19 October 2022

Non Gory Crime Thrillers

If you know me you know I love a good crime thriller. It makes up probably 90% of what I read. I'm always being asked for recommendations but I know that some people are put off because they don't want to read any gory details. Sometimes you just want the suspense and to be creeped out without reading grisly murder details. So I thought I'd put together a list of some of my favourite thrillers that don't feature the blood and guts. 

*Post contains affiliate links
Collage of book covers featuring Beyond Fear, Scared Yet and Darkest Place by Jaye Ford, Degrees of guilt by HS Chandler and Don't wake up, I'll find you and the next wife by liz lawler

When Jodie was 17 she survived a horrendous assault. Now she’s 35 and off for a weekend in the country with her friends. An eventful journey & the isolation of the house causes Jodie’s memories to resurface. She’s convinced they’re in danger but her friends think she’s being paranoid. Then two men show up at their door.

This book was a bit of a slow burner at the start but once it got going it was so good. The suspense was next level. I had no idea what was going to happen and how or if they were going to get out of the mess they were in. Jodie was such a badass character. I loved that she was totally human in her reactions to everything. It's such a good thriller and had me hooked with no idea how it would end. Definitely got some Scream vibes from it which is one of my favourite horror films.  

Liv manages to fight off and escape an attack in a dark carpark. The media call her brave but an admirer says she should be more careful. Her admirer becomes a terrifying stalker and when her friends and son get drawn into it Liv realises she's going to have to fight for her life again. 

This is such a tense read. I had zero idea who the stalker was or who could be trusted. You can really feel Liz's fear through the pages. A stalker and an attack in a dark carpark are every girls worst fear and this book really plays on that. I was completely hooked and desperately wanted to know who the stalker was. I wasn't even close with my many guesses. 

Carly moves to a new town to start over and move on from her heartbreaking past. Her dreams of a quiet new life are shattered when she wakes in the middle of the night to a man standing over her. Her doors are locked and with her history of mental illness, the police accuse her of attention seeking. Is she losing her mind or is someone getting into her apartment without leaving a trace to watch her sleep?

Carly is pretty badass and the romance element doesn’t detract from her being able to look after herself. I was rooting for her from the start. I had no idea who the bad guy was or if there even was one. There are plenty of suspects to keep you guessing as well as a lot of great characters to fall in love with (and hope they have nothing to do with it). This is a chilling creepy read that definitely made me check that my doors were locked. If you love a good thriller without gore then I highly recommend checking out Jaye Ford. 

Maria is on trial for attempted murder. She confessed to the crime and admits she wanted him dead. But was it self defence? Lottie is on the jury and in charge of Maria's fate when she embarks on an illicit affair. You think you know who is guilty and who is innocent but you’re probably wrong. 

I absolutely loved this book. I was hooked until the very end. It manages to cover the stages of a trial without being dull and I couldn’t put it down. It’s such a clever premise and is written extremely well. I wasn’t a massive fan of some of the characters but that just added to the story. I questioned pretty much everything except the main thing I was supposed to. Did not see that coming. HS Chandler is a pen name for Helen Fields who also writes one of my favourite detective series (Ava & Luc) but that one is full of gory details

Don't Wake Up by Liz Lawler - On Kindle Unlimited

Alex wakes up tied to an operating table and is forced to make a terrible decision. Then she wakes up in a hospital room unharmed minus a bump on the head. No one believes her which has her questioning herself. 

This book draws you in with and intense first chapter and I was hooked throughout. It's such a tense read. I could not work out how anything would be proved or if she would ever get it sorted. I had my suspicions but I couldn't work out a motive which made me doubt everything. There are some great characters and you feel all of Alex's emotions. I can't think of a scarier situation.

I'll Find You by Liz Lawler* - On Kindle Unlimited

Emily's sister went missing a year ago and she still holds out hope that she’ll be found alive but the search has taken a toll on her mental health. She goes in for a minor op and wakes up in the night to see Doctors trying to resuscitate the woman in the bed next to her. In the morning she’s told she imagined it and no one was ever there. When she returns to work she is convinced that her colleagues are lying to her. If they are what did they do to that poor woman? 

