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In the mood for a little suspense? There’s nothing like the best mystery thrillers to keep you captivated for hours and put your amateur detective skills to work. These gripping picks will not only get your heart pumping, but they also make for excellent reads at any time of the year. Whether you’re laying on a sunny beach at the height of summer or curled up on the couch under a blanket on a rainy day, these engrossing works will keep you hooked to the page long into the night.
Though all these novels are considered a crossover between mysteries and thrillers, they include a wide range of riveting and juicy stories from a talented and diverse selection of authors. From a compelling mystery set in the world of classical music to an iconic Gothic drama to a favorite YA novel with a major twist ending, everyone — from beginners to the genre to longtime mystery aficionados — are sure to find something within these options to suit their individual taste.
Keep scrolling to check out 15 of the best mystery thrillers that’ll keep you turning the pages, and get ready to make plenty of new additions to your latest TBR list!
Long Bright River by Liz Moore
Two sisters reside in the same Philadelphia neighborhood facing a serious opioid crisis, but their lives couldn’t be any further apart. While Mickey works for the police department, Kacey faces the other side of the law, living on the streets while struggling with addiction. After Kacey disappears, Mickey becomes obsessed with finding her and the culprit — no matter the cost. Though a propulsive mystery, Long Bright River is also an intimate depiction of addiction, family, and the ties that bind us.
The Guest List by Lucy Foley
A wedding celebration turns sinister in Lucy Foley’s 2020 thriller. Set in an island off the coast of Ireland, the atmospheric novel follows the exclusive nuptials of a rising TV star and an ambitious magazine publisher. Though every glittery detail of the luxe party has been planned to perfection, it doesn’t take long before the festivities start to go off the rails — and someone turns up dead.
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
The only Black employee at her esteemed publishing imprint, Nella Rogers is initially delighted when another Black woman starts working in the cubicle beside hers. But her excitement turns to trepidation when her new co-worker becomes increasingly competitive — and threatening notes start appearing on her desk warning her to leave the company. Inspired by the author’s own experience in publishing, The Other Black Girl is both an electrifying thriller and an excellent observation of the microaggressions that make a workplace toxic.
Night Film by Marisha Pessl
When the daughter of a famed and mysterious cult-horror-film director, Stanislas Cordova, is found dead, ex-journalist Scott McGrath knows there’s more to her death than meets the eye. McGrath has long since been looking into Cordova and his work, but he has been thwarted each time. Now McGrath won’t stop until he unearths the truth about the director.
Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson
Teenage aspiring songstress Enchanted Jones fees like she’s getting one step closer to her dreams when she meets and falls for legendary R&B artist, Korey Fields. But her dream soon devolves into a horrific reality dictated by Korey’s dark and controlling side. The nightmare continues when she wakes up one morning to find him dead, her hands tainted with blood — and absolutely no memory of the previous night. This YA novel packs a punch, combining a gripping whodunit with powerful cultural insights that stay with you long after the last page.
Verity by Colleen Hoover
Chances are you’ve spotted the cover of Colleen Hoover’s Verity all over BookTube and Bookstagram. The beloved 2018 psychological thriller follows the story of Lowen Ashleigh, a writer who is struggling to make ends meet when she’s offered the job opportunity of a lifetime. Best-selling author Verity Crawford has been injured, and she needs someone to help her complete her remaining books. As Lowen sorts through Verity’s notes, she discovers disturbing truths about the author — truths that would change everything for Verity and her husband Jeremy.
The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas
Five years ago, a group of cheerleaders in Sunnybrook died under mysterious circumstances. Of the five, Monica’s sister was the last to die, and the cheerleading squad was disbanded shortly after. Now, the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders, but Monica feels like all they’re doing is stirring up old, painful memories — especially when she uncovers disturbing evidence that suggests what happened to those cheerleaders might happen again.
The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
Before Owen Michaels disappears, he leaves a note to his wife with the message: Protect her. Hannah Hall immediately knows the note refers to Owen’s daughter, Bailey. Together, Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth about Owen’s disappearance. But as they start uncovering secrets from Owen’s past, Hannah realizes that Owen was not the man she thought he was.
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
Described as Gossip Girl meets Get Out, this engrossing 2021 YA novel centers Devon and Chiamaka, the only two Black students at the elite private school, Niveus Academy. Shortly after being elected to the group of senior class prefects, the two find their secrets are being revealed to the entire school by an anonymous text message who goes by the name, Aces. Timely, thought-provoking, and brimming with suspense, Ace of Spades expertly tackles issues of marginalization and institutional racism while simultaneously delivering heart-pounding intrigue.
When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole
In this domestic thriller, Sydney Green is devastated by the rapid gentrification happening in her beloved Brooklyn neighborhood. In an attempt to hold onto her community’s past, Sydney goes on a walking tour where she meets an unlikely accomplice in her neighbor Theo. As the two dive into their neighborhood’s history, they realize something much darker is going on in the community…and their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all.
The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb
Explore the world of classical music with this riveting page-turner about a Black musician who has dreamed of becoming a professional violinist since he was a child in rural North Carolina. After years of hard work, he lands a spot in the biggest musical competition in the world — only to have his prized possession, a beloved Stradivarius violin, stolen the night before. To recover his treasured instrument, Ray will have to piece together the clues before it’s too late. Slocumb’s stunning debut provides an unflinching portrait of artistry and resilience in the face of prejudice in a cut-throat world.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
This 2014 YA novel will appeal to mystery lovers of any age. The book follows Cadence and her three cousins, known as the “Liars,” who spend every summer with their families gathered on a private island. When she returns to the usual vacation spot at 17 years old, everything is different — only she can’t remember exactly why. You’ll find it nearly impossible to wrench yourself away from the compelling story that unspools as Cadence’s memories slowly start to resurface.
Yesterday by Felicia Yap
In Yap’s Yesterday, society is divided not by wealth, but by memories. The world is split into two groups: the majority is known as the Monos, who can only hold up to a day’s worth of memories, and the elite class is known as the Duos, who can remember up to two days of memories. When a woman’s body is found in a river, the detective must race against time to find the killer before his memory is erased. Told from four different perspectives, this sci-fi mystery thriller delivers a wholly original story that will keep you hooked.
Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
Bluebird, Bluebird centers on Darren Mathews, a Black Texas Ranger in East Texas, a town with rampant racism permeating everything. When Mathews travels up Highway 59 to Lark after a Black lawyer and a white woman were murdered, he is forced to confront this racism head on. Still, he devotes his energy to solving these murders no matter who tries to stop him. This suspense-filled 2017 crime novel will keep you glued to the page.
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
No list of mystery thrillers would be complete without the classic Gothic story, Rebecca. The 1938 novel follows the story of an unnamed narrator who starts a whirlwind romance with widower Maxim de Winter. They quickly marry, and she’s whisked away to Manderley, a beautiful estate in Cornwall. But their relationship isn’t the fairy tale romance it seems. Once at Manderley, she can’t seem to escape the long shadow cast by Maxim’s late first wife, Rebecca.