Beware: these best thriller books of 2023 will keep you up all night with edge-of-your-seat action and gripping mysteries. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
It’s 1 am, and you know it’s way past your bedtime and you’ll pay for this tomorrow, but you cannot seem to put your book down. You have to know whodunit and if your favorite character will survive until the end of the book.
The best thriller books keep you glued to your seat. What a delicious feeling it is to be full of suspense at the turn of a page.
All year, I’ve been scouting out the best thriller books of 2023, hoping to find great domestic thrillers, gritty mystery books, and edge-of-your-seat thriller books that you’ll be dying to read.
Since you likely don’t have time to read a zillion books a year as I do, let me narrow it down for you. Here are my picks for the best thriller books of 2023.
Best Psychological Thriller Books of 2023
TOP PICK – House sitter Emma Carpenter lives a secluded life at a beach house on the Washington coast. After leaving a one-star review on a poorly-written horror novel, Emma finds herself in an online argument with the author. When strange things begin to happen at night, Emma begins to suspect that the author might be stalking her. With a winning premise and non-stop twists and turns, The Last Word is an edge-of-your-seat thriller that is just pure fun to read.
RUNNER UP – Ten years ago, on the way back from a high school service project, two vans were in a tragic accident and only nine students survived. Yet none of the survivors feels like a hero, each ashamed of a decision they made that fateful night. Every anniversary since, they have met at a North Carolina beach house to check up on each other. Cassidy Brent has tried to distance herself from the other survivors, but when she finds out one has recently died, she finds herself drawn back in. When the group realizes that someone has been talking, they begin to suspect each other, and Cassidy wonders if one of them would go to great lengths to keep them all quiet. A slow-burn mystery, The Only Survivors emanates a tense atmosphere while slowly exposing the weight secrets have on our lives.
Kate Alice Marshall
HONORABLE MENTION – At age eleven, best friends Naomi, Cassidy, and Olivia spent the summer roaming the woods. Until Naomi was attacked, surviving 17 stab wounds, and the girls’ testimonies put a serial killer in prison for the death of six other women. Except, they lied. Now Olivia wants to tell and Naomi must discover the dangerous truth of what really happened in the woods that summer. If you are looking for a solid thriller to curl up with this winter, What Lies in the Woods delivers a fun quick read.
HONORABLE MENTION – Ten years ago, Bess and Joni spend a summer in Greece with their best friend Evangeline. When Evangeline dies, Bess and Joni find themselves suspects. Their brash personalities are vilified by the media, but ultimately no charges are filed against them. Since then, Bess has kept the lowest profile possible while Joni has become an outspoken motivational speaker. When Joni’s fiancée disappears, Bess comes out of hiding to support Joni and must face what really happened all those summers ago. A fascinating character study of female friendships, Berman examines how easily our lives can be cherry-picked to paint us white or black, when we are all shades of grey.
HONORABLE MENTION – When Holly Gibney receives a call at the Finders Keepers Detective Agency, she should decline the job. Her mother just died and her partner has Covid. But Holly can’t help but want to help Penny Dahl find her missing daughter. Yet Holly’s search leads her to an octogenarian couple – two ruthless professors with an unholy secret in their basement that may lead to Penny’s daughter.
HONORABLE MENTION – On her forty-fifth birthday, Alix Summers runs into Josie Fair, who happens to also be celebrating her forty-fifth birthday. Soon Alix runs into Josie again, and the two become friends. Josie thinks her interesting life would be a great subject for Alix’s true crime podcast. Josie manipulates her way into Josie’s life and home before vanishing. Suddenly, Alix unexpectedly finds herself the subject of her own podcast and must uncover Josie’s dark secrets to protect her family. Jewell does an excellent job mixing after-the-fact documentary and podcast interviews into the plotline to keep you wondering how much of Josie’s story is true.
Best Mystery Thriller Books
William Kent Krueger
TOP PICK – In 1958, Sheriff Brody Dern investigates the murder of a disliked wealthy landowner in a small Minnesota town. The rumor mill is quickly ablaze, accusing Noah Bluestone of the murder, a Native American WWII vet who just returned to town with his new Japanese bride. As Brody tries to find the truth, the physical and emotional wounds from World War II bring up old grievances in the community. Krueger makes the small town come alive while hitting on deeper themes and expertly painting human nature in all its flaws.
RUNNER UP – In a sequel to The Night Swim, podcaster Rachel Krall returns to assist the FBI in investigating a case. Another popular true crime podcaster, Maddison Logan, interviewed soon-to-be released serial killer Terence Bailey in prison and then disappeared. But Maddison Logan seems to only exist online. Going undercover at a popular influencer convention, Rachel discovers a fierce world of competitors and suspects that Bailey might have an accomplice on the outside. Switching the series from a legal thriller to more of a detective mystery, Dark Corners can easily be read as a standalone novel. However, given the electricity between Rachel and the hot FBI Agent, I could easily see more Rachel Krall books coming in the future.
HONORABLE MENTION – One day, twenty-two-year-old Olivia is spotted on CCTV camera entering a dead-end alley and never coming out again. When Julia is assigned the case, she dreads spending so much time away from her daughter while dealing with a frantic family. Yet Julia soon realizes that her family’s safety depends on framing someone else for Olivia’s murder. A slow burn police procedural, Just Another Missing Person adds an interesting twist at the halfway mark that amps up the intrigue level.
