Best Thriller Books in the UK

Review & Comparison, Last Update August 6, 2020
Want to give your brain some puzzles to work on? You've come to the right place. In our selection of the best thriller books, you'll surely find some good reads that will get you hooked from the first words and keep you fascinated to the back page, no matter if you are a book worm or just an occasional leisure reader. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2020
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
AUTHOR
GENRE
BOOK TYPE
PUBLISHER
NUMBER OF PAGES
 
PROS

The whole plot is thought out to the last detail and has no obvious or noticeable inconsistencies. The fast-paced storyline will keep you engaged while the ending is really unpredictable and gives you no chance to guess the climax.

CONS

The plot might seem a bit tedious in the middle. 

OUR VERDICT

"Lies" by T.M. Logan is highly rated by top critics and deservedly considered one of the best psychological thrillers. While reading the book, you will feel for the characters and often put yourself in their shoes, analysing the choices they make and the actions they take.

detailed parameters
AUTHOR

T.M. Logan

GENRE

Thriller, Fiction, Mystery

BOOK TYPE

Library binding, Paperback, Kindle edition, Audiobook (downloadable and Audio CD version)

PUBLISHER

Twenty7

NUMBER OF PAGES

528 pages

PROS

The author brings up a very important social problem of kidnapping and reveals tough consequences for the parents to make conclusions and never face this kind of situation in their real life. The whole story is extremely realistic.

CONS

At times, the author adds too many details.

OUR VERDICT

If you think you are cold-hearted and restrained, this book by Erin Kinsley will prove you wrong. A story of an 11-year boy who was kidnapped and his life after this terrible ordeal will absorb you from the first pages and touch your deepest emotions. It's a book about a frightening experience everyone seeks to avoid. 

detailed parameters
AUTHOR

Erin Kinsley

GENRE

Thriller, Fiction, Mystery

BOOK TYPE

Paperback, Kindle edition, Audiobook (downloadable)

PUBLISHER

Headline

NUMBER OF PAGES

384 pages

PROS

Since the main female character is a barrister, the book contains a lot of legal aspects and procedural details. Yet, all this stuff is written in a simple, comprehensible language so that even seemingly boring things appear interesting.  

CONS

Some characters look a kind of flat. 

OUR VERDICT

"Blood Orange" is a perfect sample of the so-called domestic noir or domestic suspense that has recently gained great popularity. Giving some space for your imagination and intriguing, the story gradually reveals the stunning controversy of a seemingly perfect life and its appalling reverse side.

detailed parameters
AUTHOR

Harriet Tyce

GENRE

Thriller, Fiction, Mystery, Suspense

BOOK TYPE

Library binding, Paperback, Kindle edition, Audiobook (downloadable and Audio CD version)

PUBLISHER

Wildfire

NUMBER OF PAGES

336 pages

PROS

Though the book is the third one in Kate Waters series (after "The Widow" and "The Child"), it has an independent plot describing the case not connected to previous books and can be read as stand-alone. 

CONS

For avid thriller fans, the ending might appear predictable. 

OUR VERDICT

All savvy crime fiction readers will highly appreciate this novel by Fiona Barton. Full of authentic details and written with competence, the multifold story is narrated from different standpoints to give the readers some food for reflection. 

detailed parameters
AUTHOR

Fiona Barton

GENRE

Thriller, Fiction, Mystery, Suspense

BOOK TYPE

Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle edition, Audiobook (downloadable and Audio CD version)

PUBLISHER

Corgi

NUMBER OF PAGES

480 pages

PROS

The book touches upon an issue, which is not very typical for this genre: it's the father-and-son relationships viewed from a complex angle and a kind of philosophical standpoint.

CONS

The event line develops at a slow pace at the beginning. 

