Diving into a meaty thriller – the kind so packed with suspense and mystery you feel breathless by the end – is pretty great. So if you’re looking for a book you won’t be able to put down, one that’s ideal for the long bank holiday weekend, these classics might fit the bill…
1. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 Gothic novel opens with the famous line: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” From the start, you’re brought into a creepy, unreliable world, making for an atmospheric, psychological thriller.
The unnamed narrator moves to country estate Manderley after marrying a rich widower – but soon discovers marital bliss isn’t on the cards. The house feels like it’s haunted by the presence of her new husband’s late wife, Rebecca, whose memory is kept alive by sinister housekeeper, Mrs Danvers.
2. Lullaby by Leila Slimani
Loosely based on a real life case, this 2016 book starts with the brutal murder of two children from a well-to-do area of Paris by their nanny. Lullaby isn’t a murder mystery – we already know who the killer is – but Slimani keeps you hooked, desperate to know why she committed this horrific crime.
It’s also a clever look into race, class and motherhood, and will have you on the edge of your seat until the end.
3. Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha
Cha’s 2019 novel draws on the legacy of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, interweaving the stories of first-generation Korean immigrant Grace, and African-American Shawn, as a hidden crime from the past links them together. Cha deals with violence and racism with sensitivity and urgency.
4. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
If you’re looking for a pure, pacy thriller, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is for you.
Lisbeth Salander, an introverted computer hacker with a photographic memory, starts investigating a murder from 40 years ago, and finds herself increasingly involved in a dangerous and wealthy family with gruesome secrets.
Follow up with parts two and three in the Millenium series, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest. Larsson never got to see the huge success of his work, as it was published posthumously in 2005.
5. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carre
Le Carre was the master of suspense. Set during the Cold War, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a chic tale of agents, double agents, traitors and betrayal that will have you non-stop guessing.
6. The Cutting Season by Attica Locke
If you like thrillers to have a crime edge, try The Cutting Season. The backdrop is an old plantation house in the Deep American South, now used for weddings and historical re-enactments.
When manager Caren finds a dead body on the property, she comes face to face with the house’s dark history. As she slowly uncovers the truth, she makes some shocking discoveries – including the real identity of the killer.
7. We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson
Jackson’s slim 1962 novel is a truly brilliant piece of Gothic fiction. Tomboy Merricat, 18, lives in a secluded New England house with her sister and uncle. As much as Merricat wants things to stay as they are, the outside world is encroaching on their isolation – particularly as her sister has only just been acquitted for poisoning the rest of their family…
With Merricat is a fantastically unreliable narrator, and the whole vibe is overwhelmingly unsettling and creepy.