Books

100 Best Thrillers of All Time

You’ve probably binge-watched all the top thriller movies out now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, but have you read the best thriller books of all time?

In 2018, we’re presenting our take on the 100 best thrillers of all time, spanning the best psychological thrillers, crime novels, and mysteries. Of course, we know that this list doesn’t cover every top-notch thriller out there, so let us know in the comments what suspense novels are your all-time favorites.

  • Psychological Thrillers

     

  • The cover of the book The Talented Mr. Ripley

    The Talented Mr. Ripley

    Patricia Highsmith was a master of macabre scenarios and the grand dame of the psychological thriller. In Tom Ripley, she created one of literature’s most fascinating characters — charming, intelligent, utterly ruthless, and amoral. Over the course of five novels, beginning with The Talented Mr. Ripley, she built a character who was both completely without a conscious and yet unnervingly sympathetic. The Talented Mr. Ripley is equal parts a subtle character study and an edge-of-your-seat exercise in sinister thrills.  

    Keith

     
  • The cover of the book Gone Girl

    Gone Girl

    A Novel

    Gillian Flynn has made a name for herself with incredibly dark, twisting narratives centered on complex, seemingly unsympathetic female characters. With Gone Girl, Flynn brought readers deep inside a narrative hall of mirrors — a slow burn, noir-tinged maze built to keep the reader constantly off-balance. The story of Nick and Amy’s courtship, crumbling marriage, and Amy’s eventual disappearance is an extraordinary exercise in literary sleight-of-hand. It’s nearly impossible to put down until the final devastating page. 

    Keith

     
  • The cover of the book Those Bones Are Not My Child

    Those Bones Are Not My Child

    A Novel

    Published posthumously, Toni Cade Bambara’s final novel, Those Bones Are Not My Child, is described as her magnum opus by her editor and close friend Toni Morrison. Inspired by the tragic rampage of Atlanta serial killer Wayne Williams — who James Baldwin’s The Evidence of Things Not Seen also examines — Those Bones Are Not My Child unfolds with the disappearance of a twelve-year-old boy and his mother’s tireless search to find him. Throughout the pages of the novel, Bambara envelops readers into the mindset of a community turned upside down by violence and grief. From beginning to end, Bambara’s words simultaneously offer her audience a heartrending portrayal of a family altered by tragedy and an unflinching excavation of America’s past. As poignant as ever, Those Bones Are Not My Child is a compelling and urgent story about love, justice, and loss. 

    Dianca

     
  • The cover of the book Enduring Love

    Enduring Love

    A Novel

    In one of the most disturbing opening scenes in literature, two men are thrown together as part of a makeshift rescue team when a little boy is carried off in a runaway hot air balloon. But things only get more disturbing from there, when Jed becomes obsessed with Joe, his fellow rescuer. Based on a true story, McEwan’s penchant for detail and flair for obsession makes Enduring Love a perverse reverse-love story.

    – Jessica

     
  • The cover of the book The Shining

    The Shining

    While Carrie and ’Salem’s Lot introduced Stephen King as a writer to watch, The Shining firmly situated him as one of his generation’s preeminent voices in horror literature. The Shining was King’s first hardcover bestseller and it made him the household name he is today. King’s story of a troubled man’s slow descent into madness while serving as the winter caretaker of an isolated and haunted hotel makes The Shining a truly unsettling, unforgettable thriller.

    Keith

     
  • The cover of the book The Widow

    The Widow

    Troubled marriages have always proven to be great fodder for psychological thrillers — Fiona Barton’s debut novel, The Widow, is a perfect illustration of this. When her husband was suspected of a twisted crime, Jean stood by him, filling the dark spaces of their marriage with the façade of being a dutiful and perfect wife. But now, with her husband dead, there’s no longer a reason to stay quiet about the secrets she’s held … and the lies she’s told herself.

    Keith

     
  • The cover of the book One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

    50th Anniversary Edition

    Inspired in part by his experiences in the 1950s as an orderly in a mental health facility, Kesey’s novel left permanent scorch-marks on the American conscience, and as a result has been continually challenged in schools and libraries ever since. His anti-hero Randle McMurphy (played by Oscar-winner Jack Nicholson in the inevitable film adaptation) confronts institutional oppression head-on, and Kesey’s electric prose makes a strong case for the neglect of our inmate populations as a reflection on our society at large. 

    Tom

     
  • The cover of the book The Silence of the Lambs

    The Silence of the Lambs

    Thomas Harris’s suspense masterpiece about cannibal serial killer Hannibal Lecter almost single-handedly turned an entire generation of readers on to the joys of thrillers. Silence of the Lambs brought pulpy murder novels out of the genre shadows and into the light as not only enjoyable but important literature. The movie adaptation, starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, only solidified the novel’s status in popular culture. 

    Jessica

     
  • The cover of the book Strangers

    Strangers

    A Psychological Thriller

    After over two decades in the trenches of sci-fi and horror fiction, Koontz earned his first hardcover bestseller with 1986’s Strangers, which revolves around a band of individuals who find themselves drawn to a motel in the Nevada desert from thousands of miles apart, united in an escalating sense of terror which manifests differently in each of them. This page-turner signifies the moment when Koontz announced himself to the mainstream as an indisputable authority on the art of building suspense. 

    Tom

     
  • The cover of the book Strangers on a Train

    Strangers on a Train

    Patricia Highsmith is world famous for “The Ripliad,” her trilogy about the prolific, homicidal con man Tom Ripley. But readers only have to look to Highsmith’s debut novel, Strangers on a Train, for the ultimate thriller in which two men who meet on a train decide they will commit each other’s murders. Of course, things don’t go according to plan. Alfred Hitchcock saw the promise in Highsmith and adapted the novel for the screen in 1951, paying just $7,500 for the film rights.

    Jessica

     
  • The cover of the book Eileen

    Eileen

    A Novel

    Otessa Moshfegh’s chilling and award-winning novel is a somber yet mesmerizing successor to the works of literary titans like Shirley Jackson and Flannery O’Connor. At the end of the opening chapter, Moshfegh’s protagonist, who works as a counselor at a juvenile correctional facility for teen boys, reveals the conceit of the novel in an unnervingly straightforward way: “This is the story of how I disappeared.” Moshfegh’s prose possesses a similar directness, each sentence reaching for the jugular of its reader. Gritty, grim, and notably haunting, Eileen holds a mirror up to the darkness that exists inside of each of us and does so without apology. As beautiful as it is alarming, this novel is more than a thriller. It’s a meditation on humanity.

