Share 12 Gripping Stories for Readers Who Love Suspenseful Books Like Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

12 Gripping Stories for Readers Who Love Suspenseful Books Like Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Sarah Jane Abbott is an associate editor for Paula Wiseman Books and Beach Lane Books, imprints of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.  She grew up having NANCY DREW books read to her by her father, and is now an avid reader of mystery, thriller, and horror, along with everything from literary fiction to poetry to personal essays.  She graduated from Bucknell University with a degree in English and a concentration in creative writing.  Sarah Jane is an advocate of quasi-destructive book love—her best-loved volumes are highlighted, scribbled in, dog-eared, and wavy from being dropped in the bath tub.  

Steig Larsson’s Millennium series, starring Lisbeth Salander, the titular girl with the dragon tattoo, are some of my favorites. I’ve blazed through the original trilogy multiple times and it feels fresh and exciting on every read. I love the complex, bad-ass female protagonist with a dark past, the suspense and mystery, the hacker underworld, and the disgraced journalist searching for redemption. If you loved the series and are looking for your next read, here are some other novels Lisbeth Salander would approve of. 


The Ice Princess
by Camilla Läckberg

Another Swedish crime-writing sensation, this is an engrossing and suspenseful mystery about decades-old secrets and brutal murders in a small, Swedish fishing village. Erika Falck returns to her remote seaside hometown to find that her childhood best friend has died in an apparent suicide. Together with police detective Patrik Hedström, Erika begins to uncover shocking events from her friend’s childhood that someone out there is willing to kill to keep secret. 

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The Ice Princess
Camilla Läckberg

“A top-notch thriller, one of the best of the genre” (Minneapolis Star Tribune) from international crime-writing sensation Camilla Läckberg tells the story of brutal murders in a small Swedish fishing village, and the shattering, decades-old secrets that precipitated them.

In this electrifying tale of suspense from an international crime-writing sensation, a grisly death exposes the dark heart of a Scandinavian seaside village. Erica Falck returns to her tiny, remote hometown of Fjällbacka, Sweden, after her parents’ deaths only to encounter another tragedy: the suicide of her childhood best friend, Alex. It’s Erica herself who finds Alex’s body—suspended in a bathtub of frozen water, her wrists slashed. Erica is bewildered: Why would a beautiful woman who had it all take her own life? Teaming up with police detective Patrik Hedström, Erica begins to uncover shocking events from Alex’s childhood. As one horrifying fact after another comes to light, Erica and Patrik’s curiosity gives way to obsession—and their flirtation grows into uncontrollable attraction. But it’s not long before one thing becomes very clear: a deadly secret is at stake, and there’s someone out there who will do anything—even commit murder—to protect it.

Fans of Scandinavian greats Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell will devour Camilla Läckberg’s penetrating portrait of human nature at its darkest.

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Jessica Jones: Alias Vol. 1
by Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos, Bill Sienkiewicz

If Lisbeth Salander is your favorite part of the MILLENNIUM series (isn’t she everyone’s?) then you should meet Jessica Jones. A previously costumed superhero who has fallen from grace, Jessica is now a hard-drinking, self-destructive private detective who specializes in superhuman cases. When she discovers a potentially explosive secret, her life is suddenly in danger. 

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Jessica Jones: Alias Vol. 1
Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos, Bill Sienkiewicz

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The Shining Girls
by Lauren Beukes

If you liked the dark mystery of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, pick up this unique twist on the serial killer novel. Harper Curtis is a serial killer with the ability to travel through time. He is hunting down “shining girls” throughout time, inserting himself into their lives, and killing them. But he doesn’t count on one of the girls, Kirby Mazrachi, surviving and embarking on a quest to bring him to justice. 

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The Shining Girls
Lauren Beukes

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Night Film
by Marisha Pessl

If you loved Mikael Blomkvist, pick up this page-turning thriller starring veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath. McGrath’s career was almost destroyed once when he attempted to expose reclusive cult-horror director Stanislas Cordova. When his daughter Ashley Cordova dies in an apparent suicide, McGrath suspects foul play and embarks on an investigation that will take him deeper into Cordova’s strange, eerie world and his cursed family dynasty. 

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Night Film
Marisha Pessl

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The Never List
by Koethi Zan

As girls, best friends Sarah and Jennifer kept a “Never List,” a collection of rules meant to keep them safe. But when they break the rules and accept a cab ride from a stranger, they end up held captive and tortured with two other girls in a basement for years. Ten years after escaping, Sarah is struggling to resume her life and get over the fact that Jennifer died in that basement. When her captor comes up for parole, Sarah reunited with her fellow victims, who have their own grudges against her, to try and uncover new evidence to keep him in jail. 

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The Never List
Koethi Zan

Ten years after accepting a cab ride with grave and everlasting consequences, Sarah is still struggling to resume a normal life. When her abductor is up for parole, she decides to confront her phobias. If you love haunted but determined female protagonists, you'll love Koethi Zan's tale of a kidnap survivor unraveling the mystery of her horrifying past.