OUR VERDICT

"The Whisper Man" by Alex North is the sort of book that will make you want to flip it to the beginning once you've read the last page. This skillfully planned and perfectly written killer story with a touch of mystery, darkness, and even horror will keep you on the edge of your seat till the final.

detailed parameters
AUTHOR

Alex North

GENRE

Thriller, Fiction, Mystery, Horror

BOOK TYPE

Library binding, Paperback, Kindle edition, Audiobook (downloadable and Audio CD version)

PUBLISHER

Penguin

NUMBER OF PAGES

400 pages

T.M. Logan Lies:

What Lies Behind Marital Secrets

Highly ranked by reputed literature critics, the thriller “Lies” by T.M. Logan is a top-liner in many book ratings and deservedly so. The author managed to convert a seemingly trivial life situation into a truly thrilling story that will unfold with unexpected twists as you read and rush into an ending no one expects.

Every family is unique and every family has its secrets. Following our daily routines and running habitual errands, we refuse even to think that our stable life might turn out to be an illusion and collapse like a card castle in mere minutes. This is what happened with the main character Joe Lynch who is an ordinary married man with a beloved wife and little son. Yet, a one-second decision turns his happy life upside down and casts the seeds of doubt about his wife’s fidelity that will propel into something more than casual marital problems.

While Joe is an obvious protagonist and evokes sympathy and compassion, his wife Mel is a controversial figure. She is selfish and impulsive on one hand and is a really good mother on the other. She looks pretty much like a villain, especially given the secrets she hides. A family friend Ben is yet another complex and ambiguous character that is definitely opposed to Joe in his anger, egoism, and intolerance to other people. Apart from these, there are only a few more characters involved which makes it easy to follow the storyline and some flashbacks. But don’t let that simplicity fool you since the events are really hard to anticipate.

Exploring the themes of domestic violence and abuse, the book is imbued with scenes of murder, sexual acts, and psychological torture that can make you feel uncomfortable at times. Meanwhile, these scenes reveal the characters’ true faces and make the whole plot extremely realistic and authentic.

Review of T.M. Logan Lies: The number 1 bestselling psychological thriller

A Grabber for the Most Exacting Reader

“Lies” is the debut novel of T.M. Logan that has brought him worldwide fame and has been an absolute success, which is not without a reason. The book is a psychological thriller, this type of story being the hardest to write. However, the author applied the best of his writing skill and the book fully complies with the genre code. Abiding in striking twists and turns, life-altering secrets and events, the story will immediately grab your attention and get you hooked from the first pages. And though some readers claim it looks predictable, in fact, it is not. More than that, once you think you know the truth, the author throws yet another controversy that makes future events hard to anticipate and will keep you on the edge of your seat till the very end, which is shocking and rewarding at the same time.

Distinguished by a masterfully mixed and raveled chain of events, the novel is narrated from the first-person perspective of the main character Joe. Thus, you will dive deep into his own thoughts, feelings, and fears and live through this story with him. This technique helps you see what stands behind his actions and better understand the psychological component of the whole affair.

To conclude, “Lies” by T.M.Logan is a brilliant psychological thriller that will be surely praised by all avid fans of this genre and become a perfect introduction for those who are new to it.

T.M. Logan Lies: The number 1 bestselling psychological thriller in the use

 

Erin Kinsley Found:

Calls for Your Deepest Emotions

What a reader normally expects from a well-written psychological thriller is a fast-paced storyline with a time-pressed framework and a multitude of situations that give a strong feeling of inevitability or even fatality. The book “Found” by Erin Kinsley is very different from that. This psychological thriller will call for your deepest emotions via profound empathy.

It is a story of a missing boy Evan who disappeared from the bus station one night and then was suddenly found 8 months later. The book shows the whole gravity of the situation and the impact it has on the boy’s family and each of its members. As such, the novel strikes a perfect balance between a family drama and a crime story, taking the best of both worlds. With the parents’ despair and devastation and Evan’s state of depression and frustration on one side, you’ll enjoy a strong police procedural too. While a little boy tries to cope with the horror of what happened to him, police detectives earnestly endeavour to find the kidnappers and, thus, prevent future abductions.

