The best Lisa Jewell books, ranked by popular opinion

The Best Lisa Jewell Books, Ranked by Popular Opinion

In Reading Lists by Lanie Pemberton

The best Lisa Jewell books, ranked by popular opinion

It’s virtually impossible to put down books by Lisa Jewell, and I’m continually caught up in stories like Then She Was Gone and The Family Upstairs. Yes, my Everand homepage looks like a Jewell billboard.

Still, even some of the most diehard fans don’t realize Lisa Jewell’s books aren’t all domestic thrillers and mysteries. The author got her start in rom-coms and new adult dramas — plots more akin to Bridget Jones’s Diary than Gone Girl.

There’s something special about watching an author’s style evolve over the years; it makes reading their entire catalog feel like a journey. But with 21 titles to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start.

My personal recommendation is The Night She Disappeared — a dual timeline mystery I devoured at lightning speed (neglecting my adult responsibilities, sorry not sorry). Whether you follow this guide or pick-and-choose the novels that spark your interest, you won’t be disappointed. It’s Lisa Jewell, after all.

Jewell’s smash hit from 2018 is widely considered her best work (so far). 

Fifteen-year-old Ellie disappears suddenly, and her mother Laurel is left to pick up the pieces. A decade later, she meets a man whose daughter looks just like Ellie — and Laurel decides to take the cold case into her own hands. The twisty, fast-paced plot will keep you enthralled until the stunning end.

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A duology starter (see The Family Remains later in this list), The Family Upstairs is an unsettling page-turner and a perpetual favorite among Jewell fans.

Libby, an adoptee, inherits a London mansion with a bloody past. Turns out Libby was found in the home as a baby, along with three dead bodies (including her biological parents) and a mysterious note. What really happened within those walls?

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When 19-year-old Tallulah and her boyfriend disappear after a party at a Surrey estate, Tallulah’s mother is left reeling (and caring for their baby). A year later, a writer discovers a clue that could finally reveal the truth about that night. 

The Night She Disappeared, told in dual timelines and from multiple perspectives, is a winding mystery that explores power dynamics and the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters.

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A friendly meet-cute transforms into a twisted nightmare in Jewell’s 2023 thriller, which became an instant bestseller. 

Alix Summers and Josie Fair share a birthday, and they meet by chance (or so it seems) while celebrating at the pub. Alix agrees to interview Josie for her podcast, but Josie isn’t the meek, mousy housewife she appears to be. Before long, Alix is the subject of her own true crime investigation.

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The residents of Melville Heights all have secrets. Joey just moved in and is rethinking her recent marriage. Tom is a respected local headmaster (though he may or may not be involved with a student) and his son Freddie loves to spy on the neighbors. And then there’s Frances, who’s certain Tom was involved in something sinister years previously. 

Oh, and did we mention the novel starts with a dead body? Buckle up for this ride, because wild is an understatement.

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On the coast of England, a woman takes in a man who can’t remember who he is or where he came from. Meanwhile in London, a newlywed learns her husband has told many lies, but only after he disappears. Decades before, a teenager on holiday is certain his sister’s new love interest has something to hide. 

Past and present are going to collide, but you won’t see the truth coming.

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Jewell’s Invisible Girl is a slow-burn with a surprisingly uplifting conclusion (after plenty of twists and turns, of course). A teenage girl’s disappearance sends dangerous shock waves reverberating through the lives of others, including her former therapist and a disgraced teacher with ties to incel groups.

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In Jewell’s sequel to The Family Upstairs, characters Libby, Lucy, and Henry return, but their reunion is short-lived when Henry disappears in search of an old childhood friend. Meanwhile, a fresh face unravels another dark (but not altogether unrelated) mystery after her abusive ex-husband is found murdered. 

Jewell expertly weaves between the stories as she slowly reveals the truth, gripping readers’ attention all the while.

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An idyllic setting becomes a crime scene not once, but twice. Clare and her two preteen daughters move to a new neighborhood with a stunning garden and a welcoming community. But then, young Grace is attacked, and Clare learns another teenager mysteriously died in the garden years before. 

No neighbor escapes suspicion in this propulsive mystery with complex character dynamics.

