16 twisty psychological thrillers like ‘The Silent Patient’

16 twisty psychological thrillers like ‘The Silent Patient’

In Reading Lists by Lanie Pemberton

16 twisty psychological thrillers like ‘The Silent Patient’

Is there anything better than an engrossing psychological thriller? How about one with a twist that leaves you absolutely blindsided? That’s exactly the effect Alex Michaelides’ debut, The Silent Patient, had on us all when it was released in 2019.

I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough, desperate to find the truth about Alicia’s involvement with her husband’s murder right alongside Dr. Faber. As an avid thriller reader, I’ve gotten quite good at guessing even the most surprising twists, but Michaelides truly shocked me with this one.

It’s no wonder this read remains a favorite several years later, leading many readers hunting for books like The Silent Patient that will completely enrapture. In this list you’ll find unreliable narrators, astonishing revelations, red herrings, and impossible-to-predict endings.

Of course, I had to include Michaelides’ second must-read novel, The Maidens. But my favorite is undoubtedly Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent. Similar to The Silent Patient, this book takes readers along for a wild ride, makes you desperate to discover the truth, and leaves you dismayed — and eager for another story.

1. The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

Everyone was thrilled when Michaelides delivered another gripping thriller in 2021. Even more exciting, The Maidens actually measures up to The Silent Patient.

This dark academia mystery takes place at Cambridge University, where a member of an exclusive, all-women student society is found dead. Mariana, a psychologist with a personal link to the victim, is convinced the cultish new professor on campus is the killer. But Mariana’s personal demons cast a shadow on her credibility, sending her on an increasingly reckless search for proof.

Clearly, Michaelides is a writer to watch. He now has a third book, The Fury, under his belt, with the promise of many more to come.


2. Anna O by Matthew Blake

Four years ago, journalist Anna Ogilvy was found unconscious next to a bloody knife and the bodies of her two friends. She hasn’t woken up since. Anxious to put Anna on trial and bring justice to her supposed victims, authorities call in psychologist and sleep expert Dr. Benedict Prince.

But the more Dr. Prince discovers about Anna’s life before the murders, the hazier the truth becomes. And if Anna isn’t the killer, someone may be desperate to keep her silent.

With glaring similarities to Michaelides’ novel (plus all the twists and turns you could hope for), Anna O is a perfect choice for books to read if you like The Silent Patient


3. Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Feeney’s debut will have you questioning every character’s motive and wondering who’s telling the truth.

Amber Reynolds can’t move, speak, or open her eyes. To everyone else, she appears to be in a peaceful coma. But Amber’s aware of everything around her — and she knows someone caused the accident that put her in the hospital. But who? 

It could be her shady husband, her secretive sister, or even the dangerous man from Amber’s past who works in the hospital. But then, there’s also diary entries written by Amber as a child, which cast doubt on our narrator herself. 

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4. Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

Christine’s amnesia means she awakens each morning with no memories of the last 20-odd years. She relies on her husband, Ben, to fill in the gaps, but hidden journal entries leave her with doubts about her former life and the accident that destroyed her memory. 

Like The Silent Patient, Watson’s expertly written psychological thriller is full of paranoia and deception, finally revealing the truth in a satisfying twist.

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5. Odd Child Out by Gilly Macmillan

When Noah Sadler is found comatose in a canal, his best friend Abdi Mahad doesn’t say a word. Whether out of guilt, fear, or trauma is anyone’s guess, but one thing is certain: Abdi was there that fateful night, and breaking his silence means breaking the case.

Detective Jim Clemo dives into the investigation, but he quickly realizes public opinion is working against Abdi, a refugee from Somalia, and clouding the truth.

Macmillan’s novel goes beyond a surface-level thriller, confronting social issues like xenophobia, racism, and how the media can fan the flames of anti-immigration hate.


6. The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

As Richard and Nellie prepare to get married, Richard’s former wife hits the bottle hard and starts stalking Nellie, hell-bent on derailing the upcoming wedding. Sounds like a simple case of a jealous ex-wife, right? That’s what I thought, too. 

Akin to The Silent Patient and Gone Girl, Hendricks and Pekkanen’s psychological thriller is more than meets the eye. You might think you know what’s going to happen, but The Wife Between Us doesn’t settle for predictable plots and cheap thrills.

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7. The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

This domestic thriller has twists, turns, and skeletons in the closet to keep you engrossed right up until the deeply surprising end.

Amber, a calculating and devious con artist, hates the wealthy and privileged women around her. Yet, she would do anything to be one of them. She befriends Daphne Parrish, a local woman who runs a charitable foundation, and slowly infiltrates her life as she sets out to seduce Daphne’s husband to become the new Mrs. Parrish.

Similar to The Silent Patient, this novel proves that just because a marriage looks idyllic from the outset, that doesn’t mean it’s actually perfect.


