Listen, we’ve all been obsessed with something or someone. It’s part of the human experience. Which is probably why it’s so hard not to immediately binge the new season of You the minute it hits Netflix, even though it takes forever for the season after that to come out. But when the questionable rationalizations and bloody mayhem of our favorite psychopath/narcissist are all wrapped up, where do you turn for that next obsessive fix? Well, we’ve got you covered. Here are ten novels for fans of You that are sure to get you obsessed again.
10 Obsession Thrillers to Keep a Close Eye On
Lisa Jewell always knows how to ensnare readers in a truly twisted tale, and WATCHING YOU is a perfect example. For instance, why have just one character who’s obsessed when you can have multiple ones? Joey has developed a bit of an unhealthy crush on her neighbor, the headmaster Tom Fitzwilliam, something Tom’s son, Freddie, is keeping a close eye on (while keeping a creepy eye on everyone else in the neighborhood too). But Joey isn’t the only one with Tom in her sights —Tom’s student Jenna is convinced her headmaster isn’t the good guy everyone thinks he is (there’s the matter of what seems to be an improper relationship between him and her best friend). And to top it all off, Jenna’s unbalanced mom is sure that Tom’s been stalking her. Is this educator who he seems to be, or does he have dark secrets that threaten the lives of all those caught in his web? You’ll just have to read this gripping novel to find out!
There’s something romantic about being the object of someone’s intense affections. Wait, did I just say romantic? I mean creepy and terrifying. Dr. Sheila Tao is a psychology professor who, against her better judgment, has an affair with graduate student Ethan Wolfe. Realizing this intense attraction is going to ruin her life, she tries to pull away, only for Ethan to threaten to reveal her secrets to her colleagues and her fiancé. And if that weren’t enough, the university campus where the story plays out is rocked by a brutal murder. CREEP follows the twists and turns of the head games Sheila and Ethan play as they try to get what they want (or don’t want) from their relationship, for better or for worse.
Pulsing with the dark obsession of Radiohead’s song “Creep,” Jennifer Hillier’s superb debut thriller is a terrifying cat-and-mouse game between a woman with everything to lose, and the lover she couldn't resist…who’s now the monster who won’t let her go.
A popular psychology professor in Seattle, Sheila works hard to keep her secrets hidden. On the surface, she’s an expert in human behavior and a well-liked educator, but nobody knows she’s a recovering sex addict in therapy—not even the love of her life, Morris. And she needs it to stay that way, or she could lose everything.
But Ethan Wolfe is impossible to resist. The graduate student is brilliant, charming, and seductive as hell. He’s also Sheila’s teaching assistant, and thirteen years her junior. Ignoring the risks to her career and relationship, they begin an illicit affair that lasts three months, until Morris asks her to marry him. Determined to get her life back on track, Sheila commits to a future with her fiancé, a man she’s not sure she deserves.
But Ethan can’t move on so easily. He didn’t pursue his professor for as long as he did to get dumped for some boring, middle-aged suit. Ethan’s made plans too, and he doesn’t take rejection well. When the body of one of Sheila’s students is discovered floating in Puget Sound—a young woman Ethan was rumored to have dated—it’s clear that the graduate student has secrets of his own.
And he’s not about to let Sheila get away.
If there’s someone who’s going to do obsession justice, it’s Mary Higgins Clark. In ALL AROUND THE TOWN, Laurie has a dark past. Abducted at the age of four and trapped for two horrific years, she’s fought hard to process the trauma and move on with her life, now even attending college. But her reclaimed life all falls apart when she’s accused of murdering her professor, something she does not remember doing, even though incriminating evidence is found. And what’s worse, one of the duo who abducted her all those years ago is now more obsessed than ever with getting her back. As thrilling as it is twisted, this book is sure to get you hooked from the first few pages.
Mary Higgins Clark, the Queen of Suspense, crafts a terrifying story of murder and obsession with “a slambam finish” (Los Angeles Times Book Review).
When Laurie Kenyon, a twenty-one-year-old student, is accused of murdering her English professor, she has no memory of the crime. Her fingerprints, however, are everywhere. When she asks her sister, attorney Sarah, to mount her defense, Sarah in turn brings in psychiatrist Justin Donnelly.
Kidnapped at the age of four and victimized for two years, Laurie has developed astounding coping skills. Only when the unbearable memories of those lost years are released can the truth of the crime come out—and only then can the final sadistic plan of her abductor, whose obsession is stronger than ever, be revealed.
