Top 20 Thriller Books of All Time (Ranked) 2022
The best thriller books are like a roller coaster ride. It's fast, it's thrilling, and it takes you on a wild journey.
The best action movies in Hollywood or on Netflix are often based on great thriller novels. The best thriller books of all time offer an exciting, suspenseful reads and contains a lot of nerve wrecking action and suspense for you.
In this article we collected the best selling thriller books. These books are extremely well written and we believe that you will enjoy reading them as much as we did. We have included a few of our personal favorites, but there are many more to choose from.
Why Thrillers Are So Popular?
People love to be on the edge of their seats, not knowing what is going to happen next. Thrillers are usually full of suspense, mystery, and action. This combination makes for an exciting and thrilling read.
Some thriller book writers are very successful. James Patterson is one such writer. He has written dozens of best-selling thrillers, many of which have been turned into movies. Stephen King is another popular thriller writer with different voice and genre preferences. His books are often dark and suspenseful, keeping readers in uncertainty.
Thrillers are a very popular genre for a reason. They are exciting and fast-paced, leaving readers wanting more. If you are looking for a book that will keep you entertained from beginning to end, then a thriller book is the right choice for you.
Who Are The Most Prominent Thriller Book Authors?
There are many different thriller book authors that have made a name for themselves in the literary world. But there are several authors who are outstanding from the others:
- Stephen King,
- Dean Koontz,
- Ken Follett,
- Harlan Coben,
- John Grisham,
- and James Patterson
Stephen King is one of the most well-known authors in the genre. He has written over 50 novels, many of which have been adapted into films or television series. His work often deals with horror and suspense, and he has a knack for creating truly harrowing tales.
Dean Koontz is another hugely popular author in the thriller genre. He has written over 100 novels, and his work often features supernatural elements. He is known for creating stories that are both suspenseful and thought-provoking, and his books have sold millions of copies worldwide.
John Grisham is a well-known thriller book author. He has written many bestselling novels, such as The Firm and A Time to Kill. His books have been turned into successful movies, such as The Pelican Brief and Runaway Jury. In addition to being a successful author, Grisham is also a lawyer and philanthropist. He has given millions of dollars to charities, including literacy programs.
James Patterson is a world-renowned author, he has written many novels, including the famous “Alex Cross” series. Patterson's books are known for their fast-paced, suspenseful plotlines. Many of his novels have been made into movies, such as “Kiss the Girls” and “Along Came a Spider”. Patterson is one of the most popular authors in the world, with over 300 million copies of his books sold.
What Are The Most Popular Thriller Book Genres?
The thriller book genre has been around for many years and there are many different types of thrillers. We just collected the most important niches within thrillers:
- Mystery thriller books
- Action thriller books
- Crime thriller books
- Heist thrillers
- Historical thriller books
- Occult horror thriller books
- Legal thrillers
- Financial thrillers
- YA thriller books
- Sci-fi thrillers
- Spy and espionage thrillers
- Psychological thriller books
- K-Dramas and Thrillers
One of the most popular thriller book genres is the mystery thriller. This type of thriller usually contains a crime that needs to be solved. Another popular type of thriller is the horror thriller. This type of thriller usually contains suspenseful and frightening scenes. The action thriller is also a very popular genre. This type of book usually contains a lot of action and adventure.
What Factors Do We Focused On When We Ranked The Best Thriller Books?
When we set out to rank the best thriller books, there were a few factors we knew were important.
- Factor 1: Age
- Factor 2: Plot uniqueness
- Factor 3: Suspense
- Factor 4: Popularity (Amazon, B&N)
First and foremost, the book must be a thriller. That might seem like a given, but you’d be surprised how many books are marketed as thrillers that don’t actually fit the bill.
The book should be extremely well-written. A poorly written book can be a chore to get through, no matter how thrilling the plot is.
The book should be suspenseful. A good thriller will keep you guessing until the very end.
