Summer is great—you get to lounge by the pool, soak up some sun on the beach, and just generally relax. We love chilling out as much as the next person, but sometimes you crave a bit of poolside excitement, and that’s where these mysteries and thrillers come in. Spice up the lazy days of summer with these gripping novels that will keep you on the edge of your lounge chair. This season promises a number of riveting new reads from favorites like Janet Evanovich, James Patterson, and Stephen King, along with a promising crop of books from new talent. Whether you prefer hardboiled detective novels, supernatural thrillers, or FBI procedurals, this list has you covered.
A picture’s worth a thousand words
Ande Parks’ graphic novel The Web is a new spin on the Jonathan Kellerman novel by the same name. Alex Delaware and his girlfriend Robin head to a remote island to relax and help a renowned scientist compile research. But soon after arriving, Alex discovers that the island is being plagued by brutal murders, and he finds himself hot on the trail of a dangerous killer. Parks, most famous for his work on the graphic novels Union Station and Capote in Kansas, joins forces with DC and Marvel illustrator Michael Gaydos to put a fresh coat of (metaphorical) paint on this popular psychological thriller.
On shelves: May 20
Mental breakdown or massive cover-up?
When Child 44 author Tom Rob Smith’s mother became convinced she was the victim of a conspiracy and contacted him for help, Smith didn’t know what to think. Shortly thereafter, his father called to let him know that his mother was mentally ill. This confusing episode provided the basis for Smith’s new novel The Farm, in which protagonist Daniel is also contacted by his mother, who believes she is being spied on. Daniel’s father subsequently calls to explain it away. Did Daniel’s mother really have a psychotic breakdown, or is his father inventing her pathology in order to cover up an ugly secret? As Smith draws readers into the mystery-laden narrative, he addresses the seldom-fictionalized theme of mental illness, and how families tend to cope with—or exploit—psychic disease.
On shelves: June 3
Hell on wheels
Early one Midwestern morning, someone driving a stolen car intentionally accelerates into a crowd of pedestrians, backs up, and charges through again—killing eight and injuring fifteen. When retired policeman Bill Hodges receives a letter from a man who claims to have been the driver, he knows he needs to act quickly before the perpetrator can carry out a larger-scale attack. Compared to Stephen King‘s other works, Mr. Mercedes is a more straightforward detective novel. But we think this suspenseful thriller is bound to please existing fans of King’s work and win new converts, too.
On shelves: June 3
Maud is on a mission, she just needs a little help remembering what it is. That’s why she’s started writing herself notes. The one in her pocket reads, “Elizabeth is missing.” In Elizabeth is Missing, Emma Healey crafts a loveable but unreliable narrator in Maud, who is suffering from dementia yet determined to find out what has become of her friend, Elizabeth. Wrapped up in this is Maud’s equal distress over the disappearance of her sister Sukey years ago. Healey tells the story with great empathy for Maud, weaving a tale that is alternately heartwarming and heartbreaking.
On shelves: June 5
As far as the legal system is concerned, justice has been served. But Toni Murphy knows better: She has served a prison sentence for a crime she didn’t commit. In That Night by Chevy Stevens, Toni and her boyfriend, Ryan, were convicted of killing Toni’s younger sister. But now, Toni is out on parole, and everything seems different. Life on the outside is taking some adjusting, but she is hell-bent on finding out what really happened to her sister.
On shelves: June 17
Everything’s hotter in Texas
FBI Agent Lucy Kincaid is back in Dead Heat, the followup to last year’s Cold Snap, and this time she’s hot on bail jumper Jaime Sanchez’s trail. But the closer she gets to catching him, the darker and more sinister his crimes are revealed to be. Determined to stop him, Lucy brings in reinforcements: her boyfriend Sean Rogan and his brother Kane, a professional mercenary. This fast-paced romantic thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat as Allison Brennan’s Dead Heat barrels towards its gripping conclusion.
On shelves: July 3
When research becomes #tooreal
Professor Amelia Emmet studies the sociology of violence, but never expected to have to apply it to her own life—that is, until a student at the college where she teaches shoots her and then himself. The student dies, but Amelia survives. She has no idea why he did it. After returning to campus and trying to get back to the way things were, Amelia teams up with Nathan, a grad student who wants to write his dissertation on her attacker. Together, they gradually uncover the startling truth behind the seemingly random attack. With The Black Hour, debut author Lori Rader-Day executes a novel that is both difficult to put down and even more difficult to forget.
On shelves: July 8
Escape from the mental hospital
Catherine Coulter’s beloved FBI agents Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock are no strangers to danger, but when someone starts stalking Lacey, she begins to get nervous. When she hears that psychopath Blessed Backman has escaped from an Atlanta mental hospital and is seeking revenge against the agents he believes have wronged him, her fears grow worse. Meanwhile, rumors are beginning to swirl around U.S. ambassador Natalie Black, whose finacé died in a car crash. It becomes clear that someone is targeting Black, and she’s having trouble getting anyone to believe her. Coulter’s cast of FBI agents is back in Power Play, the action-packed follow-up to last year’s Bombshell.
On shelves: July 8
If you loved Gone Girl…
Mia Dennett is from a prominent Chicago family, and she has everything going for her until she makes one wrong decision: going home with Colin Thatcher after they meet in a bar. Colin has been following her. He was supposed to abduct Mia and bring her to his employers, but Colin goes rogue. Instead, he hides Mia from the police and his bosses in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. The resulting drama paints a dark portrait of Mia’s seemingly-perfect family. Mary Kubica’s debut The Good Girl seems sure to thrill readers; it’s already generating excited buzz with comparisons to Gillian Flynn’s beloved thriller.
On shelves: July 29
Two heads are better than one
Olivia and Gabriel are on the outs, which isn’t good. She comes from a family of infamous serial killers and has a gift for reading omens; he’s a lawyer with a highly questionable moral compass. Together they make a great team, and Olivia could sure use his help when she finds a dead woman in her car, dressed to look like her. It quickly becomes apparent that someone has gone to a lot of trouble to rattle Olivia, and she must fend for herself against forces darker and more powerful than she had ever imagined. Fans of Kelley Armstrong’s supernatural thriller Omens will love the follow-up: Visions.
On shelves: August 19