20 Psychological & Domestic Thrillers We’re Excited to Read This Year
Stakes are even higher in these psychological crime fiction novels as characters face internal battles with themselves while struggling to survive. In these psychological and domestic thrillers coming to stores in 2023, you’ll see the dark side of technology and relationships constantly tested to a breaking point.
Katrina Kim’s obsession with Kurt, her co-worker, is just one of her coping mechanisms from the life of a slightly unhinged, broke, woman who’s the black sheep of her family. Like her constant shape and number ritual. Or how scenes from her favorite children’s book bleed into her vision when she’s anxious or stressed. Her life crumbles when she receives a cryptic message from Kurt that implies he’s aware if her surveillance. She accidentally becomes witness to Kurt’s suicide, but not before he tells her that his death is all her fault. Horrified, Katrina combs through the clues she’s collected about Kurt and realizes he’s been watching her just as much as she has of him.
Bridget Kittinger has always been paralyzed by choices. It has a lot to do with growing up in the long shadow of her mother, Jo, a troubled neuroscientist. Jo’s obsession with one mythical object, the “dreamworm”—which she believed enabled travel to other worlds—led to their estrangement.
Now, suddenly, Jo is dead. And in packing up her home, Bridge finds a strange device buried deep in Jo’s freezer: the dreamworm. Against all odds, it actually can open the door—to all other realities, and to all other versions of herself, too. Could Bridge find who she should be in this world, by visiting the others? And could her Jo still be alive somewhere? But there’s a sinister cost to trading places, and others hunting the dreamworm who would kill to get their hands on it . . .
Just the Nicest Couple
Jake Hayes is missing. This much is certain. At first, his wife, Nina, thinks he is blowing off steam at a friend’s house after their heated fight the night before. But then a day goes by. Two days. Five. And Jake is still nowhere to be found.
Lily Scott, Nina’s friend and coworker, thinks she may have been the last to see Jake before he went missing. After Lily confesses everything to her husband, Christian, the two decide that nobody can find out what happened leading up to Jake’s disappearance, especially not Nina. But Nina is out there looking for her husband, and she won’t stop until the truth is discovered.
For You and Only You
Joe Goldberg is ready for a change. Instead of selling books, he’s writing them. And he’s off to a good start. Glenn Shoddy, an acclaimed literary author, recognizes Joe’s genius and invites him to join a tight-knit writing fellowship at Harvard. Finally, Joe will be in a place where talent matters more than pedigree . . . where intellect is the great equalizer and anything is possible. Even happy endings. Or so he thinks, until he meets his already-published, already-distinguished peers, who all seem to be cut from the same elitist cloth.
Thankfully, Wonder Parish enters the picture. They have so much in common. No college degrees, no pretensions, no stories from prep school or grad school. Just a love for literature. If only Wonder could commit herself to the writing life, they could be those rare literary soulmates who never fall prey to their demons. Wonder has a tendency to love, to covet, but Joe is a believer in the rule of fiction: If you want to write a book, you have to kill your darlings.
With her trademark satirical, biting wit, Caroline Kepnes explores why vulnerable people bring out the worst in others as Joe sets out to make this small, exclusive world a fairer place. And if a little crimson runs in the streets of Cambridge . . . who can blame him? Love doesn’t conquer all. Often, it needs a little push.
Emily and Chess were inseparable when they were kids, but by their 30s, their relationship has been strained by the demands of their adult life. They go on a girls trip to Italy in hopes of reconnecting. They stay in the Villa Aestas in Orvieto, which has a complicated history that led to one of the greatest horror novels of all time and a murder. As Emily digs deeper into the villa’s complicated history, the truth seems to be more sinister and tensions between her and Chess develop further. Their own secrets and betrayals emerge and it starts to look like the villa might claim another victim before the summer ends.
An innocent father serving life for the murder of his own son receives evidence that his child may still be alive, and must break out of prison to find out the truth in #1 New York Times bestselling author Harlan Coben’s latest breathtaking thriller.
