Ask any mystery, suspense and thriller readers about some of their favorite storytellers, and I am willing to bet there’s one name they will all have in common: Ruth Ware.
Ruth Ware is a masterful storyteller who has been labeled the Agatha Christie of her generation. Ware writes suspenseful and mysterious gothic novels that all have fantastic plots and truly vivid characters. Whether you’re a fan of 2015’s In a Dark, Dark Wood or her most recent 2020 release, One by One, Ware has an impeccable way of giving her readers brilliantly plotted stories—yet, each one has at least one thing in common: Ware sure can build an eerie setting from cottages in the woods to modern smart-homes, to a chalet in the middle of a blizzard.
Here are the best books to read if you love Ruth Ware.
The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse
An abandoned sanatorium in an isolated section of the Swiss Alps is renovated to a five-star minimalist hotel. Surrounded by dark forest and towering peaks, there is something foreboding about the place. On a break from her job as a detective, Elin Warner reluctantly checks in to the hotel to celebrate her estranged brother’s engagement. When the group wakes up one morning to discover that his fiancé has disappeared, Elin must use her detective skills to find her, before it’s too late. With tensions in the hotel running high and a storm moving in that will isolate them from the outside world, it becomes clear that their lives are at stake.
A Death in the Family by Tessa Wegert
If you haven’t read Tessa Wegert yet, you’re in for a real treat. A Death in the Family is perfect for fans of Ruth Ware; we have a remote island, a storm brewing, a family full of secrets, and a bed full of blood. When a former NYPD Detective – Shana Merchant – leaves behind the violence of New York City after being abducted by a serial killer, she never guessed her next assignment in a small town in Upstate New York would be so violent. When she and her partner report to a privately owned family island to find a man missing and a wealthy family full of secrets, it’s only a matter of time before Merchant and her partner are stuck on this island with a missing man and a possible murderer. Between the large cast of characters, the setting of a locked-room mystery, and a protagonist with a harrowing past, this is definitely a book that is impossible to put down and the beginning to a fantastic new series.
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
Speaking of locked-room mysteries – Lucy Foley is an expert and her novel The Hunting Party is a taut and unsettling murder mystery that is atmospheric and could create a chill even on the hottest summer day. For the past decade, a group of friends ring in the New Year together as a way to catch up and reminisce about their days at Oxford. This year, they meet at an isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands and their reunion is nothing but ordinary…that is, until a blizzard traps them on the estate and the nostalgia brings up some bitter feelings. Come New Years Day, one friend will be dead and one friend will be guilty. This story is such a perfect cozy thriller with multiple perspectives, the unsettling feeling of being trapped, and a plethora of twists and turns.
When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole
Gentrification takes on a darker meaning when it comes to one Brooklyn neighborhood. Sydney Green and her neighbor Theo see their neighborhood changing before their eyes, with condos springing up everywhere and neighbors they have known forever suddenly moving without notice. Sydney and Theo channel their frustration into putting together a historic walking tour of their neighborhood. Doing research, they begin to uncover a series of coincidences that indicate that their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all. Something much darker is going on, and they need to find out what it is before they disappear next.
Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger
Lisa Unger is a masterful storyteller; someone who can craft one brilliant twist after another. Confessions on the 7:45 is about Selena and Martha, two women who meet on the train ride home from work. Soon into their commute, Selena admits she believes her husband is having an affair with her nanny, while Martha admits to having an affair with her boss. After parting ways, Selena feels good to have been able to get that admission off from her shoulders…until her nanny goes missing and she is dragged into an investigation and wonders – could her new friend possibly had anything to do with this? Between the comparison to Strangers on a Train, the spiderweb of a plot, and diabolical characters, Confessions on the 7:45 is gripping, eerie and full of mystery.
Dear Child by Romy Hausmann
If you’re in the mood for a chilling psychological thriller that will leave you guessing until the very end, then pick up Dear Child. This is a story about a woman and a little girl who escape their capture in a cabin in the woods. Once found, the woman claims her name is Lena and she had disappeared 14 years ago. When the family she claims to have left behind says that she is not Lena, it is up to Lena’s father and the little girl who escaped from the cabin to find out the full story as to what really happened in the cabin in the woods. This book is unsettling and brilliantly paced. It is not only compelling and poignant, but one that will stick with you long after the jaw-dropping finale.
