself back into the hunt for a figure who haunts him, the monster who got away.
“Exceptional . . . Nesbo depicts a heartbreakingly conflicted Harry, who both wants to forget the horrors he’s trying to prevent and knows he has to remember them in all their grim detail.”
You by Caroline Kepnes
“Hypnotic and scary.” —Stephen King
“I am RIVETED, AGHAST, AROUSED, you name it. The rare instance when prose and plot are equally delicious.” —Lena Dunham
From debut author Caroline Kepnes comes You, one of Suspense Magazine’s Best Books of 2014, and a brilliant and terrifying novel for the social media age.
When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.
There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.
As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.
A terrifying exploration of how vulnerable we all are to stalking and manipulation, debut author Caroline Kepnes delivers a razor-sharp novel for our hyper-connected digital age. You is a compulsively readable page-turner that’s being compared to Gone Girl, American Psycho, and Stephen King’s Misery.
Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone
A double life with a single purpose: revenge.
Jane’s days at a Midwest insurance company are perfectly ordinary. She blends in well, unremarkably pretty in her floral-print dresses and extra efficient at her low-level job. She’s just the kind of woman middle manager Steven Hepsworth likes—meek, insecure, and willing to defer to a man. No one has any idea who Jane really is. Least of all Steven.
But plain Jane is hiding something. And Steven’s bringing out the worst in her.
Nothing can distract Jane from going straight for his heart: allowing herself to be seduced into Steven’s bed, to insinuate herself into his career and his family, and to expose all his dirty secrets. It’s time for Jane to dig out everything that matters to Steven. So she can take it all away.
Just as he did to her.
The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted.
To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne—a socialite and philanthropist—and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale.
Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn’t have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces. With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent.
Mine by J.L. Butler
In this riveting tale of psychological suspense, a divorce lawyer risks her career, her sanity, and her life when she falls into an illicit, all-consuming affair with her client—who becomes the primary suspect in his estranged wife’s sudden disappearance.
Young divorce lawyer Francine Day has methodically built her career doing everything right. She’s one big case away from securing her place among London’s legal elite. But when she meets her new client, Martin Joy, the natural caution that has protected Francine and fueled her rise melts away. Powerless to fight the irresistible magnetism between them, client and counsel tumble into a blistering affair that breaks every rule.
Though Martin insists his marriage is over, Francine doesn’t believe him. Certain details he’s told her don’t quite add up. Consumed with a passion she cannot control and increasingly obsessed with Martin’s relationship with his wife, Donna, Francine follows the woman one night . . . and discovers her having dinner with her supposedly soon-to-be-ex-husband.
The next morning, Francine awakens in her neighbor’s apartment with blood on her clothes and no recollection of what transpired after she spied Donna and Martin together. Then Francine receives more devastating news: Martin’s wife has vanished. That dinner was the last place anyone has seen Donna Joy alive.
Suddenly, Francine finds herself caught in a dangerous labyrinth of deception, lies, and secrets, in which one false move could lead to her undoing. What happened that night and why can’t Francine remember? Where is Donna and who is responsible for her disappearance? The further Francine goes to find answers, the tighter the net seems to draw—around her lover, herself, and the life she’s meticulously built.
The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. But the games ended the night Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin into the darkness. The last she–or anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.
Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings–massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. When the paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale, she implores Emma to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor. Seeing an opportunity to find out what really happened to her friends all those years ago, Emma agrees.
Familiar faces, unchanged cabins, and the same dark lake haunt Nightingale, even though the camp is opening its doors for the first time since the disappearances. Emma is even assigned to the same cabin she slept in as a teenager, but soon discovers a security camera–the only one on the property–pointed directly at its door. Then cryptic clues that Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins begin surfacing. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing mysterious threats in the present. And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale and what really happened to those girls, the more she realizes that closure could come at a deadly price.
Caged by Ellison Cooper
FBI neuroscientist Sayer Altair hunts for evil in the deepest recesses of the human mind. Still reeling from the death of her fiancé, she wants nothing more than to focus on her research into the brains of serial killers. But when the Washington D.C. police stumble upon a gruesome murder scene involving a girl who was slowly starved to death while held captive in a cage, Sayer is called in to lead the investigation. When the victim is identified as the daughter of a high profile senator, Sayer is thrust into the spotlight.
As public pressure mounts, she discovers that another girl has been taken and is teetering on the brink of death. With evidence unraveling around her, Sayer races to save the second victim but soon realizes that they are hunting a killer with a dangerous obsession…a killer who is closer than she thought.
The Other Woman by Sandie Jones (My #1 favorite thriller of 2018!)
HE LOVES YOU: Adam adores Emily. Emily thinks Adam’s perfect, the man she thought she’d never meet.
BUT SHE LOVES YOU NOT: Lurking in the shadows is a rival, a woman who shares a deep bond with the man she loves.
AND SHE’LL STOP AT NOTHING: Emily chose Adam, but she didn’t choose his mother Pammie. There’s nothing a mother wouldn’t do for her son, and now Emily is about to find out just how far Pammie will go to get what she wants: Emily gone forever.
The Other Woman will have you questioning her on every page, in Sandie Jones’ chilling psychological suspense about a man, his new girlfriend, and the mother who will not let him go.
The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.
Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.
Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, this is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.
Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.
And then she was gone.
Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a café, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters—and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.
Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?
*All of these books were ones that I purchased at Barnes & Noble or on Amazon. My opinions and selection of books for this blog article were entirely my own.
Did you read any of these books this year? What was your favorite 2018 thriller?