A newer trend in thrillers that is captivating readers and providing even more twists is a literary device of a “book within a book.” Rather, it’s a dual plot or a plot heavily centered around a book, but it means double the story for a reader to be invested in and we all love bookish things. From stolen manuscripts to memoirs that question the truth, here are some of the best thrillers that feature bookish plots.
Lies She Told by Cate Holahan
Liza Cole is an author who has one month to write a jaw-dropping thriller that will revitalize her career. Not only does Liza want her next book to be a bestseller, but she wants to start a family with her husband, who is more distracted by the fact his best friend Nick is missing. So Liza does what any author would do: she dives into the life of her protagonist, Beth. Beth is a new mother who suspects her husband is cheating and soon finds herself disposing of her husband’s mistresses body. When Nick’s body is found in the same river, the lines between fiction and reality begin to blur, and Liza finds herself fighting for the truth and eerily relating to her character Beth.
The Weight of Lies by Emily Carpenter
Meg Ashley lives a luxurious lifestyle, thanks to the best-selling horror novel her mother wrote. When Meg gets a lucrative deal to write a memoir, she finds herself looking into the past and on Bonny Island, GA, where she meets the woman who was the inspiration for her mother’s book. As Meg looks into the history of the book, she begins to learn more shocking things about her mother and soon finds herself digging into a decades-old murder. While Meg’s mothers book may be a horror novel, Meg finds herself in a situation full of terror.
The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea
When high school seniors Nicole Cutty and Megan McDonald go missing from a beach party, the town of Emerson Bay, NC is shocked and terrified. A year after Megan escaped from a bunker, her best-selling memoir of her disappearance has made her famous. Meanwhile, Nicole Cutty is still missing and her sister, Livia—a fellow in forensic pathology—is waiting for the day she can get some closure, when Nicole’s body is found. However, Livia realizes that other girls have gone missing, and she reaches out to Megan to learn more about what happened the night she and Nicole went missing. Meanwhile, Megan knows more than she’s letting on and her book is definitely full of holes when it comes to her story.
Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
Twenty-five years ago, Maggie and her parents moved into a Victorian house in the woods of Vermont called Baneberry Gall, only to flee three weeks later and never return. Maggie’s father wrote a book about their terrifying experience that became a best seller describing the hauntings they dealt with. Now, her father has died and left her Baneberry Hall. While Maggie never believed anything that was in her father’s book, she returns to the home to restore it in order to sell it. But once Maggie reunites with Baneberry Hall, she quickly realizes there may have been some truth to what her father wrote after all.
The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard
Two decades ago, Eve was the sole survivor of The Nothing Man, a brutal serial killer who murdered her family when she was just twelve years old. Now, Eve has released her memoir about her search in finding the man who killed her family. Jim, a security guard at a supermarket, has just begun to read Eve’s memoir and is beginning to relive the murders—as he is The Nothing Man. As Jim continues to read, he realizes how close Eve is to finding him and the closer she gets to the truth, the closer Jim gets to finishing what he started the day he killed her family.
Verity by Colleen Hoover
Lowen is a struggling author who has just been hired by Jeremy Crawford to complete the remaining books in a series that his wife Verity was working on before she was seriously injured. As Lowen reviews Verity’s notes, she finds an unfinished autobiography and begins to read it behind Jeremy’s back. As Lowen begins to develop feelings for Jeremy, she simultaneously learns about some of the secrets Verity has been hiding as she gets deeper and deeper into her incomplete autobiography.
Kill All Your Darlings by David Bell
English professor Connor Nye has been struggling to write for years after the deaths of his wife and son. Now, he has released his first novel, a thriller about the murder of a young woman. But Connor didn’t write this book. His missing—and presumed dead—student did. When she appears on his doorstep alive and well, she wants what is owed to her and is threatening to expose Connor for stealing her book. Now, the police are at Connor’s doorstep connecting details in the novel he stole that implicate him as a suspect in an unsolved murder from two years ago. Now Connor finds himself in a position where he has to come clean about what he’s done, before the police arrest him for a murder he didn’t commit.
Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson
Malcolm Kershaw is a crime junkie and bookseller who made a list of the most unsolvable murders from his favorite books years ago in which he titled “Eight Perfect Murders.” When an FBI agent shows up at his bookstore, Malcolm finds that they are investigating a series of murders that seem to be all taken from his list, making him the prime suspect. Fighting to prove his innocence, Malcolm soon finds a brutal killer is stalking him, and they know every dark secret he has been trying to leave in his past.