All the Dangerous Things
One year ago, Isabelle Drake's life changed forever: her toddler son, Mason, was taken out of his crib in the middle of the night while she and her husband were asleep in the next room. With little evidence and few leads for the police to chase, the case quickly went cold. However, Isabelle cannot rest until Mason is returned to her—literally.
Except for the occasional catnap or small blackout where she loses track of time, she hasn’t slept in a year.
Isabelle's entire existence now revolves around finding him, but she knows she can’t go on this way forever. In hopes of jarring loose a new witness or buried clue, she agrees to be interviewed by a true-crime podcaster—but his interest in Isabelle's past makes her nervous. His incessant questioning paired with her severe insomnia has brought up uncomfortable memories from her own childhood, making Isabelle start to doubt her recollection of the night of Mason’s disappearance, as well as second-guess who she can trust... including herself. But she is determined to figure out the truth no matter where it leads.
The House Guest
Hank Phillippi Ryan
After every divorce, one spouse gets all the friends. What does the other one get? If they’re smart, they get the benefits. Alyssa Macallan is terrified when she’s dumped by her wealthy and powerful husband. With a devastating divorce looming, she begins to suspect her toxic and manipulative soon-to-be-ex is scheming to ruin her—leaving her alone and penniless. And when the FBI shows up at her door, Alyssa knows she really needs a friend.
And then she gets one. A seductive new friend, one who’s running from a dangerous relationship of her own. Alyssa offers Bree Lorrance the safety of her guest house, and the two become confidantes. Then Bree makes a heart-stoppingly tempting offer. Maybe Alyssa and Bree can solve each others’ problems.
But no one is what they seem. And the fates and fortunes of these two women twist and turn until the shocking truth emerges: You can’t always get what you want. But sometimes you get what you deserve.
What Have We Done
Twenty five years ago, Jenna, Donnie, and Nico were the best of friends, having forged a bond through the abuse and neglect they endured as residents of Savior House, a group home for parentless teens. When the home was shut down—after the disappearance of several kids—the three were split up.
Though the trauma of their childhood has never left them, each went on to live accomplished—if troubled—lives. They haven’t seen one another since they were teens but now are reunited for a single haunting reason: someone is trying to kill them.
To survive, the group will have to revisit the nightmares of their childhoods and confront their shared past—a past that holds the secret to why someone wants them dead.
It’s a reunion none of them asked for . . . or wanted. But it may be the only way to save all their lives.
The Writing Retreat
Alex has all but given up on her dreams of becoming a published author when she receives a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: attend an exclusive, month-long writing retreat at the estate of feminist horror writer Roza Vallo. Even the knowledge that Wren, her former best friend and current rival, is attending doesn’t dampen her excitement.
But when the attendees arrive, Roza drops a bombshell—they must all complete an entire novel from scratch during the next month, and the author of the best one will receive a life-changing seven-figure publishing deal. Determined to win this seemingly impossible contest, Alex buckles down and tries to ignore the strange happenings at the estate, including Roza’s erratic behavior, Wren’s cruel mind games, and the alleged haunting of the mansion itself. But when one of the writers vanishes during a snowstorm, Alex realizes that something very sinister is afoot. With the clock running out, she’s desperate to discover the truth and save herself.
When Sienna Walker is nearly fired from the NYPD, the last thing she expects is a second chance in the one place she vowed never to return to. But she can’t afford to turn down the job offer, even if a painful familial past and a broken engagement hardly make Reno, Nevada, home sweet home.
It’s made even less sweet by Sienna’s first case—a serial killer with a curious fixation on her. Along with his victims, the killer leaves perplexing clues and chilling journal entries addressed to Sienna detailing the murders he claims his mother committed. The case continues to get personal when her ex-fiancé is called out by the killer as well. Whoever’s behind the diabolical murders, Sienna can only be sure of one thing…it’s someone close to home.
As the twisted truth forces Sienna to face her complicated feelings, she learns that no matter how far you run from your past, it always catches up to you in the end.
