With the reading world gripped by stories such as Big Little Lies, Sharp Objects and Gone Girl, domestic suspense has reached new heights. Readers can’t get enough of the idea that within perfect families lie dark secrets. We’ve rounded up five of the best books about seemingly perfect families that just aren’t what they seem…
1. THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER BY KAIRA ROUDA
Kaira Rouda, author of Best Day Ever, is back with The Favorite Daughter, and some deep, dark family secrets. Talk about not being what they appear! The Favorite Daughter was included in O, The Oprah Magazine’s “The Buzziest Books Being Released this May 2019” but that’s only the tip of the praise iceberg!
In addition to being one of PopSugar’s Best Books of Spring, and receiving a starred review from Publishers Weekly, The Favorite Daughter has been described by USA Today bestselling author Cristina Alger, as “compulsively readable and deeply satisfying psychological suspense.” New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf dubbed it “a smart, wickedly plotted psychological thriller brimming with dark surprises.” The praise is as endless as you’ll wish this book was almost as soon as you begin. Check out the synopsis below, and don’t forget to grab your copy!
From the author of Best Day Ever, another gripping novel of psychological suspense set in an upscale Southern California community, for fans of B.A. Paris and Shari Lapena.
The perfect home. The perfect family. The perfect lie.
Jane Harris lives in a sparkling home in an oceanfront gated community in Orange County. It’s a place that seems too beautiful to be touched by sadness. But exactly one year ago, Jane’s oldest daughter, Mary, died in a tragic accident and Jane has been grief-stricken ever since. Lost in a haze of anti-depressants, she’s barely even left the house. Now that’s all about to change.
It’s time for Jane to reclaim her life and her family. Jane’s husband, David, has planned a memorial service for Mary and three days later, their youngest daughter, Betsy, graduates high school. Yet as Jane reemerges into the world, it’s clear her family has changed without her. Her husband has been working long days—and nights—at the office. Her daughter seems distant, even secretive. And her beloved Mary was always such a good girl—dutiful and loving. But does someone know more about Mary, and about her last day, than they’ve revealed?
The bonds between mothers and daughters, and husbands and wives should never be broken. But you never know how far someone will go to keep a family together…
2. Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon
With praise from everyone from Booklist who call it a “fast-paced, twisty thriller” to Kaira Rouda herself, who calls it a “must-read,” Hannah Mary McKinnon explores what lies behind the facade of a perfect family in the wake of the secret-keeper’s death. With Creep author Jennifer Hellier dubbing it “smoldering domestic suspense,” this thriller is sure to grip you!
When Josh’s longtime partner, Grace, dies in a tragic accident, he is left with a mess of grief—and full custody of her seven-year-old son, Logan. While not his biological father, Josh has been a dad to Logan in every way that counts, and with Grace gone, Logan needs him more than ever.
Wanting to do right by Logan, Josh begins the process of becoming his legal guardian—something that seems suddenly urgent, though Grace always brushed it off as an unnecessary formality. But now, as Josh struggles to find the paperwork associated with Logan’s birth, he begins to wonder whether there were more troubling reasons for Grace’s reluctance to make their family official.
As he digs deeper into the past of the woman he loved, Josh soon finds that there are many dark secrets to uncover, and that the truth about where Logan came from is much more sinister than he could have imagined…
Tightly paced and brimming with tension, Her Secret Son is a heartbreakingly honest portrait of a family on the edge of disaster and a father desperate to hold on to the boy who changed his life.
3. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
From the acclaimed author of Big Little Lies, a classic of the ‘perfect family’ genre, comes another mouthwateringly suspenseful thriller. One of Entertainment Weekly’s Best Books of the Year and One of People‘s Top Ten Books of the Year, this story looks at what happens when it turns out that the person you thought you knew best in the world, may not be who you thought… According to USA Today, “The Husband’s Secret is so good, you won’t be able to keep it to yourself.” New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank notes that “secrets can be sinister; they can eat you alive. But they can also set you free. The Husband’s Secret demonstrates this power with one of the most entertaining stories I have read in ages. Perfect for book clubs—lots to debate in these pages. I just loved it.”
My darling Cecilia, if you’re reading this, then I’ve died…
Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.
Acclaimed author Liane Moriarty has written a gripping, thought-provoking novel about how well it is really possible to know our spouses—and, ultimately, ourselves.
4. THE TROPHY CHILD BY PAULA DALY
Jill Mansell calls The Trophy Child a “fantastic twisty-turny novel”, while Claire McGowan lauds Paula Daly as ‘the UK’s answer to Liane Moriarty.’ This spooky thriller explores the lengths a pushy parent will go to for perfection. Mark Edwards sums it up nicely by calling The Trophy Child “gripping, darkly funny and bound to induce spasms of guilt in even the least pushy parent. I can’t remember the last time I was so enthralled. I want to stand on a mountain top and tell everyone to read this brilliant novel.” So what are you waiting for?
Karen Bloom expects perfection. Her son, Ewan, has been something of a disappointment and she won’t be making the same mistake again with her beloved, talented child, Bronte.
Bronte’s every waking hour will be spent at music lessons and dance classes, doing extra schoolwork and whatever it takes to excel.
But as Karen pushes Bronte to the brink, the rest of the family crumbles. Karen’s husband, Noel, is losing himself in work, and his teenage daughter from his first marriage, Verity, is becoming ever more volatile. The family is dangerously near breaking point.
Karen would know when to stop . . . wouldn’t she?
5. MOTHER, MOTHER BY KOREN ZAILCKAS
What do you do when your family home becomes a prison, run by the person who claims to love you most? The San Francisco Chronicle called Zailckas’ “superbly unsettling” novel “a haunting meditation on family, love and unimaginable loss…A firecracker thriller full of whip-smart psychological insights.” Kirkus Reviews align it with some of the most beloved in the ‘mad-matriarch’ genre, calling it “a hall of mirrors reflecting chaotic maternal psychological mayhem reminiscent of Mommie Dearest or Push or Ordinary People.”
Josephine Hurst has her family under control. With two beautiful daughters, a brilliantly intelligent son, a tech-guru of a husband, and a historical landmark home, her life is picture perfect. But living in this matriarch’s determinedly cheerful, yet subtly controlling domain hasn’t been easy for her family, and when her oldest daughter, Rose, runs off with a mysterious boyfriend, Josephine tightens her grip, gradually turning her flawless home into a darker sort of prison.
Resentful of her sister’s newfound freedom, Violet turns to eastern philosophy, hallucinogenic drugs, and extreme fasting, eventually landing herself in a psych ward. Meanwhile, her brother, Will, recently diagnosed with Asperger’s, shrinks further into a world of self-doubt. Their father, Douglas, finds resolve in the bottom of a bottle—an addict craving his own chance to escape. Josephine struggles to maintain the family’s impeccable façade, but when a violent incident leads to a visit from child protective services, the truth about the Hursts might finally be revealed.