10 Psychological Thrillers to Read

The human mind is creative, amazing – and sometimes downright terrifying. The authors of psychological thrillers like Gone Girl are well aware of how evil humans can be, and craft their stories brilliantly around this knowledge. So if you’re in the mood to be scared long past Halloween, check out these psychological thrillers.

1. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. 

Rachel Watson, the protagonist of The Girl on the Train, is an alcoholic divorcee who becomes obsessed with a couple whose apartment she can see from the train she takes every morning. But one day, Rachel sees something shocking, the woman goes missing, and Rachel ends up in the middle of the investigation. The problem? Rachel is an unreliable narrator who you’re never quite sure you can trust.

2. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.

If you loved Gone Girl, you must read author Gillian Flynn’s debut novel. Sharp Objects tells the story of Camille Preaker, a reporter sent to her hometown to cover the murder of two pre-teen girls. But Camille is fresh from a stay at a psych hospital – and returning home means she must confront her own troubled family history, including the mother she never speaks to and the half-sister who’s eerily enchanted the whole town.

3. Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson.

Christine thinks she’s 20, but the woman facing her in the mirror is clearly middle-aged. Christine suffers from a rare form of amnesia in which she can’t create new memories. Every morning, she must re-learn her own history from her husband Ben – which is why she starts writing in her diary. And soon, she realizes that Ben might not be telling her the whole story.

4. The Book of You by Claire Kendal.

Clarissa is being stalked by her colleague Rafe. So when she is selected to sit on the jury for a 7-week trial of a case involving kidnapping and abuse, Clarissa decides to document every creepy thing Rafe does as evidence. She also meets widower Robert, who she sees as a safe haven from Rafe – but is he? If you’ve ever wondered just how scary stalking can be, The Book of You will show you.

5. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane.

In 1954, US Marshal Teddy Daniels and partner Chuck Aule get trapped on Shutter Island during a hurricane. They’re investigating the escape of a mental patient from the Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminal Insane. But we soon realize nothing is as it seems on Shutter Island – including Teddy and Chuck. So what’s real and what’s not? Author Dennis Lehane keeps you guessing until the very end.

6. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris.

The Silence of the Lambs is a classic horror movie and a better book. FBI trainee Clarice Starling is sent to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter for information on a serial killer named Buffalo Bill. The problem? Lecter is not only a brilliant psychiatrist but a serial killer himself, and he’ll only give Clarice little clues she must solve in exchange for information about her. The Silence of the Lambs is horrifying and gripping – even if you’ve seen the movie already.

7. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier.

The orphaned and unnamed narrator of Rebecca can’t believe her luck when widower Maxim de Winter suddenly proposes. But at her new home, the Manderley estate, the narrator finds herself inexplicably drawn to the first Mrs. de Winter, Rebecca, and realizes that her death might not be as simple as it seems.

8. The Lion, The Lamb, The Hunted by Andrew E. Kaufman.

The first in a series starring journalist Patrick Bannister, The Lion, The Lamb, The Hunted makes up for its lack of action with some juicy suspense. When Jean Kingsley’s 3-year-old son Nathan disappeared, his killer was put away in a slam-dunk case. Over 30 years later, Patrick looks through his own dead mother’s belongings and realizes that perhaps Jean and her brother were the true culprits all along.

9. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.

We Need to Talk About Kevin is told in a series of letters from the mother of the title character, Eva, to her apparently estranged husband Franklin. Kevin murdered 9 people in a high school massacre just 2 days before his 16th birthday. Follow along as Eva struggles to come to terms with her feelings about Kevin. The book also contains a shocking twist in its final pages that will change everything.

10. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski.

Is it a love story? A horror story? Nobody knows quite how to describe House of Leaves, about a family whose house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside – which is totally fine until the two young children get lost. But one thing’s for certain: it’ll keep you hooked all the way until the end.

Liked this? Check out 10 Books by Nobel Prize Winners!

