Read our guide of authors like Lisa Jewell and delve into your next picks of contemporary fiction and psychological thrillers.
Authors like Lisa Jewell write stories that stir readers away to a place of imaginary and captivating characters. Their unique power? It lies in their ability to make us readers rake our brains on who’s the real culprit. This specific prowess in writing fiction attracts fans of Lisa Jewell to immerse themselves in dream-turned-into-reality-worlds. As she writes in Then She Was Gone, “Stories,” she says, “are the only real things in this world. Everything else is just a dream.”
But who is Lisa Jewell anyway? Aside from being a well-known author from England, she achieved No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller right out of the gate with her first novel, Ralph’s Party. She started with contemporary fiction and jumped to psychological thrillers. Her Then She Was Gone, Invisible Girls, The Family Upstairs, and The Night She Disappeared have lured readers to tangible dreams. Read on for our author and book recommendations.
- Domestic Suspense and Thriller Authors Like Lisa Jewell
- Women’s Fiction and Family Drama Authors
Domestic Suspense and Thriller Authors Like Lisa Jewell
1. Ruth Ware, 1977 –
Ruth Ware has earned many titles in the literary scene, like International Number One Bestseller, ranking in the Top 10 chartbusters in both the UK Sunday Times and The New York Times list.
Before being involved in the genre, she was busy with young adult fantasy novels under the pen name Ruth Warburton. Through Warburton, she published five novels in her early career in 2013. In 2015, she adopted the pen name of Ruth Ware to focus on murder, crime, family secrets, and toxic relationships. Her most famous works include The Woman in Cabin 10 and In a Dark, Dark Wood.
Like Lisa Jewell, both authors have distinctive stories that bite into complex relationships and hidden truths. Her acclaimed novels have captured media attention across various channels, with four books optioned for a screen adaptation.
“There was something strangely naked about it, like we were on a stage set, playing our parts to an audience of eyes out there in the wood.”Ruth Ware, In a Dark, Dark Wood
2. Shari Lapena, 1960 –
Shari Lapena sits comfortably alongside famous authors in the Globe and Mail, Sunday Times, and New York Times bestsellers list. Her first thriller novel was a massive success. Titled The Couple Next Door, her debut novel achieved an impressive 4 million copies sold in her home country, Canada, and internationally. This novel became her breakthrough page-turner.
This eventually became her jumpstart to a rewarding literary feat, publishing six more suspenseful stories. As noted by USA Today, “Lapena is a master of manipulation,” leaving readers guessing who the real villain is until the last page.
“Everyone is faking it, all of them pretending to be something they’re not. The whole world is built on lies and deceit.”Shari Lapena, The Couple Next Door
3. Clare Mackintosh, 1976 –
Clare Mackintosh achieved a marvelous feat in 2016 as she triumphed over the famous J.K. Rowling’s “alter-ego” Robert Galbraith. Not only this, but she also had to face the two-time champion, Mark Billingham, in the UK’s top-crime fiction category, the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award.
She became a multi-winner for her debut novel, I Let You Go. It has sold one million copies worldwide in just over a year. Since then, Mackintosh has continuously topped charts as her subsequent books flourished as bestsellers. She has a wide reach, with her books’ translations in forty languages.
She has a penchant for creating thriller books and crime fiction that leave her audience wondering about the threat of the past. Readers then question the present and wonder about the future of the characters.
“My steps feel lighter now and I realize it’s because I’m running toward something, and not away from it.”Clare Mackintosh, I Let You Go
4. T.M. Logan, 1975 –
T.M. Logan, real name Tim Utton, enjoys creating psychological thrillers that dig deep into betrayals, love and hate, and dark secrets. His famous potion for his plots includes toxic jealousy and revenge.
With his mastery in this genre, his books have sold millions of copies in 18 countries. Logan’s achievements have allowed him to adapt his two novels into a short TV series, The Holiday and The Catch, which are available on Netflix UK and My5, respectively. His stories often center around a traitor and how they become a threat. However, this threat only came from other characters digging into the dangerous past of someone they thought they could trust.
