In Search of a Thriller That Won’t Let You Go? Meet the Masters of the Thriller – the best suspense writers to read today.
Craving a tale that gets your heart racing and your fingers itching to turn the page? I’ve got just the thing—a curated lineup of the 19 finest authors in the suspense genre, each with a library of works that will satisfy that itch for intrigue.
Whether it’s the timeless allure of a classic whodunit or the adrenaline rush of unraveling a sinister plot with the FBI, beginning your journey with revered suspense authors is the way to go.
Whether you love your Kindle, swear by hardcovers and paperbacks, or listen to audiobooks in the car, you’ll find tons of suspenseful books in your format of choice. From the queen of mystery, Agatha Christie, to the king of the macabre, Alfred Hitchcock, to new voices you haven’t heard of, get ready to meet the creators of the stories that define suspense.
Best Suspense Writers to Add to Your Library
Suspense novels aren’t just books; they’re experiences. They beckon you into a world where the next page might hold the key, the clue, or the twist you never saw coming. But be warned—these tales are known to keep readers up past their bedtime, not out of insomnia but out of “just one more chapter” syndrome.
Ready to dive in? Here’s the rundown of top-tier suspense writers whose books are a must for any thriller enthusiast’s collection.
Classic Masters of Suspense
- Agatha Christie – Known as the ‘Queen of Mystery’, her works are timeless.
- Alfred Hitchcock – While known for his films, his influence on suspense literature is profound.
- Patricia Highsmith – Renowned for psychological thrillers like “Strangers on a Train”.
- Arthur Conan Doyle – His Sherlock Holmes stories set the bar for detective fiction.
- Daphne du Maurier – Authored the suspenseful classic “Rebecca”.
- John le Carré – A master of the espionage thriller.
- Ruth Rendell – Known for her Chief Inspector Wexford series and psychological crime novels.
- P.D. James – British crime writer known for her Adam Dalgliesh series.
- Raymond Chandler – A foundational figure in the hard-boiled detective genre.
New Voices in Suspense
- Gillian Flynn – Brought a new edge to psychological thrillers with “Gone Girl”.
- Paula Hawkins – Author of the hit thriller “The Girl on the Train”.
- Tana French – Irish author known for her Dublin Murder Squad series.
- Megan Abbott – Explores the dark side of Americana with her suspenseful narratives.
- Riley Sager – A modern author who pays homage to classic suspense tropes with a fresh twist.
- A.J. Finn – Burst onto the scene with “The Woman in the Window”.
- Jane Harper – Brings suspense to the Australian outback with her novels.
- S.A. Cosby – His Southern noir style adds a gritty, raw edge to the genre.
- Alex Michaelides – Known for “The Silent Patient”, a mix of psychological thrills and Greek tragedy.
- Lucy Foley – Offers a modern take on the whodunit genre with bestsellers like “The Guest List”.
By now, you have a substantial list to choose from. Scroll down for a description of each writer and why they made the list. And keep reading for 7 BONUS suspense authors who are FREE to read in Kindle Unlimited!
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The Classic Suspense Authors
Agatha Christie, the ‘Queen of Mystery’, created an indelible mark on the mystery genre with her intricately plotted novels. Her body of work includes iconic characters such as the mustachioed detective Hercule Poirot and the astute elderly sleuth Miss Marple. Christie’s novels often involve classic “whodunit” scenarios, closed-circle settings, and ingenious twists, with “Murder on the Orient Express” and “And Then There Were None” being among her most celebrated works.
Though Alfred Hitchcock is primarily known for his suspenseful films, his influence extends into literature. He was the host and editor of “Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine” and various anthologies, often presenting stories that mirrored his cinematic penchant for tension, psychological intrigue, and unexpected turns. His legacy in storytelling continues to be a benchmark for both suspense cinema and literature.
Patricia Highsmith was a novelist who excelled in weaving psychological complexity into her narratives, offering a window into the darker recesses of her characters’ psyches. “Strangers on a Train,” which was adapted into a famous Hitchcock film, and her series featuring the charming psychopath Tom Ripley, are testaments to her skill at crafting suspenseful stories that explore the themes of identity and morality.
Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is the literary father of the inimitable Sherlock Holmes, whose adventures have defined detective fiction for generations. The Holmes stories, characterized by their meticulous deduction and atmospheric London settings, have captivated readers for over a century and continue to be adapted into various media, maintaining a timeless appeal.
Daphne du Maurier
Daphne du Maurier was a British author whose works often delved into the psychological and the gothic. Her most famous novel, “Rebecca,” is a masterclass in suspense, featuring a young protagonist thrust into a haunting estate and the shadow of the titular character. Du Maurier’s stories are known for their immersive settings and moody prose that build tension and mystery.
John le Carré
John le Carré was a British author acclaimed for his espionage novels, drawing on his own experience in the British Intelligence. His most famous character, George Smiley, often navigated the morally ambiguous world of Cold War espionage. Le Carré’s novels, such as “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold,” are celebrated for their intricate plots and deep psychological insight.
