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When British author Paula Hawkins' first novel, The Girl on the Train, was published, it was an instant sensation. It debuted in the top spot on the New York Times Fiction bestseller list, then proceeded to hold that spot for 13 weeks. A year later, it was adapted into an American film starring English actress Emily Blunt.
If you enjoyed The Girl on the Train and you want more like it, there's good news. While not every psychological thriller gets the kind of attention this one did, the success of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train means a lot of authors have turned their pens to the genre, and there are plenty of good ones to turn to.
Books Like The Girl on the Train: 22 Suspenseful British Psychological Thrillers
As this is a site focusing on British books, we will of course focus on those with some kind of British connection – either the author, the setting, or the main character must have a connection to the British Isles in order for a book to find its way onto our lists.
The Woman in Cabin 10
Author: Ruth Ware
Journalist Lo Blacklock has been given the opportunity to spend a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. It's all rather nice until the weather turns, moods turn sour, and on one terrifying night, Lo sees a woman being thrown overboard.
The next day, all passengers remain accounted for, and the ship sails on as though nothing has happened.
Before I Go to Sleep
Author: S.J. Watson
When Christine sleeps, she forgets everything – her name, her identity, her past, and everyone she loves. Each day, her husband patiently explains her life to her…but he may not be telling the truth.
Hidden away, she has a journal that details her daily events. Each day, neurologist Dr. Ed Nash reminds her of the journal. Though it's helpful in offering glimpses of her former self, she begins to notice disturbing inconsistencies as time goes on.
Before I Go to Sleep has been adapted into a film starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth. You can watch it HERE.
Then She Was Gone
Author: Lisa Jewell
Just days before an idyllic family holiday, 15-year-old Ellie Mack disappeared without a trace. Now, 10 years later, her mother Laurel is trying to put her life back together. As she ventures out into the dating world, she finds herself captivated by a charming man in a cafe.
The relationship develops quickly, and it's not long before she's meeting his daughters. The youngest, Poppy, looks just like her own missing daughter.
Many readers describe this book as particularly distressing (even for the genre), so proceed with caution. If you prefer tamer thrillers, this may not be the one for you.
The Kind Worth Killing
Author: Peter Swanson
Though not strictly British, the action begins in the business class lounge at Heathrow Airport. Delayed in London, Ted Severson meets a woman, has a few drinks, and opens up about how he's recently discovered his wife's infidelity. Together, they hatch a dark plan.
Offering a modern twist on the premise of Strangers on a Train, the book quickly becomes darker and more disturbing than the classic version ever was.
The Other Woman
Author: Sandie Jones
Adam and Emily are in love. Everything seems perfect, aside from the woman lurking in the shadows, ready to do anything to break them up.
Unfortunately, that woman is Adam's mother, Pammie. This thriller shows us what happens when a mother will do anything to avoid letting go of her precious son.
Apple Tree Yard
Author: Louise Doughty
Yvonne Carmichael was happily married, a mum to two, and a successful scientist. Now, she's a suspect and presumed accomplice to a man who is also her lover. She'll have to piece together how it all happened, and what it means for her future. Who is the charming man who knocked her life off course?
Everything hinges on a single, fateful night in a dark alley called Apple Tree Yard.
Apple Tree Yard has also been adapted into a British TV series, which you can watch HERE.
Author: Daphne du Maurier
Though it's more than 80 years old, modern psychological thrillers owe a debt of gratitude to this 1938 Gothic novel by Daphne du Maurier. Compulsively readable, it has numerous elements that make it a great thriller – death, love, wealth, jealousy, and isolation.
It all begins when a young woman marries a wealthy older man whose home is overflowing with memories of his dead wife. Even the servant, Mrs. Danvers, remains strangely loyal to a woman who's not coming back.
Rebecca isn't as gritty and graphic as its modern counterparts, but don't let that fool you into thinking it's any less exciting.
Behind Her Eyes
Author: Sarah Pinborough
Single mom Louise is stuck in a rut, but things get exciting when she meets a man in a bar on a rare night out. On Monday, she heads back to work and meets her new (and married) boss, David – the very same man from the bar. David tells her the kiss was a mistake, but he continues to look at her with desire.
As she's trying to forget about it she meets a woman, Adele, who's new in town and in need of a friend. The catch? Adele is married to David.
Soon, Louise is wedged in the middle of what appears to be a picture-perfect marriage…but only on the outside.
Author: Louise Candlish
Our House follows Fiona Lawson after she comes home to find all her family's possessions gone. People she doesn't know are moving into her home, and as she insists her house isn't for sale, she realises her husband Bram is also missing.
Prior to the confusion, the two had shared a “bird's nest” separation agreement which saw them taking turns living in the family home with their children. While that had seemed amiable enough, everything has now changed without any explanation.
ITV has commissioned Our House as an upcoming miniseries. You can read more about it HERE.
