There are few things more satisfying than getting swept away by a truly fabulous mystery. Here are the literary thrill rides we can’t wait to take this year.
Plenty of thrillers have a killer premise, but far fewer have actual substance beneath their flashy hooks. Lloyd, the pen name for a husband and wife writing duo, exceeds expectations and then some in this nuanced look at an influencer, her slightly bitter husband and the person who’s stalking her.
Rous’ debut, The Au Pair, was absolutely everywhere in 2019, and now The Perfect Guests, a dual timeline tale set at an isolated British country manor, proves she’s not a one-trick pony.
Before She Disappears by Lisa Gardner
Dutton | January 19
The first standalone in a while from Gardner is a bit moodier and more melancholic than her previous handful of books. Before She Disappears follows Frankie Elkin as she recovers from alcoholism and searches for missing people whom law enforcement has given up on finding.
Blood Grove by Walter Mosley
Mulholland | February 2
Iconic private detective Easy Rawlins is back, and he’s facing all the turbulence and excitement of 1969 California. This is a particularly tricky case for the PI—a Vietnam veteran rushed to the aid of a woman who was being attacked, but now there’s no sign of her anywhere to be found, and Easy has to wonder whether the man is telling the truth.
Smoke by Joe Ide
Mulholland | February 23
Speaking of iconic sleuths, Isaiah Quintabe is well on his way to joining the ranks of Rawlins, and Ide’s series continues to tell his story and that of his associates in sprawling, ever-entertaining fashion.
Win by Harlan Coben
Grand Central | March 16
Windsor Horne Lockwood III, aka Win, has been stealing scenes for many a book in Coben’s Myron Bolitar series. Now Win’s getting the spotlight, and fans will finally get to be inside the head of one of Coben’s most intriguing characters.
Red Widow by Alma Katsu
Putnam | March 23
Katsu has carved out quite the niche for herself with chilly historical tales situated somewhere between horror and thriller. But what comes next is something completely different! Katsu drew from her own experience as a former intelligence analyst for the CIA to craft this compelling and suspenseful tale of modern espionage.
Northern Spy by Flynn Berry
Viking | April 6
Rising star Berry returns with what might be her big breakout novel. When Tessa, a BBC producer in Belfast, sees security camera footage of her sister, Marian, taking part in a robbery, she assumes Marian’s been kidnapped by the IRA and is being forced to commit robbery. But law enforcement doesn’t agree, and Tessa is forced to see how far she’d go to save her sister and clear her name.
You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes
Random House | April 6
Everyone’s favorite well-read psychopath is back, and this time Joe Goldberg has his obsessive sights set on a librarian in a tiny island town in the Pacific Northwest. He, of course, thinks it’s going to be different this time. Readers of Kepnes’ books and fans of the hit TV show based on them know better.
While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams
Doubleday | May 11
Not content with potentially changing the political landscape of Georgia and becoming one of the Democratic party's new icons, Abrams is also releasing her first thriller! She has previously published romance novels under the pen name Selena Montgomery, but Abrams’ next book looks to be more of a classic legal thriller in the vein of John Grisham.
A Rogue’s Company by Allison Montclair
Minotaur | June 8
We’re enormous fans of Montclair’s Sparks & Bainbridge mysteries series here at BookPage HQ, but if you haven’t had the pleasure, let us introduce you. Iris Sparks and Gwendolyn Bainbridge run a dating agency in post-WWII Britain. Iris is a former spy, Gwendolyn is a high-society swan, and they trade the snappiest banter ever heard outside of one of the Thin Man films while solving the mysteries that come their way.
Dream Girl by Laura Lippman
William Morrow | June 22
Lippman’s been on a real hot streak of late, with the one-two punch of Sunburn and Lady in the Lake. Her next thriller takes its cue from Stephen King’s iconic Misery, introducing us to hospital-bedridden writer Gerry Andersen, who starts getting mysterious calls from a woman who claims to be one of his characters.
Survive the Night by Riley Sager
Dutton | June 29
All of Riley Sager's books take an established horror or thriller trope and give it a smart, knowing twist. This time, it’s a creepy hitchhiking situation (with the added bonus of a ’90s setting!).
The Turnout by Megan Abbott
Putnam | July 6
One of the most well-known and acclaimed thriller writers working today is back with a twisted tale of fraying ties at a family-run ballet studio.
Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby
Flatiron | July 6
Cosby’s debut, Blacktop Wasteland, was our Best Mystery & Suspense book of 2020, and thank goodness we don’t have to wait too long for his second. Two ex-cons go on a quest for vengeance when their married sons are murdered. But since both men failed to accept their sons’ sexuality when they were alive, they must also confront shame and guilt in what sounds like another complex and ambitious thriller.
The Shadows of Men by Abir Mukherjee
Pegasus | July 6
The Wyndham and Banerjee series deserves every ounce of hype it gets, so we’re always excited for a new installment. This time, our team of sleuths is investigating the murder of a Hindu theologian, which threatens to tip 1923 Calcutta into full-blown turmoil given the already tense relationships among various religious groups in the city.
Silence in the Library by Katharine Schellman
Crooked Lane | July 13
Schellman’s debut, The Body in the Garden, was the Platonic ideal of a Regency-era cozy mystery—sharp, charming, but never so enamored with its setting that it failed to examine its uglier aspects. In Silence in the Library, Lily Adler has another murder to solve, but this time she’ll also have to deal with her estranged father since the victim is an old family friend.
For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing
Berkley | July 20
Buckle your seat belts because Downing is back, and that means another absolutely wild ride of a book awaits us. Her latest will introduce readers to Teddy Crutcher, a teacher at a prestigious academy who’s very devoted to his job.
A Comedy of Terrors by Lindsey Davis
Minotaur | July 27
Davis’ sequel series to her iconic Marcus Falco mysteries brings the same dark wit and vivid historical detail to the adventures of his daughter, Flavia Albia. If you’re tired of the more well-trodden periods of historical mysteries, you should really try these books, which are set in Imperial Rome. This go-round will see Flavia investigating a gang war during the Roman festival of Saturnalia.
Find Me by Alafair Burke
Harper | August 3
In Burke’s next twisty, sneaky thriller, a woman who can’t remember her past, a Manhattan defense lawyer and a cop all find that their lives are intertwined with a murderer.
My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones
Saga | August 31
The Only Good Indians was a startling, wonderfully assured debut, so we can’t wait to see what Jones does next. His sophomore novel will follow Jade, a horror superfan who fears that something terrible is about to happen in her rapidly gentrifying hometown.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Discover all of BookPage’s most anticipated books of 2021.