I’ve always fallen into a weird genre stan where I go above and beyond to find bad boy hero’s…and take a wide turn toward total sociopaths and psychopaths. Yes, a therapist or intervention is needed, I know, but at least it’s only fiction.
For those who endorse the creepiest of bad boys, I present you with an intoxicating list of books that take obsession, co-dependency and murder to another level. Now, some of these reads aren’t for the faint of heart. You have been warned, American Psycho in particular can be quite the mindfuck and should have some trigger warnings.
But, wow, do these goodies check all of the psychopath boxes. Dive in and prepare to either giggle with glee or be so deeply disturbed you won’t sleep for a week.
You and Pretty Girls are particular favorites of mine, followed up by Misery. But, if you’d like a tamer start, A) why are you reading this post on psychopath thrillers, and B) go with The Book of You, first.
When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.
There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.
As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.
A terrifying exploration of how vulnerable we all are to stalking and manipulation, debut author Caroline Kepnes delivers a razor-sharp novel for our hyper-connected digital age. You is a compulsively readable page-turner that’s being compared to Gone Girl, American Psycho, and Stephen King’s Misery.
Patrick Bateman moves among the young and trendy in 1980s Manhattan. Young, handsome, and well educated, Bateman earns his fortune on Wall Street by day while spending his nights in ways we cannot begin to fathom. Expressing his true self through torture and murder, Bateman prefigures an apocalyptic horror that no society could bear to confront.
Bestselling novelist Paul Sheldon thinks he’s finally free of Misery Chastain. In a controversial career move, he’s just killed off the popular protagonist of his beloved romance series in favor of expanding his creative horizons. But such a change doesn’t come without consequences. After a near-fatal car accident in rural Colorado leaves his body broken, Paul finds himself at the mercy of the terrifying rescuer who’s nursing him back to health—his self-proclaimed number one fan, Annie Wilkes. Annie is very upset over what Paul did to Misery and demands that he find a way to bring her back by writing a new novel—his best yet, and one that’s all for her. After all, Paul has all the time in the world to do so as a prisoner in her isolated house…and Annie has some very persuasive and violent methods to get exactly what she wants…
Feed your fears with the terrifying classic that introduced cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter.
FBI agent Will Graham once risked his sanity to capture Hannibal Lecter, an ingenious killer like no other. Now, he’s following the bloodstained pattern of the Tooth Fairy, a madman who’s already wiped out two families.
To find him, Graham has to understand him. To understand him, Graham has only one place left to go: the mind of Dr. Lecter.
Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.
More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.
The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.
The Book of You
His name is Rafe, and he is everywhere Clarissa turns. At the university where she works. Her favorite sewing shop. The train station. Outside her apartment. His messages choke her voice mail; his gifts litter her mailbox. Since that one regrettable night, his obsession with her has grown, becoming more terrifying with each passing day. And as Rafe has made clear, he will never let her go.
Clarissa’s only escape from this harrowing nightmare is inside a courtroom—where she is a juror on a trial involving a victim whose experiences eerily parallel her own. There she finds some peace and even makes new friends, including an attractive widower named Robert, whose caring attentions make her feel desired and safe. But as a disturbingly violent crime unfolds in the courtroom, Clarissa realizes that to survive she must expose Rafe herself. Conceiving a plan, she begins collecting the evidence of Rafe’s madness to use against him—a record of terror that will force her to relive every excruciating moment she desperately wants to forget. Proof that will reveal the twisted, macabre fairy tale that Rafe has spun around them . . . with an ending more horrifying than her darkest fears.
Masterfully constructed, filled with exquisite tension and a pervasive sense of menace, The Book of You explores the lines between love and compulsion, fantasy and reality, and offers a heart-stopping portrait of a woman determined to survive. Claire Kendal’s extraordinary debut will haunt readers long after it reaches its terrifying, breathtaking conclusion.
Our Kind of Cruelty
This is a love story. Mike’s love story.
Mike Hayes fought his way out of a brutal childhood and into a quiet, if lonely, life before he met Verity Metcalf. V taught him about love, and in return, Mike has dedicated his life to making her happy. He’s found the perfect home, the perfect job; he’s sculpted himself into the physical ideal V has always wanted. He knows they’ll be blissfully happy together.
It doesn’t matter that she hasn’t been returning his e-mails or phone calls.
It doesn’t matter that she says she’s marrying Angus.
It’s all just part of the secret game they used to play. If Mike watches V closely, he’ll see the signs. If he keeps track of her every move, he’ll know just when to come to her rescue . . .
The Golden Cage
Faye has loved Jack since they were students at business school. Jack, the perpetual golden boy, grew up wealthy, unlike Faye, who has worked hard to bury a dark past. When Jack needed help launching a new company, Faye left school to support him, waitressing by day and working as his strategist by night. When the business took off, Faye stayed home and cared for their daughter.
Now, she is wealthier than she ever imagined, but more and more removed from the excitement of the business world. And none of the perks of wealth make up for the fact that Jack has begun to treat her coldly. When Faye discovers that he’s having an affair, the polished façade of their life cracks wide open. Faye is alone, emotionally shattered, and financially devastated–but hell hath no fury like a woman with a violent past bent on vengeance. Jack is about to get exactly what he deserves–and so much more. In this splashy, electrifying story of sex, betrayal, and secrets, a woman’s revenge is a brutal but beautiful thing.
Gemma, 16, is on layover at Bangkok Airport, en route with her parents to a vacation in Vietnam. She steps away for just a second, to get a cup of coffee. Ty–rugged, tan, too old, oddly familiar–pays for Gemma’s drink. And drugs it. They talk. Their hands touch. And before Gemma knows what’s happening, Ty takes her. Steals her away. The unknowing object of a long obsession, Gemma has been kidnapped by her stalker and brought to the desolate Australian Outback. STOLEN is her gripping story of survival, of how she has to come to terms with her living nightmare–or die trying to fight it.
If none of these books strike your fancy, I don’t know what to tell you. But each of these pretties has a spot of honor on my favorites shelf. Psychologically compelling, one beat away from a heart attack, can’t put it down if I tried bookish goodness.
Do you have any recc’s to put on this list? God knows, I always need more of these in my life because it’s one of my die hard favorite troupes. Gimmie, gimmie!
Keep Reading Book Fam,