April showers bring May flowers… and some excellent mysteries and thrillers, if this season’s crop is any indication. Whether you like your mysteries erotic, Amish, or thoroughly postmodern, we’ve got the picks for you. And this season’s thrillers are especially chilling, with a repentant serial killer and a weaponless murderer lurking in these volumes. Whatever you’re in the mood for, we’ve got the books to befuddle, scare, and intrigue you all spring long.
When whodunit isn’t enough
It doesn’t take long for the police to decide that they know who killed Nica Baker. But that’s beside the point for her sister, Grace, who cannot accept the conclusion that the investigation reached. Unable to start college at Williams as planned, Grace takes a job working at the very boarding school where her sister was murdered, and becomes fixated on finding the truth about what happened to Nica. Along the way, she comes to a series of realizations about herself, making this satisfyingly nuanced thriller anything but clichéd.
On shelves: March 3
Mystery with a twist
If you like your mysteries with a side of postmodern fun, then Josh Cook’s charming debut is sure to delight you. Cook plays with the reader’s expectations in this novel starring Trident Augustine, a detective charged with finding out what has happened when a billionaire suddenly vanishes. Augustine doesn’t have much to work with: just a pool of blood, really, and a secret hiding spot in the billionaire’s home that he isn’t allowed to examine. There’s also a dead pig, which no one can quite explain. You’ll laugh, you’ll scratch your head, and you’ll wish the fun would never end.
On shelves: March 3
Don’t look back
Something went really, really wrong that day in Vienna, that much is for sure. Terrorists took dozens of hostages aboard a hijacked plane, and CIA agents Henry Pelham and Celia Harrison, stationed in Vienna at the time, could do nothing to stop it. Years later, that night still haunts them both, and they wonder what part each of them played in the tragedy. The answer is far from simple, and readers won’t be able to put this thriller from Olen Steinhauer down. You may known Steinhauer best for his Milo Weaver trilogy, but this standalone is sure to be just as engrossing.
On shelves: March 10
Lost and found
Owen Laukkenen’s star is rising in the literary world, and this new installment in his beloved Stevens and Windermere series will not disappoint loyal readers or newcomers. Agents Kirk Stevens and Carla Windermere find the body of a sheriff’s deputy in rural Minnesota, but this is only the beginning of their troubles. The ensuing investigation will lead these FBI agents deep into the world of kidnapping and prostitution where the stakes are unbelievably high. Refreshingly, Laukkenen’s portrayals of female victims in this story are multidimensional and show the women’s strength and tenacity in the face of adversity.
On shelves: March 17
On the run
You’ve heard of the Amish romance subgenre, but have you ever read an Amish mystery? If not, you’re missing out. This is the ninth installment in P. L. Gaus’ series of mystery novels, and it is not to be missed. Take a journey into Amish country, where Sheriff Bruce Robertson in looking for a missing woman who may or may not have a bloodthirsty drug ring on her tail. As the search becomes more urgent, Robertson will face a difficult conflict between doing his job by the book and playing by the rules of a culture he loves and respects. This may be Gaus’s best book yet.
On shelves: March 31
Changing his ways
It’s a story we’ve all heard before: Vaguely creepy but ultimately normal-seeming guy kidnaps women whom he then holds in his basement and eventually murders. But what happens when a serial killer decides to change his tune? This is the premise of Graeme Cameron’s Normal, in which a nameless killer meets the girl of his dreams and decides to step back from his sadistic ways. Cameron manages to make the reader feel sympathy for the murderer, and will even coax a few laughs out of his reader. This is an unusual and highly entertaining read.
On shelves: March 31
She moves in mysterious ways
Who says you have to choose between a mystery novel and erotica? Not us! Elle is the second installment in Emma Mars’ Hotelles Trilogy. Protagonist Elle Lorand learns a thing or two about seduction in this volume, but she also must do some serious sleuthing about a man from her past. Originally published in French, Alexis Persteiner’s translation will welcome in many new readers without sacrificing any of the original sizzle or suspense. This is a genre-bender for sure, but if you can’t decide between Fifty Shades of Grey or the newest Gillian Flynn book, this highly explicit (we warned you!) book could be an interesting happy medium.
On shelves: April 7
Goldilocks and the pandemic
Full disclosure: The girl writing this blurb is a blonde, and after reading Emily Schultz’s latest, that fact will probably freak you out. In The Blondes, a pandemic sweeps the globe with devastating effects. It’s not the flu, and it’s not SARS. Rather, the pandemic is infecting blondes, and once they’ve gotten sick, they become violent. It doesn’t matter if you were born with golden locks or if you dyed them platinum: If you’re female and you’re a blonde, you’re in trouble. Schultz also weaves some fascinating commentary on gender into this gripping novel that will make you glad you were born brunette.
On shelves: April 21
I was born in a small town
Allison Leotta doesn’t just have writing chops; she also has a background as a federal prosecutor, so you know that when she writes about the legal system, she knows what she’s doing. In this new installment of the Anna Curtis series, Curtis (a prosecutor in DC) goes home to the Midwest and learns that her little sister is being accused of murdering the beloved football coach in her small hometown. As Anna is drawn deeper into the case, she agrees to defend her sister. But what this big-time lawyer finds may surprise her, and as public opinion turns against them, the sisters’ town feels even smaller.
On shelves: May 12
Yelling “fire” in a movie theater
If you’re a fan of thrillers, then you already know who Jeffery Deaver is. What you might not know is that the hotly-anticipated fourth installment in his Kathryn Dance series is coming out this spring, and that it’s loaded with psychological drama. We all know you’re not supposed to yell fire in a crowded venue. But that’s exactly what someone does at a small concert in California, and when several people die in the ensuing stampede, the most chilling fact of all emerges: There was no fire. Who is responsible for this tragedy, and how do you trap a killer who doesn’t use any weapon besides fear? You won’t be able to put this thriller down.
On shelves: May 12