The science of psychology is still very young and in the earliest stages of its development, but it has nevertheless attracted massive interest from people all over the world from all walks of life.
Even though we have been observing human behaviour for the totality of recorded history, we’ve only been able to truly start explaining it in the modern era.
More than anything, we saw in this field the opportunity to explore the darker aspects of the human mind, to define and confront the feelings and sensations which keep us awake at night.
After a host of experiments conducted in the second half of the twentieth century, we discovered something a little more alarming than the fears we’ve been facing: human beings are manipulable beyond belief.
As the field of psychology become more evolved and pronounced in our daily lives, the number of fiction books relating to the subject also increased quite drastically, with psychological thrillers being one of today’s most widely-read genres, more often than not mixing elements of mystery, drama and paranoia.
In this category we will be examining the numerous psychological thrillers which have positively caught my attention, whether simply due to the escapism they provide or their more profound insights into human behaviour.
“The Last Flight” by Julie Clark – Strangers in Shackles
Julie Clark has managed to shoot her way to literary stardom with only her second published novel, titled The Last Flight.
In it, we are presented with the story of Claire, controlled and domineered by her powerful husband at every turn.
She concocts a plan to escape, and through a strange twist of fate involving another woman named Eva, the world believes her dead, and she ends up having to live a new life under an assumed identity.
“Home Before Dark” by Riley Sager – The Ghosts in the Walls
Riley Sager has proven himself to be a new powerhouse in the thriller genre, having already penned numerous bestseller in the last few years.
His latest novel, Home Before Dark, tells the story of a woman who returns to her childhood home, made famous in her father’s horror memoir.
Things take a turn for the strange upon her return, and she begins to wonder if the place is truly haunted, or if something more sinister is afoot behind the old walls.
“IQ” by Joe Ide – The Necessary Client
Joe Ide may have only entered the ranks of published authors in 2017, but he has without a doubt made a good name for himself with the IQ series.
The first book titled IQ, which was also nominated for a 2017 Edgar Award, follows a loner citizen in a crime-ridden Los Angeles who just can’t sit idly by anymore.
Armed with amazing intellect and determination, he takes it upon himself to solve the cases the police won’t even look at.
“Dark Sacred Night” by Michael Connelly – Fifteen Years of Darkness
Michael Connelly is rightfully known as a true modern master of murder mysteries and detective fiction, the Harry Bosch series being his most famous creation.
In Dark Sacred Night, he brings together Bosch and detective Renee Ballard to create a new series which sees his characters working together.
In their first outing, the try and put to rest an old unsolved case, the murder of a runaway in Hollywood, the 15-year-old Daisy Clayton.
“Saigon Dark” by Elka Ray – The Forge of Lifelong Retribution
Life seldom gives us what we want, and when it does it seems there is always some sort of perversion attached to the deal.
In Saigon Dark, Elka Ray shows us just how curious the unexpected twists of fate can be as we are presented with Lily Vo, a young single mother of a boy and a girl living in Saigon.
On a tragic night, her infant daughter wanders off into the backyard and drowns in the small pond.
Desperate, in shock and grief, Lily decides to bury her daughter on her own, and at that moment fate throws the most unexpected wrench in her plans as she ends up taking in the abused infant daughter of her neighbours, marking the beginning of her painful odyssey.
“The Flight Attendant” by Chris Bohjalian – Dead Man from Thin Air
Chris Bohjalian knows how to use the thrill of mystery to its fullest and puts his talent to use in The Flight Attendant.
A riveting novel largely set in the world located forty thousand feet above the ground, it follows the titular attendant, Cassandra Bowden, as she wakes up in a Dubai hotel room with no recollection of what happened… a situation made far worse by the dead man laying besides her.
As the web of lies she weaves chokes her tighter and tighter, it becomes obvious that only facing the truth will bring peace to anyone.
“Nighttown” by Timothy Hallinan – The Great Doll Heist
Timothy Hallinan has made Junior Bender into a real staple of the satirical thriller genre, and in Nighttown he embarks on yet another ridiculous adventure which begins with him breaking his most important rule: never accept a job which pays more than it’s worth.
Hurting for cash as he is though, he accepts fifty thousand dollar mission to steal a doll from a deceased woman’s collection.
Needless to say, he soon finds out he’s not the only one after whatever might be inside of it, and things start to get a bit too serious when an old friend of his ends up murdered.
“Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore” by Matthew Sullivan – The Mystery in the Pages
Though Matthew Sullivan has been a writer for much of his life, we’ve only recently seen him publish his second work, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore. In it, we are introduced to a bookstore clerk by the name of Lydia Smith whose existence is anything but out of the ordinary.
However, one day her orderly life is plunged into the throes of chaotic unpredictability when one of her patrons commits suicide in the store’s upper room.
Quite sadly and surprisingly, Lydia is the one to inherit the poor young man’s possessions, and amongst them she finds terribly defaced and mutilated books… containing some sort of a message, one that might hide a terrifying truth.
“The Heavens May Fall” by Allen Eskens – Poked with a Two-Pronged Justice
Allen Eskens graces us with his genius once again by writing The Heavens May Fall, an intriguing story about a detective and a lawyer who find themselves on different sides of a case, as the former firmly believes the latter’s client to be guilty.
The two men will both see their friendship tested in gruelling ways as each one strives for some sort of personal redemption, all while unravelling the complex, curious and deceptive case of Jennavieve Pruitt’s death, a mystery in every sense of the word.
“Conclave” by Robert Harris – The Holy Election Behind Closed Doors
Robert Harris takes us behind closed doors into the secretive world of the Church as we follow the thrilling proceedings of 118 cardinals who must elect a new pope after the last one’s death, all while being completely sequestered from the outside world.
However, the minds of men are easily distracted and corrupted by other worldly pursuits, and this most holy election turns more and more into a contest of cunning and intelligence.
These men of God are, after all, nothing but men, and while the allure of power may drive a few to self-discovery and enlightenment, there are many who become dangerously corrupted by it.