I am a huge fan of psychological thrillers and being on the edge of my seat. But I prefer those books while I’m lazily lounging at the beach, relaxing. Not so much while the state of the world already has me in a 24/7 panic. However, my brain still craves the page-turner, what-is-happening mystery aspect of psychological thrillers. What to do? Being that we are currently in a pandemic, I’m looking for quarantine books, but not the kind that will give me a panic attack. Good news: I’ve found the sweet spot of light psychological thriller books. So you get the “what is happening?” mystery, the suspense, the psychological elements, and a page-turner to hold your attention away from *gestures wildly at all the world’s problems* but that (hopefully) won’t make you feel more anxious than you already do.
Okay, I'm going to start with the darkest one because maybe you could use some revenge reading right now? This begins with a seventh-grade teacher addressing her students on her last day of teaching. She's going to tell them a story: A true story about the day her young daughter died. (And that's all I'm giving you on plot.) The story is also told from alternating perspectives, giving different viewpoints of the day's events while exploring grief and revenge. While it is dark, it's twisty, and smart and a quick read.
This is for true crime viewers who’d like to read the crime novel that starts after the true crime episode ends. Let me explain: Patty Watts is finishing her five-year prison sentence after being found guilty of having made her daughter, Rose Gold Watts, sick her whole life. Rose Gold’s testimony is what put Patty away. Patty doesn’t understand why Rose Gold lied. Rose Gold wants to make amends. Now that Patty has been released from prison, Rose Gold is temporarily taking her in--something people don’t find wise, especially since Rose Gold has a baby now. Told in alternating perspective between the two women, you decide: who is telling the truth and who is the cat and who is the mouse?…
This is a genre blend. It's part police procedural and part psychological thriller set 100% in our world, but it tweaks our current society by splitting people into basically two classes: Monos and Duos. Monos only retain short-term memory for 24 hours; Duos only retain short-term memory for 48 hours. Now, imagine being a detective trying to solve a murder case where the victim was having an affair with a Duo who was married to a Mono and not only is everyone struggling with their memory but of course, everyone has secrets. If you like psychological thrillers with bite and need something just far fetched enough to not give you anxiety, this one's for you.
Felicity Lloyd is a glaciologist living on the remote Antarctic island of South Georgia as a way of hiding from a man she fears: her ex-husband. So of course he shows up on the island after being released from prison, forcing her to run… We’re then taken back a year to when Felicity was in therapy before she went into hiding. And the therapist has questionable past behavior and a cop for a mother. And now the therapist is also looking for Felicity. What is really going on and how will this all come together?! Only one way to find out...
Abbott is a brilliant crime writer whose books have this low pulsing energy of building suspense while also being character-driven, which makes them perfect for escaping our messed-up world by going into someone else's. This is set in a lab that is researching PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder—because as I said Abbott is brilliant) and it explores competition and what happens when someone tells you a secret that you never wanted to know…
Here’s to these character’s problems allowing you to escape your own for a bit.
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Jamie Canavés is a Book Riot contributing editor and Tailored Book Recommendations coordinator. She writes the Unusual Suspects mystery newsletter, never says no to chocolate or ‘80s nostalgia, and can hold a conversation using only gifs. Tweets: @Oh_Dinky.