8 Gripping Domestic Thrillers to Add to Your TBR
If there’s one recommendation request I get all the time on Crime by the Book, it’s this one! I’ve had numerous inquiries from CBTB readers looking for a reading list of my most-recommended domestic thrillers - and today, I'm putting together a list exactly like that! Here you'll find a roundup of some of the addictive, twisty, entertaining domestic thrillers that I personally love - and that are also at the top of my most-recommended list. If you're in the mood for a suspense novel that's fast-paced and binge-worthy, you've come to the right place! Bonus: each of the books featured in this list are already on sale, so if one catches your eye, you can start reading right away.
What exactly is a “domestic thriller”?
The term “domestic thriller” is one which every single reader might define just a bit differently - but at its most basic, this subgenre of crime fiction is a style of psychological thriller that focuses on interpersonal relationships. This might be secrets between a married couple or between relatives; what’s important is that the driving force of the story lies in domestic disturbances, secrets, and tensions. A domestic thriller is a subset of psychological thrillers; you’d be hard-pressed to find a domestic thriller that couldn’t also be considered a psychological thriller, but not all psychological thrillers are domestic thrillers. Many domestic thrillers do delve into examinations of abuse, both physical and emotional - which is something to keep in mind when determining if one of these books is right for you. Popular examples of domestic thrillers include books like GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn and BEHIND CLOSED DOORS by B.A. Paris.
Without further ado - let's dive into my recommended reading list!
8 Gripping, CBTB-Recommended Domestic Thrillers
1. BEHIND CLOSED DOORS by B.A. Paris
What to Love:
No list of domestic thrillers would be complete without B.A. Paris' supremely entertaining domestic thriller. If you haven't read this one yet, it's a must! Brimming with moments of quiet evil and breathtaking suspense, this read exemplifies the domestic thriller subgenre. How much do we really know about the people we choose to spend our lives with? B.A. Paris explores the potential for evil and abuse in a picture-perfect marriage in this shocking and utterly addictive read. Read more here.
Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth; she has charm and elegance. He’s a dedicated attorney who has never lost a case; she is a flawless homemaker, a masterful gardener and cook, and dotes on her disabled younger sister. Though they are still newlyweds, they seem to have it all. You might not want to like them, but you do. You’re hopelessly charmed by the ease and comfort of their home, by the graciousness of the dinner parties they throw. You’d like to get to know Grace better.
But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are inseparable.
Some might call this true love. Others might wonder why Grace never answers the phone. Or why she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. Or why she never seems to take anything with her when she leaves the house, not even a pen. Or why there are such high-security metal shutters on all the downstairs windows.
Some might wonder what’s really going on once the dinner party is over, and the front door has closed.
Find it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2FBU6PD
2. THE GIRL BEFORE by J.P. Delaney
What to Love:
An inventive twist on the domestic thriller, Delaney’s book takes the “domestic” part of the genre quite literally - this story focuses on a house with a twisted history. THE GIRL BEFORE is absolutely fun to read; it’s entertaining, darkly sexy, and all around fresh and inventive. Delaney expertly balances dual timelines to brilliant effect, tracing the disturbingly similar progression of the lives of two women who move into One Folgate, an architectural masterpiece with a dark history and an enigmatic landlord. One of my favorite 2017 reads! Read more here.
Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.
The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.
Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.
After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.
Find it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2FBUbCV
3. NEVER LET YOU GO by Chevy Stevens
What to Love:
This visceral read brings readers up close and personal to the inner workings of an abusive relationship. I would caution that this book does not shy away from describing the many manipulations and abuses that characterize the main character's relationship with her spouse; exercise appropriate caution when picking up this read for that reason. That being said, Stevens has crafted an outstanding domestic thriller that relies heavily on its characters (their personalities, baggage, and secrets) to craft a layered and utterly immersive read. Read more here.
Eleven years ago, Lindsey Nash escaped into the night with her young daughter and left an abusive relationship. Her ex-husband, Andrew, was sent to jail and Lindsey started over with a new life.
Now, Lindsey is older and wiser, with her own business and a teenage daughter who needs her more than ever. When Andrew is finally released from prison, Lindsey believes she has cut all ties and left the past behind her. But she gets the sense that someone is watching her, tracking her every move. Her new boyfriend is threatened. Her home is invaded, and her daughter is shadowed. Lindsey is convinced it’s her ex-husband, even though he claims he’s a different person. But has he really changed? Is the one who wants her dead closer to home than she thought?
Find it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2FBS2qX
4. I LET YOU GO by Clare Mackintosh
What to Love:
Clare Mackintosh’s debut will very likely go down as one of the best plot twists I have ever read. What starts as an emotional, contemplative, slow-burning story takes a sudden twist when a major secret is revealed… and then the book takes off, upending everything the reader came to believe in the story’s first half. Beyond the story (which is also fantastic!), I LET YOU GO is worth reading for its study in contrast; Mackintosh seamlessly weaves together two "parts" to her book that are polar opposites, and constructs a story that is all the more gripping for its varied pacing and plotting. Read more here.
On a rainy afternoon, a mother’s life is shattered as her son slips from her grip and runs into the street…
I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind, desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past.
