16 Page-turning mysteries that aren't too dark and gloomy

veronica mars
This wasn't high literature or anything, but it was so much fun (and had such good narrative drive) I didn't want to stop until I knew how it ended.
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The new sci-fi thriller from Dark Matter author Crouch is already in Shonda Rhimes’s hands for development for the big and small screen. In the book’s opening, an NYPD police detective is summoned to the 41st floor of a Manhattan highrise to try and talk a woman struggling with a terrifying new condition known as False Memory Syndrome down from the edge. Meanwhile, across the country, a brilliant scientist is hard at work on her passion project, a chair that will shield Alzheimer’s and dementia patients from the worst effects of the disease by reactivating their most important memories. As the detective begins to trace the line from False Memory Syndrome to the scientist—and the sinister motivations driving the project—the stakes for not just the parties involved, but the entire world, grow ever higher. Part save-the-world thriller, part police procedural, part love story, and above all, a real brain-bender.
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In the ten years she’s known her, Lucy has never felt her mother-in-law Diana approved of her—an especial disappointment because she’d hoped Diana would finally be the mother she’d never had. Yet she’s distraught when the police show up to announce that Diana has died by apparent suicide—and even more so when they reveal that the evidence points to possible murder. As we get to know the family members, we discover each of them had a motive to harm Diana, and stood to benefit from her death. The story is told alternately from Lucy and Diana’s points of view, so we get to understand what’s going on in their minds, and how badly they misunderstand each other through the years. But is it badly enough to lead to murder? A wholly satisfying domestic mystery, perfect for Liane Moriarty fans, that kept me guessing till the end. I devoured this on audio.
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Editor Susan Ryeland has worked with Alan Conway for years, putting up with his eccentricities for the sake of his bestselling detective series. Every Atticus Pünd mystery novel feels pretty much the same to Susan by now, each one set in a small English village, following an Agatha Christie-like formula. When Susan reads Conway’s latest, however, she finds there might be more to the fictional mystery at Pye Hall. The more she reads, the more she becomes convinced of a real life mystery between the pages. A tale of greed and gruesome murder prompts Susan to investigate in this clever novel-within-a-novel.
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This is such a fun YA spin on the classic Sherlock Holmes stories. Jamie Watson transfers to Sherringford, a fancy Connecticut prep school, on a rugby scholarship where he meets the eccentric Charlotte Holmes. Charlotte seems to have inherited her great-great-great grandfather's keen eye and unpredictable temperament, and Jamie decides to avoid her. However, when they're suspected of murdering a fellow classmate, Jamie and Charlotte must team up, much like their ancestors, and solve the case to clear their names. Clever and witty, you'll want to keep reading this series.
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If you enjoy cozy mysteries, add this series to your list. Susie Mahl adores her job. She paints pet portraits for wealthy families, perfectly capturing the personalities of their furry family members. On site for one of her commissions, she witnesses the gruesome death of the 9th Earl of Greengrass. Her artist's eye for detail mixes with her curiousity, and soon she's an amateur sleuth on the case. A creative premise, filled with fun Downton Abbey-like characters and a fun puzzle-like mystery to solve.  
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It's 1947, and society girl Charlie St. Clair is desperate to find her beloved cousin Rose, who mysteriously vanished during the war. Her inquiries lead her to Eve, a cranky old woman, who Charlie soon discovers has intimate ties to the first female spy network, and who may have personal and professional reasons for tracking down Rose—and getting revenge in the process. A little bit The Nightingale, a little bit Girl in Disguise.
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Veronica Mars meets the Serial podcast in this small town YA thriller. While the whole town believes that Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Pippa Fitz-Amobi thinks otherwise. For her senior capstone project, Pippa takes on the investigation. Told through interviews and case logs, this fast-paced mystery is really fun on audio. As she gets deeper and deeper into the case, Pippa has to decide who she can trust, and how many risks she's willing to take to expose the truth.
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Joshilyn Jackson (who narrates the audiobook!) says “Don't miss this one. Fans of Liane Moriarty and Jodi Picoult—this is an author for your favorites shelf. Marybeth Mayhew Whalen's taut, smart novel is a natural-born page-turner that doesn’t sacrifice depth of feeling or character. Whalen knows this town, these people, and she lays them open for us with razor-sharp insight, wit, and empathy."
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Bavarian widow moves to Sicily and rediscovers her love of living. "On her sixtieth birthday my Auntie Poldi moved to Sicily, intending to drink herself comfortably to death with a sea view." So says Poldi's nephew Michael. But life gets in the way: when Poldi's handyman goes missing, Poldi resolves to find him—with the help of the sexy police Commissario and a host of quirky Italians. Her quest brings Poldi back to life, and all she loves about it—namely prosecco, men, and gossip. Big-hearted and funny, smart and escapist: it's like taking your own Italian vacation.
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A MINIMALIST SUMMER PICK. Perveen Mistry is Bombay’s first female solicitor, employed by her father’s respected firm. When her father’s Muslim client dies, he is tasked with executing the will, but the three devout widows “stay behind the veil,” and must not be seen by men. When the duo discover irregularities in the estate documents, Perveen resolves to speak with the widows, because—as a woman—she’s the only one who can. Perveen is determined to protect their interests, not just because of her legal obligations but because of a disastrous past marriage, where she experienced firsthand the cruelty women can endure under the law. Toss in a murder investigation, and you get a tightly-crafted mystery, a vividly-drawn multicultural setting, and a plucky heroine fiercely taking on the challenges of her time.
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In Strawser’s new domestic suspense, a tight-knit group of women gather around the backyard firepit, drink a little too much wine, and stay up way too late. By morning, one of them has vanished, and so have her children. As the authorities (and the women) begin to investigate what might have happened, they find they have more questions than answers, and the husband’s suspicious behavior has them all looking over their shoulders. Did their friend simply run away, or was she harmed, and above all—why? This would make an excellent companion to I'll Be Your Blue Sky.
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Jackson’s latest Southern story feels both exactly like the books her long-time readers know and love and like a total departure—and I am here for it. Her new domestic thriller (yes, really!) begins at a book club meeting in a quiet suburban neighborhood. These women live quiet lives revolving around family and sometimes work; they know each other well, and everything unfolds as usual … until a new guest arrives, one who has a score to settle based on long-buried secrets, and who won’t rest until she makes the woman pay for her crimes. But what happened back then, and why does it matter now? I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough in my quest to discover the truth for myself. An absorbing, rewarding mystery that will delight her loyal readers and entice new fans. Publication date: July 30.
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Well this is new: a murder mystery from Nantucket novelist Hilderbrand that brings back beloved past characters. Celeste and Benji’s wedding is supposed to the big event of the season … until Celeste finds her maid of honor’s body floating in the bay on her wedding day. She was up before dawn because she was sneaking away from the scene of the festivities with a packed bag. Everyone thought Celeste and Benji were the perfect couple, so what is going on? As the Nantucket police open their investigation, the timeline moves back and forth between the wedding weekend and the start of the couple’s relationship, allowing the reader to slowly put the pieces together. This easy-reading mystery features well-developed characters, a solid plot, plus the food and style readers expect from Hilderbrand.
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