Packed with secrets, lies, and deadly danger, the five thrillers included in this roundup are tense, devastating, and likely to keep you on the edge of your seat from the first page through to the last.
Good Girls Die First
by Kathryn Foxfield
Sourcebooks Fire, 368 pages, $10.99
“Eight o’clock, Portgrave Pier. Can you keep a secret?” When sixteen-year-old Ava receives this slightly sinister invitation, she immediately recognizes that the mystery assignation must be linked to a secret she’s been keeping, a secret that she’s being blackmailed about. Desperate to ensure that her secret stays hidden, she decides to risk keeping the appointment and, perhaps, discovering the identity of her blackmailer. When she arrives at the derelict carnival located at the end of the pier, she finds that nine other young adults have all received the same invitation, suggesting that they all also have secrets they want to keep hidden. As fog and possibly something supernatural result in the pier becoming cut off from the outside world, the ten teenagers start to realize that they might just have been given the opportunity to take revenge on both their blackmailer and unwelcome faces from the past. Once Ava understands that the others all intend to do what’s best for themselves, whatever the consequences, she has to decide how far she’s willing to go to protect her secret and ensure her survival. Kathryn Foxfield’s Good Girls Die First is a dark thriller tinged with horror and mystery, which is sure to particularly appeal to young adult readers.
by Janice Hallett
Atria Books, 432 pages, $27.99
Despite initial appearances, there are several decidedly sinister things bubbling away beneath the otherwise tranquil surface of Lower Lockwood, a picturesque country town worthy of being the setting for an Agatha Christie story. In the present day, barrister Richard Tanner QC tasks pupils Charlotte and Femi with wading through a large bundle of evidence––emails, text messages, and transcripts––in an effort to clear the name of someone who has been convicted of murder. That person has been in jail for a while, but it’s just possible that they might be innocent. Everyone featured in the documents is a possible suspect, and it seems like most of them have something to hide. Charlotte and Femi have to read through the conflicting evidence and determine what the Fairway Players’ rehearsals for their forthcoming performance of All My Sons and a charity appeal raising money to provide life-saving anti-cancer treatment for young Poppy Reswick have to do with a murder, which is likely to prove especially difficult given that they don’t know the identity of either the convicted murderer or the victim. With the novel format of The Appeal, Janice Hallett has crafted a fiendishly clever whodunnit in which it takes significant time and perseverance to identify both the crime and the criminal(s).
No One Notices the Boys
by Michelle Birkby
Felony & Mayhem, 276 pages, $26.00
Fed up of operating in the shadow of the great Sherlock Holmes, Mrs. Hudson and Mary Watson have established their own enquiry agency, which operates out of the kitchen of 221B Baker Street. In Michelle Birkby’s No One Notices the Boys, which marks the second investigation for the redoubtable duo of Hudson and Watson, an ill Mrs. Hudson has to cope with both the side effects of her medication slowing down her deductive reasoning and no one believing her observations about a spate of deaths of female patients on her hospital ward. Meanwhile, Mary has to deal with another problem that no one wants to recognize: the disappearances of several of the young urchins of have previously helped Holmes out with cases, homeless young boys whose presence people don’t like to acknowledge, let alone their absence. With Holmes and Watson unwilling to put aside more intriguing puzzles to look into these issues, Mrs. Hudson and Mary are the only ones left to follow the threads of the dying women and the disappearing boys and see how the two cases might connect. It all makes for an intriguing investigation and an exciting pastiche of the Sherlock Holmes adventures.
The Girl in Duluth
by Sigrid Brown
Sigrid Brown, 204 pages, $15.99
With an atmospheric setting in a remote and densely forested patch of Minnesota adjacent to the Canadian border, The Girl in Duluth by Sigrid Brown tells the evocative and often troubling tale of a rural community populated by families with rumbling resentments and several secrets to hide. Following her mother’s disappearance and the local police force’s apparent inability to crack the case, eighteen-year-old June Bergeron decides to undertake her own investigation. She soon becomes suspicious that her mother’s case might be linked to a series of unsolved murders of women whose bodies were found dumped in the woods near Duluth, and as she investigates the matter further, she finds herself drawn into the hidden underbelly of the city, a grimy place characterized by poverty, exploitation, and abuse. As June comes to realize that many within the community are hiding disturbing secrets, she is forced to admit that she no longer knows what is true or who she can trust. While seeking to find out what really happened to her mother, she ends up finding out more than she ever imagined or wanted to know about the people of Duluth.
by Bonnie Kistler
Harper, 352 pages, $26.99
On a cold Sunday night when people really ought to be at rest and safely tucked up at home, two employees of Claudine de Martineau International, a multinational fashion company, are burning the midnight oil at the Manhattan high-rise office. Lucy Barton-Jones, the head of human resources, and Shay Lambert, a newly appointed corporate lawyer, end up finishing their tasks and getting ready to leave for the night at around the same time. The pair enter the lift on the thirtieth floor together and prepare to descend, each preoccupied with their own thoughts and troubles. However, something goes wrong almost immediately as the lift stops, the lights turn off, and a gunshot rings out. Eventually, the lift starts to move again. When the lift’s doors open after it finally reaches the ground floor, one of the women is dead, but is it a case of murder or suicide? Bonnie Kistler’s The Cage is a suspenseful, action-packed, and tightly plotted legal thriller that starts with a bang and then whisks readers along on a breakneck journey full of twists and turns.