Psychological stories are intensely popular right now. They sort of bridge the gap between horror and mystery, often combining the two themes. Yet, psychological thrillers are much more intelligent. Some of the biggest blockbusters of the last decade have been made from psychological novels.Like detective novels, they often keep us guessing until the very end, full of exquisite twist and turns that keep us entrenched and on the edge of our seats. These stories mess with our minds and take us on a ride, which is why we love them so. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the best psychological thriller books just for you!
What Did These Psychological Thriller Books Do To Qualify For This List
Any time you are ranking the best of something the results are usually somewhat subjective but we have did our best to come up with a list the readers of the psychological thriller genre will truly like. To come up with this list we took into account:
- quantity and quality of user reviews
- sales data
- public perception
- opinions of readers of this genres
- commercial success
- and of course personal opinion
Take a look at the best Psychological Thriller Books you can read right now:
• Best Psychological Thriller Books
• Best Psychological Thriller Movies
• Best Psychological Thriller Books in Audio
Best Psychological Thriller Books
Here are the best psychological thriller books by the experts:
1)Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
- Book Summary:On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? Undoubtedly one of the best psychological thriller books ever written.
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2)The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
- Book Summary:EVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.UNTIL TODAY
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
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3)Stillhouse Lake, by Rachel Caine
- Book Summary:Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.
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4)The Wife Between Us, by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
- Book Summary:Twisted and deliciously chilling, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen’s The Wife Between Us exposes the secret complexities of an enviable marriage – and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.
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5)The Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris
- Book Summary:A serial murderer known only by a grotesquely apt nickname―Buffalo Bill―is stalking particular women. He has a purpose, but no one can fathom it, for the bodies are discovered in different states. Clarice Starling, a young trainee at the F.B.I. Academy, is surprised to be summoned by Jack Crawford, Chief of the Bureau’s Behavioral Science section. Her assignment: to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a brilliant psychiatrist and grisly killer now kept under close watch in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Lecter’s insight into the minds of murderers could help track and capture Buffalo Bill.Smart and attractive, Starling is shaken to find herself in a strange, intense relationship with the acutely perceptive Lecter. His cryptic clues―about Buffalo Bill and about her―launch Clarice on a search that every reader will find startling, harrowing, and totally compelling.
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6)Behind Closed Doors, by B.A. Paris
- Book Summary:Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth; she has charm and elegance. He’s a dedicated attorney who has never lost a case; she is a flawless homemaker, a masterful gardener and cook, and dotes on her disabled younger sister. Though they are still newlyweds, they seem to have it all. You might not want to like them, but you do. You’re hopelessly charmed by the ease and comfort of their home, by the graciousness of the dinner parties they throw. You’d like to get to know Grace better.But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are inseparable.Some might call this true love. Others might wonder why Grace never answers the phone. Or why she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. Or why she never seems to take anything with her when she leaves the house, not even a pen. Or why there are such high-security metal shutters on all the downstairs windows.Some might wonder what’s really going on once the dinner party is over, and the front door has closed.
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7)The Shining by Stephen King
- Book Summary:Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . . . and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.
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8)The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson
- Book Summary:urder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue combine into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel, the first in Stieg Larsson’s thrilling Millenium series featuring Lisbeth Salander.Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.
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9)An Untamed State by Roxanne Gay
- Book Summary:Mireille Duval Jameson is living a fairy tale. The strong-willed youngest daughter of one of Haiti’s richest sons, she has an adoring husband, a precocious infant son, by all appearances a perfect life. The fairy tale ends one day when Mireille is kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men, in front of her father’s Port au Prince estate. Held captive by a man who calls himself The Commander, Mireille waits for her father to pay her ransom. As it becomes clear her father intends to resist the kidnappers, Mireille must endure the torments of a man who resents everything she represents.An Untamed State is a novel of privilege in the face of crushing poverty, and of the lawless anger that corrupt governments produce. It is the story of a willful woman attempting to find her way back to the person she once was, and of how redemption is found in the most unexpected of places. An Untamed State establishes Roxane Gay as a writer of prodigious, arresting talent.
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10)The Husband’s Secret, by Liane Moriarty
- Book Summary:Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not only the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. And then imagine that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive…Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. But that letter is about to change everything—and not just for her. There are other women who barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they, too, are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.
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Best Psychological Thriller Movies
If you enjoyed the best psychological thriller books, why stop there? Take a look at our list of best psychological thriller movies and witness these marvelous films from the big screen.
1)The Silence of the Lambs
Starring: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, and Scott Glenn
Directed by: Jonathan Demme
Movie Summary:Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins deliver sensational, Oscar-winning performances in this “shockingly powerful thriller” (New York). “Stunning” (Los Angeles Times) and “spellbinding” (The Hollywood Reporter), this terrifying masterpiece garnered five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. A psychopath nicknamed Buffalo Bill is murdering women across the Midwest. Believing it takes one to know one, the FBI sends Agent Clarice Starling (Foster) to interview a demented prisoner who may provide clues to the killer’s actions.
This was the first scary movie I ever watched.
One of the all-time greatest thrillers, Silence of the Lambs will leave your heart pounding. The performance by Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lechter is one of the all time greatest, and will hook you in even with his limited screen time. The dark atmosphere permeating the movie perfectly sets up the darkness of the story and the villain, and does not let you go until it’s over.
Starring: Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, and Gwyneth Paltrow
Directed by: David Fincher
Movie Summary:Detective William Sommerset and his new partner, Detective David Mills are on a desperate hunt for a serial killer who they eventually uncover.
This is a clever movie filled with suspense and some thrilling action.
3)The Sixth Sense
Starring: Bruce Willis, Toni Collette, and Olivia Williams
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Movie Summary:A distinguished child psychologist meets a frightened, confused 8-year-old boy, and he is completely unprepared to face the truth of what haunts the boy.
Extraordinary emotional engagement throughout the film.
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Movie Summary:All work and no play makes Academy Award® winner Jack Nicholson, the caretaker of an isolated resort, go way off the deep end, terrorizinghis young son and wife Shelley Duvall.
classic Kubrick thriller with an all-star cast. What more needs be said for true greatness? This one scared the pants off lots of people when it was released.
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Rufalo, and Ben Kingsley
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Movie Summary:Academy Award winning director MARTIN SCORSESE once again teams up with LEONARDO DICAPRIO in this spine-chilling thriller that critics say “sizzles with so much suspense that it’s hot to the touch.”** When U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) arrives at the asylum for the criminally insane on Shutter Island, what starts as a routine investigation quickly takes a sinister turn. As the investigation unfolds and Teddy uncovers more shocking and terrifying truths about the island, he learns there are some places that never let you go.
Few movies have affected me more deeply than Shutter Island. A masterpiece of suspense, yes, but so much more. Chilling, haunting, beautifully structured, sublimely scored, its painterly images penetrate the soul.
Best Psychological Thriller Audio Books
Now that you’ve seen our list of the best psychological thriller books and movies, I’m sure you’ll be interested in trying out more of the best psychological thriller books in audio!
1)The Favorite Daughter, by Kaira Rouda
Book Summary:The perfect home. The perfect family. The perfect lie.
Jane Harris lives in a sparkling home in an oceanfront gated community in Orange County. It’s a place that seems too beautiful to be touched by sadness. But exactly one year ago, Jane’s oldest daughter, Mary, died in a tragic accident, and Jane has been grief-stricken ever since. Lost in a haze of antidepressants, she’s barely even left the house. Now, that’s all about to change.
It’s time for Jane to reclaim her life and her family. Jane’s husband, David, has planned a memorial service for Mary, and three days later, their youngest daughter, Betsy, graduates high school. Yet as Jane reemerges into the world, it’s clear her family has changed without her. Her husband has been working long days – and nights – at the office. Her daughter seems distant, even secretive. And her beloved Mary was always such a good girl – dutiful and loving. But does someone know more about Mary, and about her last day, than they’ve revealed?
The bonds between mothers and daughters and husbands and wives should never be broken. But you never know how far someone will go to keep a family together….
2)Delirious, by Daniel Palmer
Book Summary:Charlie Giles is at the top of his game. An electronics superstar, he’s sold his startup company to a giant Boston firm, where he’s now a senior director. With his dog, Monte, at his side, Charlie is treated like a VIP everywhere he goes.
Then one day, everything in Charlie’s neatly ordered world starts to go terrifyingly wrong. His prestigious job and his inventions are wrenched away from him. His family is targeted, and his former employers are dying gruesomely, picked off one by one. Every sign, every shred of evidence, points to Charlie as a cold-blooded killer. And soon Charlie is unable to tell whether he’s succumbed to the pressures of work and become the architect of his own destruction, or whether he’s the victim of a relentless, diabolical attack.
In a desperate struggle to save his life, Charlie races to uncover the truth, all the while realizing that nothing can be trusted – least of all his own fractured mind….
I was not able to figure out how the killer was masterminding the behind the scenes action. Truly a page turner. I was not able to guess the killer until all was revealed. What amazing writing by Michael Palmer’s son!!!!!!
If you like lots of twists, this one is a great big corkscrew! No spoilers from me–this one keeps you guessing at every turn! Read it!
3)A Brief Lunacy, by Cynthia Thayer
Book Summary:The stranger arrived on a cool October evening. Jessie and Carl invited the stranded young man into their cabin, fed him supper, and let him spend the night. The next morning he repays their kindness by taking them prisoner in their own home.
Who is this man who calls himself Jonah? Why does he seem to know everything about them? What is his connection to their troubled, missing daughter, Sylvie? As Jonah’s behavior grows increasingly erratic and frightening, Jessie and Carl are trapped in a single day of brutality and shattering revelations that will test the limits of their sanity and their will to survive.
The twists and turns surprised me every time one occurred. The chracters were well thought out and seemed very real. I jumped in many places throughout reading.
Shocking and not for everyone, but felt very real. I think the author knew what she was talking about!
4)The 7th Victim, by Alan Jacobson
Book Summary:The Dead Eyes killer lurks in the backyard of the FBI’s famed Behavioral Analysis Unit. His brutal murders, unlike any others previously encountered, confound the local task force, despite the gifted skills of Special Agent Karen Vail, the first female ever promoted to the profiling unit. But along with her keen insight, Vail brings considerable personal and professional baggage–both of which threaten to derail the investigation, destroy her storied career and get her killed.
Drawing from his meticulous research during seven years of study with the FBI’s legendary profiling unit, Alan Jacobson brings dramatic realism and unprecedented accuracy to his pages as he takes readers behind the scenes of the FBI Academy. The 7th Victim is a terrifying and memorable work of psychological suspense, with rich, believable characters and a chilling intricate plot that will keep you guessing until the end.
OMG. This book starts out at a 100 mph and then goes fast. I was totally swept up in the story, started it yesterday, finished today. It is that good.
I am extremely impressed with how detailed and researched The 7th Victim is. Jacobson did his due diligence into the research of serial killers and profilers, making the investigation process extremely detailed (but not overly technical).
5)Cage of Bones, by Tania Carver
Book Summary:Into the house. Down the stairs. Through the dripping dark of the cellar. Someone is there. Someone that shouldn’t be there. As a building awaits demolition, a horrifying discovery is made inside the basement: a cage made of human bones – with a terrified, feral child lurking within. Unbeknownst to DI Phil Brennan and psychologist Marina Esposito, they have disturbed a killer who has been operating undetected for 30 years. A killer who wants that boy back.
But the cage of bones is also a box of secrets – secrets linking Brennan to the madman in their midst. With the death toll rising and the city reeling in terror, Brennan and Marina race to expose a predator more soullessly evil than any they’ve ever faced – one who is hiding in plain sight.
Seriously awesome book.
I really enjoyed the first 2 books in this series, and Cage of Bones was even better than the first 2, I love a long book, give me 500 pages and I’m a happy reader, and I love involved stories that slowly out themselves to the reader, this book encompassed both. Just beware, if you start reading one of Tania Carvers novels, you may not want to stop until the last page is turned.
What do you think about our list of best psychological thriller books? If you have another genre that you prefer to read we have probably compiled a list of our favorites for that genre too. So if you are looking for something other than the best psychological thriller books you can find other genres here.