    Dianca

     
  • The cover of the book Shutter Island

    Shutter Island

    This labyrinthine 2003 novel from writer Dennis Lehane is just as suspenseful as it is confusing. U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels is sent to the bleak Shutter Island to investigate the disappearance of a patient from the Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane. But once there, Teddy’s relationship with his own past, and to the island, becomes murkier and murkier. With a shocking twist ending, Lehane’s masterfully written novel leaves readers questioning every word. Shutter Island is the kind of classic thriller that just begs for a second, even a third, read.  

    Jessica

     
  • The cover of the book The Girl on the Train

    The Girl on the Train

    A Novel

    In Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train, the emotionally fraught Rachel Watson wrestles with her obsessive feelings for her ex-husband. As she tries to heal after their relationship dissolves, Rachel manages to sift through her thoughts and fears during her daily commute via train from Oxfordshire to London. Each day during the trek, the train passes the house she used to live in with her ex. In attempts to distract herself from the reality of their separation, Rachel shifts her attention to a home near her former home, occupied by a man and a woman who she imagines are happy and deeply in love. When the woman goes missing and her disappearance becomes fodder for the local tabloids, Rachel’s life is turned upside down. An exhilarating glimpse into one woman’s inability to cope with the past, The Girl on the Train articulates a distressing truth about violence and love. 

    Dianca

     
  • The cover of the book Before I Go to Sleep

    Before I Go to Sleep

    The most gripping mysteries often involve a main character who becomes estranged from their own identity. That’s the case for Watson’s heroine, who suffers a form of amnesia that requires her to rediscover herself anew each day, by way of a journal that serves as her main source of continuity – but how much can she trust her past messages to herself? Watson’s ambitious psychological thriller ended up becoming most successful debut novel since J.K. Rowling’s in 1997.

    Tom

     
  • The cover of the book Dead Letters

    Dead Letters

    A Novel

    On the heels of her twin sister Zelda’s death, Ava leaves Paris to return to her hometown in New York. As she helps her parents plan Zelda’s funeral, Ava starts to question the details surrounding her sister’s death, which only multiply when she starts getting emails and DMs from the supposedly deceased Zelda. As Ava’s strange correspondence with her sister continues, she discovers that her twin faked her death as an attempt to escape a mountain of debt that she accrued due to substance abuse. Armed with clues to where her sister might be, Ava embarks on a journey that will change her life. Caite Dolan-Leach’s striking debut is an unpredictable examination of sisterhood, secrets, and intimacy.

    Dianca

     
  • Crime/Mystery Thrillers

  • The cover of the book Rebecca

    Rebecca

    Published in 1938, Daphne du Maurier’s romantic thriller Rebecca has never gone out of print. A bestseller in its day and beyond, spawning a film adaptation by none other than the master of suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock, Rebecca takes inspiration from one of the greatest novels in the English language, Jane Eyre. A nameless narrator has married a European playboy and moved into his vast manse. But she finds herself haunted by the memory of his dead wife, Rebecca, and her still very loyal servant, Mrs. Danvers. 

    Jessica

     
  • The cover of the book The Annotated Big Sleep

    The Annotated Big Sleep

    When considering the thriller as literature, The Big Sleep should be one of your first destinations. Not only does it serve as the debut of hardboiled detective Philip Marlowe, it showcases Chandler’s ruthless economy with words, wringing the maximum amount of tension and atmosphere from the sparsest descriptions. The title (a euphemism for death) couldn’t be more misleading — once you begin, you’re barely going to blink until you’ve turned the last page. 

    Tom

     
  • The cover of the book Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

    Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

    A George Smiley Novel

    John Le Carré’s spy classic Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is so complicated that most screen versions have failed to adequately adapt its complex plot. Through the winding narrative, Le Carré captures the essence of espionage and the futility of the work, even of war itself. Now considered one of the greatest spy thrillers ever written, even CIA agents, writing anonymously of course, called it “one of the most enduring renderings of the profession.” 

    Jessica

     
  • The cover of the book In the Woods

    In the Woods

    A Novel

    In the Woods introduced readers to the detectives of the Dublin Murder Squad, as well as the nuanced and emotionally resonant thrills of Tana French. The story follows Detective Rob Ryan and his partner Cassie Maddox as they investigate a bizarre murder with disturbing similarities to a horrifying event from Ryan’s past. It is an atmospheric, ingenious, and unflinchingly bleak thriller that’s sure to keep readers guessing until the final reveal.   

    Keith

     
  • The cover of the book The Hound of the Baskervilles

    The Hound of the Baskervilles

    Conan Doyle had basically abandoned the character of Sherlock Holmes until his reappearance in The Hound of the Baskervilles, first serialized in 1902. The novel and Holmes himself were both so popular with readers that Conan Doyle was compelled to bring him back from the dead. The novel has spawned countless television, film, and radio adaptations, and even its own psychological term, the Baskerville effect: the belief that there is an increased number of deaths from cardiac arrest on days of the month considered to be unlucky. 

    Jessica

     
  • The cover of the book The Expendable Man

    The Expendable Man

    The wrong-man thriller is a reliable source of narrative tension across a wide variety of storytelling mediums. In her 1963 novel The Expendable Man, Dorothy B. Hughes delivers an unnerving plot, following a doctor whose travels in the Southwest lead to involvement in a murder investigation. But Hughes also incorporates larger sociopolitical themes, turning a gripping story into a social indictment. 

    Tobias

     
  • The cover of the book And Then There Were None

    And Then There Were None

    Widely considered to be her masterpiece, and which Agatha Christie considered her most difficult novel to write, And Then There Were None highlights Christie at the height of her skill. The plot centers on a group of strangers brought to an island under various pretexts only to see those around them murdered as the night wears on. It is a tightly constructed, head-spinning murder mystery that expands on the classic “locked-room” style at which Christie excelled. If you were to read only one Agatha Christie novel, this is it. 

    Keith

     
  • The cover of the book The Night of the Hunter

    The Night of the Hunter

    Vintage Movie Classics

    The book that inspired a million knuckle tattoos, Davis Grubb’s Southern Gothic thriller may or may not be a strange biblical allegory. A corrupted chaplain with a mysterious past provides hideous insight into the nature of evil while stalking his juvenile prey. Later adapted into a classic expressionist film starring Lillian Gish, shout outs to this story can be spotted in a handful of disparate movies ranging from “Rocky Horror” to Do “The Right Thing.”

    Eric

     
  • The cover of the book Double Indemnity

    Double Indemnity

    A foundational text of noir literature, Cain’s classic story was adapted into the influential film of the same name, with the haughty Barbara Stanwyck taking the role of the book’s villainous vixen. The character Phyllis Nirdlinger (renamed Phyllis Dietrichson in the movie), who coerces an insurance agent into a deadly scheme, is emblematic of the femme fatale archetype so often seen in thrillers. But tragedy awaits anyone whose wishes are so wicked.

