Certain literary genres feel timeless and perhaps none moreso than the thriller. Regardless of place, time or people, a well told thriller will always have a reader eager to turn the page and on the edge of their seat. It is no surprise then that year after year, new works of thrilling fiction land on the shelves to great acclaim and fanfare.
In this article we will showcase five gripping and inspirational thriller books that have taken the literary world by storm in 2023.
This year has been a thrilling ride for fans of the genre, with a plethora of pulse-pounding tales that will keep you guessing until the very last page. From heart-racing suspense to mind-bending twists, these novels push the boundaries of what a thriller can be, delivering spine-chilling excitement and thought-provoking narratives.
Whether you’re a fan of psychological thrillers, crime dramas, or adrenaline-fueled action, these five books offer a diverse range of thrills and will leave you inspired long after you turn the final page.
This guide to the best thriller books of 2023 so far includes:
- The Villa – Rachel Hawkins
- Just The Nicest Couple by Mary Kubica
- All the Dangerous Things – Stacy Willingham
- The Shards – Brett Easton Ellis
- Tenkill – Shannon Kirk
Hopefully, one of these books is not just your next great read, but maybe even the inspiration to write your own thriller novel!
The Villa – Rachel Hawkins
Step into the captivating world of Emily and Chess, childhood friends whose bond seemed unbreakable until the tides of time pulled them apart as they entered their thirties. However, destiny takes an unexpected turn when Chess extends an invitation to Emily, beckoning her on a journey of rediscovery in the enchanting landscapes of Italy. Eager to reignite their connection, Emily embraces the opportunity with open arms, her heart brimming with anticipation.
Their chosen destination, the Villa Aestas, holds a dark and haunting past, once known as Villa Rosato. Imbued with a chilling history, the villa’s walls bear witness to the harrowing events of the summer of 1974, where a group of friends, including a renowned rock star, experienced a series of life-altering events that resulted in both success and tragedy. As Emily immerses herself in the villa’s eerie past, she uncovers fragments of a story that go far beyond what she could have ever imagined, unraveling secrets that have long been buried.
Yet, amidst the tendrils of the villa’s haunting history, tensions between Emily and Chess simmer, threatening to cast a shadow over their journey of reconnection. As the weight of unresolved emotions and unspoken truths looms overhead, their friendship is put to the test, forcing them to confront the complexities of their shared past and the uncertainties of their future.
Just The Nicest Couple by Mary Kubica
This is an enthralling tale of mystery and suspense as we delve into the enigmatic world of Jake Hayes’ disappearance. In this riveting narrative, tensions rise and secrets loom, pushing the boundaries of friendship, trust, and determination.
The story unfolds with a heated argument between Jake and his wife, Nina, a tumultuous moment that sets the stage for a sequence of events that will forever alter their lives. It is amidst this turmoil that Lily, Nina’s coworker and trusted friend, finds herself entangled in a web of uncertainty. Believing herself to be the last person to have seen Jake before his sudden vanishing, Lily confides in her husband, Christian, who implores her to keep their encounter a secret. As the weight of their shared knowledge settles, the lines between loyalty, fear, and deceit become blurred.
Meanwhile, Nina refuses to succumb to despair, embarking on a relentless quest to uncover the truth behind Jake’s disappearance. Driven by love and an unwavering determination, she refuses to accept the notion of his absence without answers. Every clue, every lead becomes a lifeline, fueling her relentless pursuit of the unknown.
As the narrative unfolds, the stakes heighten, and the characters find themselves at a crossroads where loyalty and self-preservation collide. Lily grapples with the burden of keeping the truth concealed, torn between her allegiance to Nina and the secrets that threaten to consume her. Christian, too, must navigate the treacherous path of moral ambiguity as he treads the delicate line between protecting his loved ones and facing the consequences of his actions.
All the Dangerous Things – Stacy Willingham
This is an incredibly immersive and haunting tale of loss, secrets, and the relentless pursuit of truth as we unravel the enigmatic disappearance of Isabelle Drake’s beloved toddler, Mason. In this chilling narrative, the boundaries between memory and reality blur, leaving Isabelle on a perilous journey to uncover the long-buried secrets of that fateful night.
A year has passed since Mason was tragically snatched from his crib in the dead of night, leaving Isabelle’s world shattered and her heart heavy with an unbearable weight of grief. Sleep has become an elusive companion, with only fleeting moments of respite punctuating her restless nights and occasional lapses into disorienting blackouts. As the days turn into months, the case grows colder, and hope threatens to fade away like a distant memory.
