Domestic suspense novels have stood the test of time in crime fiction by exploring what can go wrong and the complexities of a marriage—but nothing is more chilling than when a thriller features a plot surrounding motherhood. You imagine characters who are mothers to go through the trials and tribulations and anxiety that can surround any mother’s mind, but what happens when they involve murder, kidnapping, or toxicity? Or if a mother/daughter duo, who might not get along so well (a la The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave) are forced to solve a mystery together? After reading these complex stories about mothers and their daughters, you may wonder yourself if blood truly is thicker than water.

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The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

Right before Hannah Hall’s husband, Owen, disappears, he leaves behind a mysterious note that says “Protect her” about his daughter, Bailey. Hannah and her stepdaughter, Bailey, haven’t always gotten along, but the two must learn to work together to see if they can solve the puzzle as to what happened to Owen—with little to go on. Soon, federal agents are at the door and Hannah realizes she may not have known who Owen was to begin with.

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Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

In the last ten years since her daughter Ellie’s disappearance, Laurel Mack has lost everything and Ellie’s case has never been solved. After meeting a man in a café, Laurel develops a relationship with him. When Laurel meets his daughter, Poppy, she is shocked to find that she looks exactly like Ellie. Now more than ever, Laurel is determined to find out what really happened to Ellie.

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Don’t Look for Me by Wendy Walker

Molly Clarke is missing, and the police believe that she disappeared on her own. Her car was found abandoned, the note found in a nearby hotel, and everyone truly believes Molly left to start a new life. But what really happened? Molly ran out of gas during a storm and a man stopped to help her, but when Molly got into that vehicle, the doors locked and she was never seen again. When a new lead comes to light, Molly’s daughter, Nicole, will stop at nothing to get the truth about what happened that night.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Camille Preacher has been recently released from a psychiatric hospital and is ready to get back to work. That is, until her next assignment is for Camille to return to the hometown she left behind for the first time in years to over the murders of two young girls. When she returns home, Camille is reunited with her mother and forced to confront their rocky relationship and see her half-sister she’s never had a relationship with. As Camille is forced to also battle her demons, she finds that some of these young victims begin to remind her of herself.

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The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

Abi has just received the most terrifying phone call of her life: Her daughter, Olivia, has fallen off a bridge and is in the hospital, braindead and pregnant. Upon arriving to the hospital, Abi notices strange bruises on Olivia’s wrists, even though the police are quick to rule what happened an accident. To find out the truth about what happened to Olivia, Abi needs to take matters into her own hands.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Elena Richardson is the queen bee of Shaker Heights, a suburb outside of Cleveland. When single mother Mia and her daughter Pearl move into town and rent a house from the Richardson’s, Elena realizes the two women couldn’t be more different. Mia is an artist with a mysterious past. Pearl becomes friends with the Richardson children and Elena is determined to find out the truth about Mia. When a family friend of the Richardson’s attempts to adopt a Chinese American baby sparks begin to fly between Mia and Elena, and no one is prepared for the aftermath.

Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

A year ago, Billie Flanagan went on a hike alone and vanished into thin air. All that was left behind was a broken cell phone and a hiking boot, but no body or any other evidence as to what happened to Billie. Billie’s husband, Jonathan, and her daughter, Olive, have been doing the best they can to come to terms with the fact that Billie won’t be coming home. As Olive begins to have visions of her mother and Jonathan finds that Billie was keeping secrets of her own, the two set out on a journey to get answers as to what really happened the day she disappeared.

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Good As Gone by Amy Gentry

Eight years ago, as Anna slept downstairs, her thirteen-year-old daughter Julie was taken from her bedroom. It’s been eight years and Julie was never found. Now a young woman who looks just like Julie has knocked on Anna’s door, and the family couldn’t be happier that Julie is finally home. But Anna thinks Julie’s story doesn’t add up. When a detective contacts Anna, she wonders if the young woman really is her daughter—or if she could be an imposter.

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