    Eric

     
  • The cover of the book A Rage in Harlem

    A Rage in Harlem

    Chester Himes’s Harlem Detective series has proven to be a groundbreaking piece of hard-boiled noir fiction — and it all started with A Rage in Harlem. Set in a Harlem that at once feels larger-than-life and authentic, A Rage in Harlem introduces Coffin Ed Johnson and Gravedigger Jones to a rough and tumble world of grifters, prostitutes, and dangerous vendettas. It’s a landmark piece of crime fiction that put Chester Himes in the company of names like James Ellroy and Raymond Chandler. 

    Keith

     
  • The cover of the book Fatale

    Fatale

    In this tautly plotted thriller, Jean-Patrick Manchette tells the story of Aimée, a hired killer laying low in an idyllic small town. Manchette blends tense scenes of underworld life with satirical depictions of small-town mores. The result is an upending of familiar genre tropes, delivered in a potent distillation. 

    Tobias

     
  • The cover of the book The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

    While Nordic noir existed long before the late Stieg Larsson introduced the world to a misanthropic hacker named Lisbeth Salander, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo brought the genre to an international audience in a way few others have. It is a bleak and labyrinthine exploration of a decades-old missing person’s case, long-held familial secrets, and the damaged psyche of one of the most fascinating heroines in recent memory.  

    Keith

     
  • The cover of the book The Da Vinci Code

    The Da Vinci Code

    You can chalk up this book’s historic success to the fact that it has something for truly everybody, staging an elaborate murder mystery at the exact point where religion, history, art, and conspiracy theories intersect, digging into cultural pressure points that remain sensitive to this day. The conversations regarding Brown’s research and creative license are just as intense, which makes reading this thriller something like an initiation into a secret society of truth-seekers, worthy of investigation by protagonist Robert Langdon himself. 

    Tom

     
  • The cover of the book The Other Lady Vanishes

    The Other Lady Vanishes

    Set in 1930s California, Amanda Quick’s bestseller The Other Lady Vanishes opens with Adelaide Blake’s search for a fresh start in a resort town frequented by Hollywood bigwigs after her escape from a sanitarium. Quick’s heroine lands a job at an herbal tea shop where she becomes accustomed to determining the truth that lies beneath the masks that her glitzy clientele habitually wear, including Madame Zolanda the celebrity psychic whose presence threatens to expose details from Adelaide’s past that she’d rather not revisit. An enchanting mystery infused with nostalgia and suspense, The Other Lady Vanishes is as fascinating as the historic era that it resurrects. 

    Dianca

     
  • The cover of the book Orient Express

    Orient Express

    (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

    Green claims to have written Orient Express with the intent to get the book made into a film. Classified as an “entertainment” novel at the time (as opposed to more high-minded literature), the book’s tortuous narrative is not without intellectual or artistic merit. Following disparate passengers on an eponymous train trip, Green’s Depression-era anxieties are palpable on each page.

    Eric

     
  • The cover of the book Red Harvest

    Red Harvest

    Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest has inspired numerous works since its publication in 1929, including films like Akira Kurosawa’s “Yojimbo” and Rian Johnson’s “Brick.” In telling the story of an investigator who pits two warring gangs against one another, Hammett ratcheted the detective novel up to another level, adding new layers of moral complexity. 

    Tobias

     
  • The cover of the book Y is for Yesterday

    Y is for Yesterday

    Like the previous twenty-four novels in Sue Grafton’s acclaimed Alphabet/Kinsey Millhone series, Y is for Yesterday deftly and steadily ratchets up the tension through Grafton’s clever plotting and incisive character work. Y sees private investigator Kinsey Millhone embroiled in an unnerving mystery centered around a decade-old sexual assault and murder at an elite private school. Amidst this twisted drama, Millhone finds herself matching wits with a volatile sociopath who holds a longstanding grudge against the private eye. Unfortunately, Y is the last in the late Sue Grafton’s acclaimed and long-running series. It’s also one of her best.

    Keith

     
  • The cover of the book The Secret History of Las Vegas

    The Secret History of Las Vegas

    A Novel

    Anyone who’s ever been to Vegas knows what a different world awaits once you step off the strip. Abani’s novel plays upon the reader’s dreams of the desert city, constantly shifting locations and perspectives to tell a sordid story about lives and histories spiraling far outside the mainstream, leaving investigators with a trail of horrifying murders to study. Those who prefer a revenge plot will find plenty to salivate over, but none of it would fly without Abani’s knack for convincing, utterly unusual characters. 

    Tom

     
  • The cover of the book He Died with His Eyes Open

    He Died with His Eyes Open

    A Novel

    Derek Raymond’s Factory novels, of which this is the first, offer a harrowing glimpse of police work and the psychological strain that the investigation of brutal crimes can have on those doing the investigating. Raymond creates an atmospheric, almost tactile sense of place here. It’s a memorably bleak take on the procedural.

    Tobias

     
  • The cover of the book Killing Floor

    Killing Floor

    The book that established wandering ex-military investigator Jack Reacher as a force to be reckoned with in the criminal underworld and spawned not one but three prequels (The Enemy, Night School, The Affair) has also cemented Child’s place among the genre’s great writers. Reacher makes for a bolder, more energetic protagonist than you’ll find elsewhere – “an unstoppable force,” according to his creator, which the body-count in Killing Floor seems to confirm. 

    Tom

     
  • The cover of the book The Alienist (TNT Tie-in Edition)

    The Alienist (TNT Tie-in Edition)

    A Novel

    Caleb Carr’s turn-of-the-century page-turner is one part historical fiction, one part grisly procedural, and all parts murder mystery thrills. With 19th century New York City as its colorful backdrop, The Alienist introduced readers not only to the brilliant and driven psychologist Laszlo Kreizler, but also to a New York City populated with larger-than-life characters, seedy neighborhoods, and all manner of graft and vice. Throw in a brutal and well-constructed murder mystery and it’s not hard to see why this classic became an instant bestseller.

    Keith

     
  • The cover of the book The Hunt for Red October (Movie Tie-In)

    The Hunt for Red October (Movie Tie-In)

    Tom Clancy has made himself synonymous with the tech-savvy military thriller. The Hunt for Red October is where it all started and remains one of his best. It laid the groundwork for much of Clancy’s later work, including the introduction of CIA analyst Jack Ryan. The novel is a well-hewn game of cat-and-mouse in which Jack Ryan tracks down a high-tech Soviet submarine and its crew of defectors. With The Hunt for Red October, Clancy cemented himself as a marquee thriller writer and proved he’s the best in the game. 

