August 2015 Must Reads in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction

Here are the  books that I’m especially looking forward to in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction for August Enjoy (all synopsis are from B&N or Amazon)!


The Blue by Lucy Clarke (Touchstone-August 11)

Synopsis-Lana and her best friend Kitty leave home looking for freedom—and that’s exactly what they find when they are invited onto The Blue, a fifty-foot yacht making its way from the Philippines to New Zealand. Manned by a young crew of wanderers, The Blue is exactly the escape they are looking for and the two quickly fall under The Blue’s spell spending their days exploring remote islands, and their rum-filled nights relaxing on deck beneath the stars.

Yet paradise found can just as quickly become lost. Lana and Kitty begin to discover that they aren’t the only ones with secrets they’d rather run from than reveal. And when one of their new friends disappears overboard after an argument with the other crewmembers, the dark secrets that brought each of them aboard start to unravel.



Trust No One by Paul Cleave (Atria-August 4th)

Synopsis-Jerry Grey is known to most of the world by his crime writing pseudonym, Henry Cutter—a name that has been keeping readers at the edge of their seats for more than a decade. Recently diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at the age of forty-nine, Jerry’s crime writing days are coming to an end. His twelve books tell stories of brutal murders committed by bad men, of a world out of balance, of victims finding the darkest forms of justice. As his dementia begins to break down the wall between his life and the lives of the characters he has created, Jerry confesses his worst secret: The stories are real. He knows this because he committed the crimes. Those close to him, including the nurses at the care home where he now lives, insist that it is all in his head, that his memory is being toyed with and manipulated by his unfortunate disease. But if that were true, then why are so many bad things happening? Why are people dying?


All That Followed (Henry Holt-August 4th)

Synopsis-A psychologically twisting novel about a politically-charged act of violence that echoes through a small Spanish town; a dazzling debut in the tradition of Daniel Alarcón and Mohsin Hamid

It’s 2004 in Muriga, a quiet town in Spain’s northern Basque Country, a place with more secrets than inhabitants. Five years have passed since the kidnapping and murder of a young local politician–a family man and father–and the town’s rhythms have almost returned to normal. But in the aftermath of the Atocha train bombings in Madrid, an act of terrorism that rocked a nation and a world, the townspeople want a reckoning of Muriga’s own troubled past: Everyone knows who pulled the trigger five years ago, but is the young man now behind bars the only one to blame? All That Followed peels away the layers of a crime complicated by history, love, and betrayal. The accounts of three townspeople in particular–the councilman’s beautiful young widow, the teenage radical now in jail for the crime, and an aging American teacher hiding a traumatic past of his own–hold the key to what really happened. And for these three, it’s finally time to confront what they can find of the truth.

Inspired by a true story, All That Followed is a powerful, multifaceted novel about a nefarious kind of violence that can take hold when we least expect. Urgent, elegant, and gorgeously atmospheric, Urza’s debut is a book for the world we live in now, and it marks the arrival of a brilliant new writer to watch.


The 3rd Woman by Jonathan Freedland (Harper-August 4th)

Synopsis-An award-winning journalist delivers a chilling and unique thriller, in which a daring reporter’s investigation into her sister’s death draws her into the crosshairs of enemies determined to keep their secrets safe—at any cost.

The United States and China have struck a shocking bargain: In return for forgiving trillions in debt, the People’s Republic of China—now the world’s dominant global superpower—has established a permanent military presence on US soil. Years of decline have left America economically vulnerable, and evidence of China’s cultural and political dominance is everywhere.

Journalist Madison Webb is obsessed with exposing the lies and corruption that have corroded her once great society. When her sister is savagely murdered, the police insist it’s an isolated crime. But Madison suspects the cops are hiding something. Digging for answers, she discovers her sister’s death may be one of many . . . and part of a dangerous conspiracy. Even though her life is on the line, Madison refuses to give up on the story. And sooner or later, she will have to confront the consequences of exposing the powerful forces intent on hiding the truth.


