Autumn isn’t the only creepy time of year; winter can be spooky, too. By this time of year, it gets dark early, meaning it’s much easier to imagine who or what might be lurking around outside your home or under the bed. Appropriately, this season’s crop of mysteries and thrillers are also pretty dark. Whether you want to read about a bludgeoned, brownie-baking Brooklynite or a tense thriller about being aboard an antiballistic missile cruiser, we’ve got the thrillers to keep you wide awake all night long. So get reading, but maybe leave the nightlight on.
Look out, Grisham
Having you been jonesing for a Grisham-level legal thriller? Nick Stone is here with the answer, or The Verdict, rather. How do you defend someone you hate? Terry Flynt is about to find out. Flynt is a legal clerk who is tasked with defending Vernon James, a millionaire who has been accused of killing a woman in his hotel room. Flynt doesn’t particularly want to help James out, but he knows that winning the case would be a huge deal for his career. Did James do it, and will Flynt be able to get past his personal dislike of his client, and win the case? You’ll have to read The Verdict to find out.
On shelves: December 7
Ready to get your sea legs back? Climb aboard the USS Savo Island, an antiballistic missile cruiser with Captain Dan Lenson. He is keeping an eye on India and Pakistan, who seem likely to attack one another with nuclear weapons. Lenson’s job is to shoot down the nukes before they hit their intended targets. But things aren’t going according to plan, and living on a ship isn’t easy. Someone on the USS Savo Island is sexually assaulting women aboard the ship, and morale sinks lower and lower. The 15th installment in David Poyer’s Dan Lenson series, this book is sure to elevate readers’ blood pressure for hours.
On shelves: December 8
Way back when
When’s the last time you read a book described as “Planet of the Apes meets Rocky–or maybe The Big Bang Theory”? We thought so. We don’t want to spoil things by telling you too much, but the ensuing drama covers 50,000 or so years and concerns the makeup of our very own DNA. You’ll meet scientists, religious figures, human ancestors, and a government think tank that happens to have an army. Take our word for it: Bone Labyrinth is good entertainment, with history, science, and war all wrapped up in one unputdownable package.
On shelves: December 15
So much for retiring
If you include this book, Gerald Seymour has written 30 novels, so it is safe to say that he knows what he is doing. In other words: Reader, you’re in good hands here. This spy thriller concerns a retired agent runner, known simply to the agents as Vagabond, who is called back to duty when conflict in Northern Ireland flares again. Vagabond, whose real name is Danny Curnow, left the field when the job became too much for him to stomach. But now, after almost two decades he’s back, and he needs to show his agents and his boss that he hasn’t lost his edge. Will Vagabond rise to the challenge and quell the conflict in Ireland, or will his old psychic wounds prove to be too much for him to overcome?
On shelves: January 5
Benjamin Black is, of course, a pen name used by John Banville, who won the Man Booker Prize in 2005 for The Sea. Here, he’s back with the seventh installment in his Quirke series, concerning the Irish pathologist now beloved by readers. Quirke is a little worried something is wrong with him—he’s been having hallucinations, and sometimes blacking out. But when a doctor prescribes rest, Quirke just can’t listen. Instead, he is thrown headlong into a new case concerning a suicide and then a disappearance that seem to be connected. The conclusion will satisfy longtime fans of the series as well as newcomers.
On shelves: January 12
Secret agent man
Supernotes, for those not in the know, are counterfeit U.S. bills that are super convincing and very hard to detect as fakes. And Agent Kasper, who is a co-author of this book, sure knows about supernotes. In this novelization of real-life events, Kasper, who is Italian, is asked by the CIA to find out who was manufacturing the supernotes, but the investigation lands him in a Cambodian prison where he is brutally tortured. How will he escape, and will he find the source of the supernotes? This is an international spy thriller for the record books. They say that truth is stranger than fiction, but here, it’s more exciting.
On shelves: January 12
Where’d you go, Emmeline?
Toxicologist Dr. Caleb Maddox is having a hard time: He’s in the midst of a bad breakup with his girlfriend, Bridget. But after a strange encounter in a bar called House of Shields, Caleb can’t get another woman off his mind: Emmeline. Caleb is desperate to reconnect with Emmeline, but his quest instead leads him to a murder investigation. People are turning up dead, and the events seem somehow linked to that night at the bar. Will Caleb find Emmeline, and will he learn the truth about the murders plaguing the San Francisco area? Only time will tell.
On shelves: January 26
Not your average cozy
Kirkus has declared The Big Rewind the first in a new genre: “the hipster cozy.” Someone has killed KitKat, and music journalist (and upstairs neighbor) Jett Bennett wants to know who it is. Jett is the one who found KitKat’s body—she was just trying to deliver a mixtape that had accidentally been sent to her instead. Could the mixtape be a clue? Who would want to kill KitKat, beloved baker of special brownies? These are tough questions, but Jett, along with her BFF Sid, are determined to find the answers. Brooklynites, hipsters, and music nerds: This cozy might be just what you’ve been looking for.
On shelves: February 2
The one you’ve been waiting for
You may know her best as the author of The Princess Diaries, but Meg Cabot can also spin a great mystery. In this book, the seventh in the Mediator series, Susannah Simon (who can talk to ghosts) has graduated from college and is engaged to love interest Dr. Jesse de Silva. Susannah has a lot on her plate with her first job out of college, but things get even more complicated when she discovers a murder that is literally haunting her. Fan anticipation for this installment is high, and frankly, we can’t wait either. The first six books in this series (as some of you likely know) are young adult books, so readers who have been growing older with Susannah Simon over the last 15 years are in for a treat with this adult novel.
On shelves: February 2
Detective Mia Kruger is suicidal, and she is really struggling. She has been shutting others out of her life and planning to end it soon when an especially troubling murder case crops up, and her partner Holger Munch convinces her to join him in solving it. Children are being murdered, and Munch could use Mia’s insight in this extremely bizarre and disturbing case. The children are all found wearing tags that say “I’m traveling alone.” As the body count rises, Munch and Mia must race to find the killer. This book is perfect for readers who are interested in mental illness and love thrillers. Samuel Bjørk’s intricate novel won’t disappoint.
On shelves: February 23