“A liar should have a good memory.”T.M. Logan, Lies: A Novel
5. Gillian Flynn, 1971 –
Gillian Flynn is an American bestseller author — not only that, though — she’s also a publisher, screenwriter, and producer of both thriller novels and films. Many hold a distinct recognition for her as one of the most influential authors of the decade.
She has created three famous novels and one short story and comic — all topping the charts, earning awards and nominations. Sharp Objects, Dark Places, and Gone Girl are enough to prove that she’s a literary powerhouse. Through these alone, she made readers and viewers question her understanding of the world. Her choice for creating dark and complex, often mistaken female misogynist characters has also raised some eyebrows. Critics have tried to debrief her reality as she penned females as villains. In reality, Flynn welcomes a feminist narrative where brazen and multi-faceted characters are introduced to the world.
“There’s a difference between really loving someone and loving the idea of her.”Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
6. B.A. Paris, 1858 –
B.A. Paris, the author of seven bestselling novels, is serious about her story writing. So much so that she gets most of her work done in the calming, efficient space of her official office — her bed. This is a fun fact, especially when she’s renowned in the psychological thriller category.
Not many authors achieve such success with their first published book. Of course, Paris is an exception. Her debut novel, Behind the Closed Doors, is a New York and Sunday Times bestseller, selling over 3.5 million copies worldwide. This came as a late-blooming victory for Paris, though, as she started her literary journey at 50. But this proved another thing: it’s never too late for anyone to start writing.
“Without routine, there is no risk of me becoming institutionalized and unable to think for myself. And I must think for myself.”B.A. Paris, Behind Closed Doors
7. Wendy Walker, 1967 –
As she closely worked with families and children before, Wendy Walker’s inspiration often comes from the narratives and trauma of the people she has worked with and learned about. Her objective is to tell stories that readers can resonate with. But not only that — they should also be eye-opening as there are “bigger” issues outside our own lives.
This profound goal translated into charting psychological suspense novels — bestsellers in the national and international literary scene.
One of her notable works, Emma in the Night, is about a disappearance, a cover-up, and a deep dive into how a dysfunctional family works. This success has garnered the attention of many, including The Today Show, The Reese Witherspoon Book Club, and The Book of the Month Club. On top of that, Walker’s works have been optioned for an adaptation into film and television.
“Every brain is different. And so must be every course of therapy.”Wendy Walker, All Is Not Forgotten
8. Karin Slaughter, 1971 –
Karin Slaughter’s 2001 book Blindsighted was immediately shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association’s Dagger Award “Best Thriller Debut” — an immediate hint of her writing capability. Since then, she has consistently maintained her place in crime thriller fiction. Eventually, this success reached the screen, with two of her books becoming a Netflix original series (Pieces of Her) and another (Will Trent) hosted by Disney+ and Hulu.
Another testament to her skills is Lee Child’s willingness to work with her. Their brainchild? The short story, Cleaning the Gold: A Jack Reacher and Will Trent Short Story. Are you intrigued yet? Try Slaughter’s Pretty Girls and figure out the relationship between three sisters, one of which vanishes without a trace. Her disappearance causes scars and mystery that continuously destroy the family.
“Anybody could be smart. It took a special somebody to be clever.”Karin Slaughter, Pretty Girls
9. Paula Hawkins, 1972 –
As a freelance writer offering financial advice to women, Paula Hawkins merely tried when she explored the romantic comedy fiction genre. Unfortunately, it didn’t make it to the charts. So, what did she do next? Try her hand at the complete opposite genre — dark, violent, psychological thrillers.
