10 Tense Thrillers to Make You Cling to Your Lounge Chair

July 13 2022
Share 10 Tense Thrillers to Make You Cling to Your Lounge Chair

It’s barely even the height of summer and these heat waves have already become brutal. If you’re looking for a way to cool down, pick up one of these jaw-dropping, bone-chilling thrillers and head to the beach or to your favorite swimming pool. These gripping reads are sure to have you clinging to your lounge chair the entire time!

The It Girl
by Ruth Ware

I love Ruth Ware, so, of course, her latest read had to make my summer thriller list! I’m also huge fan of dark academia and this sounds like an exceptional Oxford murder mystery. Hannah Jones met April Coutts-Cliveden during her first semester at Oxford and was drawn to her personality, popularity, and elegant lifestyle. The two hit it off and, by the end of the first term, they’ve developed a strong group of friends. But by the end of the second, April is dead. Ten years later, Hannah is married to Will, a member of their friend group, and expecting a baby when they learn that the man convicted of killing April—the man Hannah helped put behind bars—has died. At first, she is relieved that they can finally move on from the horrible experience but all that changes when a reporter arrives with new evidence that suggests the man was innocent. As she digs into the mystery, Hannah realizes that all the friends she thought she knew so well have something to hide.

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The It Girl
Ruth Ware

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the “claustrophobic spine-tingler” (People) One by One returns with an unputdownable mystery following a woman on the search for answers a decade after her friend’s murder.

April Clarke-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford.

Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the second, April was dead.

Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide…including a murder.

“The Agatha Christie of our generation” (David Baldacci, #1 New York Times bestselling author) proves once again that she is “as ingenious and indefatigable as the Queen of Crime” (The Washington Post) with this propulsive murder mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

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More Than You'll Ever Know
by Katie Gutierrez

Katie Gutierrez crafts a slow-burn thriller that is part historical fiction and part murder mystery, which feels perfect for summer vacation. In 1985, international banker Lore Rivera married Andres Russo in Mexico City. But Lore is already married to a man in Laredo, Texas, and has two boys. Her job allows her to lead a secret double marriage and split her time between each family. That is, until one husband is arrested for murdering the other. Now Lore is living a quiet life when Cassie Bowman, a young true-crime writer, stumbles upon her case. Believing this is her big break, Cassie is determined to track down Lore and reveal her story. But Cassie’s hunt for the truth might expose her own secrets as well.

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More Than You'll Ever Know
Katie Gutierrez

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Six Weeks to Live
by Catherine McKenzie

Jennifer only has six weeks left to live. The diagnosis? Cancer. Even though she is in the middle of a turbulent divorce, she’s determined to spend the last days of her life with her kids and her grandkids. That is, until she learns someone poisoned her. Jennifer immediately assumes her soon-to-be ex-husband is the culprit. She enlists the help of her three daughters, but as they investigate, her daughters are not convinced their father could ever do such a thing. Jennifer can’t decide if it’s all in her head or if there is someone else who wants her dead. This family psychological thriller is sure to enthrall you with its cast of characters dealing with the diagnosis and the ticking clock that Jennifer has to catch her attempted murderer.

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Six Weeks to Live
Catherine McKenzie

In this international bestseller, a “twisty tale of secrets and lies that reverberate across generations of a dysfunctional family” (Michele Campbell, author of The Wife Who Knew Too Much), a woman diagnosed with cancer sets out to discover if someone poisoned her before her time is up.

Jennifer Barnes never expected the shocking news she received at a routine doctor’s appointment: she has a terminal brain tumor—and only six weeks left to live.

While stunned by the diagnosis, the forty-eight-year-old mother decides to spend what little time she has left with her family—her adult triplets and twin grandsons—close by her side. But when she realizes she was possibly poisoned a year earlier, she’s determined to discover who might have tried to get rid of her before she’s gone for good.

Separated from her husband and with a contentious divorce in progress, Jennifer focuses her suspicions on her soon-to-be ex. Meanwhile, her daughters are each processing the news differently. Calm medical student Emily is there for whatever Jennifer needs. Moody scientist Aline, who keeps her mother at arm’s length, nonetheless agrees to help with the investigation. Even imprudent Miranda, who has recently had to move back home, is being unusually solicitous.

