As winter draws to a close, there’s nothing better than the promise of spring — and the enthralling books the new season brings. If you’re a fan of precarious situations, characters hiding sinister secrets, and twists that are impossible to guess, you’ll have plenty to look forward to. Here are some of the best thriller and mystery books 2018 has to offer this spring, complete with publishers’ descriptions.
If I Die Tonight by Alison Gaylin
Reminiscent of the bestsellers of Laura Lippman and Harlan Coben — with a dose of Big Little Lies or Stranger Things — an absorbing, addictive tale of psychological suspense from the author of the highly acclaimed and Edgar Award-nominated What Remains of Me and the USA Today bestselling and Shamus Award-winning Brenna Spector series, in which a seemingly open-and-shut police case with a clear-cut hero and villain turns out to be anything but simple.
Late one night in the quiet Hudson Valley town of Havenkill, a distraught woman stumbles into the police station — and lives are changed forever.
Aimee En, once a darling of the ’80s pop music scene, claims that a teenage boy stole her car, then ran over another young man who’d rushed to help.
As Liam Miller’s life hangs in the balance, the events of that fateful night begin to come into focus. But is everything as it seems?
The case quickly consumes social media, transforming Liam, a local high school football star, into a folk hero, and the suspect, a high school outcast named Wade Reed, into a depraved would-be killer. But is Wade really guilty? And if he isn’t, why won’t he talk?
Told from a kaleidoscope of viewpoints — Wade’s mother Jackie, his younger brother Connor, Aimee En and Pearl Maze, a young police officer with a tragic past, If I Die Tonight is a story of family ties and dark secrets — and the lengths we’ll go to protect ourselves.
The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth
Small, perfect towns often hold the deepest secrets.
From the outside, Essie’s life looks idyllic: a loving husband, a beautiful house in a good neighborhood, and a nearby mother who dotes on her grandchildren. But few of Essie’s friends know her secret shame: that in a moment of maternal despair, she once walked away from her newborn, asleep in her carriage in a park. Disaster was avoided and Essie got better, but she still fears what lurks inside her, even as her daughter gets older and she has a second baby.
When a new woman named Isabelle moves in next door to Essie, she is an immediate object of curiosity in the neighborhood. Why single, when everyone else is married with children? Why renting, when everyone else owns? What mysterious job does she have? And why is she so fascinated with Essie? As the two women grow closer and Essie’s friends voice their disapproval, it starts to become clear that Isabelle’s choice of neighborhood was no accident. And that her presence threatens to bring shocking secrets to light.
The Family Next Door is Sally Hepworth at her very best: at once a deeply moving portrait of family drama and a compelling suburban mystery that will keep you hooked until the very last page.
The Escape Artist by Brad Meltzer
WHO IS NOLA BROWN?
Nola is a mystery
Nola is trouble.
And Nola is supposed to be dead.
Her body was found on a plane that mysteriously fell from the sky as it left a secret military base in the Alaskan wilderness. Her commanding officer verifies she’s dead. The US government confirms it. But Jim “Zig” Zigarowski has just found out the truth: Nola is still alive. And on the run.
Zig works at Dover Air Force Base, helping put to rest the bodies of those who die on top-secret missions. Nola was a childhood friend of Zig’s daughter and someone who once saved his daughter’s life. So when Zig realizes Nola is still alive, he’s determined to find her. Yet as Zig digs into Nola’s past, he learns that trouble follows Nola everywhere she goes.
Nola is the U.S. Army’s artist-in-residence-a painter and trained soldier who rushes into battle, making art from war’s aftermath and sharing observations about today’s wars that would otherwise go overlooked. On her last mission, Nola saw something nobody was supposed to see, earning her an enemy unlike any other, one who will do whatever it takes to keep Nola quiet.
Together, Nola and Zig will either reveal a sleight of hand being played at the highest levels of power or die trying to uncover the US Army’s most mysterious secret-a centuries-old conspiracy that traces back through history to the greatest escape artist of all: Harry Houdini.
Duel to the Death by J. A. Jance
From New York Times bestselling author and “grand master of the game” (The Providence Journal) J.A. Jance, an electrifying new thriller featuring Ali Reynolds.
After taking down the man responsible for his best friend’s death, Stuart Ramey thinks the case is finally closed. That is, until Stu finds himself left with a multimillion dollar fortune in Bitcoin in a desperate bid by Frigg, a rogue A.I. program created by the killer, to keep itself from being fully deactivated.
