I think if I could only read one category of fiction for the rest of my life, it would be mystery and thrillers, which are often combined under the umbrella term “crime fiction.” I love stories that pull me in, make me think, and keep me flipping pages. Those kinds of reading experiences are the most vivid for me, the times when I would willingly ignore everything—work, bedtime, blogging—to finish a book. And I’ve read some amazing new thrillers in 2019. This list of the best new thrillers from 2019 will stack your to-be-read (TBR) pile to the ceiling with sensational suspense, pulse-pounding pacing, and irresistible intrigue. I’ll save new mysteries from 2019 for another time (and add more to this list at the end of the year). And now for the best new suspense books!
(This list is unranked and organized alphabetically by title.)
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson
A diverse spy thriller? Sign me up! In Lauren Wilkinson’s American Spy, a young Black woman feels out of place in the white-male culture of the CIA in the Cold War years of the 1980s. When she gets a chance to go undercover to infiltrate a radical political leader in the Caribbean island of Martinique, Marie knows this may be her one shot to be taken seriously…if she can keep her loyalties clean and romantic life nonexistent. Of course, we all know that’s easier said than done. American Spy charts Marie’s thrilling experience, a flirtation with danger and with love.
How to read it: Purchase American Spy on Amazon and add it on Goodreads.
An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
The writer team behind the mega-hit thriller The Wife Between Us are back with a twisty new read. In this novel, Jessica is a 28-year-old makeup artist looking for extra cash. She signs up for a psychology study on ethics and morality at a local university that is under the direction of enigmatic and manipulative psychiatrist Dr. Shields. And then, well, and then things get out of hand. My favorite psychological thrillers actually incorporate psychology into them, and An Anonymous Girl is aces with that. See why Goodreads reviewers have praised An Anonymous Girl as “Loved it! Devoured it!” and “Twisted. Intense. Deviously fun.“
How to read it: Purchase An Anonymous Girl on Amazon and add it on Goodreads.
The Chain by Adrian McKinty
Adrian McKinty’s The Chain hooks you in the chilling first pages. Don Winslow’s front-cover blurb—”The Chain is Jaws for parents”—accurately describes the sensational premise. Rachel is driving to a doctor’s appointment where she could face news that her cancer has returned. Then she gets a sobering call that her child has been kidnapped and can only be released if Rachel pays $25,000 in Bitcoin to “The Chain”…oh, and kidnap another child and keep the Chain going. Yep! Trust me, clear your schedule for this thriller with unbearable tension and full-throttle emotion.
How to read it: Purchase The Chain on Amazon and add it on Goodreads.
The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup
Take note: this grisly novel is not for the weak of heart. But if you’re a fan of the crime show The Killing, you’ll want to be sure to check out this novel by the show’s creator, Soren Sveistrup. This Swedish thriller features a creepy criminal deemed “The Chestnut Man” for the chestnut doll he leaves behind at his victims’ gory murder scenes. When investigators find a fingerprint match to a politician’s daughter who went missing and was murdered a year ago, they are doubly intrigued. Is it a fluke or is there a connection? And what—if anything—can be done to prevent another murder by the psychopath terrorizing Copenhagen? New York Times bestselling thriller expert Jeffrey Deaver praised The Chestnut Man as “This might just be the thriller of the year. The Chestnut Man grips you from the opening page and never lets go.”
How to read it: Purchase The Chestnut Man on Amazon and add it on Goodreads
The Club by Takis Würger
I’ve already expressed how much I loved Takis Würger’s The Club in my review of the German thriller in translation on the blog. This cerebral thriller is told from several perspectives but focuses most on Hans, an orphaned German boxer whose distant Aunt Alex recruits him to come to Cambridge University, where she works, and go undercover to infiltrate an exclusive gentleman’s club and help identify a criminal. I loved this novel’s layered suspense, almost clinical prose, and killer twist at the end.
How to read it: Purchase The Club on Amazon and add it on Goodreads
Conviction by Denise Mina
I’ve had my eye on Denise Mina’s police procedurals for years now, but this summer I had the pleasure of picking up her new standalone thriller, Conviction. I tore through this book in just a few days, eager to find out what our unreliable narrator Anna would do next. After Anna gets shocking news that breaks up her marriage, she gets sucked into a true crime podcast that implicates her old friend in a puzzling murder. Anna sets off on an adventure to clear his name, even though it means she’s heading straight back into the past she hoped would stay buried.