Written in the third-person, the story is very engaging and provides a sort of detached view of all the characters involved, giving you a chance to make your own assumptions and conclusions. Though covering a timespan of a year, the present tense narration doesn’t lack pacing, dynamics, and tension that creates thriller-specific suspense. Other than that, without the scenes of direct violence or even some disturbing images, the whole situation is pretty clear. Frozen in his trauma, Evan doesn’t talk and constantly hides, so, via his behaviour, it’s obvious what happened to him. And the author treats this problem very discreetly which evokes nothing but sympathy and compassion.

Review of Erin Kinsley Found: the most gripping, emotional thriller of the year

A Learning Lesson for Parents

The child’s abduction is one of the worst nightmares for any parent and you can never be ready for this. However, in her novel, Erin Kinsley has closely approached the situation as a whole, revealing not only the emotional breakdown of the child as a victim but also how it impacts his family and different ways in which each family member tries to go through this. Thus, Matt (Evan’s father) seeks comfort with other women while Clair (Evan’s mother) tries to drink away her pain, all of this tearing their family apart. Stuck in their own emotional problems, they feel confused and appear unable to help their child who needs support and comfort so much. On the other hand, though, Evan’s grandfather Jack turns out to be a strong and stoic old man who helped Evan open up and relax through an untiringly patient and gentle attitude.

In a word, “Found” by Erin Kensley is more of a well-plotted mix of an emotional roller-coaster and a family-led story rather than a direct opposition between protagonist and antagonist. It’s the sort of book that will grip you and you won’t be able to put down as well as the one that can make you cry.

Erin Kinsley Found: the most gripping, emotional thriller of the year in the use

 

Harriet Tyce Blood Orange:

A Perfect Piece of Crime Fiction

If you are a fan of dynamic and murky criminal stories imbued with riddles and well-rounded characters, the thriller “Blood Orange” by Harriet Tyce is definitely worth a read. The book is a perfect sample of the so-called domestic noir genre that has gained extreme popularity in recent years. Usually, these are psychological thrillers with a strong procedural component showing the dark side of marriage and domestic or partner relationships and what crimes it can lead to.

A practising barrister with a decade of experience behind her back, Harriet Tyce knows the procedural inner workings, so, it’s no wonder the main character of her debut novel is also a criminal lawyer. At work, Alison is a smart and ambitious attorney with a rising career who has just gained her first murder case to defend. At home, she is the wife of a loving husband and the mother of an adorable little daughter. It seems she has it all. Yet, the reality is often not what it seems. The reverse side of this bliss is Alison’s drinking problem and marital infidelity that eventually destroys her marriage. Besides, someone knows all of Alison’s dark secrets and wants her to pay for what she did, so, at some point, she is about to lose it all. Conflict in the main character's personal relations goes in parallel with the story of Madeleine who killed her husband and wants to plead guilty for that. Being her defendant in court and trying to save this woman, Alison tries to settle her own problems and save herself.

All the characters are well-thought-out and the plot of the novel is well-written, with the present-time narration creating the suspense and tension peculiar for thrillers. And the first-person story allows the reader not only to see but also to feel all the ebb and flow in Alison’s psychological state and view her emotional growth from within.

Review of Harriet Tyce Blood Orange: The gripping, bestselling Richard & Judy book club thriller

Focused on a Timeless Problem

In the beginning, most readers would probably dislike Alison, with all her flaws and destructive habits. Her husband Carl is a fantastic father and she seems to take her loved ones for granted. However, it’s not so unambiguous as it looks. As the web of events and intrigue unravels, the author step by step reveals some unexpected truths. A whole bundle of events and breathtaking twists and turns will make you change your mind more than once while striking the fine line between guilt and innocence, truth and lie, the good and the bad.