    Keith

     
  • The cover of the book Out

    Out

    A Novel

    Natsuo Kirino’s award-winning Out follows the intersecting lives of four women who work the night shift together at a factory in Tokyo where they assemble boxed lunches. The women become more than coworkers when Yayoi, the youngest of the four, seeks out their help after she murders her abusive, compulsive, gambler of a husband. Together the women cut up and dispose of Yayoi’s husband’s corpse, a gruesome act that seals their bond with each other. By covering up Yayoi’s crime, their bloodstained solidarity gradually turns the group into accidental vigilantes as they struggle to navigate life in a city dominated by the patriarchy’s grip. A literary predecessor of the #MeToo Movement and #TimesUp, Kirino’s Out is an ominous snapshot of trauma, vengeance, and survival. 

    Dianca

     
  • The cover of the book Tell No One

    Tell No One

    A Novel

    What’s the statute of limitations on a lifelong romance? A doctor’s grief over his wife’s murder transforms into intrigue – and then obsession – once he stumbles across the possibility that she might still be alive, a revelation that may beckon him to his own doom. One good plot twist deserves another, and another, which could be why this remains the author’s bestselling book to date. In addition to his hefty literary career, Coben has also written two crime drama series or television.

    Tom

     
  • The cover of the book The Shadow of the Wind

    The Shadow of the Wind

    The Shadow of the Wind incorporates a host of elements that could each sustain a thrilling read: a young man caught up in a conspiracy he barely understands, an investigation of a mysterious death decades later, and the horrific authoritarianism of Franco-era Spain. Here, all of them are interwoven with the history of a mysterious novel — one that obsesses some and drives others to murder. 

    Tobias

     
  • The cover of the book The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

    The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

    A George Smiley Novel

    John le Carré is truly in a class of his own. His densely-plotted spy fiction essentially reinvented the genre, largely due to le Carré’s own experiences working as spy and intelligence agent. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold launched le Carré’s career as an internationally bestselling author — and brought his intelligence career to an end. It also introduced readers to George Smiley, an unassuming and methodical man as far removed from the likes of James Bond as one could imagine. With its twisting narrative, duplicitous machinations, and devastating conclusion, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold remains the standard against which all other espionage fiction is measured.  

    Keith

     
  • The cover of the book 206 Bones

    206 Bones

    Kathy Reichs struck literary gold when she introduced the world to forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan in 1997’s Deja Dead. Reichs’s own background in the field of forensic anthropology adds believable authority and authenticity to the character, and Brennan’s curmudgeonly, oft-contrarian personality immediately appeals to readers. With 206 Bones, Reichs amps up the tension and danger while adding new dimensions to her well-hewn heroine.  

    Keith

     
  • The cover of the book Devil in a Blue Dress

    Devil in a Blue Dress

    With Devil in a Blue Dress, Walter Mosley ushered in one of the most admired characters in American detective fiction: Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins. Set in the post-World War II period, Devil in a Blue Dress follows Rawlins, a black veteran living in Los Angeles who embarks on an unexpected career as a detective, unearthing long-buried secrets and corruption along the way. 

    Tobias

     
  • The cover of the book An Unsuitable Job for a Woman

    An Unsuitable Job for a Woman

    In a genre which so often positions women as femme fatales, feminist spins on thrillers are rare and delightful gems. An Unsuitable Job for a Woman places detective Cordelia Gray front and center in a cast of mostly female characters. Gray is no damsel in distress and manages to escape from precarious situations through her own wit and resourcefulness several times throughout the book. Cordelia’s grit and gumption has since inspired several television and film adaptations.

    Eric

     
  • The cover of the book Six Four

    Six Four

    Hideo Yokoyama’s sprawling police procedural Six Four is a meticulously constructed narrative about both crime and the aftermath of crime — specifically, an unsolved kidnapping that took place fourteen years before this novel begins. And while the idea of a long-dormant crime returning to the foreground isn’t a new concept, the attention to detail with which it’s handled here makes this book utterly gripping.

    Tobias

     
  • The cover of the book 1st to Die

    1st to Die

    Kicking off Patterson’s bestselling “Women’s Murder Club” series, 1st to Die introduces readers to a group of fast friends – a homicide detective, a medical expert, an assistant D.A., and a journalist – who join forces to solve a series of gruesome slayings in San Francisco and beyond. While later books in the series are cowritten with other authors, 1st is prime Patterson, leaving no stone unturned in an investigation that tests allegiances and threatens to end in additional fatalities.

    Tom

     
  • The cover of the book Report for Murder

    Report for Murder

    Val McDermid’s recurring protagonist Lindsay Gordon made her debut in this novel, which blends a fascinating mystery with a host of details about the everyday frustrations and uncertainties that come with being a freelance journalist. In this, Gordon ventures to a girls’ school and becomes entangled in a murder investigation spanning questions of class and the interlinked histories of several characters.

    Tobias

     
  • The cover of the book Assumption

    Assumption

    Percival Everett’s fiction rarely covers the same ground: His bibliography encompasses everything from satirical explorations of society to this, his take on the police procedural. Over the course of three linked novellas, Everett’s protagonist reckons with the impossible and Everett pushes the conventions of the genre to unexpected, unsettling places. 

    Tobias

     
  • The cover of the book American Tabloid

    American Tabloid

    Underworld USA (1)

    With searing prose and a collection of antiheroes who push at the limits of morality, James Ellroy’s take on detective fiction (including the Los Angeles Quartet) revolutionized the genre. In American Tabloid, he moved from the local scene to the national one, describing a series of interwoven conspiracies leading up to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

    Tobias

     
  • The cover of the book Last Days

    Last Days

    Several thematic elements recur in Brian Evenson’s books: religious fanaticism, toxic masculinity, and body horror among them. In telling the story of a detective whose life becomes entangled with a cult dedicated to self-mutilation, Evenson offers a distinctive spin on the private investigator genre, finding moments of horror and humor along the way.

    Tobias

     
  • The cover of the book Dare Me

    Dare Me

    While your first instinct may be to scoff at the idea of a high school-set thriller centering around the cutthroat world of competitive cheerleading, do yourself a favor and ignore that. Megan Abbott is an Edgar Award-winning writer who knows her way around both a good mystery and a good thriller. Dare Me is a subversive, nuanced look into insecurity, casual cruelty, and ruthless ambition. It’s Chuck Palahniuk by way of “Heathers” and odds are, it is not what you expect.

