Lucy Foley is a British author who predominantly writes contemporary mysteries, historical fiction, and psychological thrillers.
She has written a plethora of best-selling novels including The Guest List, The Hunting Party, and The Paris Apartment. These books typically center around a murder mystery, featuring a twisted or psychological element at its core.
Her work has often been compared to Agatha Christie’s because of its focus on mystery and crime. One of her best-selling books, The Guest List is a compelling and suspenseful murder mystery set on a Scottish isle, the idyllic setting for a wedding.
Wedding celebrations cease quickly after a body is found. The key characters must uncover what has happened and who is responsible. This is a story riddled with mystery and will keep you guessing until the last chapter.
With untrustworthy characters, secrecy, and unreliable narration all intertwined, there’s no wonder why The Guest List became one of the most popular psychological thrillers after its release in 2020. It became the perfect pandemic read and continues to grip new readers today.
Psychological thrillers are some of the most popular books out there. Not only do they often have the fast-paced action typically seen in normal thrillers but they add a psychological twist, either delving into the psyche of a twisted character or creating a plot line that messes with the reader’s mind… or both!
Many readers enjoy the unpredictability of psychological thrillers and enjoy the insight that these books provide through the lens of a character with a questionable mindset.
Psychological thrillers often experiment with genre as well. Many psychological books overlap with horror, crime, detective fiction, thriller, adventure, and fantasy. The multifaceted nature of these books is often what makes them so appealing to readers. There is always a lot going on in psychological thrillers, meaning readers are almost guaranteed a compelling page-turner.
If you like psychological thrillers, have dipped into the work of Lucy Foley, or are simply intrigued by the sound of this genre, this article is for you. Keep reading to find out 20 authors of psychological thrillers that are similar to Foley.
Arguably one of the most successful authors in this genre, Gillian Flynn is most famous for her Gone Girl series which follows the twisted and victimized wife of Nick Dunne, who goes missing shortly after their wedding anniversary.
Flynn’s writing is intricate and fantastically unpredictable, guaranteed to make you question the intentions and character of her protagonists. She plays mind games with her readers, which makes for a brilliant reading experience and her plot lines are jam-packed with violence, threat, drama, and psychological instability.
Daniel Mallory uses the pseudonym A.J. Finn to publish his best-selling novels, which include The Woman in the Window, which has recently been made into a film featuring Amy Adams and Gary Oldman.
This particular novel centers around Anna, who is confined to her flat and spends her time watching her neighbors and passers-by. So when a new family moves in next door, she is intrigued. But she witnesses something she shouldn’t have, which takes her down a path of mystery and secrecy.
This American crime author has been a huge success, creating some of the most gripping and psychologically intriguing novels ever written. One of her best-sellers, Pieces of Her, was created into a series of the same name and has recruited a variety of readers back to the original.
This story hones in on a mother-daughter relationship, idyllic on the outside but riddled with secrecy and past truths that will come to destroy them both. Andrea and Laura are taken on a whirlwind journey, running from Laura’s past, which has come back to haunt her in the worst way.
Tom Bale has written 11 standalone novels, all centering around crime, mystery, and psychology. One of his most famous publications Each Little Lie is jam-packed with plot twists and will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last page.
This is the ultimate untrustworthy narrator and whodunit story. Taking you through a complicated web of deceit and secrecy, the protagonist runs from a crime which she believes she’s being framed for.
This British author has written some of the most psychologically challenging contemporary novels. Half Broken Things is one of her most famous novels which dives headfirst into the psychology and familial details of her characters.
It follows a multidimensional plot that incorporates the past, suffering and familial relationships of the three protagonists. This story is primarily character-driven, although it still maintains an intriguing and often gripping story that details the journey of three characters in search of family and belonging.
If you search for psychological thrillers, this name is bound to pop up. Paula Hawkins wrote one of the most powerful psychological thrillers of her generation. The Girl on the Train was an immediate success and is still read by millions worldwide.
It follows the life of one woman who has a turbulent past and becomes obsessed with the new family her ex has. The story deals with domestic violence, drug abuse, and alcoholism, as well as vividly encapsulating the psyche of a jealous, twisted woman.
Nicci French is, interestingly, the pseudonym used by a married literary force, made up of Nicci Gerrard and Sean French who each bring something different to their books. Their most famous novel is The Favor, which delves into the complicated relationship between a young woman and her ex-boyfriend, who asks her for a favor and consequently entangles her in a murder mystery that has the potential to ruin her life.
The writing style is clear, easy to follow, and brilliantly constructed. It will keep you engaged with interesting plot twists and make you question the true nature of the protagonists.
New York Times bestselling author, B.A. Paris has a brilliant and compelling way of unraveling characters and constructing gripping plot lines. Her most famous novel, Behind Closed Doors is an international best-seller that tells of a seemingly perfect relationship and the truth behind the PDA.
It follows Jack and Grace, successful, well-suited, and very much in love. But behind closed doors, their relationship is entirely different. Grace is utterly submissive and has no control over her life. This story will take you through the emotional ringer, shedding light on the secret toxicity of perfect relationships.
Stephen King is traditionally a horror thriller writer but he has written some incredibly complex characters and some of his sub-plots certainly earn him a place on this list.
King is known as one of the most talented authors of his time and creates intriguing stories that center around creepy characters and eerie settings. One of his top-selling psychological horrors is Misery which follows a famous author as he is ‘rescued’ by his number one fan after a car accident. But what starts as a rescue mission ends in a horrifying trap that leads to torture, psychological manipulation, and a whole lot of danger.
