Were you gripped by Sky Atlantic’s brilliant crime drama, Big Little Lies? You’re not alone.
Based on the book by Liane Moriarty and starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Shailene Woodley in the lead roles, Big Little Lies has proved itself to be seriously addictive – but what is it about the show, aside from the first rate acting and stellar soundtrack, that makes it so compelling?
When we first meet Madeline, Celeste and Jane they look like they have it all: perfect families, perfect homes, perfect lives – but this is, of course, far from the case. Despite the fact that they seem to be living the domestic dream, each one has a dark, closely-guarded secret. In a neighbourhood full of ambitious, aspirational personalities, jealousies and rivalries thrive, and after an incident in the school playground the whispers and rumours become vicious and spiteful, and the truths blur into lies.
Big Little Lies is domestic suspense at its very best: it takes seemingly ordinary people, puts them in an extraordinary situation, pushing them to their limits, and then lets the chaos unfold in front of our eyes. From the very beginning, we know something terrible has happened. We don’t know the identities of either the victim or the culprit, but the intrigue builds when we’re drip-fed reactions from other members of the community. The desperate need to find out what happens next, reveal the deeply buried secrets and uncover the answers to our questions consistently leaves us wanting more when the credits roll. We feed on the juicy secrets and lies of the characters, while rejoicing in the fact that we’re not in the same dire situation ourselves.
If this is what you love in your fiction, then you’re in luck. We’ve picked out twelve domestic thrillers packed with dark, sinister secrets, buried in the past and hidden behind closed doors. How many have you read?
12 must-read books like Big Little Lies
Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
From the author of Big Little Lies comes Truly Madly Guilty – a cocktail of friendship and modern love, with more than a little deception. Liane Moriarty is a true expert when it comes to picking holes in so-called ‘perfect’ lives and using brilliant twists and turns that will keep you firmly planted on the edge of your seat.
Sometimes it’s the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm – and that’s certainly the case in this unmissable novel, where a seemingly ordinary barbecue one evening ends with a lifelong friendship in tatters, a marriage on the rocks and an innocent bystander dead.
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
You never know what’s happening on the other side of the wall – and no book illustrates this better than Shari Lapena’s debut psychological thriller.
When Anne and Marco’s baby girl is taken from their home while they’re at a dinner party next door, suspicion initially falls on the child’s parents. They’re clearly hiding something – both from the police and from each other. What follows is a twisty, suspenseful tale of secrets, lies and betrayal that examines the dark underbelly of the ‘perfect’ suburban life and makes you question how much you can trust everyone around you.
The Good Girl by Fiona Neill
No one can believe it when straight A student Romy Field finds herself at the centre of a scandal, least of all her mother Ailsa – who is also the head of her new school. But it soon becomes apparent that Romy isn’t the only member of her family harbouring secrets and her disgrace soon becomes the catalyst for the unravelling of all those around her.
The Good Girl is a dark, compelling and controversial novel about a picture perfect family’s darkest secrets. Packed with tension, you’ll lose yourself in this absorbing read.
Disclaimer by Renée Knight
When an intriguing novel appears on Catherine’s bedside table, she curls up and begins to read. But as she turns the pages she is horrified to realise she is a key character, a main player in the book.
This story will reveal her darkest secret – a secret she thought no one else knew, and one that she’s done everything in her power to ensure stays hidden. Catherine’s near idyllic life is about to be shaken to its very core – and nothing will ever be the same again.
Told through multiple viewpoints, this addictive read will keep you guessing right up until the very end.
Behind Closed Doors by B A Paris
Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. The two are never apart – and while some might call this true love, others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.
Sometimes, the perfect marriage is the perfect lie – and sometimes, behind the facade, it’s a complete nightmare.
The Fifth Letter by Nicola Moriarty
Joni, Trina, Deb and Eden, four best friends since the first day of school, are now in their thirties and real life – husbands, children, work – has caused them to grow apart. In an attempt to reconnect on their annual trip away, each one writes an anonymous letter, confessing what’s really going on in their life. But some secrets are darker than others and should stay buried – and Joni starts to wonder whether she ever really knew her friends at all.
The Fifth Letter is a twisty page turner about the anger, desire and deceit that bubble away just under the surface of seemingly ordinary lives.
The Silent Wife by A S A Harrison
Todd and Jodie have been together for more than twenty years. They are both aware their relationship is in crisis, though neither is willing to admit it. Todd is living a dual existence, while Jodie is living in denial. She also likes to settle scores. When it becomes clear their affluent Chicago lifestyle could disintegrate at any moment, Jodie knows everything is at stake. It’s only now she will discover just how much she’s truly capable of.
This chilling novel tells a deeply disquieting tale of adultery, jealousy, lust and a precarious world destined for disaster. It’s brilliantly crafted and thoroughly captivating.
The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish
It’s summer when Elm Hill lido opens, having stood empty for years. For Natalie Steele – wife, mother, teacher – it offers freedom from the ordinary, humdrum routines of work and family. Especially when it leads her to Lara Channing, a flawless, charismatic former actress with a lavish bohemian lifestyle, who seems all too happy to invite Natalie into her elite circle.
Soon Natalie finds herself intoxicated – caught up in the glamorous, mesmerising new lifestyle – and wholly unaware that there’s something sinister about the new friendship. Is such a change in fortunes too good to be true?
My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry
Ed and Lily are newly married – but after the initial honeymoon period, the cracks are already starting to show. The lies start small but soon become too big to handle, and what began with marriage soon ends in murder.
Jane Corry’s debut introduces us to characters who are pushed to the extreme. Told through multiple viewpoints, this is a complex, suspenseful thriller full of twists and turns that will take you on an absolute rollercoaster of a ride.
The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent
The Loving Husband draws readers into a marriage where nothing is as it seems. It’s an unsettling, unputdownable read and a compulsive psychological thriller.
Fran and her husband Nathan have moved with their children to a farmhouse on the edge of the Fens – a chance to get away from London and have a fresh start. But when Fran wakes one night to find Nathan gone, she makes a devastating discovery. As questions about her husband and her relationships start to mount, Fran’s life begins to spiral out of control. What is she hiding from the police about her marriage, and does she really know the man she shared her bed with?
The Trophy Child by Paula Daly
Karen Bloom expects perfection from her family – no matter what the consequences may be. As she pushes her talented daughter to the brink, the rest of the family starts to crumble. Karen’s husband is losing himself in work, and his teenage daughter from his first marriage is becoming ever more volatile. The family is dangerously near breaking point – and then tragedy strikes.
Paula Daly is brilliant at taking ordinary people and turning their everyday lives upside down. The Trophy Child digs beneath the serene surface of the idyllic suburban Lake District community where families strive for perfection, delivering a suspenseful, surprising story of ambition, motherhood and murder.
You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
Katie and her husband Eric have made their daughter Devon the centre of their world. Talented, determined, a rising gymnastics star, Devon is the focus of her parents’ lives and the lynchpin of their marriage. There is nothing they wouldn’t do for her.
Then a death sends shockwaves through their close-knit community. Hidden secrets, lies, passions and rivalries soon rise to the surface and everything is thrown into turmoil. Katie and Eric have sacrificed so much for Devon – but how just far will they go to protect her?
Have we missed any must-read books like Big Little Lies? Let us know in the comments below!