    Keith

     
  • The cover of the book Pop. 1280

    Pop. 1280

    Jim Thompson’s fiction explores the minds of many anti-social figures, from criminals carrying out terrible actions to lawmen nursing the capacity for horror. Pop. 1280 stands out for its refusal to hew to genre conventions: It begins as the story of a notoriously ineffective sheriff, but gradually heads into stranger territory as the protagonist grapples with a host of obstacles and undergoes a surprising psychological evolution.

    Tobias

     
  • The cover of the book The Caveman's Valentine

    The Caveman's Valentine

    Romulus Ledbetter, the detective at the center of this tightly-wound murder mystery, is a paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave in NYC’s Inwood Park. By anchoring a noirish mystery to this non-traditional protagonist, Green finds new chords in the “unreliable narrator” trope – and due to the increasing urgency of issues related to homelessness, this tale’s power has continued to expand significantly since it was first written in 1994.

    Tom

     
  • The cover of the book Gorky Park

    Gorky Park

    Gorky Park established Smith as a powerhouse in the thriller genre, and with good reason; this masterpiece of Cold War-era espionage inspired two follow-up novels and a film adaptation. Although deeply entertaining, the book’s more artistic aspirations have led to comparisons to Romantic literature, in which the Soviet Union’s oppressive regime serves as the backdrop for the unfolding of an international (and existential) conspiracy.

    Eric

     
  • The cover of the book Nineteen Seventy-Four

    Nineteen Seventy-Four

    The Red Riding Quartet, Book One

    David Peace made a powerful first impression with this, the first novel in his Red Riding Quartet, which follows a host of corrupt police, sinister criminals, and haunted locals grappling with an interwoven array of crimes and conspiracies. Nineteen Seventy-Four follows a journalist investigating a murder, who gradually becomes convinced that there is more to it than meets the eye, setting in motion a series of unsettling events.

    Tobias

     
  • The cover of the book Drive

    Drive

    It’s almost impossible to read Sallis’s existential neo-noir without hearing the thumping synth lines of the Refn adaptation’s soundtrack, but the book provides a handful of subtleties that simply can’t be conveyed in a movie. Sallis’s menacing minimalist prose paints a much starker picture of the shadowy highways that the nameless main character slinks about at night; the tone of the text is closer to that of Sartre’s than Tarantino’s. A bloody postmodern fairy tale, Drive will certainly keep you under its spell.

    Eric

     
  • The cover of the book The Redbreast

    The Redbreast

    Considered the best Norwegian crime novel ever written, the nuanced politics of Redbreast explore the complicated feelings of shame around Norway’s past collaborations with Nazi efforts. Although political at its core, protagonist Detective Harry Hole’s personal journey is as fascinating as the ethical dilemmas posed by the story. The book’s pessimism contrasts sharply with its vivaciously cinematic prose.

    Eric

     
  • Sci Fi/Fantasy Thrillers

  • The cover of the book The War of the Worlds

    The War of the Worlds

    Perhaps best known for inciting a nationwide Halloween panic decades after its original publication, H.G. Wells’s taut novel traces a Martian invasion with almost uncanny verisimilitude. Presented as a factual account of events, Wells’s fictional story about an extraterrestrial attack would go on to inspire scores of sci-fi writers and real-life scientists for centuries to come. Meanwhile, the extreme violence of the aliens serves as both an existential parable for the uncaring cosmos and a cruel reminder of the inherent viciousness of war.

    Eric

     
  • The cover of the book Kindred

    Kindred

    While Octavia Butler is known for her more traditional sci-fi, Kindred has the feel of speculative fiction wrapped in the trappings of a historical thriller. It centers on a woman named Dana who mysteriously and abruptly finds herself transported back in time to the Antebellum South. Though she returns to the present, Dana is repeatedly drawn back to the past for longer and longer stretches of time, with each time being more dangerous than the last. It is an extraordinary, emotional, and searing tale. 

    Keith

     
  • The cover of the book Jurassic Park

    Jurassic Park

    A Novel

    As anxiety over genetic engineering reached a fever pitch in the late eighties, novelist Michael Crichton wondered what would happen if we brought back the dinosaurs. Sci-fi thriller Jurassic Park hit shelves in 1990 as a cautionary tale about messing with Mother Nature. Beloved by readers, Steven Spielberg went on to direct the movie adaptation in 1993, and it went on to gross over $1 billion dollars at the box office. 

    Jessica

     
  • The cover of the book The Martian

    The Martian

    A Novel

    Here’s further proof that there’s more to suspense than murderers or madmen. The wilderness has always provided humankind with everything we could possibly need to unravel our nerves, and by stranding his hero on a distant planet, where every decision or unforeseen variable can have devastating consequences, Weir keeps the reader’s attention sharpened to a knifepoint. First released as a self-published serial before debuting as an instant bestseller, The Martian continues to keep the dream of manned spaceflight alive for a new generation of sci-fi readers. 

    Tom

     
  • The cover of the book Rant

    Rant

    The Oral Biography of Buster Casey

    Chuck Palahniuk’s eighth novel takes place in a world where city dwellers are separated by enforced curfews. Either Daytimers or Nighttimers, Palahniuk’s cast of characters form a contradictory, yet engrossing communal remembrance of a man named Buster. Known by the police and medical professionals as a super spreader of rabies and by Party Crashers (Nighttimers who hold demolition derbys in the city’s streets) as a rebellious thrill-seeker, Buster, who is also known as Rant, is a composite of exaggerated anecdotes, rumors, and childhood memories conveyed by Palahniuk’s assembled chorus. The novel is an enjoyably bizarre yet intimate portrait of a man whose death was as sensational as his life. Much like Palahniuk’s other works, Rant is visceral, cinematic, and hard to forget.

    Dianca

     
  • The cover of the book The Witches of Eastwick

    The Witches of Eastwick

    A Novel

    John Updike’s seductively dark satire The Witches of Eastwick maps the desperation, depravity, and longings of a coven comprised of three divorced women in a small Rhode Island town. As they collectively explore the potential of spellwork, the coven’s routine is disrupted by the arrival of the devilishly mysterious and wealthy Darryl Van Horne who purchases a dilapidated mansion nestled on the outskirts of town. Drawn to Darryl, each of Updike’s witches are seduced by his charms (and money), which fuels the coven’s already growing powers. Briefly, everyone is content until things start to get out of hand. Blood is shed, hearts are broken, and jealousy drives each of the women to cast a sinister hex against the man that they once adored. An entrancing allegory about gender, power, and lust (physical and otherwise), The Witches of Eastwick casts a spell that’s hard to shake. 