Harlan Coben is the brilliant mind behind some of the best-viewed Netflix series: Stay Close and The Stranger. His novels often center around a mystery, primarily a disappearance, and delve into the minds of each character involved, leaving the reader unclear about who is responsible and who is trustworthy.
He is a fantastic writer, creating captivating stories that keep readers and viewers engaged and provoke every emotion imaginable.
This American author is known for the fantastic story following a U.S. Marshal that gets sent to a high-security psychiatric hospital to search for a missing patient.
Shutter Island, which was adapted into a high-grossing film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is a compelling and unpredictable story with many twists that will keep you guessing until the very end. With dramatic and vivid insights into the mind of his protagonist, LeHane creates one of the most intense and twisted psychological thrillers – a must-read for any thriller lover!
This author is well known for constructing in-depth portrayals of relationships, diving into the psyche of each party, and creating dramatic storylines that are guaranteed to toy with your mind.
She is best known for The Wife Between Us, which is a chilling tale that details the complexities of marriage, incorporating secrecy, deceit, and infidelity.
Alex Michaelides is another giant within the psychological thriller genre, well known for his international best-seller, The Silent Patient. With captivating characters, elegant prose, and one big mystery, it’s no doubt that this book received a plethora of awards and is still adored by fans across the globe.
The story focuses on Alicia. She was the perfect wife and led a lovely quiet life until one day she shot her husband unexpectedly and has opted to stay silent since. When she is assigned a psychiatrist, her story begins to unravel and as he becomes obsessed with uncovering her motives, Alicia’s character is not the only one that displays elements of insanity.
Susan H. Crawford
With a minor in psychology, there’s no doubt that Susan Crawford brings some of the most realistic psychological thrillers on this list. Her writing dives into imagination, suffering, and mental complexity, and concentrates on relationships, secrecy, death, and jealousy.
One of her best novels The Other Widow follows Joe and Dorrie as their relationships are unpacked and secrets are revealed.
Best known for creating the compelling and fantastically twisted character, Hannibal Lecter, Thomas Harris is one of the most respected and talented writers in the genre.
His story, The Silence of the Lambs, has become an international success, and with the help of Anthony Hopkins, bringing his psychopathic genius to life on-screen, this story is now one of the most famous psychological thrillers ever written.
American novelist, Patricia Highsmith, is famous for her intriguing characters that often leave readers confused and asking questions. Her best-sellers, The Talented Mr. Ripley and Strangers on a Train are both widely accepted as some of the most well-written and gripping stories of her generation.
She has a knack for creating complex characters and you won’t know whether to love or hate them. With slowly intensifying plot lines and deep insights into intelligent and dangerous minds, Highsmith’s writing is certainly worth a read.
This Canadian author is famous for I’m Thinking of Ending Things, reviewed as one of the most creepy and intense psychological thrillers of the decade. With a consistent feeling of unease running throughout the novel, Reid’s writing will leave you feeling uncomfortable and confused.
The plot seems simple – a woman visits her boyfriend’s family in the middle of nowhere. But she notices various dark things that each hold secrets of their own and is forced to reconsider her relationship after discovering random and twisted things about the family. This book will terrify you and leave you with one question – what’s real and what’s imaginary?
Andrew E. Kaufman
Kaufman’s writing, on the other hand, incorporates humor, fantasy, and detective fiction. With interesting and wonderfully weird characters to explore, these books will give you a sense of adventure and provide insight into very different mentalities and relationships.
His best-seller, All My Friends are Superheroes is light-hearted but still psychologically charged – not the best recommendation if you’re looking for something sinister and twisted.
Known for her stories based around homicide lieutenant, Taylor Jackson and Dr. Samantha Owens, a medical examiner, Ellison’s novels are carefully constructed and are deep-rooted in medical and psychological accuracy, making for enjoyable and gripping reads.
Her best-seller, Tear Me Apart, walks readers through the medical aftermath of a skiing accident, which uncovers a family secret – Mindy is not their daughter. Unraveling a web of lies, this book delves into the psychological impacts of betrayal, suffering, and grief, a real page-turner for any reader.
Ending the list with a bang, is Stieg Larsson, the Swedish writer best known for creating the Millennium series, which begins with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
These books are all fast-paced and gritty, exploring intense themes such as extreme violence, particularly sexual violence against women. Heart-wrenching, uncomfortable, and completely engaging, this series is fantastic – well deserving of all the hype.
With any luck, one of these authors has caught your eye and perhaps one of their best-sellers has made it onto your reading list. These 20 authors are all highly respected and well-recognized, so whichever one you choose is up there with the best.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are psychological thrillers scary?
Some can be, it depends on their nature. Some psychological thrillers delve into the horror genre, which almost guarantees some scary subplots. However, a lot of psychological thrillers are purely suspenseful and intriguing and should be fine for even the most sensitive readers.
Why are psychological thrillers so popular?
People love to read books that keep them on the edge and many also enjoy complex characters and the element of the unknown, which frequently crops up in psychological thrillers. Whether it’s a new perspective, an insight into mental instability, or the thrill they get from the plot, there are plenty of reasons why readers love psychological thrillers.
How many books has Lucy Foley written?
As of now, Foley has written 6 books but she continues to write today and is keen to release new material soon.
How many copies did The Guest List sell?
This novel sold over 3 million copies worldwide and was awarded the Goodreads Choice Award too.
Gillian Flynn is a very widely recognized psychological thriller author, who perfectly blends action with psychology. However, Thomas Harris’s Silence of the Lambs gained considerable attention, and his protagonist, Hannibal Lecter remains one of the most complex and intense characters ever written.
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