But with her daughters doubting her campaign against their father, Jennifer can’t help but wonder if the poisoning is all in her head—or if there’s someone else who wanted her dead. “Part whodunnit, part family drama, this textured and utterly spellbinding story unravels in surprising ways you won’t see coming” (Christina McDonald, USA TODAY bestselling author).

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The Woman Outside My Door
by Rachel Ryan

This is a great domestic thriller that kept me guessing all the way through until the end. Georgina knows that imaginary friends are normal, but something about Cody’s new friend does not sit right with her. Perhaps it’s because she recently lost her mother when Cody tells her about “New Granny” that he met at the park. Perhaps, she’s just overworked and still grieving, and her husband assures her that it’s just a product of Cody’s overactive imagination. But Georgina can’t shake the feeling that something is wrong, that someone followed them, that someone is watching the house. Maybe Georgina is the one with the overactive imagination . . . or is she?

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The Woman Outside My Door
Rachel Ryan

From “a bright new voice in psychological thrillers” (Erin Kelly, USA TODAY bestselling author of He Said/She Said), The Woman Outside My Door is an unputdownable page-turner about a young mother who can’t shake the feeling that her son’s “imaginary” friend is putting him in very real danger—perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell and Mary Kubica.

All children have imaginary friends, Georgina tells herself. It’s perfectly normal, and they all grow out of it in the end. But when her seven-year-old son, Cody, tells her about New Granny, the friend he’s met in the park, Georgina is instantly suspicious. Something—call it maternal instinct—tells her he isn’t making it up.

But maybe Georgina is losing her mind. It wouldn’t be the first time, after all. And with her own mother’s recent death leaving her bereft and trying to cope with life as a busy working mom, it’s no wonder she’s feeling paranoid that Cody has invented a “New Granny” to replace his beloved grandmother.

Her husband, Bren, becomes the voice of reason, assuring Georgina that it’s just a game, the product of their son’s overactive imagination. But what if Cody’s imaginary friend is not so imaginary after all?

“Packed with jaw-dropping moments, The Woman Outside My Door is a twisty thriller with hidden depths” (Robyn Harding, internationally bestselling author of The Party) that will keep you guessing until the shocking last page.

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Reputation
by Sarah Vaughan

A gripping psychological political thriller fraught with murder and mother-daughter tension? I’m already intrigued! Emma, a former schoolteacher, finds the spotlight overwhelming. But as a politician, she also understands how important her reputation is and how harmful one slipup can be. After sacrificing her marriage and her relationship with her daughter, Emma now find herself uncomfortably occupying the same space as fourteen-year-old Flora lobbies for legislation that will protect girls from online abuse. Everything comes crashing down when a rival is found dead in Emma’s home. She is determined to protect her reputation and her daughter, no matter the cost.

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Reputation
Sarah Vaughan

“Astonishingly timely and clever, it’s also utterly gripping.” —Lucy Foley, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Sarah Vaughan has done it again. Superb.” —Shari Lapena, New York Times bestselling author

The bestselling author of Anatomy of a Scandal—now a hit Netflix series—returns with a new psychological thriller about a politician whose less-than-perfect personal life is thrust into the spotlight when a body is discovered in her home.

As a politician, Emma has sacrificed a great deal for her career—including her marriage and her relationship with her daughter, Flora.

A former teacher, the glare of the spotlight is unnerving for Emma, particularly when it leads to countless insults, threats, and trolling as she tries to work in the public eye. As a woman, she knows her reputation is worth its weight in gold but as a politician, she discovers it only takes one slip-up to destroy it completely.

Fourteen-year-old Flora is learning the same hard lessons at school as she encounters heartless bullying. When another teenager takes her own life, Emma lobbies for a new law to protect women and girls from the effects of online abuse. Now, Emma and Flora find their personal lives uncomfortably intersected…but then the unthinkable happens.

A man is found dead in Emma’s home. A man she had every reason to be afraid of and to want gone. Fighting to protect her reputation, and determined to protect her family at all costs, Emma is pushed to the limits as the worst happens and her life is torn apart.

Another breathless and twisty novel from an absolute “master of suspense” (CrimeReads), Reputation brilliantly illustrates that it isn’t who you are that matters…it’s who people think you are.