Ruth Rendell was an English author known for her psychological crime novels and her series featuring Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford. Her work delves into the psychological background of criminals, often exploring themes of social concerns and the nature of identity. Rendell also wrote under the pseudonym Barbara Vine, where she explored the darker side of human psychology.
P.D. James was a British crime writer whose works include the celebrated Adam Dalgliesh series, featuring the introspective detective-poet who unravels complex mysteries. Her novels, known for their well-crafted environments and deep character studies, often explore the moral questions surrounding life and death.
Raymond Chandler was an American novelist and screenwriter who played a significant role in developing the hard-boiled detective genre. His protagonist, Philip Marlowe, is the quintessential tough, cynical private eye with a sense of honor. Chandler’s works, such as “The Big Sleep” and “Farewell, My Lovely,” are distinguished by their sharp dialogue, complex plots, and the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles.
The Best New Suspense Writers
Gillian Flynn is an American author who has redefined psychological thrillers with her sharp, twisted narratives. “Gone Girl,” her most notable work, offers a deep dive into the complexities of marriage and the dark secrets that couples may harbor. Flynn’s ability to craft unreliable narrators and surprise readers with stark plot twists has set a new standard in the genre.
Paula Hawkins is a British author who gained international acclaim with “The Girl on the Train,” a psychological thriller that unfolds through the unreliable perspectives of its complex characters. Her work captures the essence of everyday life and then twists it into suspenseful tales that question memory and truth.
Tana French, an American-Irish writer, is known for her Dublin Murder Squad series, which weaves intricate mysteries that are as much character studies as they are compelling crime narratives. Her richly drawn characters and evocative prose have earned her a reputation for literary, atmospheric thrillers.
Megan Abbott is an American author whose novels often explore the dark undercurrents of femininity and the American dream. With a lyrical style that probes the psyche of her characters, Abbott turns ordinary settings into cauldrons of tension and drama, making the everyday unsettlingly suspenseful.
Riley Sager is the pseudonym of an American author who infuses traditional suspense motifs with innovative storytelling. His books, such as “Final Girls,” play with and subvert horror and thriller conventions, delivering fresh and compelling narratives that resonate with a contemporary audience.
A.J. Finn, the pen name for American author Dan Mallory, made a splash in the literary world with “The Woman in the Window,” a Hitchcockian thriller with an agoraphobic protagonist. The novel’s blend of classic film noir elements with the exploration of mental health issues has marked Finn as a notable new voice in suspense.
Jane Harper is an Australian author who brings the isolated and intense environment of the Australian outback into the realm of suspense. Her debut novel, “The Dry,” received international praise for its evocative setting and intricate plot, highlighting her ability to use landscape as a pivotal element of her suspenseful storytelling.
S.A. Cosby is an American author whose work is a raw and explosive dive into Southern noir. His books, such as “Blacktop Wasteland,” depict a world of conflicted characters and moral complexity, earning him accolades for his gritty and electric prose.
Alex Michaelides, a Cypriot screenwriter and novelist, gained fame with his debut novel “The Silent Patient,” which intertwines psychological suspense with elements of Greek tragedy. His writing, notable for its clever plotting and psychological depth, cements his place as a standout voice in modern thrillers.
Lucy Foley is a British author who has modernized the whodunit genre with her bestsellers like “The Guest List.” Her novels are set in isolated locations where the past and present collide, and secrets simmer until they explode in a satisfying crescendo of revelations. Foley’s work stands out for its intricate plotting and suspenseful atmosphere.
Bonus: Kindle Unlimited Suspense Authors
I love Kindle Unlimited. For a flat fee, I can read as any thriller and mystery novels as I want every month. By popular demand, here are 7 of the best suspense writers you can read for free in Kindle Unlimited.
Here are five suspense authors whose works are available on Kindle Unlimited, including Dean Koontz and Dan Padavona:
- Dean Koontz – A prolific writer known for his tightly wound thrillers that blend horror, mystery, and a touch of the supernatural. His work is characterized by memorable characters and complex plots that straddle the line between the real and the extraordinary.
- Dan Padavona – An author who crafts gripping narratives, often with a psychological edge. Padavona’s stories are known for their intensity and dark themes, which keep readers engaged until the last page.
- Gregg Olsen – An Amazon charts bestselling author, Olsen is renowned for his true crime and thriller novels that often incorporate meticulous research and deep psychological insights into crime.
- Freida McFadden – A practicing physician and Amazon bestselling author, McFadden brings an authentic touch to her psychological thrillers, drawing from her medical background to create realistic and engaging narratives.
- Karen McQuestion – Known for her #1 ranked novel in women’s crime fiction, “The Moonlight Child,” McQuestion writes suspenseful stories with deep character development and emotional connections.
- Loreth Anne White – An author celebrated for atmospheric thrillers with multi-layered plots and deep characters. Her settings often play a significant role, enhancing the chilling narratives she crafts.
- Patricia MacDonald – MacDonald specializes in domestic suspense, unveiling the dark secrets of seemingly everyday lives. Her novels are often emotionally charged, featuring intricate family dynamics and gripping storylines.
Each author brings a unique voice and style to the suspense genre, offering a variety of reads for enthusiasts subscribed to Kindle Unlimited.