What is it that makes a psychological thriller a book to remember?
For me, it’s not just about the twist (although, of course, the twist is very important); it’s also about the build-up and the tension, and very often I guess the twist ahead of its reveal but I read on, frantically turning the pages to see if I’m right and also to see just how the author is going to tie everything together. With that in mind, I’ve been thinking of my top psychological thrillers and I’ve narrowed it down to these…
Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
Which psychological thriller lover doesn’t have this on their list?! For me, this book is the original psychological thriller – it’s all about the characterisation and the skilled way du Maurier builds the tension to make us flip the pages faster and faster towards the end. I remember vividly the first time I read this novel, and the way it left me feeling a little shaken by the end – I hadn’t ever read anything like it before, and a battered copy still sits on my bookshelves.
The Talented Mr Ripley – Patricia Highsmith
Perhaps an obvious choice, and definitely a popular one with my fellow readers, this is another favourite of mine. I love the way Patricia Highsmith builds her characters, and while I may not like her characters, I somehow always find myself rooting for them. That’s certainly the case with this novel – the reader is in no doubt as to how far Tom Ripley will go, but it doesn’t stop you from cheering him on…
Verity – Colleen Hoover
A dark and twisted tale of love, jealousy and secrets, this one had me up until way past my bedtime in my rush to get to the end. I’m always fascinated by books which carry a writer as the main protagonist (mostly so I can compare notes!) and in this sinister story Lowen is hired by best-selling author Verity’s husband to finish the books in Verity’s unfulfilled contract. Things take an unnerving turn when Lowen discovers a hidden manuscript and realises that things might not be quite as they seem in Verity’s household… the twist at the end had me reeling!
The Other Woman – Sandie Jones
I listened to this book on Audible and found myself wandering around the house with my ear pods in, ignoring the kids, the dogs and my husband more and more as I was drawn into this twisty novel. When Emily meets Adam, she thinks he is perfect – it’s just a shame about his controlling, over-powering mother. Sandie Jones builds the tension subtly and deftly in this novel of toxic relationships, and once again, the twist is perfect with a brilliantly satisfying ending.
The Perfect Betrayal – Lauren North
It’s not very often a book keeps me on my toes and then blindsides me right at the end, but this one did exactly that. Lauren North creates a heartbreakingly devastating scenario for her main character, in which she has lost her husband and is fragile and barely coping, leaving her open and vulnerable. Her son, Jamie, is all she has left. When Shelley, a grief counsellor, enters her life, it seems as though she is exactly what Tess needs…or is she? I like to think that I am an expert at spotting twists in psychological thrillers these days and it takes a lot to surprise me, but the twist at the end of this novel is one of the best I’ve ever read – coupled with Lauren’s talent for characterisation and her excellent writing, this book has stayed with me from the day I finished it.
Lisa Hall joins us for the HQ Book Club this Thursday at 3pm!