Share The 13 Best Suspense Novels by Women: From Agatha Christie to Gillian Flynn

The 13 Best Suspense Novels by Women: From Agatha Christie to Gillian Flynn

Kerry Fiallo is a New York native and copywriter at Simon & Schuster. A lifelong voracious reader, she has a particular fondness for ghost stories, history, and anything to do with Mary Shelley, Ada Lovelace, and the Brontë sisters. The only thing she may love more than books is black tea, but they do often go well together. You can find her as she navigates through literature and history on Twitter @ReadingInNYC and on Tumblr.

From Gillian Flynn to Agatha Christie, some of the best-loved authors of the greatest dark psychological thrillers have been women. Yet until recently, the works of female authors were often overlooked in favor of their male compatriots. We want to celebrate our favorite women behind the most ominous and suspenseful novels with this list of shivery thrillers. Be sure to read these with the lights on.


The Woman in Black
by Susan Hill

A modern classic of Gothic horror, Susan Hill drew upon the rich tradition of British ghost stories to craft this atmospheric tale of a mysterious specter whose appearance heralds the death of a child. Who is the terrifying woman in black and why does she haunt the halls of the isolated Eel Marsh House?

The Woman in Black
Susan Hill

A modern classic of Gothic horror, Susan Hill drew upon the rich tradition of British ghost stories to craft this atmospheric tale of a mysterious specter whose appearance heralds the death of a child. Who is the terrifying woman in black and why does she haunt the halls of the isolated Eel Marsh House?

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Broken Monsters
by Lauren Beukes

A terrifying novel that defies genres, BROKEN MONSTERS is a murder mystery where nothing is what it seems. Detroit is sent into a panic when bodies that are half human, half animal begin appearing. Is the paranormal at all involved, or is a truly disturbed serial killer stalking the city of Detroit?

Broken Monsters
Lauren Beukes

A terrifying novel that defies genres, BROKEN MONSTERS is a murder mystery where nothing is what it seems. Detroit is sent into a panic when bodies that are half human, half animal begin appearing. Is the paranormal at all involved, or is a truly disturbed serial killer stalking the city of Detroit?

MENTIONED IN:

The 13 Best Suspense Novels by Women: From Agatha Christie to Gillian Flynn

By Kerry Fiallo | February 7, 2017

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Strangers on a Train
by Patricia Highsmith
From one of the masters of crime noir, STRANGERS ON A TRAIN is the classic tale of the danger that lurks beneath the ordinary and introduced us to the concept of “trading” murders. Suspenseful, influential, and later adapted into a classic film by Alfred Hitchcock, this novel will remind you not to talk to strangers.
Strangers on a Train
Patricia Highsmith

The inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1951 film, “Strangers on a Train” proved that Patricia Highsmith is a master at depicting the unsettling forces that tremble beneath the surface of everyday contemporary life. She paints a world filled with ordinary people, all of whom are capable of very ordinary crimes.

MENTIONED IN:

The 13 Best Suspense Novels by Women: From Agatha Christie to Gillian Flynn

By Kerry Fiallo | February 7, 2017

10 Fantastic Crime Novels Written By Women

By Lisa Lutz | March 17, 2016

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Mayhem
by Sarah Pinborough

An evocative tale of gaslit Victorian London, MAYHEM is based on a true but overlooked series of ghastly murders that took place at the same time as the Jack the Ripper killings. With breathless pacing, sinister suspense, and plenty of shocking twists, this is a perfect read for historical fiction and true-crime fans.

Mayhem
Sarah Pinborough

An evocative tale of gaslit Victorian London, MAYHEM is based on a true but overlooked series of ghastly murders that took place at the same time as the Jack the Ripper killings. With breathless pacing, sinister suspense, and plenty of shocking twists, this is a perfect read for historical fiction and true-crime fans.

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The Woman in Cabin 10
by Ruth Ware
In this nightmarish story of paranoia, Ruth Ware expertly weaves a tense and unsettlingly claustrophobic mystery. Lo witnesses a woman being thrown overboard on a luxury cruise—but all the passengers are accounted for and no one seems to believe her. Is she losing her mind or is something more sinister at play?
The Woman in Cabin 10
Ruth Ware

A travel writer assigned to review a luxury cruise vacation witnesses a terrifying murder. But all the passengers remain accounted for—and as the ship sails on, she must attempt to convince the other passengers that something has gone terribly, terribly wrong.

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The Mysteries of Udolpho
by Ann Radcliffe

A young French orphan imprisoned by her uncle in a crumbling medieval castle must survive the advances of a cruel suitor and the psychological terror that threatens to overwhelm her. Considered the quintessential Gothic romance, Ann Radcliffe’s masterpiece has influenced everyone from Jane Austen to Edgar Allan Poe.

The Mysteries of Udolpho
Ann Radcliffe

A young French orphan imprisoned by her uncle in a crumbling medieval castle must survive the advances of a cruel suitor and the psychological terror that threatens to overwhelm her. Considered the quintessential Gothic romance, Ann Radcliffe’s masterpiece has influenced everyone from Jane Austen to Edgar Allan Poe.

MENTIONED IN:

The 13 Best Suspense Novels by Women: From Agatha Christie to Gillian Flynn

By Kerry Fiallo | February 7, 2017

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Sharp Objects
by Gillian Flynn

When a reporter returns to her hometown to cover two murders, she does not expect to confront her own demons—or her damaged family. A brutal mystery of paranoia, familial abuse, and the secrets we hide within ourselves, Gillian Flynn’s first novel is a thriller that haunts long after the last page is read.

