The Standardization of Demoralization Procedures by Jennifer HofmannStarring: Bernd Zeigler, a Stasi agent nearing retirement age; young waitress Lara, who disappears shortly after Bernd impulsively reveals classified information to her; Bernd's neighbor Johannes, a physicist who he met on the wrong side of an interrogation decades before.
Why you might like it: The surreal happenings, quirky characters, and dark humor distinguish it from other thrillers set in totalitarian states.
Reviewers say: This novel tells "a story that John le Carré might have written for The Twilight Zone" (The Washington Post).
The Second Mother by Jenny MilchmanWhat it's about: Grieving the loss of her daughter, recovering alcoholic Julie Weathers is hoping for a fresh start after accepting a teaching job on an island off the coast of Maine, in a quaint town called Mercy. But beneath Mercy's charming surface is a knotty web of secrets, and Julie's arrival in town risks unearthing everything.
Read it for: The well-rendered atmosphere, which alternates between appealing small-town scenes, gothic-tinged moments of building suspense, and the ever-present menace of the open sea.
Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli WeidenWhat it's about: After his sister's death, half-Lakota Virgil Wounded Horse takes in his teenage nephew Nathan. But when Nathan gets pulled into the heroin epidemic engulfing their reservation, Virgil decides it's time to dust off his vigilante past and take on the drug pushers outside the bounds of the shady tribal police force.
Reviewers say: "A worthy addition to the burgeoning canon of indigenous literature" (Library Journal).
The Perfect Wife by JP DelaneyWhat it's about: Abbie Cullen-Scott doesn't remember why she's in the hospital, although her high-profile tech innovator husband tells says she's been in a coma for five years after a major accident. But while she rebuilds her life, Abbie starts to notice other things she can't account for, including her mysterious inability to taste or smell anything.
Why you might like it: Evoking elements of classic thrillers like Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca and Ira Levin's The Stepford Wives, this novel raises compelling, troubling questions about the intersection between advanced technology and humanity's most primitive impulses.
Perfect Little Children by Sophie HannahThe premise: More than a decade after it happened, Beth Leeson still feels pangs of guilt about the way things ended with her closest friend Flora. After hearing that Flora has returned to town with her husband and children, Beth follows an impulse and drives to their upmarket neighborhood to see how life is treating her friend.
The problem: Beth times it perfectly and gets to catch a glance them returning home. Flora looks good, but instead of the teenagers she expects, she sees two small children that appear not to have aged a day in the last 12 years.
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane MoriartyWhat it is: a character-driven, witty take on the suspense trope of a group of strangers thrown together by circumstances, this time at a chichi wellness retreat that may be more than it seems.
Featuring: wealthy but unhappy people like a couple whose marriage is suffering after winning the lottery, a young woman haunted by the death of her twin, a washed-up romance novelist, and an out-of-shape former Olympian. And overseeing it all is a preternaturally beautiful fitness guru with an unorthodox new regime to test out on her clients.
One Perfect Lie by Lisa ScottolineWhat it's about: Living undercover as a high school baseball coach, ATF agent Curt Abbott is investigating a potential domestic terror plot inspired by the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing. But he didn't anticipate the complex web of connections underpinning the school's picturesque little town, nor the forces waiting to reel him into it.
Who it's for: young adult readers looking for sophisticated thrillers; anyone who enjoys parallel narratives; readers curious about the pitfalls of modern technology and its ability to radicalize vulnerable and disaffected young people.
The Perfect Nanny by Leïla SlimaniWhat it is: a twisted, compelling psychological thriller first published in France, which is told from multiple perspectives and raises troubling questions about the demands of modern motherhood.
Back to work: Attorney Myriam is returning to her career after taking time off to spend with her young children, so she and her husband begin to search for a nanny. Forty-something Louise seems perfect and the children take to her immediately, but what role will Louise play in the tragedy revealed in the story's first pages?
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