Best Psychological Thrillers of 2020: The Pageturners You’ve Been Missing

It’s 2am, your eyes feel as dry as sandpaper and it is well past bedtime—but some stories are worth losing sleep over. That’s the beauty of a gripping thriller that just begs you to turn the page (and leave the lights on). 

Whether lounging beachside or curled up on your couch, there’s no bad time for a tale of crime, deceit, and horror. This summer, let our best mystery books keep your mind racing and hair raised. Strap in and hang tight—these psychological mind-benders will take you on a literary carnival ride.

The Divines by Ellie Eaton

Sometimes, it’s not romantic break-ups that hit the hardest. Fighting with our closest friends can leave deep scars… and dark secrets. Divines explores the intricacies of female friendships and how deep and dark things can truly get. 

It’s been fifteen years since Josephine last spoke with the Divines, her tight-knit and rebellious clique that ruled their boarding school’s hallways. But when Josephine revisits the past, her present self must reckon with the truth: the school’s sudden closure, the Divines’ role in its downfall, and the lingering trauma of old relationships.

If you loved the intrigue of I Know What You Did Last Summer but want a Gossip Girl female frenemy spin, consider this your perfect dark-and-stormy night read. A pick by Elin Hilderbrand for her Literati book club The Beach and Beyond, The Divines delivers a perfectly scandalous (yet never shallow) summer read.  

These Women by Ivy Pochoda

For a sex worker in South Los Angeles, danger is nothing new. But with a prostitute-targeting killer on the loose, “these women” must take fate into their own hands—or risk their lives.

These Women is an electric story about society’s forgotten women—the unheard, unappreciated, and underserved. Between twists and turns, Pochoda weaves smart social commentary that uplifts sex workers as real humans, not disposable servants. A potent cocktail of thrills, chills, and social justice, this murder mystery will have you double-checking the locks on your door for a long time. 

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

A mysterious manor, hushed secrets, and distressed romance—the Gothic subgenre is reborn anew in Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s glamorously dark historical thriller.

Smart, confident, and self-possessed, Noemí has always felt more comfortable among Mexico’s high society, full of ballgowns and elite bachelors. But when her married cousin sends a strange cry for help, she sets off to High Country, the countryside manor of her in-laws. Unfortunately, more waits for Noemí there than simple family squabbles. Walk through these castle corridors for a story as chilly and alluring as a marble spiral staircase. 

Filled with the intrigue of Jane Eyre, the darkness of The Haunting of Bly Manor, and the fashion and feminism of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Mexican Gothic will take root in your mind for long, sleepless nights to come. 

Dear Child by Romy Hausmann

After fourteen years, Matthias Beck has finally reunited with his kidnapped daughter, Lena. But appearances are deceiving—can this actually be the real Lena? Or has an imposter filled the hole in his home?

With equal amounts of horrors and twists, Dear Child is not for the faint-hearted. Romy Hausmann’s debut plunges into the long held torment, heartbreak, and trauma that plagues one family. Fans of the book Room will love sliding down the mental spirals of this German thriller about capture and lost identity. 

Invisible Girl – Lisa Jewell

In this white picket fence suburb, all seems safe. That is, until a cruel death makes every neighborhood sheep look like a wolf in disguise. 

Rocked by the murder of a young patient, Dr. Roan Fours must determine if his somewhat-creepy neighbor could be at fault—or if instinct could lead to misplaced revenge. Modern family dynamics, online culture, and questions of human nature all intermingle in Lisa Jewell’s suspenseful tale. Disappear into Invisible Girl for a domestic thriller that takes on our contemporary world and makes you look twice at your neighbors. 

The Red Lotus – Chris Bohjalian

Nurse heals patient, patient falls for nurse, and love heals over wounds. Think that’s the full story? For The Red Lotus, it’s just the beginning of a dark, globe-trotting mystery.

Six months after meeting in the emergency room, Alexis and Austin travel as a couple to Vietnam. But when Austin mysteriously disappears alongside two strangers, Alexis must return solo to her hospital job, accompanied only by unanswered questions over her whirlwind romance. Through the lens of a manipulative relationship, The Red Lotus explores the heart of a healer—and the lengths it takes to heal oneself. 

If you’re looking for a psychological mind-melter that will have you back-tracking pages and coming up with your own theories, you’ll love the bouquet of mystery and mind-games that is The Red Lotus

If your eyes struggle to finish a sentence in a book, it’s time to shake up your reading routine—and a psychological thriller is the perfect, all-absorbing reboot. Get lost in the page and the mysteries of the mind.

Our favorite thrillers are just a few of the best books 2020 produced. Check out Literati Book Clubs for more of the year’s top reads! With themed selections by world leaders, game-changers, and fellow authors, every literature lover will find award winners and book club-worthy selections to relish.

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