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8 Thrillers Exploring Female Friendship


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Female friendships can build us up, tear us down, define us, or destroy us. From best friends to toxic friends, having such a wide range of possible dynamics makes it the perfect fit to include in thriller and suspense stories. Is the best friend going to help the main character bury the body? Or are they the reason a person is dead? Are they going to air someone’s dirty secrets? The opportunities are endless, and a lot of readers can relate to the relationships forged in these stories on some level, even in extreme scenarios. In our novel, When She Disappeared, a female friendship plays an integral part of the story and our main character, Margo’s, evolution. After Margo’s best friend, Jessie, goes missing, only to turn up 15 years later at the bottom of their small-town swimming hole, Margo teams up with a documentary crew who will stop at nothing to unearth the secrets within Jessie’s circle of friends to find out the truth of what happened. Here are 8 other thrillers that we love with female friendships at the center.

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Deadly Little Lies by Stephanie DeCarolis

What happens when female friendships and the desire to fit in turns fatal? Deadly Little Lies shines a light on toxic group dynamics and examines how secrets shared between friends can lead to long-term consequences. When the main character, Juliana, receives a message from an old college friend who had tragically died while they were at school, her whole world unravels. She and her friends were at the heart of the mystery surrounding Jenny’s death but have tried to move on to form families and dream careers. Now, someone is threatening to bring their lives crashing down to get to the truth. Juliana reconnects with her old friends to figure out who is haunting them before she loses her marriage and her career. In the end, some friendships are destroyed, and some renewed after a twist that will leave even savvy readers satisfied.

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All the Broken People by Leah Konen

Hiding in Woodstock, NY to escape an abusive relationship, Lucy King doesn’t just want new friends, she needs them. Lucky for her, new neighbors Vera and John are also looking for allies. Rumors of an alleged affair between John and a young pupil have made them the town outcasts. While Lucy revels in the friendship with both John and Vera, her relationship with Vera becomes more intense, like female friendships tend to do. As the three cling to one another for support, Vera and John have a proposition for Lucy. They ask her to help them fake John’s death and disappear to get them out of his unfortunate predicament with the added bonus of potentially making his artwork worth more money. Even though Lucy believes John is innocent, she is taken aback. But fearing her abusive ex will find her, the idea of disappearing with John and Vera is too tempting. After following an intricate plan, John turns up dead for real. Vera and Lucy’s friendship fractures, vacillating between co-dependent and toxic. The women depend on each other all while suspecting the other of deception. All the Broken People is a great example of how female friendships can easily become extremely personal and intense, creating a fine line between friend and foe.

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The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

We spend so much of our lives at work, it’s only natural that strong friendships can develop over common stresses in the workplace. But Nella Rogers is the only Black woman at Wagner Books and finding a confidante in a sea of microaggressions and fake smiles proves difficult, until uber-cool Hazel is hired to work in Nella’s cubicle area. As the only Black women in the office, the two quickly bond over shared stories of frustrating office politics and hair products. Nella finally has the work wife she’s always longed for. Or does she? Soon after Hazel arrives, threatening notes start appearing on Nella’s desk, telling her to leave Wagner Books. To make matters worse, Nella’s boss, Vera, has taken a liking to Hazel and Nella is pushed to the backseat. What started out as a promising and much needed work friendship has now turned into a competitive, resentful pressure cooker. Does Hazel have Nella’s back, or is she trying to usurp Nella’s position in the company? While workplace friends can become lifelong friendships, like the two of us, they can also create tension while vying for similar positions and accolades. The Other Black Girl is a great example of how these relationships can go wrong.