Unbeknownst to her, this decision would ultimately lead her to make it to the big screen. With her most notable work, The Girl on the Train, no less. The 2016 film adaptation starred Emily Blunt, with the theme centering on domestic violence, alcohol, and drug abuse. Imagine being in the protagonist’s shoes — where you are a key witness to a missing woman’s case. You are sure, but also not because you doubt your memory. You’re even thinking if you’re the one who killed her. This is only one of the masterpieces that won Hawkins loyal readers.
“I have never understood how people can blithely disregard the damage they do by following their hearts.”Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train
10. A.J. Finn, 1979
Before his success as an author, A.J. Finn worked in New York and London as part of a publishing company. Via the things he learned in his occupation, he dared to create his debut novel, The Woman in the Window. It climbed to the top of the UK and New York Times Bestseller lists, capturing the attention of many readers and the media.
This novel inspired the Netflix mini-series The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window. But how did Finn come up with this novel’s plot? Sadly, it’s through his real-life diagnosis of Bipolar II. Connected to this illness is the main character’s agoraphobia, or the fear of leaving someone’s “safe space.”
“I was fighting for my life. So I must not want to die. And if I don’t want to die, I’ve got to start living.”A.J. Finn, The Woman in the Window
11. Lisa Unger, 1970 –
Much like Lisa Jewell’s books, Lisa Unger is a contemporary fiction writer primarily focusing on psychological thrillers. Unger has published ten novels, akin to stepping stones to becoming an international bestselling author. Via these contributions, she received numerous nominations and awards in the mystery and crime thriller categories.
Unger’s books have consistently received positive reviews and have found a place on numerous Best Book lists. Some are those of the Today Show, Entertainment Weekly, Amazon, and more. She also actively engages with her readers through book clubs.
Try her famed work, Confessions on the 7:45. Her stories often explore the theme of living a lie or knowing how to keep a secret.
“It’s lovely when people accept your gift with gratitude, but you can’t control that. You can only control your intention.”Lisa Unger, Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six
Women’s Fiction and Family Drama Authors
12. Sally Hepworth, 1980 –
Sally Hepworth’s thriller novels string dark and quirky humor with characters’ relationships with their partners, families, and sense of self. For instance, The Good Sister delves into the tangled dynamic of sisterly connections. Here, she highlights how past family dark secrets threaten any present relationship.
Then, there’s her The Mother-In-Law. It’s another novel that explores the twisted fates of women and the destructive impact of hidden truths and lies on the family.
“We trust people based on the strangest, most arbitrary things, none of which have any bearing on whether or not you are inherently good.”Sally Hepworth, The Soulmate
13. Liane Moriarty, 1966 –
Though she has excellent books in the genre, Liane Moriarty prefers her readers not to focus on the “mystery and thriller” label of her works. Instead, she asks them to focus on her characters’ growth. Plus, she’d much rather be known as a women’s fiction and children’s book author.
Moriarity has had all nine novels in the New York Times bestseller list. Two were adapted into television (Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers). Her stories focus on women who want to protect one another but find themselves in secretive and dilemmatic relationships.
“They say it’s good to let your grudges go, but I don’t know, I’m quite fond of my grudge. I tend it like a little pet.”Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies
14. Emily Giffin, 1972 –
Emily Griffin had a rough start in her literary journey when her debut novel didn’t make the cut to be published. In fact, she was rejected eight times! But her tenacity wouldn’t let her end there. So she started anew and came out with the New York Times bestseller Something Borrowed. Drawing from her experience, the storyline involves an attorney, Rachel, and her tainted friendship.
“Life’s not black-and-white. Sometimes the ends justify the means.”Emily Giffin, Something Borrowed
15. Jojo Moyes, 1969 –
Jojo Moyes is recognized as one of the few authors to have won the RNA’s Romantic Novel of the Year Award twice. With such prestige, readers are bewildered how she was rejected three times, especially since her fourth book started a bidding war among six publishers.
Moyes’ many novels have claimed the number-one spot in 12 countries and have sold over 50 million copies. This success results from her realistic narratives that reflect the romance of real life, bringing warmth and a new perspective on the drama of everyday life. One of her works that particularly resonates with young women is Me Before You.