The Casualties by Nick Holdstock (Thomas Dunne-August 4th)

Synopsis-Samuel Clark likes secrets. He wants to know the hidden stories of the bizarre characters on the little streets of Edinburgh, Scotland. He wants to know about a nymphomaniac, a man who lives under a bridge, a girl with a cracked face. He wants to uncover their histories because he has secrets of his own. He believes, as people do, that he is able to change. He believes, as the whole world does, that there is plenty of time to solve his problems. But Samuel Clark and the rest of the world are wrong. Change and tragedy are going to scream into his and everyone’s lives. It will be a great transformation, a radical change; and it just might be worth the cost.


The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips (Henry Holt-August 11th)

Synopsis-A young wife’s new job pits her against the unfeeling machinations of the universe in this dazzling first novel Ursula K. Le Guin hails as “funny, sad, scary, beautiful. I love it.”

In a windowless building in a remote part of town, the newly employed Josephine inputs an endless string of numbers into something known only as The Database. After a long period of joblessness, she’s not inclined to question her fortune, but as the days inch by and the files stack up, Josephine feels increasingly anxious in her surroundings-the office’s scarred pinkish walls take on a living quality, the drone of keyboards echoes eerily down the long halls. When one evening her husband Joseph disappears and then returns, offering no explanation as to his whereabouts, her creeping unease shifts decidedly to dread.

As other strange events build to a crescendo, the haunting truth about Josephine’s work begins to take shape in her mind, even as something powerful is gathering its own form within her. She realizes that in order to save those she holds most dear, she must penetrate an institution whose tentacles seem to extend to every corner of the city and beyond. Both chilling and poignant, The Beautiful Bureaucrat is a novel of rare restraint and imagination. With it, Helen Phillips enters the company of Murakami, Bender, and Atwood as she twists the world we know and shows it back to us full of meaning and wonder-luminous and new.


The Reckoning by Carsten Stroud (Vintage-August 18th)

Synopsis-Niceville has an almost unearthly beauty when the sun tops the ancient nearby mountain called Tallulah’s Wall and bathes it in soft Southern light. But there’s a reason Native American tribes avoided the place: An absence that inhabits the air and the depthless “sink” atop Tallulah’s Wall. This “Nothing” has long bent time and the desires of a chosen few to her shadowy ends.

As THE RECKONING begins, Detective Nick Kavanaugh and his wife, family lawyer Kate, have accepted that reality in Niceville is not normal. Seemingly, they’ve fought Nothing to a draw. But now a buzzing emerges in the heads of some perfectly normal folks. Nothing isn’t finished.

Come to Niceville and sink into Carsten Stroud’s inimitable blend of crime and supernatural thriller, as characters you’ll love throw in with bad guys you’ll like way more than you should as they battle evil.


Last Words by Michael Koryta (Little, Brown-August 18th)
Synopsis-Markus Novak just wants to come home. An investigator for a Florida-based Death Row defense firm, Novak’s life derailed when his wife, Lauren, was killed in the midst of a case the two were working together. Two years later, her murderer is still at large, and Novak’s attempts to learn the truth about her death through less-than-legal means and jailhouse bargaining have put his job on the line. Now he’s been all but banished, sent to Garrison, Indiana to assess a cold case that he’s certain his boss has no intention of taking.

As Novak knows all too well, some crimes never do get solved. But it’s not often that the man who many believe got away with murder is the one calling for the case to be reopened. Ten years ago, a teenaged girl disappeared inside an elaborate cave system beneath rural farmland. Days later, Ridley Barnes emerged carrying Sarah Martin’s lifeless body. Barnes has claimed all along that he has no memory of exactly where — or how — he found Sarah. His memory of whether she was dead or alive at the time is equally foggy. Tired of living under a cloud of suspicion, he says he wants answers — even if they mean he’ll end up in the electric chair.

But what’s he really up to? And Novak knows why he’s so unhappy to be in Garrison – but why are the locals so hostile towards him? The answers lie in the fiendish brain of a dangerous man, the real identity of a mysterious woman, and deep beneath them all, in the network of ancient, stony passages that hold secrets deadlier than he can imagine. Soon Novak is made painfully aware that if he has any chance of returning to the life and career he left behind in Florida, he’ll need to find the truth in Garrison first.


