Everyone has their secrets, but when a secret is so large that it begins to affect an entire family, then you have a recipe for some good suspense. There’s just something extra spine-tingling about old skeletons in the closet rearing their heads at just the right moment. If you’ve been in the mood for a good domestic thriller, look no further than the entries on this list! From sociopathic sisters to DNA discoveries, here are nine revelatory books about family secrets.
One cold November day in Minnesota, Harold Matson takes his 17-year-old son Jesse out into the woods to go hunting. As Jesse waits to spot a white-tailed deer, he hears a gunshot off in the distance. When he discovers his father’s dead body, he assumes he must have killed himself—even if he doesn’t understand why. Now, as his father’s ghost haunts him, Jesse is forced to question everything he knows about his family and himself.
When private investigator Jessica Shaw receives an anonymous email with a picture of a missing girl, she figures it’s just another one of the many cases she’s asked to help out with. Until she realizes the girl in the picture, who was kidnapped in Los Angeles 25 years earlier, is her. She had always trusted what her late father told her about her mother. But now, she’ll have to question everything.
On the hunt for answers about her own case, Jessica crosses paths with LAPD detective Jason Pryce. She’s glad to accept his help until it becomes clear that Jason knows more about Jessica—and her father—than she imagined.
The Family Plot
After her father dies, Dahlia Lighthouse returns to her family’s isolated mansion for the first time in years. She always resented her parents for putting their obsession with true crime above everything, including the disappearance of her twin brother Andy. So when Andy’s body is discovered in her father’s burial plot with an ax through his skull, Dahlia can’t help but get invested.
Everyone in the family reacts to the discovery in their own, bizarre ways, while Dahlia investigates the serial killer who prowled the island right around when Andy went missing. But as she learns more, she is forced to grapple with the fact that Andy’s fate might be much more closely connected to her family...and the place they call home.
My Sister, the Serial Killer
Korede has been helping to clean up her sister’s messes for years. Though after she helps Ayoola hide the body of yet another dead boyfriend—the third in a row—she’s starting to find her claims of innocence harder to believe. So when Korede’s handsome coworker—a doctor she just so happens to be in love with - expresses interest in Ayoola, she will have to decide if family really comes before everything. And despite everything she’s done for her sister, Korede will have to question if she even really knows the woman at all.
Related: Women Who Kill: Who Says Men Get to Have All the Fun?
The Pulitzer Prize-winning Middlesex is the story of three generations of the Stephanides family. In 1922, on a boat fleeing war-torn Turkey, Desdemona and Lefty Stephanides get married. Years later, the choices they made will have life-changing effects on their grandchild, Calliope, or Cal. As Cal struggles to understand their place in the world, they will uncover a decades-old secret that changes everything.
After learning that she is the heir to a wealthy Italian family, Alberta “Bert” Monte travels to Montebianco Castle nestled deep in the Alps. At first, she’s excited to learn about the noble family she didn’t know she had. Until she uncovers horrific truths about stolen children and a monster that supposedly wanders the grounds of the estate. She realizes that she is not just the heir to a vast fortune, but to a deadly legacy.
Related: Celebrating the Female Mystery Writers Who Craft Our Favorite Thrilling Reads
The Lost Vintage
Preparing for her last chance to take the Master of Wine examination, Kate travels to her family vineyard in Burgundy. When she’s not studying wines, she helps her cousin Nico clear out the basement. One day, she discovers a hidden room with a cot, publications from the French resistance, and a cache of valuable wine. Wanting to know more, Kate does some research into her long-lost great-half aunt, who spent her teenage years during the Nazi occupation of France.
But what seems like an intriguing piece of family history turns out to have much more sinister implications. As she learns more, Kate can’t help but wonder whose side her family was really on during the war.
Lying on her deathbed, Jenny Elliot tells her son Phillip that, since he is half-Irish, he should always be aware of his drinking habits. This leaves Phillip confused. As far as he and his brother Spencer know, neither their mother nor their father, who died serving in Vietnam decades ago, was Irish. Wanting to learn about his true heritage, he takes a DNA test.
This begins Phillip and Spencer’s adventure to discover the truth about their past. What does it mean for who they are as people? Are we shaped by our genetics, or by how we are raised? And what does it all have to do with the mysterious Mr. Wizard?
Not A Happy Family
With their large mansion and vast wealth, it seems that Fred and Sheila Merton have built successful, happy lives. But cracks in their family’s facade explode when they are both murdered after Easter dinner. All three of their adult children were at dinner, but it was a tense affair. After a childhood that was far from ideal, all any of them ever hope to get from their parents is their share of the inheritance. But did one of the siblings want the money badly enough to kill?
Related: Playing Clue with Diana Peterfreund
This post first appeared on Murder & Mayhem.