Highly Recommended Psychological Thriller Books

by Maryse on February 28, 2016 · 28 comments

in Book Recommendations

Y’all know I’m on a big psych-thriller kick, and even better, if it incorporates a love story – especially the unconventional kind ;) *waggles eyebrows*. One that really messes with my heart AND my mind, ’cause that’s the best of both worlds, for me!

Something with a bad guy, maybe even one that we fall for (and get the surprise of our life), or maybe one that we didn’t even realize IS the bad guy/girl… whatever. ;) I wanna “be” the victim… OR… I wanna “be” the bad-guy. Either POV is full-on chills and thrills. Twists and mind f**ks… <— ESPECIALLY those two. That’s what differentiates psych-thrillers from horror. I want the works! There may be no blood. There may be no gore. Oh but here there be monsters (of the human kind). And the best ones are when we can’t figure out who the monster really is.

And it would appear many amongst our fellow readers are enjoying the extra adrenaline rush that these provide, ’cause I’ve been receiving many requests for our favorite psych-thriller recommendations.

Janie: Can you please make a list of psychological thrillers?!!  Please keep the psych thrillers coming! Can you make one of your lists for this genre?!!

marina: Janie, I’m reading You: A Novel by Caroline Kepnes right now and it feels very psychological thrillerish. I too would love a list! I am pretty sure I’m not supposed to have the hots for the creepy guy but I think all the hot smut I read has me conditioned? I started off the year squirreling around but feel like I’m on a good streak. First Touch: A Novel (A First and Last Novel) by Laurelin Paige was awesome and also had a creepy factor. A heads up that it’s a “duology”. Really liked F*ck Love. Reading Tarry Fisher always makes me want to reread everything of hers. And loving “You”. At 25%. Tasha J, I too loved ALL Liane Moriarty books. They get under my skin because they parallel real life so much but that’s what makes them so good. I esp loved What Alice Forgot because it really makes you question yourself and if you’ve changed and if for the better!

Maryse: You bet Janie!! I’ll start it now… :D I LOVE the psych thrillers!!! I am the psych-thriller freak that loves when an author explores the effects of Stockholm syndrome, I cringe like mad, and yet enjoy it, big time.

Cindy: Maryse I would be all over that psych thriller list… This genre has caused me to squirrel this year with amazing reads like Pretty Girls and The Kind Worth Killing to name just a few!

Cristina: I’m thinking I need to try some of these psych-thrillers that Maryse recommends. I haven’t dove too deep into that genre yet.  :-)

Allison: Looooove psych thrillers.

Maryse: I want something super scary or mind-f**kry… I need a thrill.

Grey: I’m geared up for a real good twisty, turny psych-thriller of a mind f*ck… any suggestions?

Some of the books that give me the biggest blurb jolts, are of this genre, and there’s nothing better than when the actual story delivers what the blurb promises. In fact, some of my favorites delivered MUCH more… enough to make my stomach drop, my heart race, and my mind… *poooooof!!!*

So let’s gather some of our favorites, shall we? I will be personally dipping into this list BIG TIME!

Right off the bat, I will point out four lists that will have various elements of “psych-thrillering;) *snort*

➜ And how can we resist this constantly updated Amazon list of the TOP 100 Best Selling Psychological Thrillers!!! I already see a few on here that I LOVED, and a few that I want to read, badly! :D

But I really want this list to be focused on the these kinds of psych-thrillers (recommended both by our fellow readers, and me!). Indie and traditionally published alike, you’re gonna LOVE these:

You: A Novel by Caroline Kepnes <— When I first read this, I was hardcore into romance and love stories, and REALLY struggled with the *ahem* “love story” in this creepy stalker one. SO I… wavered. But now? I still remember every scene, every emotion, and every appallment. LOL! OMG IT WAS exciting, and creepy and intense and… I have to read book #2!!! (my review) Michelle agrees! “…if anyone wants to read a smart, creepy, romantic thriller go read You: A Novel. I’m still thinking about it and have never experienced a book from the viewpoint a stalker (…among other things) all the way through. The book had an Anne Frasier feel to it as well and I love her work. I think this was the first book for this author too so I’m excited to see what she comes up with next since it was a fascinating look into the ‘other’ side of obsession.” Book #2 is out now (Hidden Bodies), but DO NOT read the blurb of this one, until you’ve read #1. Hidden Bodies is calling me HARD though. I love a scary thrill… you know me. Especially since… #1 did have a love story. Just sayin’ ;)

The Girl on the Train: A Novel by Paula Hawkins <— OMG THIS ONE! It kind of renewed my love of psych-thrillers last year, and that was it. I’m on a bender! She’s a mess. A TOTAL mess after having been dumped by her husband (the love of her life), she’s barely hanging onto her job, and she’s drinking… way too much. But one day, while she’s on her daily train, she sees something… bad. And her new obsession begins. (my review) and LoriAnn agrees! “The Girl on the Train. I couldn’t put it down. I was up til 3 AM with 50 pages to go and I had to finish it today. WOW!!! It was crazy…it was a ride! You think you know what’s really going on and then you see that you don’t. You think you have it figured out and there’s another twist. I LOVED it. It definitely had the Gone Girl feel to it.

Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue <— OMG THIS ONE!! I can’t wait to see the movie, but the book sure played out like one. She’s been kidnapped and has been held hostage in a room, and even ends up getting pregnant, having a baby, and raising her child, in this room. And that’s just the “start” of this story… WOW. I loved this book because it had that chill-thrill factor, but it also had a ton of heart… and hope! (my review)

The Consequences Series by Aleatha Roming <— GAH!!! The first two books did quite the number on me. I was so anti-Tony, and some of my bestie were in love with him, and I could “see it” ya know? I got it, but OMG I loved how we warred with each other on his “redeem ability” LOL!!! :P But it was SO fun!!! (my review) And Cristina loved this series! “I spent the weekend with the Consequences series. Definitely one of the most mentally and emotionally taxing reading experiences of my life. It was the most unpredictable love story I have ever read. This series shocked me and twisted my tummy over, and over, and over again. I say “love story” lightly. This series is not for the faint at heart. If you like an easy love story or an easy hero/heroine, run far, far away from this series. Is it dark? The first book yes. But after that, it was more emotional than anything else. I would call it a psych thriller. One quality I look for in my hero, in a dark series, is redemption. That’s what makes it a love story for me. It’s here, but it doesn’t come easy. I wasn’t sure after book #1 it was even possible for me, by Romig’s superior writing got me there. This series is going to stay with me for a while. These kinds of feels don’t go away easily. It’s time for a glass of wine and a light read. Phew! I’m brushing the sweat off of my forehead. Well done Aleatha Romig! Well done indeed!” and Emily agrees! “I can NOT recommend anything BEFORE The Consequences Series by Aleatha Romig! It is the most mind boggling, dark, thriller, romance, surprising twists I have ever read! I an 51 years old and trust me, I have read thousands of books in my lifetime. This trilogy rates in my top 3 all time favorite series. She recently released the first companion book to be read only after you read the series because it will give secrets away.This is a MUST read for sure. Be warned, the first is very dark and you may want to stop, I did. Please don’t and you will be rewarded with some of the best written stories ever! Enjoy and after you do let me know what you think.

And Emily agrees! “I can NOT recommend anything BEFORE The Consequences Series by Aleatha Romig! It is the most mind boggling, dark, thriller, romance, surprising twists I have ever read! I an 51 years old and trust me, I have read thousands of books in my lifetime. This trilogy rates in my top 3 all time favorite series. …This is a MUST read for sure. Be warned, the first is very dark and you may want to stop, I did. Please don’t and you will be rewarded with some of the best written stories ever! Enjoy and after you do let me know what you think.”