The Intruder by Håkan Östlund (Minotaur-August 18th)

Synopsis-In The Intruder the Andersson family is being sent scary letters without a sender’s name. Who could possibly want to harm them?

Gotland policeman Fredrik Broman and his colleagues take the threats seriously, but cannot rule out the possibility that it is all a tasteless joke. When the threats escalate and the couple’s daughter disappears, all doubts vanish. This is for real. And it is only the beginning.

When the police pressure the husband, a complicated family history is revealed. What really made him return to the small island after his successful career as an international photographer? Is it really someone nearby that wants to harm the family, or does the threat come from elsewhere?

Published in many countries world-wide, acclaimed crime novelist Håkan Östlundh combines high literary quality with high-end suspense.


Dragon Day by Lisa Brackmann (Soho-August 18th)

Synopsis-Ellie McEnroe is an Iraq War vet living in Beijing, where she represents the work of cutting-edge Chinese political artists. She has one bum leg, a taste for dumplings and beer, and an evangelical mother and a sweet-tempered rescue mutt for roommates. She also has Chinese Domestic Security on her tail and a dwindling number of Percocets to get her through her bad days.

And she’s about to have some bad days. The immensely powerful—and occasionally homicidal—Shanghai billionaire Sidney Cao has asked Ellie to investigate Marsh Brody, his son’s suspicious new American business partner. Ellie knows she can’t refuse, and is grudgingly swept up into the elite social circles of Sidney’s three children: debauched Guwei, rebellious Meimei and social climber Tiantian. When a waitress is murdered at one of Tiantian’s parties, the last thing Ellie wants is to get sucked into a huge scandal involving China’s rich and powerful. But Ellie quickly becomes the most convenient suspect and realizes she’ll have to figure out who really did it—and even that might not be enough to save herself.


Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh (Penguin-August 18th)

Synopsis-A lonely young woman working in a boys’ prison outside Boston in the early 60s is pulled into a very strange crime, in a mordant, harrowing story of obsession and suspense, by one of the brightest new voices in fiction

So here we are. My name was Eileen Dunlop. Now you know me. I was twenty-four years old then, and had a job that paid fifty-seven dollars a week as a kind of secretary at a private juvenile correctional facility for teenage boys. I think of it now as what it really was for all intents and purposes—a prison for boys. I will call it Moorehead. Delvin Moorehead was a terrible landlord I had years later, and so to use his name for such a place feels appropriate. In a week, I would run away from home and never go back.

This is the story of how I disappeared.

The Christmas season offers little cheer for Eileen Dunlop, an unassuming yet disturbed young woman trapped between her role as her alcoholic father’s caretaker in a home whose squalor is the talk of the neighborhood and a day job as a secretary at the boys’ prison, filled with its own quotidian horrors. Consumed by resentment and self-loathing, Eileen tempers her dreary days with perverse fantasies and dreams of escaping to the big city. In the meantime, she fills her nights and weekends with shoplifting, stalking a buff prison guard named Randy, and cleaning up her increasingly deranged father’s messes. When the bright, beautiful, and cheery Rebecca Saint John arrives on the scene as the new counselor at Moorehead, Eileen is enchanted and proves unable to resist what appears at first to be a miraculously budding friendship. In a Hitchcockian twist, her affection for Rebecca ultimately pulls her into complicity in a crime that surpasses her wildest imaginings.

Played out against the snowy landscape of coastal New England in the days leading up to Christmas, young Eileen’s story is told from the gimlet-eyed perspective of the now much older narrator. Creepy, mesmerizing, and sublimely funny, in the tradition of Shirley Jackson and early Vladimir Nabokov, this powerful debut novel enthralls and shocks, and introduces one of the most original new voices in contemporary literature.