You Shouldn't Have Come Here
Grace Evans, an overworked New Yorker looking for a total escape from her busy life, books an Airbnb on a ranch in the middle of Wyoming. When she arrives at the idyllic getaway, she’s pleased to find that the owner is a handsome man by the name of Calvin Wells—and he’s eager to introduce her to his easygoing way of life. But there are things Grace discovers that she’s not too pleased about: A lack of cell phone service. A missing woman. And a feeling that something isn’t right with the ranch.
Despite her uneasiness, the two bond and start to fall for one another. However, as her departure date nears, things change for the worse. What began as a playful romance soon turns into a complicated web of lies. Grace grows wary of Calvin as his infatuation for her seems to have morphed to obsession. Calvin fears that Grace is hiding something from him—including her reason for staying at his ranch to begin with. Vacation flings typically end in heartbreak, but for Grace and Calvin, it’ll be far more destructive.
Julia Bennett has worked hard to create a stable life for her daughter, Cora, in Southern California. So when Cora leaves for college, the worst thing Julia expects on move-in day is an argument with her ex-husband and his new wife. But a sudden attack leaves the campus stunned—and only Julia’s quick actions save Cora’s life. Shaken in the aftermath, and haunted by a dark secret, Julia starts to wonder: What if the attack wasn’t as random as everyone believes?
Newly pregnant Ren Petrovic has an unusual career—she’s a trained assassin, operating under a strict moral code. Ren wasn’t on campus that day, but she knows who was: her husband, Nolan. What she doesn’t know is why Nolan has broken their rules by not telling her about the job in advance. The more Ren looks into the attack, the more she begins to question: Who really hired Nolan? And why did one woman in the crowd respond so differently from all the rest?
Julia and Ren each want answers, but their searches quickly pit them each other. One woman is a hired killer, but the other is a determined survivor. And both mothers will defend their families to the bitter end.
Ryan Cloverhill, founder and CEO of the world’s most popular social media platform, invites his six best friends from college to his home on his private island near Puget Sound. For Stephen, Emma, Perry, Will, Beau, and Lainie, day one is just what the doctor ordered: amazing food, many drinks, lots of laughter, and a sunset cruise around the island aboard their host’s custom Van Dutch 55.
Day Two, however, takes a bewildering turn when the six hungover guests wake up to find that their host has disappeared, along with all connection to the mainland. A touchscreen tablet of unknown make awaits them, blatantly defying the rules of the weekend with its on-screen challenge: Unlock Me! The passcode to the tablet is hidden somewhere in the group’s shared history. But what seems at first like just another silly game turns deadly serious when the group discovers what unlocking the tablet really means. Is it the key to their futures, a Pandora’s box none of them will ever be able to close, or both?
Only one thing is clear: their old friend Ryan has something unthinkable planned. Now it’s up to the six of them to stop him. And when this weekend is over, the world will never be the same.
Lee Gulliver never thought she’d find herself living on the streets—no one ever does—but when her restaurant fails, and she falls deeper into debt, she leaves her old life behind with nothing but her clothes and her Toyota Corolla. In Seattle, she parks in a secluded spot by the beach to lay low and plan her next move—until early one morning, she sees a sobbing woman throw herself into the ocean. Lee hauls the woman back to the surface, but instead of appreciation, she is met with fury. The drowning woman, Hazel, tells her that she wanted to die, that she’s trapped in a toxic, abusive marriage, that she’s a prisoner in her own home. Lee has thwarted her one chance to escape her life.
Out of options, Hazel retreats to her gilded cage, and Lee thinks she’s seen the last of her, until her unexpected return the next morning. Bonded by disparate but difficult circumstances, the women soon strike up a close and unlikely friendship. And then one day, Hazel makes a shocking request: she wants Lee to help her disappear. It’ll be easy, Hazel assures her, but Lee soon learns that nothing is as it seems, and that Hazel may not be the friend Lee thought she was.
A Likeable Woman
After her troublemaker mother’s mysterious death, Kira fled her wealthy Texas town and never looked back. Now, decades later, Kira is invited to an old frenemy’s vow renewal party. Though she is reluctant to go, there are things calling her back . . . like chilled wine and days spent by the pool . . . like her sexy childhood crush, Jack. But, more importantly, it’s the urgent texts from her grandmother who says she has something to give Kira. Something about her mother’s death, something that looks an awful lot like murder.
