Discover our list of authors like Lucy Foley to keep you on the edge of your seat. Dive into psychological thrillers and page-turning locked-room mysteries!
Though Lucy Foley’s first work, The Book of Lost & Found, was published in 2015, she only came to prominence with her 2020 novel, The Guest List. In the same year, it was crowned the Goodreads’s Choice in Best Mystery & Thriller. At 37, Foley released six books and planned to write more. Currently, The Guest List is under production and will be a series streamed on Hulu.
It’s not a new tale – of a murder, a secret, and the hunt for the killer. But Foley’s deliverance of suspenseful psychological thrillers is one for the books. Authors like Lucy Foley mastered the art of letting the readers guest alongside their characters – and not guess just because. These authors turn their audience into detectives who make informed guesses based on the evidence presented. If you’re interested in this topic, you’ll also love our round-up of the top mystery writers.
- Best Authors Like Lucy Foley Ranked
- 1. Simone St. James
- 2. Agatha Christie, 1890 – 1976
- 3. Ruth Ware, 1977 –
- 4. Tom Bale
- 5. Alex Michaelides, 1977 –
- 6. Karin Slaughter, 1971 –
- 7. A.J. Finn, 1979 –
- 8. Lisa Jewell, 1968 –
- 9. Shari Lapena, 1960 –
- 10. Freida McFadden
- 11. Patricia Highsmith, 1921 – 1995
- 12. Stephen King, 1947 –
- 13. Gillian Flynn, 1971 –
- 14. Sarah Pearse
- 15. Alice Feeney
- 16. B.A. Paris, 1958 –
- 17. J.T. Ellison
- 18. Iain Reid, 1981 –
- 19. Nicci French
- 20. Morag Joss, 1955 –
- 21. Riley Sager, 1974 –
- 22. Ellery Lloyd
- 23. Megan Goldin
Best Authors Like Lucy Foley Ranked
1. Simone St. James
If you’re up for an atmospheric read and historical fiction – Simone St. James does it best. With her works, you’re sure to be transported back in time. Imagine unveiling dark secrets and trying to discover hidden truths in the 1920s and 1950s.
The Broken Girls is just one on St. James’ achievement list. It made her a New York Times Bestselling author and cemented her in the literary spotlight. Here’s what makes it even better: the book’s contents are from real-life places and events. See for yourself just how good St. James weaves the past and present via this novel.
Another St. James novel that has good reviews is The Sun Down Motel. It combines St. James’ penchant for chilling ghost stories and whodunit mysteries. Meanwhile, her latest one, Murder Road, is set to be released in March 2024.
“It was the girls who locked themselves away, who had never felt the loving touch of a man, who, when they loved, loved the fiercest.”Simone St. James, The Haunting of Maddy Clare
2. Agatha Christie, 1890 – 1976
If you’ve been a fan of psychological thrillers and whodunit novels – then you’ve surely heard of Agatha Christie. She did not let her 86 years on earth go to waste – not when she made 66 detective novels. Do the names Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple ring a bell?
On top of her novels, Christie left many short stories and screenplays. Her vast array of work has been translated into more than 100 languages, reaching many audiences to enjoy her works. Until today, almost half a decade after her passing, Christie’s tales are used as inspiration for new flicks. The only works that surpass Christie’s influence? Shakespeare’s and the Bible. Pretty impressive, huh?
Christie mentioned her novel, And Then There Were None, as the most difficult she had to write. But it’s also one of the best. What’s the premise? A remote island with ten people, ten past lives, and ten secrets. Regarding murder mysteries, Christie is someone you can’t afford to miss! Check out our guide with the best Agatha Christie books.
“The impossible could not have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances.”Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express
3. Ruth Ware, 1977 –
Ruth Ware has eight novels in the psychological thriller genre. With six million copies of her books sold, she’s a regular on various bestseller lists globally. One of her most notable works is The Woman in Cabin 10. It stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for 19 weeks and continues to be one of Ware’s most talked about books. CBS Films even announced its film adaptation of the novel back in 2017.
The novel transports readers to a luxury ship, the Aurora Borealis, where a journalist witnesses someone being thrown overboard. There’s one problem, though – no one’s missing from the cruise’s record. Other great reads by Ware are The Lying Game, In a Dark, Dark Wood, and One by One.
“Maybe that was closer to the truth – we weren’t captor and captive, but two animals in different compartments of the same cage. Hers was just slightly larger.”Ruth Ware, The Woman in Cabin 10
4. Tom Bale
Tom Wale once wondered why he jumped from job to job, only to realize writing was his destiny. As an acclaimed author of 11 novels, this England-born writer found his niche with intricate plots and suspense that stay with the readers to the last page.
