When planning a summer reading list, it is often a challenge to pick titles that can compete with the gorgeous weather outside. Be it on the beach or your own backyard, summer reads must keep you captivated, forcing you to ignore the world around you. One genre that historically does this for me is thrillers. They provide just enough intensity to chill you to the bones this hot, sweltering summer. Releasing throughout the summer months, the following titles should be more than enough to keep you entertained, no matter the setting!
A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay (William Morrow) When fifteen-year-old Marjorie begins to act strangely, blaming voices to explain her erratic behavior, her family abandons the ever-growing therapy bills and instead turns to faith for answers. Still needing a means to pay the hefty medical bills, the family gives permission for their lives to be filmed for a new documentary television show. Instead, the family quickly unravels, when horrific tragedy caught on film. Decades later, Marjorie opens up to a young writer set on writing a book about the incident. In doing so, she opens up a host of secrets kept buried, secrets that completely contradict what made it to film. Tremblay’s novel compares to that horror great The Exorcist. Yet, it goes far beyond that, creating a terror far more devastating than you ever could have imagined. This is one you’ll want to read by the light of day for it is certain to terrify the strongest of wills.
The Fixer by Joseph Finder (Dutton) After Rick Hoffman loses everything – his job, his apartment, his girlfriend – he has no other option than to move back into his childhood home. Abandoned since his father’s stroke, the home is now in ruins. As he begins the painful (and expensive) process of renovating the home, he uncovers something hidden in the walls of his childhood home. A secret that immediately puts his life at risk but also forces him to rethink everything he’s believed about his father. Finder excels at crafting well plotted, truly intense thrillers. This is no different. A twisty thriller with a bit of family redemption weaved in, a title certain to keep you captivated!
Bradstreet Gate by Robin Kirman (Crown) When a Harvard University senior is found brutally murdered, a campus role-model is named suspect. Three individuals, each connected to both the victim and the suspect in some way, believe they know who the killer may be. No one is ever charged with the murder and, uncertain in their confidence to know the truth, the three friends spend the next decade pondering the event that changed their lives. Individually impacted by the murder, the trio desperately seeks answers, unable to accept the truths they are hiding from one another. A must-read debut for fans of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.
The Fifth House of the Heart by Ben Tripp (Gallery) Asmodeus “Sax” Saxon-Tang is a renowned antiques dealer who has traveled the world in order to obtain the finest, most difficult to obtain items. His source for the unattainable? The treasures of vampires. His luck runs about when he becomes the hunted and his life, and the lives of his loved ones, are at risk. At the blessing of the Holy Roman Church, Sax and a motley group of vampire hunters begin the deadliest of hunts, a search for the vampire who is, in turn, hunting them. While the vampire fiction fad has passed, Tripp crafts a chilling novel that reads like an adventure story, a novel is meant to be devoured in one sitting.
Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica (Mira) Heidi Wood is one of those rare individuals who goes out of her way to help others. Her family has grown used to her bringing home stray cats, but when she brings home a teenage girl and infant she found cowering in the rain at the train station, her family is understandably horrified. Heidi knows nothing about young Willow yet she opts to see the bright, positive side in this young woman. However, when the truth about Willow’s past and identity slowly come to the surface, the Wood family is immersed in a twisted, unimaginable story. Told from multiple perspectives, this novel has one of those climaxes that comes out of nowhere, stunning the most focused of readers. It may sound cliché, but this is genuinely one of the most hypnotic thrillers we have read in some time!
In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware (Gallery/Scout) Forty-eight hours after reuniting with a long-lost friend at an eerie glass house in the English countryside, crime-writing recluse Leonora Shaw wakes up in a hospital with gaps in her memory. The first thing that comes to her mind is the distinct certainty that someone has died, and Nora believes herself to be responsible. In this decadently twisty thriller, readers are forced to contend with an unreliable narrator forced to face a past, and secrets, she’d rather leave undiscovered. Though compared to many other novels of late with unreliable narrators, it is our firm belief that this author’s talent at crafting a truly psychological puzzle of a storyline allows this novel to stand out on its own.
The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon (Doubleday): As children, Amy, Piper, and Piper’s sister Margot, used to play in the Tower Motel. The joy and innocence of childhood play abruptly ended after they uncovered something dark and terrifying about the hotel’s history, something so terrifying that it put an abrupt end to their friendship. As adults, Piper and Margot have worked to remove all memories of Tower Motel from their memories. However, the past has a way of making itself known and, in an instant, they are taken back the rural Vermont hotel after they learn Amy has been arrested. Forced to relive the events that decimated their childhood friendship, Piper and Margot embark upon a search for answers, doing what they can to prevent Amy from taking the blame for a horrific crime. In doing so, they uncover a secret so devastating that, generations later, it still haunts one family. McMahon is skilled at producing dark and twisty novels about family secrets, our go-to author for novels that send chills down the spine. This most recent novel is no exception!—JENN LAWRENCE