This book is written from several POVs which did nothing to help me work out who was telling the truth and who I could believe. I questioned everything, especially Emily. I guessed some of it but I did not see the ending coming. Such a sinister twist.

The Next Wife by Liz Lawler* - On Kindle Unlimited

Tess is a surgical nurse, newly married to a gorgeous vascular surgeon. They move to a fancy house in Bath to start their new life together. She has the perfect life and then things start to unravel. She doesn’t feel good enough for her husband but he’s changed and he’s starting to scare her. A stranger adds to her confusion and fear by telling her, her husband isn’t to be trusted and to ask him about his first wife. 

This isn't my favourite of Liz's books but if you are looking for a domestic thriller you should check this out. It is a bit predictable but there's a couple of twists and it's written well enough that it's still an enjoyable read. 

Collage of book covers including the house across the lake and the last time i lied by riley sager, the recovery of rose gold by stephanie wrobel, the wicked sister by karen dione, like mother, like daughter by Elle Croft, The liar's wife by samantha hayes and the housemaid by Freida McFadden

Recently widowed actress Casey Fletcher has escaped to her family's lake house for peace and quiet. She's been happily losing herself in her thoughts and several bottles of bourbon, until the glamorous couple across the lake catch her attention. They look so perfect - just like Casey and her husband used to be. But is anyone what they seem? 

This book was a wild ride and not what I was expecting. I wouldn't say it was my favourite as it was a bit slow in places but some of the twists were shocking. It’s different from my usual thriller but I did enjoy it. I wasn’t sure how I felt about Casey but I found myself liking her more as the book went on. I think the woman with alcohol issues who spies on her neighbours and see’s something bad trope is a bit overdone but it's still worth a read. As with all of Sager’s books he really knows how to set the scene and man was it a creepy one. My favourite book is Final Girls  but from what I remember that one is a bit more gory.

When Emma goes to Summer Camp she ends up bunking with 3 older girls. They while away the time by playing 2 truths and a lie and soon all become quite adept at lying. Then the 3 girls go off into the woods and never come back. 15 years later, Emma is an obsessive painter and spends her whole life thinking about the 3 girls. When she is asked to return to Camp Nightingale as an art tutor she reluctantly agrees to go. She says she’s going for closure but in reality, she’s going to solve a crime. However, is Emma as innocent as she makes out?

The story switches between the present and 15 years ago. Instead of being confusing the style of writing is enlightening. All the questions that come up in the present are answered by going back to the past in the next chapter. As the story evolves we get a better picture of what happened all those years ago. However, it is not until the very end that all is revealed and I wasn’t quite expecting the ending. I was suspicious but I definitely didn’t have all the answers. Once it had gathered speed I was hooked until the very end.

Rose Gold Watts believed she was extremely ill for 18 years. Turns out her mum had lied about it all. The feeding tubes, the surgery, everything. When Patty gets out of prison 5 years later, Rose Gold takes her in. But Rose Gold knows her mother won't stop until she controls her life again and Rose Gold wants nothing more than to be free of her. The battle of wits is on and only one can win.

This book is intense and beyond twisted. We get alternate chapters from current Patty to see how she’s dealing post-prison and then chapters from Rose Gold's past to see how she got to this point. I loved Rose Golds chapters as each one revealed a little bit more about her story and why she is the way she is and what her plan was. Neither of the characters were particularly likable which made picking who you wanted to come out on top even harder. The plan was just outrageous and I honestly could not stop reading. This was unlike anything I have ever read before. It was such a wild ride and I loved it.  

Rachel has kept herself locked in a psychiatric facility for 15 years because she believes she accidentally shot and killed her mother which caused her father's suicide. She can’t remember much about that day but knows she deserves to be locked away. That is until she learns more about her parents deaths. She returns home to try and uncover the truth but the truth is home isn’t and never was safe. 

This book is a tad predictable but I enjoyed the ride and the controversial world of child psychopaths and if people are born evil is such an interesting topic. The characters are written extremely well and you really get a feel for their personalities. Some chapters are written from Rachel’s mums POV in the past so we get to see what it was like for the family as the kids grew up which definitely added to the story. 