To truly appreciate his tales, read his 2016 See How They Run. This whodunit begins with an ordinary family, a supposed mix-up, and an assault – all of which make for a plot that will keep you intrigued until the end. In the middle of the night, Harry and Alice French woke up to intruders demanding a package. They were let off that night, but nothing was done yet. Especially when Alice and their newborn disappear. Now, as the primary suspect, Harry hides away from authorities to know what happened to his family.
“In the end, we choose what we want to believe. We shape the truth to fit our requirements because otherwise, life would be just too hard to bear.”Tom Bale, See How They Run
5. Alex Michaelides, 1977 –
Next on our list of not-to-be-missed authors is Alex Michaelides, a British-Cypriot novelist who stormed onto the literary scene with his 2019 debut novel, The Silent Patient. In its first week, it ended on the New York Times bestseller list. It’s available in 51 countries and was optioned for film in the same year.
In the novel, readers are introduced to a young woman named Alicia. She had the perfect life, but she hasn’t spoken since the night she was found with her husband’s body – a mute witness to his murder. Her only way of communication? Painting or violence. Michaelides, with his keen understanding of the human psyche from his real-life experience, presents a story that is as much a psychological exploration as it is a whodunit.
“After all, everyone’s entitled to be the hero of their own story. So I must be permitted to be the hero of mine. Even though I’m not. I’m the villain.”Alex Michaelides, The Maidens
6. Karin Slaughter, 1971 –
Karin Slaughter will forever be a literary classic, with 24 novels available in 120 countries. Having sold more than 40 million copies of her work globally. Though she has praise-worthy series like Will Trent and Grant Country, it’s her standalone novel, Pretty Girls, that resonated most with readers. Perhaps it’s the closeness of the sisters, or maybe the fear of something similar happening to someone close to you. Maybe it’s the trauma that lingers years after.
Slaughter’s exploration of humans’ psychological depths gives her work an entertaining and distinctive edge. Her portrayal of humans’ dark nature, balanced by the resilience of her protagonists, is powerful — truly deserving of a spot in our best books list. Her narratives are littered with red herrings, plot twists, and complex characters that make every page a gripping read.
“Change tells you who you really are.”Karin Slaughter, After That Night
7. A.J. Finn, 1979 –
Not many get praise from Stephen King, but his 2018 debut novel, The Woman in the Window, made it possible for A.J. Finn. King says it’s “one of those rare books that really is unputdownable.” Readers become wrapped in an unreliable narrator’s world as she deals with her illness and the possible murder of her friend. The catch? Everyone around her tries to convince her that this friend never existed in the first place. Is it the meds she’s taking? Is everything she saw just hallucinations? Is everyone else lying?
Finn did not expect his book to have such a resounding commercial success. It debuted #1 on the New York Times list, secured him a 2 million dollar deal, and by 2021, The Woman in the Window became a Netflix movie starring Amy Adams.
“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
8. Lisa Jewell, 1968 –
British author Lisa Jewell’s writing career may have started with a good ol’ handshake, but she soon discovered her talent. Her first work, Ralph’s Party, became 1999’s bestselling debut in the U.K. Jewell started with a rom-com fic, but she soon blossomed to darker themes.
Her other great work, 2017 Then She Was Gone, is a tale of a young woman’s disappearance and her mother’s unanswered questions. The book is not only a New York Times Bestseller, it’s also an Amazon Book of the Year recipient. The Family Upstairs is another psychological thriller and a Goodreads Choice Award nominee. It’s set in an eerie London mansion and perfectly demonstrates Jewll’s layered narratives.
“But I suppose the problem is that people often don’t realize that their lives are changing for the better until after the event when they stop to look back.”Lisa Jewell, None of This Is True
9. Shari Lapena, 1960 –
The Canadian novelist Shari Lapena made her breakthrough with her 2016 novel The Couple Next Door, which offers a seemingly simple plot but with many twists. It instantly became an international bestseller.
Lapena pens novels with tense atmospheres and unpredictable twists and takes full advantage of the complexities of human nature. Readers are quickly drawn to and get emotionally invested in her captivating tales. With her writing skills, she’s now an internationally bestselling author. She has not one, but seven #1 bestselling suspense novels.
Her book An Unwanted Guest is an edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller set in a remote location – an inn in the woods. Guests are trapped because of a blizzard. The first death seemed like an accident. But the second one? Everyone now panics.
“It makes her wonder if love is just an illusion, one that disappears when reality gets too dark. No, she decides. Love is real. The love she feels for her baby daughters is real. But romantic love – maybe that’s all an illusion.”Shari Lapena, The End of Her
10. Freida McFadden
Because she’s still active in her field, it’s no wonder that Freida McFadden favors creating medical thrillers that give her readers a whiplash. From what? From the many plot twists her tales have. Her 2021 novel, The Locked Door, for instance, draws upon her medical background.