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A History of Wild Places
by Shea Ernshaw

This is an atmospheric and fantastical mystery that will keep you so invested you just might forget to reapply sunscreen. I recommend bringing an umbrella just in case for this beachside read. Travis is a private investigator with the ability to find just about anyone. All he needs is an object that belonged to the missing person. Travis’s newest case is to find Maggie St. James, a children’s book author who disappeared five years ago. The search leads him to a commune called “Pastoral,” a place many people believed only existed in legends. But before Travis can find Maggie, he vanishes too. Years later, a member of the community, Theo, finds Travis’s abandoned truck and investigates what happened. Theo’s search for the truth reveals secrets among his wife and sister-in-law, and that perhaps their hidden refuge is not as safe as they always believed.

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A History of Wild Places
Shea Ernshaw

“What a wonderful rabbit hole to fall down.” —Erika Swyler, author of Light from Other Stars and The Book of Speculation

“A terrifying and timely book.” —Erica Ferencik, bestselling author of The River at Night and Into the Jungle

“As spine-chilling as it is beautifully crafted.” —Ruth Emmie Lang, author of Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance

The New York Times bestselling author of The Wicked Deep weaves a richly atmospheric adult debut following three residents of a secluded, seemingly peaceful commune as they investigate the disappearances of two outsiders.

Travis Wren has an unusual talent for locating missing people. Hired by families as a last resort, he requires only a single object to find the person who has vanished. When he takes on the case of Maggie St. James—a well-known author of dark, macabre children’s books—he’s led to a place many believed to be only a legend.

Called Pastoral, this reclusive community was founded in the 1970s by like-minded people searching for a simpler way of life. By all accounts, the commune shouldn’t exist anymore and soon after Travis stumbles upon it…he disappears. Just like Maggie St. James.

Years later, Theo, a lifelong member of Pastoral, discovers Travis’s abandoned truck beyond the border of the community. No one is allowed in or out, not when there’s a risk of bringing a disease—rot—into Pastoral. Unraveling the mystery of what happened reveals secrets that Theo, his wife, Calla, and her sister, Bee, keep from one another. Secrets that prove their perfect, isolated world isn’t as safe as they believed—and that darkness takes many forms.

Hauntingly beautiful, hypnotic, and bewitching, A History of Wild Places is a story about fairy tales, our fear of the dark, and losing yourself within the wilderness of your mind.

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Deep Water
by Emma Bamford

DEEP WATER is so detailed and atmospheric that you might not want to read it while on any boat adventures or island vacations. Otherwise, Bamford might make you want to jump ship. Don’t worry though, it’s perfect for a cozy lounge chair or sprawled out on a towel in the sand. Jake and Virginie spend their life savings on a boat, ready for an adventure on the high seas exploring beautiful islands. They get a lot more than they bargained for when they arrive at a supposedly remote island paradise in the Indian Ocean. They quickly realize they aren’t alone on the island. They form a tenuous relationship with a crew of expat sailors that quickly sours when another couple arrives on the island, eventually leaving Jake fighting for his life and Virginie starved and traumatized. When they’re rescued by a Navy vessel Virginie begins to confess the dark truths of what happened to them while on the island.

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Deep Water
Emma Bamford

The dark side of paradise is exposed when a terrified couple reveals their daunting experience on a remote island to their rescuers—only to realize they’re still in the grips of the island’s secrets—in this intense and startling debut in the tradition of Into the Jungle and The Ruins.

When a Navy vessel comes across a yacht in distress in the middle of the vast Indian Ocean, Captain Danial Tengku orders his ship to rush to its aid. On board the yacht is a British couple: a horribly injured man, Jake, and his traumatized wife, Virginie, who breathlessly confesses, “It’s all my fault. I killed them.”

Trembling with fear, she reveals their shocking story to Danial. Months earlier, the couple had spent all their savings on a yacht, full of excitement for exploring the high seas and exotic lands together. They start at the busy harbors of Malaysia and, through word of mouth, Jake and Virginie learn about a tiny, isolated island full of unspoiled beaches. When they arrive, they discover they are not the only visitors and quickly become entangled with a motley crew of expat sailors. Soon, Jake and Virginie’s adventurous dream turns into a terrifying nightmare.

Now, it’s up to Danial to determine just how much truth there is in Virginie’s alarming tale. But when his crew make a shocking discovery, he realizes that if he doesn’t act soon, they could all fall under the dark spell of the island.