More than that, if you look deeper into what stands behind the characters, their decisions and actions, you’ll see that the author masterfully addresses the problem of misogyny, which has been an acute social issue for many decades and is still present in all levels of our public and domestic lives. While Madeleine’s husband was prone to sadism and brutality (hence she stabbed him), Alison’s husband appears to be an appalling misogynist, both of them controlling their women in a way and treating them with violence.

To cut to the chase, “Blood Orange” is surely not a piece of comfortable read but a gripping and engaging psychological suspense with a strong moral insight that will hold your interest till the very last page. Showing that everyone has their dark sides, in the end, the author states that there is always a chance to get out of it.

Harriet Tyce Blood Orange: The gripping, bestselling Richard & Judy book club thriller in the use

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Fiona Barton The Suspect:

A Page Turner for Criminal Thriller Devotees

When it comes to criminal thrillers, what we want is a captivating story with a twisted plot swirling around some kind of crime, which is usually a murder, imbued with psychological insights and an ending you would never expect to see. That said, if you are a crime thriller addict, “The Suspect” by Fiona Barton will have you covered.

The book tells the story of two teenage English girls Alex and Rosie who were found murdered while spending their gap year in Thailand. The journalist Kate Waters from London arrives in Bangkok to write an article for her paper. Yet, to her horror, she learns that the main suspect, in this case, is her young son who has been travelling for two years and recently settled in Bangkok.

To create a multifold storyline and give the reader a chance to see the whole situation from multiple perspectives, the author splits the novel into small chapters, each narrated from different persons including the mothers of the missing girls, Kate, and even Alex. This way, you’ll get a full picture of the events that happened before and after the girls' deaths. Meanwhile, complex characters contrast each other and reveal their traits against the flaws and downsides of the others. Besides, it’s always interesting to view the case through the eyes of a journalist since, unlike detectives and policemen, journalists need to be smart and resourceful to get the information they need. And an interesting thing is that they often manage to find out much more than police.

While being a professional and confined to do her job, Kate also gets personally involved in the investigation. Not only does she seek to discover the truth with even more eagerness but also she finds herself in the shoes of crime-related families, in the life of which she used to invade before.

Review of Fiona Barton The Suspect: The most addictive and clever new crime thriller

Written With Due Competence

This novel is the third book from Fiona Barton after “The Widow” and “The Child”. And though all of them are united by the same main character Kate Waters, each book is a complete story and can be read as a stand-alone. Kate is a criminal journalist by no coincidence. Before becoming a full-time writer, Fiona Barton used to work as a journalist and report on criminal cases as well. Hence, she knows all the ins and outs of this job firsthand and has created all her stories with due competence and a close eye on details that lend authenticity and put the plot together.

Her main character Kate so to say develops from one book to another. From an invasive and pushy journalist in “The Widow”, she grows into a smart truth seeker in “The Child” and turns out to be involved in the crime story in “The Suspect” while being forced to experience her own tricks.

Summing up, if you are in the mood for a subtle criminal read with a shocking finale and a psychological twist to it, “The Suspect” will take a decent place on your bookshelf.

Fiona Barton The Suspect: The most addictive and clever new crime thriller in the use

 

Alex North The Whisper Man:

A Creepy Killer Thriller

“The Whisper Man” by Alex North is a classic psychological thriller with a serial killer aspect. It’s the story of Tom and Jack Kennedy who moved into a new town and new house to heal their wounds and start a new life after the sudden death of their beloved mom and wife. Yet, by the rules of the genre, the town has some dark past and used to be haunted by the maniac Frank Carter who abducted and murdered five people about twenty years ago. Finally, he was caught and got “ The Whisper Man” nickname for luring his victims by whispering at their windows. Once Tom and Jack settle into their new home, a teenager vanishes which reignites old rumours and makes the town citizens think that the killer had an assistant. The whole situation is further aggravated when Jake starts to hear whispers.

It’s worth noting that taking a pretty trivial plot with a seemingly predictable end the author managed to ravel it into a captivating story that will not simply engage you but rather suck you in immediately and hold you on the edge of your seat till the very last page. And it is not only due to smart twists and events that layer up and continue to build and build leading you to a really stunning end.