Imagine being the daughter of a serial killer who’s now behind bars. You’re living a relatively peaceful life because no one knows who you are – only to be disturbed by a copycat serial killer. For this book alone, McFadden has been lauded for her blend of suspense and meticulous medical detail, earning it a spot on the Amazon bestseller list.
“Sometimes people do exactly what you think they’re going to do, and they still manage to disappoint you.”Frieda Mcfadden, The Inmate
11. Patricia Highsmith, 1921 – 1995
Patricia Highsmith is a well-known name in the psychological thriller genre, with her 1950 debut novel, Strangers on a Train, getting Alfred Hitchcock’s attention. As a master of suspense, Hitchcock couldn’t let the novel go and turned it into a film noir just a year after it was published.
Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley is a standout among her impressive repertoire. It spans five novels and has two film adaptations – one in 1960 and one in 1999. The book, a New York Times bestseller, tells the tale of Tom Ripley, a young American in Italy. His talent? Assuming the identity of anyone he so desires. When usual protagonists often ask readers to support them, Highsmith’s Ripley forces readers to be with him on his journey as he commits frauds and murders.
“Anticipation! It occurred to him that his anticipation was more pleasant to him than the experiencing.”Patricia Highsmith, The Talented Mr. Ripley
12. Stephen King, 1947 –
With his novels inspiring major films and continuously bagging awards, Stephen King is called the king of horror. King has at least 90 books under his belt, most of which became iconic in their genre. Have you watched The Shining, It, or The Shawshank Redemption? All of those are from King’s works. His books have sold more than 400 million copies, not to mention his tales being adapted into TV series, movie franchises, and more.
One of his most enduring works is The Shining, a psychological horror that encapsulates one’s descent into madness within the confines of a remote hotel. If you’re looking for a reading experience that will keep you on the edge of your seat, engrossed, and terrified, Stephen King’s works are a must. His narratives are as layered as they are chilling. Check out our round-up of Stephen King best selling books.
“If you can’t let go of the past, the mistakes you’ve made will eat you alive.”Stephen King, The Outsider
13. Gillian Flynn, 1971 –
Gillian Flynn has a rich experience in the industry. Before becoming a novelist, she was a feature writer and critic. Four years after she was let go, Flynn published one of the most notable psychological thrillers in contemporary literature, Gone Girl. Just two years later, it was adapted into a movie led by Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck. It garnered $369.3 million at the box office.
Before Gone Girl took the limelight, though, Flynn had already written an award-winning novel in 2006, Sharp Objects. Her other work, Dark Places, released in 2009, didn’t stray far from her usual deep dive into the dark nature of humanity. So, if you’re seeking a reading experience that’s gripping, intense, and truly unforgettable, Gillian Flynn’s works should be on your book list.
“There’s a difference between really loving someone and loving the idea of her.”Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
14. Sarah Pearse
British author Sarah Pearse bashed into the literary world with her debut novel, The Sanatorium. This 2020 psychological thriller quickly climbed the ranks and secured a spot on the New York Times bestseller list, deservedly so for its intricately woven storyline. Set in a remote sanatorium-turned-hotel in the Swiss Alps, this is where guests start mysteriously disappearing.
The Sanatorium offers a modern twist to the classic whodunit format with sharp prose and plot twists. As a Sunday Times and Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick, The Saatorium is also the start of her Detective Elin Warner Series. It’s promptly followed by The Retreat in 2021.
“Grief is like a series of bombs exploding, one after another. Every hour, a new detonation. Shock after shock after shock.”Sarah Pearse, The Sanatorium
15. Alice Feeney
Alice Feeney released her debut novel, Sometimes I Lie, at 30. It quickly catapulted her to fame, becoming a New York Times bestseller and a favorite among thriller enthusiasts on Goodreads. In 2019, it became a special series produced by Ellen DeGeneres.
What’s the book’s premise? It’s about a woman in a coma who can hear everyone around her. As she tries to recollect her memories of why she ended up in a hospital bed, paralyzed, readers are kept in the dark as much as hers – making them guess until the very end. Another work of hers that was adapted into a TV series is His & Hers. It’s an edge-of-your-seat thriller with a dual-narrative structure – adding depth to the whodunit mystery.
“Enjoy the stories of other people’s lives, but don’t forget to live your own.”Alice Feeney, Rock Paper Scissors
16. B.A. Paris, 1958 –
B.A. Paris’s talent lies in creating relatable characters and tales that take readers to worlds where nothing is as it seems. Born and raised in England before moving to France, she spent much of her life oscillating between the two countries. This cultural immersion is something that’s reflected in her books.
Paris entered the literary scene in 2016 with Behind Closed Doors. It’s about a pair of newlyweds with a picture-perfect life – but is everything the same when there’s just the two of them? After a year, Paris published The Breakdown, set in the heart of England. It earned her a place on the best books lists and rave reviews on Goodreads. It centers around a young woman and her interest in an acquaintance’s death. The only problem is she’s also fighting early-onset dementia.
