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The 23 best thriller books of the year, according to the Goodreads Choice Awards

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The best thrillers of 2021 according to Goodreads 4x3
According to the 2021 Goodreads Choice Awards, some of the year’s best thrillers include “Apples Never Fall,” “Razorblade Tears,” and “The Push.”

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It’s almost impossible to resist a great thriller. Thrillers are some of the most exciting novels you can read, made enticing with suspenseful storylines, unique characters, and the staple plot twists that leave readers reeling. The best ones remind readers how much fun reading can be. 

To make this list, we turned to reviewers on Goodreads. Goodreads is a book reviewing platform where over 125 million readers rate, review, and share their favorite book recommendations with friends and the book community. From stunning debuts to gripping psychological mysteries, here are the most popular thrillers from 2021, according to Goodreads reviewers. 

The 23 best thriller books from 2021, according to Goodreads:  

“Apples Never Fall” by Liane Moriarty

apples never fall

“Apples Never Fall” by Liane Moriarty, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $18.41

This bestselling thriller follows the four adult siblings of the notable Delaney family as their mother goes missing, leaving their father as the only suspect. Torn between protecting him and turning against him, the siblings square off and begin to re-examine their shared family history with a new lens. 

“Razorblade Tears” by S.A. Cosby

razorblade tears

“Razorblade Tears” by S.A. Cosby, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.19

When Derek and his husband Isiah are found murdered, their fathers, Ike and Buddy Lee, come together over their shared pasts and deep desires for revenge. Each an ex-con and struggling with their own deeply held prejudices, the fathers set off on a fast-paced journey for retribution and redemption. 

“The Push” by Ashley Audrain

The Push by Ashley Audrain book cover

“The Push” by Ashley Audrain, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $19.69

In this book that I, like countless others, read in a single day (or single sitting), Blythe Connor is a new mom and determined to be the loving mother she never had. When her connection with her daughter isn’t what she hoped it would be, she finds an inseparable bond with her second child — until a terrible incident leaves Blythe convinced there is something truly wrong with her firstborn. 

“Every Last Secret” by A.R. Torre

every last secret

“Every Last Secret” by A.R. Torre, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $11.95

Neena Ryder and her lackluster husband have just moved into a beautiful new neighborhood with seemingly perfect neighbors Cat and William Winthorpe. Anxious to move up in the world, Neena develops an infatuation for Cat’s incredible husband, which quickly turns into a dangerous obsession in this domestic thriller about Neena’s desperate and toxic drive for the life she’s always wanted. 

“All Her Little Secrets” by Wanda M. Morris

all her little secrets

“All Her Little Secrets “by Wanda M. Morris, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.08

Ellice is a respected attorney in midtown Atlanta with a “for fun” relationship with her boss, Michael. When Ellice goes to meet Michael one morning, she finds him dead with a gunshot wound to the head. Needing to avoid the spotlight with a murder investigation, she walks away from the scene but finds she can’t outrun her past, her secrets, or the strange conspiracies swirling around her for long. 

“Not a Happy Family” by Shari Lapena

not a happy family

“Not a Happy Family” by Shari Lapena, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.97

As wealthy Fred and Sheila Merton convene for Sunday family dinner with their three adult children, they have no idea it will be their last. When the couple is found brutally murdered, the children appear devastated. But with their inheritance on the line and countless hidden secrets, this gripping thriller proves nearly impossible to put down. 

“We Begin at the End” by Chris Whitaker

Amazon books We Begin at the End

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker, available at Amazon and Bookshop, $16.79

“We Begin at the End” is a character-driven thriller about police chief Walk and 13-year-old Duchess, who don’t seem to have a lot in common but are inexplicably entwined over a murder from decades prior. When an old friend and convicted murderer Vincent King is released from prison, the two are brought together over their drives for self-preservation.

“The Wife Upstairs” by Rachel Hawkins

10 Amazon Books January The Wife Upstairs

“The Wife Upstairs” by Rachel Hawkins, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.99

This modern-day Southern retelling of the classic “Jane Eyre” is about Jane, a dog-walker who has only recently moved into her impressive new gated community when she meets Eddie Rochester, a recent widow. Believing Eddie could offer Jane the life she’s always wanted, the two fall in love — until Jane’s past and the legends of Eddie’s previous wife begin to haunt her new life. 

 

“Harlem Shuffle” by Colson Whitehead

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead

“Harlem Shuffle” by Colson Whitehead, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.75

Ray Carney is an upstanding furniture salesman in 1960s Harlem whose cousin occasionally helps him out with shady business dealings that keep his family’s financial concerns at bay. When Ray’s cousin gets drawn into a complicated and dangerous heist, Ray finds himself torn between his salesman persona and a growing identity as a crook. 

“A Slow Fire Burning” by Paula Hawkins

The cover of "A Slow Fire Burning" by Paula Hawkins

“A Slow Fire Burning” by Paula Hawkins, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.80

When a man is found murdered, the police begin to question three women from his life — a one-night stand, a grief-stricken aunt, and a nosy neighbor — each holding their own resentment towards the man. With unreliable and unlikeable characters, this complex thriller begins as a slow burn but takes off with plenty of satisfying twists and turns. 

