Thriller Short Stories: Crime, Psychological, Romantic or Legal

These short stories are all meant to keep you in suspense and interested to the end. See also:

“The Weapon” by Jeffery Deaver

On Monday afternoon, a government man meets with Colonel Peterson. There’s intel on a weapon that can do significant damage, and it’s going to be used on Saturday morning. The government is looking to IAS, run by Peterson, to get the information they need. An Algerian professor and journalist is the best lead—he’s recently been in contact with the group in question. He’ll need to be taken to a black site.

This story can be read in the preview of Thriller 2: Stories You Just Can’t Put Down(17% in)

“Buck Hunt” by Livia Hunt

Lilly is at a bachelorette party with her friends. She was also talked into letting her cousin Madison come, despite the recent unpleasantness. Her maid-of-honor, Fiona, has arranged a special game—a Bachelorette Buck Hunt.

This story can be read in the preview of Stories on the Go: 101 Very Short Stories by 101 Authors(64% in)

“The Thief” by Gregg Hurwitz

Tommy is a fat teenager in the special class at school. He has a habit of stealing things, which disappoints his mother. She finds life hard at times and misses the company of adults. One day, while Tommy is home alone, a man comes to the door. He’s not supposed to answer when he’s by himself, but he does anyway.

This story can be read in the Amazon preview of First Thrills(17% in)

“Last Supper” by Rip Gurber

Chris and Mary were cooking together. When Mary realized she forgot the mushrooms, she went out to get some. She happened to be at the grocery store when a robbery was happening. She was accidentally killed. Years later, Chris is using religion and cooking to cope.

This story can be found in the above anthology, First Thrills.

“On the Train” by Rebecca Cantrell

Joachim is in a train with other prisoners. He has a yellow triangle on his jacket. A man with a pink triangle, Herman, says he knows Joachim and starts talking to him. Joachim claims not to know Herman. Herman starts talking about escaping.

This one can also be found in the above anthology, First Thrills.

“Detour” by Joyce Carol Oates

Abigail feels light-headed as she’s driving home. Three-quarters of the way there, she sees a “Detour” sign. She thinks about ignoring it, but it’s not in her nature. She follows the signs through the country roads.

“Detour” can be read in the preview of Night, Neon: Tales of Mystery and Suspense(9% in)

“James Penny’s New Identity”

James Penny, a Vietnam vet, is called into the office at work. He gets laid off, along with many others. A fellow worker tells him the company informed the bank of the layoffs. Penny has payments to make on his house, car, and furniture. His desperation and fury impel him to action.

This story can be read in the preview of Thriller: Stories to Keep You Up All Night. (15% in)

“The Man Who Knew How” by Dorothy Sayers

Pender reads a mystery while riding the train. The man sitting across from him has an unsettling expression, which upsets Pender. They get talking about murder mysteries. The man claims to know a sure and undetectable way of killing people, by adding a simple solution to the targets bath water. Pender becomes obsessed with scouring the newspaper for reports of people dying in the bath.

This is the second story in the preview of A Moment on the Edge: 100 Years of Crime Stories by Women(65% in)

“30 and Out” by Doug Allyn

Jax Ladart has been hired onto the force back in his home county. He’s fresh out of the army, the Military Police. He’s checks in with Sgt. Charles Marx, from Major Crimes, who’s due to retire soon. Marx had helped Jax out years ago, but Jax doesn’t remember him. His attitude about crossing the line has changed. The DEA have requested assistance with locating a motor home in the woods.

This story can be read in the preview of The Mysterious Bookshop Presents the Best Mystery Stories of the Year: 2021(28% in)

“Operation Northwoods” by James Grippando

Jack Swyteck, a lawyer, gets a call in the early morning from his “investigator” and friend, Theo. He says to turn on CNN. The naval base at Guantanamo Bay is on fire. Theo says a client of Jack’s is responsible.

This story can be read in the preview of Thriller: Stories to Keep You Up All Night(48% in)

“Diamond Drop” by Roxanne St. Claire

Donovan Rush is in Antwerp’s Central Station. A beautiful woman passes him, but he has no time for entertainment. He has an appointment for a diamond drop and he can’t be late. He’s part of an elite security firm and he has to get the diamonds safely to Boisvert Jewelers. He notices a man looking at the woman. She starts running away.

This story can be read in the preview of Love Is Murder(16% in)

“Cold Moonlight” by Carla Neggers

Ryan Taylor, a former Navy SEAL, is out in the Vermont snow looking for Marissa Neal, daughter of the vice-president. He rounds a corner and sees Elijah Cameron, a Special Forces soldier. Cameron spotted Marissa, but then someone shot at him.

This story can also be read in the preview of Love is Murder. (45% in)

“Poisoned” by Beverly Barton

Olivia has been poisoned but manages to run away. It must have been her drink. She trusted Jed Merrill, but now he’s pursuing. Olivia tries to keep moving, but she’s exhausted and disoriented.

This story can also be read in the preview of Love is Murder. (70% in)

“The Bully” by Jeffrey Deaver

Henry is in the Eagle tavern when he spots his bully, Stan Whitcomb, a very big man. He wants to get out of there, and hopes his friend Larry won’t notice any problem. Henry has complained to the Sheriff’s Department about Stan and now he has to again after Stan confronts him.

This story can be read in the preview of Exit Wounds(22% in)

“All the Signs and Wonders” by Denise Mina

Claire pulls a knife on William Halligan. He doesn’t think she’s going to do anything, because she has no reason to. He doesn’t know her history, though. She’s killed the king before. The change happened when she was fourteen. She walked in on her father kicking her mother in the stomach. Normally, she would have left, but that time was different.

This story can be read in the preview of Invisible Blood(21% in)

“Relative Stranger” by Amanda Witt

Glory is working in the kitchen when the doorbell rings. Through a window, she catches a glimpse of  her husband, Owen on the step. When she opens it and he fully faces her, she’s surprised to see it’s not him. He knows her name and says Owen told him to come inside. Glory is unsettled, but she can’t lock him out. Her boys are outside.

This story can be read in the preview of When a Stranger Comes to Town(39% in)

“The Commuter” by Jeffrey Deaver

Charles is getting the train to work when he gets a call from his wife. She’s worried about him because another body was found—a victim of The South Shore Killer. He’s not concerned and is annoyed by the call. His loud talking disturbs the other passengers. He also calls Carmen, his mistress and a competing company about selling insider information.

This story can be read in the preview of More Twisted: Collected Stories Vol II(54% in)

“The Witness for the Prosecution” by Agatha Christie

Leonard Vole has been charged with murder, and the case against him is strong. His solicitor, Mr. Mayherne, stresses the importance of frankness—the more he knows, the stronger the defense he can mount. It all started when Leonard did a good deed to an elderly woman. As he tells the story, it turns out the case against him is even worse than he thought.

A lot of this story can be read in the preview of The Witness for the Prosecution and Other Stories. (10% into preview)