15 crime thrillers that should be on your list: From psychological drama to sci-fi to classic whodunit.

All of us need that adrenaline rush once in a while. When your heart is pumping so fast, it’ll almost come out of your mouth. Thrillers are my got-to reads. I’ve been a sucker for psychological thrillers since the past year but I wouldn’t mind the classic cat and mouse chase either. If you’re looking for a read that’s immersive as much as it is ‘I-was-at-the-edge-of-my-seat-throughout’ kinda read, you’ve come to the right place.

I’ve listed some of my favourite reads, some I read a few years ago, some I read last week. Please note I haven’t read every thriller out there and I’ve barely even scratched the surface, but hey, I’m getting there, one book at a time.

  1. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides: When the psychotherapist Theo, wants to treat Alicia, the woman who shot her husband five times, the entire spectacle becomes the talk of the town. Alex’s novel had me hooked right from the beginning. Alicia stopped talking right after the murder. No one knows why she did it. But Theo is hellbent on finding answers. I can’t believe this Alex’s debut novel. I thought I had all the answers but I was so wrong! I’ve written a detailed review here: https://www.instagram.com/p/ByaHuODg9OU/

2. My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinka Braithwaite: The title is self-explanatory here. We have a killer, heck we even know who the killer is. We have a knife, we have the murder weapon. So how is this a thriller? At the heart of the novel, the author has highlighted how manipulative and toxic familial relationships can be, the abuse one tends to tolerate and accept under the guise of sibling love-the myriad ways in which we are ready to defend those close to us. It’s a unique take on a thriller and I absolutely love how the author has pulled it off.

You can read the review here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BxXmNrvnaUt/

3. The Flower Girls by Alice Clark Platts: I read this book sometime last year and I was completely surprised by the twist. I was buddy reading it with a bunch of other readers & we spent hours discussing the ending. And it’s exactly the kind of book I live for. From the start, the author plays with your mind. When Laurel and Primrose kill and torture two-year old Kristie Swan, they become infamous. Mainly because they’re 10 and 6, respectively. Laurel is imprisoned but Primrose is considered too young for the crime and given a new identity. 19 years later, another child is goes missing in the very same place where one of the flower girls is staying. Secrets start tumbling out and the past resurfaces one again. I would highly recommend picking this one up.

You can read my review here: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bt_bqovHJUV/

4.) Lullaby by Leila Slimani: This book creeped the living insides out of me. It was unsettling on so many levels and is possibly my worst nightmare come true. Since I absolutely love torturing myself, I go out of my way to read books that keep me up all night. The book starts with the death of two children at the hands of their Nanny(not a spoiler). The rest of the story is a build-up of why and how.

You can read my review here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BsVmh1uncJt/

5.) See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt: Based on a real life event, this murder that took place in America of 1892, is regarded as one of the most notorious murders of all times and rightly so. Sarah’s novel is a reimagining of the brutal murders of the Borden family. It is said that Lizzie borden, daughter of Andrew & Abby Borden, axed her parents to death. Till date, no one has been able to identify the true killer. There are several theories and documentaries on the same. It’s a great mystery/murder thriller. I loved reading it.

You can read my review here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BhLiSqylADu/

6.) The Wonder by Emma Donoghue: You know when you read the blurb for a book and you know you HAVE to read it? This is one such book. It’s a psychological thriller like never before. 11 year old Anna O’Donell is considered a miracle child because she hasn’t eaten anything in months but seems to be a healthy child. A young nurse, Lib Wright, is sent to the impoverished village to discover the truth. Tourists are thronging to take a look at the child, the media wants to sensationalise the news & her parents wouldn’t a thing. Read it because you’ll be blown away by the ending!

7.)Dark Matter by Blake Crounch: I have never read sci-fi before this & I didn’t know what to expect. But boy was I in for a surprise. Blake Crouch’s book takes you into the world of multiverses, quantum physics, alternate realities and so much more. He makes it so simple for you to understand without having to google every single thing you’re reading. Reading the book was almost like watching a movie; the descriptions were so vivid, the characters so well sketched and the plot hitting all the feels at all the right places. His next book Recursion is next on my list and I’m pumped.

8.) The Devotion of Suspect X: Keigo Higashino is one of the finest Japanese authors when it comes to thriller & psychological drama. I can’t recommend this book enough mainly because it deals with emotions thriller’s usually don’t. At the heart of the novel, it’s a love story and the ultimate test of your faith and devotion to the one you love. The gripping plot alongside the twists will make you flip pages as if your life depends on it. While we’re at it, I would also recommend Malice and Newcomer by Keigo.

9) My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing: A married couple want to keep the spark alive in their relationship by indulging in habits that are quite unusual. Nothing wrong with that, right? Except their ‘habit’ involves murder. The ordinary suburban couple bond over a list of people they could possibly murder. Samantha downing’s delicious debut novel takes sinister crimes to another level. Her next book, He Started It, is coming out in April this year which is also a psychological thriller. I am super-excited.

10.) Call me Evie by J.P.Pomare: A young girl is kept hostage in a beach town in New Zealand by a man who calls himself Jim. In a disturbing premise, this girl has no memory of what happened in the past and her reason to be here. There’s a dark shadow looming around when it comes to the identity of this person keeping her captive. This girl has done something so terrible back in Melbourne that people are looking for her. She’s scared, sedated and kept in this remote place for her own safety. J.P.Pomare created a promising story, with several layers of suspicion, that I devoured the page in two days just to get to the bottom of all this mess. It’s unputdownable.

11.) Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall: This debut novel took me by surprise. With themes of obsession, loyalty, love, and desire, Araminta weaves a complicated story of Mike and Verity, two people insanely in love with each other or so we think so. Mike has moulded himself into an ideal man, someone who is worthy of being with Verity. He knows she’s in love with him, if he tries a little bit harder and understands all the signs. Except Verity is married and is not returning his calls. It’s a darkly twisted novel of love gone wrong.

12.) Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh: Anna is trying to come to terms with the death of both her parents. A year ago, Caroline Johnson, ended her life in a manner that was similar to that of her husband. Police say it is suicide but Anna is sure it’s murder. The answer is sinister at best & involves leaving behind everything Anna has believed so far. Just when you think you know where the story is going, Clare proves you wrong. I See You and I Let You Go are other stunning psychological novels by the author.

13.) Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh: Eileen is a young woman of 24 who suffers from extreme lack of self-esteem, spending most of her life in self-loathing. Stuck with an alcoholic father who forces his usual qualms on her, Eileen dreams of escaping into the unknown and start her life afresh. Eileen works at a juvenile prison where a girl named Rebecca arrives, changing her life forever. Without even realising Eileen is dragged into a crime, she has nothing to do with. Ottessa’s characters are unreliable, flawed and as real as humans can get. It’s a disturbing story accompanied by characters you will loathe but which will keep you turning the pages.

14.) The Good Girl by Mary Kubica: I had one of those moments where after finishing the last chapter, I had to take a few minutes to calm down. When Mia’s boyfriend doesn’t turn up at the bar, she decides to leave with a stranger, Colin. But things soon start to go terribly wrong when Colin keeps Mia secluded in a cabin instead of dropping her back safely. Detective Gabe and Mia’s mother leave no stone unturned to find their daughter but things seldom go as planned. When confronted with the truth, cracks appear in their relationship as a family, and things are not what they seem. Mary Kubica is a brilliant author whose books I always enjoy. You can also check out Every Last lie by the author which I equally loved.

15.) The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo(Trilogy) by Steig Larsson, trans.Reg Keeland: My first tryst with thrillers was with TGWTDT. I was in high-school when I stumbled upon this literary goodness and devoured the series within a week. It’s your classic cat & mouse chase except it’s more gory, dark and twisted. My favourite bad-ass fictional character, Lisbath Salander together with journalist Mikael Bloomberg investigate the disappearance of Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families. This book is an embodiment of what a thriller should be like.

I hope you like these recommendations and I’ll be back with some more! Meanwhile, do drop in your favourite thrillers. I’d love to have a look.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides: A psychological thriller that’s unputdownable!

