Summer is the time of year to be outside and lounge around. The winter may involve plenty of TV, but during the summer, you're supposed to embrace the outside world. During those times outside, you may find yourself craving a way to cool off that doesn't involve swimming or a cold beverage. If you are, you may be looking for a chilling read.
With mysteries that are deeply compelling, and secrets to uncover, maybe a murder or two — the best thrillers make your hair stand on end, give you goosebumps, and they also keep you turning the page. You may be stuck in suspense and incapable of setting the book down until you can close the book finally. Fortunately, they'll also cool you off on summer's hottest days — metaphorically speaking.
Angie Kim's debut novel takes the thriller to court in a gripping story about how far people go to protect the people they love. The novel follows a Korean couple who run a therapeutic, experimental medical treatment in rural Virginia. When that treatment goes horribly wrong and people end up dead, the ensuing trial threatens to upend their lives.
Miracle Creek is a thrilling novel filled to the brim with revelations and surprises. It offers a compelling, modern take on the courtroom drama, and adds as much intrigue as it can as well. You're not likely to find a more gripping beach read all summer.
Author Don Winslow has published three books focused on the U.S. border with Mexico, and more specifically, the cartel. In The Border, the third installment in the series tells the story of Art Keller, the head of a DEA that's trying to stem the flow of heroin across the border.
The story is sprawling, but it's thrilling throughout. Its central ideas about cycles of violence and corruption are hugely potent, and it manages to weave them into a gripping narrative. This novel is violent and chilling, but it's not the kind of book you want to pick up if you're looking to forget about the real world.
For sheer thrills, you probably won't be able to beat The Silent Patient. Alex Michaelides's novel tells the story of a woman who murders her husband and then falls totally silent. When she meets a psychotherapist who becomes obsessed with her case, he uncovers there's more to her silence than he initially thought.
The Silent Patient is compelling, but it's also deeply interested in the psychology of its central characters. The balance between those two is what makes for a great thriller, and it's why The Silent Patient is sure to chill you even as you're melting in the summer sun.
Searching for Sylvie Lee is a thriller, but it's a little more existential than many of the books on this list. After Sylvie Lee disappears, it's up to her family to find her, and uncover the dark secrets that she's been hiding. As these secrets get uncovered, the story allows its characters to develop.
The book's central mystery is compelling, but it's not the best reason to read it. It's that mystery that allows Jean Kwok to explore the relationships between her characters, and how two very different daughters were shaped by the parents that raised them. It's a thriller, but one with careful character work.
Penguin Random House
Like any good thriller, Disappearing Earth kicks off with a disappearance. The story is set in Russia, and it follows the aftermath of one girl's disappearance from a small community. In chronicling a year in the life of these people, Julia Phillips captures the way the crime impacts all of them, and utterly changes their lives.
Although there's certainly a mystery at the beating heart of Disappearing Earth, the book is much more interested in the fallout from that mystery than the mystery itself. How does a crime like that shake and transform a community? What bonds are created or broken in its wake? This book searches for answers to those questions.
In A Nearly Normal Family, we get a sense of what parents are willing to do for their children. When their daughter stands accused of murdering a man 15 years her senior, her father, a pastor, and her mother, a defense attorney, have to grapple with how little they know about the child that they raised.
In addition to its compelling plot, A Nearly Normal Family has been lavished with praise since its release, boasting a 4.08/5 rating on Goodreads. The book is sure to be one of the best of the summer and its chilling narrative is sure to give you some reprieve from the sun's unforgiving rays (just don't skimp on the sunscreen, okay?!).
Whisper Network is a book tailor-made for the #MeToo era. It tells the story of four women who discover that the man who is next in line to be their company's CEO is a well-known sexual harasser in their industry. When his appointment seems inevitable, the women set in motion a series of events designed to keep him from the job.
As you might expect, things don't go exactly as they planned. The result is a novel that's equal parts infuriating and thrilling. It's a story about believing women, and the steps that they take when they are ignored. Whisper Network is sure to send an all-too-familiar chill up your spine whenever you pick it up.
Simon and Schuster
If Whisper Network is about what it means to be a women in 2019, Man of the Year is about what it means to be a man. It follows Dr. Robert Hart, who was recently named Man of the Year by his small village. Although Robert seems like a put-together, kind man, he's hiding a veneer of anger, jealousy, and cruelty just below the surface.
