Five Psychological Thrillers to Keep You Up at Night

Five Psychological Thrillers to Keep You Up at Night

Mary Kubica is known for writing thrilling books that get inside of readers’ heads and won’t leave. We should know; we’ve been following her career since the beginning. Kubica’s latest novel features two protagonists: a woman named Quinn who is searching for her missing roommate Esther, and a boy named Alex who finds himself transfixed by a mysterious woman named Pearl. Secrets are revealed, trust is shattered, and readers are sure to be turning pages until they reach the conclusion. To celebrate the release of Don’t You Cry, Kubica is sharing with Bookish readers five of her favorite psychological thrillers.

The best psychological thrillers prey on our greatest fears. For me, it’s the loss of a child or a spouse, a failed marriage, struggles with motherhood. The characters are drawn from reality, and the grueling situations they find themselves in are somehow not so far removed from our own lives. They’re relatable, which is what makes them so paralyzing and addictive—their ordeals could easily be our own. Here are five psychological thrillers that got easily under my skin and kept me awake long into the night.

The Good Goodbye

Two teenage girls are critically injured in a fire that claims a young boy’s life; arson is suspected. As their families try to get to the cause of the fire while coming to terms with their daughters’ life-threatening injuries, they must face the prospect they don’t know their daughters as well as they think. Eloquently told, The Good Goodbye creates a feeling in the pit of your stomach, a sixth sense that something isn’t entirely right. Poignant and fraught with tension and suspense, The Good Goodbye is about as close to perfection as a psychological thriller gets.

The Drowning Girls

Liz McGinnis is less than thrilled to move with her family into a ritzy new community where she knows no one. The situation goes from bad to worse when her teenage daughter makes a new friend—and the repercussions of this friendship for their family are shocking. Wickedly good, reading The Drowning Girls is like watching a train crash. You know what’s going to happen (or think you do) but still can’t bring yourself to avert your eyes. Paula Treick DeBoard’s icing on the cake is an ending you won’t see coming.

You Will Know Me

Megan Abbott’s writing is graphic and raw, but also stunningly beautiful as she examines the underbelly of competitive gymnastics—from strained marriages to financial difficulties, to the horrifying toll the sport takes on a young gymnast’s physical and emotional development. When a death rocks the community, who is to blame? Obsession and competition get the best of the characters in this gripping thriller, as one woman tries desperately to save her own family. Coming July 26, You Will Know Me is not to be missed.

Where I Lost Her

T. Greenwood is no stranger to the literary world. She’s written 10 novels, though Where I Lost Her is the first in which she adds that extra element of suspense—and she nails it. When Tess sees a child in the middle of the road in rural Vermont, one who vanishes into the woods just as quickly as she appears, she alerts the police. After a search of the woods fails to yield any evidence, Tess’ account is called into question. Was the child really there, or was Tess only imagining her? This is a story not only of a missing child, but of the effects of unfulfilled desires and grief on one woman’s psyche. Poetic and haunting, tinged with gripping suspense, Where I Lost Her consumed me.

Gilly Macmillan

What She Knew is every mother’s worst nightmare. An 8-year-old boy vanishes in the woods and everyone is a suspect, including the boy’s own mother, Rachel. The story unfolds from two perspectives: Rachel, as she falls to pieces in the days after her son Ben disappears, and Jim, the detective trying to find him. This thriller from Gilly Macmillan is visceral and terrifying, and after reading it, I’ll never let my own 8-year-old out of my sight.

Mary Kubica is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Good Girl and Pretty Baby. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in History and American Literature, and lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children, where she enjoys photography, gardening and caring for the animals at a local shelter.


  1. Very nice list here. Thank You.
    I would add Buddies by Edward A. Dreyfus. One of the most captivating and intelligently written psychological thrillers I have read. The story focuses on 4 regular guys that get caught up in an intriguing murder mystery that revolves around a seductive woman who manipulates all of them. I can’t say much more without spoiling a brilliantly unpredictable plot so I will just say that this is an absolute must-read in psychological thrillers.

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