In 1981, Thomas Harris penned Red Dragon, the first dark thriller of the series that would become known as the Hannibal Lecter novels. But the series didn’t explode in popularity until 1991 when the movie adaptation of Silence of the Lambs, starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, hit theaters. With the 2006 release of Hannibal rising, the Hannibal Lecter novel series stands at four books.
The books’ successes spawned two television series, multiple movies, and a throng of wildly popular “serial killer thrillers” available on Amazon Kindle. Today we’ll look at five serial killer thriller series that do justice to the Hannibal Lecter novels. And here’s some good news. Many of these novels are free to read if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited.
The Violet Darger Series
Inspired by Harris’ Manhunter novel, LT Vargus and Tim McBain released Dead End Girl, the first novel in the Violet Darger serial killer thriller series in the spring of 2017.
Violet Darger, a profiler with the FBI’s Behavior Analysis Unit, investigates a series of brutal murders in a backwoods Ohio town. But the killer is a phantom hiding in plain sight, and Darger’s partner, a grizzled profiler named Victor Loshak, seems to be hiding a dark secret.
Combining dark psychological thriller elements into a police procedural (well, an FBI procedural), Dead End Girl gives readers the goosebumps in tense scenes and keeps the pages turning at a ferocious rate.
How good is it? Dead End Girl shot up the charts and became an Amazon bestseller, leading to five sequels, multiple novellas, and a Victor Loshak spin-off series.
The Stillhouse Lake Series
Fans of the Hannibal Lecter novels will relish Rachel Caine’s Stillhouse Lake series.
Gina Royal is your average Midwestern soccer mom and loving wife. Until a vehicle crashes through her garage and reveals her husband’s horrible secret. He’s a serial killer.
Gina’s husband goes to prison, but her nightmare is just beginning. The entire world believes Gina and her children were complicit in the gory murders. Violent threats cause Gina to gather her children and flee under assumed names.
They settle in Stillhouse Lake. Life if finally peaceful and safe.
Then a body surfaces in the lake, and Gina Royal’s nightmare begins anew. With few allies, she must discover the killer’s identity while staying one step ahead of the people who want her punished for crimes she didn’t commit.
I almost burned out my Kindle, I turned the pages so fast. The Stillhouse Lake series is up to four published novels with a fifth announced. Everyone who loved Stillhouse Lake should check out The Darkwater Cove books, available on Amazon and through Kindle Unlimited.
The Prey Series
John Sandford’s Prey series begins with Rules of Prey, the book Stephen King calls, “Sleek and nasty.”
Officer Lucas Davenport is part good cop, part bad cop, a throwback to Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry.
Every serial killer thriller needs a frightening villain, and Sandford delivers a helluva bad guy in The Mad Dog, but Davenport is The Mad Dog’s perfect foil.
Chock full of interesting characters and an extra helping of police procedural scenes, Sandford delivers a series fans of Thomas Harris can sink their teeth into.
And if you want more Lucas Davenport after you finish Rules of Prey (and you will), rest assured John Sandford is a writing machine. The Prey series currently stands at thirty (yes, thirty!) novels, and it’s still growing.
Clair Fletcher Mysteries
I’m a huge Lisa Regan fan.
Few authors are so adept at weaving stunning prose into a dark thriller. And yes, this is a dark serial killer thriller. Don’t let the name fool you into thinking it’s a cozy mystery.
A deranged man kidnapped Clair Fletcher ten years ago. Everyone assumes Clair is dead except for her mother, who refuses to give up hope. Then a detective on the brink of alcoholism ends up in the arms of a beautiful woman and takes her home. When he awakens, she’s gone.
And he swears the woman was Clair Fletcher.
The Clair Fletcher series is up to two books. Unlike most of Lisa Regan’s books, you can read this series for free in Kindle Unlimited.
Morgan Dane Thrillers
Melinda Leigh’s Say You’re Sorry was Prime Reading’s most read book in 2018.
And for good reason. This is the way a psychological thriller should be written.
After losing her husband in the Iraq war, prosecuter Morgan Dane returns home to piece her life back together. But when someone murders Tessa, Morgan’s teenage babysitter, the police accuse Nick, the neighborhood boy Morgan thinks highly of.
The town and police turn against Morgan when she decides to defend Nick. But Morgan can’t save the boy unless she discovers who the real killer is.
One little problem. The killer targets Morgan next.
The Morgan Dane series is six books long, and hopefully it keeps growing. Any fan of the Hannibal Lecter novels will enjoy Melinda Leigh’s Morgan Dane series.
That’s my top-5.
Of course, you could also roll the dice and read a book by this great (and slightly off-kilter) writer named Dan Padavona! If you’re looking for authors of killer thrillers on Kindle, give Dead and Buried a try. I’ve made Dead and Buried free to download, so prepare for chilling serial killer thrills and heart-pounding suspense.