They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall
Miriam Macy has been invited on the trip of a lifetime; a vacation on a luxurious private island where she’ll be surrounded by clear water and perfect skies. With six other strangers, they expect to be pampered and treated to luxury. But Miriam is shocked to discover that they’ve been lured to the island for a different reason. All seven guests have something hide. As suspicious accidents begin to take place, they begin to fall one by one.
Watching You by Lisa Jewell
Lisa Jewell’s books are all perfect for Ruth Ware fans—but especially Watching You. In a wealthy English neighborhood, a spiderweb of lies, deceit and stalking is being crafted that will result in murder. Told in multiple perspectives, including a teenager girl infatuated with her new headmaster—the headmaster himself that may have some secrets he’s hiding—and another student who is convinced the new headmaster is a stalker. This is an eerie and atmospheric story investigating that combines a dual timeline between the inhabitants of this neighborhood and a young girl’s diary from twenty years ago.
Where the Missing Go by Emma Rowley
Not a day goes by that Kate Harlow doesn’t think about her missing daughter Sophie. While she’s written notes home since her disappearance stating she’s doing fine, Kate can’t shake the feeling that her daughter is in trouble. When Kate volunteers at Message in a Bottle, a place where runaways can call and leave messages for those they left behind, she is shocked when one night a young woman calls in who sounds exactly like Sophie. With this new information and the knowledge a stranger has been in her home, Kate knows she has some digging to do. This shocking read will have you on the edge of your seat up until the very last page.
The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine
Dr. Kate has the life so many people dream of but when her mother is murdered in her own home, her entire world is suddenly turned upside down. When she is reunited with Blaire at her mother’s funeral, she asks for her help. Soon after, Kate starts receiving threatening texts from someone involved in her mother’s death. Can Blaire and Kate figure out the mystery and save Kate or will the killer claim her life too?
Stone Cold Heart by Caz Frear
Cat Kinsella is back to solving crimes for the London Metropolitan Police in Stone Cold Heart, taking on a murder case that will leave her questioning everything. An Australian woman has just been murdered and the police department is quick to assume the killer is a local businessman. With a less-than-certain alibi and a wife who can’t prove her husband’s innocence, Cat will have to dig deep into a marriage to get to the truth in this thrilling sequel in the Cat Kinsella series.
Firewatching by Russ Thomas
The case of a missing man, presumed to be on the run, suddenly breaks open when his bones are discovered in the cellar of his burned-down mansion. Though everyone else has low expectations for solving this case, Detective Sergeant Adam Miller thinks this is the investigation that will finally make his career, if he can solve it. Unfortunately, the primary suspect turns out to be the man Miller has just slept with, Tyler. Now, the detective must keep his relationship with Tyler a secret, all the while trying to get to the bottom of what happened.
Temper by Layne Fargo
Kira Rascher believes she has finally gotten the big acting break she’s been looking for. While she gets to star in a new production, she’s weary of working with the director, Malcolm Mercer, who’s known for being extremely tough on his actors. But just when she thinks she knows who she’s up against, she meets her twisted co-star Joanna who is hiding secrets that could ruin the production and all of their lives.
A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena
The lives of husband-and-wife Karen and Tom Krupp are upended when Tom returns home one day to find his wife has vanished. Police find her after she’s caught speeding though a bad part of town, an act that ends in a terrible car accident. When Karen wakes up in the hospital, she can’t remember the events preceding the car chase or why she was in the car to begin with. Strangely, when she returns home, there’s something not quite right about their home. Things are out of place. And worse, everyone in the house seems to be carrying their own share of secrets.
One More Lie by Amy Lloyd
All Charlotte wants is a new beginning. She wants to forget her criminal past, time in prison and the dangerous Sean, but old habits are hard to break. Slowly but surely, Charlotte starts to go back to her criminal ways, forcing her to face cruel memories that she knows will haunt her forever.
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
All Frances Welty wanted to find at Tranquillum House was peace and relaxation to heal her bad back and her recently broken heart. She’s interested to see that her fellow guests don’t look like the type of people you’d expect at a Health Resort. But each of them carry their share of pain and secrets. They don’t know that, soon, Tranquillum House will challenge them beyond all expectation, causing them to question whether they should have ever set foot in the house.
The First Mistake by Sandie Jones
Alice has a new husband, a beautiful home, healthy children and a thriving business. With thoughts of her first husband constantly swirling in her head, she begins to have second thoughts when her new husband begins exhibiting odd behavior. Confiding in her best friend, she’ll come to find that she may not be able to trust anyone around her after all.
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