books

'I read a lot of books for work. Here are my top 10 psychological thrillers of all time.'

I read and review books as part of my job and there's nothing I like more than a fast-paced, twisty psychological thriller. 

There's nothing more satisfying than racing to the end of a book and discovering a twist so unexpected, it makes you gasp out loud. 

A twist so satisfying you'll yell "what the bloody hell just happened", go back and re-read parts of the book, and wonder how you never saw it coming.

These are the books you remember for years to come and make you wish you could go back in time and experience that twisty goodness again. 

Here are my top 10 psychological thrillers of all time: 

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave 

I picked up a copy of The Last Thing He Told Me as soon as I heard Reese Witherspoon was adapting the book into a TV series starring Julia Roberts. In doing so, she's basically combining three of my favourite things - thriller TV series, Julia Roberts and anything Reese Witherspoon touches. 

From the very first page, I was hooked. The plot centres around 40-something Hannah, a woodturner, who moved to Sausalito in Northern California to live with her new husband, Owen, and his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey. 

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One afternoon a note is delivered to Hannah from Owen that simply reads: "Protect her". 

Owen has vanished into thin air, and with the FBI and the state troopers on her heels, Hannah must discover why Owen left and if he was ever really the man she thought she married.

The Wife and The Widow by Christian White

Image: Affirm Press/Mamamia. 

In The Wife and The Widow, Christian White pulls off one of the best literary twists I've ever experienced. 

Seriously, my mind was blown. 

Set on an isolated island, The Wife and The Widow is told from two women's perspectives. There's Kate, a widow, who is just learning about her dead husband's secret life. And Abby, an island local whose world is turned upside down when she is forced to confront the fact her husband may be a killer. 

Believe me when I say you won't see the twist coming. 

In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Image: Penguin Books Australia/Mamamia. 

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British author Ruth Ware is the queen of the locked room mystery, she's a modern day Agatha Christie with more complicated characters and darker storylines. 

In A Dark, Dark Wood follows the story of Nora, who lives a reclusive life in London. She hasn't seen her high school best friend Clare for 10 years, not since Nora walked out of her old life and never came back. 

Then out of the blue, an invitation to Clare's hen party arrives. And Nora thinks the weekend away at an isolated cabin will be the perfect way to reconnect with her old friend. 

But then something goes wrong. And long buried secrets come to the surface. 

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Image: Hachette Australia/Mamamia. 

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I've loved all of Gillian Flynn's books. 

Gone Girl redefined the psychological thriller genre and set a new standard in mid-book twists. 

But Flynn's first novel, Sharp Objects, is as good if not better than the one that made her an international household name. 

Sharp Objects follows the story of Camille Preaker, a crime journalist who returns to her small Missouri hometown of Wind Gap to cover the murder of two local teenagers. 

While she's there, Camille is forced to face her own traumatic past and learns the truth is far closer to home than she could have ever imagined. 

The book finishes with a final twist that will leave you reeling long after you've finished reading it. 

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Image: Hachette Australia/Mamamia. 

Speaking of twists, The Silent Patient delivers one of the best twists I've come across in recent years. 

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The thriller follows the story of Theo Faber, a psychotherapist who takes a job at the Grove, hoping he can be the first therapist to make Alicia Berenson speak. 

Alicia hasn't said a word since she brutally murdered her husband and Theo believes he's the only one who will be able to get through to her. 

BUT THERE'S A BIG BLOODY TWIST. 

We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz

We Were Never Here is a quick paced thriller that could best be described as Thelma and Louise meets Single White Female.

If Thelma and Louise were millennials and more... murdery.

The Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick follows the story of 20-something Emily, who lives and works in Milwaukee. A few years ago, her best friend Kristen moved to Australia and they meet up every year at some exotic location to go backpacking. 

During a trip to Chile, Emily comes back to their hotel room to find Kristen covered in blood and a dead backpacker on the floor. 

Kristen tells Emily the backpacker attacked her, and she had no choice but to kill him. Emily helps her bury the body and they swear to take the secret to their grave. 

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But soon Emily begins doubting Kristen's version of events. 

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Image: HarperCollins/Mamamia. 

Single mum Louise is stuck in a bit of rut when she meets a man at a bar. 

They kiss and Louise is thrilled to have finally connected with someone. 

But when she gets to work on Monday morning, she discovers the man from the bar is her new boss, David. And he's married. 

She later bumps into and befriends his wife Adele. 

But she soon begins to question David and Adele's relationship and why they're so determined to get close to her. 

I MEAN, I CAN'T EVEN BEGIN TO EXPLAIN HOW MIND-BOGGLING THE TWIST AT THE END OF THIS BOOK IS. 

You just have to read it for yourself. 

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Image: HarperCollins Australia/Mamamia. 

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A Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick, Lucy Foley's The Guest List is the kind of book you'll inhale in one day.

It's set on a remote island off the windswept Irish coast, where guests have gathered for the wedding of TV celebrity Will Slater and women's website mogul Jules Keegan. 

By the end of the night, someone will be dead, and every single guest will be a suspect. 

The Guest List is a thrilling page-turner and who-dunnit that's perfect for fans of Agatha Christie, Ruth Ware and Paula Hawkins. 

Magpie By Elizabeth Day

Image: HarperCollins Australia/Mamamia. 

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Magpie follows the story of 28-year-old Marissa who falls in love with a man named Jake and soon moves in with him. Not long after, they're over the moon when Marissa becomes pregnant with their first child. But not everything is quite what it seems.

Lisa Taddeo described Magpie as "a book that needed to exist in the world" and she's completely right.

It's terrifying, beautifully written and ultimately uplifting. 

The Push by Ashley Audrain

Image: Penguin Books Australia/Mamamia.  

One of my favourite books of all time is We Need To Talk About Kevin

So when I heard about the premise of The Push, I knew I needed to pick up a copy as soon as possible. I read it in one day and haven't been able to stop thinking about it since. 

The book follows the story of Blythe Connor, a woman who is determined to be the warm, loving mother she never had. 

But when Blythe's daughter Violet arrives, she struggles to bond with her. And when Violet grows up and begins to interact with other kids, she begins to wonder whether there's something seriously wrong with her. 

The Push ends with a killer twist that will haunt you for days after you've put the book down.

Keryn Donnelly is Mamamia's Pop Culture Editor. For more of her TV, film and book recommendations and to see photos of her dog, follow her on Instagram and  TikTok

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