Author: Lesley Kara
As children, Lizzie and Alice were the best of friends – until one day when they were playing on train tracks and Lizzie suffered an epileptic seizure. When she came to, Alice was dead.
Friends and family are convinced Alice's death is due to Lizzie and a dare between the two girls. Lizzie isn't quite sure what to believe, but the guilt and grief weigh on her for years.
As an adult, Lizzie tries to move on. She started a new life in London and got engaged to a wonderful man – but someone out there isn't willing to let the past stay in the past.
Little White Lies
Author: Elizabeth McGregor
Beth's life is pretty typical until the day her husband drives full-speed into the path of a lorry. After his death, she finds out he'd been lying to her. He sold his shares and took out another mortgage – but where's the money? Was he having an affair?
As she struggles to untangle the wreckage of her life, she finds she can never be sure of what's true and what's not.
The Innocent Wife
Author: Amy Lloyd
Welsh author Amy Lloyd tells us the story of Dennis Danson, a man arrested and imprisoned 20 years ago for the brutal murder of a young girl. Now, a true crime documentary is stirring up interest in the case.
A thousand miles away in England, Samantha is obsessed with the case. They exchange letters, and she ultimately ends up leaving her old life to marry him and campaign for his release. She's successful, but soon begins to wonder if she should have been…
Author: Elizabeth Kay
As kids, Jane and Marnie had no secrets from one another. As adults, Jane has one big secret. She hates Marnie's wealthy, obnoxious husband – and to keep Marnie happy, she lies about it.
That's her first lie. If she hadn't told it, Marnie's husband might still be alive.
The Guest List
Author: Lucy Foley
Though this book veers more towards mystery than psychological thriller, there's a fair bit of overlap, given the isolated and atmospheric location. If you occasionally enjoy something that's murder-y and mysterious but not quite so torturous as a full-blown psychological thriller, you might enjoy this one.
On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate the wedding of a rising TV star and a magazine publisher. Unfortunately, the picture perfect planning gives way to real human jealousy, grudges, and rage. Soon, there's a body.
The Life She Wants
Author: Mel Sherratt
After the death of their young daughter, Sarah and Richard move to the country in search of a quiet life. Though they're nervous about the new neighbours who move in, they befriend them.
Things are going well until the new neighbors spot a young girl in Richard and Sarah's garden. Richard tries to convince them they're seeing things, but the wife, Juliette, won't let it go. If she can't be placated, it could ruin their perfect new life.
The Killer You Know
Author: S.R. Masters
When Will jokes about becoming a serial killer, most of his friends laugh it off. Adeline, on the other hand, can't help but wonder whether there's a hint of truth lurking behind his joke.
Years later, the friends reunite and Will doesn't show up. Discussion eventually turns to Will's claims of a future murder spree, and laughing, they look up the details. A chill takes over when they realise two recent deaths match up.
The Dinner Guest
Author: B.P. Walter
Four people gathered for dinner. Only three would leave.
This novel mixes the classic crime novel with elements of the psychological thriller to tell an exciting tale set in the well-to-do world of West London.
The Unwelcome Guest
Author: Amanda Robson
Saffron vowed to love Miles forever, no matter what – but when his mother moves into their home, it leaves her miserable. Subtle digs turn into something more sinister, and Saffron hopes a new nanny will shield her from the worst of it.
Unfortunately, her mother-in-law wants a new daughter-in-law, and there's no limit to what she'll do to achieve that goal.
While You Slept
Author: R.J. Parker
Lily Russell is shocked when she sees a man in her garden wearing a photo mask of her daughter's face. She does the sensible thing and calls the police, but the next morning, she and her daughter wake up in an exact replica of her home…with the man who'd been in her garden.
The New Home
Author: Chris Merritt
Freya is in love with her new home. It's a perfect suburban street, and it even comes with a new best friend, neighbour Emily. Unfortunately, Freya notices something shocking one night as she sees Emily setting the table.
Days later, Emily and her daughter vanish.
The Other Wife
Author: Claire McGowan
Suzi made a mistake, and now she's stuck in an isolated cottage, pregnant, with her jealous husband. When Nora moves in nearby, Suzi thinks she's finally found a friend to confide in – but is it possible Suzi already knows?
The Couple at Number 9
Author: Claire Douglas
When Saffon and her boyfriend Tom move into a new home, the last thing they expect is for builders to uncover a pair of human remains. Given that the bodies are at least 30 years old, she assumes she has nothing to worry about.
And then the police want to talk to the former owner of the home – Saffron's grandmother. Now living in a home and dealing with the ravages of Alzheimer's, granny Rose is unable to help the police. She seems to remember something she can't quite access, and Saffron becomes increasingly concerned that someone is watching the house.
What's your Favourite British Psychological Thriller?
Have we missed your favourite? Do you have other recommendations for books similar to The Girl on the Train? Feel free to share in the comments!
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