15 Underrated Mystery and Thriller Novels That (Warning!) Will Make It Hard to Sleep Tonight
It doesn't matter if it's a dark and stormy night or a beautiful sun-filled day, settling down with a good mystery book is always a good idea. You've probably already read The Wife Upstairs and The Silent Patient (and if you haven't, stop what you're doing and read them now, seriously!). But there are so many underrated, not talked about enough mystery and thriller books out there just waiting to be read.
We could talk all day about the twists in Pretty Baby or the spine-tingling creepiness of The Wicked Sister! So we've rounded up a few favorite lesser-known mystery and thriller books, featuring novels that have recently been released and others that have been out for decades. Make sure to save these for the daytime if you don't want to have trouble sleeping afterward!
The Three Mrs. Greys
Noelle, Diamond, and Vanessa each believe she is Cyrus Grey's only wife in Shelly Ellis's captivating thriller, The Three Mrs. Greys. But when Cyrus is in a coma after being nearly shot to death, the secret is out — and more secrets are slowly being unraveled as the women rethink everything they thought they knew. Who will end up as the sole Mrs. Grey? And who will get hurt in the process?
Karin Slaughter fanatics know she can write a chilling thriller, but own of her early standalones, Cop Town, is one that isn't widely talked about. This book is set in 1974's Atlanta. When a brutal murder rocks the city's police department, Kate Murphy is in for a wild ride on her first day on the job. But it's not easy surviving as a beautiful young female police officer, especially on a day that one of their beloved cops was gunned down and the city is on the edge of war! She must work with her partner, Maggie Lawson, to stop this killer before it's too late.
Travel to Baja California in 1979 in Untamed Shore by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, as Viridiana spends her days watching dead sharks pile up beside the seashore. She's bored, dreaming of Hollywood films, romance, and a future. One day, three wealthy American tourists arrive for the summer, and Viridiana is drawn to their glamorous lives. But when one of them dies, Virdiana decides to lie to protect her friends, and gets tangled up in their deceit. This twisted, coming-of-age story is irresistible.
Black Orchid Blues
When 1920s Harlem society columnist Lanie Price accidentally witnesses the brutal kidnapping of the Black Orchid, a seductive and mysterious nightclub singer, she finds herself in the middle of the story. Who is the kidnapper and what do they want? Hours later, a gruesome package arrives at Price's doorstep, she has to figure out how to stop him before anyone else gets hurt. Black Orchid Blues by Persia Walker is the perfect mix of dazzling and terrifying, with fantastic parties and cruelty all mixed together.
The Hypnotist’s Love Story
The Hypnotist's Love Story grabs you from the very start, not letting you go until you read every single page. A favorite Liane Moriarty book, it follows Ellen O'Farrell, a professional hypnotherapist who works out of her eccentric beachfront home. When she meets Patrick, it's practically love at first sight — until he tells her that his ex-girlfriend is stalking him. She's intrigued, borderline obsessed with this woman, but she doesn't realize that she already met her in a different capacity. This is a fun, lighthearted read that is full of twists to keep you entertained.
If you want to get any sleep, don't start Mo Hayder's Hanging Hill at night. This intense book is about a pair of estranged sisters, one is a cop and one is a coddled wife fallen on hard times. When a beautiful teenager's body is found on the towpath of a canal in Bath, England, Zoe Benedict is convinced the department should look past usual domestic motives. Her sister, Sally, is currently divorced and supporting a daughter that was friends with the dead girl. When she begins working as a housekeeper for a mysterious entrepreneur on the house on Hanging Hill, she gets concerned when his associates start showing up at her daughter's school. The sisters must put aside their differences and work together to solve this this gruesome mystery before someone else gets hurt.
The Ancient Nine
Spenser Collins and Dalton Winthrop have very different backgrounds, but both of them become friends at Harvard in The Ancient Nine. When Spenser is invited to join the secret, exclusive Delphic Club founded in the nineteenth century, Dalton gets worried – his great-uncle is one of the Ancient Nine's oldest members, but he is always very cryptic and secretive about it. The two investigate, trying to glean clues about this mysterious club (and the student who tried to sneak into the club's mansion in 1927 and was never heard from again), but the more they learn, the more they put their own lives in danger. Ian K. Smith's novel is the dark academia tale you've been missing in your life!
