Incredible storytelling, masterful plot-building, and an adrenaline-packed reading experience.
The last few days of the year are the perfect time to catch up on your reading goals. You can spend the winter chill rolled up in a blanket reading a fast-paced thriller.
My December was spent on a thriller binge (It’s still going on so fast, I think I might have to do a part two of this article before this year is done).
I’ve read some truly brilliantly-written psychological thrillers that are quite underrated. Bthe plots are so twisted, the final reveal will leave you with an adrenaline rush.
In this post, I’ve compiled four such crazily-paced thrillers that you can pick up in the holiday season. Each of these books took me less than 3 days to complete, so I’m sure you can cram in many of these before the year is done.
If you’ve read any thriller on this list before, let me know what you thought of it. We can fangirl (fanperson?) in the comments together.
(Note: This article contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase the books through these links, it will help me earn a small amount of money — at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!)
1. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
Cecilia is a successful entrepreneur whose perfectly-held together life comes to an unexpected turn when she discovers a letter her husband wrote to her, to be delivered when he dies.
Her husband, though, is alive and well, strongly insisting she never opens the letter.
Rachel, the 70-year-old school headmistress is still searching for the man who brutally strangled and murdered his daughter thirty years ago.
Tess is shaken after her loving husband confessed to falling in love with her cousin. She takes her son and moves to Sydney where she hopes to start a new life, never expecting that she will start having feelings for another man in just three days. A sinister man who Rachel suspects killed her daughter all those years ago.
This book is the story of three lives and one death that ties them all together.
My impression of the book
The initial build-up of the mystery was amazing. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I found out who’s actually committed the murder (that comes at about 50% of the book). The characters were superbly developed until then, but after that, it all went a bit slow.
Once a secret is discovered, it’s up to you whether you want to reveal it or not. Whatever path you take, there’s always a high price to pay, and for the secret-keeper of the murderer, this was always supposed to be a hard decision.
What I wasn’t interested in was the incessant drama, the dilemma, the endless inane back and forth between characters I didn’t really care about.
More than a murder mystery, this is a domestic thriller. It’s a story of marriages and what holds them together. It’s a story of the love for family and what it makes us do. I delved into it thinking it was a whodunnit, and maybe that’s why I was disappointed. I’d still recommend it if you’re looking for a page-turner because this book was hard to put down.
I finished the 400+ pages in just about 24 hours. Yes, it’s that good!
2. The Liar Next Door by Nicola Marsh
Fashion influencer and vlogger, Frankie Forbes has two new neighbors.
The 5-months pregnant Saylor who moved in recently with her husband Lloyd. They keep throwing one party after another, in the hopes of making friends with the new neighbors. Little does Frankie know that Saylor’s parties have a hidden motive — to get more information on her ex-boyfriend (and possibly the father of her unborn child?), Rustin.
Then, there’s the single mother Celeste who has a daughter Violet, the same age as Frankie’s Luna. Under the pretext of the two girls forging a friendship, Celeste and Frankie get closer, and before she knows it, there’s a suffocating presence of Celeste in every aspect of Frankie’s life.
A few days later, Frankie is horrified to find that Celeste is running away from her abusive ex-husband, Roland.
Did Frankie make a mistake by letting the other woman get too close? Does her ex-husband, Walter, have something to do with it?
My impression of the book
This must be the most convoluted domestic thriller I’ve ever read! There are so many characters, and as innocent as they might sound, each of them has something to hide. What’s most fun, these secrets aren’t even SMALL secrets, but huge, life-changing secrets that can topple the relationship dynamics as we see.
There are so many twists, turns, and revelations in this book, that the author kept me turning pages until the adrenaline-rush of the grand finale.
It was satisfying, the way the threads come together in the end. The characters are not wholly likable, but that’s alright, as everyone is on survival mode here in this posh little locality.
It’s one hell of a ride, and I enjoyed every thrill along the way. I only gave it 4 stars on Goodreads because the thrill took a little late to come, and halfway through the book, I was a little bored by the constant “If they find what I’m hiding, my whole life will change” that every character kept thinking in every chapter.
Other than that, this is a fantastically satisfying thriller!
3. Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
Louise meets a man at a bar she almost hooks up with. The next day, she finds out the man is married, and also her new boss.
As if this wasn’t convoluted enough, she meets the wife of the man the day after — a beautiful, fragile, damaged woman — whom she immediately friends.
The wife has no idea Louise is sleeping with her husband. The man has no idea his secret affair also happens to be the new best friend of his wife.
Welcome to the twisted world of Behind Her Eyes — a book I couldn’t stop reading once I started.
My impression of the book
When I was reading this book, I had the insane urge to Google if a part of it was supernatural. I’m lucky I didn’t find spoilers.
But yes, if you’re delving into this book expecting it to be a psychological thriller, this is more of urban fantasy with elements of magic added here and there. That doesn’t stop it from being an incredible story, with the secrets piling up at the end of each chapter, making you turn the pages furiously to reach the end.
The pre-final chapter was a let-down. I thought we’d come to the end, and since I could predict most of the things that happened in the story, I wasn’t very impressed. I remember thinking Gen-Zs will love the book because they probably haven’t read Sidney Sheldon. As a millennial who has devoured every Sidney Sheldon book, I thought I was not a stranger to unexpected twists and the final reveal wasn’t such a bomb.
But I was too early in making this prediction. The final chapter turned my whole understanding of the story upside down and revealed depths I couldn’t have ever expected. The ending was amazing and unexpected, and it made the time spent reading the book totally worth it.
4. The Housemaid by Sarah A. Denzil
Emily got a job just 6 months after she had a baby. She is happy to be a housemaid at Highwood Hall, a stunning stately home owned by the Howard family. After that, all her husband hears from her is that, six months later, she disappeared, leaving a letter that this was all too much for her to bear and she was going away, never to come back.
21 years later, Ruby, her daughter, is back at Highwood Hall as a maid, taking up a job after her problems with addiction. In hopes to find what happened to her mother here that made her disappear forever.
But Ruby receives a box on her first day at work. A mysterious box wrapped in red ribbon and white paper that reveals a grotesque scene of her as a doll lying in a pool of blood at the foot of the stairs.
Disgusted and terrified of this naked threat, Ruby soon learns of the mysteries that haunt Highwood Hall, and why no maid in the past 21 years had stayed for longer than a year or two at the place.
My impression of the book
This is a page-turner. The non-linear narration and artistic reveal of plot twists made this for a delicious thriller to rea on a cold December evening. It’s the kind that makes the gears in your brain turn furiously, working hard to find who’s the killer, and never fully knowing where the story is going next.
The end reveal felt way too dramatic, almost reminiscent of a 1990s Hindi television serial, and it didn’t impress me much. But I’d forgive the author because of how brilliant her storytelling is, and how wonderfully she has strewn various red herrings throughout the story to keep the readers recommend. At just 200 pages, this is the recipe to a perfect happy Sunday in December.