Missing persons thrillers are some of the most unputdownable stories. Did they leave on their own accord? Did something horrifying happen to them? Will they be found? Who is responsible? These are just a few questions you’ll ask yourself after reading the synopsis alone. There are so many different directions a book about a missing person can go to either break or invent the rules of police procedural, domestic suspense, and psychological thrillers, amongst many other popular genres. Here are some of the most immersive stories about missing people.
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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
On the day of her fifth wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne vanishes. Her husband, Nick Dunne, is the main suspect according to the police, the media, and Amy’s parents. As the town turns against Nick and everyone thinks he’s responsible for what happened to Amy, the reader is taken on an adventure, as Nick’s perspective from the day Amy went missing clashes dangerously with diary entries from Amy leading up to the day she disappeared.
Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger
On her commute home on the train, Selena Murphy strikes up a conversation with a woman named Martha. Martha confides in Selena that she’s having an affair with her boss. Meanwhile Selena tells Martha that she thinks her husband is sleeping with her nanny. When the train arrives at Selena’s stop, the two women part, expecting to never see one another again. Then Selena’s nanny disappears, and Selena fears Martha may have had something to do with it.
All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
Ten years ago, Nicolette Farrell’s best friend, Corinne, disappeared and was never seen again. When Nicolette returns to her hometown for the first time since Corinne disappeared to care for her sick father, Corinne’s case is opened back up when Nicolette’s ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend goes missing. The story is then told backwards over a fifteen-day period.
Don’t Look for Me by Wendy Walker
Molly Clarke is gone, and the police suspect she vanished on her own will. Her car was found abandoned, a note was found at a hotel, and everyone thinks Molly left to start a new life. What no one knows is the night Molly disappeared, she ran out of gas during a storm and a man stopped to help her. When Molly got into that vehicle, the doors locked, and she knew she made a terrible mistake. When a new lead emerges, Molly’s daughter, Nicole, returns to find her mother once and for all.
The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
Fifteen years ago at Camp Nightingale, Emma watched her three friends Vivian, Natalie, and Allison sneak out of their cabin only for the three girls to never be seen again. Now, Emma is an artist in New York City creating huge canvas paintings of that night when her artwork catches the attention of the owner of Camp Nightingale. The owner invites Emma to return to the recently reopened camp as a paint instructor, and Emma reluctantly agrees with only one goal – to find out what really happened to the three missing girls.
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The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
In 1982 in Fell, New York, a young woman named Viv takes a job as a night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in hopes of saving enough money to move to New York City. After some scary experiences and strange occurrences, Viv disappears. Twenty-five years later, Viv’s niece, Carly, moves to Fell to visit the motel her aunt was working at hoping to find answers to what happened to her. Soon enough, Carly takes a job as a night clerk and begins to experience something terrifying…the same experiences Viv had before she vanished into thin air.
A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham
When Chloe Davis was twelve years old, her father confessed to the disappearances of six teenage girls and was sentenced to life in prison. Twenty years later, Chloe is a psychologist preparing for her wedding when local teenagers begin to disappear again and all of her memories of the summer her father went to prison come flooding back. Is Chloe about to unmask another killer or was her father innocent this entire time?
Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
Twenty years ago, Lydia and Claire’s sister Julia disappeared, and the two sisters haven’t spoken since. While Claire lives a luxurious life as a trophy wife, Lydia is a single mother struggling to pay the bills. Then, Claire’s husband is brutally murdered, and the two sisters reunite in hopes of finally getting answers as to what happened to Julia over two decades ago.
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Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica
Not long after Shelby Tebow went missing, Meredith Dickey and her six-year-old daughter, Delilah, also vanished. The community was broken-hearted and terrified. Are the three missing people connected? Eleven years later, Delilah returns, and everyone is dying for answers. Where has she been this whole time, and even scarier, where are Shelby and Meredith?
The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea
Senior high school students Nicole Cutty and Megan McDonald disappeared from a beach party that erupts in townwide panic, including a massive police search. Megan escapes from a bunker in the woods and a year later has released a bestselling book about her ordeal, but Nicole is still missing. Nicole’s older sister, Livia, a fellow in forensic pathology, has been waiting for the day that Nicole’s body is found so she can finally get closure. Other girls have also disappeared, which leads Livia to believe this is the work of a serial killer, but what she doesn’t know is Megan knows more than she’s telling anyone—and her memories are beginning to help her put the pieces together about the time she spent being held captive.
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