No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary (Penguin-August 18th)

Synopsis-The gripping follow-up to Sarah Hilary’s acclaimed debut Someone Else’s Skin, No Other Darkness finds mystery’s “impressive new cop-heroine” (The Times, London) on a case that hauntingly echoes her own family tragedy. Detective InspectorMarnie Rome and her partner Detective Sergeant Noah Jake are investigating the recent discovery of two dead boys in a bunker beneath a London garden. Terry and Beth, under whose garden the bodies were discovered, have two children of their own, and are also fostering a difficult boy named Clancy. Clancy reminds Marnie of her foster brother Stephen, who murdered her parents. Is Marnie’s past blinding her to the truth? Only one thing is certain: when Terry and Beth’s biological children vanish, Marnie can’t waste a moment finding them.


Hostage Taker by Stefanie Pintoff (Bantam-August 18th)

Synopsis-In the hushed quiet of early morning Manhattan, in front of the towering bronze doors of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, a young woman holds a sign that reads: HELP ME. For one FBI agent, a madman’s terrified hostages, and an entire city, a long and harrowing day is about to unfold.

The hostage taker’s identity is unknown. But he knows who FBI agent Eve Rossi is—and everything about her past. Along with her presence, he demands five witnesses: ordinary people with some hidden connection. Defying her superiors, Eve begins a deadly dance with an adversary whose intentions are surely sinister, whose endgame is anything but certain, and whose cunning keeps him one step ahead at every turn.

As Eve manages a taut hostage situation, she relies on the combined skills of her team—a secret unit inspired by France’s most notorious criminal and made up of ex-convicts with extraordinary talents, oversized egos, and contempt for the rules.

Eve is up against a rapidly ticking clock. But the dangerous man calling the shots has a timetable of his own—and a searing question for his targets: What are you guilty of? As shocking revelations surface, so does another crisis nobody could anticipate—one not even Eve and her team may be able to stop.


Eden by Candice Fox (Kensington-August 25th)

Synopsis-Most homicide detective teams run on trust, loyalty, and the shared desire to put killers behind bars. Frank Bennett’s partner, Eden Archer, thrives on darkness and danger. She has a rare talent for catching killers – but her idea of justice has little to do with courtrooms.

Now three girls are missing, and Eden is going undercover to a remote farm where the troubled go to hide and blood falls more often than rain. Frank’s job is to keep an eye on his partner while she’s there – but is it for Eden’s protection, or to protect others from her? Walking a tightrope between duty and desperation, Frank confronts a threat from Eden’s past—the sadistic crime lord Hades, who raised her. Suddenly, the hunter is the hunted. And a killer’s vicious desires are about to be unleashed . . .

The breathtaking new thriller from the author of Hades, winner of the Ned Kelly Award for Best Debut Crime Novel, establishes Candice Fox as a suspense writer of international renown and undisputed power.


The Grid by Harry Hunsicker (Thomas & Mercer-August 25th)

Synopsis-A former federal law enforcement contractor with a somewhat spotty record, Jon Cantrell has seen—and done—just about everything. Now he’s a sheriff, keeping the peace in small-town Texas. He thought that he’d finally settled into a quiet, less-complicated life—until his deputy gets himself murdered. Soon Cantrell’s search for the killer points to an online-dating site designed for extramarital affairs and to a woman who may have been the unfortunate deputy’s last date.

Meanwhile, someone is staging a series of seemingly random attacks on the regional power grid, and Cantrell is reluctantly pulled back into the federal fray when he accepts an off-the-books assignment to uncover the culprit. With the power company and the feds impatient for an arrest—and clues in his deputy’s case pointing to something more sinister—Cantrell must run parallel, conflicting investigations. But will he find what he’s looking for? Or is he about to take a fall?


Woman of the Dead by Bernard Aichner (Scribner-August 25th)

Synopsis-Blum is a mortician—an outspoken woman in a male dominated profession. She is also the loving mother of two young children, adored by those around her for her kind heart, her strength, and her sharp wit. Blum rides a motorcycle, and likes to spend time with friends and her husband, Mark, a policeman. She has been happily married to Mark for eight years, a perfect union. Blum has a good life—a life that masks the terrible secrets of her childhood.

Then, in one devastating moment, Mark is killed before Blum’s eyes. A hit-and-run. The most important thing in her life, her support and happiness, is taken from her. Blum grieves, but she refuses to accept her fate. She soon discovers that there is more to Mark’s death than meets the eye. This was no accident. A shadowy group of people wanted Mark dead. But why? Blum is determined to find out—and to have her revenge.

