Unputdownable Mysteries

This psychological thriller was good enough to make the Summer Reading Guide, but I ran out of room! A British single mother gives her 8-year-old son permission to run ahead a little on their evening walk in the park ... and he disappears, without a trace. MacMillan invites the reader to come along on the hunt for the boy, alternately focusing on police procedure and family drama. The tight writing and sharp execution made this hard to put down. I've seen a lot of comparisons to The Girl on the Train, but instead I'd recommend this one for Tana French fans.
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As a black Texas Ranger, Darren Matthews has an intricate understanding of racial tensions in East Texas. He’s proud of his roots and his family, but when his loyalty lands him in trouble, he agrees to get out of town and investigate a crime for a friend. He drives up Highway 59 to the town of Lark, where a recent murder has stirred up hatred and history.
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In a season where every suspense novel is expected to have a "shocking plot twist!" this tightly-crafted novel makes your jaw drop time and again, without feeling gimmicky or manipulative. I was stunned as I slowly came to see that the story wasn't about what I thought it was about at all. On a dark, rainy night, a mother lets go of her son's hand for just an instant. The devastating accident sets the plot in motion. Part police procedural, part domestic suspense, with the ring of authenticity, no doubt thanks to Mackintosh's own 12 years as a police officer. This is an emotional roller coaster of a book. (Sensitive themes ahead, so mind your triggers.)
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The New York Times Book Review calls this a "page-turner to a book that makes you want to call someone you love." People says, "This is police procedural and a thriller par excellence, one in which the city of Philadelphia itself is a character (think Boston and Mystic River). But it's also a literary tale narrated by a strong woman with a richly drawn personal life - powerful and genre-defying." From the publisher: "Two sisters travel the same streets, though their lives couldn't be more different. Then one of them goes missing. In a Philadelphia neighborhood rocked by the opioid crisis, two once-inseparable sisters find themselves at odds. One, Kacey, lives on the streets in the vise of addiction. The other, Mickey, walks those same blocks on her police beat. They don't speak anymore, but Mickey never stops worrying about her sibling. Then Kacey disappears, suddenly, at the same time that a mysterious string of murders begins in Mickey's district, and Mickey becomes dangerously obsessed with finding the culprit - and her sister - before it's too late."
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"You lied. Luke lied. Be at the funeral." Federal Agent Aaron Falk is summoned home with these words after his best friend Luke dies in a heartbreaking murder-suicide, turning the gun on himself after killing his wife and 6-year-old son. Falk obeys—but he can't believe his best friend could have done such a thing, and so he starts digging, dragging long-buried secrets back to the surface. The setting is the drought-ravaged Australian Outback, and the brittleness and heat are almost palpable. Imagine an Australian Tana French, and you've got this stellar debut about right. (Psst—we're talking with the author in the MMD Book Club this summer.) Publication date: January 10.
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From the publisher: An addictive and groundbreaking debut thriller set on a Native American reservation. Virgil Wounded Horse is the local enforcer on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. When justice is denied by the American legal system or the tribal council, Virgil is hired to deliver his own punishment, the kind that's hard to forget. But when heroin makes its way into the reservation and finds Virgil's own nephew, his vigilantism suddenly becomes personal. He enlists the help of his ex-girlfriend and sets out to learn where the drugs are coming from, and how to make them stop. They follow a lead to Denver and find that drug cartels are rapidly expanding and forming new and terrifying alliances. And back on the reservation, a new tribal council initiative raises uncomfortable questions about money and power. As Virgil starts to link the pieces together, he must face his own demons and reclaim his Native identity. He realizes that being a Native American in the twenty-first century comes at an incredible cost."
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A new literary mystery, scavenger-hunt style, from the author of The Bookman's Tale and First Impressions. Arthur is a staid and steady—perhaps a trifle boring?—old-school Brit; Bethany is a techie American who's come to his English library to digitize his beloved ancient manuscripts. Arthur's smitten, yet quite concerned—will she interfere with his personal quest for the Grail? Books, romance, and literary high jinx—what's not to love? Publication date: February 28.
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This new thriller, described as Rear Window meets Get Out starts with a bang and never lets up; her familiar voice is put to good use in this shocking tale of history, lies, and gentrification. Sydney’s Brooklyn neighborhood is turning over fast, with longtime older tenants moving out and upstart young couples moving in. But when she accidentally discovers a sinister connection, these moves suddenly begin to look threatening. Add in a tortured past, present family challenges, a budding romance with a hot new neighbor (and heads up, f-bombs galore), and you’ve got a thrilling read.
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Ellison sets the tone with her first line: "You aren't going to like me very much." But who is this narrator, and why does she say that? Sutton and Ethan Montclair seem to have the perfect marriage—two successful writers who not only love each other, but understand and support each other. Or that's what people think, until Sutton disappears, leaving a note telling Ethan not to look for her. As the hours tick by, Ethan begins to look more and more suspicious, and as a local investigator starts quizzing friends and family, it quickly becomes apparent that their perfect relationship was anything but. And THAT is when things get really creepy. This twisty thriller weaves in extra fun for book-lovers: it's full of the kinds of details about the writing life that makes avid readers' hearts go pitter-patter. I also loved the unusual Franklin TN setting. Domestic noir is hot these days; this release is best of class.
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Alternating between past and present, this twisty mystery weaves two women's stories together. We follow private investigator Grayson Sykes as she searches for missing woman Isabel Lincoln. With every new clue Grayson picks up, she realizes that this isn't a simple missing persons case—and she and Isabel might have a lot in common. This thriller is full of jaw-dropping moments, and the format gripped me from the beginning. In addition to the page-turning investigation, this is a story of survival. Do be aware that this story involves domestic abuse and heavy themes.
