10 Best Authors Like Riley Sager to Keep You Biting Your Nails From Start to Finish

If you can’t get enough of award-willing psychological thrillers, you’ll love these authors like Riley Sager.

New York Times bestselling author Riley Sager writes riveting psychological thrillers, including Home Before DarkSurvive the NightLock Every Door, and The House Across the Lake. Riley Sager is one of the pen names of famed author Todd Ritter, who also wrote under Alan Finn. Ritter had a tough start to his career and decided to adopt the pen name Riley Sager to give himself a fresh start.

Of the change, Ritter said, “Since we were looking for a new publisher, one could argue that editors would be willing to go with someone who had a clean slate rather than a critically acclaimed author with a spotty sales record.” If you love The New York Times bestselling novels by Riley Sager, you’ll be obsessed with the authors in our guide who write some of the best legal thriller novels!

Best Authors Like Riley Sager Ranked

1. Ruth Ware, 1977 –

Ruth Ware
Ruth Ware

Ruth Ware (born Ruth Warburton) is an English author known for her psychological thrillers, including The Death of Mrs. WestawayThe Turn of the Key, and The It Girl. Ware has had multiple books hit The New York Times bestseller list. The author uses the name Ruth Ware for crime novels and her chosen name for her young-adult fantasy books.

Ware is often compared to Agatha Christie, and she’s stated that Christie’s influence has had a major impact on her writing style. Like Christie, many of Ware’s novels place characters in dangerous, inescapable situations, often leading them to question their sanity. Ware’s works have been celebrated by many; she won the NPR best book of 2015 award for In a Dark, Dark Wood and was shortlisted for the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for her novel One by One.

“It was growing dark, and somehow the shadows made it feel as if all the trees had taken a collective step towards the house, edging in to shut out the sky.”

Ruth Ware, In a Dark, Dark Wood
The It Girl
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Ware, Ruth (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 431 Pages - 07/12/2022 (Publication Date) - Gallery/Scout Press (Publisher)

2. Alex Michaelides, 1977 –

Book cover of The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Book cover of The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

British thriller author and screenwriter Alex Michaelides first gained notoriety for his 2019 debut novel, The Silent Patient, which has sold more than 6.5 million copies worldwide. We promised no spoilers, and we’re sticking to it –  according to Deccan Herald, an Indian newspaper, The Silent Patient has “an intelligent plot coupled with an interesting character study, and finally, the impactful punch that leaves you flabbergasted.” Fans of Michaelides also love his 2021 novel, The Maidens, a psychological crime thriller that delves into murders on college campuses in England.

“We are made up of different parts, some good, some bad, and a healthy mind can tolerate this ambivalence and juggle both good and bad at the same time. Mental illness is precisely about a lack of this kind of integration – we end up losing contact with the unacceptable parts of ourselves.”

Alex Michaelides, The Silent Patient
The Silent Patient
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Michaelides, Alex (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 308 Pages - 02/05/2019 (Publication Date) - Celadon Books (Publisher)

3. Karin Slaughter, 1971 –

Karin Slaughter
Karin Slaughter

With more than 40 million copies sold worldwide, Karin Slaughter’s name is synonymous with excellence in crime fiction. She started in 2001 with her novel Blindsighted, which was shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association’s Dagger Award for best thriller debut. Slaughter’s Pieces of Her was made into an eight-episode Netflix series starring Toni Collette.

Many fans of Slaugther’s work love her Grant County series, which follows a pediatrician, police chief, and detective as they solve crimes in Heartsdale, Georgia. Her Will Trent series is popular with readers and follows its namesake as he works through crimes with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

“Many people must have told you that you are lucky to be alive. I think you would have been lucky had you not been shot in the first place.”

Karin Slaughter, The Good Daughter
Triptych: A Novel (Will Trent Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Slaughter, Karin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 512 Pages - 08/15/2006 (Publication Date) - Delacorte Press (Publisher)

4. Stephen King, 1947 –

Stephen King
Stephen King

Stephen King’s name is synonymous with excellence in many genres, including fantasy, suspense, horror, the paranormal, and crime. The author’s 65 novels have sold more than 400 million copies worldwide. King fans should watch for books written under his sometimes-used pen name, Richard Bachman. Many of the author’s novels have been made into feature films, including Misery, The Shining, ItCarrie, and Pet Sematary.

King’s writing often begins with a “what if” question, leading him to create fantastical situations that grow from standard, day-to-day reality. Inspired by writers including Marry Shelley, Bram Stoker, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, readers love how King writes as if speaking directly to his reader. When asked why he became a writer, King stated, “The answer to that is fairly simple—there was nothing else I was made to do. I was made to write stories, and I love to write stories. That’s why I do it. I really can’t imagine doing anything else, and I can’t imagine not doing what I do.”

“The thing under my bed waiting to grab my ankle isn’t real. I know that, and I also know that if I’m careful to keep my foot under the covers, it will never be able to grab my ankle.”

Stephen King, Night Shift
Fairy Tale
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 607 Pages - 09/06/2022 (Publication Date) - Scribner (Publisher)

5. Lisa Jewell, 1968 –

Lisa Jewell
Lisa Jewell

Fashion retailer turned New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell first gained recognition in the literary community with her debut novel, Ralph’s Party. With 19 award-winning horror books under her belt, Jewell is praised for her chilling approach to writing psychological suspense. Many of her books have themes of domestic drama, including families that have fallen apart and romantic obsessions that border on dangerous.

The author has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 29 languages. Looking for more crime thriller novels to read? Check out our round-up of the best suspense authors of all time.