    Dianca

     
  • The cover of the book Pattern Recognition

    Pattern Recognition

    Feuding advertising executives set their nefarious sites on marketing prodigy and so-called “cool hunter” Cayce Pollard in this dystopian thriller. Written before the era of Instagram, Gibson’s dark predictions about the ubiquity of lifestyle branding were almost entirely realized with the invention of social media some years later. The impeccably precise fashions of the book even spawned a collaboration between the author and Buzz Rickson, bringing the protagonist’s signature look to life.

    Eric

     
  • The cover of the book The Eight

    The Eight

    A Novel

    The Eight deftly balances two interlocking narratives separated by centuries. The first, set in 1972, follows a computer expert and mathematician in Algeria who is searching for a chess set believed to have once been owned by Charlemagne. The other, set in the south of France in 1790, centers on two young women tasked with scattering the pieces of the chess set throughout the world to keep anyone from gaining their incredible power. It’s a page-turner that’s one part thriller and one part historical adventure with a hint of fantasy.  

    Keith

     
  • Horror Thrillers

  • The cover of the book The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

    The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

    And Other Tales of Terror

    What separates a person’s altruism from their cruelty? Can our basest instincts be suppressed? Stevenson explores man’s depraved desires in his 1886 novel about a mad scientist who unlocks a diabolical alter ego after using himself as a test subject for an experimental psycho-pharmaceutical. Did Jekyll’s serum drive him insane or simply unlock the depravity he had been keeping at bay? And can he be stopped before it’s too late?

    Eric

     
  • The cover of the book The Woman in White

    The Woman in White

    The young Walter Hartright is walking home one night in London when he’s accosted by a desperate woman in white. He realizes later one of the women in the family he befriends bears an eerie resemblance to the woman in white. Published in 1859, the book is considered by many scholars to be the first “mystery” novel ever written. While The Woman in White’s epic case of mistaken identity makes it feel like something out of Shakespeare, the greedy machinations of its villains are undeniably modern. 

    Jessica

     
  • The cover of the book The Little Stranger (Movie Tie-In)

    The Little Stranger (Movie Tie-In)

    Sarah Waters, author of cult classics Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith, delves into the gothic Victorian ghost story with 2009’s The Little Stranger. After WWII, a doctor visits a decrepit old house inhabited by a similarly aged family who find themselves in dire straits, claiming the house is haunted. Diverting from her other work on the lesbian experience, The Little Stranger is a compelling thriller that at its heart, like all great ghost stories, is a fascinating allegory of a rapidly changing world.

    Jessica

     
  • The cover of the book It

    It

    As if clowns weren’t terrifying enough, horror master Stephen King delivered the fatal blow to their reputation with his 1986 novel, IT. This grotesque saga tells the story of a group of children who are terrorized by a demon-clown named Pennywise, who follows them into adulthood, powered by their fear. Despite the blood-curdling violence present on nearly every one of its 1,138 pages, IT was the bestselling novel of 1986. A recent movie version did so well at the box office that a sequel, starring Jessica Chastain, is in production. 

    Jessica

     
  • The cover of the book Frankenstein

    Frankenstein

    The story behind the idea for Frankenstein is nearly as fascinating as the novel itself: Mary Shelley was said to have written it one stormy night after a dare from Lord Byron. While her finished product was undoubtedly terrifying, creating one of the most recognizable and beloved monsters in Western civilization, the themes about creation have more in common with the experience of motherhood than they do with playing God. Frankenstein is a deeply felt thriller that could have only been written by a woman familiar with the devastating and dangerous risks of creation. 

    Jessica

     
  • The cover of the book Jaws

    Jaws

    A Novel

    No one on this book’s editorial team, not even Benchley himself, thought a novel about a killer shark would resonate with readers. Benchley was criticized for the lack of characterization when it came to the human characters, but readers praised the intense scenes featuring Jaws himself. The novel’s inclusion in the Book of the Month Club captured the attention of Steven Spielberg, who turned it into the seventh-highest-grossing film of all time. Years later, Benchley expressed guilt over giving sharks a bad name, insisted Jaws was fiction, and became a passionate marine life conservationist. 

    Jessica

     
  • The cover of the book Darkly Dreaming Dexter

    Darkly Dreaming Dexter

    If you only know Dexter Morgan by way of Showtime’s acclaimed adaptation, this is the perfect time to get acquainted with Jeff Lindsay’s original vision for the sociopathic vigilante. While the first season of ”Dexter” follows the events of Darkly Dreaming Dexter pretty closely, there’s a surreal and almost supernatural element to the novels — particularly in the later entries in the series — that add an entirely new and intriguing side to Dexter Morgan.

    Keith

     
  • The cover of the book Hannibal

    Hannibal

    A Novel

    The understated emotional terror of Silence of the Lambs is amped up in the third episode of Harris’ quadrilogy about America’s favorite fictional cannibal. The eponymous antihero faces a severely disfigured villain who literally drinks the tears of orphan children while Clarice Starling’s soul hangs in the balance. Featuring surreal subplots about suffocation by eels and oversexed female bodybuilders, the book could be interpreted as a psychotic exploration of gender — but there’s plenty of ultra-violence to keep those with less Freudian interests engaged.

    Eric

     
  • The cover of the book Psycho

    Psycho

    With Psycho, Robert Bloch introduced one of the most iconic literary serial killers of the twentieth century and inspired a generation of writers. Additionally, the book served as the basis for one of Alfred Hitchcock’s finest films — one that holds an indelible place in pop culture. Bloch’s 1959 novel is an outstanding work of sustained suspense as well as a deeply unnerving character study. If you’ve only seen the film, do yourself a favor and pick up the novel.  

    Keith

     
  • Legal Thrillers

  • The cover of the book A Time to Kill

    A Time to Kill

    A Novel

    John Grisham is the undisputed king of the legal thriller. As both a former practicing attorney and politician, he brings a fascinating sense of authenticity to the high stakes schemes that populate his thrillers. While The Firm made him an immediate household name, Grisham really hit his stride with A Time to Kill. This shattering tale of racial tensions, vigilante justice, and horrific crime is as thought-provoking and unsettling as it is thrilling. 

    Keith

     
  • The cover of the book Prior Bad Acts

    Prior Bad Acts

    A Novel

    The personal and the political intertwine in this courtroom procedural. Despised by the police for her liberal politics, a Minneapolis Judge who showed leniency towards a serial killer may become the escaped murderer’s next target. Hoag may have started her career as a romance writer, but the tight prose and deeply dynamic characters of Prior Bad Acts proves her adeptness in more than one genre.

    Eric

     
  • The cover of the book Black Water Rising

    Black Water Rising

    Attica Locke’s debut novel is an engrossing and skillfully constructed conspiracy thriller tinged with a healthy dose of noir. Set in Houston in 1981, the story centers on Jay Porter, a strip mall lawyer who deals mostly in personal injury cases. An evening boat ride with his wife takes a desperate turn after Porter saves a woman from drowning. That simple, impulsive act thrusts Porter into the center of a dangerous conspiracy that climbs into the highest echelons of Houston society. Locke balances deft characterization, searing social commentary, and just the right amount of suspense to keep readers glued to the page. 

