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In this final year of reading slumps, psychological thrillers are the only genre keeping my reading habit alive. You might think that sitting from the standpoint of a mentally stressed character would add … stress, but trying on someone else’s stress will allow you to forget yours. Fortunately, I am not alone in my desire to consume more of this subgenre. There are tons of great books that came out in 2020 and more this year. That’s why I put this list together with ten psychological thrillers from 2020 and ten psychological thrillers from 2021.
2020 psychological thriller
Dear child of Romy Hausmann
In a windowless hut in the forest, Lena is held captive by her father and her two children. All meals, bathroom trips and study times are planned and monitored under the guise of protection from the dangers of the outside world. But when Lena finds a way to escape, suddenly there are more questions than she originally thought. Is she really the woman named “Lena” who disappeared 14 years ago?
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
After Noemí Taboada receives a letter from her newlywed cousin desperate to rescue her, she goes to the remote house in the Mexican countryside where her cousin lives. Noemí, a fearless debutant, begins to uncover the secrets of the house and the family’s dark past.
Lakewood by Megan Giddings
When her grandmother dies and her family’s debts are exposed, Lena Johnson leaves college to support her family by getting a job in a small and mysterious Michigan town. The job pays off well, covers medical bills, and offers her a place to stay … and in return all she has to do is participate in a secret research program that is kept secret from her friends and family. But as the program’s truths show, the Black Millennial has to wonder how much they are willing to sacrifice for the family.
The Girl from Widow’s Mounds by Megan Miranda
When Arden was a young girl, she was swept away sleepwalking during a storm and disappeared for a few days. She was found alive and clinging to a storm drain. It was considered a local miracle. But what followed were hundreds of fan letters, stalkers, her mother’s book and some fame she didn’t want. When she was old enough, Arden disappeared again – on her own terms. But as the 20th anniversary of her disappearance draws nearer, she starts sleepwalking again and eventually wakes up … in front of the corpse of someone from her previous life.
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The eighth girl of Maxine Mei-Fung Chung
Alexa Wú is a darkly confident young woman whose life is controlled by a number of alternate personalities. The only people who know of their existence are their therapist, stepmother and best friend Ella. When Ella starts working in a gentleman’s club and deals with its owner, Alexa is the unwilling keeper of a dark secret. Since there is no one she can turn to, she follows Ella on a rescue mission to London’s belly. In this thriller written by a real life psychotherapist, a girl will find out whether her personality is her greatest asset or her most dangerous obstacle.
Melanie Raabe’s shadow
Norah has just settled down from moving from Berlin to Vienna to leave her old life behind when a homeless woman stops her on the street and says: “On February 11th you will kill a man named Arthur Grimm. Of free will. And for a good reason. “Norah is understandably freaked out, but dismisses it … until she meets a man named Arthur Grimm. She soon begins to wonder if she might have a reason to take revenge on this mysterious man.
Little secrets from Jennifer Hillier
Married to her college sweetheart and owner of her own chain of salons, Marin seemed to have the perfect life … until her son Sebastian is taken. A year later, after the FBI case went cold, Marin hired a private investigator to take over the case. But instead of finding information about her son, the PI uncovers secrets about her husband that Marin doesn’t necessarily want to find out.
Santa Monica by Cassidy Lucas
The beach town of Santa Monica is shaken to the core when heartbreaking fitness trainer Zack Doheny is found dead on the floor of his gym. The narrative jumps back to before Zack’s murder to reveal his perfectly curated life. It’s not as glamorous as it seemed.
When no one is watching by Alyssa Cole
Sydney Green was born and raised in Brooklyn. She is devastated by the rapid change in her beloved neighborhood as condos show up and their neighbors move away. To hold on to her community’s past, Sydney goes on a walking tour where she meets an unlikely accomplice – her neighbor Theo. As the two delve into the history of their neighborhood, they discover that something much darker is going on … and their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all.
The Robyn Harding Swap
After signing up for a local pottery class, Low falls under the spell of the shop owner, former social media influencer Freya. The two get closer and share their deepest and darkest secrets, but when Jamie moves to town with her husband, Freya’s attention suddenly turns to Jamie and her husband. After a night of drinking with her husbands, Freya suggests swapping partners. But what should have been a night of harmless fun gives Low the perfect opportunity to fight back on her betrayal.
