Are you worried your summer might be a little too relaxing? With all that sunshine and vacation time, are you going to be sufficiently stressed out between now and Labor Day? If you even think the answer to that question might be “no,” then we’ve got the books for you. These mysteries and thrillers are serious, no-holds-barred nail-biters that will destroy your hopes of sleeping soundly at night. Whether you’re in the mood for a tale of violence, obsession, and mourning or a gripping mystery about SPAM sushi and skulls, this preview has it all. But hey–don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Aspiring novelists, this book just might ruin your life. In Stephen King‘s latest (which is also the second book in the planned trilogy that began with Mr. Mercedes), a man finds and kills his favorite author because he is unhappy with the way the author, John Rothstein, ended his famous trilogy. Then the murderer, Morris Bellamy, discovers some notes belonging to Rothstein that suggest a better ending for the series. Bellamy goes to prison for his crime, and when he is released years later, he learns that someone has taken the notebooks he stole from Rothstein. The team of private detectives from Mr. Mercedes must intervene before Bellamy kills again. We predict this book will have you on the edge of your seat form start to finish.
On shelves: June 2
Double agent, double trouble
When is the last time you read a thriller with recipes in it? We thought so. If that isn’t reason enough to pick up the latest spy thriller from Jason Matthews (who is himself a former CIA agent) that tells the tale of an American double agent working in Russia, then we don’t know what is. Said agent, Dominika Egorova, specializes in seduction to get the information she needs. The ensuing drama includes love, potential war, and Vladimir Putin himself. Plus, recipes! You’ll only want to put this book down to whip up one of Matthews’ dishes.
On shelves: June 2
A book by any other name
Sascha Arango is a screenwriter by trade, but his first foray into novel-writing doesn’t disappoint. In this book, Henry Hayden has been taking advantage of his wife by publishing her crime fiction as his own and taking all of the credit. But when Hayden’s wife and her editor (with whom Hayden has been having an affair) go missing, Hayden is immediately a suspect in the disappearances, despite his adoring fans and likeable persona. This thriller is literary in its tone and so suspenseful, you just might not be able to put it down before turning the final page.
On shelves: June 23
Worth a thousand words
Pictures can be captivating; sometimes they say more than words ever could. But in this new thriller from Lidia Yuknavitch, the power of a photograph takes on a whole new meaning when a mother mourning her daughter happens upon a snapshot of a young girl running from an explosion in a war zone in Eastern Europe. The mother becomes completely obsessed with the photograph, and a breakdown ensues that is recounted in prose that ventures into the experimental. This violent, gripping thriller about loss will rivet you and stretch your mind in new ways.
On shelves: July 7
Part of the family
If you keep an eye on hot new thrillers, then you likely heard Mary Kubica’s debut, The Good Girl, described as the next Gone Girl last year. We won’t disagree–we love Mary–but word on the street is that her sophomore novel is even better. In this thriller, a kindhearted wife and mother named Heidi takes a homeless teenager and her infant daughter in after noticing them outside battling the elements with no one to help them. But this good deed spirals into something far more sinister, and multiple viewpoints keep the reader on her toes from start to finish. Kubica may have had a great 2014, but Pretty Baby proves that she is just getting started.
On shelves: July 28
The other kind of SPAM
So, imagine you are in Hawaii. You go to a breakfast meeting one morning, organized by the hated Jimmy Tanaka, owner of a chain of restaurants that specialize in SPAM sushi. There’s a fruit plate at the breakfast, and a fake skull sits in the middle of it, amidst the kiwis and papayas. It’s a little morbid, but you decide to look past it. Then, the police discover that Jimmy Tanaka is missing, and that the skull in the centerpiece isn’t a fake after all. This is the situation in which disgruntled Mahina State University professor Molly Barda finds herself. You’ll have to read The Musubi Murder to find out what happened next in this mystery Kirkus is calling a “welcome addition to the teaching-college-is-murder genre.” Need we say more?
On shelves: August 5
Do you remember?
Tessa Cartwright is the only Black-Eyed Susan who lived to tell the tale. The Texas serial killer who left his victims surrounded by the bright yellow flowers killed the rest of them. But decades later, Tessa is still grappling with the memory of what happened that terrible night, and her attacker’s execution date is finally drawing near. But memory is a funny thing, and Tessa becomes convinced that the man on death row for murdering the Black-Eyed Susans is the wrong guy. Will Tessa help to free an innocent man? Will she live out the rest of her life consumed by her guilt? Will the killer die at the hands of the law? You’ll have to read Julia Heaberlin‘s latest to find out.
On shelves: August 11
Ian Rankin is a big, big name in crime fiction–but you likely know that already. Finally, to the joy of his many adoring fans, Rankin’s Inspector Rebus stories will all be collected in one volume along with some new material that fans won’t have read before. Whether you’re a Rankin superfan or just want a good yarn, it would be hard to go wrong with this long-anticipated tome. There are 29 stories collected here, and they will whet the appetite of newcomers and satisfy longtime readers alike. Inspector Rebus is a classic and staple of the genre. Don’t miss out!
On shelves: August 11
Time to get away
Joyce Carol Oates fans: This one is for you. Ottessa Moshfegh spins a deeply unsettling tale about a woman named Eileen who works in a boys’ prison and has a fractured family life in a small east coast town in the 1960s. Eileen needs to leave town—she is miserable at work and at home, and her life is falling apart around her. The mystery here isn’t whether or not Eileen leaves—she does. But Eileen’s exit is shrouded in uncertainty, and the reader will find him- or herself grasping for the particulars until the final page. Moshfegh is firmly in command of the pacing of this book, and she will have readers clamoring for answers until the very end of this chilling noir.
On shelves: August 18
A motive for murder
Edward Hackel is dead, and it looks like Royce Dillard did it. Prosecutor Bell Elkins isn’t so sure, but she doesn’t have any proof–after all, Dillard had a strong motive for offing Hackel, who was heckling Dillard nonstop. He wanted Dillard to sell a piece of land he owned so that a local resort in economically depressed West Virginia could have access to the interstate. Plus, the murder weapon was found–still bloody–on Dillard’s property. Elkins has some serious reservations, however, and she will stop at nothing to find another, better suspect. West Virginia’s breathtaking scenery looms large in this gritty mystery that packs an emotional wallop.
On shelves: August 25