There’s something sinister about a thriller based in a small town that’s hiding big secrets. From corrupt law enforcement to nosy neighbors, these stories crack the surface of what people really hide behind closed doors. In an area where people are unlikely to lock their doors at night, where everyone knows everything about one another, and the claustrophobic feel of cozy towns with deadly secrets, here are some of the best books that feature small town secrets.

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Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia

No one truly knows the real Hattie Hoffman. While she plays the roles of a good daughter, a good girlfriend, and a good student, Hattie hides a lot from the people she loves. Hattie’s small-town community is shocked when she is found brutally murdered and it is revealed that she was in a secret online relationship. The town is then spiraling with questions. Did this relationship have anything to do with her murder? And what else was Hattie hiding?

Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey

Cassie McDowell is a teenager living in small-town Minnesota in the 1980s. Her life seems pretty normal, except for her parent’s strange parties full of random people. However, when local young boys start going missing, only to be found with their personalities completely withdrawn and sullen, rumors start to spread like wildfire as to who could be responsible. Then, Cassie notices her own younger sister starting to change. As Cassie takes it upon herself to investigate what is really going on in the town of Lilydale, she soon realizes that this small town is harboring some big and dark secrets.

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All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris

Ellice is the only Black attorney at her law firm—and she’s also having an affair with her white boss, Michael. After Ellice finds Michael dead of a gunshot wound and doesn’t tell anyone, she is soon promoted as his replacement. As rumors start to circulate, Ellice fights hard to avoid the spotlight; she’s already worked too hard to hide her past and her own deadly secrets—including her brother who is no stranger to run-ins with the law.

The Winter Sister by Megan Collins

Sylvie is returning home to take care of her mother, Annie, who now has cancer sixteen years after her sister, Persephone, was found murdered. Sylvie and Annie’s relationship went downhill fast after Persephone died, making the reunion awkward. At the hospital, Sylvie finds that Persephone’s boyfriend at the time of her death, Ben, is a nurse at the cancer center, and her suspicions of him being the one responsible for her sister’s death are reignited. As Sylvie tries to mend her relationship with her mother, she uncovers secrets that have been buried in the household for years, and must finally come face to face with her own guilt about what happened the night Persephone disappeared.

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Where the Truth Lies by Anna Bailey

Emma has been harboring guilt for leaving her best friend Abigail at a party after Abigail went missing. Although the police believe Abigail ran away, Emma knows deep down her best friend would never leave her behind. When the police discover evidence in the woods and the secrets of the people in the community begin to point toward something darker, Emma gets closer to unraveling the truth of what happened the night Abigail went missing.

Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Virgil Wounded Horse is an officer on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota who’s had enough of being let down by the American legal system and the tribal council. When heroin makes its way to the community and Virgil’s nephew is one of the drugs latest victims, Virgil decides to take matters into his own hands with the help of an ex-girlfriend to stop the drugs from coming into the reservation—and make sure they stay out for good.

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All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

Nicolette is returning to her small hometown to take care of her sick father for the first time in ten years after her best friend, Corinne, went missing. Nicolette is reminded of the mystery behind Corinne’s disappearance when another local girl goes missing—and that’s just the beginning. As Nicolette gets closer to the truth about the two disappearances that are a decade apart, she’s plunged into a world of deception and the unsettling truth of what deadly secrets a small town can hold in a story that is told backwards from Day 15 to Day 1.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Recently released from a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preacher is given an assignment that chills her to the core: she must return to her small hometown for the first time in years to cover the murders of two young girls. Upon her return home to the mother she has a rocky relationship with, and the half-sister she has hardly any relationship with, Camille begins to find similarities between herself and the young victims as she battles her demons and finds herself obsessed with the cases.

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