Sharp Objects
Gillian Flynn

When a reporter returns to her hometown to cover two murders, she does not expect to confront her own demons—or her damaged family. A brutal mystery of paranoia, familial abuse, and the secrets we hide within ourselves, Gillian Flynn’s first novel is a thriller that haunts long after the last page is read.

MENTIONED IN:

The 13 Best Suspense Novels by Women: From Agatha Christie to Gillian Flynn

By Kerry Fiallo | February 7, 2017

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You
by Caroline Kepnes
YOU is a hypnotic tale of obsession, the dangers of social media, and murderous manipulation. When a bookseller encounters a beautiful customer, he tracks her down via her credit card and quickly insinuates himself into her life. A thoroughly unsettling, addictive, and brilliant debut, this is an ultimate page-turner.
You
Caroline Kepnes

Joe doesn’t like artisanal soda, trust fund kids, Dan Brown, Brooklyn hipsters, or Vice magazine. He does, however, like you, ever since you walked into his East Village bookshop looking like Natalie Portman. Shame that Joe is a cold-blooded killer and adept stalker. In the all-too-rare second-person narrative, YOU takes place inside the obsessed brain of Joe Goldberg, who’ll stop at nothing to make boho-wannabe Guinevere Beck (the “you” of Kepnes’s page-turning novel) his.

Crazy like: The lovesick and the just-plain-sick.

Best crazy moment: The DA VINCI CODE reading marathon.

MENTIONED IN:

The 13 Best Suspense Novels by Women: From Agatha Christie to Gillian Flynn

By Kerry Fiallo | February 7, 2017

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By Georgia Clark | August 9, 2016

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Walk a Mile in a Villain’s Shoes

By Leora Bernstein | December 11, 2015

Single? It Could Be Worse!

By Off the Shelf Staff | February 12, 2015

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Fledgling
by Octavia E. Butler

From one of the greatest voices in science fiction, FLEDGLING is a vampire story unlike any other. The lead vampire, Shori, is genetically modified and appears to be only 10 years old, but is in fact over 50. Overwhelmed with hunger, Shori embarks on a stunning and complex journey that will change how you view these classic monsters forever.

Fledgling
Octavia E. Butler

From one of the greatest voices in science fiction, FLEDGLING is a vampire story unlike any other. The lead vampire, Shori, is genetically modified and appears to be only 10 years old, but is in fact over 50. Overwhelmed with hunger, Shori embarks on a stunning and complex journey that will change how you view these classic monsters forever.

MENTIONED IN:

The 13 Best Suspense Novels by Women: From Agatha Christie to Gillian Flynn

By Kerry Fiallo | February 7, 2017

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Don't Look Now
by Daphne du Maurier

The incomparable author of REBECCA wrote numerous macabre and psychologically thrilling stories during her career and finally, in one chilling collection, comes her best. Featuring classics such as “The Birds” (which was turned into a horrifying film by Alfred Hitchcock), DON’T LOOK NOW also includes many out-of-print and unpublished tales of nightmarish terror.

Don't Look Now
Daphne du Maurier

The incomparable author of REBECCA wrote numerous macabre and psychologically thrilling stories during her career and finally, in one chilling collection, comes her best. Featuring classics such as “The Birds” (which was turned into a horrifying film by Alfred Hitchcock), DON’T LOOK NOW also includes many out-of-print and unpublished tales of nightmarish terror.

MENTIONED IN:

The 13 Best Suspense Novels by Women: From Agatha Christie to Gillian Flynn

By Kerry Fiallo | February 7, 2017

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Dead in the Water
by Nancy Holder

Nancy Holder won the Bram Stoker Award for this terrifying tale of psychological horror and madness. When the H.M.S. Pandora picks up the passengers of a shipwrecked freighter, they have no idea that their nightmare is only beginning. This is a truly eerie tale that grips you tight from the first sentence and never lets go.

Dead in the Water
Nancy Holder

Nancy Holder won the Bram Stoker Award for this terrifying tale of psychological horror and madness. When the H.M.S. Pandora picks up the passengers of a shipwrecked freighter, they have no idea that their nightmare is only beginning. This is a truly eerie tale that grips you tight from the first sentence and never lets go.

MENTIONED IN:

The 13 Best Suspense Novels by Women: From Agatha Christie to Gillian Flynn

By Kerry Fiallo | February 7, 2017

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And Then There Were None
by Agatha Christie
Considered the greatest murder mystery ever written, Agatha Christie’s masterpiece is the atmospheric and heart-pounding tale of 10 strangers on an isolated island—who all happen to have blood on their hands. Featuring ingenious, shocking murders and a twist ending that will leave you breathless, this thriller solidified Christie’s identity as the Queen of Crime.
And Then There Were None
Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie might be the most famous mystery writer in the world, with a massive fan base and lasting legacy. Her family has given author Sophie Hannah full support to release a new story of Christie's famous character, Poirot. AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, Christie’s most popular work, is a now classic mystery and the perfect introduction to the author’s books.

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The Haunting of Hill House
by Shirley Jackson
When a scientist invites people to live in the allegedly haunted Hill House, disembodied voices and mysterious writing on the walls terrorize the guests. Every clue points to one character—but is she responsible, or is the house possessing her? The greatest haunted house novel of all time, you’d be wise to read this during the day.
The Haunting of Hill House
Shirley Jackson

For fans of “American Horror Story”

Though visually stunning, “American Horror Story” is pure nightmare fuel. Borrowing from the classic horror tropes that precede it, AHS is comparable to Shirley Jackson’s classic supernatural thriller THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE. Four seekers arrive at the notoriously unfriendly Hill House, where they experience powerful encounters with inexplicable phenomena. (shudders)

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