Comfort Food by Kitty Thomas <— Usually in my “Dark Reads” recommendations, but I’m bringing it back, ’cause it definitely fits this list too. If anyone plays mind games (along with other games) it’s our sexy-creepy “Master” kidnapper. GAH!!! I LOVED IT! It’s definitely dark and a psych-thriller/horror/love story? LOL!! That last part is to be debated. ;) Definitely not a romance, but you know how Stockholm syndrome works. (my review)

Jezebel by K. Larsen <— I LOVED THIS ONE LIKE CRAZY (my review) and Michelle agrees! “…do not be scared, the ending was just shocking! It’s the best kind of psychological mystery/thriller/romance I’ve read since…You by Caroline Kepnes but with a heavier lean towards romance and mystery…

Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher <— Twisty turny for sure with a potential love story in the making. Two people kidnapped and held captive (seemingly abandoned and tortured in this abandon). UGH what they suffered, as they tried to survive this horror. And what they finally come to realize… (my review)

Marrow by Tarryn Fisher <— Another gem by one of my favorite authors, I dare say I loved this one even more than Mud Vein. Because the monsters are numerous here (various levels of monsterdom), and the ending gave me goosebumps. Amy agrees! “I’m not sure what – if any – ties Marrow has to Mud Vein other than it being another psy-thriller sort of story, and that little message from TF is kinda cryptic…at least to me it is. I’m only about halfway through it though… so we’ll see what happens. All I can say is this one has some pretty dark elements to it…and I’m loving it! :D” (my review)

The Kind Worth Killing: A Novel by Peter Swanson <— Sadie has been INSISTING on this one for me! “I have been telling maryse to read “the kind worth killing” forever so I’ll throw some peanuts for them.” And then she said: “When are you going to listen to me with my psych thriller reccos? i am throwing large sacks of peanuts” <— :P LOL. And still… I have yet to read it. Oh I one-clicked it. Both that she highly recommends… *sigh* WHAT AM I WAITING FOR???! I know I’ll love it. Sadie and I have VERY similar book tastes!

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas <— HERE IS the other huge SADIE recommendation!! She says: “Dangerous Girls was the perfect YA thriller for me. You need to read that one for sure. … It’s so good.”

I SEE YOU by Ker Dukey <— Grey suggests this one! “I See You. Psych-thriller, complete mindf*ck. Scared the crap out of me. Some definite triggers, not for the faint of heart.”

I See You: Assumed identities and psychological suspense by Patricia MacDonald <— Same title and sounds darn good, too!! :P

Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn <— MichelleS recommends it! “That one was crazy good and twisty-turny. Had no clue how it was going to end up!” and Mindy agrees! “Favorite mind twisty book right now—GONE GIRL—craaazy!!

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier <— bev recommends this one! “…if you have never read Rebecca you might like it. Hard to type it. Gothic, psych-thriller, mystery, also some romance. Oh, and first person pov from the heroine.”

One Kick: A Novel (Kick Lannigan Book 1) by Chelsea Cain <— Tasha: “I just finished One Kick by Chelsea Cain. It’s a mystery/thriller/suspense. I really loved it and I think if you like that genre you should give this one a shot. So much more than what I had thought and expected from the blurb!”

Bury Me by Tara Sivec <— Kat suggests this one!

Reconstructing Amelia: A Novel by Kimberly McCreight <— Cindy recommends these two! “Reconstructing Amelia and Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight > these two were so amazing, can’t recommend them enough”

Where They Found Her: A Novel by Kimberly McCreight <— Cindy also recommends this one!

Dear Daughter: A Novel by Elizabeth Little <— Cindy also recommends this one!

With Visions of Red: Broken Bonds, Book One by Trisha Wolfe <— Debbie suggests this one! “With Visions of Red by Trisha Wolfe. Sooooooo Good! My top read of 2015!