Alex Michaelides’s debut novel reads like a slow burn thriller but surprises you when you least expect it.

I’m going to go so far as to say that The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides is hands down one of the best debut novels I’ve read. His immersive, slow-burning, keeping-you-on-the-edge novel has lived up to the hype it has been receiving and rightly so.

When Alicia, a famous painter shoots her husband five times without any remorse, she becomes the talk of the town. Discarded by the people, her refusal to defend herself or talk, immediately perks the psychotherapist, theo’s interest. While Alicia is being kept in a forensic unit in London, called The Grove- Theo is hellbent on making Alicia talk. He’s as fascinated about Alicia’s life as he is about her deafening silence. When the opportunity to become her psychotherapist arrives, Theo jumps to take the offer. Here starts the cat & mouse chase as Theo tries to unravel layer by layer, dissecting the infamous life of Alicia, and what caused her to murder her husband.

The narrative structure of the novel doesn’t read like a thriller in the sense that it doesn’t have whiplash moments, or hands-on-mouth kind of a situation- it seeps deeper into the psyche of the mind, and tries to understand the ‘WHY’ rather than the ‘HOW’. The more you read it, the more bizarre and twisted it becomes. We see the story unfold through Theo’s eyes as he begins his sessions with Alicia, trying to talk his way through the walls she’s built. Not just that, we also learn a lot about Theo, his abusive past, and why he wanted to make a career in mental health, and his ultimate fascination of the notorious Alicia.

Read The Silent Patient for its immaculate plot, excellent narrative structure, and for an in-depth character study that runs parallel to great storytelling! It has also been optioned for a film, and I CANNOT wait!


Author: Alex Michaelides

Publisher: Orion Books

Genre: Psychological thriller

Rating:4.8/5

 

Blurb

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….

Three Psychos by Yash Pawaskar

Three Psychos narrates three different stories from three different point of views. Each bizzare and unique.

When I read the blurb for this particular book, the stories seemed bizzare and completely out of the box. Three Psychos seemed too complicated and I wondered if the author would be able to engage its readers. A few pages in and I was quite impressed.

Three Psychos by Yash Pawaskar narrates three chilling stories, each unique and twisted on its own. The human mind has the habit of playing scenarios that are often a series of illusions. The protagonists in each story are living in their own bubble, often away from reality. Psychology is the study of human behaviour but how can one study such extreme behaviours? Is there one methodology or technique? That’s where we hit a dead end. Because believe it or not, humans are unpredictable and a tad bit crazy. And in the case of Three Psychos, completely crazy. I felt a series of emotions ranging from utter hate for the protagonists to empathy to denial.

The narrative technique of the writer is commendable as he was able to blend fantasy, psychological thriller and romance under one umbrella. Such qualities in a story is difficult and challenging. The writing style is easy flowing with the author giving philosophical and profound insights about life and death. Here’s one such quote:

Death teaches a lot about life. I don’t understand why people are afraid of death. It is just another part of life, albeit the last part of life as far as we know. It is just like any other phase of life: you are born, you grow up, go to school, go to college, get a job, get married, have kids and..die. We are scared when we approach all these stages, and overcome the fear when someone who has faced it tells us that it is all right, that they have experienced it too and that you can sail through it.

However, no one has shared their after-death experience. Thus, the fear of unknown is what scares people. Who knows? Maybe it is not that bad, maybe it’s all sunshine and rainbows.

A naked man stuck in a white box, a hospitalized patient who talks to aliens and is apparently on a mission and a teenage boy who is on a killing spree make up for the three psychos in Yash Pawaskar’s novel. You will be hooked right from the beginning and will only stop when you have all the answers. If psychological thriller is your genre, then Three Psychos would be a great pick.