    Keith

     
  • Domestic Thrillers

  • The cover of the book Big Little Lies (Movie Tie-In)

    Big Little Lies (Movie Tie-In)

    While HBO’s award-winning adaptation shed a new light on this thriller from Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies was a riveting bestseller before Reese Witherspoon and company entered the picture. Set in a small, posh, Australian community, Big Little Lies traces a tangled web of lies and secrets that eventually proves deadly.  

    Keith

     
  • The cover of the book Basic Black With Pearls

    Basic Black With Pearls

    In her afterword to a new edition of Helen Weinzweig’s 1981 novel Basic Black with Pearls, Sarah Weinman describes the book as an “interior feminist espionage novel.” That’s a spot-on take on things. In telling the story of a woman seeking an absent lover, Weinzweig creates a globe-trotting narrative with mysterious messages, while also incorporating surreal psychological elements, making for a thoroughly singular read.  

    Tobias

     
  • The cover of the book The Couple Next Door

    The Couple Next Door

    A Novel

    The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena begins with every parents’ biggest fear: a missing baby. Lapena’s novel enters around the seemingly flawless lives of Anne and Marco Conti, upstate New Yorkers who appear, on the surface, to have it all. Beneath their public personas, the couple is on the brink of collapse. Anne struggles to cope with postpartum depression while Marco tries to keep his company afloat. Both consider it a godsend when a neighbor invites them to a birthday party, but when the babysitter bails, the couple decides to leave their newborn daughter home alone with the baby monitor turned on. After the party is over and they return home, their front door is open and their daughter is nowhere to be found. A gripping snapshot of a couple buckling beneath the pressures of the American dream, The Couple Next Door is a satisfying appraisal of how dangerous hiding behind facades can be. 

    Dianca

     
  • The cover of the book Soulmates

    Soulmates

    Soulmates by Jessica Grose is a searingly insightful and humor-infused satire that centers on a mysterious murder, a yoga cult, and the residual fallout of a failed marriage. Just as Dana starts enjoying her post-divorce life, her ex-husband Ethan’s photo appears on the front page of the New York Post with the headline “Nama-Slay: Yoga Couple Found Dead in New Mexico Cave.” While Dana tries to make sense of her ex’s bizarre death and its ties to a New Age yoga cult, she uncovers shocking details that irrevocably alter her understanding of Ethan’s past and the relationship that they shared. A timely and cultural critique that brings to mind NXIVM, the Lululemon murders, and Wild Wild Country, Soulmates is a gratifying exploration of contemporary culture’s existential crises and our collective search for meaning. 

    Dianca

     
  • The cover of the book Monkey Beach

    Monkey Beach

    Monkey Beach was the first English language novel for Haisla writer Eden Robinson, and a perfect introduction to her inimitable style. It’s a twisting, harrowing narrative tinged with a hint of the supernatural. Monkey Beach is a volatile and emotionally resonant exploration of grief and survival, chronicling a family coming to grips with the loss of one of their own.

    Keith

     
  • The cover of the book Shelter

    Shelter

    Straddling a line between familial drama and haunting thriller, Jung Yun’s Shelter was a fascinating debut and a thought-provoking page-turner. Set against the backdrop of the 2008 housing crisis, Shelter is an examination of precarious family ties, racial tensions, the twenty-first century immigrant experience, and the dwindling nature of the American dream. Shelter is a devastatingly timely read and one that is both difficult to finish and impossible to put down. 

    Keith

     
  • Medical Thrillers

  • The cover of the book Girl Missing (Previously published as Peggy Sue Got Murdered)

    Girl Missing (Previously published as Peggy Sue Got Murdered)

    A Novel

    When medical examiner Kat Novak discovers that the same experimental drug poisoned an ailing patient and two bodies in the hospital’s morgue, she makes it her mission to track down and expose the predator, uncovering a web of corruption that stretches further than she ever imagined. As Kat digs for answers, it becomes more and more difficult to determine whom she can trust, and whether or not she will live long enough to track down the killer responsible for the steadily growing body count. Penned by the bestselling Tess Gerritsen, Girl Missing is a fast-paced and suspense-filled novel that will keep you reading nonstop until you reach the end. 

    Dianca

     
  • The cover of the book The Body Farm

    The Body Farm

    Scarpetta (Book 5)

    The familiar setup of Body Farm (an FBI agent discovers a body which may be linked to a notorious serial killer) belies a far more complicated story about a secret, eponymous research facility. Fully realized queer characters and strong feminist heroes populate the novel’s labyrinthine narrative. Body Farm is the fourth book featuring Cornwell’s beloved, perfectionist protagonist, Dr. Kay Scarpetta, but the novel functions perfectly well as a stand-alone story.

    Eric

     
  • The cover of the book Coma

    Coma

    Cook studied the ingredients of great thrillers like Jaws and Seven Days in May before concocting Coma, which later became a seminal text in the medical thriller sub-genre. Later adapted into a film by Michael Crichton, Coma unravels the mystery behind two patients who failed to regain consciousness after routine surgeries. Exploring the unique challenges faced by female medical professionals, the novel has some pretty gruesome twists and turns before reaching its morbid denouement.

    Eric

     
  • Atypical Thrillers

  • The cover of the book The Secret History

    The Secret History

    It’s hard to believe Donna Tartt’s homage to the classic murder mystery, swathed in equal parts bohemian co-ed drama and Greek tragedy, is in fact her debut novel, published when she was barely 30. The book begins with the murder laid bare. The suspense lies in the telling of the close-knit group of friends and why they felt driven to commit murder on the campus of their liberal arts college, which closely resembles Tartt’s own alma mater, Bennington. 

    Jessica

     
  • The cover of the book Everything I Never Told You

    Everything I Never Told You

    A Novel

    Celeste Ng’s New York Times bestseller begins with the death of Lydia Lee, the beloved daughter of a multiracial Chinese-American family from a suburban town in 1970s Ohio. When Lydia’s body turns up in a lake, her family is left to reckon with the loss of a daughter who they hoped would fulfill all of their dreams. Through the lens of Ng’s masterful storytelling, Everything I Never Told You captures a family faced with the realization that the daughter they loved so deeply lived a life filled with secrets. Beautifully written and undeniably moving, Ng’s novel is as suspenseful as it is perceptive. 

