17 Best Suspense Authors Who’ll Keep You Guessing

Are you looking for a suspenseful page-turner? These 17 best suspense authors have plenty of books that fit the bill!

Whether you are looking for a classic “who done it” book or want to dig into the inner workings of the FBI to solve a heinous crime, a stack of books from famous suspense authors is a good starting point.

These books also make entertaining audiobooks, as narrators pull the listener into the suspense. These suspense and crime writers are good choices if you want some gripping novels to add to your “must-read” list. From classic authors like Agatha Christie to prolific modern writers like Stephen King, here are the top suspense writers to learn to love.

Top Suspense Authors to Read

Best suspense authors

Suspense novels can be a great way to keep yourself immersed in a book. As you read, you need to keep reading to find out the solution to the crime or problem. Yet you may not want to read these before bed, as they can be a little intense.

Here’s your list of the top suspense authors that you’ll want to explore if you love this genre.

1. Gillian Flynn

Gillian Flynn
Gillian Flynn via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Gillian Flynn is an American New York Times bestselling author. Gone Girl is her most famous work, becoming the subject of a major motion picture. She also earned two Dagger Awards for her first novel, Sharp Objects, which is an HBO limited series.

Gone Girl: A Novel
  • Flynn, Gillian (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 576 Pages - 05/22/2018 (Publication Date) - Ballantine Books (Publisher)

2. Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Agatha Christie could, perhaps, be credited with the suspense and murder mystery genre. Her detective stories have constant twists and turns that keep readers guessing. They continue to be made into movies and TV shows even today, 100 years after The Mysterious Affair at Styles, her first novel introduced the world to Hercule Poirot. This queen of detective and crime fiction has over 2 billion books sold, second only to the Bible and William Shakespeare. If you enjoy reading Agatha Christie, then check out these other crime thriller authors

The Mysterious Affair at Styles: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Warbler Classics)
  • Christie, Agatha (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 185 Pages - 01/02/2020 (Publication Date) - Warbler Classics (Publisher)

3. Daphne du Maurier

Daphne du Maurier
Daphne du Maurier via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Famous for Rebecca and The BirdsDaphne du Maurier wrote romantic novels with paranormal influences that landed her in the suspense novels category. The Birds was so suspenseful that Alfred Hitchcock created a film based on its plot. Du Maurier lived most of her life in Cornwall, and the majority of her books take place in this English community.

  • Du Maurier, Daphne (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages - 07/30/2002 (Publication Date) - Avon (Publisher)

4. Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben
Harlan Coben via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Harlan Coben has 31 novels to his name and also produces television dramas. He is the first author to win the Edgar Award, Shamus Award, and an Anthony Award for his work. His books, such as the Myron Bolitar series, often have unresolved murders and multiple twists that keep readers guessing until the last page. 

5. Lee Child

Lee Child
Lee Child via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Lee Child is the pen name for James Dover Grant, a British author best known for creating the Jack Reacher character and series. When his company downsized when he was 40, he grabbed a pencil and pad and started writing, and within a year, he had an international bestseller, and Jack Reacher was born. His first book, Killing Floor, started a successful writing career. If you’re searching for more crime novels to add to your reading list, check out our guide on the best Patricia Cromwell books.

Reacher: Killing Floor (Movie Tie-In) (Jack Reacher)
  • Child, Lee (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 496 Pages - 12/28/2021 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

6. Patricia Highsmith

Patricia Highsmith
Patricia Highsmith via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Patricia Highsmith was an American author known for her psychological thrillers. Strangers on a Train, her first book, became an Alfred Hitchcock movie, but she did not gain fame for her writing until after her death. The Talented Mr. Ripley, the story of a dapper sociopath, is her most famous work.

Talented MR Ripley
  • Highsmith, Patricia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages - 08/30/1999 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

7. Stephen King

Stephen King
Stephen King via Wikipedia, Public Domain

A prolific writer of psychological suspense novels, Stephen King, is a must-read for this genre. King got his start selling short mystery stories to men’s magazines in the 1960s. His first novel, Carrie, earned him enough to start writing full-time. With 63 novels under his belt and numerous short story collections and other pieces, many fans still regard The Shining as one of his best. Today he continues to publish new stories and has an estimated 350 million books sold. If you want to know more about King’s books, check out our article on his most popular novels.

The Shining
  • the shining
  • hardcover
  • stephen king
  • horror
  • hotel

8. Alex Michaelides

Alex Michaelides only has two books to his name, The Silent Patient and The Maidens, but he is a promising up-and-coming suspense author. These thriller novels quickly became bestsellers, and he shows promise as a new author in this genre. In addition, his background in psychotherapy gives him unique insight into thriller and suspense writing. 

