The best thrillers have a tight grip on the bestseller charts - with novelists striving to shock and delight readers with twists, turns and clever plotting.
Whether you listen to the story unfold on an audiobook, get stuck into a paperback, or prefer an eReader (we have some handy guides on the best Kindles and best eReaders if you're in the market for an upgrade), a good thriller will mean you are unable to resist just one more chapter.
Due to their high-drama storylines, range of complex characters, and shifting perspectives, thrillers make for some of the best book-to-screen adaptations. Over the last few years, several of these have been hugely successful, with Big Little Lies, The Girl on the Train, and Gone Girl being some of the most well-known examples. And their popularity has secured more fans for thriller book novels. So which should you choose? These are the best thriller books of 2022.
Crime thriller books
Crime thrillers are perhaps one of the most popular types of thriller books, and for good reason. These options explore serious incidents—murders, disappearances, large-scale theft—giving the author a chance to explore the impacts of such crimes and the race to solve them.
After Everything You Did by Stephanie Sowden
Reeta wakes up and remembers nothing. She's been in an accident. She's also wanted by the FBI and is told she has murdered two girls who look just like her. Two more women are missing. She can't answer any of the questions the law enforcement officials ask her. Her only hope is a journalist called Carol who has been following Reeta closely.
Read it because... Regular thriller readers will be used to characters and even narrators who are willing to mislead. In this one, we find out what happened along with the supposed perpetrator. After Everything locks into everyone's worst nightmare of being accused of a terrible crime with no way to defend yourself.
A line we love: "'I don't know who they are. I don't even know who I am. I sit in my cell at night and replay all of these... these questions that you ask me that don't make any sense. But I didn't! I didn't do it!'"
'With all due respect Reeta." Willow leaned forward. 'If you can't remember, how do you know you didn't?'"
Not A Happy Family by Shari Lapena
When Sheila and Fred Merton are found brutally murdered soon after a tense family lunch with their three adult children, their close family and friends are shocked, but not all of them are upset. That’s because multi-millionaire Fred was a narcissist bully, Sheila was a neglectful mother, and their deaths means their children stand to inherit a fortune. With no alibis and plenty of motive, the police have to decide which one of them did the ghastly deed. And if they can’t solve it, Fred’s sister Audrey is willing to point the finger. A cross between Big Little Lies and Miss Marple, we reckon this one could be destined for the screen sometime soon.
Read it because... Shari’s previous book, The Couple Next Door, sold in its millions, and Paula Hawkins is a fan.
A line we love: "But much as she feels bad about that, some small part of her is glad—or maybe relieved—that he has turned on one of his other children for once."
The Therapist by Helene Flood
Sara’s career as a therapist means she spends her days dealing with drama. So when Jan Erik, her husband's best friend, calls to say he never showed up for their weekend away together, she doesn’t immediately panic. After all, her husband, Sigurd, has already left her a message to say he’s arrived, so Jan Erik must be playing a prank, right? But when the police launch a murder investigation, and strange things start to happen in Sara’s home at night, she realises she needs to dissect her own relationship in the same way she does her client’s lives, to figure out what happened to him. Who can she really trust? It’s a slow and creepy build-up 0 you might want to avoid reading this one at night!
Read it because... Helene Flood is an Oslo-based psychologist herself, so there are deep insights in this book, translated from her native Norwegian by Alison McCullough.
A line we love: "If you remember everything, it’s hard to recall the significant things—the things you have to remember."
The Heights by Louise Candlish
When Ellen’s son Lucas befriends troubled teen Kieran, her instinct to keep her child safe intensifies. Ellen’s gut feeling is right as, within a matter of months, Lucas’ life has been destroyed. What follows next is a cat-and-mouse game between Ellen and Kieran, as she strives for revenge. Told through Ellen’s own heartbreaking account, you soon wonder whether her point of view is accurate, or if there’s another side to the story.
Read it because... Award-winning Candlish packs the book so full of twists you’ll keep wanting to read just one more chapter.
A line we love: "Already I feel like I’m using bodily fluids for ink—the blood of my son, the tears of my daughter."