How to read it: Purchase Conviction on Amazon and add it on Goodreads
The Current by Tim Johnston
Fans of Dennis Lehane (Mystic River), Tana French, and literary thrillers will want to add Tim Johnston’s second novel, The Current, to their TBR. In The Current, two friends accidentally drive off the road and into the freezing winter waters of the Black Root River in rural Minnesota. While one girl dies, the other young woman survives. Finding that another girl died in the same river under mysterious circumstances twenty years before makes her determined to find answers…what if the killer is still out there? Who will they target next? Like Lehane, Johnston focuses on the shady secrets lingering in small communities ready to ignite at the first spark.
How to read it: Purchase The Current on Amazon and add it on Goodreads
Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
Another thriller about the unraveling of a community after a tragedy is Julia Phillips’ debut, Disappearing Earth. This psychological suspense novel is a slow burning story that builds towards an astonishing climax. Two sisters, one eight and the other eleven, go missing one day. The girls were playing along the shore along the northern Kamchatka peninsula in the Russian Far East. Disappearing Earth covers the year after their disappearance, zeroing in on the growing tension among the family of the victims, the investigators, and the town.
How to read it: Purchase Disappearing Earth on Amazon and add it on Goodreads
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
This summer, I had the great pleasure of reading Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None for the first time. This classic thriller was like catnip for me, especially because I love “locked-door mysteries.” You know, the stories where an impossible crime must be the work of a short list of people. And I loved Lucy Foley’s The Hunting Party for exactly that reason. Foley is definitely channeling Agatha Christie (and Ruth Ware!) in this novel about a group of friends vacationing on an estate in the remote Scottish Highlands around New Years. The group become snowbound when a massive blizzard cuts them off from civilization. When the first body is found on New Year’s Day, the fragile peace between them shatters as old resentments and rivalries mean anyone could be the murderer—anyone.
How to read it: Purchase The Hunting Party on Amazon and add it on Goodreads
Into the Jungle by Erica Ferencik
If you love the non-stop adrenaline of Harlan Coben’s thrillers, be sure to pick up Erica Ferencik’s Into the Jungle. This adventure story tells the gripping story of how Lily Bushwold makes it out of the Bolivian jungle alive. Lily’s taken an English teaching job in the South American country but soon grows disenchanted just as she falls for Omar, a hunter. When Omar’s young nephew gets killed by a jaguar, Omar beckons Lily into the search for justice, taking her into the remotest corner of the country. Ferencik’s novel is addictive and totally original.
How to read it: Purchase Into the Jungle on Amazon and add it on Goodreads
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
Love a good legal thriller? Same! I loved Angie Kim’s Miracle Creek, an emotional, thought-provoking read that kept me turning pages long after bedtime. A mother stands accused of murdering her special needs son and another parent after a deadly explosion in an experimental treatment hyperbaric chamber. Caught in the middle are the Korean immigrant couple who owned the center, which they touted had healing powers, a survivor, and the upper-class community. What I loved about this novel was it got you thinking and tested your ethics. Don’t be surprised to watch your views change over the course of this excellent debut thriller.
How to read it: Purchase Miracle Creek on Amazon and add it on Goodreads
Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman
Readers familiar with Edgar Award-winning novelist Laura Lippman can expect another noir-inspired hit with Lady in the Lake. Set in Baltimore circa 1966, Lippman’s novel follows Maddie, a former housewife, as she assists the Baltimore police with a murder. Maddie’s rewarded with a job at a city newspaper. When she tries to help solve the case of a missing woman who was killed and left in a park, Maddie gets in over her head. Her determination to find the murderer takes her through Baltimore, from the city’s power brokers to the fringe, as she herself gets lured further into danger. Lippman’s novel is already a New York Times bestseller, with Publishers Weekly writing in a starred review: “Lippman’s fans will devour this sophisticated crime novel, which captures the era’s zeitgeist while painting a striking portrait of unapologetic female ambition.”