The Safe Place
Anna Downes debut novel, The Safe Place is the perfect summer mystery read. This suspenseful tale is about Emily Proudman, who recently lost her acting agent, job, and apartment in the same day. When successful Scott Denny offers her a summer job on his remote French estate, Emily can't resist. Especially when she meets his wife, Nina, and their daughter, Aurelia. It seems like the perfect paradise at first, until she realizes the couple is hiding deadly secrets, and Emily must play along or suffer the consequences.
Heidi Wood feels bad for a teenage girl and her baby who she sees on the train. Since she is charitable by nature, she decides to bring Willow and her four-month-old baby home for a night's sleep. Her family is concerned — she could be a criminal — but Heidi is determined to help her. As she learns more about Willow, secrets start to emerge, and Heidi's act of kindness quickly spirals into a situation that is twisted and beyond her control. Mary Kubica's Pretty Baby is a psychological thriller at its best!
The House We Grew Up In
How can one house hide so many secrets? The Bird family seems perfect, with kids Meg, Beth, Rory, and Rhys and their mother, Lorelei, who offers them free-spirited love and fun childhood memories (often exasperating her sweet husband). But one Easter weekend a tragedy occurred, and now the grown-up siblings hardly talk to each other and their mother has become a terrible hoarder and a recluse. The Bird family finally returns to the home, unraveling their secrets, and trying to figure out what went wrong that fateful day in Lisa Jewell's The House We Grew Up In.
If I Should Die
Mali Anderson is a former NYPD officer, who left with a lawsuit and a lot of bitterness in Grace F. Edwards's novel, If I Should Die. She decides to get her master's in sociology while living with her jazz musician father and taking care of her orphaned nephew, Alvin. But when she walks past the stylish town houses in Harlem's Strivers Row, she hears a child's panicked screams and stops a child from being abducted. A car drives away, leaving her friend, Erskin Harding, dead in the street. She decides to track down the killer, leading her to violent situations that have her fearing for her life.
The Wicked Sister
For 15 years, Rachel Cunningham has chosen to lock herself away in a psychiatric facility, as torturous gaps in her memory have her believing that she is responsible for her parents' death. But after learning something new about their murders, she decides to return to her family's former log cabin in the remote forest of Michigan to uncover what really happened. However, someone doesn't want her to discover the truth — and she might find out that home is the most dangerous place of all. The Wicked Sister by Karen Dionne is a gripping read that will have you sleeping with one eye open.
In Lightseekers by Femi Kayode, Dr. Philip Taiwo is called on by a powerful Nigerian politician to investigate the public torture and murder of three university students in Port Harcourt. Dr. Taiwo is an investigative psychologist, who is more interested in figuring out why the crime happened than actually solving it. With the help of his streetwise personal driver, Chika, Dr. Taiwo is working against those conspiring against him to discover the truth of the Okriki Three.
The Other Daughter
Lisa Gardner's The Other Daughter tells the story of Melanie Stokes, who was abandoned in a Boston hospital as a kid and adopted by a wealthy young couple. She grows up thinking she's lucky, until she gets a threatening note that says: "You get what you deserve." As Melanie struggles to discover more about her past, she learns about the murder of the Stokes' first daughter two decades earlier. Now, the two seemingly unrelated events from her past are colliding together in a race for the truth that will leave Melanie both terrified and excited to learn the truth
The Widows of Malabar Hill
Set in 1920s India, The Widows of Malabar Hill is about Perveen Mistry, the daughter of a respected Zoroastrian family and Bombay's only female lawyer. Perveen is investigating a suspicious will on behalf of three Muslim widows living in full purdah, and she notices something strange: all three have signed over their full inheritance to charity. She's suspicious, wondering if they are being taken advantage of. But her investigations lead to murder, and now she has to figure out how what really happened before anyone else gets hurt. Sujata Massey's mystery was inspired in part by a woman who made history as India's first female attorney.