Written by Sasha Graffagna

The human mind is creative, amazing – and sometimes downright terrifying. The authors of psychological thrillers like Gone Girl are well aware of how evil humans can be, and craft their stories brilliantly around this knowledge. So if you’re in the mood to be scared long past Halloween, check out these psychological thrillers.

1. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. 

Rachel Watson, the protagonist of The Girl on the Train, is an alcoholic divorcee who becomes obsessed with a couple whose apartment she can see from the train she takes every morning. But one day, Rachel sees something shocking, the woman goes missing, and Rachel ends up in the middle of the investigation. The problem? Rachel is an unreliable narrator who you’re never quite sure you can trust.

2. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.

If you loved Gone Girl, you must read author Gillian Flynn’s debut novel. Sharp Objects tells the story of Camille Preaker, a reporter sent to her hometown to cover the murder of two pre-teen girls. But Camille is fresh from a stay at a psych hospital – and returning home means she must confront her own troubled family history, including the mother she never speaks to and the half-sister who’s eerily enchanted the whole town.

3. Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson.

Christine thinks she’s 20, but the woman facing her in the mirror is clearly middle-aged. Christine suffers from a rare form of amnesia in which she can’t create new memories. Every morning, she must re-learn her own history from her husband Ben – which is why she starts writing in her diary. And soon, she realizes that Ben might not be telling her the whole story.

4. The Book of You by Claire Kendal.

Clarissa is being stalked by her colleague Rafe. So when she is selected to sit on the jury for a 7-week trial of a case involving kidnapping and abuse, Clarissa decides to document every creepy thing Rafe does as evidence. She also meets widower Robert, who she sees as a safe haven from Rafe – but is he? If you’ve ever wondered just how scary stalking can be, The Book of You will show you.

5. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane.

In 1954, US Marshal Teddy Daniels and partner Chuck Aule get trapped on Shutter Island during a hurricane. They’re investigating the escape of a mental patient from the Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminal Insane. But we soon realize nothing is as it seems on Shutter Island – including Teddy and Chuck. So what’s real and what’s not? Author Dennis Lehane keeps you guessing until the very end.

6. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris.

The Silence of the Lambs is a classic horror movie and a better book. FBI trainee Clarice Starling is sent to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter for information on a serial killer named Buffalo Bill. The problem? Lecter is not only a brilliant psychiatrist but a serial killer himself, and he’ll only give Clarice little clues she must solve in exchange for information about her. The Silence of the Lambs is horrifying and gripping – even if you’ve seen the movie already.

7. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier.

The orphaned and unnamed narrator of Rebecca can’t believe her luck when widower Maxim de Winter suddenly proposes. But at her new home, the Manderley estate, the narrator finds herself inexplicably drawn to the first Mrs. de Winter, Rebecca, and realizes that her death might not be as simple as it seems.

8. The Lion, The Lamb, The Hunted by Andrew E. Kaufman.

The first in a series starring journalist Patrick Bannister, The Lion, The Lamb, The Hunted makes up for its lack of action with some juicy suspense. When Jean Kingsley’s 3-year-old son Nathan disappeared, his killer was put away in a slam-dunk case. Over 30 years later, Patrick looks through his own dead mother’s belongings and realizes that perhaps Jean and her brother were the true culprits all along.

9. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.

We Need to Talk About Kevin is told in a series of letters from the mother of the title character, Eva, to her apparently estranged husband Franklin. Kevin murdered 9 people in a high school massacre just 2 days before his 16th birthday. Follow along as Eva struggles to come to terms with her feelings about Kevin. The book also contains a shocking twist in its final pages that will change everything.

10. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski.

Is it a love story? A horror story? Nobody knows quite how to describe House of Leaves, about a family whose house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside – which is totally fine until the two young children get lost. But one thing’s for certain: it’ll keep you hooked all the way until the end.

Liked this? Check out 10 Books by Nobel Prize Winners!

Written by Sasha Graffagna

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