In terms of age
With those criteria in mind, we set out to find the best thrillers of all time. We looked at both classics and modern novels, and we consulted with experts in the genre to make sure our list was comprehensive. We also took into account things like awards and critical acclaim when making our decisions.
What Are The Best Thriller Books of All Time?
01 Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn (2012)
Gone Girl is a masterpiece and one of the most acclaimed thriller books of all time.
The book opens on the fifth wedding anniversary of the golden couple, Nick and Amy Dunne. But Nick has questions when his wife suddenly gets lost under disturbing circumstances.
Nick is the top police suspect. Amy’s friends are saying that she was always afraid of him and hid things from him. However, Nick swears that it is a lie.
When the police examine his computer, they find strange search results, but Nick denies ever making them. His mobile phone constantly keeps ringing. But what happened to the beautiful Amy?
02 Win, by Harlan Coben (2021)
More than two decades ago, Patricia Lockwood was kidnapped when her family’s estate was robbed. She was locked in a cabin, but she and her captors escaped. All the stolen items were never recovered.
Later, a recluse also gets killed in his penthouse, and he lays next to two significant objects- a leather suitcase with the initials WHL3 and a stolen Vermeer painting.
These two objects point the police to one man. They belong to Windsor Horne Lockwood III, but he doesn’t know how the dead man got them.
A dead man’s secrets will fall into an antihero vigilante’s hands, and a dangerous road lies ahead.
03 Never, by Ken Follett (2021)
Pauline Green, the US president, always says that minor problems are what build up to become catastrophic.
There is a stolen US army drone, a shrinking Sahara Desert oasis, and an unoccupied Japanese island. But to top it all, there is a top country secret of stashed deadly chemical poisons. All these things are linked to promoting an escalating crisis.
Meanwhile, there is a group of people determined to stop the outbreak of a world war; a Jihadist undercover spy, a lady intelligence officer, and a Chinese spymaster. The president is also involved, but her populist election rival beleaguers her.
04 The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides (2019)
Alex Michaelides's psychological thriller, The Silent Patient, follows one woman's act of violence against her husband and the therapist obsessed with tracking down her reason.
Silent Patient is Alicia Berenson. Wife of renowned photographer Gabriel Berenson, she is an artist in her own right, able to fill galleries with her hyper-realistic artwork. She loves her husband more than anything, but then one day she hears gunshots and the police arrive and find her standing over his body with a smoking gun, his arms and legs wired down.
From that point onward, she does not speak.
05 Reminders of Him, by Colleen Hoover (2022)
After being released from prison, Kenna Rowan has come back home where everything first went wrong. She hopes to be reunited with her daughter.
All the people in her daughter’s life are set on shutting Kenna out despite how hard she tries to prove herself. Well, everyone except Ledger Ward. Ledger is a local bar owner and part of the few and final connections to Kenna’s daughter.
If anyone were to find out how he is gradually becoming a crucial entity in Kenna’s life, they would jeopardize the trust of all those who are important to them. Their romance will grow but so will the risk.
06 The Locked Door, by Freida McFadden (2021)
Nora Davis has no idea that her dad has been murdering women in their basement until the police show up.
Decades later, her father is already in prison, and Nora is a professional and successful surgeon who lives a quiet and solitary life. None of the people around her have an idea that her dad was a serial killer, and she hopes it can remain so.
Later on, Nora will find out about the murder of one of her female patients. The patient has been murdered in the same way her father used to do it. Someone now knows Nora’s identity, and they want her to take the crime’s fall. But Nora isn’t a killer, and the authorities can’t blame her for anything, provided they don’t check her basement.
07 I Am Watching You, by Teresa Driscoll (2017)
While on a train, Ella Longfield hears two young men flirting with teenage girls, but she chooses not to think about anything. She then realizes that these men just got out of prison. She goes on high alert, but something stops her from calling for help.
The following day Ella finds out about the disappearance of Anna, who is one of the teenage girls. A year goes by, Anna is not found, and Ella’s guilt is only wracking her. She keeps getting threatening letters causing her more fear.
