Crime fiction has so many subgenres that are perfect for all of your twisted tale needs. From domestic suspense to police procedural to psychological thriller—or even my personal favorite, serial killer thrillers. There’s something addictive about a boogeyman haunting the characters you’ve just met, the red herrings; the different directions an author can take their reader on with the twists and turns of this kind of story, and the details that go into building such a petrifying villain.
Find Her by Lisa Gardner
In one of the most jaw-dropping reads I’ve read, Find Her by Lisa Gardner takes the trope of a deranged truck driver serial killer and turns it into a poignant and sinister story of survival. Flora Dane was kidnapped seven years ago on spring break and spent 472 days with her captor, enduring the most brutal psychological and physical torture. Since her return to her normal life, she’s spent five years trying to go back to her normal life. That is, until detective D.D. Warren is called to a crime scene involving a dead man and Flora, the woman who killed him. When Flora is connected to three other victims, D.D. must investigate if Flora is a vigilante or just has a string of bad luck. That is, until Flora disappears and D.D. begins to wonder if the hunter had become the hunted.
What You Don’t Know by JoAnn Chaney
Chaney’s novel What You Don’t Know has haunted me since 2017 when she introduced me to one of the most chill-inducing serial killers I’ve ever read about in a tale of the trauma people affected by a serial killer endure when they aren’t his victims. What You Don’t Know gives its brave readers a look at the lives of three people whose lives intersect and will never be the same. Hoskins was the lead detective who solved the case of an infamous serial killer. Now, he works cold cases and his career is plummeting. Sammie was the lead reporter who broke the story. Now, she sells makeup at the local mall and fears she will never report again. Gloria was the killer’s innocent and unsuspecting wife. All three are in for a rude awakening as they relive the nightmare all over again as new murders begin to taunt Denver.
These Toxic Things by Rachel Howzell Hall
Weaving a current timeline with pieces of a digital scrapbook and a plethora of lifelike characters with a relentless pacing, These Toxic Things by Rachel Howzell Hall was one of the hardest books to put down….so I didn’t. Mickie Lambert creates digital scrapbooks for her clients of their most precious memories. When a curio shop owner and Mickie’s latest client dies unexpectedly, Mickie vows to finish the scrapbook in her honor. As Mickie begins to get further into the project, she starts to receive threatening messages from a dormant serial killer and feels like she’s being watched. As a result, when Mickie dives further into her client’s ominous past, Mickie’s life spirals into a dangerous web of cat and mouse.
Stalker by Lars Kepler
The Joona Linna series is my favorite series in crime fiction, and the case in Stalker will always give me chills. Intricate, dark and sensational, this story plays on your fears if you’ve ever had that moment where you ask yourself “is someone else in my house?” The Swedish National Crime Unite receives a video of a young woman in her home, unaware she is being watched and before the police can find out who she is or where she is, she is found brutally murdered. When the police receive another video of another woman, they call in Joona Linna to help them hunt down this taunting murderer before the bodycount begins to pile up.
Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen
If you’re looking for a perfectly written thriller that includes beautiful prose, a dark plot, and vivid characters—you need Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen. There are the bodies of Jane Does hidden in the marsh behind a motel and only one person knows where they lay. When a teenage boardwalk psychic named Clara meets a New York transplant named Lily working at the casino spa, Clara enlists Lily’s help with the disturbing visions she’s been having. As the visions continue and women continue to go missing in Atlantic City, Clara and Lily walk the fine line of coming close to finding out who is responsible—and coming dangerously close to being next.
Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier
Jar of Hearts is one of the darkest stories I’ve ever read. Hillier doesn’t hold back nor flinch with this story of three best friends. Angela, Georgina and Kaiser were the best of friends in high school, that is until Angela disappeared without a trace. Fourteen years later, her remains are found in the woods behind Georgina’s house and Brody, now a detective, is working on the case. The revelation? Angela was the victim of serial killer Calvin James who also murdered other women. The problem? Calvin James was Georgina’s first love. For fourteen years, Georgina knew what happened to Angela and now, the truth is closer than ever to finally being revealed.
Chasing the Boogeyman by Richard Chizmar
Chasing the Boogeyman’s cover . . . I could stare at all day—but the book itself is even more mesmerizing.Written in a true-crime format featuring some real people that Chizmar knew growing up, as if this had really happened, when he was in college. In the summer of ’88 in a small town in Maryland, teenage girls are being found brutally murdered. Recent college graduate Richard Chizmar and his friend Carly begin their own investigation as rumors swirl of a serial killer haunting their peaceful community, including the most terrifying one possible: what if the killer isn’t human?