The Widow by Fiona Barton <— bev: “Maryse?? Have you heard of The Widow? Just saw a A review for it. Guess it is a psych/thriller/mystery type like Gone Girl and Girl on the Train. A bit tempted.”

Maryse: bev… I’m making a “psych-thriller” list as we speak and I’m gonna look it up. YAY US!!! :D Okay… I just looked it up and ohhhhh OMG YES!!! THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO READ!!! So her husband just died…

There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment. 
Now there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man…” <— But I love how the blurb TWISTS in the end!! *gasp*!!! eek

Miracle Man by William R. Leibowitz <— Fabi found us this one! “Maryse, you were looking for a thriller and this one just came across my email. I’m not a huge fan of thrillers, but sometimes one catches my eye.”

And now we’re looking for even more!! :D Comment and let us know your favorite psych-thriller read!


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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Kat Paradis February 28, 2016 at 3:10 PM

Bury Me by Tara Sivec

Maryse February 28, 2016 at 3:16 PM

Ohhh YES Kat!!!! I remember that one giving me a blurb-jolt!!!

YAY!! Thank you! *hug* :D

Cindy February 28, 2016 at 4:01 PM

Oh I’m so excited! My must reads are:
Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter (be prepared)
The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson (the blurb will have you already wanting more)
Reconstructing Amelia and Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight > these two were so amazing, can’t recommend them enough
The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little
… One I read a while back and loved: Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill … Maybe more of a scary paranormal thriller but so good
Can’t wait to read through some of these listed above Maryse!!

Debbie February 28, 2016 at 4:41 PM

With Visions of Red by Trisha Wolfe. Sooooooo Good! My top read of 2015!
Thanks for the list.

Grey February 28, 2016 at 5:40 PM

*Ooooh, it’s like Christmas* I’ll take all of these, except for the ones I’ve read already. *making my list and checking it twice!* What can I say, I’m a fan of the dark and twisted. An aficionado of pretzel tummy… it’s a sickness, and I don’t wanna be cured!

This probably says something about me… like I’m super fun at parties… those murder mystery parties, that’s what you were gonna say, right?!?! *giggle*

Awesome post Maryse, thank you!

Janie February 28, 2016 at 5:41 PM

You are the best Maryse!! Thank you for the list :)

Maryse February 28, 2016 at 5:46 PM

It is MY pleasure my friends. I will be dipping into this list often… :D

Grey February 28, 2016 at 5:47 PM

But… I have to correct you Maryse, the I See You that I recommend, is actually by Ker Dukey. I haven’t read the one by Patricia MacDonald… (which may or may not be awesome as well).

Maryse February 28, 2016 at 5:47 PM

Grey… murder-mystery parties are SO FUN!!!!

Maryse February 28, 2016 at 5:47 PM

Ooooh Okay let me update. Good catch!! That one sounded darn good too, so I assumed it was the right one. LOL!!

Cheryl February 28, 2016 at 6:35 PM

Yeh, another great list to add to my tbr. Thanks Maryse!

bev February 28, 2016 at 7:14 PM

Not sure which one I want to read. I may tackle The Widow or Sadie’s rec after my Briggs/Bishop marathon.

Sadie February 28, 2016 at 8:27 PM

And Gone Girl is an all-time favorite…so many good ones here, Maryse!

Fabi February 28, 2016 at 8:49 PM

I’m going to throw one of my favs in here. Cause – ya know – that’s how we roll. :-)

Bad Things by Varian Krylov is a psych thriller. mm dark scary goodness

Amy February 28, 2016 at 10:39 PM

Gah, Mud Vein…I’m STILL messed up from that one. Kind of like how Fabi is still messed up over Rainfall. :P

Seriously, I wanted to cry and ask Tarryn Fisher “WHY?!?” for all she put the h through (all the way to the freaking end!!!) and at the same time I wanted to hug her for writing such a phenomenal read. That one is a *true* 5-star love-hate read for me.

