The Vanishing Point by Elizabeth BrundageThe setup: Failed photographer and ad executive Julian Ladd learns that his former friend and rival Rye Adler is presumed to have jumped off a bridge to his death, though the search continues for his body -- and for the true circumstances of his demise.
The problem: Julian's obsession with (and envy of) his friend's celebrated photography career has simmered under the surface for decades, but in the shadow of lingering questions about how (or if) Rye really died, things threaten to boil over.
For fans of: literary fiction, lyrical writing, and stories told multiple (and often conflicting) perspectives.
Scorpion by Christian CantrellWhat it's about: In the near future, CIA analyst Quinn Mitchell's job gets much easier thanks to the Epoch Index, which compiles enough information to accurately predict people's actions.
What could go wrong? The more Quinn uses the Epoch Index, the darker the predictions become. And it's not long before she begins to raise dangerous questions about how such a powerful tool could be used for evil ends.
Who it's for: fans of Philip K. Dick's speculative fiction and the Steven Spielberg film Minority Report, based on a Dick short story by the same name.
The Anatomy of Desire by L.R. DornWhat it is: an intricately plotted modern reinterpretation of Theodore Dreiser's classic crime novel An American Tragedy, originally published in 1925.
The setup: Two women rent a canoe to spend a day at the lake, rowing into a secluded cove. Later, the empty boat is found near one of the women's dead bodies, while the other woman has vanished completely.
Did you know? An American Tragedy was inspired by the 1906 disappearance of Grace Mae Brown in upstate New York.
Just Get Home by Bridget FoleyPicture it: downtown Los Angeles, moments after a catastrophic earthquake nearly levels the city.
Starring: single mom Dessa, who left her daughter Olivia with a babysitter in Van Nuys to enjoy a rare night on the town; Beegie, a street smart 14-year-old looking for reasons to avoid going "home" to her abusive foster parents.
The goal: survive the journey across the sprawling city, which on that night is dangerous for reasons beyond just the earthquake.
Girl in the Walls by A.J. GnuseWhat it's about: After her parents die in a car crash, 11-year-old Elise runs away from her foster home, sneaks into her old house, and decides to live in the walls and crawlspaces, hiding from the family who just moved in.
The new neighbors: the Mason family, including 13-year-old Eddie and 16-year-old Marshall, who both begin to suspect something is wrong with their new home and, dismissed by their parents, turn to a much more dubious source to "exorcise" the house.
Reviewers say: Girl in the Walls is "haunting and, like the characters, unforgettable" (Booklist).
House Standoff by Michael LawsonSeries alert: House Standoff is the 15th entry in the series of fast-paced thrillers starring political fixer Joe DeMarco.
When last we left our hero: Joe was investigating a plane crash in the Adirondacks. Now he's in Wyoming to discover the truth about the death of someone from his past and what, if anything, it has to do with a Cliven Bundy-inspired rancher's ongoing standoff with the federal government.
What's Done in Darkness by Laura McHughWhat it is: the disturbing but compelling story of a traumatized young woman trying to build a life after she's rejected by her fundamentalist family and survives a terrifying abduction as a teenager.
Starring: a now 22-year-old Sarabeth Shepherd, who is searching for meaning and purpose; Missouri Highway Patrol officer Nick Farrow, who is investigating a crime eerily similar to Sarabeth's ordeal and asks for her help.
For fans of: courageous heroines determined to do the right thing; suspenseful Southern Gothic fiction.
The Disappearing Act by Catherine SteadmanWhat it's about: BAFTA-nominated British star Mia Eliot comes to Los Angeles during pilot season for a change of scenery after dealing with a stalker. She meets and hits it off with Emily Bryant, another actor auditioning for the same part, but Emily vanishes, only for another woman to turn up at Mia's door claiming to be Emily.
Read it for: the well-developed characters, high-drama tone, and gritty portrayal of the dark side of Hollywood.
Want a taste? "Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just can't disappear."
The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-BairdWhat it is: the compelling and thought-provoking story of an apocalyptic outbreak of disease that seems to be only fatal to men.
Why you might like it: Though written before the COVID pandemic, Christina Sweeney-Baird's debut novel is eerily relatable, portraying the quotidian changes in her characters' routines, the grief for losses in their personal lives, and the fraying social fabric in realistic detail.
Featuring: a woman constantly on the move with her son, trying to avoid the disease that killed her husband; a nanny who uses the upheaval to balance the scales with her entitled employer; doctors hunting for a vaccine with a variety of motivations; a brilliant scientist who sees the opportunity to strike it rich as society tries to rebuild.
Lady Joker by Kaoru TakamuraWhat it's about: Inspired by the high-profile 1984 kidnapping of a Japanese executive, this atmospheric and richly detailed crime novel follows the kidnappers' extortion attempt and explores the potential motives of a large cast of characters with just as many reasons to want revenge.
Read it for: the intricately woven plot, which takes readers through a richly detailed portrait of life in modern Japan for people across the social and economic spectrum.
About the author: Although Lady Joker is the first to appear in English, celebrated Japanese novelist Kaoru Takamura has published a number of mysteries and thrillers in her native language, some of which have been adapted into film and television.
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