There’s comfort to be found in the familiar, whether it be the tropes and plotlines of your favorite genres, or just knowing by the cover what kind of story you’re getting into. But there are times when the same old, same old just won’t do, and we need a little something different to spice up our literary treasure trove. So, whether you’re a thriller fan looking for something new and exciting, or just want something unlike anything you’ve ever read, here are ten unique thrillers sure to delight and frighten any reader.
10 Unique Thrillers Unlike Anything I’ve Read Before
If your romantic partner started working unusual hours, especially when there’s been a recent string of crimes, you might get suspicious, maybe even trail them to see where they’re going. Not Linda, though. While her husband, Terry, starts acting strange around the same time that several women go missing, Linda becomes obsessed with the mail coming for the previous tenant of her home, Rebecca, whom she believes to have a glamorous life. Dark, sinister, and headed in a direction you won’t see coming, A TIDY ENDING is sure to have you hooked on every page.
From the bestselling author of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep and Three Things About Elsie, a delightfully sinister novel about a married woman living a nice, quiet suburban life—but things aren’t always what they seem…
Linda has lived in a quiet neighborhood since fleeing the dark events of her childhood in Wales. Now she sits in her kitchen, wondering if this is all there is: pushing the vacuum around and cooking fish sticks for dinner, a far cry from the glamorous lifestyle she sees in the glossy magazines coming through the mail slot addressed to the previous occupant, Rebecca.
Linda’s husband Terry isn’t perfect—he picks his teeth, tracks dirt through the house, and spends most of his time in front of the TV. But that seems fairly standard—until he starts keeping odd hours at work, at around the same time young women in the town start to go missing.
If only Linda could track down and befriend Rebecca, maybe some of that enviable lifestyle would rub off on her and she wouldn’t have to worry about what Terry is up to. But the grass isn’t always greener and you can’t change who you really are. And some secrets can’t stay buried forever…
It’s a cliché to ask if we would change the past if we could—there’s always some cringey memory lurking in our minds, waiting to strike at the least opportune moment. For the protagonist of THE 13TH HOUR, it’s not an embarrassing moment he’d like to redo—it’s preventing his wife from being murdered. And he gets that chance to be able to go back in time, but only one hour at a time. As he makes his way slowly through the events of the last twelve hours, he realizes the consequences of even small actions have huge ramifications, and he may already be out of time. Moving at a breakneck speed, and with new surprises every hour, be prepared to lose several hours to this book.
In this original, twisty, and breakneck “modern masterpiece” (The Providence Journal), a man goes back in time to prevent the murder of his wife.
At 9 p.m., Nick Quinn is sitting in a jail cell, arrested for the murder of his wife, Mary, when he is offered an astonishing opportunity. Given a talisman by a mysterious stranger, Nick now has the ability to go back in time, one hour at a time, for a total of twelve hours.
With the chance to discover Mary’s killer and even prevent her death, Nick races against the clock, only to discover that his actions in the past could have unexpected repercussions on the future. Worse, if he hasn’t set things right by the thirteenth hour, all will be lost.
“If there ever was a novel that deserves to be read in one sitting, this is it. With a totally original and compelling story line, The 13th Hour” (Booklist, starred review) is an unforgettable thrill ride.
Ruby is your totally normal therapist, with a loving marriage, great friends—and a body count. That body count doesn’t include her husband who, unfortunately, is brutally murdered by someone else. Even worse, Miami Beach PD, her mother-in-law, and just about everyone else thinks that she did it, which is totally rude. Now Ruby is on a mission to hunt down the killer and proclaim her innocence . . . of this particular murder, anyway. BLOOD SUGAR is a twisted, borderline funny journey into the mind of a totally-not-a-sociopath main character, one you’ll find yourself rooting for by the end.
When the press descends on the small Cornish fishing village of St. Steele, it’s not because of its idyllic views or historic importance. There’s been a string of brutal murders involving young women, and Betty Broadbent’s family hotel is where all the reporters are staying. That’s how she meets John Gallagher, a reporter twice her age with whom she shares a dark, intimate, and at times confusing connection. Secrets, guilt, and duty all drag these characters through a narrative rollercoaster before the surprising reveal behind the murders. THE UNFORGOTTEN might seem like your average historical murder mystery, but it packs an emotional punch.
The author often takes it upon themselves to lead the reader through the story, trying to highlight themes and clues to the solution of the mystery. Janice Hallett took a different approach for THE APPEAL, making it all the more fascinating. During a production of the play All My Sons, one of the actors is murdered. But rather than following a character as they investigate the crime, the book presents emails, letters, documents, and more, letting the reader puzzle it out and hunt for clues. Part whodunnit, part epistolary novel, if you’re the kind of thriller fan who tries to figure out the ending along with the characters, then this is the book for you!
Perfect for fans of Ruth Ware and Lisa Jewell, this “dazzlingly clever” (The Sunday Times) murder mystery follows a community rallying around a sick child—but when escalating lies lead to a dead body, everyone is a suspect.
The Fairway Players, a local theatre group, is in the midst of rehearsals when tragedy strikes the family of director Martin Hayward and his wife Helen, the play’s star. Their young granddaughter has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and with an experimental treatment costing a tremendous sum, their fellow castmates rally to raise the money to give her a chance at survival.
But not everybody is convinced of the experimental treatment’s efficacy—nor of the good intentions of those involved. As tension grows within the community, things come to a shocking head at the explosive dress rehearsal. The next day, a dead body is found, and soon, an arrest is made. In the run-up to the trial, two young lawyers sift through the material—emails, messages, letters—with a growing suspicion that a killer may be hiding in plain sight. The evidence is all there, between the lines, waiting to be uncovered.
