Thriller Masters: 20 Must-Read Authors Like Freida McFadden

McFadden’s thriller books are packed with suspense, twists, and engaging characters. Her novels have been read and loved by many worldwide and she has received a plethora of recent awards for her successful novels.

Thriller Masters: 20 Must-Read Authors Like Freida McFadden

Frieda McFadden’s books are not, however, the standard ‘whodunit’ crime dramas. McFadden is a trained physician, specializing in brain injury, so her novels often reflect the psychological angles, allowing for better character development and more engaging plotlines. 

Although she predominantly writes suspense thrillers, she has also previously written medical humor novels, which have also been generously received.

If you’ve enjoyed McFadden’s work previously or you’re simply dying to know more, stick around as we divulge the 20 best books similar to those written by Freida McFadden. The list will first take a look at the most famous books, before moving on to the lesser-known novels.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl

If you’re into crime or psychological thrillers, chances are you’ve heard of this book (You might also want to check out Books Like Sharp Objects and similar titles). If you haven’t read it, be sure to buy it soon and check it out because you’re missing out! 

Much like the work of McFadden, Flynn uses psychology and suspense to fuel her narrative. It follows the journey husband Nick takes to find his wife, Amy, who mysteriously went missing on their wedding anniversary.

As the police and Amy’s parents get involved more heavily and Amy’s diary is found with insightful entries about their marriage, Nick soon becomes a suspect.

Flicking between the narratives of Amy and Nick, Flynn creates a gripping and tense story that uncovers the complex layers of Amy’s psyche.

Named as one of the most influential novels of the decade, this one is not one to miss out on!

Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier


Although slightly older, originally published in 1938, this novel has remained a classic throughout the generations. Merging the suspense of McFadden’s novels with the tantalizing element of supernaturalism, DuMaurier’s novel will forever remain on the ‘best thrillers’ list I’m sure.

Way ahead of its time, Rebecca was one of the first novels that delved into the female psyche. 

The novel follows an unnamed female protagonist who marries wealthy widower Maxim de Winter and moves into his country estate. But the workers and house seem to still cling onto the memory of Maxim’s ex-wife, Rebecca. 

Rebecca’s shadow looms over the house and threatens the new marriage and her social life. Is she paranoid? Or does she feel Rebecca’s presence too?

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

Shutter Island: A Novel

You may know this title from the famous film adaptation starring Leonardo DiCaprio. While the film is great, the novel provides additional layers to the story and characters, so it’s worth a read even if you think you know the storyline.

The novel follows a U.S. Marshal, Teddy Daniels, who visits the infamous Shutter Island, home to the criminally insane. He is challenged with finding an escaped patient, Rachel Solando but his job only uncovers secrets about himself. 

This novel is fantastically intelligent, using crime, drama, psychology, and suspense to aid the plot and capture the reader.

The Stand by Stephen King

The Stand (Movie Tie-in Edition)

Let’s face it – you can’t make a list of the best thriller novels without including Stephen King.

A patient escapes from a scientific testing facility, unknowingly carrying a deadly strain of super-flu that would soon wipe out 99% of the world’s population. As chaos ensues, the people left are forced to deal with violence, power struggles, and fear. They must decide what should become of humanity.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

American Dirt

This is a more recent publication and received brilliant reviews after its publication during the pandemic of 2020. 

This novel is more focused on crime, drama, and suspense, but still encapsulates some of the psychological elements that McFadden relies on. 

It follows Lydia Perez, who lives in Acapulco, Mexico. She is happy and lives a quiet existence before her life becomes inextricably intertwined with Javier, the jefe (boss) of the newest drug cartel that has taken over the city. 

Lydia and her family are forced to go on the run, but will she escape the powerful influence of Javier?

Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak

Hidden Pictures

This novel is high on the thriller recommendations list, and for good reason! 

Mallory Quinn recently took a babysitting job, looking after five-year-old Teddy. He’s a sweet boy who loves to draw – balloons, animals, and trees – the usual drawings kids do. 

Until one day, Teddy draws a man in a forest dragging the dead body of a woman. His sketches become more sinister and detailed, soon exceeding the capabilities of any ordinary five-year-old. 