At the same time, the novel tracks the pair of Bristol police investigators trying to get to the bottom of this hit-and-run. As they chase down one hopeless lead after another, they find themselves as drawn to each other as they are to the frustrating, twist-filled case before them.
Find it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2DfydHt
5. LIE TO ME by J.T. Ellison
What to Love:
Okay, when am I not talking about this book? LIE TO ME is the kind of binge-worthy, addictive reading material that you’ll want to bring with you on vacation. I personally loved that this story focuses on a literary couple - two writers - and plumbs the depths of the secrets they’re hiding beneath their picture-perfect exterior. This is a great choice when you’re looking for a thriller that’s fast-paced, just a touch dramatic, and easy to breeze through! Read more here.
They built a life on lies
Sutton and Ethan Montclair's idyllic life is not as it appears. They seem made for each other, but the truth is ugly. Consumed by professional and personal betrayals and financial woes, the two both love and hate each other. As tensions mount, Sutton disappears, leaving behind a note saying not to look for her.
Ethan finds himself the target of vicious gossip as friends, family and the media speculate on what really happened to Sutton Montclair. As the police investigate, the lies the couple have been spinning for years quickly unravel. Is Ethan a killer? Is he being set up? Did Sutton hate him enough to kill the child she never wanted and then herself? The path to the answers is full of twists that will leave the reader breathless.
Find it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2DifevZ
6. THE ICE TWINS by S.K. Tremayne
What to Love:
An “oldie but a goodie,” Tremayne’s THE ICE TWINS blends a touch of the supernatural with a domestic suspense novel to fantastic effect. THE ICE TWINS revolves around a disturbing family incident: a tragic accident resulting in the death of one of the family’s twin daughters. When the surviving daughter begins to claim that she is, in fact, the twin who was believed dead, things take a creepy turn. This is another easy-to-binge thriller; I loved its haunting atmosphere and spine-tingling tension!
A year after one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia, dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcroft move to the tiny Scottish island Angus inherited from his grandmother, hoping to put together the pieces of their shattered lives.
But when their surviving daughter, Kirstie, claims they have mistaken her identity--that she, in fact, is Lydia--their world comes crashing down once again.
As winter encroaches, Angus is forced to travel away from the island for work, Sarah is feeling isolated, and Kirstie (or is it Lydia?) is growing more disturbed. When a violent storm leaves Sarah and her daughter stranded, they are forced to confront what really happened on that fateful day.
Find it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2D3ahUo
7. LIES SHE TOLD by Cate Holahan
What to Love:
Another suspense story set in the literary world, Holahan’s brilliantly plotted “book within a book” thriller delves into the life of a crime writer whose real life begins to mirror her fiction. In this take on domestic suspense, our main character begins to doubt the intentions of those in her life when she realizes that the (supposedly fictional) book she’s working on seems suspiciously similar to the circumstances surrounding a family friend's recent (and untimely) death. What makes this book so fun to read is the author’s masterful weaving together of fiction and real life - Holahan's plotting is impeccable. Read more here.
The truth can be darker than fiction.
Liza Cole, a once-successful novelist whose career has seen better days, has one month to write the thriller that could land her back on the bestseller list. Meanwhile, she’s struggling to start a family, but her husband is distracted by the disappearance of his best friend, Nick. As stresses weigh her down in her professional and personal lives, Liza escapes into writing the chilling exploits of her latest heroine, Beth.
Beth, a new mother, suspects her husband is cheating on her while she’s home caring for their newborn. Angry and betrayed, she aims to catch him in the act and make him pay for shattering the illusion of their perfect life. But before she realizes what she’s doing, she’s tossing the body of her husband’s mistress into the East River.
Then, the lines between Liza’s fiction and her reality eerily blur. Nick’s body is dragged from the East River, and Liza’s husband is arrested for his murder. Before her deadline is up, Liza will have to face up to the truths about the people around her, including her own. If she doesn’t, the end of her heroine’s story could be the end of her own.
Find it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2D4MSC1
8. THE HOURS BEFORE DAWN by Celia Fremlin
What to Love:
If you’re a fan of classic crime, this is a must read for you. THE HOURS BEFORE DAWN is a domestic suspense novel from the 1950’s that feels remarkably on-trend and modern - it’s a fascinating glimpse into the precursors of modern day thrillers. This story examines the tensions of marriage and demands of motherhood, drawing readers into a home and into the secrets between a husband and wife. The pacing of this book is a good deal slower than the other titles in this list, but don’t let that deter you - it’s absolutely fascinating to see the ties between this book (published originally in the 1950’s) and modern-day suspense. Read more here.
In this Edgar Award–winning thriller, a young housewife with two lively daughters and an endlessly crying baby battles domestic chaos as well as growing suspicions of the household's new lodger. Are Louise's fears the product of sleep deprivation, as her unsympathetic husband suggests, or is there really something sinister about the respectable-seeming schoolmistress?
During the hours before dawn, Louise suspects, people with a precarious grip on sanity are likeliest to slip over the edge into madness — especially if there's someone ready to give them a push. Without spilling a drop of blood, this psychological thriller transforms everyday events and settings into the extraordinary, evoking an atmosphere of sheer terror.
Find it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2FEvc22
Have you read any of these titles? Are any of them on your TBR? I'd love to hear from you! Happy reading! xx A