Discover our guide with bestselling authors like Tana French who create suspenseful, twisting novels that will keep you guessing.
Known for crime fiction bestsellers like, In the Woods, The Likeness, The Secret Place, and The Witch Elm, Tana French is an Irish-American Edgar Award winner known as “the First Lady of Irish Crime.” The New York Times bestseller is known for her Dublin Murder Squad series, which follows detectives Cassie Maddox and Rob Ryan as they work to protect Ireland by solving murder mysteries, one clue at a time.
This author has been heralded by Publishers Weekly, with the publication stating French “expertly walks the line between police procedural and psychological thriller.” If you’ve worked through Tana French’s well-known catalog, you’ll want to add some of the best suspense authors to your reading list.
- Best Authors Like Tana French Ranked
- 1. Gillian Flynn, 1971 –
- 2. Kate Atkinson, 1951-
- 3. Louise Penny, 1958 –
- 4. Agatha Christie, 1890 – 1976
- 5. Donna Tartt, 1963 –
- 6. Robert Galbraith, 1965 –
- 7. Ruth Rendell, 1930 – 2015
- 8. Stieg Larsson, 1954 – 2004
- 9. Dervla McTiernan, 1977 –
- 10. Megan Abbott, 1971 –
- 11. Sarah Bailey
- 12. Belinda Bauer, 1962 –
- 14. Harry Bingham, 1967 –
- 15. Camilla Grebe, 1968 –
Best Authors Like Tana French Ranked
1. Gillian Flynn, 1971 –
Gillian Flynn is best known for Gone Girl, her hit 2012 novel that was made into a 2014 feature film. Gone Girl brought Flynn the Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, the BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. While some have accused Flynn of writing negatively about women, the author says she’s a strong feminist and doesn’t shy away from the idea that women can be just as evil as men.
In an essay for Medium, Flynn stated, “I’ve grown quite weary of the spunky heroines, brave rape victims, soul-searching fashionistas that stock so many books. I particularly mourn the lack of female villains – good, potent female villains.” Check out these authors like Yuval Noah Harari.
“It’s a very difficult era in which to be a person, just a real, actual person, instead of a collection of personality traits selected from an endless Automat of characters.”Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
2. Kate Atkinson, 1951-
Kate Atkinson is a British writer known for her Jackson Brodie detective novels. The series has been adapted into a show on BBC One entitled Case Histories. In 1995, Atkinson wrote her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, which became a Sunday Times bestseller. The book also received the 1995 Whitbread Book of the Year award. Many of her works follow the life of Jackson Brodie, a former military police inspector and current private investigator who works to solve mysteries from infidelity to finding missing people.
“The beginning is the word and the end is silence. And in between are all the stories.”Kate Atkinson, Human Croquet
3. Louise Penny, 1958 –
Canadian mystery author Louise Penny got her career started working as a radio broadcaster for 18 years, turning to writing in 1996. She initially wanted to write historical fiction but pivoted to mystery after finding that her historical fiction projects didn’t hold her attention.
The author’s first novel, Still Life, was published in 2005 and received wide critical acclaim, winning first place in the Debut Dagger UK competition, as well as the Arthur Ellis Award for best first crime novel, the Barry Award for Best First Novel, and the Anthony Award for best first novel. For many years, Penny shied away from the myriad of offers to make her books into TV shows and films, fearing losing creative control of her work. Eventually, she agreed to the production of Still Life as a 2012 movie and her Three Pines series as a 2021 Amazon Prime series.
“I was tired of seeing the Graces always depicted as beautiful young things. I think wisdom comes with age and life and pain. And knowing what matters.”Louise Penny, A Fatal Grace
4. Agatha Christie, 1890 – 1976
Agatha Christie is known as one of the best mystery writers ever. Throughout her career, she published 66 detective novels and 14 collections of short stories. In addition to her works written under her name, she also writes six novels under the pen name Mary Westmacott. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Christie is the best-selling fiction writer in the history of literature, selling more than two billion books worldwide.