8. What Lies Between Us by John Marrs

No neighbor could guess what’s going on in the attic in Nina’s house. That’s where Maggie lives — in chains and surrounded by sound-proofing, paying for an unforgivable act committed decades ago. But the truth is never black and white. 

Marrs’ award-winning psychological thriller is impossible to put down. Books like The Silent Patient and What Lies Between Us are why I adore the mystery/thriller genre so much: They reveal how layered, complex, and even contradictory the human psyche can be.


9. Never Lie by Freida McFadden

There’s a reason McFadden’s books usually wind up on the New York Times bestseller list. I’ve dubbed her the queen of twists and unreliable narrators. Never Lie is no exception. It even has one of my favorite mystery tropes — the locked room. 

Tricia and Ethan’s house-hunt leads them to a remote and stately mansion once inhabited by a psychologist, who vanished. When a snowstorm traps them overnight, Tricia passes the time by listening to old cassette tapes found in the house — transcripts that unravel the horrifying truth about the previous owner’s disappearance.

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10. Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent

When I’m craving a truly twisted thriller that pushes the boundaries of human psychopathy, I reach for one of Nugent’s books. They aren’t for the faint of heart, but if you like The Silent Patient, you’ll devour Nugent’s Lying in Wait, Little Cruelties, and Unraveling Oliver

Most crime novels are focused on the “who” in whodunnit, but this is one all about the why. Seemingly out of nowhere, Oliver brutally attacks his wife, putting her into a coma. Backtracking from this shocking opener, Nugent takes readers through Oliver’s life in a steady, spellbinding exploration of humanity’s capacity for evil and whether nature or nurture is to blame.


11. Dying to Tell by Keri Beevis

Lila Amberson barely survives a car crash that claims the lives of her friends. Her memories of that night come back slowly, but she soon realizes what happened was no accident — and the person responsible is still out there. She teams up with Jack Foley, whose sister died in the crash, and the pair attempts to find out the truth, even if it makes them a target. 

Beevis’ suspenseful tale packs suspects and plot twists in equal, ample measure until the dizzying — and oh-so-satisfying — end.

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12. Girl A by Dan Scottow

“Found you.” Two words, scribbled on a note and passed through a letter box, turn Beth’s carefully curated life upside down. An upstanding wife and mother with a successful publishing career, Beth is now under suspicion. Someone claims she did something years ago, and they’re determined to prove it.

This book is truly enthralling, zipping back and forth between past and present as pieces of Beth’s life fall into place. This story hooked me from the first page and trampled all of my assumptions — in other words, it’s a nearly perfect psychological thriller and chilling mystery.

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13. The Night Before by Lisa Jackson

Caitlyn wakes up covered in blood, disoriented, and with no memory of the previous night — which ended in her husband’s murder. Desperate to know the truth, she starts meeting with a new psychologist, not realizing he has a hidden agenda.

Virtually every character in Jackson’s Southern gothic mystery has something to hide, making it that much harder to recognize the villain.

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14. The Black Painting by Neil Olson

When the Morse cousins arrive at their grandfather’s mansion, they find him dead, his face frozen in horror and staring at an empty wall where an infamous Goya painting once hung. The same painting disappeared years previously, fracturing the Morse family forever.

As they squabble over their inheritance and search for the truth behind the stolen art, the Morses slip closer and closer to madness — and murder.

The Black Painting is ideal for fans of Knives Out and psychological thrillers like The Silent Patient.

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15. The Missing Husband by Natasha Boydell

Boydell’s domestic thriller is told from the point of view of three narrators (some of whom may be unreliable) and across two timelines. Slowly but surely, the fog lifts, but my advice? Trust nothing — and no one — until the tantalizing end.

Kate and Pete’s marriage is going fine. Sure, it may have gotten a little stale — but that’s normal after 15 years together and two children. It’s nothing to worry about, or so Kate thinks. But one day, Pete simply disappears, leaving all of his belongings and a note saying he’s moved on. 

Could it really be true, or did something more sinister happen to Pete?

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16. Vulnerable by Mary Burton

Amber Ryder can’t remember the worst day of her life — the day her two friends disappeared and she was found injured and helpless in the woods. Now, five years later, their bodies are finally discovered, but the truth remains elusive. 

Is Amber a victim with trauma-induced memory loss, or has she been playing everyone this whole time? Tension and troubling questions mount steadily throughout Burton’s standalone entry in the Morgans of Nashville series.

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About the Author: Lanie Pemberton

Lanie is a San Diego-based freelance writer who loves reading crime thrillers and nonfiction about animals and the natural world. When not writing and reading (or writing about what to read), Lanie spends as much time as possible at the beach with her husband and pampered pittie, Peach.