The Silent Patient
  • From Celadon Books
  • Must read book
  • It ensures you get the best usage for a longer period
  • Hardcover Book
  • Michaelides, Alex (Author)

9. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born to a wealthy family in late 1800s England who originally studied medicine before launching a career as a detective writer. His famous characters, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, debuted with A Study in Scarlet. In 1903 the Queen knighted him a Knight of Grace of the Most Order of Saint John. If you’re searching for more crime/thriller books to binge on a weekend, check out our list of the best Evan Hunter books. You can also search for thriller authors using our search bar at the top right of the post.

A Study in Scarlet
  • Doyle, Arthur Conan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 158 Pages - 11/21/2020 (Publication Date) - East India Publishing Company (Publisher)

10. Thomas Harris

Creator of the infamous serial killer Hannibal Lecter, best known for cannibalizing his victims, and Clarice Starling, the protagonist of The Silence of the Lambs, Thomas Harris deserves a spot on this list because of his intense suspense novels. Harris is reclusive and lets out a few details about his personal life. Most of his works have become major motion pictures.

The Silence of the Lambs
  • Harris, Thomas (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 09/15/1998 (Publication Date) - St. Martin's Griffin (Publisher)

11. Dan Brown

Dan Brown
Dan Brown via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Author of The Da Vinci CodeDan Brown, writes historical thrillers that show the paradox between science and religion. Many of his works showcase famous historical artifacts that supposedly hold hidden codes that lead to treasure hunts into the past. He has over 200 million copies of his works in print.

The Da Vinci Code (Robert Langdon)
  • Paris symbologist phone call murder painter
  • Brown, Dan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 597 Pages - 03/31/2009 (Publication Date) - Anchor (Publisher)

12. David Baldacci

David Baldacci
David Baldacci via Wikipedia, Public Domain

David Baldacci has over 150 million copies of his books sold worldwide. This Virginia thriller writer does well in the crime genre because of his training as an attorney. Absolute Power, his first novel, remains one of his most famous.

Absolute Power
  • Baldacci, David (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 704 Pages - 01/01/2010 (Publication Date) - Vision (Publisher)

13. Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz
Dean Koontz via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Known as the “Master of Suspense,” Dean Koontz has over 500 million copies of his books in print. Fourteen of his books have hit the New York Times hardcover bestseller list. Phantoms is one of his more popular works.

  • Dean Koontz, Phantoms
  • Koontz, Dean (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 448 Pages - 02/05/2002 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

14. Dennis Lehane

Dennis Lehane
Dennis Lehane via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Dennis Lehane won the Shamus Award with his first novel, A Drink Before the War. This success launched a successful writing career. Four of his novels, including Gone Baby Gone, are now major motion pictures, and one, The Wire, is an HBO series. When he was not writing thriller novels, Lehane sometimes made guest appearances on the TV series Castle.

Gone, Baby, Gone: A Novel (Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro Series, 4)
  • Lehane, Dennis (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 464 Pages - 09/07/2010 (Publication Date) - William Morrow Paperbacks (Publisher)

15. Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy
Tom Clancy via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Once an insurance broker, Tom Clancy became a hit author with his first novel, The Hunt for Red October. His military thrillers frequently star his character, Jack Ryan. After his death in 2013, Tom Clancy’s estate hired writers to carry on the Jack Ryan series. 

The Hunt for Red October (A Jack Ryan Novel Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Clancy, Tom (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 645 Pages - 01/21/2009 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

16. Stieg Larsson

Stieg Larsson
Stieg Larsson via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Stieg Larsson wrote a trilogy of crime novels that started with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Unfortunately, the Swedish author died suddenly of a heart attack in 2004 before he could complete his plan for ten novels. In fact, all three of his published works hit the presses after his death.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: A Lisbeth Salander Novel (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Series)
  • book,The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,Stieg Larsson,Crime, mystery, thriller, Scandinavian noir
  • Larsson, Stieg (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 672 Pages - 11/22/2011 (Publication Date) - Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (Publisher)

17. Tana French

Winner of the Irish Book Award for Crime Fiction, Tana French lives in Dublin, where she continues to create suspenseful books. In the Woods is one of her better-known books and is the first in a series known as the Dublin Murder Squad. She has multiple awards to her name, including the Los Angeles Times Award for Best Mystery/Thriller.

In the Woods: A Novel (Dublin Murder Squad)
  • Tana French
  • French, Tana (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 448 Pages - 05/27/2008 (Publication Date) - Penguin Books (Publisher)

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  • Bryan Collins is the owner of Become a Writer Today. He's an author from Ireland who helps writers build authority and earn a living from their creative work. He's also a former Forbes columnist and his work has appeared in publications like Lifehacker and Fast Company.