Three murderers are better than one, especially when they’re psychopathic identical triplets, as shown in Ren DeStefano’s devilishly clever new serial killer thriller, How I’ll Kill You. Abandoned in childhood and raised in foster homes, 25-year-old sisters Sissy, Moody, and Iris have maintained a “clean streak” of messy crimes across several states before settling in Rainwood, Ariz. The only rule the three have always had is that they seduce their marks, “live out every fantasy” they desire, and then finish them off. But when Sissy takes a liking to her latest intended victim, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Several bombshell revelations make that easier than it might seem in this ingenious story of malicious mayhem.

We all have a similar idea of what a serial killer should look like: skulking about in the shadows, concealing his identity, driving a windowless van and waiting in a dark alley. But some of the scariest cases we hear about feature a killer who didn’t seem like a killer: the ones we never suspect or the ones with unlikely accomplices. These are the stories that keep us up at night and have us giving even our friendliest neighbors a cautious side-eye.

The best serial killer thrillers are the ones we pretend could never happen in real life, but still touch upon our deepest-held fear that anything is possible. Here are 10 of the most disturbing:

1. The Serial Killer’s Wife by Alice Hunter

Here’s a book with a premise that seems ripped from the most shocking of headlines, and it addresses a question we all ask when it comes to murderers: how did no one know? Is someone protecting the killer? Beth and Tom live a pristine life. So when Tom doesn’t return home one night, Beth is shocked. Then the police show up at her door and tell her that her perfect husband is a killer. But if he were, surely she would have known that… right?

2. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Before penning Gone Girl, Flynn wrote this eerie small-town thriller with an unexpected twist. It’s a book that perfectly encapsulates the unreliable narrator. What appears on the outside to be an affluent, revered family is rife with secrets and closet skeletons. Girls are going missing from their small town, leading protagonist Camilla to return to a place—and a life—she’s long since left behind, this time as a journalist assigned with getting to the bottom of things. Nearly everyone is a suspect—and the best part is that the book will leave the reader questioning everything they think they know about staying safe and avoiding dangerous individuals. This proves that the person who’s out to get you could be the person you least expect.

3. In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Everything about Ware’s debut thriller will remind you of the spooky campfire tales of your childhood. It’s a book about many different sorts of demons—the demons of self-doubt and writer’s block, the demons of the past, and last but not least, the ones that rustle in the woods at night.

4. Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

Family trauma runs deep in this story about two sisters and a past that haunts them. Decades ago, their sister went missing and was never found. Now, the surviving sisters are estranged and living very different lives. But when another girl goes missing, the truth comes to the surface in a very unsettling and unexpected way.

5. A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Wingham

This is a book for anyone who loves poetic language used to describe horrific things. Chloe is a protagonist with a past she’d rather forget: when she was on the cusp of young adulthood, her father confessed to a string of terrible crimes. In the aftermath, Chloe moved away and tried her best to move on. But with her father no longer free to commit murder, who is behind the sudden disappearances of more teenage girls?

6. The Butcher and the Wren by Alaina Urquhart

Urquhart is co-host of one of my favorite podcasts, Morbid, which is perhaps why this title is so near and dear to my heart. So many true crime podcasts do a beautiful job of telling the full story—not just of the serial killer, but of the real lives and loves of those who have been affected. Urquhart carries that same care and compassion to the ill-fated town where this chilling tale takes place. 

7. It by Stephen King

Okay, hear me out. Not all serial killers are humans. Some of them are sewer-dwelling clowns. This is a book that leaves us all picking up our stride as we pass sewer grates and storm drains. And as I’ll tell my own kids, if you ever lose your paper boat in a rainstorm, just let it go. But despite the unusual premise, this is both a sharp psychological thriller and a coming-of-age tale. A group of friends, forever bonded by the horrors they endured, come together as adults to mourn a cherished friend…only for the horrors to begin again. Character-driven and thought-provoking, here is another book that makes you afraid to open closet doors and peek under the bed at night.

8. Kiss the Girls by James Patterson

This one hits too close to home: it’s about a serial killer who spends several weeks living inside the walls of the family he’s stalking. Hearing the narrator explain how he gets away with this feat is a bit too convincing. And the only thing scarier than one serial killer is a second, copycat killer. This classic takes a look at the legal work it takes to bring down a killer… that is, assuming the killer can be caught. 

9. The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

This book is the royalty of complex family dynamics—or in this instance, marital dynamics. In this shiver-inducing thriller, multiple women are married to the same man, but they never fight over whose turn it is to spend time with him, because despite knowing there are other wives, they’ve never met each other. That is, until the bizarre day when two of them do.

10. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

Everyone at some point has impersonated Anthony Hopkins’ famous rendition of, “Hello Clarice.” This story is so embedded in pop culture that many don’t realize the famous film franchise is based on a book series. But what’s really creepy is that Hannibal Lecter—strapped down and wearing his gilded mask—is based on a real person. In the 1950s, Alfredo Ballí Treviño was a famous surgeon with a deadly side; after an argument, he sedated, killed, and dismembered his lover. Perhaps he was not a serial killer like the famed Lecter, but to know that he was a medical professional—and an esteemed one at that—makes you think twice about where you go the next time you have a bad case of the sniffles.

Noteworthy, also, is that the prison cell in The Silence of the Lambs film franchise is rumored to be based off the real all-glass solitary confinement cell of Robert John Maudsley.