To sort out his situation and take Frigg down for good, Stu enlists the help of Ali Reynolds and the rest of his cyber security colleagues at High Noon Enterprises. But they are not the only ones who know about Frigg’s existence.
Graciella Miramar, an unassuming accountant to all appearances, is actually the right-hand woman to El Pescado, the leader of a dangerous drug cartel. She’ll do anything to get her hands on that program. With Frigg’s help, Graciella hopes to take over her father’s criminal underworld and become wealthy beyond her wildest dreams. But Stu — and El Pescado and his henchmen — may not be so easily defeated.
Written in J.A. Jance’s classic “take-no-prisoners” style (Kirkus Reviews), in this thriller, Stu, Ali, and their team will come to realize that everything has its price.
Release date: March 20
The Temptation of Forgiveness by Donna Leon
In the 27th novel in Donna Leon’s bestselling mystery series, a suspicious accident leads Commissario Guido Brunetti to uncover a longstanding scam with disturbing unintended consequences.
The memorable characters and Venetian drama that have long captivated Donna Leon’s many readers are on full display in The Temptation of Forgiveness. Surprised, if not dismayed, to discover from his superior, Vice-Questore Patta, that leaks are emanating from the Questura, Commissario Guido Brunetti is surprised more consequentially by the appearance of a friend of his wife’s, fearful that her son is using drugs and hopeful Brunetti can somehow intervene. When Tullio Gasparini, the woman’s husband, is found unconscious and with a serious brain injury at the foot of a bridge in Venice after midnight, Brunetti is drawn to pursue a possible connection to the boy’s behavior. But the truth, as Brunetti has experienced so often, is not straightforward.
As the twenty-seventh novel unfolds in Donna Leon’s exquisite chronicle of Venetian life in all its blissful and sordid aspects, Brunetti pursues several false and contradictory leads while growing ever more impressed by the intuition of his fellow Commissario, Claudia Griffoni, and by the endless resourcefulness and craftiness of Signorina Elettra, Patta’s secretary and gate-keeper. Exasperated by the petty bureaucracy that constantly bedevils him and threatens to expose Signorina Elettra, Brunetti is steadied by the embrace of his own family and by his passion for the classics. This predilection leads him to read Sophocles’ Antigone, and, in its light, consider the terrible consequences to which the actions of a tender heart can lead.
Release date: March 20
The Disappeared by C. J. Box
Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett has two lethal cases to contend with in the electrifying new novel from #1 New York Times-bestselling author C. J. Box.
Wyoming’s new governor isn’t sure what to make of Joe Pickett, but he has a job for him that is extremely delicate. A prominent female British executive never came home from the high-end guest ranch she was visiting, and the British Embassy is pressing hard. Pickett knows that happens sometimes — these ranches are stocked with handsome young cowboys, and “ranch romances” aren’t uncommon. But no sign of her months after she vanished? That suggests something else.
At the same time, his friend Nate Romanowski has asked Joe to intervene with the feds on behalf of falconers who can no longer hunt with eagles even though their permits are in order. Who is blocking the falconers and why? The more he investigates both cases, the more someone wants him to go away. Is it because of the missing woman or because he’s become Nate’s advocate? Or are they somehow connected? The answers, when they come, will be even worse than he’d imagined.
Release date: March 27
The Good Liar by Catherine McKenzie
Can you hide a secret with the whole world watching?
When an explosion rips apart a Chicago building, the lives of three women are forever altered.
A year later, Cecily is in mourning. She was supposed to be in the building that day. Instead, she stood on the street and witnessed it going down, with her husband and best friend inside. Kate, now living thousands of miles away, fled the disaster and is hoping that her past won’t catch up with her. And Franny, a young woman in search of her birth mother, watched the horror unfold on the morning news, knowing that the woman she was so desperate to reconnect with was in the building.
Now, despite the marks left by the tragedy, they all seem safe. But as its anniversary dominates the media, the memories of that terrifying morning become dangerous triggers. All these women are guarding important secrets. Just how far will they go to keep them?
Release date: April 3
A Necessary Evil by Abir Mukherjee
India, 1920. Captain Wyndham and Sergeant Banerjee of the Calcutta Police Force investigate the dramatic assassination of a Maharajah’s son, in the sequel to A Rising Man.