“You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.”Jojo Moyes, Me Before You
16. Katherine Center, 1972 –
Katherine Center is an early bloomer who discovered her passion at a young age, finding solace in writing poetry, essays, stories, and journals. However, her path to success was far from easy. She even questioned her life choices until an agent sponsored her first novel, The Bright Side of Disaster.
Center’s personal experiences find their way into her books. In them, she emphasizes that “joy is just as important as sorrow.” Her storytelling revolves around discovering happiness amid life’s challenges, offering a mix of emotions and hope. The Body Guard stands out as one of her must-read works.
Her achievements have led to even bigger projects, with two books optioned for TV and film. Happiness for Beginners became an original Netflix movie, while The Lost Husband claimed the top spot among Netflix films.
“The things we remember are what we hold on to. And what we hold on to becomes the story of our lives.”Katherine Center, Happiness for Beginners
17. Taylor Jenkins Reid, 1983 –
Taylor Jenkins Reid, the author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones & the Six, has won awards for Best Historical Fiction author three times in Goodreads Choice Awards.
Reid’s journey began in media studies and the film industry, where she discovered her love for film and storytelling. Her success is evident because many of her works have been optioned for film adaptations. With eight successful works to her name, she has received various recognition, including Book of the Year awards and distinction for Best Audiobooks. One of her works has even been adapted into a web-based mini-series.
“Please never forget that the sun rises and sets with your smile. At least to me, it does. You’re the only thing on this planet worth worshiping.”Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
18. Jodi Picoult, 1966 –
Jodi Picoult is a versatile author who explores various genres, including literary fiction, legal thrillers, psychological portraits, romances, and ghost stories. Similar yet distinct from the other authors in this article, she has five of her at least 28 novels adapted into movies. Picoult is known for her assertive and opinionated writing, addressing popular yet controversial paradoxes, dilemmas, and moral issues. It’s no wonder she made it to the Top Ten of Princeton’s 25 most influential living alums.
An intriguing book she wrote is My Sister’s Keeper, based on the real-life case of Adam and Molly Nash. It’s the story of the “savior” sister, Anna, and her fight to be medically emancipated from her parents, who want her to save her sister Kate as a kidney donor.
“You don’t love someone because they’re perfect, you love them in spite of the fact that they’re not.”Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper
19. Kristin Hannah, 1960 –
If you want to start reading Kristin Hannah’s work, begin with The Nightingale. It not only earned her the 2015 People’s Choice Award – Best Fiction and 2015 Goodreads Best Historical Fiction, but it also became a global sensation. This breakthrough novel has cemented its place for its beautiful narrative of two separated sisters amidst war-torn France and their struggles to survive. It also made its way to the big screen and became a blockbuster hit.
Her success continued with her other novels, including Winter Garden, Firefly Lane Series, The Great Alone, and The Four Winds — all of which achieved massive popularity as chart toppers.
“Some stories don’t have happy endings. Even love stories. Maybe especially love stories.”Kristin Hannah, The Nightingale
20. Diane Chamberlain, 1950 –
Diane Chamberlain was waiting for her hospital appointment when an idea struck her — what if she seriously wrote fiction? Life got her busy, but this survivor and dreamer who has never allowed her health to hinder her in pursuing her childhood dream finally did what she wanted. As a result of her love for writing, she has published 30 novels, with Big Lies in a Small Town as one of her many notable works.
As a constant name in USA Today, Sunday Times, and New York Times bestselling authors, Chamberlain had proven her prowess over and over again.
Though she generally refers to her books as adult fiction, she has her nose in various genres. Some are contemporary, romance, and, of course, mystery. Her storylines often explore family life and its mysteries. She’s also fond of making her characters explore their pasts to solve present issues.
“Perhaps now that she’d told the story, it would lose its power over her. She hoped she would never have to repeat it to anyone ever again.”Diane Chamberlain, Big Lies in a Small Town