The days are getting shorter, the weather’s getting colder, and it’s the perfect time of year to cozy up with a mug of something warm and lose yourself in a mystery or thriller. These books draw us in like no other, and we find ourselves turning page after page, spellbound. This fall brings a promising crop of new novels, including an unusual anthology of noir short stories written by inmates, a new Stephen King novel (no, we don’t know how he does it so fast, either), and a brand new Hercule Poirot detective story. So grab a blanket, burrow into your couch, and get ready to be scared, enthralled, and entertained.
Unless you have served time behind bars, Prison Noir, edited by Joyce Carol Oates, is likely to be a fairly jarring reading experience. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it. This anthology features stories written exclusively by currently or previously incarcerated individuals, and they are, putting it lightly, violent. These aren’t murder mysteries in the traditional sense of the phrase: Instead, these short stories put readers in the shoes of someone serving time, and in many cases evoke an unexpected understanding for inmates.
On shelves: September 2
“I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM.” When this message is found on a notice board at an all-girls school following the murder of a teenage boy at a neighboring boarding school, Detective Stephen Moran is on the case. This installment in Tana French’s beloved Dublin Murder Squad series reaffirms French’s talent for writing gripping crime novels as well as characters with dark secrets and hidden motives. As more revelations seem to highlight the group of young women implicated in the murder, Moran must work quickly to separate the gossip from the gruesome truth. Cliques and social pressures abound in this fast-paced mystery about the complicated friendships between teenage girls.
On shelves: September 2
Little grey cells
There’s a new Hercule Poirot book out. Yes, you read that correctly. Longtime Agatha Christie fan Sophie Hannah revives the hugely popular Belgian detective in this new murder mystery that has been approved and authorized by Christie’s camp. Poirot is enjoying a relaxing dinner when a woman approaches him and explains that she fears she is about to be killed, but also that she has it coming. That same evening, three individuals are murdered at a posh hotel, and Poirot is intrigued to learn that there is a cufflink in the mouth of each body. Are the two incidents connected, and can Poirot find and stop the killer before he or she strikes again?
On shelves: September 9
My heart cries out, “Perfidia”
“Perfidia” is the name of a famous song by Mexican composer Alberto Dominguez, and has been recorded by dozens of artists since its inception in 1939. The lyrics evoke hopelessness: “With a sad lament, my dreams are faded like a broken melody,” and James Ellroy’s novel set in the 1940s does the same. In L.A. during Japanese internment, in the days immediately following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, a murder mystery unfolds during highly unstable times. An entire Japanese family is found dead: Were they brutally killed, or was this a ritual suicide? World War II and Los Angeles come alive in this hugely impressive, meticulously plotted novel about war, race, and murder.
On shelves: September 9
Hear us out: Yes, Broadchurch is based on a TV series, but the book adaptation by Erin Kelly has more literary merit and entertainment value than its unusual genesis might seem to suggest. First of all, Broadchurch the TV show is nothing short of a cultural phenomenon in the UK. Second, Kelly’s writing is vivid and insightful. Detective Ellie Miller fails to receive a promotion she was hoping for, and then a good friend of one of her sons, only 11 years old, is found dead on a beach in Broadchurch. As the town grieves, Ellie works to unravel the murder: But there’s a catch. Her partner on the job is Alec Hardy, who won the job Ellie was so devastated not to receive. Together, they’ll struggle to find answers for a town that is wrestling to fathom the tragedy.
On shelves: September 16
Monsters in Motor City
Detroit looms large in the American public imagination as a symbol of economic collapse and hardship. It is in this setting that Lauren Beukes plots the follow-up to her well-received time-travel serial killer tale, The Shining Girls. This book is sure to please existing Beukes fans, as it contains many of the same ingredients: a serial killer, grisly murders, and a fearless Midwestern woman out to uncover the truth. Told through alternating perspectives, this novel will keep you up and night, checking and double-checking that there’s nothing sinister lurking under your bed.
On shelves: September 16
Suburbia may seem safe, but that couldn’t be further from the truth in Blake Butler’s chilling Three Hundred Million. Butler paints a terrifying picture of a mentally unhinged serial killer loose in suburbia, where he is free to recruit young, impressionable men as followers and send them out to do his bidding. Detective E. N. Flood is charged with understanding and stopping the killer. A harrowing read ensues, full of pathos and violence. Not for the faint of heart, this book is a searing look at a series of slayings in suburban America that will stick with you long after you’ve turned the final page.
On shelves: October 14
Perhaps no name is as synonymous with “legal thriller” as John Grisham’s. This literary heavyweight takes on the 2008 financial collapse and ensuing recession, and writes about a young woman, Samantha, whose professional life takes a sharp turn when she is furloughed from her job at a large Wall Street law firm. Samantha, unsure of what to do, moves to Appalachia where she begins working as a lawyer in a coal mining town’s legal clinic. She’s a long way from Wall Street, and her new work quickly turns more dangerous than she ever could have imagined.
On shelves: October 21
What happens next
Jamie Morton grew up in a small town in the Northeast, and it is there that he first encountered the Jacobs family. The patriarch of the family, Reverend Jacobs, is a magnetic and captivating man of God. When a catastrophe hits the New England hamlet, Reverend Jacobs renounces his belief in God and is run out of town. When Reverend Jacobs and Jamie cross paths later in life, decades down the road, they make a promise to one another that will have a shocking impact. We don’t know how Stephen King churns these out so quickly, but Revival is sure not to disappoint.
On shelves: November 11
Crime and punishment
There’s something unnerving about getting inside the mind of a killer. It’s one thing to read about murder, and it’s another thing to know exactly what’s going on inside someone’s head before, during, and after the crime. Karin Fossum’s The Murder of Harriet Krohn is in the tradition of Crime and Punishment—a horrific crime is committed (murdering a well-off older woman) and then the killer has to justify the atrocity to himself. This installment of the well-loved Inspector Sejer series is a must-read for lovers of Scandinavian crime novels.
On shelves: November 18