The fabulously wealthy kingdom of Sambalpore is home to tigers, elephants, diamond mines, and the beautiful Palace of the Sun. But when the heir to the throne is assassinated in the presence of Captain Sam Wyndham and Sergeant ‘Surrender-Not’ Banerjee, they discover a kingdom riven with suppressed conflict. Prince Adhir was a modernizer whose attitudes — and romantic relationships — may have upset the more religious elements of his country, while his brother — now in line to the throne — appears to be a feckless playboy.
As Wyndham and Banerjee desperately try to unravel the mystery behind the assassination, they become entangled in a dangerous world where those in power live by their own rules — and those who cross their paths pay with their lives. They must find a murderer, before the murderer finds them…
Release date: April 3
The Sixth Day by Catherine Coulter and J. T. Ellison
Special agents Nicholas Drummond and Michaela Caine take on a ruthless mastermind in the fifth highly anticipated thriller in the New York Times bestselling A Brit in the FBI series.
When several major political figures die mysteriously, officials declare the deaths are from natural causes. Then the German Vice-Chancellor dies on the steps of 10 Downing Street, and a drone is spotted hovering over the scene. The truth becomes clear — these high-profile deaths are well-constructed assassinations, and the Covert Eyes team is tasked to investigate.
With the help of Dr. Isabella Marin, a young expert in the enigmatic Voynich Manuscript and cryptophasia (twin language), Nicholas and Michaela home in on Roman Ardelean, a wealthy cybersecurity genius and a descendant of fifteenth century Romanian Vlad the Impaler — often romanticized as Dracula. Ardelean believes the Voynich Manuscript will unlock the secret to curing his severely ill twin brother’s blood disorder and is willing to murder anyone who gets in his way, including Nicholas and Michaela.
Along with MI5, the Covert Eyes team must race against the clock to find Ardelean before he unleashes a devastating attack on London intended to destroy those he believes betrayed him.
Release date: April 10
After Anna by Lisa Scottoline
Nobody cuts deeper than family…
Dr. Noah Alderman, a widower and single father, has remarried a wonderful woman, Maggie Ippolitti, and for the first time in a long time, he and his young son are happy. Despite her longing for the daughter she hasn’t seen since she was a baby, Maggie is happy too, and she’s even more overjoyed when she unexpectedly gets another chance to be a mother to the child she thought she’d lost forever, her only daughter Anna.
Maggie and Noah know that having Anna around will change their lives, but they would never have guessed that everything would go wrong, and so quickly. Anna turns out to be a gorgeous seventeen-year-old who balks at living under their rules, though Maggie, ecstatic to have her daughter back, ignores the red flags that hint at the trouble brewing in a once-perfect marriage and home.
Events take a heartbreaking turn when Anna is murdered and Noah is accused and tried for the heinous crime. Maggie must face not only the devastation of losing her daughter, but the realization that Anna’s murder may have been at the hands of a husband she loves. In the wake of this tragedy, new information drives Maggie to search for the truth, leading her to discover something darker than she could have ever imagined.
Riveting and disquieting, After Anna is a groundbreaking domestic thriller, as well as a novel of emotional justice and legal intrigue. And New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline will keep readers on their toes until the final shocking page.
Release date: April 10
Twenty-One Days by Anne Perry
In the first book of an all-new series, a young lawyer races to save his client from execution, putting him at odds with his own father: Thomas Pitt, head of London’s Special Police Branch.
1910: Twenty-five-year-old Daniel Pitt is a junior barrister in London and eager to prove himself, independent of his renowned parents’ influence. And the new case before him will be the test. When his client, arrogant biographer Russell Graves, is found guilty of murdering his wife, Daniel is dispatched to find the real killer before Graves faces the hangman’s noose — in only twenty-one days.
Could Mrs. Graves’s violent death have anything to do with her husband’s profession? Someone in power may be framing the biographer to keep damaging secrets from coming to light. It is a theory that leads Daniel’s investigation unexpectedly to London’s Special Branch — and, disturbingly, to one of his father’s closest colleagues.
Caught between duty to the law and a fierce desire to protect his family, Daniel must call on his keen intellect — and trust his natural instincts — to find the truth in a tangle of dark deception, lest an innocent man hang for another’s heinous crime.
Release date: April 10
Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.
And then she was gone.
Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a café, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters — and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.
Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?