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Magpie
by Elizabeth Day

Get ready for a psychological suspense story that will glue you to the side of the pool all afternoon. Marisa and Jake are a wonderfully happy couple, and all they want is to welcome a beautiful baby into the world. But babies are expensive and much easier said than done. To supplement their income and prepare for their future addition, Jake and Marisa rent out a room to Kate. At first, Kate seems like the perfect roommate despite a few potentially flirtatious attempts with Jake, but Marisa tries to not let it get to her. After rounds and rounds of fertility treatments and false hope, Marisa and Jake are on edge. And now Kate’s harmless flirting has turned into a creepy obsession with Jake and their future child. Marisa is determined to find out more about Kate, but she might destroy the perfect family she’s building in the process. Day has created incredible characters with tension building on every page.

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Magpie
Elizabeth Day

She has almost everything. The rest she’ll take.

For fans of Gone Girl and The Perfect Nanny, a taut, psychological suspense novel about a perfect couple and their seemingly perfect roommate—that is until she threatens to destroy everything they’ve worked so hard to create.

Marisa and Jake are a perfect couple. And Kate, their new lodger, is the perfect roommate—and not just because her rent payments will give them the income they need to start trying for the baby of their dreams.

Except—no one is truly perfect. Sure, Kate doesn’t seem to care much about personal boundaries and can occasionally seem overly-familiar with Jake. But Marisa doesn’t let it concern her, knowing that soon Kate will be gone, and it will just be her, Jake, and their future baby.

Conceiving a baby is easier said than done, though, and Jake and Marisa’s perfect relationship is put to the test through months of fertility treatments and false starts. To make matters worse, Kate’s boundary-pushing turns into an all-out obsession—with Jake, with Marisa, and with their future child. Who is this woman? Why does she seem to know everything about Marisa and Jake?

In her quest to find out who Kate really is, Marisa might destroy everything she’s worked so hard to create—her perfect romance, her perfect family, and her perfect self.

Jake doesn’t know the half of what Marisa has created—and what she stands to lose.

For fans of Gone Girl and The Perfect Nanny, Magpie is a tense and twisting novel about mothers and children, envy and possession, and the dangers of getting everything you’ve ever dreamed of.

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The House Across the Lake
by Riley Sager

THE HOUSE ACROSS THE LAKE has so many twists you might just fall out of your favorite beach lounger! Still reeling from the recent death of her husband and a slew of negative press, actress Casey Fletcher flees to her family’s lake house in Vermont. While there, she passes the time by drowning her sorrows in liquor and watching the couple across the lake. Tom and Katherine Royce are rich and glamorous making for ample entertainment. Thanks to her voyeurism, Casey saves Katherine from drowning, and the two hit it off. But through their friendship and Casey’s spying, she soon learns that Tom and Katherine are not the perfect couples they appear to be. When Katherine disappears, Casey becomes obsessed with finding the truth and realizes that all looks can be deceiving.

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The House Across the Lake
Riley Sager

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The Heights
by Louise Candlish

Simmering and suspenseful with unreliable points of view that all contribute to a dark and twisted narrative, THE HEIGHTS is truly captivating. The Heights is a tall and slender apartment buried in one of London’s warehouse districts. You’d never notice it, not unless you were in the building directly across from it. That is exactly where Ellen Saint is when she sees a man that should be dead, a man she knows is dead. Yet, there he is. Ellen knows he’s dead, because she’s the one that killed him. But now that he’s somehow back, Ellen is fueled by her rage. Told from different points of view, Candlish unleashes a thought-provoking and intense thriller you don’t want to miss.

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The Heights
Louise Candlish

“Impossible to resist, impossible to predict, impossible to put down…this is an author at the top of her game.” —Erin Kelly, author of Watch Her Fall

The author of the “masterfully plotted, compulsive page-turner” (The Guardian) Our House takes you on a haunting and nail-biting journey of tragedy and revenge.

The Heights is a tall, slender apartment building among warehouses in London. Its roof terrace is so discreet, you wouldn’t know it existed if you weren’t standing at the window of the flat directly opposite. But you are. And that’s when you see a man up there—a man you’d recognize anywhere. He may be older now, but it’s definitely him.

But that can’t be because he’s been dead for over two years. You know this for a fact.

Because you’re the one who killed him.

With Louise Candlish’s signature dark and twisty prose, The Heights shows “the ferocity of maternal love” (Hannah Beckerman, author of If Only I Could Tell You). It is a unputdownable thriller that will keep you guessing until the final page.

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