A wholly modern take on the epistolary novel, The Appeal is a “daring…clever, and funny” (The Times) debut for fans of Richard Osman and Lucy Foley.
Tales of two missing girls, happening ten years apart—pretty par for the course in a thriller. But Megan Miranda turns the story on its head by presenting the events in reverse, starting with Day 15 of the disappearance of the second girl. The protagonist, Nicolette, is trying to figure out what happened to her best friend, Corinne, the first girl to disappear, while trying to save the latest victim. “Twisted” doesn’t begin to describe the relationships between the inhabitants of the town, and every new answer leads to ten new questions. But one thing is for sure: ALL THE MISSING GIRLS will have you counting down the moments until this mystery is solved.
A spellbinding psychological thriller told in reverse, Megan Miranda’s first novel for adult readers is about the connected disappearances of two young women ten years apart in the same small town. Miranda has an uncanny talent for suspense. Megan Miranda’s new novel, THE PERFECT STRANGER, is just out.
Read a review of the book Megan Miranda can’t stop recommending.
If you want to get away with the perfect crime, one way to ensure your escape is to have the witness suffer from prosopagnosia, a condition in which the person cannot recognize faces. For Eleanor, that’s unfortunately the case. When her grandmother is murdered, she gets a good look at the fleeing perpetrator. But her anxiety grows as she struggles with the fact that she saw her grandmother’s killer but wouldn’t be able to identify them if they came back to tie up loose ends. At least Eleanor can get away in the isolated country home her grandmother left her in her will, though she soon discovers that there are dark secrets lying in wait there as well. A new take on the unreliable narrator trope, THE RESTING PLACE asks us to consider how well we know our family, both past and present.
What’s the cost of saving a life? That’s kind of a weird question, but the ramifications of saving someone can be far-reaching and deep. Take, for example, Jeff Cook, who resuscitated a man who had nearly drowned. That man, renowned art dealer Francis Arsenault, doesn’t seem to remember Jeff later when Jeff visits his gallery, but does see something worth cultivating in the young man. That one interaction begins a spiraling journey of schemes and cons, hidden agendas, and dark consequences, all leading to Jeff telling his tale to our unnamed narrator in order to share it with the world. And believe me, MOUTH TO MOUTH is one hell of a tale!
“An enthralling literary puzzle...This powerful, intoxicating book’s greatest tension is that we have no idea where it is heading.” —The New York Times
A successful art dealer confesses the story of his meteoric rise in this “sleek, swift, and graceful” novel “with unexpectedly sharp teeth” (Lauren Groff, New York Times bestselling author).
In a first-class lounge at JFK airport, our narrator listens as Jeff Cook, a former classmate he only vaguely remembers, shares the uncanny story of his adult life—a life that changed course years before, the moment he resuscitated a drowning man.
Jeff reveals that after that traumatic, galvanizing morning on the beach, he was compelled to learn more about the man whose life he had saved, convinced that their fates were now entwined. But are we agents of our fate—or are we its pawns? Upon discovering that the man is renowned art dealer Francis Arsenault, Jeff begins to surreptitiously visit his Beverly Hills gallery. Although Francis does not seem to recognize him as the man who saved his life, he nevertheless casts his legendary eye on Jeff and sees something worthy. He takes the younger man under his wing, initiating him into his world, where knowledge, taste, and access are currency; a world where value is constantly shifting and calling into question what is real, and what matters. The paths of the two men come together and diverge in dizzying ways until the novel’s staggering ending.
Sly, suspenseful, and engrossing, Mouth to Mouth masterfully blurs the line between opportunity and exploitation, self-respect and self-delusion, fact and fiction—exposing the myriad ways we deceive each other, and ourselves.
What if you were writing a fictional story and it turned out to be entirely true? For Peregrine Long, that’s not a hypothetical. He gets inspired to write a story about a Chinese family through an image he sees in his tea, but later he’s approached by a woman named Eva, who says that he’s writing her family’s history exactly as it happened. She’s hoping he can help her answer a lingering question: What happened to her uncle, who was lost to them as a child? Peregrine seems to be the only one who can figure out the truth, but what he learns along the way encompasses more than just a missing relative of a family he’s never met. Strange, twisting, and heartbreaking, A PAPER SON is one of those books you don’t see coming until it has you in tears.
Grade school teacher and aspiring author Peregrine Long sees a Chinese family on board a ship--in his morning tea. The image inspires him to write the story of this family, but then a woman turns up at his door, claiming that he's writing her family history exactly as it happened. She doesn't like it, but she has one question: What happened to the little boy of the family, her long-lost uncle?
Throughout the course of a month-long tempest that begins to wash the peninsula out from beneath them, Peregrine searches modern-day San Francisco and its surroundings--and, through his continued writing, southern China and the Pacific immigration experience of a century ago--for the missing boy. The clues uncovered lead Peregrine to question not only the nature of his writing, but also his knowledge of his own past and his understanding of his identity.
When I say this book destroyed me, I mean that there is a dent in my wall from when I threw the book in pure shock. That’s how unique and unpredictable this story is, something Paul Tremblay excels at. A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS follows Merry Barrett, an adult who is relating the traumatic story of her sister’s (supposed) demonic possession, and the reality TV show that came to tape it when both sisters were children. The book never reveals whether or not Marjorie, the older sister, is actually possessed or not, supplying ample evidence for both possibilities. But the real shocker is the ending, which will make your blood run cold with one of the darkest twists in fiction.
Photo credit: iStock / IgorBukhlin