The best suspense books | 2021

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Murder, mystery, secrecy, side stories, empty investigations, lifelong grudges and of course, a dark and unknown “wood”, these are just a few winning qualities of a solid thriller. And luckily for you, you’ll find it all in the list below.

Discover the best detective novels of 2021.

Night watch

By Kiare Ladner

First off, we’re hitting you hard with this 2021 psychological fiction-thriller that’s already making waves. Attached to the world of night workers, obsession and London life, you know that this book already has a winning trifecta to make you read more than once. Meggie is 23 and meets Sabine on her shift and realizes the person she really wants to be in life. From there, her life is blown away – she abandons her friends, her boyfriend, and all the traps of a normal life just to work the same night shifts as Sabine. Meggie’s fixation strengthens for Sabine as she stops sleeping, starts drinking, and becomes someone completely different than she always has been. The big theme around Night watch is whether we can truly escape who we are meant to be.

The woman at the window

By AJ Finn

This one’s for all our friends out there not through the magnificence that is The woman at the window which is certainly one of the best detective novels of the decade. If you’ve only watched the Netflix version of The woman at the window, your world is on the verge of falling apart because this read changed our lives and was easily one of the best thrillers of 2021 (and naturally, it’s a thousand times better than its Netflix counterpart). Deliciously dark, this psychological thriller chronicles the life of Anna Fox. It was about 10 months since she last left her home, too terrified to step out on the busy streets of New York City. Instead, she takes care of her windows, keeping an eye on the outside world and her neighborhood, especially the Russels, who just moved across the street. They are perfect but one night a cry rips through the street and Anna witnesses something so horrible that hardly anyone will believe her.

Hiding place

By Jenny Quintana

Marina is adopted. She always knew it, but the actual circumstances of her birth remain a huge mystery. She has little ideas, like the local newspapers nicknamed her “Baby Blue” after she was found wrapped in a blue blanket. She was also found at 24 Harrington Gardens. He’s still up, and one of the apartments is for rent and it begs Marina to ask him if she could find out the real truth behind her early days in this world. To put Hiding place right at the top of your reading list this year.

People like her

By Ellery Lloyd

Here is the thing, if you start this early Saturday morning thriller book, we guarantee you will have it completely finished by Sunday afternoon. Emmy Jackson is a successful influencer with a fairly easy life. Everyone loves him, or so it seems. Emmy hasn’t been very honest about her life, however, and holds some very dark secrets. Someone out there knows his whole truth and has big plans to make it pay. You’re going to want to undo all the other shots in this epic thriller.

The guest list

By Lucy Foley

If it’s good enough for Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club, it’s damn good enough for us (and it’s also one of the best thriller books of 2021). The guest list is a gripping murder mystery thriller set on a remote island off the windswept Irish coast. As a wedding takes place, old friends show up, past grudges emerge, hidden jealousy creeps in, and then – plays dramatic music – a corpse is found. We guarantee you’ll love this thriller as much as we do.

The herd

By Andrea Bartz

Girl boss culture but make it exciting. This is exactly the mood of The herd and you’ll be on the edge of your seat reading this brilliantly written detective story. In it, an all-female workspace in New York City (The Herd) is completely shaken by the mysterious disappearance of its founder, just before she is about to make an explosive announcement that would forever change the course. by The Herd. Two sisters are together to uncover the haunting truth and the spoiler alert (not really) – there’s a major twist to the plot. Is Andrea Bartz one of the best thriller writers of our generation? We will support it.

Blacktop Wasteland

By SA Cosby

Strap in for the best detective story of the year. People are calling this type of a seamless hybrid between Breaking Bad and Drive, and we can confirm that it is and much more. Bug is an honest mechanic with a dark past, but he has paid his dues and has a reputation for being the sharpest driver on the East Coast. But as we know, all good things tend to come to an end, and his shiny new life can only be saved by one-time job – a diamond heist with a promising payoff. Blacktop Wasteland is a must read, and if you needed an extra push to get you started, Lee Child called it “sensational good.”

The law of lines

By Hye-Young Pun

This award-winning book follows the parallel stories of two young women who both lose a loved one. Se-oh returns from a run to find his house ablaze and his father dead. Detective investigating the incident tells her her father caused the blast to kill himself over a crushing debt she knew nothing about, but Se-oh suspects foul play by a debt collector aggressive and embarks on his own investigation.

Gijeong, a high school teacher, receives a phone call telling her that her young stepsister’s body has just been found. Her sister was a student from whom she had moved away. Although her death from drowning is considered suicide by the police, this does not satisfy Gijeong, and she goes to her sister’s college to find out what happened. Her sister’s cell phone reveals a bunch of lies and links to a company that lures students into a virtual pyramid scheme, preying on them and their connections. One of the contacts in the call log is Se-oh. Get around The law of lines, you will not regret it.

Saint X

By Alexis Schaitkin

Saint X is 320 pages of sheer crime thriller goodness (intertwined with coming-of-age literary gold). Claire was only seven when her older sister Alison disappeared from the luxury resort on the Caribbean island of Saint X on the last night of her family’s vacation. Several days later, Alison’s body is found in a remote location on a nearby cay, and two local men, employees of the resort, are arrested. But the evidence is thin, the timeline against, and the men are soon released. This is the national tabloid news, a sinister mystery that will not be solved. Years later, in a New York cab, Claire recognizes the name on the license of the cab driver, Clive Richardson, one of the men suspected of murdering her sister.

The neighbor

By Fiona Cummins

The neighbor tick all the boxes for one hell of a thriller. A family looking for a fresh start, check it out. A perfect house next to the woods, check it out. A slingshot of unsolved murders and an ongoing investigation, check it out. And of course, creepy neighbors who exude community spirit but really all carry dark secrets, check it out.

Want more? The best horror reads of the year are here.

Design Credit: Kate Mason

Editor’s Note: Urban List editors independently select and write things we love and think you will like, too. Urban List has affiliate partnerships, so we earn income from your purchase.


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