It's been a great year for books - but which ones topped my list of favourites?
These are the stories that were all solid five star books for me - mostly psychological thrillers - but also a couple that were more horror and supernatural, but great reads nonetheless.
The Hike – Lucy Clarke
I’ve been a fan of Lucy Clarke since reading The Castaways (which is due out shortly as a TV series on Paramount+) and her early You Let Me In – and The Hike is right up there with her best work.
It’s a little slow to get going as Clarke sets up the characters and the setting, but when it takes off, it does so with a bang and keeps going to the last page.
It’s all about four friends who set out on a hike in the Norwegian wilderness and end up uncovering a sinister secret that puts them all at risk.
It’s also a delightful exploration of the power of friendship and the simmering tensions that can sometimes pull at the seams of even the relationships of those closest to us. A clever, evocative and imaginative thriller.
Don’t Let Her Stay – Nicola Sanders
Don’t Let Her Stay is the first of Nicola Sanders’ books I’ve read after constantly seeing it at the top of the UK charts as one of Amazon’s recommended Prime Reading thrillers.
It has a really simple premise but it’s stylishly written and keep you turning the pages right to the end as you’re left wondering what’s really going on.
It’s the story of Joanne, a young woman who’s married an older man, Richard, and has just given birth to their first child, Evie.
It’s the trigger for Richard’s grown-up and estranged daughter, Chloe, to want to be part of his life again.
In front of her father, Chloe is a perfect angel. But when she’s alone with Joanne, she makes it quite clear she hates the new woman in her father’s life.
Richard doesn’t believe it for a moment. So maybe Joanne’s lying, not wanting to share her husband with his older daughter. Or maybe Chloe really is evil.
It’s a brilliant mystery that keeps you guessing until the last page.
The Accident – Natalie Barrelli
Another first-time author for me but unlikely to be the last book I read by Natalie Barrelli.
I loved this story, told in such compelling prose, all about Katherine who is persuaded to drive home by her friend, Eve, even though she’s had too much to drink.
It’s only a short distance and there’s no traffic.
But of course, the worst happens. She hits someone and now she’s going to have to pay.
At first she thinks she can rely on Eve to help her, but inevitably all is not as it seems and it’s not going to be that easy. A first-rate thriller that will have you flicking through the pages.
The Housemaid’s Secret – Freida McFadden
Like many other psychological thriller fans, I loved The Housemaid by Freida McFadden.
So when she announced she was publishing a sequel, I wasn’t sure it would live up to the hype.
But I was wrong.
We’re back with the same protagonist, the tricksy Millie who’s started a new life, now cleaning for a strange, wealthy couple.
But there’s one rule – don’t go in the bedroom where Douglas’s wife seems to spend her entire life.
Millie quickly realises something is very wrong and she’s determined to put things right.
Except… you can’t believe everything people tell you…
Absolutely loved this one – and the twists – just wow!
The Perfect Husband – Danielle Ramsay
A classic domestic thriller of a controlling and abusive husband and a woman who’s determined not to be a victim.
Another quick read with some interesting characters and a clever portrayal of controlling behaviour.
A great false ending and a brilliant finale.
Stolen Tongues – Felix Blackwell
This is by no means a psychological thriller – but I was so intrigued after seeing so many people raving about it in readers’ Facebook groups that I had to give it a try.
Be warned this is a horror story and about as chilling as they get.
It begins with a couple on a romantic getaway celebrating their engagement.
But when they begin hearing voices and footsteps outside, their romantic getaway turns into a nightmare of epic proportions.
It’s a real chiller. If you like anything supernatural, you’ll love this one.
If you don’t – stay well clear!. Not for the faint-hearted.
Hidden Pictures – Jason Rekulak
So another book I was drawn to after seeing so many people posting about it on social media, this one also falls firmly in the category of horror rather than thriller.
And yet it’s utterly compelling. It’s the only book I’ve ever read that gave me physical chills in parts – it’s that disturbing and scary.
It’s about Mallory, a recovering alcoholic who takes on a job looking after four-year-old Teddy.
Everything starts off well, until Teddy begins drawing pictures of his imaginary friend, Anya, who it’s quite obvious is a woman murdered some time in the past.
And now she seems to communicating through Teddy.
Honestly, this one will totally creep you out but it’s a completely compulsive read. I couldn’t put it down.