Caroline Louise Walker's debut novel is a timely exploration of masculinity, and all the things that men feel entitled to. They may seem like good guys, but that's only because they're very used to getting their way.
Imagine if The Breakfast Club was a murder mystery. That's the basic idea behind One of Us is Lying. The book follows five kids, archetypes of modern day high school, into detention, but one of them is dead by the end. Everyone is a suspect, and someone has to be lying.
It's a simple concept that gives the book plenty of room to explore its characters and what high school is life in the 21st century. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the book is also a murder mystery that's begging to be solved. One of Us is Lying keeps you guessing through its very last chapter.
Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Necessary People explores the toxic underbelly of female friendships to rather chilling results. The book tells the story of two life-long friends who have set roles. Stella is the beautiful, messy, reckless one, and Violet is a workaholic who's always ready to clean up after her.
When the two are hired on by the same cable network, a bitter rivalry begins that goes to some shocking places. What starts as a story of female friendship eventually becomes one about two women testing the limits, believing that the only way they can succeed is by destroying one another. It's both terrifying and entirely too real.
The Furies puts a magical bent on the elements of a standard thriller. The book opens with the discovery of a body in 1998, and tells the story of how that body came to be discovered. Along the way, the book's central character comes to believe that magic is real, and that she and her friends can harness it.
The book is filled with plotting and deceit, and there are certainly plenty of secrets to be uncovered. In the world of The Furies, no one is being totally honest, and witchcraft and magic aren't the only thing to be worried about.
This thriller tells the story of a mother and daughter, and the shocking truths around how little we know about our own children. The story follows a mother whose daughter Olivia falls off a bridge. Olivia is brain dead, and it's also discovered that she's pregnant. From there, her mother must determine what happened to her daughter and whether Olivia's fall was actually an accident, as the police believe.
Christina McDonald's novel tells a complicated tale of the way families may hide from one another, and how those secrets can become viruses that infect entire relationships. Secrets may be compelling to read about, but they're also toxic.
Wolf Pack is just one of a series of novels about Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett. While that kind of character may sound unappealing, C.J. Box is an expert at crafting compelling narratives with Joe at the center. In this novel, Joe unravels a cartel-related conspiracy after he finds a drone that's killing wildlife.
The film is an exploration of how one man attempts to protect his family, and it's a gripping thriller about what it feels like to be hunted. Running for your life is not supposed to be a pleasant experience, but in Wolf Pack, C.J. makes it a thoroughly compelling one.
Being married can be boring, TBH, which is why My Lovely Wife imagines the lengths one couple would go to to keep things interesting. Although the story is heightened, it's not hard to imagine a real couple who murders people for fun, as the couple at the center of My Lovely Wife does. Yep — really.
The book's basic premise stems from a kind of suburban malaise that is the subject of many stories that are ultimately quite twisted. Where does a marriage go once everything's set in its routine? In My Lovely Wife, the answer to that question is both dark, disturbing, and thrilling.
The story of a character torn between duty and honor has been at the center of many books about men, but in American Spy, Lauren Wilkinson gives the story a feminist twist. The book follows an American spy sent to seduce a communist revolutionary in Africa in order to keep him from overthrowing his government.
The life of a spy has always been one of the most interesting things to read and watch, and in American Spy, personal conflicts mix with missions and intrigue. The life of a spy is rarely glamorous, and this novel, set in 1986, will offer a totally fresh perspective on the Cold War.
The town of Sunnybrook is entirely normal, except for one strange quirk — the town has no cheerleaders. Five years ago, they all died. Some were murdered, others died in accidents, and one committed suicide. In Kara Thomas's The Cheerleaders, we follow the sister of one of the cheerleaders as she attempts to find out what happened to her sister and the rest of the cheerleaders in town.
The town's residents know more about the disappearances than they're letting on. In a town built on a tragedy, The Cheerleaders provides an intriguing mystery that's conclusion will be as shocking as it is exciting.
Looker tells the story of one woman's obsession, and the lengths it drives her to. This woman, who narrates the novel and remains nameless, is a recently separated woman with no children who becomes obsessed with her neighbor — a famous actress. After a brief encounter with the neighbor, the narrator takes her obsession to unhealthy, dangerous lengths.
The thought of living inside the head of someone this obsessed will certainly leave you looking for a blanket, even in the heat of summer. Looker will leave you both enthralled and disturbed. You won't be able to put it down, even if you want to.