You can buy the book from here: Amazon


Author: Yash Pawaskar

Publisher: Dimple Publication

Rating: 3.8/5

Format: Paperback

Pages: 157

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

Three Thrilling Stories, One Gripping Novel. In the first tale, a naked man is trapped inside a white box. His only company: ‘DE22912’. How long can he survive? The second story, ‘Patient Number 9’, is about a hospitalized patient who must save Earth from an alien attack by blue pig-like creatures. The countdown has just begun. In the third narrative, an angry sixteen-year-old gets hold of a loaded revolver and is determined to make use of all ‘Six Bullets’. And no, it’s not a toy. The three psychos are part of a connected universe, set in a novel with innovative storytelling, witty narration and an entertaining mix of thrill, humour and drama.

Review: Eileen

Story of a 24 year old woman who is dragged into a crime unknowingly.

Author: Ottessa Moshfegh

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Format: Paperback

Pages: 272

Rating: 4/5

One of the shortlisted books from this year’s Man Booker Prize, Eileen, By Ottessa Moshfegh is relentlessly bold, dark and imaginative. The writing style is smart with vivid descriptions, the protagonist’s thoughts are interwoven subtly yet are hard hitting. Eileen is a psychological thriller that is novel in its concept and is deserving of the praise that it has received.

The year is 1964 and Eileen Dunlop is a young woman of 24, living in Boston, who suffers from extreme lack of self-esteem and regard for herself and has spent nearly all her life in bitter self-loathing. Stuck with an alcoholic father who is stubborn, harsh and disrespectful, Eileen, dreams of escaping her miserable life. Even at work, Eileen, doesn’t get respite since her co-workers occasionally pass comments and have a deep disliking for her. Eileen works at a juvenile correctional facility  where she sees young boys wearing out their sentences for heinous crimes committed. Her time at the prison is spent preparing meaningless questionnaires for the mothers who visit the inmates and she often daydreams about being in love with the prison guards.

Everybody was broken. Everybody suffered. Each of those sad mothers wore some kind of scar- a badge of hurt to attest to the heartbreak that her child, her own flesh and blood, was growing up in prison.

Eileen thrives on pills and alcohol and indulges in laxatives to control her bowel movements. She’s obsessed with her body in a way that’s derogatory to even herself. She hates the way she looks and suffers from an inferiority complex.  Then one day, Rebecca arrives and her life is changed forever. Without realising, Eileen, overwhelmed by Rebecca’s charms is unknowingly dragged into a crime she has nothing to do with. Things start getting ugly and Eileen soon comes to the realisation that there is no escape. However, Eileen slowly begins to find clarity and her life takes a different turn.

Things feel very real out here, don’t they? There’s simply no fantasy. And no sentimentality. That’s what fascinates me. There is history and pride, but very little imagination here.

I simply love how twisted the entire novel is and how psychotic most of the characters are. Eileen is one of the most unreliable narrators I’ve come across and it makes the story more appealing. Her sense of self is demeaning, she’s empathetic but repellent and is constantly at war with herself. The following passage perfectly sums up Eileen’s unforgettable nature:

I’d never learned how to relate to people, much less how to speak up for myself. I preferred to sit and rage quietly. I’d been a silent child, the kind to suck my thumb long enough to buck out my front teeth. I was lucky they did not buck out too far, still of course I felt my mouth was horse-like and ugly, and so I barely smiled. When I did smile, I worked very hard to keep my top lip from riding up, something that required great restraint, self-awareness, and self-control. The time I spent disciplining that lip, you would not believe. I truly felt that the inside of my mouth was such a private area, caverns and folds of wet parting flesh, that letting anyone see into it was just as bad as spreading my legs. People did not chew gum as regularly then as we do now. That was considered very childish. So I kept a bottle of Listerine in my locker and swished it often, and sometimes swallowed it if I didn’t think I could get to the ladies’ room sink without having to open my mouth to speak. I didn’t want anyone to think I was susceptible to bad breath, or that there were any organic processes occurring inside my body at all. Having to breathe was an embarrassment in itself. This was the kind of girl I was

There is a sense of uneasiness and an air of uncertainty in Moshfegh’s writing that makes the readers curious. Her writing is stylishly crafted and is crisp. Eileen is a story is that is uniquely bizzare and if you’re into psychological thrillers then you shouldn’t miss out on this one.