8 Thrillers Set in Eerie Apartment Buildings

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Michelle Regalado

Staff Writer

Michelle Regalado is a New York-based digital writer and editor. When she's not hunting down her next must-read book (recommendations are welcome!) or writing about all things pop culture, you can probably find her drinking iced coffee and hanging out with her dog, Lola. Follow her on Twitter: @mar8289

A great thriller novel is only made that much more gripping by an eerie, atmospheric setting, whether that means a remote island, a vibrant, bustling city, or even a creepy apartment building full of mystery, secrets, and, in some cases, some not-so-friendly neighbors.

The following books all feature just that, delivering compulsively readable tales set in apartments where nothing is quite what meets the eye. In these novels, every building is hiding some dark history behind its walls. From a buzzy new thriller set in a residence in Paris to an acclaimed Japanese novel that mixes elements of horror and mystery, these captivating works of fiction all have one thing in common: their sinister settings are just as memorable as their characters.

But their location isn’t the only thing that makes these novels stand out. These thrilling readers also feature plenty of unpredictable twists and turns to keep you hooked to the page. 

So if you’re on the hunt for some compelling books to add to your TBR list, check out the following worthy options. But be warned: These eight spine-chilling thrillers, all set in spooky apartment buildings, are guaranteed to keep you reading long into the night. 

cover of The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

The latest novel from the best-selling author of The Hunting Party and The Guest List centers on Jess, a down-on-her luck woman who asks to crash with her half-brother Ben in Paris in an attempt to find a fresh start. After he reluctantly agrees, Jess shows up to discover a beautiful apartment — and Ben missing. As the days go by, Jess kicks off a search that uncovers more questions and secrets about not only her brother, but the other mysterious tenants in the building. 

lock every door book cover

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

In this 2019 thriller, a young woman named Jules scores a dream job apartment-sitting in one of New York’s oldest and most glamorous buildings. But she soon learns from another tenant that the building is not what it seems. As she uncovers more about the dark, sordid history behind its walls, she starts to question whether she’ll make it out of her new gig alive.

The Graveyard Apartment book cover

The Graveyard Apartment by Mariko Koike

This 1986 Japanese novel was translated into English in 2016. Part thriller, part horror novel, it centers on a couple and their young daughter who find their dream apartment in a building built next to a graveyard. The dream slowly turns into a nightmare as one strange thing after another happens, causing neighbors to begin moving out. It’s not long before the young family is left alone in the building with someone, or something, lurking in the basement.

cover of the apartment

The Apartment by K.L. Slater

In the fallout of her husband’s betrayal, Freya Miller is about to lose her family home and is desperate to find a new secure home for her and her daughter. On the verge of despair, it seems like a miracle when she has a chance meeting with Dr. Marsden, who is seeking a new tenant for an affordable flat in a nice area of London. But it’s not long before Freya realizes Adder House has secrets — and she soon realizes that her dream home is actually hiding something nightmarishly dark. 

cover of the escape room

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

When four successful Wall Street financiers are invited to participate in an escape room challenge as a team-building exercise, the competitive group crowds into the elevator of a high-rise building to get started. But when the lights go off and the doors shut, they start to question whether this is really a corporate bonding event, or something far more sinister. 

cover of the master key

The Master Key by Masako Togawa

First published in 1962, The Master Key is a twist-filled mystery set in an apartment building reserved for single Japanese working women, known as the the K Apartment House. The master key, which unlocks the doors of every room, is repeatedly stolen and found, as the residents search different rooms over the years and uncover the secrets of the place they call home. 

book cover of When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole

This book doesn’t take place in a single apartment building, but in a brownstone-lined neighborhood of Brooklyn. In this domestic thriller, Sydney Green is devastated by the rapid gentrification happening in her beloved neighborhood. In an attempt to hold onto her community’s past, Sydney goes on a walking tour where she meets an unlikely accomplice in her neighbor Theo. As the two dive into their neighborhood’s history, they realize something much darker is going on in the community…and their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all.

cover of thirteen stories

Thirteen Storeys by Jonathan Sims

In Sims’s debut, a dinner party is thrown in the penthouse of a multimillion-pound development. All the guests are strangers not only to each other, but also to their host, the billionaire owner of the building. Other than a zip code, the group shares one thing in common: they’ve all experienced a disturbance within the building’s walls. When the host ends up dead by the end of the night, his death remains a high-profile mystery — until now. 

Looking for more notable titles in the genre? Check out some of the best mysteries with endings you won’t see coming and these new haunted house novels by women.