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We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz

The friends we make in childhood can be some of the closest friendships we ever make. They are the friends who will bury a dead body for us if needed. So when Emily and her childhood best friend, Kristen, go on their annual vacation, Emily asks Kristen to do just that. After a man sexually assaults Emily, she accidentally kills him. Since they are in a foreign country and unsure if the police will buy Emily’s self-defense claim, Kristen helps her dispose of the body. But now Emily is in Kristen’s debt and the relationship shifts. Kristen begins manipulating the situation to gain more of Emily’s attention. When the women go on their next yearly trip, the tables turn. Now it’s Kristen who is claiming self-defense after she killed a man. Emily has no choice but to return the favor and hide the body. Now they each have a devastating secret over the other, turning this once warm and trustworthy friendship into a psychological nightmare.  We Were Never Here is a study in how a supportive lifelong female friendship can turn toxic when the balances shift.

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It Could Be Anyone by Jaime Lynn Hendricks

Trevor Vaughn has been murdered on his wedding day to Fiona. But who would kill the groom? While It Could Be Anyone revolves around a group of college friends, both men and women, it bears inclusion because of how intense these relationships are, especially the women. Told in multiple stanza’s cycling through each characters’ point of view throughout the same time periods, we see how Trevor has blackmailed each of Fiona’s friends so they’ll encourage Fiona to say yes when he proposes. After Trevor’s plan goes accordingly, all seems blissful. But worlds of drama are simmering under the surface of celebrations and wedding gifts. Working our way chronologically back to the wedding, Hendricks slowly reveals what secret Trevor has on each friend. Not only do they all have a very good motive to want Trevor dead, so does every side character. It literally could be anyone as Hendricks floods the market with suspects. While the women rally around Fiona after Trevor’s death, the group wonders who among them actually killed Trevor. It Could Be Anyone explores the power of friendships and secrets, and the extent people will go to protect both.

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Just Between Us by Rebecca Drake

When women share a common bond, like motherhood, it can intensify the relationship in a short period of time. In Rebecca Drake’s, Just Between Us, four mom’s meet at preschool drop off and become fast friends, sharing the gripes and joys of motherhood. It’s no surprise that they rally around Heather when they notice signs of spousal abuse on a regular basis. But when they confront Heather, she refuses to leave her wealthy husband. So, in true female friendship fashion, the story is largely told through gossip passed around amongst her friends as they are stifled in their ability to help Heather. Then one night, Heather calls in a panic because she’s killed her husband in self-defense. The connections these women have formed over several months kick into high gear as they scramble to help Heather, putting themselves in danger and in the line of fire for criminal prosecution. However, with how new these friendships are, how well do they really know one another? How well do they know Heather? The intensity of their shared bond overshadows those doubts and drops them all willingly into a harrowing mystery, all in the name of friendship.

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In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead

College is a formative time for many things, including friendships. In My Dreams I Hold a Knife follows Jessica Miller, who is poised to return to her university for a ten-year reunion, eager to show how successful she’s become. While a student at Duquette, Jessica had a tight bond with a group of friends who shaped her whole college experience. And then one of them was murdered. Told in alternating timelines, this page-turner explores the ebbs and flows of old friends reuniting after years apart, and the damage that hidden secrets can cause years later. Someone is determined to make the killer amongst them pay – and the others are determined to keep their secrets buried as they confront ugly truths as a group. The characters are complex and at times, messy, making for a thrilling read with relationships that leap vividly off the page.

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The Missing Woman by Georgina Cross

Erica has her best friends, and Sabine, in the wealthier part of the neighborhood, has hers. They live in the same development but run in different orbits. When Sabine goes missing after Erica noticed something seemed off with her earlier that day at the neighborhood pool, Erica’s life is turned upside down as everyone searches to locate Sabine. Erica and her two best friends pour through the rumors from their connections and a local Facebook group to get to the bottom of the mysterious disappearance. After secrets surrounding a friendship from the past bubble to the surface, and Erica and her friends get closer to what was really going on in Sabine’s life, Cross pulls out some surprising twists that keep you turning the page until you too uncover the truth.

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Michael Neff
Algonkian Producer
New York Pitch Director
Author, Development Exec, Editor

We are the makers of novels, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

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