2021 psychological thriller
Sally Hepworth’s good sister
From the outside, the twin sisters Fern and Rose seem as close as possible. Rose has always been the protector of Fern, who has a sensory processing disorder and saw the best in his sociopathic mother. Years ago, Fern did something terrible that Rose had never told a soul about. But now Fern realizes that she is more capable than Rose has led her to believe. And indeed Rose has kept some secrets …
Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone
As girls, the twins Cat and El came to Mirrorland, an imaginary place under the pantry stairs of their Edinburgh home full of pirates, witches and clowns. Cat now lives in LA, far from the home where El and her husband now live. But when El disappears after disembarking on her sailboat, Cat returns home to find a series of clues that lead back to Mirrorland.
The Dinner Guest by BP Walter (Another Chapter, May 27)
Four people sit down for dinner: Charlie, his husband Matthew, their son Titus, and a stranger named Rachel. Charlie was skeptical about inviting Rachel to the book club, but Matthew insisted. And now Charlie has slumped next to his husband’s body while his son sits at the dining table and Rachel calls 999 … the bloody knife still in her hand.
Alice Hunter’s serial killer wife (Avon, May 27)
It begins as often in these stories: Beth and Tom Hardcastle are the envy of the neighborhood with the perfect married home and family. But when the police knock on her door one night before Tom comes home, she fears the worst – or at least what she thinks is the worst. As the night progresses, Beth begins to question everything she knows about her husband, the man they all call a monster.
Girl, 11 by Amy Suiter Clarke
Elle Castillo was once the host of a popular true crime podcast that helps find missing children. She was once a social worker specializing in children who were victims of violent crime. After two seasons of successfully resolving cases, Elle decides to take action against The Countdown Killer, who kidnaps and murders seven girls within seven days. After Elle receives a tip from a listener, she plans a visit to interview him, only to find him dead. As Elle delves into the case, she begins to wonder if her podcast is stirring up new victims.
Those Toxic Things by Rachel Howzell Hall (Thomas & Mercer, Sep 1)
Mickie creates digital scrapbooks for customers to make sure their souvenirs don’t get lost. When her last client dies of suicide, Mickie fulfills her last wish and begins curating pieces from her past. But someone is not thrilled with Mickie poking around in Nadia’s past. In fact, she gets threatening messages from a sleeping serial killer to leave Nadia’s past alone.
Who is Maud Dixon? By Alexandra Andrews
When Florence Darrow took the chance to become the assistant to the famous but anonymous writer “Maud Dixon”, she was thrilled. She has always dreamed of becoming a writer and can’t wait to soak up everything she can. Maud, AKA Helen, invites Florence on a research trip to Morocco, where her new novel is set. But on her journey, Florence wakes up in the hospital after a terrible car accident and Helen is dead. Florence suddenly begins to wonder what it would be like to follow in the footsteps of the famous but anonymous author.
Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson
On her bachelorette weekend, Abigail Baskin had a one night stand before marrying her millionaire husband. For her it was a one-time slip up before she spent her life with her true love. But on her honeymoon, Abigail’s mysterious joke pops up and it is up to her whether or not to tell her new husband. But when strange things happen on the island, including a scared woman at night, she is forced to face the situation head on.
Sarah Pearse’s sanatorium
Elin takes no time to become a detective and is unable to avoid her estranged brother’s engagement party at the five-star Le Sommet hotel. Elin feels nervous when she arrives in the middle of the storm, but things keep getting worse when they discover the bride-to-be will be missing the next morning. With the hotel closed due to the storm, the longer she goes missing, the guests panic, and Elin has to intervene before another woman goes missing.
The other black girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris (Atria, June 1) *
Nella Rogers is a 26-year-old editorial assistant who is tired of being the only black woman in her publishing house. She is thrilled when Hazel starts working next to hers in the cabin. But just as they bond, a series of events leads to Hazel becoming an office favorite, while Nella is left behind. It doesn’t take long for Nella to receive threatening notes on her desks, and she begins to wonder if her new ally is behind it.
Do you want newer psychological thrillers? Check out these Fall 2020 thrillers.