05/18/2024

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The Best Psychological Thrillers of May 2024

The Best Psychological Thrillers of May 2024

Each month, I attempt to perform the Herculean endeavor of rounding up all the best psychological thrillers coming out, and each month, I must admit to myself the true impossibility of the task in the face of so many good titles. May, however, has been particularly challenging, in that there are just So. Many. Good. Thrillers. My apologies to all those that I was compelled to leave off the list below, for the simple reason of not being allowed to read, like, all the time. I still have to sleep, okay? And also, of course…do my job. Anyway, enjoy this selection of delicious scandal and disturbing insights!

Ruth Ware, One Perfect Couple
(Gallery/Scout)

Love Island meets And Then There Were None in Ruth Ware’s latest psychological thriller as five couples in an island-based reality TV show find themselves cut off from the mainland during a ferocious storm as a killer picks them off, one by one. Ruth Ware is the new reigning queen of crime, so it makes perfect sense for her to take on a classic Christie set-up.

Emma Rosenblum, Very Bad Company
(Flatiron)

I saw a tweet recently about how one of the most underrated possibilities for thrillers is the corporate retreat gone horribly, hilariously awry. Emma Rosenblum, author of last year’s fabulously scandalous Bad Summer People, has returned with an equally sordid and sardonic take on forced corporate fun, following a group of tech elites as their soused vacation, and house-of-cards company, quickly unravel.

Andromeda Romano-Lax, The Deepest Lake
(Soho)

Andromeda Romano-Lax takes readers to a memoir-writing workshop as pricey as it is remote in her latest novel, a searing meditation on narcissism and motherhood. One attendee has a secret goal: discover the truth behind her daughter’s disappearance, soon after starting work as a general assistant to the workshop’s charismatic conductor. I didn’t have Grand Guignol Mother’s Day on my bingo card for 2024, but here we are.

Fiona McPhillips, When We Were Silent
(Flatiron)

Fiona McPhillips breathes new urgency into the private school thriller with this tale of justice delayed. In When We Were Silent, Louise Manson enrolls at an elite Dublin academy with a singular goal: expose the swim coach as a sexual predator. Decades later, she must confront her past traumas when another of the school’s coaches goes on trial for abuse. McPhillips infuses her story with deep sensitivity and righteous fury, for a compelling and thought-provoking read.

Omar Tyree, Control
(Dafina)

A frustrated psychologist puts an intricate plan in motion in this insightful new thriller: her talented but neurotic clients and their toxic personalities seem tailor-made to complement each other, and she’s ready to intervene in the name of helping them move forward (and giving herself a break).  Unfortunately, the alchemy that results is rather than more deadly than she intended. Omar Tyree is based in Atlanta and the setting shines via character archetypes, with most characters based in the city’s thriving entertainment industry.

L.M. Chilton, Swiped
(Gallery)

Another send-off of modern dating, this time with an extra-fun twist! Chilton’s unlucky-in-love heroine finds herself under suspicion of murder after the shocking demise of multiple men with whom she’s matched. Who is the culprit killing off all these (admittedly mediocre) dating prospects? And why are they so determined to pin the blame on her?

Julie Mae Cohen, Bad Men
(The Overlook Press)

What a delightfully weird book. Bad Men continues the “sympathetic feminist serial killer” trend that I noted last year, and adds the hope for a happily ever after to the mix. When serial-killing socialite Saffy Huntley-Oliver meets her perfect man, she’s ready to engineer whatever machinations are necessary to draw him in as a potential mate, but she’s going to have to figure out the balance between her new lover and her old hobbies. Don’t worry, the dog doesn’t die. Some people do, of course. But no dogs!

Elle Marr, The Alone Time
(Thomas and Mercer)

Elle Marr’s consistently chilling and insightful psychological thrillers have been growing in repute for some time, so I’m glad I finally dived into her latest and found it to be just as good as I’d hoped. Violet and Fiona are two sisters who survived a horrific plane crash in childhood and spent months defying death in the wilderness. They’ve always said their parents died instantly in the crash, and they’ve always been suspected of hiding some details. When a new documentary crew starts digging, the grown-up sisters must confront their own traumas and hope to keep the real story hidden. This book also confirms my plan to NEVER go into the sky in a tiny, tiny plane piloted by a cranky relative.