Fall is upon us, and everyone is settling back into their autumn routines. And while school, hot apple cider, and falling leaves are all very nice, sometimes you need to shake it up a little. That’s where this season’s mysteries and thrillers come in. You won’t get a moment’s rest while reading any of these 10 picks that range from Southern gothics to truly terrifying medical thrillers. So if you worry that you’re getting a little complacent with all of those pumpkin spice treats and cozy nights by the fire, we’ve got the solution. Pick up one of these riveting reads, and we promise, you won’t feel relaxed at all.
A child in distress
This may be Hester Young’s debut novel, but the first installment in this planned trilogy is sure to leave readers clamoring for more. When Charlotte Cates loses her 4-year-old son Keegan, to a brain aneurysm, her world turns upside down. In the throes of mourning, she decides to make a career change. It’s in the midst of this chaos that the dreams begin, and they are always about small children who need help. They also appear to be real. She leaves her glossy magazine job, and begins an investigative writing project about a toddler who went missing decades ago. When Charlotte travels to Louisiana to do more research, she gets drawn into a sinister case and a love affair. If you like your mysteries with a side of Southern gothic, then this book is for you.
On shelves: September 1
Dragon tattoo, hornet’s nest…
If you thought you had seen the last of Lisbeth Salander, then you are sorely mistaken. Stieg Larsson may have passed away, but Salander superfan David Lagercrantz has picked up where he left off, and the results are impressive. This time, at the center of the plot concerning old favorites Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist, is a conspiracy regarding the National Security Agency. Fans of the series have been nervous for the release of this book (just take a look at the Goodreads page), hoping fervently that the new installment would live up to its predecessor. Happily, it seems like they need not have been concerned: Salander and Blomkvist, as well as the reader, are in good hands.
On shelves: September 1
Kirkus says, “Imagine a sequel to Birth of a Nation as conceived, written, and directed by David Lynch.” Honestly, we can’t top that. Gothic horror flourishes abound in this dark tale set in 1881 Atlanta, where a serial killer is most definitely at work. Detective Thomas Canby thought he would never work in Atlanta again, but when the bodies of well-known black business owners start to turn up, disturbingly, with letters carved into them, he gets called back in to help solve the case. Race is a prominent theme in this chilling historical mystery about the South immediately after Reconstruction. No doubt about it: Matthew Guinn will cost readers some sleep.
On shelves: September 14
If you have a strong stomach
We made up a new word for this book: gary. It means gory and scary. The name Saul Black might not ring any bells for readers, but that’s ok: It’s just a pen name used by Glen Duncan, who is known for his on-page violence and thrills. Two serial killers with an unusual friendship are making a journey, leaving tortured and murdered women in their wake. But when the killers unintentionally leave a survivor, everything changes. Will Detective Valerie Hart be able to put a stop to the slayings? We sure hope so. Good luck putting this one down. Seriously.
On shelves: September 22
Out on parole
This book takes its title from the name of a women’s prison where Delpha Wade finds herself serving a 14-year sentence after killing a man who raped her. The second man who attacked her that night got away, although she would have been happy to kill him, too. When she finally gets out on parole, she has trouble finding work until a private investigator takes her on. Mystery, romance, and Watergate ensue. Readers will love Delpha, a tough protagonist who isn’t afraid to be strong and determined.
On shelves: October 13
A routine procedure
If hospitals already make you nervous, then you might want to skip this one. New York Times bestselling author Robin Cook is serving up some seriously scary health complications in this thriller. Lynn Peirce is a medical student, and when her boyfriend needs a routine procedure, she isn’t really worried about it. Then, after the surgery, he doesn’t wake up; instead, he is in a persistent vegetative state. As a result, he gets moved to a facility that specializes in such cases. But when Lynn starts to do a little digging, she realizes something fishy is going on: A lot of people are coming in for routine procedures, and leaving in a PVS instead. When the death threats start rolling in, Lynn knows she has discovered something big.
On shelves: October 20
Oh, J. K. Rowling… You’re so silly. We know it’s you, and we love it. In this installment of the Cormoran Strike series, Robin Ellacott receives a package in the mail, and it contains a leg. Robin works for Cormoran Strike, a private detective, and he has a few ideas about the leg’s origins. According to Cormoran, it could have been sent by one of four people, all of whom are extremely violent. But as the two begin to narrow down the list, the perpetrator strikes again. Readers have been clamoring for this grisly volume in the popular series, and are sure not to be disappointed. There aren’t any Horcruxes, but we think you’ll love it anyway.
On shelves: October 20
Music make you lose control
In the immortal words of Missy Elliot, “Music make you lose control.” Unfortunately for Julia Ansdell, that appears to be quite literally true when she plays a piece of old Italian sheet music for her 3-year-old daughter, Lily. Seemingly controlled by the music, Lily kills the family cat and attacks her mother with a sharp piece of broken glass. Rob thinks his wife Julia has lost it when she tells him the story, and wants her to seek treatment immediately. Instead, Julia travels to Italy to see what she can learn about the music’s composer, Lorenzo Todesco. She uncovers a deadly and unsettling secret with the potential to cost Julia her life.
On shelves: October 27
We all live in a nuclear submarine
This book isn’t just a pretty face; this novel by J.S. Law packs a real wallop on the page, too. Lieutenant Danielle Lewis has a job to do: An officer aboard the HMS Tenacity is dead, and it isn’t clear whether or not it was a suicide. Lewis must figure out what happened, and why. She is the only woman aboard the nuclear submarine, however, and quarters are exceptionally tight. If you’re a fan of closed-setting murder mysteries in the tradition of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, then you just might want to set sail (er… sink?) on the HMS Tenacity.
On shelves: November 3
What do you get when a newspaper wants an advice column and a recipe column, but only has the space for one? “Tannie Maria’s Love Advice and Recipe Column,” that’s what. But things get complicated when her column fails to prevent a murder, and Tannie Maria thinks she knows who did it. This debut takes place in South Africa, and embraces the country’s complexities rather than just using it as an exotic set piece. Sally Andrew takes on the subject of domestic abuse while also providing her readers with recipes that are nothing short of mouthwatering. This is just the first installment in the Tannie Maria Mystery series, and frankly, we can’t wait to see what comes next.
On shelves: November 3