Kat has always tried to treat her daughters, Imogen & Jemima, equally. It’s tough though because Imogen’s birth mother is a serial killer and Imogen doesn’t know. Is nurture over nature true or should she be worried about Imogens DNA. Then Imogen goes missing and Kat’s life is turned upside down. 

As with the book above this is on the same topic. Are serial killers born bad? Is it in their DNA? Is Nurture or nature true. I thought this book was going to be predictable but there were a few twists and turns to keep me interested. I really liked Imogen and I wanted to know what would happen to her. This book really does show what a lack of communication can do.

Ella wakes up in hospital after being hit by a van. The nurse tells her that her husband will be back soon. Except Ella doesn’t have any friends let alone a husband. When she recognises the man claiming to be her husband she realises she must do everything in her power to stop her darkest secret getting out, even if that means playing the dutiful wife. 

This is such a good psychological thriller that is emotional and intense. It’s a bit of a slow burner but it definitely kept me engaged. I was desperate to know who this mysterious guy was and what secret was worth all of this. I also needed to know if and how Ella was going to get herself out of this mess when her leg is extremely broken and in a full cast. Some parts are a tad unbelievable but they didn’t ruin the reading experience. I was convinced that I had it all worked out but I really didn’t. 

The Housemaid by Freida McFadden* - On Kindle Unlimited

Every day Millie cleans Winchesters’ beautiful house, collects their daughter, and cooks a delicious meal before eating alone in her tiny attic room. She tries to ignore how Nina makes a mess just to watch her clean it up. How she tells strange lies about her own daughter. And how her husband Andrew seems more broken every day. But it’s hard not to imagine what it would be like to live Nina’s life. By the time she realises the attic bedroom door only locks from the outside, it’s far too late. But the Winchesters don’t know who Millie really is or what she’s capable of. 

The Housemaid is written in first person which isn’t normally my favourite writing style but it worked really well. The first half of the book is written from Millie’s POV and then half way through we get an insight into Nina’s life which I loved. Reading Millie’s part of the book had me questioning all the crap she was putting up with but it sets the scene beautifully for the faster paced second half. It’s such a great psychological thriller with some twists and turns and a fantastic ending.

Collage of book covers including the perfect mother and the village by Caroline Mitchell, A deadly influence and damaged intentions by Mike Omer, Lonely Hearts by Lisa Grey, Hideaway by Nora Roberts and Don't you cry by cass green

The Perfect Mother by Caroline Mitchell* - On Kindle Unlimited

Roz is young, broke and pregnant and can’t even tell her best friend who the father is. She just wants to be the perfect mother but knows she isn’t in the position to do that. She joins an adoption service and matches with an American celeb couple. When Roz moves into their basement suite she gets a feeling something is very wrong. She’s not the first woman here and her unborn baby may be keeping her alive. 

This isn’t like any book I’ve read before. It’s super dark and twisty and I had no idea how it was going to end. It’s an intense read. Roz is extremely lovable and you just want her to be safe but the celeb couple now keeping her captive are so difficult to work out. It’s quite the ride   

The Village by Caroline Mitchell* - On Kindle Unlimited

Ten years ago, the Harper family disappeared. Their cottage was left deserted with the doors locked from the inside. Overnight, Nighbrook became notorious as the scene of the unsolved mystery of the decade. For crime journalist Naomi, solving the case has turned into an obsession. So now, with Ivy Cottage up for sale, it’s her chance to find out what happened. And her husband and stepdaughter don’t need to know what happened in their new home. But Nighbrook isn’t the village she expected. The deeper she digs, the more dangerous it seems to get. 

The Village sucked me in from the very beginning and I was just as obsessed as Naomi with getting to the bottom of the Harper family disappearance. I definitely got Hot Fuzz and their greater good vibes from Nighbrook. There is a range of great characters from lovable to hated and everything in between. I loved seeing Naomi and Morgan's relationship grow and change. I think Morgan was my favourite character and a lot of her storyline was a rollercoaster of emotions. I kept changing my mind about what I thought had happened and then the ending was just twist after twist. 

A Deadly Influence by Mike Omer - On Kindle Unlimited

Abby gets a call from Eden, a fellow survivor of the infamous Wilcox cult. Someone has kidnapped her son and she needs Abby's help. However, Eden won't talk. Not about their shared past, what she's been up to since they escaped or what the kidnapper's motives could be. Abby soon discovers that their past may not be as far behind them as she thought. 