Yet, a glimmer of possibility emerges when Isabelle finds herself reluctantly drawn into the orbit of a true-crime podcaster, their paths converging in a serendipitous twist of fate. It is within the realm of their collaboration that Isabelle is compelled to revisit her past, peeling back the layers of her memories and casting doubt upon the fragments of her recollections from that fateful night.
As the true-crime podcaster delves deep into the shadows of the case, Isabelle’s fragile world begins to unravel. The boundaries between past and present blur, leaving her haunted by questions that threaten to consume her. What really happened to Mason on that ominous night, and could her own memories hold the key to unlocking the truth?
The Shards – Brett Easton Ellis
The vibrant streets of 1981 Los Angeles are the setting of choice for infamous authors Brett Easton Ellis, where the lives of seventeen-year-old Bret and the enigmatic newcomer, Robert Mallory, become entangled in a web of mystery and intrigue. In the corridors of their prestigious prep school, a connection forms, drawing Bret further into Robert’s captivating world. However, beneath Robert’s charismatic facade lies a secret that threatens to unravel everything Bret holds dear.
As the bond between Bret and Robert deepens, a sinister presence looms over the city—the Trawler, a notorious serial killer who terrorizes the streets of Los Angeles. Obsessed with both Robert and the unfolding Trawler case, Bret finds himself caught in a dangerous game of cat and mouse. Every taunting move by the Trawler sparks chilling questions within Bret’s mind, leaving him to wonder just how close this merciless killer is to him and his closest friends.
Within the confines of this gripping narrative, the lines between friendship, desire, and the shadowy depths of evil blur. Bret’s obsession with Robert intertwines with the menacing presence of the Trawler, creating a palpable sense of unease and uncertainty. As the noose tightens around their circle, Bret must confront the harrowing realization that his own life may be inextricably linked to the malevolence that surrounds them.
Prepare to be captivated by a tale that explores the complexities of teenage yearning, the allure of secrets, and the ever-present threat of darkness. “City of Shadows” transports you to a time when danger lurked around every corner, and the pursuit of truth was a race against time. As Bret’s infatuation with Robert entangles him in a deadly game, the boundaries between friend and foe blur, leading to shocking revelations and a climax that will leave you breathless.
Embrace the pulsating energy of 1981 Los Angeles as you join Bret on his perilous journey, where the echoes of secrets and the sinister presence of the Trawler cast a chilling shadow over their lives.
Tenkill – Shannon Kirk
Tenkill transports readers into a thrilling world of deceit, suspense, and high-stakes investigations as we follow Greta, a courageous lawyer turned fugitive, on a daring mission to expose a web of corruption that reaches far into the shadows of the past. With the weight of her former law firm bearing down upon her, Greta sets out on a dangerous path, armed with stolen data that holds the key to unraveling a dark tale of intrigue.
Recognizing the enormity of her task, Greta realizes that she cannot confront this labyrinth of deception alone. With unwavering determination, she assembles a brilliant and eclectic team of individuals, each possessing their own unique set of skills. Among them is a tech guru, whose mastery of digital landscapes becomes invaluable in navigating the treacherous depths of hidden secrets. A summer associate, whose enigmatic nature borders on psychopathy, adds a thrilling edge to the group’s pursuit of justice. A seasoned reporter brings the power of the media to bear, while an art restorer lends a keen eye for detail in deciphering clues. Greta’s own brother, with his unwavering loyalty, stands by her side, providing unwavering support. And amidst the chaos, a love interest emerges, adding a layer of complexity to Greta’s already tumultuous journey.
The group’s rendezvous point is Salem, Massachusetts, a town rich in history and intrigue. Amidst the hallowed streets and whispered legends, they immerse themselves in a torrent of evidence, painstakingly sifting through each piece to uncover the truth shrouded within the enigmatic Tenkill hospital in Boston.
As they delve deeper into the heart of the mystery, the group finds themselves entangled in a dangerous dance with powerful forces determined to protect their secrets at all costs. Betrayal lurks in the shadows, threatening to unravel their carefully constructed plan. With each revelation, Greta and her team draw closer to the heart of the corruption, risking everything for justice.
What’s been your most inspiring thriller book of 2023 so far?
From household names to up and coming literary stars, the thriller genre continues to attract the best writing talent out there, and with good reason.
There is simply so much to work with and as our own society continues to evolve both sociologically as well as technologically, the scope of what is possible in a thriller book is endless and evolving. Writers seeking to make their mark in this arena would be well placed to study works such as those featured on the above list, and use that as a springboard to solidify and build upon in order to create their own great tale.