Best Books to Gift For Mother’s Day, Part 2

Published by The Connected Reader on

Best Books To Gift For Mother's Day

Sign me up for all the cozy mysteries, but the more thriller-y kind? Not for me. 

But you know who loves a good thriller? My bookish and IRL friend Sarah. Sarah shares all about her reading life full of thrillers, memoirs, and picture books for toddlers on her Instagram account, @smtlovetoread

Sarah is sharing her favorite thrillers in this post and it’s a must-read if you’ve got a woman in your life you are celebrating for Mother’s Day and she loves to read this genre. 

Thrillers, Mysteries, Plot Twists, and More!  

By Sarah Murphy Traylor

I remember reading my very first thriller at the tender age of 8ish.  I read and re-read Mary Downing Hahns’s terrifying ghost story Wait Till Helen Comes.  Such thrills! Such fear! Such high stakes (our narrator needs-NEEDs-to help her stepsister Heather, who’s made fast friends with a frustrated ghost girl (Helen) with a penchant for starting fires and luring children to a watery grave).  

I remember feeling delighted when the series I loved tackled the mystery or thriller genre.  While Babysitters Club mysteries were tame (missing money or strange paintings) and not for me, good old Sweet Valley High included a six part series dedicated to evil doppelgangers intent on taking over the Wakefield’s lives…after murdering them.  It was bonkers, and I loved it.  

These are just a few formative reading experiences burned in my little brain that have made me a lover of thrillers, mysteries, suspense, and ghost stories for years.  I love the experience entering a world as a detective and asking on every page, “Who can be trusted? What is real? What happened or will happen? WHAT’S THE TWIST?”  

So I was thrilled (with a capital THRILL) when my pal @theconnectedreader asked me to share some recommendations for great thrillers and mysteries.  What am I looking for when I look for a thriller? Page turning and compelling plot, atmospheric setting, and throw in any of the following for kicks: the supernatural, multiple points-of-views, multiple timelines, plot twists and red herrings, and more!  Typically, I expect less character development and beautiful writing (that I do love in a great work of literary fiction) but am less expectant of in my page turners and mysteries.  

12 Thrillers To Gift For Mother’s Day

You’ve Probably Read These

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Print   Audio

I could not put this book down during a friend’s wedding weekend years ago-any downtime not devoted to bridesmaid duty was spent with my nose in that book, gasping aloud at the tone change in one of the protagonists, attempting to unravel the many clues to solve, and the cat and mouse element.  So so so many of the modern thriller tropes (different point of views, unreliable narrator, and plot twists) pull from this gem, and it’s one that reignited my love of the genre.  (Sharp Objects was a page turner as well, with a helluva twist but included so so very much self-harm that it was hard to read for me.)

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Print   Audio

We start with a murder but we don’t know who died.  The lead up to the costume party at an elite Australian elementary school  is peppered with the voices of obnoxious kindergarten parents, the different points of view of our 5 protagonists, and a bevy of suspects.  I loved solving the mystery of both who did it and who died.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Print   Audio

Similarly, The Guest List takes us to a remote island for a glamorous wedding…where someone dies.  We know someone died…but who and who did it? Locked room style (no one else could get to the island to commit this crime), multiple  POVs (but quite honestly, none of the voices are too distinct), and a fantastic setting.  I read this book in Spring 2020 and felt swept away to this cold, dangerous island. 

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Print   Audio
A woman murders her husband and stops speaking.  Her psychiatrist takes us on her journey, revealing his own story along the way.  I almost quit this book-it is DARK and BLEAK.  But I really enjoyed the premise, again, the setting, and the movement back and forth in time as well as the use of diaries.  Michaelides’ second novel, The Maidens, is fun as well and exists in the same universe.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

The Thursday Murder Club Books by Richard Osman

Print   Audio
Do you need the cutest, most adorable mysteries in the whole world? Do you want to solve a crime but also feel like you just got hugged and snuggled by kittens?  READ THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB series.  Each book is pure joy – wonderful characters, mysteries that keep you guessing, and at least seven moments that will bring a sweet little tear to your eye.  These books are so fun and scratch the mystery/thriller itch as well as tickle your funny bone.

Maybe you haven’t read these?

The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Print   Audio

A controversial therapist meets with a couple with a marriage on the rocks.  Different points of view, flashes back in time, and characters with secrets to hide.

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin 

Print   Audio

“Pay. Attention.”  A woman wakes up in a hospital, a young boy at her side – not her child – begging her to remember how she got there.  This book is unsettling and tense and filled with questions – What brought our narrator to the hospital? Where is her family? I listened on audio and could nottt stoppppp.

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

Print   Audio

Described as Mr. and Mrs. Smith meets Dexter, My Lovely Wife is WILD.  If you enjoy a dark-DARK-thriller which is also oddly funny, give this one a shot.  Content warnings abound (again … the premise involves serial killing) but this is a recent read that I found entertaining.

Visit Some Houses of Horror

In 2020, setting became an incredibly important aspect of reading for me – traveling through books became an escape during lockdown, and I reignited my love of Gothic novels which began in high school with The Turn of the Screw (see below).  If you love Gothic novels and the tropes therein (emphasis on atmosphere, crumbling castles, elements of the supernatural and maybe some romance), buckle up for some Goth-tasic recommendations.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Print   Audio

I need to re-read this book that I loved as a teenager.  The staff, the secrets, THE SETTING.  A classic for a reason.

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Print   Audio

A governess cares for two precocious (and CREEPY) children in a maybe haunted house on an isolated estate.  Come for the fantastic setting and chilling scenes in the manor, stay for the ending, the protagonist, and a writing style like no other (that a lot of people hate…but I enjoy. )

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Print   Audio

I adored this book. Strong female protagonist, eerie house isolated in a burned out mining town, and so many secrets-this book is creepy and scary and such a fun read!  Immersive and delightful – I so enjoyed this book. 

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Print   Audio

I got so scared reading this book and enjoyed every minute of it.  It’s not a perfect read – characters are flat and the ending falls apart – but I enjoyed discovering the secrets of this house, the families who lived there, and stayed on the edge of my seat wondering how it would all end.

Happy reading and share your recommendations – what mysteries and thrillers have YOU loved? 

Categories: Book Lists

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