This year’s bumper crop of must-read thrillers proves that no place is safe from murder and mayhem.
By David Adams
From a quaint English village to the sleek conference rooms of a Dallas apparel company, this year’s bumper crop of must-read thrillers proves that no place is safe from murder and mayhem. So whether you prefer your suspense in the psychological, historical, legal, or supernatural variety, be prepared to lose sleep—because once you start one of these standout page-turners, you may never turn out the lights again.
At the start of this #1 New York Times bestseller, Alicia Berenson hasn’t spoken a word in the six years since she murdered her husband. But that’s about to change—or so her new therapist, Theo Faber, hopes. Newly arrived at the secure facility where Alicia is being held, Theo will do whatever it takes to gain her trust. But the closer he gets to his silent patient, the slipperier the truth becomes.
Tom Kennedy and his young son Jake have come to the English village of Featherbank to start over after a family tragedy. But then a neighbor boy vanishes, and police see unmistakable signs of the Whisper Man. The serial killer, who terrorized Featherbank 20 years ago, now rots in prison. But Tom still fears that Jake is in grave danger, although he doesn’t know from whom. Fans of Stephen King will flock to this eerie thriller that preys on every parent’s worst nightmare.
When their 18-year-old daughter Stella is accused of brutally killing a much older man, pastor Adam Sandell and his lawyer wife Ulrika rush to her defense. But can they live with the repercussions of their spur-of-the-moment actions? Told from the perspectives of all three family members, this gripping asks profound questions about the persistence of memory and the nature of guilt.
Anyone who’s gotten hooked on a true-crime podcast will relate to Anna McDonald’s devotion to Death and the Dana, the story of a murdered family, a sunken yacht, and a wrongful conviction. But not everyone has a secret past life that connects to their new favorite murder mystery. What Anna knows could help to save an innocent man’s reputation—but can she crack the case while protecting herself? Laugh-out-loud funny and hair-raisingly suspenseful, Conviction is definitely binge-worthy.
Back in his hometown of Bienville, Mississippi to care for his ailing father, hot-shot journalist Marshall McEwan catches the unmistakable whiff of corruption surrounding a lucrative deal to bring a Chinese paper mill to town. Soon he’s up to his neck in dirt, which begs the question—is he shedding light on the truth, or digging his own grave? The bestselling author of the Natchez Burning trilogy delivers another sweeping saga of violence and intrigue in the Deep South.
If you think getting stuck overnight in a highway rest stop with four strangers and no cell phone service sounds like your worst nightmare, think again. Because Darby Thorne, the gutsy heroine of this high-octane thriller, is not only snowbound in the mountains of Colorado; she just discovered that one of her fellow stranded motorists is a psychopath. To rescue a kidnapped child, Darby will have to figure out who she can trust—and who wants her dead.
In 1960s Baltimore, 37-year-old housewife Maddie Schwartz walks out on her husband to pursue a journalism career. But the story she wants to write—about the murder of a black cocktail waitress named Cleo Sherwood—might be too explosive for her own good. Or so Cleo would tell Maddie, if only she weren’t a ghost. In her most ambitious novel yet, Laura Lippman delivers a technicolor portrait of her hometown, an action-packed murder mystery, and a rousing tale of female empowerment.
Named “Best Debut Novel” by the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy, this riveting, richly detailed historical thriller is set in 18th-century Stockholm, where a mutilated corpse is found floating in a rancid lake. The one-armed watchman who fishes the body out of the water teams up with a consumptive lawyer to track down the killer; along the way, they encounter all the intrigue and injustice the city has to offer. Fans of Caleb Carr, Matthew Pearl, and Iain Pears will gobble this up.
Like many immigrant parents, Young and Pak Yoo came to America to give their daughter a chance for a better life. But unlike most, the small business they start is an experimental medical treatment in which patients enter a submarine-shaped tank and breathe pressurized oxygen. When the “Miracle Submarine” mysteriously explodes, killing two, the Yoos and their surviving patients face a terrible reckoning in this twisty, beautifully written courtroom thriller from a former trial lawyer.
The theatre is a dangerous place in this edgy psychological thriller that features dueling narrators. Kira Rascher is an up-and-coming actress pushed to the breaking point by her toxic co-star and director, Malcom “Mal” Mercer. Joanna Cuyler is Mal’s second-in-command and a woman whose frustrations and jealousies are barely contained by her icy demeanor. Provoked by Mal, the two women find themselves on a collision course—who will blink first?
It’s 2018, and New York is in the grip of False Memory Syndrome, an affliction that causes its sufferers to experience memories of lives they’ve never lived. As the insanity-inducing disease spreads across the country, NYPD Detective Barry Sutton tracks its origins to an off-shore lab, where neuroscientist Helena Smith was developing a technology to preserve the memories of dementia patients. The thrilling follow-up to Dark Matter firmly establishes Blake Crouch as the heir apparent to Michael Chrichton.
A serial killer haunts the streets of pre-World War II Prague, imitating the gruesome handiwork of Jack the Ripper. Meanwhile, in an insane asylum on the outskirts of the city, a doctor attempts to unlock the secrets of six notorious killers, all of whom claim to have been driven to their crimes by a demonic figure. Inspired by Eastern European folklore and Jungian psychology, this mind-bending historical thriller features one of the year’s most shocking finales.
This hard-charging sequel to the Edgar-nominated Lola returns to South Central L.A. and the Crenshaw Six, a rising gang controlled by drug queenpin Lola Vasquez. Smart, ruthless, and deeply committed to those she loves, Lola wages a brutal turf war at the same time she navigates the complex social dynamics of her daughter’s private school. Don’t sleep on this standout series—Lola is one of the fiercest, most compelling thriller heroines since Lisbeth Salander.
Revenge plots don’t get more timely than this wickedly funny thriller about three corporate attorneys raising hell in the #MeToo era. When their predatory boss, Ames Garrett, sexually harasses a new employee at the same time that he’s up for a big promotion, Sloane, Grace, and Ardie add his name to an online spreadsheet of abusive men. Chaos ensues, but the trio is prepared to fight fire with fire—no matter who gets burned.
When Hollywood actor Bobby Solomon is arrested for murder, defense attorney (and former con artist) Eddie Flynn vows use to every trick in the book to get him acquitted. But a serial killer with an intense interest in Solomon has a few tricks of his own—and one of them is about to land him in the jury box. Early raves from Michael Connelly, Ruth Ware, and Lee Child make this serial killer-legal thriller mash-up a must-read.