These mystery and thriller books will surely bring joy to avid crime fiction and mystery readers. (Note: For our coverage of best crime, mystery, and thriller books in previous months, please visit here).
These Toxic Things by Rachel Howzell Hal (September 1). Mickie Lambert creates “digital scrapbooks” for clients, ensuring that precious souvenirs aren’t forgotten or lost. When her latest client, Nadia Denham, a curio shop owner, dies from an apparent suicide, Mickie honors the old woman’s last wish and begins curating her peculiar objets d’art. A music box, a hair clip, a key chain―twelve mementos in all that must have meant so much to Nadia, who collected them on her flea market scavenges across the country.
But these tokens mean a lot to someone else, too. Mickie has been receiving threatening messages to leave Nadia’s past alone.
It’s becoming a mystery Mickie is driven to solve. Who once owned these odd treasures? How did Nadia really come to possess them? Discovering the truth means crossing paths with a long-dormant serial killer and navigating the secrets of a sinister past. One that might, Mickie fears, be inescapably entwined with her own.
Constance by Matthew FitzSimmons (September 1). In the near future, advances in medicine and quantum computing make human cloning a reality. For the wealthy, cheating death is the ultimate luxury. To anticloning militants, it’s an abomination against nature. For young Constance “Con” D’Arcy, who was gifted her own clone by her late aunt, it’s terrifying.
After a routine monthly upload of her consciousness―stored for that inevitable transition―something goes wrong. When Con wakes up in the clinic, it’s eighteen months later. Her recent memories are missing. Her original, she’s told, is dead. If that’s true, what does that make her?
The secrets of Con’s disorienting new life are buried deep. So are those of how and why she died. To uncover the truth, Con is retracing the last days she can recall, crossing paths with a detective who’s just as curious. On the run, she needs someone she can trust. Because only one thing has become clear: Con is being marked for murder―all over again.
Five-Alarm Fire (The Cat Caliban Mysteries: Book Five) by D. B. Borton. Crabby is how detective-in-training Cat Caliban has felt ever since menopause hit. Her friends think she can work off her aggressions pounding clay in a beginners’ pottery class. But someone has mistaken Cat’s pot for a blunt instrument and they’re firing something besides clay in the art center kiln.
Now that things are really heating up, Cat’s murder investigation leads to a legendary lost collection of vases once owned by an equally legendary madam from Cincinnati’s bygone red-light district. Can Cat catch a killer before the past goes up in flames?
Daughter of the Morning Star (A Longmire Mystery) by Craig Johnson (September 21). When Lolo Long’s niece Jaya begins receiving death threats, Tribal Police Chief Long calls on Absaroka County Sheriff Walt Longmire along with Henry Standing Bear as lethal backup.
Jaya “Longshot” Long is the phenom of the Lame Deer Lady Stars High School basketball team and is following in the steps of her older sister, who disappeared a year previously, a victim of the scourge of missing Native Woman in Indian Country. Lolo hopes that having Longmire involved might draw some public attention to the girl’s plight, but with this maneuver she also inadvertently places the good sheriff in a one-on-one with the deadliest adversary he has ever faced in both this world and the next.
The Burning by Jonathan Kellerman; Jesse Kellerman (September 21). A raging wildfire. A massive blackout. A wealthy man shot to death in his palatial hilltop home. For Clay Edison, it’s all in a day’s work. As a deputy coroner, caring for the dead, he speaks for those who cannot speak for themselves. He prides himself on an unflinching commitment to the truth. Even when it gets him into trouble.
Then, while working the murder scene, Clay is horrified to discover a link to his brother, Luke. Horrified. But not surprised. Luke is fresh out of prison and struggling to stay on the straight and narrow. And now he’s gone AWOL.
The race is on for Clay to find him before anyone else can. Confronted with Luke’s legacy of violence, Clay is forced to reckon with his own suspicions, resentments, and loyalties. Is his brother a killer? Or could he be the victim in all of this, too? This is Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman at their most affecting and page-turning—a harrowing collision of family, revenge, and murder.
The Missing Hours by Julia Dahl (September 14). From a distance, Claudia Castro has it all: a famous family, a trust fund, thousands of Instagram followers, and a spot in NYU’s freshman class. But look closer, and things are messier: her parents are separating, she’s just been humiliated by a sleazy documentary, and her sister is about to have a baby with a man she barely knows.
Claudia starts the school year resolved to find a path toward something positive, maybe even meaningful – and then one drunken night everything changes. Reeling, her memory hazy, Claudia cuts herself off from her family, seeking solace in a new friendship. But when the rest of school comes back from spring break, Claudia is missing. Suddenly, the whole city is trying to piece together the hours of that terrible night.
Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead (September 14). “Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked…” To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably priced furniture, making a decent life for himself and his family. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parents on Striver’s Row don’t approve of him or their cramped apartment across from the subway tracks, it’s still home.