Release date: April 17
The Fallen by David Baldacci
Amos Decker is the Memory Man. Following a football-related head injury that altered his personality, Decker is now unable to forget even the smallest detail — as much a curse as it is a blessing. And in #1 New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci’s gripping new thriller, Decker’s life might be about to change again…
Something sinister is going on in Baronville. The rust belt town has seen four bizarre murders in the space of two weeks. Cryptic clues left at the scenes — obscure bible verses, odd symbols — have the police stumped.
Amos Decker and his FBI colleague Alex Jamison are in Baronville visiting Alex’s sister and her family. It’s a bleak place: a former mill and mining town with a crumbling economy and rampant opioid addiction. Decker has only been there a few hours when he stumbles on a horrific double murder scene.
Then the next killing hits sickeningly close to home. And with the lives of people he cares about suddenly hanging in the balance, Decker begins to realize that the recent string of deaths may be only one small piece of a much larger scheme–with consequences that will reach far beyond Baronville.
Decker, with his singular talents, may be the only one who can crack this bizarre case. Only this time — when one mistake could cost him everything — Decker finds that his previously infallible memory may not be so trustworthy after all…
Release date: April 17
Warning Light by David Ricciardi
No one knows what CIA desk jockey Zac Miller is capable of — including himself — when a routine surveillance job becomes a do-or-die mission in the Middle East.
When a commercial flight violates restricted airspace to make an emergency landing at a closed airport in Iran, the passengers are just happy to be alive and ready to transfer to a functional plane. All of them except one…
The American technology consultant in business class is not who he says he is. Zac Miller is a CIA analyst. And after an agent’s cover gets blown, Zac — though never trained to be a field operative — volunteers to take his place, to keep a surveillance mission from being scrubbed.
Zac thinks it will be easy to photograph the earthquake-ravaged airport that is located near a hidden top secret nuclear facility. But when everything that can go wrong does, he finds himself on the run from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards and abandoned by his own teammates, who think he has gone rogue. Embarking on a harrowing journey through the mountains of Iran to the Persian Gulf and across Europe, Zac can only rely on himself. But even if he makes it out alive, the life he once had may be lost to him forever…
Release date: April 17
Twisted Prey by John Sandford
Lucas Davenport confronts an old nemesis, now a powerful U.S. senator, in the thrilling new novel in the #1 New York Times-bestselling Prey series.
Lucas Davenport had crossed paths with her before.
A rich psychopath, Taryn Grant had run successfully for the U.S. Senate, where Lucas had predicted she’d fit right in. He was also convinced that she’d been responsible for three murders, though he’d never been able to prove it. Once a psychopath had gotten that kind of rush, though, he or she often needed another fix, so he figured he might be seeing her again.
He was right. A federal marshal now, with a very wide scope of investigation, he’s heard rumors that Grant has found her seat on the Senate intelligence committee, and the contacts she’s made from it, to be very… useful. Pinning those rumors down was likely to be just as difficult as before, and considerably more dangerous.
But they had unfinished business, he and Grant. One way or the other, he was going to see it through to the end.
Release date: April 24
Wicked River by Jenny Milchman
Six million acres of Adirondack forest separate Natalie and Doug Larson from civilization. For the newlyweds, an isolated, back country honeymoon seems ideal: a chance to start their lives together with an adventure, on their own. But just as Natalie and Doug begin to explore the dark interiors of their own hearts, as well as the depths of their love for each other, it becomes clear that they are not alone in the woods.
Because six million acres makes it easy for the wicked to hide. And even easier for someone to go missing for good.
As they struggle with the worst the wilderness has to offer, a man watches them, wielding the forest like a weapon. And once they are near his domain, he will do everything in his power to make sure they never walk out again.
Release date: May 1
The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy
Some people are so good at making perfect look easy.
They call themselves the May Mothers — a collection of new moms who gave birth in the same month. Twice a week, with strollers in tow, they get together in Prospect Park, seeking refuge from the isolation of new motherhood; sharing the fears, joys, and anxieties of their new child-centered lives.
When the group’s members agree to meet for drinks at a hip local bar, they have in mind a casual evening of fun, a brief break from their daily routine. But on this sultry Fourth of July night during the hottest summer in Brooklyn’s history, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is taken from his crib. Winnie, a single mom, was reluctant to leave six-week-old Midas with a babysitter, but the May Mothers insisted that everything would be fine. Now Midas is missing, the police are asking disturbing questions, and Winnie’s very private life has become fodder for a ravenous media.