Yet another aspect that sets this very novel apart from other cookie-cutter thrillers of this type is well-written characters and the dark, terrifying atmosphere the author created without going into the scenes of explicit violence and some graphic details. The whole storyline is well-planned and the tension consistently grows towards the climax. Meanwhile, the spine-tingling scary vibes will surely appeal to all fans of mysterious ghost stories.

Review of Alex North The Whisper Man: The chilling must-read Richard & Judy thriller

With a Strong Psychological Implication

Meeting all the standards of the genre, “The Whisper Man” is much more than a common killer thriller. The creepy vibes and well-drawn plotline aside, the author also deeply explores the psychology that stands behind the characters' actions. Alex North allows the reader to submerge into the characters' thoughts and emotions by letting each character speak at a certain point and presenting the story from multiple points of view. Notably, you will have no problem differentiating between various character voices. Gradually, they all come together while in the course of the book, you’ll have a chance to know them better and feel for them.

Besides, this dreadful story of murder serves as a background for a more complex and touchy subject matter, which is not often addressed in this type of book, which would be parenthood and father-to-son relationships. In the novel, you’ll find several father-and-son pairs, all created differently to reveal all the sides of this relationship with its flaws, burdens, and troubles.

To resume, “The Whisper Man” is an excellent piece of psychological suspense that is well-worth all the buzz around it. It’s a scary keep-the-light-on read with deep emotional and psychological insights that will invade your thoughts and make you want to read it again.

Alex North The Whisper Man: The chilling must-read Richard & Judy thriller in the use

 

What Is a Thriller Book?

Watching thrillers is one thing and reading thrillers is a completely different experience. With a book, there is always a place for your imagination, creativity, and your own thoughts. Books make us think, suppose, analyse, make assertions, better feel the characters, and unravel the mystery step by step. Reading a thriller book is like riding a roller coaster when you feel terrified and excited at the same time and you are dying to learn what’s behind the next steep rise.

Thriller is a genre of fiction meant to induce excitement, exhilaration, and interest via suspense, fear, anxiety, empathy, and other strong emotions. In other words, the story thrills the reader, hence the name. Though any novel evokes pretty much similar emotions, thrillers are different since their plots are usually built around some dark events, mysteries, or crimes. The plot entails fast-paced action, intrigue, and danger and there is always a good hero opposed to some kind of villain. In short, it’s usually about life and death, tough choices, challenging decisions, and a burst of adrenalin.

It’s notable that thriller is a modern word and a relatively new genre. Though Homer’s Odyssey is considered a thriller prototype, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Duma is much closer to what we know as a thriller today. In our days, thriller books embrace a wide variety of spheres including but not limited to law, medicine, police, politics, religion, advanced technology, espionage, romance, and more.

All fans of horror will also appreciate our selection of books by Stephen King, one of the brightest masters of horror, mystery, and fantasy.

What Features to Compare

Unless you have some specific recommendations or preferences, choosing a good thriller book might turn into quite a challenge. So, before making up your mind, check the following aspects to pick the book you will really enjoy.

Author

Each book starts with an author. The writer’s personal experiences, emotions, feelings, and situations they encounter in real life greatly impact their vision and often translate into characters and plot twists. Besides, every author has an individual writing style, recognizable language, and some specific methods and techniques to create the desired mood and atmosphere or make a certain statement. Hence, if you don’t have a fave yet or you are looking for a new author to add to your collection, take some time to check the writer’s biography and learn about their style.

Genre

"Thriller" is a pretty much generic name of a genre with multiple sub-genres to it. And though the list of story types related to some kind of conflict thrilling the audience is close to endless, the list can be narrowed down to several of the most popular and common sub-genres in thriller writing.