    Dianca

     
  • The cover of the book Alias Grace (Movie Tie-In Edition)

    Alias Grace (Movie Tie-In Edition)

    A Novel

    Inspired by the 1843 murders of an affluent Scottish farmer and his housekeeper, Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace reimagines the biography of Grace Marks, who is known to this day as one of Canada’s most infamous historical figures. Convicted to a life sentence for crimes that she insists she can’t remember committing, Grace recounts her life to Dr. Jordan, an emerging psychiatrist hired by a committee of empathetic Methodists who hope to get her sentence pardoned by proving that she suffers from hysteria rather than criminal depravity. Through Atwood’s skillful eye and spellbinding prose, the interior of Grace’s mind and her motivations are excavated in tandem with the ethos of the world that surrounds her. An arresting commentary on womanhood, violence, and morality, Alias Grace, like all of Atwood’s novels, is intriguing, unnerving, and best enjoyed when read more than once. 

    Dianca

     
  • The cover of the book Blood Meridian

    Blood Meridian

    Or the Evening Redness in the West

    McCarthy’s bleak masterpiece strips back any veneer of respectability related to America’s origins, following a young protagonist who joins a band of bounty hunters paving the way for Westward expansion by slaughtering Native Americans and others who stand in the way. Mercenary instincts give way to pure nihilism, and a shattering conclusion that underscores the destiny that awaits those who willingly give up (or even sell) their humanity. 

    Tom

     
  • The cover of the book Wild at Heart

    Wild at Heart

    The Complete Novels

    Forget everything you remember from David Lynch’s playful, notoriously unfaithful 1990 film adaptation, and pick up this slim, grim slice of Americana in which every word counts. Defying authority and skipping town together, young lovers Sailor and Lula embark on an erotic odyssey punctuated with violence and despair as their luck slowly runs out. Gifford’s unparalleled ear for dialogue paints a picture of the South as a place that will always remain “wild at heart and weird on top.” 

    Tom

     
  • The cover of the book The Dinner (Movie Tie-In Edition)

    The Dinner (Movie Tie-In Edition)

    A Novel

    An international bestseller, Dutch novelist Herman Koch’s The Dinner begins ominously as two couples meet for dinner to discuss their teenage sons, who are cousins. But just what have the boys gotten themselves into? Let’s just say it’s not your run-of-the-mill class-cutting infraction. Like other popular thrillers, The Dinner toys with its reader through an unreliable narrator and generally unlikeable characters. But in the end, the book is a mirror to contemporary politics, whether the reader likes the reflection or not. 

    Jessica

     
  • The cover of the book Church of Marvels

    Church of Marvels

    In Leslie Parry’s enthralling debut, The Church of Marvels, the fates of three strangers converge in the streets of Victorian New York. Opening with a young man’s discovery of an abandoned infant in Manhattan, the novel meshes the mystery of the baby’s origin with a formerly conjoined twin, a sideshow performer’s desperate search for her missing sister, and a mortician’s wife’s struggle to maintain her sanity after being  forced to go to an asylum when her mother-in-law discovers her deepest secret. A vibrant and immersive story about embodiment, underdogs, and autonomy, Parry’s novel is a heartfelt tale about belonging. 

    Dianca

     
  • The cover of the book The Girls

    The Girls

    A Novel

    Emma Cline’s widely applauded debut The Girls is as memorable as the 1960s real-life cult that inspired it. Volleying between the adult and teenage perspective of Evie, a young woman in search of herself and her place in the world, Cline’s bestseller is a lush portrait of adolescence, friendship, and the dangers of blind faith. Equally shaped by her own shortcomings and the flaws of others, the confessional recollections of Cline’s narrator are a testament to the way desire can change a person for better or worse. A perfect companion to Joan Didion’s The White Album or Dianne Clarke’s memoir Member of the Family, The Girls is a lyrical page-turner that you’ll want devour in one sitting. 

    Dianca

     
  • The cover of the book At Night We Walk in Circles

    At Night We Walk in Circles

    A Novel

    At its heart, Daniel Alarcon’s 2013 novel is an examination of fate, the warping effects of violence, and identity. It centers on the narrator’s investigation of the life of an actor named Nelson, who lands a role in a legendary play. While the premise may sound mundane, what follows is an intricately woven tale about obsession, choices, and the roles in life that warp us beyond recognition. 

    Keith

     
  • The cover of the book The MaddAddam Trilogy Bundle

    The MaddAddam Trilogy Bundle

    The Year of the Flood; Oryx & Crake; MaddAddam

    The man-made doom spelled out for the world in Oryx & Crake ripples darkly across two more books, weaving together survivors’ tales into a symphony of strife, ultimately determining the fate of our species as well as the new race created in our image. Atwood’s laser precision for narrative keeps the installments lean and mean, without sacrificing the characters’ vivid emotional realities, or sparing us from the impact of decisions being made on our behalf as we sleepwalk into the future. 

    Tom

     
  • The cover of the book The Conformist

    The Conformist

    Is the absence of empathy a driving force of fascism? Asking frighteningly prescient questions about the nature of obedience, Moravia explores the sociopathic psychology inherent in totalitarian societies. The Conformist traces protagonist Marcello’s growth from an animal-killing child into a deeply emotionally repressed adult. His ceaseless quest for normality in a culture that demands callousness leads him on a murderous path, for which he reveals shockingly few regrets.

    Eric

     
  • The cover of the book High-Rise

    High-Rise

    Outsiders remain oblivious as full-scale societal collapse occurs within the walls of a futuristic housing complex, but Ballard makes sure readers see every horrifying detail up close, with dramatis personae representing every angle of the splintering class divide. Writing in 1975, Ballard managed to deliver the kind of excoriating view of human progress that could have been written yesterday, about tomorrow. 

    Tom

     
  • The cover of the book Generation Loss

    Generation Loss

    This novel, the first to feature photographer-turned-investigator Cass Neary, abounds with a stunning sense of place and history. Neary travels to a remote coastal town in Maine, where secrets abound — some of them lethal. It’s a gripping narrative that remains rooted in its characters throughout, creating an organic and resonant feel. 

    Tobias

     
  • The cover of the book The Sympathizer

    The Sympathizer

    Viet Thanh Nguyen took home a Pulitzer Prize for this 2016 debut. It’s an emotionally resonant and powerfully crafted examination of the impact of the Vietnam War from its most overlooked literary perspective: the voice of the Vietnamese. It centers on a Vietnamese captain making a life for himself among a number of other Vietnamese military officials in Los Angeles after the fall of Saigon. However, this captain is secretly reporting on the group to the Viet Cong. The Sympathizer is a true page-turner, both a gripping spy novel and an exploration of a man’s conflicting loyalties. 

    Keith