Concerned, Mallory seeks the help of the neighbor to decipher these images and figure out whether they provide the story of an unsolved murder.

The Couple at Table Six by Daniel Hurst

The Couple At Table Six: A gripping psychological thriller with a shock ending

Max and Nadine Murphy have a long-standing tradition of Friday date nights at their favorite restaurant. Over time, they become well-acquainted with their waitress, Hannah, who becomes more and more interested in the couple each time they visit.

Hannah soon realizes that the couple are hiding deep secrets from each other. But Hannah has her own secrets and the more she learns and shares, the more she’s putting her own life at risk. 

The Quarry Girls by Jess Lourey

The Quarry Girls: A Thriller

Although they exist in a close-knit friend circle and their lives appear free and relaxed, Heather and Brenda have secrets that they’ve been keeping from everyone else. Something they saw in the dark. 

Even though they both vowed to secrecy, they must share their secrets when girls start disappearing from the area. 

The Secrets of Us by Lucinda Berry

The Secrets of Us

Foster sisters Nichole and Krystal have always been there for each other. So when Nichole is comitted into a psychiatric hospital after trying to kill her husband, Krystal knows she must be there to defend her.

Krystal starts digging for clues that may help her to defend her sister, but the more she asks, the more secrets are uncovered.

A Friend Like That by Marissa Finch

A Friend Like That: A Gripping Psychological Thriller

This is a story of revenge. When Alice admits that the reason she lost her job was because she was assaulted by wealthy Weston Chambers, she and her friend Taylor joke about killing him. 

But then Weston is found dead and Taylor has vanished. Can she find Taylor before the police do?

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

Jar of Hearts

When popular high school girl, Angela Wong went missing, no culprit was found. But now fourteen years later, her remains are found near Georgina’s house and the suspect turns out to be her first love, Calvin James. 

But Geo already knew all this. She had been hiding it all these years. As secrets are unraveled and more suspects are found, will we ever find out what happened that night?

If You’re Reading This… by Kiersten Modglin

If You're Reading This...

After losing her husband just a year after their wedding, Colbie Moore finds a box of letters addressed to husband and wife on their first anniversary. 

Reading them and grieving, Colbie finds out the dark secrets her husband was keeping from her and she finds out more about his life and death. 

Is Colbie willing to risk everything to uncover secrets for the man she’s already lost?

Unmissing by Minka Kent

Unmissing: A Thriller

Merritt and Luca Colletto have everything they’ve ever wanted until a knock on the door sends shockwaves throughout the family.

It’s Luca’s ex-wife, who vanished for ten years and was presumed dead. Feeling guilty about moving on and creating their dream life, they agree to help Lydia reenter society following her kidnapping and torture. 

But what is it about Lydia that is so unnerving? And why hasn’t she reached out to the police?

Run On Red by Noelle Ihli

Run on Red: A Thriller

Driving through rural hills and without any cell signal, Laura and Olivia notice the headlights following them a little too late. 

They soon realize they are being followed by a group of men in a truck – but what do they want? And how can they escape? 

But this is only the beginning. They must outsmart these men and may have to face a fight in order to make it out alive. 

Murder on the Naval Base by Behcet Kaya

Murder on the Naval Base

After a couple is murdered during an Officer’s dinner, military investigators begin piecing together the story and quickly determine that the suspect was the husband of the wife, who was having an ongoing affair with the man she was murdered with. 

This tale dives into the psyche of each character and intertwines the danger, romance and mystery found on this naval base.

A Familiar Stranger by A.R. Torre

A Familiar Stranger

Lillian Smith leads an uninteresting life with her disconnected husband and son. Until she meets the intriguing David and begins an affair. 

She struggles to keep up with her double life and is soon found out by her son, who learns of her affair through social media. As lies spiral control, secrets are revealed because Lillian isn’t the only one leading a double life.

Liar Liar by L.G. Davis

Liar Liar: An unbelievably gripping and heart-pounding psychological thriller

The perfect marriage, the perfect life. But she has a secret she’s terrified of coming to light and she’s convinced someone from her past is out to expose her. 