Christie didn’t see an immediate rise to stardom–she went through several rejections from publishing companies until her 1920 novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was accepted for publication. In addition to her writing, Christie is also known for mysteries in her own life, including when she disappeared for more than a week.
“You gave too much rein to your imagination. Imagination is a good servant, and a bad master. The simplest explanation is always the most likely.”Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Affair at Styles
5. Donna Tartt, 1963 –
Novelist and essayist Donna Tartt won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Goldfinch (2013). The story follows a 13-year-old protagonist named Theodore Decker, who undergoes a life-altering terrorist attack resulting in his mother’s passing. Tartt is also known for her 1992 novel, The Secret History, and her 2002 work, The Little Friend. The author’s writing process differs from many in the literary world, as she takes about a decade to write each book. Tartt is outspoken about her Catholic faith but discourages writers from speaking about their faith in their work.
“Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it.”Donna Tartt, The Secret History
6. Robert Galbraith, 1965 –
It’s a little confusing, we know. Robert Galbraith is a pen name used by Harry Potter phenom J.K. Rowling. Novels written under the Galbraith pen name are distinctly different from her books detailing the world of wizardry. Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike novels follow the life of Cormoran Strike and his partner, Robin Ellacot, as they work to solve crimes as a team. Galbraith’s works stick to a classic mystery format, revealing clues to readers as they work their way through the stories. While readers can read the books out of order, it’s recommended that you stick to the series the way it was intended to be read, from book one through book seven.
If you are looking for more suspense/thriller books about to binge on a weekend, check out our round-up of the best Dean Koontz books. You can also use the search bar at the top right of the page to search for the best authors.
“The dead could only speak through the mouths of those left behind, and through the signs they left scattered behind them.”Robert Galbraith, The Cuckoo’s Calling
7. Ruth Rendell, 1930 – 2015
Ruth Rendell was an English thriller author. Many of Rendell’s works followed the life of Chief Inspector Wexford. He first appeared in Rendell’s 1964 debut novel From Doon With Death. She went on to write 23 more novels starring Wexford. While many of Rendell’s thrillers are classified as police procedurals, she also wrote many books that delved into the minds of criminals and explored the darker parts of humanity, including The Face of Trespass, A Judgment in Stone, and Live Flesh.
“We always know when we are awake that we cannot be dreaming even though when actually dreaming we feel all this may be real.”Ruth Rendell, One Across, Two Down
8. Stieg Larsson, 1954 – 2004
Stieg Larsson was a Swedish writer and activist best known for his Millenium trilogy. The crime novels included The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2005), The Girl Who Played with Fire (2006), and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest (2010). The author died unexpectedly of a heart attack in 2005, and his books were published after his death.
Many fans wonder what else Larsson had in mind for the continuation of the Millenium series, as the work on his computer indicates that he had plans for at least seven additional books. In addition to his work as an author, Larsson was also known for his activism. He founded the Swedish Expo Foundation to promote racial equality in Sweden.
“Friendship- my definition- is built on two things. Respect and trust. Both elements have to be there. And it has to be mutual. You can have respect for someone, but if you don’t have trust, the friendship will crumble.”Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
9. Dervla McTiernan, 1977 –
Dervla McTiernan is an Irish crime novelist. Her first published novel, The Ruin (2018), received wide critical acclaim, winning the Davitt Award for best novel, the Ned Kelly Award for best first novel, and the Barry Award for best paperback book. Her sophomore novel, The Scholar, was published in 2019 and won the International Thriller Writers Award for Best Paperback Original Novel. McTiernan didn’t set out to become a writer–she spent twelve years working as a lawyer before trying her hand at writing, providing her with the insider information required to write true-to-life crime stories.