An anniversary appeal then suggests that Anna’s family and friends hide something. Someone might know where Anna is, but they are only watching Ella.
08 The Maid, by Nita Prose (2022)
Molly Gray is different from everyone. She is brilliant, but she can’t quite make out the circumstances and people around her. She is a germaphobe and only comfortable in a routine setup. These traits make her perfect for a maid job in Grand Regency Hotel.
To her, there is nothing better than working at the hotel.
Molly will keep following this routine to perfection until one day. She finds the wealthy and infamous Charles Black dead in the hotel’s suite. The police target her as a suspect, and Molly finds herself in a deception web that she can’t untangle.
09 The Perfect Wife, by Blake Pierce (2018)
Jessie Hunt is sure that she has put her childhood darkness behind her and moved into a beach mansion with her husband, Kyle.
Kyle has gotten a job promotion, and Jessie is almost done with her education for a career in forensic psychology.
But Jessie will begin to notice strange developments that keep happening. Their neighbors seem to be keeping secrets. Kyle is also highly desperate and wants to join a yacht club packed with cheating spouses, mysterious and troubling rules. There is also a serial killer in the psychiatric hospital Jessie is studying in who knows a lot about her life.
As Jessie’s world unravels, she will question everything, including her sanity.
10 The Guilty Husband, by Stephanie DeCarolis (2021)
Vince Taylor is living the life. He has all that he ever dreamed of; a beautiful home, he is a New York firm’s CEO, but most importantly, his wife is Nicole- the one who stole his heart once he saw her. Nicole and Vince have built an almost perfect life, but a guilty secret is in its middle.
Layla, an intern at Vince’s firm, is found dead, and she had an affair with Vince. This secret could bring down his world, but Vince will do anything to keep it hidden.
The police will discover Vince’s lie and be convinced that he is the killer. If he didn’t disclose the affair, what else is he hiding, and what else could he be guilty of?
11 Then She Was Gone, by Lisa Jewell (2018)
Ellie Mack was like a jewel, and everyone loved her. But days before she could go on her idyllic summer vacation, she was gone.
Ten years down the line, Ellie hasn’t been found. Laurel Mack, her mother, is attempting to put everything back together. This time is also months from when a clue about Ellie’s case was brought to light.
Laurel meets Floyd, and they flirt, developing something deeper. She meets his daughters within no time, but Poppy is the most breathtaking. She looks like Ellie. Unanswered questions haunt Laurel even more, but Floyd and Poppy also raise questions.
12 If You Tell, by Gregg Olsen (2019)
For sisters Sami, Nikki, and Tori, the word ‘mom’ triggers memories they have kept secret since childhood. Until now.
Their sadistic mother, Shelly, has been living in their farmhouse for many years. She subjected the sisters to unimaginable torture, abuse, degradation, and psychic terrors. But that’s how the girls created a strong bond making them less vulnerable than their mother could ever imagine.
Other people in Shelly’s household kept being drawn to Shelly’s darkness and perverse web, but the girls were courageous enough to escape a nightmare that only brought about many murders.
13 Before I Go to Sleep, by S. J. Watson (2011)
Before I Go to Sleep is a story about how memories play a significant role in defining us.
Every time Christine sleeps, her mind erases all her adult memories, all that happens, or all she does in a day.
The next day she always wakes up like the previous one. She thinks she is still a child and has a whole lifetime ahead of her, one with many choices.
Christine forgets her identity, name, past, and her loved ones. But this situation is even worse because her husband, the only person she trusts, is lying. Is it for her good, or is he hiding something?
14 The Stand, by Stephen King (1990)
In a Defense Department Laboratory, a nanosecond of a computer error is how the world almost comes to an end. A million causal contacts are linked and form a chain death letter.
The day after, there is a new and bleak world. About 99 % of the population has been wiped out, and there are now no institutions. The survivors are only a handful, and if you are lucky to have survived, you are chosen or choose a side.