At first, Evie Jones, newspaper reporter, has a professional interest in pursuing the topic of famous cases of murdered local girls. At the same time she becomes obsessed with pursuing the case of the rape and murder of her childhood best friend, so that the alleged killer, who is named but uncaught, is brought to justice. But as Evie involves their childhood friend David in her investigations, upsetting truths come to light, and it is now Evie who’s in danger of being the killer’s next victim. Sure to raise any reader’s pulse, THE DEVIL YOU KNOW is perfect for any true crime–obsessed readers who’ve always wanted to crack a case.
“Gripping!” —Margaret Atwood via Twitter (@MargaretAtwood)
In the vein of Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects and A.S.A. Harrison’s The Silent Wife, The Devil You Know is a thrilling debut about a rookie reporter, whose memories of the murder of her childhood best friend bring danger—and a stalker—right to her doorstep.
The year is 1993. Rookie crime beat reporter Evie Jones is haunted by the unsolved murder of her best friend Lianne Gagnon who was killed in 1982, back when both girls were eleven. The suspected killer, a repeat offender named Robert Cameron, was never arrested, leaving Lianne’s case cold.
Now twenty-one and living alone for the first time, Evie is obsessively drawn to finding out what really happened to Lianne. She leans on another childhood friend, David Patton, for help—but every clue they uncover seems to lead to an unimaginable conclusion. As she gets closer and closer to the truth, Evie becomes convinced that the killer is still at large—and that he’s coming back for her.
From critically acclaimed author Elisabeth de Mariaffi comes an “exceptional book…full of surprises” (Suspense Magazine) about secrets long buried and obsession that cannot be controlled.
Meeting someone special can complete your life in a number of ways. Meeting an obsessive stalker can completely ruin your life very, very quickly. Andrew Wilson is a prosperous writer who is looking to find someone to share his success with. He thinks he’s found just the person in Mika, who seems to be his perfect match. But after one night of passion, Andrew finds that Mika isn’t exactly human and attempts to flee. Too bad for him, Mika’s got her heart set on a lifetime with Andrew, and nothing is going to get in her way. A rare supernatural addition to the thriller genre, WITHIN THE SHADOWS really does remind us to be careful what we wish for.
It’s not easy to carry on when your mom is a famous death-row murderer, which is why Edie handles it so poorly. A recovering alcoholic with a crappy job, Edie’s got an obsession that gets her through her meaningless existence: stalking the families of her mother’s victims. Along her desperate way to find out if they’ve managed to recover from her mother’s terrible acts, Edie stumbles on the body of a dead man, the husband of one of her mother’s victims, making her the number one suspect. But she didn’t do it . . . or did she? IN HER BONES is a chilling examination of what people will do to survive, and just how similar we can really be to our families, whether we like it or not.
“A higher level than the standard thriller. Readers will enjoy this book for the suspense…[and] love it for the skill and mastery Moretti has for her craft.” —New York Journal of Books
“Morbid…Moretti pulls some tricky tricks.” —The New York Times
New York Times bestselling author Kate Moretti’s next “exceptional…emotionally astute, [and] deliciously sinister” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) thriller follows the daughter of a convicted serial killer who finds herself at the center of a murder investigation.
Fifteen years ago, Lilith Wade was arrested for the brutal murder of six women. After a death row conviction, media frenzy, and the release of an unauthorized biography, her thirty-year-old daughter Edie Beckett is just trying to survive out of the spotlight. She’s a recovering alcoholic with a dead-end city job and an unhealthy codependent relationship with her brother.
Edie also has a disturbing secret: a growing obsession with the families of Lilith’s victims. She’s desperate to see how they’ve managed—or failed—to move on. While her escalating fixation is a problem, she’s careful to keep her distance. That is, until she crosses a line and a man is found murdered.
Edie quickly becomes the prime suspect—and while she can’t remember everything that happened the night of the murder, she’d surely remember killing someone. With the detective who arrested her mother hot on her trail, Edie goes into hiding. She’s must get to the truth of what happened that night before the police—or the real killer—find her.
Unless, of course, she has more in common with her mother than she’s willing to admit…
Perfect for fans of Ruth Ware, In Her Bones features Moretti’s “riveting and insightful” (Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author) prose and “chillingly satisfying” (Publishers Weekly) twists, and will leave you questioning the nature of guilt, obsession, and the toxicity of familial ties.
When a student has a harmless crush on a teacher, it can be kind of cute. When it’s the other way around, it can be much less wholesome. Professor Jeremy Cooke is an anthropologist who had taken a bit more than a liking to his graduate student Alice Salmon, who ends up tragically murdered. Already at the end of his less-than-impressive career, Cooke dedicates himself to writing a book about Alice’s life, going through every one of her notes and emails and correspondences. The teacher is hoping those writings of Alice that remain could reveal who her killer is—but just how close to home might they be? WHAT SHE LEFT paints Alice as a vulnerable and complicated young woman, and the story around her life that emerges is sure to enthrall and disturb in equal measure.
