In literary thrillers, the emphasis is often more on the story and the mystery than on the violence. This is what distinguishes this genre from the regular thriller. The tension is therefore much more in the highly developed characters and storylines. Below we give you the best literary thrillers.

Best literary thrillers of all time

We start our recommendations with the top 10 best Literary Thrillers of all time. This list has been updated this year, including all the recent titles.

The Best Literary Thrillers Author
The HoldoutGraham Moore
The Big NowhereJames Ellroy
The MajestiesTiffany Tsao
The Opium-EaterDavid Morrell
The Secret HistoryDonna Tartt
The Body LiesJo Baker
In the WoodsTana French
A Crooked TreeUna Mannion
When the Stars Go Dark Paula McClain
These Violent DelightsMicah Nemerever 

The updated top 10 list: the best literary thrillers

That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana (New York Review Books Classics) 

This 400 page book will captivate you from the first page till the very last one. The story takes place in Rome, where a young woman is murdered in an apartment building, and in a different crime, money and jewels have been stolen. Everyone in the building seems to be involved somehow, but can Detective Ciccio discover why and how?

Shadows on the Coast of Maine: An Antique Print Mystery by Lea Wait (2007-11-28)

When Maggie Summer does a project for Amy Douglas (her former roommate from college), she is delighted to travel to Maine and collect antique prints for decoration purposes of Amy’s house. Then the body of a girl is found, and the situation in Maine changes quickly from then on.

Judge On Trial

Adam Kindl is a judge in Czechoslowakia, when a murder trial shakes the ground of everything he believes in. Even his marriage and job are uncertain.

The Haunting of the House on Greenpond Road: A Riveting Haunted House Mystery (A Riveting Haunted House Mystery Series Book 23)

Amber needs a break and decides to rent a cheap place to get away from home. Then the old town she is now in has a few surprises for her, and they aren’t positive ones. An old curse and paranormal activities start to haunt Amber, making her wonder how she can ever escape from her problems.

The Girl on the Train: A Novel

When Rachel witnesses something on the train she takes daily, her life changes. She goes to the police with what she saw, but then things spiral out of control and Rachel is in the midst of it.

Girls on Fire: A Novel

Hannah Dexter becomes friends with Lacey Champlain, who seems to have a bad influence on her. Hannah changes her appearance with the help of Lacey, and becomes Dex. The two personalities of Dex and Hannah will cross each other when an unwelcome person visits town.

On Target: A Gray Man Novel

Gentry is persuaded to go on a mission. His orders are to kill the President of Sudan. We think this book is worth reading, because it is an excellent example of how countries and secret missions end up colliding. Will Gentry be able to make it out alive this time?

Thunder on the Right

When Jenny Silver travels to the French Pyrenees to find her missing cousin, she is overwhelmed with grief when she discovers her cousin has died after being in a car accident. Then she notices something is off when she visits her cousin’s grave. Will she find out the secret?

Go Tell It on the Mountain (Vintage International)

We can recommend this book by James Baldwin to anyone who is interested in finding your own identity. The story is about a boy, age 14, who is the stepson of a minister in Harlem, and who discovers his personal identity on a sexual, moral and spiritual level.

On the Edge (Dublin Nights Book 1)

Anna moves from Kentucky to Dublin, where she will be completing her internship. Then she starts to find out who her boss really is, and although she knows there are bad things about him, she can’t resist him either.

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