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As mentioned, Jewell explored several different genres — like family drama — before shifting her focus to tense thrillers. In this novel, tragedy destroys the once-happy and highly eccentric Bird family, and each member drifts apart in grief. 

Years later, the children must return to the family home, now ravaged by their mother’s years of hoarding. Within piles of junk they’ll slowly reconnect with who they once were. These authentically flawed characters may compel you to embrace your own family quirks.

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Adrian Wolfe’s family seems perfect, albeit nontraditional: He’s got three wives (two exes) and five children. But when his current wife, Maya, is struck and killed by a bus, his carefully laid life begins to crumble around him. 

Flashbacks slowly reveal that Adrian is an unreliable narrator and that someone specifically wanted Maya out of the picture — permanently. Kirkus lauds this domestic thriller as a “rich examination of the modern family.”

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The Truth About Melody Browne is another example of Jewell’s foray into dramas, though it certainly has elements of mystery. 

A house fire nearly killed young Melody and left her with no memories of her early childhood. As an adult, Melody begins to piece together her past, including her tumultuous relationship with her parents.

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Betty dedicates her young adulthood to caring for her grandmother, Arlette. When Arlette passes away and leaves the bulk of her estate to a stranger with a London address, Betty jumps at the chance to track down the beneficiary — and start a new life for herself. 

Before I Met You moves between 1919 and 1995 in London’s SoHo, delivering two stories of women emerging into adulthood. A mixture of romance, nostalgia, and mystery makes this novel memorable.

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While Jewell’s latest releases are comparable to thriller novels by Ruth Ware and Lucy Foley, her earlier dramas are reminiscent of works by Jojo Moyes and Jodi Picoult. In The Making of Us, three strangers’ lives are irrevocably changed when they discover they have the same biological father, who wants to meet them before he dies.

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Did you know that Jewell’s debut novel, Ralph’s Party, was inspired by a bet with a friend? Often compared to the ’90s sitcom Melrose Place, it centers on the lives, heartbreaks, and antics of six residents of a London brownstone, including the titular Ralph, a starving artist who falls for his roommate.

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When Harry Met Sally meets Bridget Jones’s Diary in Jewell’s sophomore novel. Best friends Digby and Nadine have had plenty of fun, but at “thirtynothing” they’re both looking for something more. Nadine finds herself falling for Dig, but the sudden reappearance of his high school sweetheart complicates matters.

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Ana has always envied her estranged and glamorous half-sister, Bee. When Bee dies suddenly, Ana travels to London to learn more about her life and death. But the truth is far more complicated (and less dazzling) than Ana could have imagined, leading her to rethink her own future. One-Hit Wonder explores self-discovery, family trauma, and sisterly bonds.

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Toby’s Victorian mansion was a wedding present, but the marriage ends before the boxes are even unpacked. Over a decade later, he’s renting rooms to a colorful collection of misfits, one of whom dies and leaves Toby enough money to move and start fresh (possibly with a new love interest). 

But first, he’ll have to help his roommates get their lives together long enough to move out. Funny, quirky, and hopeful, Roommates Wanted is one of Jewell’s earliest and most lighthearted novels.

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Complicated family dynamics are at the heart of this story, which follows brothers Tony, Sean, and Ned. Despite an idyllic childhood, they’re all floundering as adult men. They return home for their parents’ anniversary to discover their mom has invited a stranger to move in, who, despite being an oddball, may inspire the brothers to finally grow up.

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In the follow-up to Ralph’s Party — published over a decade after the first novel — Ralph is now a successful artist who’s settled down with a family. But after years of raising children and living in domesticity, Ralph’s marriage has lost its spark. 

After the Party is an authentic exploration of long-term relationships and the hard work it takes to keep love alive.

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After falling in love as teens, Vince and Joy go their separate ways, with both of their lives unfolding in a string of disappointments and romantic failures. They’ll meet again — and again — but it’s never the right time. Until one day, maybe it finally is. 

This slow-burn romance about fate and the fallout of our choices is all the more relatable thanks to heavier themes and dilemmas.

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About the Author: Lanie Pemberton

Lanie is a San Diego-based freelance writer who loves reading crime thrillers and nonfiction about animals and the natural world. When not writing and reading (or writing about what to read), Lanie spends as much time as possible at the beach with her husband and pampered pittie, Peach.