Top-5 Best Dark Thriller Book Series
The most popular question we receive: what’s the best dark thriller book series out today?
We’re not talking about James Bond here. Rather we’re focusing on the chilling underbelly of the thriller genre. That’s right. We’re entering the realm of Hannibal Lecter and the authorities who track the most deadly criminal minds. Understandably, many readers are hesitant to begin a new series, particularly if it’s four books in length or longer. Who wants to devote weeks and months to a series that doesn’t wow them, let alone shell out money for a long thriller series?
That’s why Dan Padavona, a best-selling thriller and mystery author, whittled the list down to our five can’t-miss, binge-worthy killer thriller series that will have you turning pages into the night and squirming every time you hear an unexplained noise in the house. By the way, I’m sure it was just your house settling. At least I hope so . . .
Note: this list isn’t in any particular order. If you like a thriller series that raises the goosebumps on your skin, you’ll want to read all five. Thank us later.
The Prey Series – John Sandford
When Stephen King himself declares your novel “a big, scary, suspenseful read”, you know you’re on to something. John Sandford’s Rules of Prey lit the thriller world on fire when it was first released in 1990. Since then, The Prey series has grown to 32 books and counting. Yes, you read correctly. Thirty-two books.
Prepare yourself. The Mad Dog killer in book one will scare the daylights out of you. And that’s just the beginning.
Each book in this thriller series can be read as a standalone, but we recommend starting from the beginning and working your way forward. That way you best experience the interesting character arcs taking place.
Perhaps Sandford’s greatest achievement, besides crafting some genuinely terrifying books, is his ability to cast his characters as everyday, believable people. Detective Lucas Davenport is flawed, and for that reason, we find ourselves cheering for him to survive and catch the villains.
If you love dark thrillers in a long series, The Prey series belongs on your shelf. Just make sure it’s a really big shelf.
The Darkwater Cove Series – Dan Padavona
Ready for a gripping thriller series that leaves you shivering as you turn the pages? In the Darkwater Cove series, FBI profiler Darcy Gellar tracks the legendary Full Moon Killer, an elusive monster with a trail of bodies left in his wake.
After a near-fatal encounter with the psychopath, Gellar quits the FBI to put her life together. Then a dead body surfaces on the coast. The evidence points to the same killer Gellar put in prison three years ago. Did she arrest the wrong man? Or is a copycat murderer stalking paradise?
The Darkwater Cove books build tension and paranoia like no others. The entire series will leave you guessing who you can trust.
In addition, The Full Moon Killer is expertly crafted to engender fear, much like Michael Myers and Hannibal Lecter.
Without question, Darkwater Cove belongs on our top-5 list for the best killer thriller book series. Fair warning – unless you like nightmares, don’t read these books after dark.
The Hannibal Lecter Series – Thomas Harris
Any list of the best dark thrillers in series form would be incomplete without including Thomas Harris’s classic Hannibal Lecter books. Though some critics claim the books fall off in quality after the first two, the last two in the series (Hannibal and Hannibal Rising) are excellent in their own right. They’re just being held to an impossibly high standard. The first two books aren’t just among the best thrillers ever written, they’re among the best novels of any genre in modern history.
Many mistakenly believe The Silence of the Lambs started the series, but it didn’t. That book just happens to be the most famous of the lot, thanks in no small part to the amazing film adaptation. The Hannibal Lecter legend began with the first novel, Red Dragon, a terrifying story about a serial killer known as The Tooth Fairy and the damaged former FBI agent hunting him.
Hannibal Lecter may be the greatest villain every created. At once sadistic, frightening, intelligent, and mesmerizing, Lecter steals every scene, even when the great Anthony Hopkins isn’t playing him in your mind.
If you love the movies, read the books. They’re even better.
The Lizzy Gardner Series – T.R. Ragan
T.R. Ragan might not be a household name like Dean Koontz or Stephen King, but fans of dark thrillers know exactly who she is.
When Lizzy Gardner was young, she escaped from a madman and returned home to her parents. Except many believed she’d lied about the kidnapping, and that set the stage for her tumultuous journey into adulthood. Fast forward to present day, and Gardner is a private investigator who has a tenuous relationship with the local police.
Then a series of disappearances and bizarre murders catch her attention. Is the psychopath who abducted her back?
This six-book thriller series is among the best we’ve read, each story building on the last. Lizzy’s character arc is as fascinating as the depraved murderers she hunts are horrifying.
A must read on our top-5 best thriller series list.
The Tess Winnett Series – Leslie Wolfe
Whenever a thriller begins with young people sneaking out of the house at night, you can be sure something terrible is about to happen. In this instance, the teens discover a horrific sight – a dead woman on the beach held by fishing line, like a madman’s marionette.
That’s how Dawn Girl, the first book in Leslie Wolfe’s awesome Tess Winnett thriller series, begins.
Agent Tess Winnett has a checkered past and an uneasy relationship with local law enforcement. She must grow and overcome her fears, which stem from a past abduction. Now she’s hunting for a psychopathic killer who reminds her too much of the man who kidnapped and raped her.
Currently at eight books, the Tess Winnett thriller book series deserves mention among the best. The series is filled with creepy scares, depraved killers, and a healthy dose of police procedural mystery. Check it out and tell us what you think.
Those are our five picks for the best thriller book series. Got a choice of your own? Sound off in the comments below.
Since you have a diabolical love of dark thrillers, you might read something by this slightly demented writer named Dan Padavona! If you’re looking for a top-ranked Amazon author in the dark thriller genre, give Dead and Buried a try. I’ve made Dead and Buried free to download, so get ready for some serial killer thrills and edge-of-your-seat suspense.