25 Gripping Psychological Suspense Novels

Posted on December 31, 2018

by April S

Psychological suspense falls under the “dark crime fiction” category. The stories are typically gripping and sometimes referred to as thrillers. They’re the type of novels or movies that make your heart race and keep you hooked from start to finish. The psychological aspects can really mess with your head (in an interesting or intriguing way). And it’s one of the most popular genres right now.

5 Classic Psychological Suspense Novels

The following are classic examples of stories (books and movies) that would fall under suspense, thriller or psychological suspense.

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

At the great Cornwall estate of Manderley, Maxim de Winter and his frightened new wife try to live with the haunting legacy of Maxim’s first wife, the beautiful and cold Rebecca, who died in a sailing accident. A true classic of suspense.

This classic Gothic novel published in 1938 was adapted into a movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1940.

Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith

Guy Haines loses his own identity after he is drawn into a plot to commit murder.

This classic psychological thriller novel published in 1950 was adapted into a movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1951.

The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

FBI Academy trainee Clarice Starling hopes that Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a criminally insane psychiatrist imprisoned in a Boston hospital, can lead her to the serial killer known only as Buffalo Bill.

This horror/thriller novel was adapted into a movie in 1991 directed by Jonathan Demme, which starred Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster.

The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes

A first-class, highly acclaimed thriller that was first published in 1913, it is based on the grisly Jack the Ripper murders that occurred in Whitechapel, London twenty years before.

This story has been adapted for the big screen several times. The most notable being a silent film from 1927 directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Double Indemnity by James M. Cain

James M. Cain, virtuoso of the roman noir, gives us a tautly narrated and excruciatingly suspenseful story in “Double Indemnity,” an X-ray view of guilt, of duplicity, and of the kind of obsessive, loveless love that devastates everything it touches.

This classic crime novel was first published in 1935. It was adapted into a movie directed by Billy Wilder in 1944. The quintessential film noir starred Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck.

To learn more about this fascinating genre, check out these articles and blog posts:

Grip Lit? Psychological thrillers were around long before Gone Girl

Psychological Suspense: Genre Characteristics

Psychological Suspense: The Devious Depths of the Human Mind

Top 10 Psychological Suspense Novels of 2018

The following are the top rated psychological suspense novels published in 2018. The selections are based on user ratings from Goodreads and Amazon (as of December 2018).

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

Goodreads: 4.10 | Amazon: 4.4

An artist who witnessed the disappearance of her bunkmates at summer camp as a young girl accepts an opportunity to return to Camp Nightingale as a painting instructor and tries to discover what really happened to her friends.

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Goodreads: 4.10 | Amazon: 4.3

Struggling to put her life back together a decade after her beloved teen daughter’s disappearance, a divorced woman bonds with a charming single father whose young child eerily resembles the woman’s own lost daughter.

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Goodreads 3.97 | Amazon: 4.3

An agoraphobic recluse languishes in her New York City home, drinking wine and spying on her neighbors, before witnessing a terrible crime through her window that exposes her secrets and raises questions about her perceptions of reality.

All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth

Goodreads: 3.87 | Amazon 4.4

Seventeen-year-old Charlie seeks to become a member of an elite secret society at her school by playing The Game, a semester-long, high-stakes scavenger hunt that will reveal the terrible truth about her family, her school, and her own life.

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Goodreads: 3.86 | Amazon: 4.1

A psychological thriller by a former BBC News producer depicts the harrowing experiences of a coma patient with shut-in syndrome who, while unable to move or speak, must listen to those around her to figure out what happened and who is responsible for her injuries.

The Other Woman by Sandie Jones

Goodreads: 3.86 | Amazon: 4.0

A blissful romance between Adam and Emily is challenged by Adam’s manipulative mother, who resorts to dire measures to keep all other women out of her son’s life.

Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent

Goodreads 3.85 | Amazon 4.2

The wife of a respected judge and mother to a beloved son finds their home in Dublin thrown into devastating turmoil by her son’s discovery of dark family secrets.

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Goodreads 3.85 | Amazon 4.2

A psychologically charged tale of suspense follows the unexpected twists that shape a divorce and second marriage that are anything but what they seem.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Goodreads 3.84 | Amazon 4.1

After erroneously receiving a mysterious letter about a large inheritance, Hal attends the deceased’s funeral and realizes that something is very, very wrong.

After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

Goodreads 3.84 | Amazon: 4.1

When her daugher Anna is murdered and her new husband Noah is accused of the crime, Maggie searches for the truth, where she uncovers something darker than she could have ever imagined.

New to the Psychological Suspense Genre?

Check out these 10 Popular Psychological Suspense Authors
  1. Megan Abbott
  2. Gillian Flynn
  3. Tana French
  4. Sophie Hannah
  5. Patricia Highsmith
  6. Ruth Rendell
  7. Ruth Ware
  8. B.A. Paris
  9. Paula Hawkins
  10. Mary Kubica

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