How to read it: Purchase Lady in the Lake on Amazon and add it on Goodreads
Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
Love The Shining? Me, too! That’s why I’m so excited for Riley Sager’s latest thriller. In Lock Every Door, Jules is recently heartbroken and fully broke, so accepting an apartment sitting job at the historic Bartholomew hotel in Manhattan should be an escape and easy money. One morning, Jules’s new friend Ingrid, another apartment sitter, goes missing. Just hours before, she warned Jules about her misgivings about the Bartholomew. Ingrid’s disappearance unleashes a series of shocking events that catapult Jules into danger…and the truth about the Bartholomew. This deliciously suspenseful novel was a Book of the Month Club selection.
How to read it: Purchase Lock Every Door on Amazon and add it on Goodreads
The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth
You know how sometimes you just get a feeling like you’ll never be able to impress someone, no matter how hard you try? That’s how Lucy feels when she meets her mother-in-law, Diana, who seems completely unimpressed by her son’s future wife. While Diana’s is respected and loved in the community, Lucy always has a sense that there’s a dark side underneath. Then, five years later, Diana is found dead, supposedly a suicide, but the note she leaves behind suggests she had cancer. The problem? The autopsy shows no signs of cancer in her body…only poison.
How to read it: Purchase The Mother-in-Law on Amazon and add it on Goodreads
My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
Samantha Downing’s My Lovely Wife is a clever twist on the domestic thriller and a totally bananas fun read. In this brilliant novel, a picture-perfect suburban couple have an unusual shared interest: murder. How long can they keep it up? Brutal but with an underlying dark humor, My Lovely Wife is a gutsy work from Samantha Downing. Warning: once you pick it up, don’t expect to put it down until you cross the finish line in this wild thriller. This disturbing novel about two psychopaths is another book for Mindhunter fans (check out more suggestions from Broke by Books here).
How to read it: Purchase My Lovely Wife on Amazon and add it on Goodreads
A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson
M.T. Edvardsson’s A Nearly Normal Family was another great Book of the Month Club pick this year. They really know their thrillers! And A Nearly Normal Family is a legal thriller you won’t want to miss. Set in Switzerland, Edvardsson’s novel is packed with twists. Eighteen-year-old Stella Sandell is accused of murdering a shady man fifteen years her senior. Stella’s parents reel from the shock. She comes from a nice, respected family… her father is a minister, and her mother an attorney. Together, they try to find the answers behind the puzzling allegations against their daughter…but are they ready for the truth?
How to read it: Purchase A Nearly Normal Family on Amazon and add it on Goodreads
Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak
“I literally couldn’t stop reading,” Stephen King said of Anna Pitoniak’s Necessary People, a twisty, bendy, shocking thriller. And with a front-cover blurb from Lee Child, Necessary People has the blessing of one of the genre’s biggest stars. Violet and Stella are best friends who met in college. Stella came from a more sheltered, privileged, and wealthy world where her bad behavior could be overlooked, with Violet struggling to protect Stella. Finally, years later, Violet has worked her way up the ladder, relying on her talent and hard work, and is now a producer at a TV station. She’s free from Stella’s shadow, until Stella takes a job at the station, putting her directly in competition with Violet…but this time, their competitive friendship takes a dangerous turn.
How to read it: Purchase Necessary People on Amazon and add it on Goodreads
The Need by Helen Phillips
In a starred review, Publishers Weekly wrote that Helen Phillips’s The Need was: “An unforgettable tour de force that melds nonstop suspense, intriguing speculation, and perfectly crafted prose…”. And this creepy horror-thriller is absolutely a pulse-pounding work of psychological tension. In The Need, Molly and her two children are home alone when Molly thinks she hears an intruder. She lets it go, thinking she’s imagining things, as she has been doing lately, her nerves fraught thanks to the pressures of motherhood. But then Molly’s hears the footsteps again and catches an unmistakable glimpse of movement…
How to read it: Purchase The Need on Amazon and add it on Goodreads
The Night Before by Wendy Walker
Wendy Walker is one of the most exciting fresh talents in the thriller genre to come up in the last few years. The Night Before might be her best yet. Rosie is used to taking care of her troubled sister, Laura, picking up the pieces when Laura’s life falls apart again and again. So it’s not exactly a surprise when Laura shows up on Rosie’s doorstep, having fled New York City for their hometown quiet Connecticut community where Rosie now lives a seemingly perfect life. Against her sister’s advice, Laura goes out on a date with a guy she’s met online, but when she doesn’t show up, Rosie senses something is wrong. Rosie gets pulled into the mystery of what happened to her sister, racing against time to find her and pull her back from the brink, one more time.
