Domestic Thrillers

Ever since Gillian Flynn’s runaway success with Gone Girl, domestic thrillers have been gaining popularity. I’ve heard them described as ‘Chick Noir’ — a kind of alternative ‘Chick Lit’ for readers who like a bit of psychological drama or crime — although from what I can see, a search for Chick Noir on Amazon throws up more 50 shades type fiction than it does psychological drama.

Domestic Thrillers — Key Characteristics

What the domestic thrillers that I have read so far have in common is that the drama takes place within the family group of the main character. Sometimes, as in Gone Girl it centres on the relationship between husband and wife. Sometimes, as in Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson, it may involve others. Typically, where others are involved, they have somehow managed to  get access to the protagonist’s private world. Often, as in The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, domestic thrillers have:

  • a strong plot
  • fast pace
  • short chapters
  • cliffhangers
  • twists

An Irish Domestic Thriller

One of the best domestic thrillers I’ve come across recently is by the Irish writer Liz Nugent. Unravelling Oliver is about a children’s writer married to an illustrator and apparently successful. From the very first sentence it is clear that Oliver has problems. And, over the course of the next 200 or so pages, Nugent cleverly peels back the layers  to unravel Oliver’s troubled past and perhaps explain his reasons for acting as he does.

Domestic Thriller meets Ghost Story

Before I conclude this short article on domestic thrillers, I have to mention The Last Winter of Dani Lancing by PD Viner — part ghost story, part crime novel, part exploration of what happens to those who are left behind when someone in a family is murdered. Viner has a couple of other short titles in the Dani Lancing series that I must check out soon.

What got me started on domestic thrillers today was some work I did sorting out the categories on over the last couple of days. I hope you find the new genre listing useful. You’ll find plenty of ideas in the Thrillers Category and you might like the Crime Fiction and Swedish Fiction categories too.