6 Great Summer Thrillers
While the winter months delivered ice and snow outside my window, publishers delivered advanced copies of books that are sure to be a great hit this summer.
My general preference for mysterious reads turns into an all out hunger for late night thrills as the warm weather settles in.
Here are 6 books that I read, loved, and can’t wait for you to pick up this summer.
Follow Me Back, A.V. Geiger
June 6 (Available now!)
Initially I was worried that this book would be too fluffy, too pop-culture-centric to keep my attention but soon there were a few things that kept me turning pages.
First, it was interesting to see how uncomfortable sexual objectification made Eric, megastar singer. Being fawned over for his studio-ordered abs as opposed to his musical talent was heartbreaking, and a gender reversal since I'm usually more aware of how female artists are praised for beauty above all else.
Second, I was curious about the mysterious origins of Tessa's anxieties. Her narrow world also provided a greater believability for this intense online friendship/relationship.
Then there were some twists, one that was pretty easy to suss out because of strategic writing: not using pronouns or describing features that might indicate gender, keeping other items purposely vague.
But then there was the final twist of the book!
I have my theories about the “real” events. Given that this book is the first in a series I feel like there must be more that the author feels like she can explore...
I don't want to include any spoilers, but I'm very much looking forward to debating this ending with other readers!
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, Matthew J Sullivan
I love the title of this book. It immediately offers me a world that I want to step into, one of books and possibly something whimsical or nefarious, depending on what kind of association you produce for the idea of midnight .
It turns out that in actually there is less whimsy and more horror, and yet this chilling mystery book has a kind of earnestness at the center of it all that keeps the characters real and the readers sympathetic.
The suicide of a frequent bookstore patron sets a series of events into motion, revealing unexpected connections for the main character.
This story did not have me guessing until the very last page, but I didn’t mind that. Rather, as the carefully laid pieces of the puzzle began to come together I was pleased that nothing was far-fetched, nothing strained credulity, and the effect of the whole story coming together was one that allowed for there to be a certain amount of closure for many of the characters, something that is often left out of the more chilling thrillers.
What the blurb did get perfectly right was the blend of heart-pounding scenes (I looked at my kitchen sink differently for a whole day) and capturing the culture of an independent bookstore and the kind of people who work there, especially in an urban area during the 1990s. I both wanted to be like them, and was wonderfully apart from them. It was a delight to meet all these people who were never shaped to be perfect corporate cogs.
There is more than one mystery presented in this book, most of them revealing their secrets, and some of them, in the case of the people themselves, remain slightly unknowable. Overall I liked going on this adventure with these characters. It didn’t have the “I didn’t see that coming” twists, or the kind of dark tension that is the cornerstone of other thrillers, which tend to be my favorites, but I truly enjoyed how cohesive the story was, and how much I rooted for Lydia to be okay.
The Child, Fiona Barton
When a baby skeleton is discovered by a work crew it becomes unsettling to discover that there are more than a few options for how and why it came to be buried in what was once a backyard.
The story starts off slow, introducing the reader to the various women who will each play a role across the span of the book. Initially it's a little difficult to connect with these characters, to want to learn more than the little teasings of history here and there.
And then the book accelerates, giving answers that most characters are surprisingly unhappy with, leaving the reader wondering what we're missing.
Whenever I read a mystery I'm making guesses from page one, changing and molding them again with each new piece of information but it took me a long time to guess at what was happening here, thrilled by the layers of deceit.
Even if you're uncertain in those first 100 pages know that there's a hell of a story yet to be unwrapped and keep on reading!
Final Girls, Riley Sager
If any book is likely to be dubbed THE mystery of the summer, it’s this one. From the moment Stephen King gave this book his thumbs up it seems like it was catapulted onto everyone’s radar.
After surviving a massacre during a cabin getaway with friends Quincy is doing her best as an adult to be more than a “final girl” and to create a life worth living. When another Final Girl from the media comes to Quincy for help, Quincy has to face that she may not be as okay as she thinks, and that her memories, or lack thereof, may finally cause her past to collide with her present.
This was a delightfully dark and twisty tale that delivered some serious surprise punches by the end. Unreliable characters abound in this story and I love that you’re never sure who you can trust. This is the perfect book for devouring in just a few sittings, but maybe not while you’re on your own cabin vacation!
(Also, Quincy is a baker and I feel like she’d appreciate some s’mores being paired with this read.)
The Marriage Pact, Michelle Richmond
This is one of those “What the hell did I just read” kind of books. It’s a mystery that has implausible thrills.
That sounds like backwards compliment, but what I mean is, I like when I’m asked to suspend my disbelief above and beyond the mystery, to agree to step into a world so unlike my own. (AKA the world of what might be a mysterious cult)
I liked exploring what marriage means and looks like in our modern age and how that could be the focus for a group of people with great access to everything the world has to offer.
I’m also a big of fan of the “Be afraid but I can’t tell you more” character. Or rather, I have one of those “love to hate you” relationships with any character who drops little truth nuggets on a clueless character and then walks away/disappears before they can say too much. It makes me want to know more as much as the main character does.
This is a tense read, and there are enough curiosities to separate it from other domestic thrillers.
Best Day Ever, Kaira Rouda
Okay- this isn't technically a summer read, and maybe it's cruel to taunt you with a book that doesn't come out until after Labor Day, but this book was good. Be prepared to read this book in one sitting!
It's a comparatively short book, but perfectly so, packing a lot of tension into a thrillingly concise package.
I don't want to say too much about the book because I feel like it's all too easy to spoil something, and this is a book best enjoyed going in blind.
From the first few pages you may wonder if you want to stick with a narrator who is clearly a jerk, but I promise you it will be so worth it if you keep reading.
What thrillers are you most looking forward to this summer?