  • Psychological thriller. This type of thriller books deals with psychological disorders, split personalities, or some kind of serious personal issues. The plot is rather built around emotional projection than action and is pervaded with the elements of paranoia, drama, and mystery.
  • Crime thriller. These books usually focus on crime and justice issues, with murders, drugs, kidnapping, thefts, robberies, and other sorts of crime being the main topics to depict. And the main character is often a special agent, a cop, or even a superhero.
  • Political thrillers reveal the problems of terrorism, corruption, and political crimes on national and international levels. These books are often based on true stories.
  • Legal thrillers will give you a sneak peek behind the scenes of the legal system via the drama of the main characters who are usually lawyers, attorneys, defendants, and judges.
  • Mystery thrillers. As the sub-genre name suggests, these stories involve a mystery or a riddle that needs to be solved, with some related negative consequences. During the whole narration, you’ll encounter a number of unexpected twists and turns and the story will keep you guessing till the very end. Besides, the end is not only fairly unpredictable but also often controversial.

Book Type

The majority of modern books come in a variety of forms to meet different reader’s needs and preferences. Thus, if you cherish traditions or simply like the feel and crunchiness of paper pages, you can stay with a regular paperback version. Meanwhile, a Kindle edition or audiobook download will come in handy for tech savvies and all E-book owners.

How to Write a Thriller Book

Whether you are a beginner novelist or just want to try your hand in writing a thriller story, there are some basic things to know before you put your pen to paper and some helpful tips to follow to make your story gripping and captivating.

Know the Thriller Anatomy

There are three focal points each thriller book is built around. These are the so-called three C’s which make the story framework.

  • Contract. It’s an implicit promise to the reader what they’ll find out in the end. It’s a kind of motivation for the reader that will keep them interested and engaged.

  • Clock. Balancing at the edge, the main characters always lack time to take action, make a decision, and win their struggle. The time pressure aspect induces conflicts and creates that thriller-specific tension.

  • Crucible. In a broad meaning, it’s a set of tests and tasks that force characters to take actions and leave them no escape while funneling them to the severest and toughest trial in the final. This is exactly what grabs, stirs up, and holds the reader’s interest throughout the book.

Essential Thriller Plot Elements

  • Suspense. It’s all about how much you reveal and in what manner. Along with the central storyline, there should be some minor moments that lead the reader to the answer to the main question.

  • A hero. That’s the main character, not necessarily literally a hero, but a protagonist and the doer.

  • A supporting character. Usually, it’s the hero’s friend, mentor, helper, or loved one who reveals the strengths and motivations of the main character.

  • A villain or antagonist. It’s the hero’s direct opponent, the one who creates a crisis and plays a malicious role. However, this character shouldn’t be an embodiment of pure evil. It should be a thought-out personality with a certain morality and set of beliefs.

  • Interesting twists. A thriller is not about a smooth story but rather about unexpected twists and unpredictable situations that suggest a whole number of different ways out.

  • Red herrings and cliffhangers. These are the main thriller techniques that provide readers with false explanations and make them think they can predict how the story ends. In the meantime, they provide hidden hints for an attentive reader with an eye for details.

  • An exciting climax. This is the culmination of the intrigue where the reader learns all the secrets and what the whole thrill is about. So, it should be surprising and rewarding for the reader.

Helpful Writing Tips

  1. Do your own research. To make your novel authentic and true-to-life, do deep research of a chosen subject. Remember that modern crime readers are educated and sophisticated.

  2. Read thriller books. It’s hands down the best way to figure out how other writers put their stories together and where they set accents.

  3. Choose proper locations. The right location can help create the necessary mood and provide an inspiring setting for the whole storyline and the background for the characters.

  4. Add parallel plotlines. Minor plots related to secondary characters or villains will contribute to overall suspense and enhance the main intrigue by distracting the reader’s attention and giving yet another portion of information to contemplate on.

  5. Go for complicated histories. To create a complex plot and enhance intrigue, give your characters some secrets that will keep the reader guessing.

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Publish Date: 2020-08-06 07:52:41