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What are the best thriller books of all time?

8th February 2021


Whilst most of the UK are staying at home due to the ongoing COVID restrictions, there aren’t many better times to get stuck into one of the best thriller books of all time. Reading is a great way to pass the time, not only does it occupy the brain, but it can also elevate anxiety and stress and allow the reader to switch off from the outside world for a while. For those with limited mobility or those who may require a homelift or curved stairlifts, reading is the perfect past time and a book is a perfect accompaniment for any occasion.

One of the most popular genres of books is a thriller. The perfect genre to encapsulate you and allow you to forget what is often going on around you for a short while. Becca Day and William Shaw spoke on behalf of Reading Party gave an overview of some of the best thriller books she recommends:

“People talk about the Golden Age of crime fiction, harking back to classics like Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca - but the truth is we’re in a new Golden Age right now. Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and Paula Hawkins' Girl On A Train hit the refresh button, and books like Lucy Foley’s The Hunting Party are a direct nod to that world. Meanwhile, the more muscular thrillers of Chandler’s The Long Goodbye live on in books like Lee Child’s The Killing Floor, Steve Cavanagh’s courtroom thriller Thirteen and Lou Berney’s dark November Road.”

Carry on reading to find out some top thriller book suggestions from passionate readers.

Best thriller books of all time:

  • Snow Angels by James Thompson
  • Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
  • The Cincinnati Series by Karen Rose
  • Others by James Herbert
  • The Bill Hodges Trilogy by Stephen King
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  • Girl On A Train by Paula Hawkins

Snow Angels by James Thompson

Released in 2010, Snow Angels was written by James Thompson and follows the story of a Christmas in Lapland. A body is found dead but no one knows who did it or who it is, has the cold bleak Lapland winters driven people to insanity, almost insane enough to kill?

Charlotte, blogger at Welsh Mummy Blogs recommended this book and gave a few comments on why she loves it: “One of my favourite thriller authors is James Thompson. James was an American-Finnish crime writer based in Helsinki. He published four crime novels before his death with the Finnish inspector Kari Vaara as the protagonist. The first novel Snow Angels follows detective Kari Vaara as he tries to uncover the murder of a beautiful and high profile Somali immigrant.”

She continues to explain a little more about the haunting storyline: “Haunted by his past, the investigation begins to take its toll on Vaara and his American wife Kate, who is pregnant with their first child. Things get too close for comfort when the chief suspect is someone Vaara would rather forget. Nothing is as it seems in this suspenseful thriller of darkness, deceit and murder.”

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Gillian Flynn is commonly known for the book ‘Gone Girl’ but has also had great success in other books such as Dark Places. The story follows a desperate daughter after she watches her brother kill her whole family, but from the drama, she prevails and starts to confront her demons by setting up charities in honour of her lost loved ones, but will it all end happily?

“Gillian Flynn is an author most famous for her book ‘Gone Girl’ which was a huge hit, but I loved one of her other books much more,” says Petra, blogger at A Mum Reviews and a lover of Gillian Flynn novels.

Petra continues, “Dark Places is one of the best thriller books that I have read. It’s about Libby whose family was massacred when she was just 7-years-old, while she was hiding. The suspect who was put away for the crime was her older brother, but did he really do it? 20 years later, Libby is forced to look back at what really happened and we join her and also get a good look into the lives of her family members. It’s a real page-turner and we don’t really know the full truth until the end.”

The Cincinnati Series by Karen Rose


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This five-part series titled The Cincinnati Series was recommended by Terri Brown from The Strawberry Fountain blog and is the hostname to a selection of five gripping thriller books:

These selection of books are all about a psychologist who is desperate to escape the means of her stalker who has been making her life a misery for over a year. After her grandmother’s death, she inherits the family home in Cincinnati and is hoping her fortunes will change, but not all is as it seems.