HONORABLE MENTION – Fifteen years ago, a night out with friends ended in a violent attack that changed Sara Linton’s life forever. Sara has finally remade her life; she’s now a successful doctor engaged to be married. When a young woman arrives at the ER after a brutal attack, Sara struggles to keep her alive. As GBI Special Agent Will Trent investigates, it becomes clear that this current attack is eerily similar to Sara’s.
HONORABLE MENTION – In a sequel to his debut thriller, The Firm, John Grisham returns to tell you what happened to Mitch and Abby McDeere after they exposed the crimes of his corrupt Memphis law firm. Fifteen years later, Mitch and Abby are living in Manhattan where Mitch is a partner in the world’s largest law firm. When Mitch gets caught up in another sinister plot with worldwide implications, he must do all he can to stay one step ahead of his enemies.
Best Domestic Thriller Books of 2023
TOP PICK – In a well-off neighborhood, four families gather together for a pleasant summer barbecue but are thrown when Whitney, the perfect hostess, explodes at her son Xavier. Months later, Xavier falls out a bedroom window in the middle of the night. While he lies critically injured in the hospital, Whitney refuses to speak and the other women begin to wonder what really happened that night, knowing they all have secrets to hide. Unafraid to tackle hard subjects, Audrain tackles the dark side of motherhood in this intense suburban thriller.
RUNNER UP – A year ago, Isabelle Drake’s life was dramatically changed when her toddler was taken while she and her husband slept in the next room. Once a sleepwalker but now suffering from crippling insomnia, Isabelle is obsessed with finding Mason. When she turns to a true crime podcaster for help, Isabelle begins to doubt her memories and worries that she might have been responsible. With plenty of red herrings and great twists, All the Dangerous Things will keep you gripped to the page, never knowing which character you can trust.
HONORABLE MENTION – In this page-turning debut novel, Ola Olajide is the picture of a successful woman. A celebrated journalist, Ola is set to marry her amazing fiancé Michael in just a month. Until “The List” appears, a crowdsourced collection of names that has become a social media account posting anonymous accusations. Normally Ola would be all-in supporting the list, except Michael’s name is on it.
HONORABLE MENTION – The safe community of Stanhope is shocked when nine-year-old Avery Wooler goes missing. Hours before her disappearance, Avery’s dad unexpectedly found her home early from school and blew up at her, already angry because he just ended his longstanding affair. Now Avery’s neighbors want to spill the beans, but it seems that everyone here is lying.
HONORABLE MENTION – Two years after their spouses are tragically killed, DC philanthropist Sloane Chase is ready to settle down with Senator Whit Montgomery. When Sloane needs a routine hip replacement, they hire Athena as a home health aide. Instead of getting better, Sloane gets sicker and she begins to suspect Athena might be there to replace her. Keeping you constantly on edge, The Senator’s Wife is a slow-burn mystery with some fun twists and turns.
2023 Celebrity Book Club Picks
Spending her life building an L.A. real estate empire, Lana Rubicon is not prepared to convalesce in a sleepy coastal town with her daughter Beth and granddaughter Jack. After Jack discovers a dead body while kayaking, she becomes the prime suspect. Determined to find the truth, Lana and Beth become amateur detectives, discovering a web of family disputes and shady land deals permeating the town.
Nicole Oruwari has a seemingly perfect life, exchanging the gloom of London for a glittering mansion in Nigeria. Until Nicole disappears. Nicole’s Auntie Claudine refuses to accept the police’s lack of progress. Flying to Nigeria, she is determined to find her niece but instead finds shocking secrets that hint at her own dark past.
During her senior of high school, Maya’s best friend mysteriously dropped dead in front of Frank, a man they had been spending time with that summer. Trying to kick the addiction that helped her cope with her friend’s death, Maya is shocked to see a YouTube video of another teenage girl dropping dead in front of Frank. Returning to her hometown to search for answers, Maya finds clues in her deceased father’s book that make her reevaluate her past. Reyes paints an atmospheric scene with an unreliable narrator in this Reese Witherspoon book club pick.
In the middle of the night in New Delhi, an expensive Mercedes jumps the curb and kills five people. When the dust settles, only a stunned servant is left to explain what happened. An Indian version of The Godfather, Age of Vice tells the interconnecting crime thriller and epic family drama of Sonny Wadia, the playboy heir of a mobster; Neda, his journalist girlfriend; and Ajay, his loyal servant.
In a small Irish village, Ciara Dunphy is the queen bee with the perfect life that makes her the envy of all her friends. Meanwhile, Ciara’s best friend Mishti feels out of place in her arranged marriage in a foreign country and local mom Lauren feels ostracized for her disheveled lifestyle. When Ciara is murdered, the flaws in her immaculate life are on display for all to see and everyone starts airing their neighbors’ dirty secrets to distract from their own possible motives.
What Would You Say Are The Best Thriller Books of 2023?
What thrillers did you enjoy most this year? Did I miss any of the Best Thriller Books of 2023 that you loved? As always, let me know in the comments!
More Mystery & Thriller Books: