How much do we love a good thriller? (Answer: a lot.)
There’s nothing quite like a book that has you so gripped that you just need to read one more page – no, make that two – before you can put it down. Here’s our round-up of the 8 best thrillers and crime fiction around. Some are new, some are classics, some psychological, some violent – all compelling. They’re in no particular order of ‘bestness’ because, hey, we love them all (and it’s just too frightening to have to choose). If you’re after something a little less heart-pounding, we’ve also got an edit of the best books to empower you and gifts for book lovers.
1. The Talented Mr Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith
Young Tom Ripley, struggling to make a living in 1950s New York, turns to forgery, lying – and then something much worse. A study in envy, friendship, betrayal and class, it’s a book that stands head and shoulders above many others simply because the characters are so memorable. You’ll be torn between feeling outraged at the audacity of his crimes and hoping he doesn’t caught. Set in Italy, it’s the perfect summer read.
2. And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie
So, Agatha eh? She wrote a ton of books – 66 to be precise –and yet this one is so perfect, so right. We think it could possibly be her best. It’s a plot you’ll recognise (because many authors and scriptwriters have nicked it wholesale): a group of seemingly disparate people are invited to an island and, one by one…they meet the loves of their lives. Nah, we’re kidding – they get killed of course. The ending is tricksy and inspired and will either have you throwing the book across the room or shaking your head in complete awe. No peeping.
3. The Ghost Fields, by Elly Griffiths
The seventh in the Ruth Galloway series (but you don’t need to have read the others), this tells the story of the forensic archeologist’s quest for the truth after a gruesome find – a WWII plane with the decomposed pilot still in the seat. Except it isn’t the pilot at all. With a wonderful main character, there’s humour here coupled with all the macabre shenanigans. You’ll want to read the whole series.
4. The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
Look, you’ve probably read this. And if you haven’t you should, And if you have, well, you could read it again because remember how good it was? Exactly. Basic premise: group of high-brow friends at uni kill one of their group and spend the rest of the book wondering if they’ll get caught. But, omigod, it is so much better than that. Tartt’s writing is sublime and she creates a haunting atmosphere that is steeped in absolute dread. Read, read again. Then read.
5. The Girl Next Door, by Ruth Rendell
The Queen of Crime died this year and left us with this; a seriously creepy novel about a group of wartime friends who are brought together again 60 years on when Something Awful is found in the depths of their secret childhood playground. Okay, the awful thing (and this isn’t a spoiler because you find out at the start) is a biscuit tin, and inside it are two skeletal hands – one male, one female. Now you want to read it don’t you? Rendell’s final novel, Dark Corners, is published on October 22nd.
6. The Shining, by Stephen King
From the Queen of Crime to King of Horror, this is King’s best book. No doubt. And we will fight anyone who disagrees. Immortalised by the Jack Nicholson film (which King hated because the female character, Wendy, was so two-dimensional), this is the tale of the Torrance family, care-taking the Overlook Hotel. It’s a screwed-up, disturbing, haunted place…just like the inside of Jack’s head. Death, destruction and lots of snow. A perfect study in how to keep your readers turning pages.
7. The Girl On The Train, by Paula Hawkins
This book has sold more than Dan Brown (breaking all records – ever) and deserves to. The three female narrators are all pretty unreliable (the main one, Rachel, being an alcoholic) and the story is twisty-turny enough to have even those who are aficionados of the twisty-turny thing unsure just what will happen next. If you haven’t read it, go buy, read.
8. The Ties That Bind, by Erin Kelly
We love an Erin Kelly (The Poison Tree was particularly wonderful ) but this one is her best yet. Part set in 60s Brighton, part contemporary, it’s got a bit of Graham Greene feel to it as main character, Luke, finds himself caught up in a gangland murder case from decades before. Beautifully written and a cracking plot.