In this brilliantly modern novel of love, obsession, and revenge, a professor pieces together the life and mysterious death of a former student—and unearths a shocking revelation about her final days. “A deliciously modern take on the psychological thriller” (Daily Telegraph).
On a snowy February morning, the body of twenty-five-year-old journalist Alice Salmon washes up on a riverbank south of London. The sudden, shocking death of this beloved local girl becomes a media sensation, and those who knew her struggle to understand what happened to lively, smart, and savvy Alice Salmon. Was it suicide? A tragic accident? Or…murder?
Professor Jeremy Cooke, known around campus as Old Cookie, is an anthropologist nearing the end of his unremarkable academic career. Alice is his former student, and the object of his unhealthy obsession. After her death, he embarks on a final project—a book documenting Alice’s life through the digital and paper trails that survive her: her diaries, letters, Facebook posts, Tweets, and text messages. He collects news articles by and about her; he transcribes old voicemails; he interviews her friends, family, and boyfriends.
Bit by bit, the real Alice—a complicated and vulnerable young woman—springs fully formed from the pages of Cookie’s book…along with a labyrinth of misunderstandings, lies, and secrets that cast suspicion on everyone in her circle—including Jeremy himself.
Going viral isn’t always a good thing. When FBI Special Agent Nina Guerrera is filmed taking down a would-be attacker, she starts getting a lot of attention. Specifically, she catches the eye of the serial killer who abducted her when she was 16, just over a decade ago, but failed to make her a victim then. With his obsession rekindled, he’ll do what he has to do in order to get close to Nina again, but this time, he’s determined not to let her get away. Too bad for him that Nina’s got allies in this cat-and-mouse game, and she’s hell-bent to put him away for good. THE CIPHER is part law enforcement drama, part serial killer thriller, and an all-around pulse-pounding good read.
Sometimes what we’re obsessed with is not a person but a substance. And for Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, in Paris in the 1700s, that obsession is in creating the perfect perfume. Peculiarly, having no scent himself, Jean-Baptiste’s nose leads him to becoming a perfumer, learning the skills needed to capture the essence of all things and distill them into scent. But when his hunt for the perfect aroma leads to the murders of several young women, his obsession becomes darker and altogether more disturbing. With some of the strangest and most visceral death scenes in literature, PERFUME asks what perfection is really worth, and if anyone should be willing enough to pay that price.
An acclaimed bestseller and international sensation, Patrick Suskind’s classic novel provokes a terrifying examination of what happens when one man’s indulgence in his greatest passion—his sense of smell—leads to murder.
It’s always tempting, after a long and traumatic time, to get a fresh start. That’s what Stevie Erickson is looking for after the death of her grandmother. And that’s what she gets when her boyfriend Jacob secures a job as a diver for an eco-tourist company located on a small Tanzanian island. But Stevie’s not as ready for this change as she thinks she is, and she can’t escape the nagging feeling that something isn’t right. Even after befriending seasoned, entrancing travelers Leo and Tamsin on the island, Stevie’s got the sense she’s being watched. Things escalate quickly, and Stevie soon realizes that she’s been singled out as the next victim of a killer lurking in the shadows. THE HUNTED is all about who you can trust—including yourself—and whether it’s a good idea to leap before you look.
The Beach meets The Guest List in this twisty travel thriller about two couples who meet backpacking through Africa, but what begins as friendship quickly turns to obsession, with deadly consequences—from bestselling author Roz Nay.
Stevie Erickson is looking for a fresh start. The sudden loss of her grandmother has sent her life into a tailspin, dredging up old losses and putting a strain on her relationship with her boyfriend, Jacob. So when Jacob is offered a job as a diver for GoEco, a dive operation for ecotourists on Rafiki, a beautiful, secluded island off the coast of Tanzania, he thinks it’s just the adventure they need and Stevie reluctantly agrees to go with him.
Their trip gets off to a rough start with a nighttime scare at their first hostel. Already fragile, Stevie can’t shake the feeling that she’s being watched. Things improve when they meet seasoned backpackers Leo and Tamsin, a drop-dead gorgeous couple who instantly take a shine to Stevie and Jacob.
But on Rafiki Island, their new friendship is put to the test, as is Stevie and Jacob’s own relationship. And when innocent flirting goes too far, past truths surface, exposing a killer in their midst—a killer whose sights are set on Stevie.
A high dive into the dangers of obsession, this sinister and seductive thriller will leave you breathless.
If you enjoyed this book list, you might also enjoy:
Lies and Love: 10 Thrillers with Just a Hint of Romance
8 Thrillers to Feed Your True Crime Addiction
7 Unhinged Narrators Who Will Haunt Your Dreams
Photo credit: iStock / Esther Derksen