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The Snowman
by Jo Nesbo

The night of the first snowfall of the year, a boy’s mother disappears. The only trace of her that remains is her pink scarf, worn by a snowman that has appeared in their front yard. Inspector Harry Hole is on the case, uncovering a string of disappearances over the past decade in which women disappear on the day of the first snow. But the killer is onto him and draws Harry even deeper into his twisted web. 

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The Snowman
Jo Nesbo

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The Spellman Files
by Lisa Lutz

The Spellmans are a high-functioning yet extremely dysfunctional family of private detectives. Twenty-eight-year-old Izzy Spellman has a past littered with excessive drinking, vandalism, and invading others’ privacy. But when Izzy’s parents invade her privacy, she decides she needs to get out of the family business. But not before taking one last case: a cold missing person case that unexpectedly becomes the most important case of her life. 

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The Spellman Files
Lisa Lutz

“There’s something delightfully endearing about Lisa Lutz’s kinetic and quirky THE SPELLMAN FILES. It reads like a well-scripted television sitcom/family drama and, considering Lutz’s screenwriting background, that vibe makes perfect sense. As soon as I’d finished reading this offbeat novel, I wanted to binge-read the rest of the books in the series.”

Read the full review by Allison Tyler here.

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Millennium: The Girl Who Danced with Death
by Sylvain Runberg, Belen Ortega

If you simply can’t get enough of Lisbeth and Mikael, pick up this all-new adventure in graphic-novel format. Lisbeth and her intrepid group of outlaw hackers are set to expose the Swedish secret service’s files. But when one of their members is kidnapped, they must seek Mikael’s help. Their investigation leads them deep into an underworld of conspiracy and hatred, uncovering a hidden group known only as “Sparta.” 

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Millennium: The Girl Who Danced with Death
Sylvain Runberg, Belen Ortega

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Ghost in the Wires
by Kevin Mitnick

If you’re intrigued by the hacker underworld in the Millennium series, read this thrilling memoir of a real-life hacker. Mitnick was the most elusive hacker in history, breaking into computers and networks of the world’s biggest and most powerful companies and people. However fast the authorities were in tracking him down, Mitnick was faster. But as the FBInet began to tighten, Kevin went on the run, engaging in an increasingly sophisticated cat-and-mouse game that led through false identities, a host of cities, plenty of close shaves, and to an ultimate showdown with the Feds, who would stop at nothing to bring him down. 

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Ghost in the Wires
Kevin Mitnick

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Sharp Objects
by Gillian Flynn

After a brief stay at a psych hospital, journalist Camille Preaker is assigned to cover the murders of two young girls in her hometown. This means she’ll have to reconnect with the deeply troubled mother she hasn’t spoken to in years and her half-sister, who she barely knows. Reckoning with her own demons, Camille must unravel the dark secrets of her own past in order to get the story and make it through this homecoming. 

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Sharp Objects
Gillian Flynn

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Red Wolf
by Liza Marklund

On a dark, frozen winter night, a journalist is murdered in northern Sweden. Tabloid reporter Annika Bengtzon had been planning to interview him about a long-ago crime at a nearby airbase, and now wonders if the two events are connected. She begins to investigate and a fresh string of murders occurs. At the same time, Annika becomes convinced her husband is hiding something. 

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Red Wolf
Liza Marklund

The inspiration for the hit film series, Annika Bengtzon: Crime Reporter, now available on Netflix.

Beneath a dark winter sky. . .death waits patiently.

A journalist is murdered in the frozen white landscape of a northern Swedish town. Annika Bengtzon, a reporter at a Stockholm-based tabloid, was planning to interview him about a long-ago attack against an isolated air base nearby, and now she suspects that his death is linked to that attack.

Against the explicit orders of her boss, she begins to investigate the event, which is soon followed by a series of shocking murders. Annika knows the murders are connected. At the same time, she begins to suspect that her husband is hiding something, and nothing can counteract the loneliness that has crept into her life.

Behind everything lurks the figure of the Red Wolf, a cold-blooded killer with the soul of a lover. In the end, she must discover the truth not only about the murders but also about the lies that are destroying her own family.

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Big Driver
by Stephen King

If Lisbeth’s quest for revenge against all the men who have wronged her in her life sticks in your memory as much as mine, delve into Stephen King’s short story about another woman on a mission. After a mystery writer is brutally assaulted and left for dead by a truck driver on a back road, she plots to hunt him down and make him pay. In seeking revenge, she awakens a dark part of herself she never could have imagined. 

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Big Driver
Stephen King

Now a Lifetime original movie, Stephen King's haunting story about an author of a series of mystery novels who tries to reconcile her old life with her life after a horrific attack and the one thing that can save her: Revenge.

Tess Thorne, a famous mystery writer, faces a long drive home following a book signing engagement. Advised to take a shortcut at the suggestion of the event’s planner, Tess sets out for home, well after dark. On a lonely stretch of New England road, her tire blows out, and when a man in a pick up stops, it is not to help her, but to repeatedly assault her and leave her for dead. Tess survives, and she plots a revenge that will bring her face-to-face with another stranger: the one inside herself, capable of gruesome violence.

This story was originally published in Stephen King’s acclaimed collection, Full Dark, No Stars.

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Photo Credit: thomas-bethge/iStock

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