And Jezebel. *sigh* I get kind of sad when I think I may never find another one that will have the same effect on me. That’s my inner book nerd rearing it’s head there. ;)

DG February 29, 2016 at 1:59 PM

Unhinge…three letters – wow!

Elissa February 29, 2016 at 3:46 PM

Glad you have this posted! While I’ve recommended these books before as dark romance. They really fit better in this category, COURTNEY LANE and The Breaking Insanity series! Crazy good with one of the best Masters of psychological hell ever, Dr. Eric Benton!

Sofia Grey March 1, 2016 at 3:01 AM

You *have* to include Nicci French in this awesome list. SECRET SMILE sends shivers down my spine now, just thinking about it. Most of the Nicci French books are psych thrillers. Love them!

Maryse March 1, 2016 at 12:41 PM

YES!!!! Thank you Sofia. I’m adding it. :D

marina March 1, 2016 at 12:45 PM

Yay, you made it!!! Thank you Maryse! AWESOME LIST!!! Just seeing it 3 days late. I’m finishing up Hidden Bodies today. Very much the feel of You. I’ve had Comfort Food on my TBR for years since you first recommended it and I think I need to read that one soon! Will use this list often!

Lori L. Clark March 1, 2016 at 9:09 PM

I’m reading “You” right now and I’m closing in on the ending. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

I loved “Dangerous Girls.” The ending… OMG the ending. Talk about a “Didn’t see that coming!” I loved “Mud Vein” and “Marrow” too. I think this is one of my favorite genres right now.

Traci March 3, 2016 at 2:45 AM

Hi Maryse – The Good Girl by Mary Kubica should definitely be included on this list – it was all kinds of crazy!

Janie July 31, 2016 at 9:06 AM

Does anyone have any new recommendations for this genre?

Recently I’ve been reading books by Karin Slaughter and everything that I’ve read so far has been amazing.

Tomas Lloyd-Butler August 17, 2016 at 5:58 PM

Thank you for suggesting Caroline Kepnes’ novel, it really looks like something that would interest me and many of my colleagues. I have recently written a psychological thriller titled Parallels, which includes many of the wonderful attributes that you listed above. I hope that you would be interested in taking a gander. It is available on iBooks and Kindle but I would love to share you a copy for review. I have appreciated your opinions for a long time and look forward to many more.
Tomas Lloyd-Butler

Audrey Yang August 22, 2016 at 5:04 PM

Hi Maryse!
Your suggestions are great! I have read Girl on the Train and Room and they are really awesome! I’m a huge fan of the psychological thriller genre, so I actually wrote my own book of the same genre, Truce of Two Polars. It actually does have the qualities you mentioned above, especially the mind-fuck. I’m a new author and my e-book came out two months ago on Amazon. It would mean the world to me if you could spare some time to read it. It has around 121 pages so it doesn’t take very long. I have worked very hard on it and it would just mean so much to me if you could check it out because I really do want to know what you think of it. The book is free on Amazon on August 28 for the whole day, but otherwise it’s $2.99. However, if you send me an email at audreyyang14@gmail.com, we can get in touch and I can share with you a copy for review. Thank you so much for all the guidance you’ve provided on your posts!
Best Regards,
Audrey Yang

Cheryl R Cowtan August 14, 2017 at 7:36 PM

Love the list. Love the genre. Recently read “Adam’s Cross” by EMG Wixley. Crazy mind-boggling inner thoughts, witch heritage, creepy doll, everything a dark, gothic reader would want. https://plus.google.com/+CherylRCowtan/posts/KHGXNTjgUPy

Cynthia February 10, 2018 at 9:34 PM

Thanks for this! I’ve read a lot of these but have added some new ones thanks to you! Try “Her Every Fear” by Peter Swanson. Also a new one you shouldn’t miss, “Baby Teeth” by Zoje Stage coming out this summer (2018). Little girls are supposed to love their mothers….

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