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Mysteries and thrillers are some of the best choices when you want a page-turner book. The mystery and thriller novels on this list are sure to keep you riveted and are good books for adults trying to start a reading habit.
It’s 11:30 at night. You’ve settled in bed with your book, read several chapters already, and it’s past time for you to turn out the light and go to sleep.
Maybe you have to be up early for work tomorrow. Maybe it’s the weekend, but you have young kids who wake you early no matter what day it is.
You know what you should do. But you’re not going to, because you have to read just one. more. chapter. It might just be the one that puts all the pieces together.
And if it’s not? Well, maybe just one more chapter will do it. Who needs sleep, anyway?
The next time you check the clock, it’s 2 a.m. Either you’ve finished the book or you’re almost there… so you might as well just read until you’re done.
I am not an avid reader of mysteries and thrillers–I tend to be a bit sensitive to scary or gory content, so I choose carefully (you’ll probably never see a horror book list from me).
BUT, I do love a good premise and an intriguing puzzle, so I just can’t resist some mystery novels (and I can even handle a bit of difficult content if the story is good enough).
I love reading just a blurb and being so drawn in that I just have to pick it up and get the whole story.
If you are looking for a page-turner mystery or thriller, the books on this list provide plenty of options.
Some are fast-paced (if that’s your thing, none were faster for me than this book–I read it in one sitting), while others unfold more slowly. Some are psychological thrillers, others are more straightforward mysteries, and others are slow-burn character studies. Whatever your taste, all of these are unputdownable for different reasons.
Check out that list for more, as well as the other expanded lists of page-turner books at the end of this post!
Or, take the quiz and find just the right book to suit your reading mood now!
11 Mysteries and Thrillers You Won't Be Able to Put Down
Author: Alex Michaelides
Psychological thriller fans, this one is for you! After a successful, seemingly happy woman shoots her husband in the face and never speaks again, criminal psychotherapist Theo Faber is determined to reach her. Unreliable characters, a little creepiness, and a twist that truly had me reeling (even though I was on the lookout for it) makes this one worth the hype.
Author: Peter Heller
Two college friends set off on a canoe trip, looking forward to quiet time on the river. Soon they find themselves outrunning unexpected threats–both natural and human. Don’t be lulled by the slow start and lush nature writing. When the action starts, you’ll be hooked to the end–one of my best books of 2019.
Author: Joshilyn Jackson
Despite some of her dark themes, Joshilyn Jackson always brings fun to her books through her signature sly wit. Her first foray into domestic suspense is no exception. When a new neighbor unexpectedly shows up to book club, she turns Amy’s perfect life on its head. You’ll only think you’ve figured out this twisty cat-and-mouse game, until new layers emerge to keep you guessing.
Author: Lisa Jewell
When Libby receives a letter with the identity of her birth parents and the unexpected inheritance of an abandoned London mansion, she has to find out what happened 25 years ago. Three bodies, a baby safe in her crib, and the other children gone without a trace. Now she’s digging into the past–and others are revisiting it as well. Creepy, cultish noir from Jewell, one of my favorite suspense authors.
The Lost Man
Author: Jane Harper
Two men find their brother dead at the border of their properties. In the isolated outback, there are few suspects and many secrets. A mystery filled with complex family dynamics, this book manages to evoke feelings of claustrophobia even in an expansive, punishing setting.
Author: Clare Mackintosh
A split-second when a mother releases her child’s hand changes her life forever. After the accident, Jenna retreats to a Welsh cottage to heal and escape her memories, while London investigators try to piece together the hit-and-run. Surprising and layered, even the twists you see coming are satisfying.
Author: Wendy Walker
Three years ago, two teen sisters disappeared. Now one has returned with a tale of kidnapping and captivity on an island. But something isn’t adding up for the forensic psychologist assigned the case. What emerges is a psychological thriller of family dysfunction and masterful use of unreliable storytelling that will keep you guessing.
Author: Karen Dionne
Real-life stories of women held captive for years are horrifying: the lives stolen, the psychological manipulation, and often the daring escapes. The Marsh King’s Daughter takes us decades after the escape, when Helena, the child born in captivity–now an adult–is the only one who can find her captor–and father–after his prison escape. Hunting him brings back complicated memories and questions: what will she do if she catches him?
Author: M.O. Walsh
A boy’s coming-of-age story in which a horrible crime is committed against a girl he loves from afar. The mystery ties the story together, but it’s so much more: an exploration of memory, community, and the enduring consequences of childhood guilt and trauma.
Author: S.J. Watson
Every night, Christine goes to sleep knowing that she will wake up with no memory–of almost anything. Her day will consist of attempts to reconstruct her identity, and relying on her husband to remind her: an accident stole her memory. She is an adult. She is married. When she begins keeping a journal to remind herself, cracks begin to form in the stories she is told. The “what would you do” factor here is high, as each day she races time and devises ways to learn before her memory is again erased.
Author: Tana French
A woman’s body is found outside of Dublin and her likeness to detective Cassie Maddox is uncanny–so much so that Cassie seamlessly infiltrates the student house where the woman lived, in search of answers about her murder. She soon becomes enmeshed in the highbrow dynamics of the group. Somewhat implausible but fully engrossing with just a bit of suspension of disbelief, this is a great read-alike for fans of The Secret History.
More page-turner books:
What’s the last book that kept you up late?