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Now that the Summer Reading Guide is out, I'm thoroughly enjoying reading some backlist titles that have been on my TBR for ages, like this 2012 book from the author of Station Eleven. This is the kind of book I love: a compulsively readable literary mystery, featuring stylish prose plus a plot that keeps you turning the page to find out what happens next. I was so impressed by the way Mandel unfolded the story piece by piece, introducing us to a seventeen-year-old girl in hiding (with piles of cash duct-taped to the underside of her baby's stroller), and slowly revealing how she ended up there—and how the members of the old high school musical group the Lola Quartet are connected to her disappearance. Set in muggy South Florida, the story is dripping with atmosphere and has a noir feel. This week, I tried something new on What Should I Read Next? and shared a short podcast episode focused on One Great Book. That book is The Lola Quartet, and you can listen to me tell you all about it—and how to know if it's the right book for you—right here.
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The bestselling 2016 French novel, now available in English. Imagine a library filled with unpublished manuscripts, countless novels that never came to be. In the tiny village of Crozon, a small town librarian collects and cares for these unloved manuscripts. While on holiday, a renowned French editor visits the library and stumbles upon an undiscovered masterpiece, which she and her author boyfriend soon discover was written by a small-town French pizza chef. She champions its publication and turns it into an instant bestseller. Readers everywhere swoon for the book and the story behind its publication, but one snobby literary critic questions the book’s origins, and resolves to get the real story. (Is it weird to say this plot thread reminds me of Ratatoille?) Funny and endearing, a quirky mystery for book lovers, and a great read for anyone who fancies a peek into the publishing industry. A highly discussable novel for book clubs, especially because of the sure-to-be-controversial epilogue. 
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I didn’t know a book could be both gorgeous and terrifying—but then I devoured this in a day. When two college friends plan a long canoeing trip in northern Canada, they anticipate a peaceful yet memorable summer escape filled with whitewater paddling, fly fishing, and campfire cooking. The first hint of danger is a whiff of smoke, from an encroaching forest fire. The next comes from a man, seemingly in shock, who reports his wife disappeared in the woods. If these boys didn’t feel compelled to do the right thing and go look for her, they’d be fine, but instead they step in to help—and are soon running for their lives, from disasters both natural and man-made. A tightly-written wilderness adventure, a lyrical mystery, and a heartrending story of friendship, rolled into one. For fans of Sebastian Junger’s Fire and Tim Johnston’s The Current.
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As a homicide detective, Casey Duncan knows her secret is going to catch up with her someday. Diana, her best friend, is also on the run from an abusive husband. When he catches up with Diana and Casey is attacked soon after, Casey knows it's time for both of them to leave again. There's a town in the Canadian wilderness called Rockton. Those who are on the run from their pasts can apply for solace and residency there. Rockton is picky about its residents, and with no phones, internet, or a way to get in or out without permission, it doesn't seem like a place that would accept Casey's past deeds. And yet, Rockton just had its first murder case. They need a detective to investigate, making Casey the perfect candidate. As she investigates, she starts to wonder if Rockton is the safest place for herself and Diana after all.
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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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The 20th anniversary edition of the first novel in William Kent Krueger’s beloved and bestselling Cork O’Connor mystery series. “A brilliant achievement, and one every crime reader and writer needs to celebrate.” —Louise Penny
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This 1930s Gothic classic is an un-put-down-able, curl-up-by-the-fire mystery. Don't be put off by its age: this thrilling novel feels surprisingly current. Suspenseful but not scary, and it holds its tension on a re-reading: a sure sign of a well-crafted thriller.
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From the publisher: "Detective Esa Khattak is in the midst of his evening prayers when he receives a phone call asking that he and his partner Detective Rachel Getty look into the death of a local man who has fallen off a cliff. At first Christopher Drayton's death - which looks like an accident - doesn't seem to warrant a police investigation, especially not from Khattak and Rachel's team, which handles minority-sensitive cases. But it soon comes to light that Drayton might have been living under an assumed name, and he may not have been the upstanding Canadian citizen he appeared to be. In fact, he may have been a Bosnian war criminal with ties to the Srebrenica massacre of 1995. And if that's true, any number of people could have had reason to help him to his death. As Rachel and Khattak dig deeper into the life and death of Christopher Drayton, every question seems to lead only to more questions, and there are no easy answers."
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When he was 19, Frank Mackey planned to run off with his girlfriend Rosie Daly: they would cut ties to home, get married, and start a new life in England. When Rosie didn't show, Frank assumed she changed her mind and left without him. But 22 years later, Rosie's suitcase is found hidden in their planned meeting spot. Frank never got over her, and he'll do whatever it takes to uncover what happened. Frank's qualities make him a first-class detective: he's painfully honest and willing to deal with unpleasant truths. He knows his weak spots, expects the sucker punch. He believes the most important thing every man should know is what he would die for. Depressing, but French tells a great story. This is the third book in her Dublin Murder Squad series, which can be read in any order.
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<em>The Janes</em> hooked me from the opening words: meet our girl. I loved the narrative voice, the setup, even though I had no clue who this girl was. And as it turns out, I didn't find out until the book’s closing pages, which had me frantically flipping back to page 1 to read the opening again. (I love it when a book does that.) Our girl is watching tv, and she sees a news story, sees a boy crying, speaking the name of a detective. On page 4 we meet this Alice Vega. She takes a job, but to do it, she calls in her old friend Max Caplan. The two make a great team, they have great rapport, their dialogue is so fun to read. It’s a hard book, because the subject matter is hard, but Luna handles her characters with sensitivity. I knew going in that it was the second book in a series, but I was assured that it could stand alone just fine on its own.
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