Terri explains the book series in a little more detail and explains why these books are a must-read: “An article about the best thriller books would not be complete without the inclusion of the Karen Rose sets, my favourite being The Cincinnati Series. There are five books in this series that follow the lives of the police in Cincinnati as they chase down murderers. The books are written in such a way that you are gripped from start to finish, the threat feels real and intensifies as you read on with a real urgency to find out who did it and if they will get caught. The further into the series you get the more the relationships between the characters develop and as well as the anticipation you feel for the storyline you also find yourself invested in their personal lives too. A series not to be overlooked.”

Others by James Herbert

“I first read this book when I was in my mid-teens. My auntie bought it for me one Christmas after we’d discussed my love of thriller novels.” Chloe from Nyxies Nook explains. “She had read it many years ago while my uncle worked nights, and recalled feeling so scared she dreaded leaving the safety of her living room. Of course, I wanted to know what the hype was about.”

Others by James Herbert is a story surrounding investigator Nicholas Dismas who is on the hunt for the snatcher of a baby in the local area. But as the investigation continues he is drawn to Perfect Rest a seemingly innocent home for the elderly.

Chloe continues to explain a little more about her experience with the book: “Since then I’ve recommended this book to all of my thriller loving friends. It’s a wonderful, if not slightly mad, story about detective Nicolas Dismas who’s been hired to track down a missing baby. What he finds is a world of dark secrets, even darker lies and the shadowy existence of The Others lurking in the darkness. ‘Others’ isn't only a book for thriller and mystery lovers, but also for those interested in the supernatural.”

The Bill Hodges Trilogy by Stephen King


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Everyone has heard of the world-famous novelist and talented writer that is Stephen King. The Bill Hodges Trilogy is a trio of thriller books by the author and consist of the following chilling chapters:

Aaron K Green, also known as the blog The Busy Papa loves a thriller book and explains a little more about why he loves The Bill Hodges Trilogy and what it is about: “I couldn’t tell you my favourite thriller, it’s a fantastic genre positively overflowing with awesome must-read books. It’s fortunate then that I don’t have to, and that I can instead share with you some excellent choices that you simply must check out!

“The Bill Hodges trilogy (Mr Mercedes, Finders Keepers and End of Watch) by Stephen King is a series of novels that truly stand out in his portfolio. This isn’t a horror like most of his work, but a crime thriller where you feel King’s magic. It’s a suspenseful journey of retired Detective Bill Hodges that explores unfinished business, second chances, neurodiversity, mortality and the darker side of human nature.”

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Released in 2006, Rebecca is a novel by Daphne Du Maurier and it follows the life of a young lady who marries a Stone Mason and starts a new life on the Cornish Coast, but the events that transpire aren’t at all what was expected. 

Catherine, blogger at Growing Family is a huge fan of the novel Rebecca and explains why: “Top of my thriller list has to be Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. It has just the right balance of character development, plot and twisty suspense, all set against the backdrop of a vividly imagined and haunting coastal landscape. 

Catherine continues and explains why she loves thriller books: “I love the fact that there’s a gothic mood right from the start, which gradually builds into full-blown goosebumps, can’t-put-it-down read. And of course, it’s also a love story at heart, providing the reader with a study in flawed relationships and the compromises people make in order to find happiness. I’ve read Rebecca numerous times, and even though I know what the big plot twist is going to be, it’s an utterly absorbing read every time.”

Girl On A Train by Paula Hawkins

Also known for being one of the best films of recent times, Girl On A Train was originally a book written by Paula Hawkins. The chilling tale follows Rachel as she takes her commuter train to work every morning, following the same stops and the same line every day. One day, she notices something sinister about one of the houses she seemingly knew from her daily journey, but what will she do about it? 

“My Best thriller book of all time is, without doubt, The Girl on A Train, by Paula Hawkins,” Carley from Unicorn Puffs and Rainbows explains. “This continues to be one of my favourite suspense thrillers, the twists and turns in the book really helped to build up the suspense and I would highly recommend it.”

If you love being gripped to a book then this selection of award-winning novels are bound to be some of your new favourites, get your head into a book and find a new favourite!

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.