The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse
Luxury hotel Le Sommet may look like the perfect place to escape from it all, but there’s a reason the former sanatorium is located in such an isolated spot high in the Swiss Alps. As it soon transpires, the grand old building is not the only player in this deadly game hiding past secrets, and as a storm blows in and bodies begin to pile up, it’s up to troubled detective Elin to dig until she uncovers the truth. Genuinely scary and deliciously atmospheric, this international bestseller is guaranteed to give you goosebumps.
Read it because… It’s a quick paced gothic thriller that packs a punch - and was a book club pick for Reese Witherspoon. The setting was inspired after reading about the legacy of TB sanatoriums in Crans-Montana.
A line we love: "It’s hard not to imagine, she thinks, looking out; this place somehow consuming someone, swallowing them whole."
Psychological thriller books
In the same way that the best historical fiction books bring the past to life, many of us are drawn to the best thriller books because of a need to understand motivation and find some shred of humanity in the evilest of criminals. Psychological thrillers explore the psyche of people, both criminal and otherwise, with nail-biting twists and turns along the way.
The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell
When 19-year-old Tallulah heads out on a date with her boyfriend, 39-year-old grandmother Kim is happy to take care of baby Noah, telling the young couple to let their hair down. Little does Kim know that her daughter won't return from that fateful night, and it is the beginning of a living nightmare, where Kim must fight to find the truth about what really happened to her daughter.
Read it because… This is a real thriller with heart, as emotional as it is enthralling. Characters are carefully crafted in this complex, psychological thriller.
A line we love: "Arachnophobia is one of those words that sounds as bad as that which it describes. Tallulah suffers from arachnophobia, Tallulah is in the dark."
The Maidens by Alex Michaelides
This has everything: murder, ancient Greek myth, academic rivalry and psychological intrigue. Mariana Andros is convinced that a celebrated Cambridge academic , Edward Fosca, has murdered one of his students, but cannot prove how or why. Fosca is handsome and charismatic and his appeal is particularly strong with a secret society of young female students known as The Maidens...
Read it because… Alex Michaelides last novel, The Silent Patient, was a runaway best seller that also attracted critical praise. With this book, he's done it again, picking up praise from Stephen Fry and many others.
A line we love: "Edward Fosca was a murderer. This was a fact. This wasn't something Mariana knew just on an intellectual level, as an idea. Her body knew it. She felt it in her bones, along her blood and deep in every cell."
The Club by Ellery Lloyd
Ellery Lloyd is the writing name of husband and wife Collette Lyons and Paul Vlitos. The first novel they wrote together, People Like Her, dealt with the world of mumfluencers. Now they've turned their attention to another modern manifestation of glamour: the members' club. The Home Group have destination properties around the world, but Island Home is their most ambitious launch to date and celebrities from around the world are flying in. But which of them will get to leave?
Read it because… This has been picked up by Reese Witherspoon for her bookclub and, as Witherspoon is the woman who bought Big Little Lies to wider attention, we trust her judgement.
A line we love: "And perhaps at that moment–but only perhaps, and only for a moment–it dawns on you that this is no more and no less than the ending you so richly deserve."
Girl A by Abigail Dean
Perhaps one of the most-hyped releases of last year, Girl A became an instant bestseller in both the UK and the USA. Dark and shocking, it follows Lex—dubbed by the media as “Girl A”—the only one of six children who managed to escape their parents’ House of Horrors. When her mother dies in prison, Lex must reconcile with her siblings and decide what to do with the home that was once their prison. A powerful read.
Read it because… The book was inspired by the real-life harrowing Californian 'House of Horrors'. This debut novel by Abigail Dean, who is also a lawyer, has taken the literary world by storm. Television and film rights have been sold to Sony.
A line we love: "'Girl A,' she said. 'The girl who escaped. If anyone was going to make it, it was going to be you.'"
The Murder Game by Rachel Abbott
A year after the wedding that never was, friends gather at Lucas' Cornish seaside stately home, to mark the anniversary of the ill-fated day that saw tragedy strike. Now, Lucas has told his guests that he has planned a game, and everyone has costumes to wear and parts to play. But no one knows what the game means, and what will happen once it's over. Full of twists and turns, this is a book that will keep you turning the pages until well into the night...