“Old women are the best. They know everything about everyone, so you can’t get one up on them. They don’t care what you think about what they’re wearing or how they look. And they’ve outlived all the men they grew up with who gave them shit along the way.”Dervla McTiernan, The Good Turn
10. Megan Abbott, 1971 –
Megan Abbott is a writer and educator known for writing crime stories from a female perspective–a welcome departure for many female crime fans from the standard male protagonist. After earning her Ph.D., Abbott taught at NYU and served as the John Grisham Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi. Her 2006 debut novel, Die a Little, won the Anthony Award for best novel, the Edgar Award for best first novel, and the Barry Award for best first novel. In addition to her work as a novelist, Abbott is also a screenwriter for The Deuce on HBO.
“That’s what people never understand: They see us hard little pretty things, brightly lacquered and sequin-studded, and they laugh, they mock, they arouse themselves. They miss everything. You see, these glitters and sparkle dusts and magicks? It’s war paint, it’s feather and claws, it’s blood sacrifice.”Megan Abbott, Dare Me
11. Sarah Bailey
Sarah Bailey is a dark romance writer who specializes in writing anti-hero protagonists. She’s known for several series, including The Viletti Chronicles, the Four Horsemen books, the Our Darkest series, The Devil’s Syndicate series, The Benson Siblings series, and the Corrupt Empire series. Many of Bailey’s books dig into the paranormal. The author has been named “The Queen of Steam” for her ability to write realistic romance situations. Readers love how Bailey’s novels portray real characters with flaws, creating protagonists they can relate to.
“I’m keeping you this time. Eternity isn’t long enough, but it will have to do. I cannot imagine a world where you don’t exist next to me.”Sarah Bailey, Cataclysm
12. Belinda Bauer, 1962 –
Leslie Wolfe departs from the standard thriller formula by focusing on strong female leads. Wolfe is known for the research she puts into her works, getting the minute details correct in technology and psychology. Her first book, Executive, invited readers to explore the idea of toxic leadership–and whether it could have long-term consequences on society. Many readers compare Wolfe’s writing style to that of the writers of the TV show Criminal Minds. Wolfe has several series available to readers, including her Las Vegas Crime and Alex Hoffman series.
Looking for more suspense novels to read? Check out our round-up of the best books like Da Vinci Code.
“People are bundles of pain and fear, each wearing their own brand of misery,” he continued. “Trust me, I know. When they’re at the end of their rope, they come here, with their stories.”Leslie Wolfe, Dawn Girl
14. Harry Bingham, 1967 –
Harry Bingham is a British author best known for the Fiona Griffith crime series. Griffith is a detective constable with the South Wales Police Force. Bingham reveals details about Griffith’s life bit by bit, keeping readers on the hook to learn more about their favorite protagonist. London’s Sunday Times says Griffith is “the most startling protagonist in modern crime fiction.” Bingham’s novel Talking to the Dead became a British crime drama in 2013. Readers and viewers find themselves pleasantly frustrated with Griffiths, watching as she fumbles through her personal and professional lives, one blunder at a time.
“I’m standing up. Matthews has stood up too and comes toward me, shaking my hand and saying something. His big shoulders block out my view of Bute Park and the kites. Matthews is talking about formalities and I’m blathering answers back at him, but my attention isn’t with any of that stuff. I’m going to be a policewoman. And just five years ago, I was dead.”Henry Bingham, Talking to the Dead
15. Camilla Grebe, 1968 –
Swedish author Camilla Grebe is best known for her novels The Ice Beneath Her and After She’s Gone. For the latter, Grebe won the Best Swedish Crime Novel Award and the Glass Key award. As a former publisher, Grebe understands how to write for her audience, creating characters that frustrate and delight readers. The Ice Beneath Her was optioned for the big screen, and readers can look forward to watching the story play out in a movie starring Daisy Ridley. Grebe currently resides in Stockholm, where she sets up most of her writing.
“I’ve started thinking: I don’t have to let it happen. I can choose to end my life before I become a vegetable. The difficulty is, of course, knowing when.”Camilla Grebe, After She’s Gone
Looking for more? Check out our round-up of authors like Dean Koontz!
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