When her grandmother gives Kira a memoir that her mother had been working on before she died, she is pulled into the past and all of the sizzling secrets that come along with it. With few allies left in her gossipy, country club town, Kira turns to Jack for help. As she gets closer to what—and who—might have brought about her mother’s end, it becomes clear that someone wants the past to stay buried.
And Kira might be next.
Grace isn’t exactly thrilled when her newly widowed mother, Jackie, asks to move in with her. They’ve never had a great relationship, and Grace likes her space—especially now that she’s stuck at home during a pandemic. Then again, she needs help with the mortgage after losing her job. And maybe it’ll be a chance for them to bond—or at least give each other a hand.
But living with Mother isn’t for everyone. Good intentions turn bad soon after Jackie moves in. Old wounds fester; new ones open. Grace starts having nightmares about her disabled twin sister, who died when they were kids. And Jackie discovers that Grace secretly catfishes people online—a hobby Jackie thinks is unforgivable.
When Jackie makes an earth-shattering accusation against her, Grace sees it as an act of revenge, and it sends her spiraling into a sleep-deprived madness. As the walls close in, the ghosts of Grace’s past collide with a new but familiar threat: Mom.
There’s a cottage on a cliff. Gabe and Pippa’s dream home in a sleepy coastal town. But their perfect house hides something sinister. The tall cliffs have become a popular spot for people to end their lives. Night after night Gabe comes to their rescue, literally talking them off the ledge. Until he doesn’t.
When Pippa discovers Gabe knew the victim, the questions spiral...Did the victim jump? Was she pushed?
And would Gabe, the love of Pippa’s life, her soulmate...lie? As the perfect facade of their marriage begins to crack, the deepest and darkest secrets begin to unravel.
The House in the Pines
Maya was a high school senior when her best friend, Aubrey, mysteriously dropped dead in front of the enigmatic man named Frank whom they’d been spending time with all summer.
Seven years later, Maya lives in Boston with a loving boyfriend and is kicking the secret addiction that has allowed her to cope with what happened years ago, the gaps in her memories, and the lost time that she can’t account for. But her past comes rushing back when she comes across a recent YouTube video in which a young woman suddenly keels over and dies in a diner while sitting across from none other than Frank. Plunged into the trauma that has defined her life, Maya heads to her Berkshires hometown to relive that fateful summer—the influence Frank once had on her and the obsessive jealousy that nearly destroyed her friendship with Aubrey.
At her mother’s house, she excavates fragments of her past and notices hidden messages in her deceased Guatemalan father’s book that didn’t stand out to her earlier. To save herself, she must understand a story written before she was born, but time keeps running out, and soon, all roads are leading back to Frank’s cabin....
Beware the Woman
Honey, I just want you to have everything you ever wanted. That’s what Jacy’s mom always told her.
And Jacy felt like she finally did. Newly married and with a baby on the way, Jacy and her new husband, Jed, embark on their first road trip together to visit his father, Dr. Ash, in Michigan’s far-flung Upper Peninsula. The moment they arrive in the cozy cottage in the lush woods, Jacy feels bathed in love by the warm and hospitable Dr. Ash, if less so by his house manager, the enigmatic Mrs. Brandt.
But their Edenic first days take a turn when Jacy has a health scare. Swiftly, vacation activities are scrapped, and all eyes are on Jacy’s condition. At the same time, whispers about Jed’s long-dead mother and complicated family history seem eerily to be impeding upon the present. As the days pass, Jacy begins to feel trapped in the cottage, her every move surveilled, her body under the looking glass. But are her fears founded or is it paranoia, or cabin fever, or—as is suggested to her—a stubborn refusal to take necessary precautions? The dense woods surrounding the cottage are full of dangers, but are the greater ones inside?
What to Read Next
Emily Hoang is a writer and editor, who is obsessed with haunted houses, ghosts, and dreams. More info can be found on her website.