Woman of the Dead, the first book in a trilogy, is an unforgettable thriller about the lengths one passionate woman will go to for vengeance, and about the tug of war between good and evil in all of us. Writing with breakneck narration and rapid-fire dialogue, Bernhard Aichner is poised to follow in the steps of Jo Nesbo, Camilla Läckberg, and Jussi Adler-Olsen to become Europe’s new breakout star in crime fiction.


Stranded by Melinda Braun (Simon Pulse-August 25th)

Synopsis-In the tradition of 127 Hours and The Edge, a fascinating and suspenseful novel about a group of teens battling for their lives against the most violent villain in history—Mother Nature.

It’s human instinct to survive…but Mother Nature has other plans.

Plagued with guilt after surviving the car accident that took her sister’s life, Emma ventures into the rugged and mysterious wilderness of the Boundary Waters in search of some much needed peace. But when a freak windstorm kills her guide, Emma and a handful of other campers are forced to fend for themselves. Lost, hungry, and exhausted, the small group must rely on their survival instincts as they travel through the forest towards Lake Superior.

But the Boundary Waters is vast and unpredictable, and as the days drag on, it becomes clear that the group is no match for what Mother Nature has in store—and time is running out.

As they continue to battle the elements, Emma realizes that nature isn’t her only threat: there’s one camper who will do whatever it takes to make it out of the Boundary Waters alive. Even if he’s the only one…

With ripped-from-the-headlines drama, this stirring story of heroism and survival will have you at the edge of your seat until the very last page.


Lost Canyon by Nina Revoyr (Akashic-August 25th)

Synopsis-Four people on a backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevada find more adventure than they ever imagined. Each of them is drawn to the mountains for reasons as diverse as their own lives. Gwen Foster, a counselor for at-risk youth, is struggling with burnout from the demands of her job and with the loss of one of her teens. Real estate agent Oscar Barajas is adjusting to the fall of the housing market and being a single parent. Todd Harris, an attorney, is stuck in a lucrative but unfulfilling career–and in a failing marriage. They are all brought together by their trainer, Tracy Cole, a former athlete with a taste for risky pursuits.

When the hikers start up a pristine mountain trail that hasn’t been traveled in years, all they have to guide them is a hand-drawn map of a remote, mysterious place called Lost Canyon. At first, the route past high alpine lakes and under towering, snowcapped peaks offers all the freedom and exhilaration they’d hoped for. But when they stumble onto someone who doesn’t want to be found, the group finds itself faced with a series of dangerous conflicts, moral dilemmas, confrontations with nature, and an all-out struggle for survival.

Moving effortlessly between city and wilderness, Lost Canyon explores the ways that race, class, and culture shape experience and perception. It examines the choices good people must face in desperate situations. Set in the grand, wild landscape of the California mountains, Lost Canyon is a story of brewing social tensions and breathtaking adventure that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.


You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman (Harper-August 25th)

Synopsis-An intelligent and madly entertaining debut novel reminiscent of The Crying of Lot 49, White Noise, and City of Glass that is at once a missing-person mystery, an exorcism of modern culture, and a wholly singular vision of contemporary womanhood from a terrifying and often funny voice of a new generation.

A woman known only by the letter A lives in an unnamed American city with her roommate, B, and boyfriend, C, who wants her to join him on a reality show called That’s My Partner! A eats (or doesn’t) the right things, watches endless amounts of television, often just for the commercials—particularly the recurring cartoon escapades of Kandy Kat, the mascot for an entirely chemical dessert—and models herself on a standard of beauty that only exists in such advertising. She fixates on the fifteen minutes of fame a news-celebrity named Michael has earned after buying up his local Wally Supermarket’s entire, and increasingly ample, supply of veal.

Meanwhile B is attempting to make herself a twin of A, who hungers for something to give meaning to her life, something aside from C’s pornography addiction, and becomes indoctrinated by a new religion spread throughout a web of corporate franchises, which moves her closer to the decoys that populate her television world, but no closer to her true nature.

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