“Friends can be a pain. They can be demanding and hard work. But maybe that’s because they’re the wrong friends. I read a quote once, can’t remember who by, but they said that your friends aren’t necessarily the people you like best, they’re just the people who got there first.”

Lisa JewellRalph’s Party
The Night She Disappeared: A Novel
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Jewell, Lisa (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 403 Pages - 09/07/2021 (Publication Date) - Atria Books (Publisher)

6. Lucy Foley

Lucy Foley
Lucy Foley

Lucy Foley is a British author best known for her New York Times bestselling thriller novels, including the highly-anticipated mystery The Paris Apartment. Foley’s 2020 novel The Guest List was heralded with positive reviews from Good HousekeepingThe Washington PostHarper’s Bazaar, and The New York Times Book Review.

Her style forces readers to pay close attention–between multiple points of view and a perfectly paced storyline, readers find that they lose track of the hours when they’re digging into one of Foley’s novels. Attention to detail is key in solving mysteries along with Foley’s protagonists, as observations that seem inconsequential are often used to reveal connections and clues.

“If I didn’t pay attention, one of those currents could grow into a huge riptide, destroying all my careful planning. And here’s another thing I’ve learned – sometimes the smallest currents are the strongest.”

Lucy FoleyThe Guest List
The Paris Apartment: A Novel
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Foley, Lucy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages - 02/22/2022 (Publication Date) - William Morrow (Publisher)

7. Mary Kubica

Book cover of Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica
Book cover of Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica

Mary Kubica’s novels have been praised as “hypnotic” by People magazine–and readers agree that her books have them hooked from start to finish. Kubica gained notoriety with Local Woman Missing, a novel about multiple missing women and how their stories connect. Readers love Kubica’s to-the-point, no-frills writing style, sudden twists and turns, and her themes of family and morality. It’s okay for readers to enjoy Kubica’s novels in order, but many find that doing so allows them to enjoy the author’s use of similar themes from one book to the next.

“According to research, people who live with animals have decreased anxiety and lower blood pressure. They have lower cholesterol. They are more relaxed and less stressed and are, overall, in better health. Unless of course you have a dog who pees uncontrollably wherever it wishes or eats your furniture to shreds.”

Mary Kubica, The Good Girl
Local Woman Missing: A Novel of Domestic Suspense
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Kubica, Mary (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 353 Pages - 05/18/2021 (Publication Date) - Park Row (Publisher)

8. Rachel Hawkins

Book cover of Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
Book cover of Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

Rachel Hawkins is best known for her NYT bestselling series Hex Hall and her thriller, Reckless Girls. With more than a dozen novels under her belt, Hawkins is also known for her work under the pen name Erin Sterling, under which she writes paranormal romance thrillers like 2021’s The Ex Hex (which was named both an NYT and USA Today bestseller). Hawkins fans are also talking about The Wife Upstairs, the author’s 2021 novel that took the story of Jane Eyre and added a Gothic, Southern style. If you love Agatha Christie’s style, you’ll likely also be a Hawkins fan. And if you’re searching for more crime novels to add to your reading list, check out our guide on the best Patricia Cromwell books.

“It sucks that we miss people like that. You think you’ve accepted that someone is out of your life, that you’ve grieved and it’s over, and then bam. One little thing, and you feel like you’ve lost that person all over again.”

Rachel Hawkins, Demonglass
The Villa: A Novel
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Hawkins, Rachel (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 290 Pages - 01/03/2023 (Publication Date) - St. Martin's Press (Publisher)

9. Simone St. James

Book cover of The Haunting Of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James
Book cover of The Haunting Of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James

Simone St. James is a Canadian mystery and thriller author. Before pursuing writing as a full-time career, St. James spent two decades working in television. Like many authors, she was drawn to writing because the books she wanted to read, goosebump-inducing ghost stories without gore, plus romance, were impossible to find. Many of St. James’ books are historical fiction set in the 1920s and 1950s. Some of her novels, like The Book of Cold Cases, jump between two timelines, allowing readers to experience multiple perspectives and see how a storyline changes over time.

“The person who could be truly alone, in the company of no one but oneself and one’s own thoughts—that person was stronger than anyone else. More ready. More prepared.”

Simone St. James, The Sun Down Motel
The Haunting of Maddy Clare
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • St. James, Simone (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 321 Pages - 03/06/2012 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

10. Ella Drummond

Book cover of The Darkest Summer by Ella Drummond
Book cover of The Darkest Summer by Ella Drummond

Ella Drummond is a psychological thriller author known for fast-paced books with unexpected twists and turns. Her 2019 novel, My Last Lie, takes readers on the journey of Theo and Pilar, a seemingly perfect couple who work through an unthinkable tragedy and are forced to tell each other their secret truths once and for all. Fans of Drummond’s work love how she makes her characters human, writing a balance of likable and unlikeable traits. Readers question whether they should root for Drummond’s protagonists, as their flaws and mistakes can make it tough to be on their side.

“I didn’t add that I’d always intended to move into the house he bought, whatever it looked like. I didn’t think I had the right to be too choosy about anything. My only insistence had been that it was somewhere new, far away from our previous life.”

Ella DrummondMy Last Lie
My Last Lie
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Drummond, Ella (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 326 Pages - 02/20/2019 (Publication Date) - Hera (Publisher)

Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best authors like John Grisham!

Author

  • Amanda has an M.S.Ed degree from the University of Pennsylvania in School and Mental Health Counseling and is a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer. She has experience writing magazine articles, newspaper articles, SEO-friendly web copy, and blog posts.