Thrillers and Suspense
The Plea by Steve CavanaghStarring: former con man Eddie Flynn, who's now a defense lawyer presented with an impossible choice, courtesy of federal agents: either he gets a (potentially innocent) client to agree to a plea bargain, or his estranged wife goes to jail.
Read it for: action-packed scenes (like a car chase orchestrated by cell phone), courtroom thrills, and a clever, knotty plot. Not to mention Eddie's con man instincts.
Series alert: this is the 2nd Eddie Flynn novel, after The Defense.
Need to Know by Karen ClevelandWhat it's about: Vivian Miller, a married mother of four, tracks Russian agents for the CIA -- imagine her shock when she comes across a photo of her husband. Turns out, he's been a Russian spy for decades. What's a wife to do?
For fans of: the TV show The Americans or Chris Pavone's novels, which likewise mix espionage and family.
Book buzz: this "pulse-hammering" (Library Journal) debut from a veteran CIA analyst has already been picked up by Charlize Theron, who will produce and star in the film adaptation.
This Is What Happened by Mick HerronWhat it's about: To tell too much would be to spoil this unsettling, brazen tale, but here's the set-up: mousy, near-invisible 26-year-old Maggie Barnes has been asked to install some spyware on the network at work, by a man representing himself as MI5. Two years later, everything has changed.
Why you might like it: dark humor abounds, and the twists keep coming in a story that gets ever more creepy as it unfolds from three different perspectives.
Killer Choice by Tom HuntWhat it's about: Life is good for Gary Foster -- until his wife is diagnosed with a brain tumor. Treating it will cost 200K, which they don't have. With no other options, Gary is forced to consider a stranger's proposal: the money will be provided if Gary kills a man, no questions asked.
Why you might like it: This fast-paced debut offers an intriguing approach to a morally ambiguous question: how far would you go to save a loved one?
For fans of: Stephen White's Kill Me, Dean Koontz's Velocity -- two other suspense novels in which choices hold fatal consequences.
Mister Tender's Girl by Carter WilsonStarring: Londoner Alice Hill, who at 14 was left for dead by attackers who claimed they were under the influence of a graphic novel character created by her father. Now 28, Alice lives in the U.S. under a new name, but a stalker has found her -- and a resurgence of interest in Mister Tender has her fearing for her life.
Is it for you? Creepy and mesmerizing, it's also intense and graphic.
Book buzz: This chilling novel was inspired by the real-life 2014 Slender Man stabbing; it's currently under development as a TV series.
Under the Harrow by Flynn BerryWhat it is: an Edgar Allan Poe Award-winning psychological suspense novel in which a woman finds her sister brutally murdered and becomes obsessed with finding the perpetrator.
Read it for: the uncovering of long-kept secrets, a complex relationship between sisters, and simmering tension.
For fans of: the similar set-ups and tensions of Rosamund Lupton's Sister and S.J. Watson's Second Life.
Dodgers by Bill BeverlyWhat it's about: Los Angeles gang member East, who serves as a lookout, is only 16 when he's sent to Wisconsin to help kill a man. With three other teens (including his younger brother), he must traverse an entirely alien America, where as young black men they stand out far more than in L.A.
Why you might like it: Observant and cautious, East is a complex character, one who is good at what he does but not entirely hardened.
Reviewers say: Recommended for fans of Richard Price, this multi-award-winning debut is a "searing novel about crime, race, and coming-of-age" (Booklist).
Trust No One: A Thriller by Paul CleaveStarring: popular author Jerry Grey, who claims to have actually committed the horrific crimes he writes about in his bestselling novels. Did he really? Or is it just the early onset Alzheimer's talking? Regardless, who's behind the spate of new killings?
Read it for: the unreliable narrator and his "Madness Journal," plus the enjoyment of trying to figure out what exactly is going on.
Book buzz: this unpredictable novel from New Zealand author Paul Cleave won the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel in 2016, notching his third win.
Before the Fall by Noah HawleyWhat happens: A corporate jet goes down off the coast of Martha's Vineyard, killing everyone except a recovering alcoholic and the four-year-old boy he manages to save. They're soon the center of unwelcome media attention as investigators rush to determine whether the crash was accidental -- and, if not, which of the victims was the target.
Reviewers say: With rising suspense amid character backstories that gradually unfold, this is ultimately a "pulse-pounding story, grounded in humanity," says Booklist; it also won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Novel.
Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori RoyWhat it's about: The discovery of a dead body at the bottom of a well recalls the bad blood between two families and unearths old secrets.
Why you might like it: More Gothic country noir than outright suspense, this atmospheric novel captures the superstitions of rural Kentucky in the 1930s and '50s.
Book buzz: Let Me Die in His Footsteps won the Edgar Allen Poe Award in 2016; two-time winner Lori Roy will be publishing her next book, The Disappearing, in July of this year.