But when her husband comes home covered in blood the same night the neighbor goes missing, she realizes she is not the only one with a dark secret. 

They’re both lying, but when everything is out in the open, who will survive the truth?

The Family Home by Miranda Smith

The Family Home: An absolutely gripping psychological thriller with a breathtaking twist

Sharing dark secrets with her ex-husband means that she has to trust him. But when a dead body appears in the bed they used to share, she is forced to reconsider everything she thought she knew about her ex. She knows him well and knows he can lie. 

Someone knows their secret. She must save herself, but knows the truth will destroy her.

Keep It In The Family by John Marrs

Keep It in the Family

Mia and Finn are renovating an old house when Mia suddenly falls pregnant. As they’re finishing off their dream house, Mia finds a disturbing message scratched into the skirting boards: I WILL SAVE THEM FROM THE ATTIC.

Driven by curiosity, Mia investigates the loft, but what she sees will change her life forever. As she uncovers new truths about the house’s past, she realizes the danger her family is now in – but is it too late?

The Daughter-In-Law by Shalini Boland

The Daughter-in-Law: An absolutely addictive psychological thriller with a heart-stopping twist

Her new mother-in-law has resented her ever since she eloped with her precious boy abroad. 

But when ‘accidents’ escalate to accusations, she wishes she never married at all. Will this family finally accept her? Or will they find her out for who she really is?

Final Thoughts

Any of these books will give you the same thrill as Freida McFadden’s excellent novels. Whether you pick a timeless classic or a gripping new release, these recommendations are guaranteed to keep you hooked.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many books has Freida McFadden written?

All in all, she has written 12 books that span between psychological thrillers and medical humor novels.

Why are thrillers so popular?

Readers of thrillers thrive on the suspense of the plot. Thrillers often keep readers engaged and are great for those who struggle to stay interested while reading. Thrillers also heighten adrenaline, which can give readers a great buzz throughout the reading process.

What is the best thriller ever written?

This list has given a wide range of thrillers that would be great to read if you’re interested in suspense novels, but the thriller novel that has sold the most copies, with a whopping 100 million copies sold, is Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.

Is ‘thriller’ a literary subgenre?

Yes – the thriller, along with crime, mystery, and psychological, are all branches of fiction. While some thrillers can be based on truth, they are often dramatized.

What makes a book a thriller?

Thrillers should be action-packed, suspenseful, and fast-paced, often sparking emotions of anxiety, tension, and fear in their readers.

Who are the bestselling thriller authors of all time?

1. James Patterson
2. Lee Child
3. John Grisham
4. David Baldacci
5. Clive Cussler
6. Jeffrey Deaver
7. Harlan Coben
8. Dan Brown
9. Dean Koontz
10. Frederick Forsyth
11. Robin Cook
12. Michael Crichton
13. Robert Ludlum
14. Tom Clancy
15. Brad Meltzer
16. Joseph Finder
17. Linda Fairstein
18. Neal Stephenson
19. Ken Follett
20. Lisa Gardner

What are the most popular thriller books?

1. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown
2. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson 
4. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
5. Angels & Demons, Dan Brown
6. The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins
7. Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton
8. Inferno, Dan Brown
9. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
10. The Firm, John Grisham
11. The Bourne Identity, Robert Ludlum
12. The Bourne Supremacy, Robert Ludlum
13. The Da Vinci Code (Illustrated Edition), Dan Brown
14. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins
15. The Bourne Ultimatum, Robert Ludlum
16. The Silent Patient, Alex Michaelides
17. The Girl Who Played with Fire, Stieg Larsson
18. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins
19. The Da Vinci Code (Young Adult Edition), Dan Brown
20. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Stieg Larsson

Which sub-genres of thriller books are most popular?

1. Psychological Thriller
2. Conspiracy Thriller
3. Espionage Thriller
4. Crime Thriller
5. Legal Thriller
6. Medical Thriller
7. Techno Thriller
8. Political Thriller
9. Military Thriller
10. Supernatural Thriller
11. Noir Thriller
12. Paranormal Thriller
13. Adventure Thriller
14. Horror Thriller
15. Suspense Thriller

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Colton Cowie