I'm so intrigued by cults and this was a great read. Abby is a great character with a lovable family. Trying to work out if their past is involved in the kidnapping kept me guessing and I was really rooting for the little boy. 

Damaged Intentions by Mike Omer* - On Kindle Unlimited

As a child, Abby Mullen escaped the Wilcox cult when it literally went down in flames. Years later, she’s the NYPD’s best hostage negotiator and a mother. Armed conspiracy theorists called the Watchers have attacked the local high school and taken her daughter hostage. With the delusional Watchers holding her child at gunpoint, the unflappable Abby might be at her breaking point. As Abby peels back the layers of mystery surrounding the Watchers, there’s always another puzzle underneath. And it seems to be leading back to the dark past she’s spent her whole life trying to forget.

 Abby is such a badass and her daughter has obviously inherited some of that. I enjoyed getting to see more of her family. We also got more of an insight into the Wilcox cult and it's leader as well as how difficult it is to get out of a cult and what she had to go through as a child. I had no idea how or if they were going to be able to diffuse the situation and get everyone out. There is a third book in the series but it involves fire and there are more grisly details. I also loved the Zoe Bentley series but again that is more gruesome. 

Jessica is hired to look into a missing persons case. Christine is desperate to find her childhood friend Veronica who disappeared more than fifteen years ago. She vanished not long after having a child with a Death Row inmate, notorious serial killer Travis Dean Ford. When Ford’s widow, Jordana, is murdered in the same way as his victims, Christine fears Veronica and her daughter will be next. Discovering that both Veronica and Jordana were members of the Lonely Hearts Club, a pen pal service for women who want to write to men in prison, Jessica realizes she needs to find Veronica before the killer does. But as Jessica follows the leads it begins to feel like someone is following her. Travis has been dead for years, so who is hunting the Lonely Hearts?

This is the first book I’ve read from this series but I loved Jessica so I will definitely be going back to read the rest. A private investigator makes a change from all the police procedural books I read. This book is full of twists and turns with lots of drama. I kicked myself for not working something out sooner. I’m also so intrigued by people that are obsessed with death row prisoners so that was an interesting plot point. The quick pace short chapters made it an easy read. 

Caitlyn was kidnapped when she was 9 but it’s the betrayal that haunts her the most. She spends her life hiding from the trauma. She decides that if she really wants to live she’s going to have to face her fears and return home. 

I love Nora Roberts books but they all follow a similar plot line so they are kind of predictable. However, sometimes you need that from a book and I do love her writing. Her books are a mix of thriller and romance. We get to see the story unfold and Caitlyn adapt and grow with 3 main periods of her life. It starts with the abduction, the middle is about her teenage years and then the last part is her as an adult returning home and facing her fears. Even though it is a predictable story with some slow patches I did still enjoy it. The characters more than made up for it and I felt like I wanted to know the Sullivan family. There are a lot of characters to keep track of but they all add to the story. 

A waitress aptly named Angel saves Ninas life as she chokes on a blind date. Hours later Angel turns up at Ninas house with a gun. Angels brother, Lucas, soon turns up covered in blood clutching a stolen baby. Nina is in for an extremely long, stressful night. 

It took me a while to get into Don’t You Cry as the first few chapters are a bit slow. However, it soon gets going and I couldn’t put it down. It’s told from the POVs of Nina, Angel & Lucas which really added to the story and helps you get to know the siblings and what they are going through. You also feel every stress along with Nina. I felt this was more of a suspense than a psychological thriller but it is a great suspense story. It kept me guessing throughout the whole book as to how it would end. My feeling towards Angel & Lucas were constantly switching. 

If you want to check out more books that I have enjoyed then you can check out my favourites from 2019, 2020 and 2021.
You can also follow me on Goodreads for updates on what I'm reading and I'm trying to be more active on my bookstagram.

Let me know your faves


* This book was gifted in exchange for an honest review, however, it does not affect my views and the opinions expressed in this post are independent and my own

**This post contains affiliate links. This does not cost you anything but means I get a small amount if you purchase anything. 

Post a Comment