Read it because… You’re a fan of Something in the Water, The Woman in the Window or The Silent Patient. Rachel began her career as an author in 2011 and has since sold 4 million books.
A line we love: "We have our costumes, we have our parts, and everyone must play. The game, he tells us, is about to begin."
Domestic thriller books
Perhaps the most prominent and popular theme in domestic thrillers is the idea that perfection is impossible. Unlike the best romance books, thrillers take the idea of the ideal family and twist it, showing the cracks beneath the perfect façade.
Nobody But Us by Laure Van Rensburg
The handsome professor and his young, female student, are driving off for a short break. It's their first holiday together and they've chosen an isolated cabin in upstate New York, away from those who might judge their relationship. But neither one of them is exactly who the other thinks or expects. This is a stylish and gripping novel.
Read it because… Nobody But Us pulls no punches, this is a wild ride with a very messed up couple. The plot moves in genuinely unexpected and surprising ways. A true roller coaster.
A line we love: "On the third step lies a discarded heart on a broken chain. A present to a girl who no longer exists any more."
Two Nights In Lisbon by Chris Pavone
Ariel has accompanied her new husband to Portugal, tagging along on his business trip. But when she wakes up, he has gone, leaving no note and not answering his phone. Approaching hotel security, then the police, then the US Embassy, Ariel is drawn in to a tangled race involving power, politics and revenge. Why doesn't she know more about the man she married? She could go to someone for help... but that's the one person she cannot bear to ask.
Read it because… This is a clever and well-written thriller that combines domestic issues with international affairs, throwing up more and more surprises along the way.
A line we love: "'What do you think?' His partner takes a few seconds before answering. 'I think that this woman does not know her husband as well as she believes.' In Moniz's experience almost every cop is cynical, but Carolina Santos takes it to a whole different level. 'Of course this is true almost for all women,' Santos continues. 'We are all lied to. All the time.'"
Night Falls, Still Missing by Helen Callaghan
Like all of the best thriller books, this one is incredibly hard to put down—so much so that some people read it in almost one sitting. Night Falls, Still Missing is a masterclass in tension-building. When Fiona receives an invitation to come to Orkney from her best friend, Madison, she arrives and discovers Madison is missing and her house is stripped bare. Fiona soon suspects not only that something horrific has happened, but that Madison had been about to reveal an earth-shattering secret…
Read it because… It’s the perfect companion for a dark, cold night. Written by The Sunday Times Bestselling author of Dear Amy and Everything is Lies, the research for this novel saw Helen staying in the Orkneys alone one winter—she even set the story in the holiday house she rented.
A line we love: "The only way you will get a chance to see it, to see what I mean, is to come up here."
- Night Falls, Still Missing by Helen Callaghan at Amazon for $11.55/£11.55 (opens in new tab)
The Split by Sharon Bolton
Sharon Bolton’s The Split is another thriller that isn’t afraid to delve into the dark depths of obsession and highlight the issues surrounding unhealthy relationships and stalking as Felicity Lloyd tries desperately to evade a man whose only thoughts are of finding her. This is a tense and character-driven read that builds to an explosive ending.
Read it because… Supercharged with suspense and suspicion, it's an irresistible story. Sharon’s first novel, Sacrifice, was made into a film in 2016. Her novels have also won numerous other awards.
A line we love: "And finally, like the last trace of a dream, she remembers what the voice in her ear said to her: He’s coming."
All My Lies Are True by Dorothy Koomson
In Dorothy Koomson’s highly-anticipated sequel to The Ice Cream Girls, prepare yourself to see the dramatic events unfold from all sides and perspectives, as Serena and Poppy once more take centre stage, this time with their families. Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but the anger that propels one person towards vengeance is red hot.
Read it because… It’s the sequel to the Sunday Times bestseller The Ice Cream Girls, which was loosely adapted into an ITV drama. A pacy, thought provoking thriller about family, obsession and psychological abuse. Dorothy’s books have been translated into more than 30 languages and more than two million copies sold in the UK alone!
A line we love: "The sky is there as a reflection of my life, something that at first looks clear and simple, but when you move closer, look a little bit deeper, there’s always so much more."