New Must-Read Mysteries and Thrillers for Spring 2013
Spring's most electrifying thrillers include a "Gone Girl"-meets-"Groundhog Day" mind-twister, a horror novel by son-of-Stephen-King Joe Hill, crime fiction from the creator of "Artemis Fowl" and a modern-day espionage thriller from the author or "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," plus werewolves, video games and "The Da Vinci Code" author Dan Brown's intriguing tale of Dante's "Inferno." Read on for top picks from Bookish's Mysteries & Thrillers editor.
A departure from her bestselling Inspector Brodie private eye series ("Case Histories," "One Good Turn," etc.), Kate Atkinson's new standalone novel, "Life After Life," might be the smartest and most artful thriller you read this year--or the most thrilling literary novel. Like a high-brow "Groundhog Day" with the shocking twists of "Gone Girl," "Life After Life" follows Ursula Todd as she is born in England before WWI and drowns in the ocean; is born, grows up and falls off a roof; is born, grows up, gets married and is murdered; is born, learns German and insinuates herself into Britain's WWII effort and...you get the drift. You'll never guess how it ends.
Austin Grossman took us into the inner lives of superheroes in his first novel, "Soon I Will Be Invincible"; now, in his second, "You," he takes on the world of video games. Its hero, Russell, is a videogame designer who joins a group of tech geeks and hacker nerds at a company called Black Arts. The genius at the heart of Black Arts is Simon, an old friend of Russell's who dies mysteriously after the company's first windfall. Like the avatar of a "Matrix"-like video game, Russell must solve the mystery of his friend's death and fix a fatal bug in the software before the enterprise goes belly up. For fans of Ernest Cline's "Ready Player One" and Max Barry's "Jennifer Government," "You" delivers your techie thriller fix.
Stephen King scion and bestselling thriller writer Joe Hill has twisted the boundaries of the horror genre in novels such as "Heart-Shaped Box" and "Horns." His latest, "NOS4A2," stars a creepster named Charlie Manx who cruises for neighborhood children in his '38 Rolls Royce Wraith, luring them into the backseat with promises of a magical place he calls "Christmasland." One would-be victim, named Victoria McQueen, escapes Manx's clutches with her supernatural abilities--but now, Charlie's out for vengeance.
Best known for his mega-bestselling YA fantasy series, "Artemis Fowl," Eoin Colfer's got a darker side to his writerly resume: crime fiction. In 2011's "Plugged," Colfer gave us Daniel McEvoy, an Irish expat bouncer at a seedy, small-time New Jersey casino who was pressed into solving a series a murders. Now in Colfer's follow-up, "Screwed," McEvoy is once again called upon by shady characters whose offers are difficult to refuse. But mobsters are small potatoes compared to his family: McEvoy's real worries begin when his step-grandmother Edit shows up and demands his help in finding his off-kilter aunt Evelyn.
Since he began writing in the early 1960s, John le Carré has defined and redefined the spy-novel genre several times over, with classics including "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," "The Honourable Schoolboy," "The Constant Gardener" and "Absolute Friends." Fifty years after publishing his Edgar Award-winning third book, "The Spy Who Came In from the Cold," le Carré takes on counterterrorism with "A Delicate Truth": A special-ops force must capture a jihadist arms-buyer, a mission that goes either brilliantly or disastrously, depending how you arrange the facts.
A new strain of grownup werewolf novel has been ravaging bookshelves, including Glen Duncan's "The Last Werewolf," Chase Novak's--aka Scott Spencer's--"Breed" and Brian McGreevy's "Hemlock Grove" (which has been adapted into an original TV series on Netflix, premiering April 19). The newest horror show to be unleashed on the reading public is "The Wilding" author Benjamin Percy's "Red Moon," in which the latest round of terrorist attacks involves werewolves (just in case they weren't scary enough already).
Finally, the book you've been waiting for: Dan Brown's followup to "The Da Vinci Code" and "The Lost Symbol": "Inferno." For his next adventure, Harvard Symbology professor Robert Langdon journeys into the history, codes and symbols embedded in Dante Alighieri's famous epic poem about the nine circles of Hell, in "The Divine Comedy." Langdon navigates the streets of modern-day Florence, tracking his elusive, 14th-century quarry.