“Time is an oddity when it comes to memories.”B.A. Paris, Bring Me Back
17. J.T. Ellison
Born in Florida and raised in Colorado, J.T. Ellison’s diverse background and love for travel find their way into her dynamic, globe-trotting thrillers. Before putting her talents to pages, though, she pursued politics. She has since established herself as a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, with over 25 books on psychological thrillers and domestic noir.
Perhaps the pinnacle of Ellison’s writing career is her 2017 novel Lie to Me. It has everything that draws in readers – an idyllic but fake marriage and a sudden disappearance, all wrapped in gossip and speculations.
“Isn’t that the problem with loss? You don’t get to go with death when it comes for your loves.”J.T. Ellison, Lie to Me
18. Iain Reid, 1981 –
Iain Reid’s love for nature and solitude is something he curated from childhood when he lived in the countryside of Ontario. The effect? A haunting and atmospheric touch to his tales. Aside from his haunting memoirs, he shared his debut novel, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, in 2016.
As a New York Times bestseller, it was eventually adapted into a Netflix film by multiple Oscar-winning director Charlie Kaufman. Reid has unpredictable plotlines, deep character arcs, and disturbing climaxes.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things uses an unconventional narrative structure – a road trip that turns into a psychological maze. Readers are brought along on a confusing but thought-provoking ride. Expect to go “huh” many times as you flip through the pages.
“I think a lot of what we learn about others isn’t what they tell us. It’s what we observe. People can tell us anything they want.”Iain Reid, I’m Thinking of Ending Things
19. Nicci French
Nicci French is a pseudonym for a writing duo (Nicci Gerrard and Sean French). The pair has an innovative approach to writing — each of them penning different chapters and then threading their work together.
Their most praised work, Blue Monday, became a New York Times bestseller. It also initiated the duo’s Frieda Klein Series. This novel creates an unforgettable protagonist in Frieda Klein, a London psychotherapist who is drawn into a kidnapping case. What’s more, the case is related to one of her patient’s “dreams.”
“I don’t want you to be interested in my life. I want you to be interested in me.”Nicci French, Killing Me Softly
20. Morag Joss, 1955 –
Morag Joss’ talent lies in her exploration of the dark corners of the human psyche amidst everyday life. One of her most startling psychological thrillers, Half Broken Things, won the 2003 Crime Writers’ Association’s Silver Dagger Award. It was also adapted into a 2007 film under the same name.
Another intriguing Joss novel, The Night Following, has garnered mixed reviews. The book is emotionally charged, involving an affair, a hit-and-run, and its consequences. Joss presents grief in all its forms in this novel.
“I wear a taint of rationing, that’s all. I have the thready, ashamed look of a reduced person who assumes there is a worse reduction to come.”Morag Joss, Half Broken Things
21. Riley Sager, 1974 –
Riley Sager, a pseudonym, has worked in the publishing industry. There, he honed his insider’s perspective. His suspenseful novels, which often blend elements of horror and mystery, have quickly vaulted him to the top of numerous bestseller lists. Sager’s books, like Final Girls, The Last Time I Lied, and Lock Every Door, showcase his talent for intricate, exciting plots.
Sager’s debut novel, Final Girls, shares the life of sole survivors. How does a Final Girl live? Will they ever really be normal? Via the book, readers get to understand the aftermath of surviving a mass murder.
“She’s capable of so little yet accused of so much, and I remain torn between wanting to protect her and the urge to suspect her.”Riley Sager, The Only One Left
22. Ellery Lloyd
There’s another husband and wife tandem on our list! The ones hiding behind the nom de plume Ellery Lloyd? Paul Vlitos and Colette Lyons. As they work together to create page-turners, we can’t skip over their extensive backgrounds. The husband is a novelist in his own right and a creative writing director. Meanwhile, the wife is a content director, editor, and journalist. Their most notorious book? The 2021 novel, The Club.
The Club brings readers to the opulent and secretive world of the rich and famous. Everything is perfect and fun when you’re part of the club, it’s away from prying eyes, after all. Until the members on the guest list realize there’s no way they’ll leave the club – unless they disappear for good.
“It can really rob you of your faith in the human spirit, sometimes, the internet.”Ellery Lloyd, People Like Her
23. Megan Goldin
Since she has lived in four capitals of four countries, Megan Goldin’s multicultural experiences are highlighted in her thriller books. This also made it easier to relate to a global audience. Her 2018 novel The Escape Room rocketed her to international fame. Set in the cut-throat environment of Wall Street, The Escape Room masterfully interweaves layers of intrigue and suspense, holding the reader captive until the end.
“That’s the thing about mistakes. Not all of them can be fixed.” – Megan Goldin, The Night Swim
Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best horror authors!