Though none of the other members in the group is close to the reserved Winnie, three of them will go to increasingly risky lengths to help her find her son. And as the police bungle the investigation and the media begin to scrutinize the mothers in the days after Midas goes missing, damaging secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are formed and fractured.
Unfolding over the course of thirteen fraught days and culminating in an exquisite and unexpected twist, The Perfect Mother is the perfect book for our times — a nuanced and addictively readable story that exposes the truth of modern mothers’ lives as it explores the power of an ideal that is based on a lie.
Release date: May 1
The Crooked Staircase by Dean Koontz
Jane Hawk — who dazzled readers in The Silent Corner and The Whispering Room — faces the fight of her life, against the threat of a lifetime, in this electrifying new thriller by #1 New York Times bestselling suspense master Dean Koontz.
“I could be dead tomorrow. Or something worse than dead.”
Jane Hawk knows she may be living on borrowed time. But as long as she’s breathing, she’ll never cease her one-woman war against the terrifying conspiracy that threatens the freedom — and free will — of millions. Battling the strange epidemic of murder-suicides that claimed Jane’s husband, and is escalating across the country, has made the rogue FBI agent a wanted fugitive, relentlessly hunted not only by the government but by the secret cabal behind the plot. Deploying every resource their malign nexus of power and technology commands, Jane’s enemies are determined to see her dead… or make her wish she was.
Jane’s ruthless pursuers can’t stop her from drawing a bead on her prey: a cunning man with connections in high places, a twisted soul of unspeakable depths with an army of professional killers on call. Propelled by her righteous fury and implacable insistence on justice, Jane will make her way from southern Southern California to the snow-swept slopes of Lake Tahoe to confront head-on the lethal forces arrayed against her. But nothing can prepare her for the chilling truth that awaits when she descends the crooked staircase to the dark and dreadful place where her long nightmare was born.
Release date: May 8
Blackout by Alex Segura
In Blackout, the latest novel in Alex Segura’s acclaimed Pete Fernandez Mystery series, startling new evidence in a cold case that’s haunted Pete drags the exiled PI back to his hometown of Miami. But as Pete and his partner Kathy Bentley delve deeper into the unsolved murder, they become entangled in Miami’s obsession with a charismatic and dangerous cult leader and his even more menacing followers. At the same time, the detectives find themselves at odds with a Florida politician’s fixation on wealth, fame and power. It all converges in the heart of the Magic City and Pete is left scrambling to pick up the pieces — or die trying.
The Pete Fernandez novels have always run on two tracks — the long-buried Miami mystery that Pete is forced to solve, and Pete’s often unpredictable evolution from self-destructive alcoholic to somewhat functional private eye. In Blackout, those two tracks blend into one dark, personal and deadly tale of dangerous obsession that will leave Pete Fernandez completely changed. It’s all been building to this.
Release date: May 9
The Outsider by Stephen King
An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation. At a time when the King brand has never been stronger, he has delivered one of his most unsettling and compulsively readable stories.
An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.
As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.
Release date: May 22
Cult X by Fuminori Nakamura
The magnum opus by Japanese literary sensation Fuminori Nakamura, Cult X is a story that dives into the psychology of fringe religion, obsession, and social disaffection.
When Toru Narazaki’s girlfriend, Ryoko Tachibana, disappears, he tries to track her down, despite the warnings of the private detective he’s hired to find her. Ryoko’s past is shrouded in mystery, but the one concrete clue to her whereabouts is a previous address in the heart of Tokyo. She lived in a compound with a group that seems to be a cult led by a charismatic guru with a revisionist Buddhist scheme of life, death, and society. Narazaki plunges into the secretive world of the cult, ready to expose himself to any of the guru’s brainwashing tactics if it means he can learn the truth about Ryoko. But the cult isn’t what he expected, and he has no idea of the bubbling violence he is stepping into.
Inspired by the 1995 sarin gas terrorist attack on the Tokyo subway, Cult X is an exploration of what draws individuals into extremism. It is a tour de force that captures the connections between astrophysics, neuroscience, and religion; an invective against predatory corporate consumerism and exploitative geopolitics; and a love story about compassion in the face of nihilism.
Release date: May 22
The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person — but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.
Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased… where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.
Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, this is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.
Release date: May 29
Which of these mystery and thriller books are you most excited to read? Tell us in the comments