“The Good Sister” by Sally Hepworth

"The Good Sister" by Sally Hepworth

“The Good Sister” by Sally Hepworth, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.79

This captivating thriller is about Fern, who struggles with a sensory processing disorder but enjoys spending time with her protective twin sister, Rose. When Rose finds out she can’t have a baby, Fern sees it as an opportunity to pay her sister back for everything she’s done in this family drama thriller with dark secrets desperate to be revealed. 

“The Survivors” by Jane Harper

the survivors

“The Survivors” by Jane Harper, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $18.20

This dark and tense thriller links a past tragedy to a new one when a woman is found dead on the beach and police inadvertently find a connection to an accident 12 years prior. Set in an eerie coastal town, this thriller is full of lies, injustice, and guilt. 

“Billy Summers” by Stephen King

"Billy Summers"

“Billy Summers” by Stephen King, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $15

Billy Summers is a killer-for-hire but only if the target is a bad person who needs to be taken down. Looking to retire into oblivion after one final job, Billy goes undercover for weeks as an author writing a book and finds himself writing his own story. 

“The Last Thing He Told Me” by Laura Dave

"The Last Thing He Told Me" by Laura Dave book cover

“The Last Thing He Told Me” by Laura Dave, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14

Before her new husband mysteriously disappeared, he left Hannah a note reading “Protect her,” clearly about his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey. When the FBI arrests Owen’s boss and shows up at their house, Hannah and Bailey must come together to figure out Owen’s true identity, his deceitful past, and the future they’ll both need to survive. 

“The Plot” by Jean Hanff Korelitz

'The Plot' by Jean Hanff Korelitz

“The Plot” by Jean Hanff Korelitz, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.30

While teaching at a third-rate MFA program after his own writing dreams didn’t pan out, Jacob Finch Bonner is approached by a student who claims he doesn’t need his class and explains the incredible plot of his sure-to-be-published future novel. When Jacob finds out the student passed away, he steals the plot of the novel for his own publishing success — until a cryptic email threatens to unravel his success and the story’s history. 

“Local Woman Missing” by Mary Kubica

"Local Woman Missing"

“Local Woman Missing” by Mary Kubica, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.74

When two women and a six-year-old girl named Delilah go missing just blocks from each other, their small community is shaken and left searching for answers. 11 years later, Delilah returns just as mysteriously as she disappeared and everyone wants to know what happened to her in this outstanding thriller that can be read in a single sitting. 

“Arsenic and Adobo” by Mia P. Manansala

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala book cover

“Arsenic and Adobo” by Mia P. Manansala, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.40

Lila Macapagal decides to move home to recover from a terrible breakup and is swiftly recruited to help save her aunt’s restaurant. When Lila’s food critic ex-boyfriend suddenly drops dead, the police treat Lila like she’s the only suspect, leaving her to conduct her own investigation and clear her name in this delicious new thriller. 

“The Night She Disappeared” by Lisa Jewell

the night she disappeared

“The Night She Disappeared” by Lisa Jewell, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.76

In 2017, Tallulah left her daughter with her mother to enjoy a night out with her boyfriend, a night from which she never returned. When detective novelist Sophie inadvertently stumbles upon a clue to Tallulah’s mysterious disappearance, the case slowly unravels in this haunting thriller. 

“Rock Paper Scissors” by Alice Feeney

rock paper scissors book cover

“Rock Paper Scissors” by Alice Feeney, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $15.29

10 years into their marriage, Adam and Amelia know things haven’t been great for a long time. So when they win a trip to Scotland — a trip could make or break their marriage. On their anniversary, a decade of secrets and lies threaten to ruin them in this gripping domestic thriller. 

“The Maidens” by Alex Michaelides

"The Maidens"

“The Maidens” by Alex Michaelides, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.78

At Cambridge University, a secret society of women students called The Maidens is devastated when one of their own is killed. Convinced the adored Greek Tragedy professor is a killer, therapist Mariana becomes obsessed with proving his guilt and willing to stop at nothing to prevent another murder. 

“Finlay Donovan Is Killing It” by Elle Cosimano

finlay donovan is killing it

“Finlay Donovan Is Killing It” by Elle Cosimano, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.99

When Finlay Donovan is overheard discussing her new murder novel with her literary agent, a stranger mistakes her for a killer-for-hire and offers her a huge sum of money to kill her problem husband. Finlay swiftly finds herself entangled in a real-life murder investigation in this thriller that is equal parts hilarious and suspenseful. 

“The Man Who Died Twice” by Richard Osman

The cover of "The Man Who Died Twice: A Thursday Murder Club Mystery"

“The Man Who Died Twice” by Richard Osman, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.30

“The Man Who Died Twice” is the second novel in the “Thursday Murder Club” thriller series about a group of four retired friends who meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders. In this sequel, Elizabeth receives a cryptic letter from an old colleague, asking for help. She recruits her fellow Murder Club members to hunt for a murderer, recover stolen diamonds, and save her friend’s life. 

“Win” by Harlan Coben

Win by Harlan Coben book cover

“Win” by Harlan Coben, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.99

When a man is found murdered beside two objects that link the crime to a cold case and a kidnapping from over 20 years ago, the FBI begins to look into Windsor “Win” Horne Lockwood III, who has no idea how these items of his and his family ended up with the murdered man. With a personal connection and an untapped fortune, Win subscribes to his own brand of vigilante justice to solve the case. 

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