In this world, the good rides of Mother Abagail and the worst evil nightmares are embodied in the dark man, Randall Flagg. He has unspeakable powers and a lethal smile.
15 Mirror Image, by Sandra Brown (2019)
A Dallas-bound jet crash results in a tragedy for Avery Daniels, who works as a TV reporter. It becomes an act of fate, giving her an excellent opportunity to further her reporting career. Avery also becomes a critical player in a drama about deadly desires and violent passions.
She undergoes plastic surgery that completely transforms her face. She is now mistaken for Tate Rutledge’s wife.
Avery is helpless in the hospital when she discovers that someone close to Tate had a plan for his assassination. She now must save him, but to do so, she will have to live a different life, risking her own.
16 The Racketeer, by John Grisham (2012)
Judge Raymond Fawcett becomes the fifth dead judge in his country. Who is the Racketeer, and how is he involved with this untimely demise? Currently, it is Malcolm Bannister.
Malcolm knows who murdered Raymond and why but his situation on paper is wanting. The murder scene only reveals two dead bodies of the judge and his secretary. It doesn’t show any forced entry or struggle.
There is also an empty state-of-the-art safe, and the FBI wants to know what was inside. Malcolm would love to tell them, but such information demands a price.
17 The Girl You Killed, by Leslie Wolfe (2021)
Andrea Brafford lives a nearly perfect life. She is a marine biologist, married to Craig, and they have just moved into a new home in Houston’s suburbs to enjoy life.
Months later, a trial that polarizes the town they live in emerges. Craig has been named as a defendant in Andrea’s murder. The once peaceful serenity of this community is now in shatters.
Everyone is talking about Andrea. Her relationships have been exposed, and her case is all that everyone checks on the internet. Her life remains an unsolved puzzle. Was she happy, like everyone thought?
18 The Last Nazi, by Andrew Turpin (2017)
Ex-CIA officer and war crimes investigator Joe Johnson unravels the connections between a dangerous British blackmail plot and the presidential campaign financing, the Nazi train.
But this mystery will only become more extensive and touch on Johnson’s personal life in ways he never expected; an SS Holocaust killer got out of his hands years before.
Criminal networks and a high intelligence agency combine their forces against Johnson in no time. Jayne Robinson, his exMI6 colleague, is also involved.
Johnson will find himself entangled in an incredibly challenging situation on a quest to seek justice and revive his dwindling career.
19 And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie (1939)
Agatha Christie hold the distinction of being the bestselling mystery writer of all time, having sold well over two billion copies of her 78 books. One of the best titles among her taut oeuvre is And Then There Were None.
In 1939, eight people, all strangers to one another, are invited to Indian Island off the English coast. Where they systematically begin killing each other.
For the survivors, it's now a race against time to find the killer among them, and the identity of their seemingly wealthy host.
20 The Count of Monte Christo, by Alexander Dumas (1844)
This is a tale of suffering and retribution and one that has a thrilling account of unexpected events that condemn a young man into misery.
Edmond Dantes is thrown in prison for a crime he did not commit. He does not even get the chance to go to trial, and he is soon forgotten.
There, he learns about a treasure on the Isle of Monte Christo. He gets firmly resolved on escaping and unearthing the treasure. He gets the help of a fellow prisoner he befriends and finally manages to escape.
He plans to use the treasure to destroy the men who brought about his incarceration. Edmond plots his revenge while faking his identity.
Final Thoughts on the Top Thriller Books of All Time
Thriller books are some of the most popular books on the market. They are perfect for anyone who loves a good suspenseful story with lots of action. If you're looking for your next read, be sure to check out one of these best sellers.
Looking for another genre? Check out our favorite sci-fi book collection.
My profession is online marketing and development (10+ years experience), check my latest mobile app called Upcoming or my Chrome extensions for ChatGPT. But my real passion is reading books both fiction and non-fiction. I have several favorite authors like James Redfield or Daniel Keyes. If I read a book I always want to find the best part of it, every book has it's unique value.