How to read it: Purchase The Night Before on Amazon and add it on Goodreads
The Paper Wasp by Lauren Acampora
Lauren Acampora’s cerebral debut, The Paper Wasp, is a treat. Acampora’s novel makes female friendship its theme. Abby feels her life is trapped; having failed to make it as an artist, she lives in her hometown and works at a grocery store. She finds refuge in following the career of her former best friend, Elise, now a famous Hollywood actress. At their high school reunion, Elise remarks on how much she enjoys Abby’s art, having found it online, and invites her to come to LA and visit her anytime she likes. Abby takes her up on the offer, plunging their friendship into a twisted new chapter. The Paper Wasp is psychological suspense at its best.
How to read it: Purchase The Paper Wasp on Amazon and add it on Goodreads
Recursion by Blake Crouch
I never knew sci-fi thrillers were a thing until I picked up Blake Crouch’s new book, Recursion. And it didn’t take many pages until I totally got it—I was hooked! Crouch splits the story between two protagonists who eventually meet. There’s Barry Sutton, a New York City cop still reeling from the accidental death of his daughter years ago. Now divorced, Barry gets called to a scene of a woman attempting to commit suicide so she can escape suffering from the mysterious outbreak known as False Memory Syndrome. The other storyline follows Helena Smith, a brilliant scientist who helped create a device and procedure that would allow people to go back in time and erase bad memories with new experiences. Helena’s bankrolled by a wealthy Silicon Valley executive, but when he takes the breakthrough in a twisted new direction, Helena has to try to outrun the horrific consequences as they ripple through the world. Recursion was the right amount of science fiction for me…pair it with unrelenting tension and thought-provoking ethical questions, I understand why it’s been a bestseller.
How to read it: Purchase Recursion on Amazon and add it on Goodreads
Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok
Jean Kwok’s Searching for Sylvie Lee is one of the books I’ve recommended the most this year on Book Riot’s Tailored Book Recommendations service. This novel asks the question: can we ever really know someone we love? That’s what Amy wonders when her older sister Sylvie disappears after going to see their dying grandmother in Switzerland. Both girls are the children of Chinese immigrants. When they were kids, Sylvie was sent off to live with distant relatives while their family got settled in America, an experience she has never said much about. Amy was too young to go, too. Now, in the wake of her sister’s disappearance, Amy must solve the mystery of the time Sylvie spent away from them to find where her sister is now.
How to read it: Purchase Searching for Sylvie Lee on Amazon and add it on Goodreads
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
I loved Alex Michaelides’s The Silent Patient even as it scared the bejesus out of me. This was another great thriller pick by Book of the Month. When I was reading this debut, I couldn’t put it down. I was so absorbed in the story. In The Silent Patient, we have two narrators. First we have the diary entries of Alicia, a talented artist married to a dreamy, acclaimed photographer. Second we hear from Theo, a psychologist who specializes in treating criminals. Theo takes an interest in Alicia when he hears she’s been arrested and jailed for the murder of her husband. Since she was discovered holding the weapon that killed her lover, Alicia has not spoken. Theo, who develops a fascination with this mysterious beauty, thinks he can make her talk and takes a job at the jail where Alicia is held. But as the story pushes forward, you get the sense that there’s more to their relationship than what it seems. I’ll leave it there, except to say that the final twist really cemented the deal for me: The Silent Patient was a full five stars.
How to read it: Purchase The Silent Patient on Amazon and add it on Goodreads
The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
And last but definitely not least, Ruth Ware delivers another great thriller in The Turn of the Key. This clever take on Henry James’s famous ghost story, The Turn of the Screw, follows a nanny who takes a post with a rich family. But despite the awesome salary and accommodations, something seems off, including the creepy surveillance in the smart-home equipped house and the hints that the house might be haunted. When the novel opens, the nanny is writing to a high-profile lawyer from jail, begging him to take her case. To convince him that she didn’t murder one of the children, she’ll need to lay out the facts. But that’s easier said than done when she has trouble with the truth to begin with…
I’m reading this one now and can barely pull myself away from the story—in fact, I’m going to go read it now! Hope you’ve enjoyed the list!