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9 Thrilling Mysteries for Summer Reading

Add some shivers to your staycation reading list

spinner image collage of nine thriller books for reading this summer
courtesy book publishers/Getty Images

There's nothing like a smart, twisty thriller or action-packed mystery to liven up the dog days of summer (or anytime). These nine are some of our favorite new releases.

The Last Flight

Julie Clark

Clark's supersonic new thriller (an instant New York Times best seller) boasts a high-octane plot and nonstop suspense. Claire, a high-society woman desperately running away from her controlling, abusive husband, is at the airport awaiting her flight when she meets a widow named Eva, who's also seeking a new life. The two impulsively decide to exchange plans and plane tickets — then Eva dies in the plane crash. Claire takes on her identity, and discovers that the woman harbored some dangerous secrets. It's a twisty tale that manages to be both shocking and poignant, about the whims of fate, seeking independence, and the nature of identity. (Don't confuse this with a similarly titled book that came out at nearly the same time, Her Last Flight by Beatriz Williams — though that novel is also quite good.)

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Winter Counts

David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Set on the Rosebud Native American reservation in South Dakota, Weiden's gripping, gritty, literary crime novel features a unique hero: a half-white, half-Native American vigilante for hire, Virgil Wounded Horse. When Virgil, a recovering alcoholic, discovers heroin on his Lakota reservation and in his nephew's locker, he sets out to stop the culprit. Receiving no help from the white police force, he teams with his ex-girlfriend to investigate the crime, and ends up confronting extraordinary danger, personal demons, and corruption within his community. It's a remarkably accomplished debut from Weiden, a citizen of the Sicangu Lakota nation, on sale Aug. 25.

The Guest List

Lucy Foley

Wedded bliss turns to terror when Will, a reality show star, and Julia, a magazine editor, decide to tie the knot on a remote Irish island. It's bad enough that Julia received a mysterious note warning her not to marry Will, but then — in true Agatha Christie style — the lights go dark and someone is dead. But whodunit? And why? Foley (best-selling author of last year's hit The Hunting Party) expertly peels back the layers of eight highly suspicious members of the wedding party, and all with murderous secrets. This summer best seller, a Reese's Book Club pick, will keep you transfixed to the end.

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The Silence of the White City

Eva García Sáenz

Sáenz gives us the first in a planned trilogy that combines mythology, Spanish legends, and uniquely Spanish police procedures. When a series of ritualistic murders bloody the city of Vitoria, inspector Unai López de Ayala, still grieving over the death of his beloved wife, realizes that they resemble murders committed 20 years ago by an archaeologist named Tasio — imprisoned after being convicted by evidence from his twin, Ignacio, a cop. Who is committing these new killings and why is Tasio now sending him cryptic messages? The Silence of the White City is a rare literary thriller, likely to whet your appetite for more from this talented author.

Home Before Dark

Riley Sager

If you love your thrillers with a touch of the supernatural, Sager's haunting new best seller is just the thing to tingle your spine. Interior designer Maggie Holt grew up terrified by the ghostly figures she saw as a child in her family's old Vermont estate, Baneberry Mansion. When her father, who has written a book about the property called House of Horrors, dies and bequeaths her the deed, Maggie decides to face her fears by going back for a dose of what she thinks will be reassuring reality. But, watch out: A dark presence still looms. With a narrative interwoven with chapters from Maggie's father's book, this is a keep-the-lights-on winner from the horror master who also wrote last year's Lock Every Door and other spooky hits. (If you get a hard copy, you'll find that the book cover actually glows in the dark.)

You Again

Debra Jo Immergut

When disgruntled art director Abigail, once a talented painter but deep in a midlife crisis at age 46, spots a woman on the street who looks exactly like her wilder self at age 22, she wonders if she is hallucinating. Then she sees her again, and starts to pursue her. We follow Abby's bewilderment through entries in her journal, where she wonders: Could this version of herself hold the key to that terrible year in her twenties that she can't remember? Can she warn her younger self about it? Or is younger Abby here to warn her about her possible involvement in a hinted-at deadly event? Immergut, author of 2018's The Captives, offers a mind-bendingly brilliant look at memory, reality, fierce ambition and the lives we could have led.

Behind the Red Door

Megan Collins

Best-selling author Collins’ tense new thriller melds past and present trauma for a read that is as unsettling as it is terrifying. When Fern Douglas was a child, her psychologist father traumatized her by using her in his experiments about fear, and now she reluctantly has returned to his home to help him move. But when she learns that local writer Astrid Sullivan — who was famously kidnapped as a teenager near Fern's New Hampshire hometown — has mysteriously vanished, Fern begins to feel that she somehow knows this woman, especially when she has a recurring nightmare where Astrid is begging her for help. Using Astrid's published memoir, she begins to dig up the chilling truth. It's a nail-biter about whom we can, and should never, trust.

The Night Swim

Megan Goldin

Host of a popular Serial-style true-crime podcast, Guilty or Not Guilty, Rachel Krall is about to cover the high-profile trial of an Olympic swimmer accused of raping a teenager when she begins to receive puzzling notes about another disturbing, long-ago case. The letter writer turns out to be a woman named Hannah who's doggedly pursuing Rachel in the hopes that she'll solve the mystery of her sister's supposed drowning 25 years ago. When she begins to investigate, Rachel finds shocking connections between the two cases. Told in the voices of Rachel, Hannah and Rachel's podcast, this is a stunner about rape culture and the unforgiven sins of a small town. Goldin, an Australian author, debuted last year with the suspenseful thriller The Escape Room.

These Women

Ivy Pochoda

The award-winning author of Visitation Street brings a devasting feminist slant to a serial killer story, set against the mean streets of South Los Angeles. Fifteen years ago when 13 women were brutally murdered, the case was buried because all of the victims — except for a teenage babysitter — were prostitutes. But then the killer resurfaces, and the only people with any interest or answers are a mother of one of the victims, a former prostitute insisting that she's being stalked, and a disgraced cop whose investigation of the crime isn't taken seriously. This novel is more of a heartbreaking character study of the lives of women on the edge than a thriller, but it's as sharp as the blade of a knife.

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