This year, my rest reads were psychological suspense and thrillers. Yikes! No wonder I jump every time I see a shadow.

Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent

Our own Kristen Donnelly said “I have been harping on about this book for months, so if you’ve not been subject to my evangelical zeal about its brilliance, allow me to quickly summarize.” I think she had me at “evangelical zeal.” Why did a mild-mannered children’s author beat his wife into a coma? I refused to wait for the library to get a copy, and I snagged the Kindle edition. It was worth it! While this is more of a mystery crossed with a character study, I found it far more riveting than many psychological thrillers. Contrasting points of view shine an unrelenting light on the truth about Oliver Ryan. The revelations are stunning, but not out of left field, and of course, the secrets are the kind that devastate lives.

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The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

Again, I have to thank Kristen for waving this book in front of me, and again, I couldn’t wait for the library copy. (575 holds? Come on!) Yes, this is a suspense novel with dark and horrible things happening to undeserving girls. But the most riveting part of it was waiting for the truth (or rather truths) to sneak up on you, and watching how characters responded. To me, one of the most surprising revelations had nothing to do with the murder and everything to do with readers’ expectations.

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Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber

Like our own Shannon Dyer, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out the truth about the murder of Josie Burhman’s father. Not to mention learning more about Josie’s broken relationship with her twin sister, Lanie, and the recent suicide of their mother. This very timely book is about how a true crime podcast can dredge up old secrets, and make old wounds ache. Did neighbor Warren Cave really murder her father? Why did their mother join a cult, and why did she take her life?

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Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

The official title is Best Day Ever: A Riveting Psychological Thriller about the Perfect Marriage. I’m not a fan of thrillers with subtitles — but this one is fitting. Okay, it’s no Unraveling Oliver. The psychology and character study just aren’t as good, and I also wasn’t a fan of decisions characters made at the end. But riveting? Yes! If you love unreliable narrators, then Paul Strom might be the man of your dreams – or rather your nightmares. Just what does he have in mind for his wife on their vacation? It quickly becomes clear that it’s not going to be a backrub. Even more importantly, what secrets is he hiding from us, and himself.

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Friend Request by Laura Marshall

This one interested me so much that even though I accidentally got it in the wrong format (one what worked only on my iPad), I zipped all the way through it. Even at the risk of ignoring my iPad games. What do you do when you get a friend request from someone you know must be dead? Louise knows that Maria Weston is dead – and that Louise and her friends were responsible back in high school. This friend request drags Louise back into the life she had once escaped, back among friends she hasn’t seen in years… and back into the dread that her secrets will be revealed. Don’t read this if you can’t stand books where characters dwell on the terrible things they did in high school. Also, avoid this if you want to fall in love with the characters in the books you read. In true psychological thriller fashion, you will want to grab many of these people by the collar and shout at them.

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