Few people know he descends from a line of uptown hoods and crooks, and that his façade of normalcy has more than a few cracks in it. Cracks that are getting bigger all the time.
Cash is tight, especially with all those installment-plan sofas, so if his cousin Freddie occasionally drops off the odd ring or necklace, Ray doesn’t ask where it comes from. He knows a discreet jeweler downtown who doesn’t ask questions, either.
Then Freddie falls in with a crew who plan to rob the Hotel Theresa—the “Waldorf of Harlem”—and volunteers Ray’s services as the fence. The heist doesn’t go as planned; they rarely do. Now Ray has a new clientele, one made up of shady cops, vicious local gangsters, two-bit pornographers, and other assorted Harlem lowlifes.
Thus begins the internal tussle between Ray the striver and Ray the crook. As Ray navigates this double life, he begins to see who actually pulls the strings in Harlem. Can Ray avoid getting killed, save his cousin, and grab his share of the big score, all while maintaining his reputation as the go-to source for all your quality home furniture needs?
Harlem Shuffle’s ingenious story plays out in a beautifully recreated New York City of the early 1960s. It’s a family saga masquerading as a crime novel, a hilarious morality play, a social novel about race and power, and ultimately a love letter to Harlem. But mostly, it’s a joy to read, another dazzling novel from the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning Colson Whitehead.
Stalker Stalked by Lee Matthew Goldberg (September 17). Lexi Mazur is a depressed, alcoholic, pill-popper whose only joy has become her reality TV shows, often fantasizing that the people on TV are a part of her world. After her boyfriend Steve leaves her, she fixates on the show Socialites and its star Magnolia Artois, following every facet of the girl’s life on social media in the hopes of befriending and becoming more like her.
But stalking isn’t new to Lexi. She ultimately won over her ex Steve by following and manipulating every minute detail about him so he’d fall for her. In fact, she landed her other ex-boyfriend Jeremy in the same way. Being a pharma rep, she’s used to manipulation to get doctors to buy her drugs, along with the perk of saving pills for herself.
But what happens when the stalker gets stalked?
Recently, Lexi has felt someone watching her: in her apartment in Queens, at her job. At first, she thinks her mind’s playing tricks, but the watcher is behaving just like she would. And soon they begin leaving threatening clues like she starts to do to Magnolia once her obsession grows more dangerous. Is it one of her exes out for revenge? Her only real friend from childhood who she’s always had an unhealthy rivalry? A detective who may have figured her out? The reality star Magnolia trying to turn the tables? Or even someone she might not know?
Lexi learns the only way to beat her stalker is to use her own stalking prowess to outsmart them at their own game. But has she finally met her match?
Time Out! by Kevin Creager (September 9). Wally Stephens’ tenth year high-school reunion is looming, but he’s not where he hoped to be. No significant accomplishments, no love life, no future goals. Suddenly, he has the opportunity to take a time-out and go back in time six years. Romance with the woman of his dreams begins to appear possible, but first he has to deal with the humorous complications of being out of his time, as well as facing a mysterious man threatening the lives of those he has come to know.
Sometimes guided by a computer program called MyFate, but not always when he needs it, Wally discovers that his goal in going back in time may not be the real purpose behind his trip. Not only must he solve the mystery of why he was the one sent back, but he also has to figure out how to return to his own time. In time.
Miss Kopp Investigates by Amy Stewart (September 7). Winter 1919: Norma is summoned home from France, Constance is called back from Washington, and Fleurette puts her own plans on hold as the sisters rally around their recently widowed sister-in-law and her children. How are four women going to support themselves?
A chance encounter offers Fleurette a solution: clandestine legal work for a former colleague of Constance’s. She becomes a “professional co-respondent,” posing as the “other woman” in divorce cases so that photographs can be entered as evidence to procure a divorce. While her late-night assignments are both exciting and lucrative, they put her on a collision course with her own family, who would never approve of such disreputable work. One client’s suspicious behavior leads Fleurette to uncover a much larger crime, putting her in the unlikely position of amateur detective.
Drumsticks by Charlotte Carter (September 28). Nanette is on the rocks. Heartbroken and alone, she finds what comfort she can in the bottom of a bottle. But her life seems to turn around when she’s given a voodoo doll, so much so that Nan seeks out the doll’s creator, Ida, to thank her. Unfortunately, the meeting doesn’t go so well, and Ida ends up with a bullet in her head.
Guilt-ridden, Nan resolves to get justice for her new friend, only to find that Ida was hiding some dark skeletons in her closet. Now plunged into a dangerous world she doesn’t understand, Nan will have to team up with some unlikely allies, like her estranged father, a high school principal, and Leland Sweet, an NYPD officer with whom Nan has some major history. But will Nan solve Ida’s murder or fall victim to the same forces that brought her down?
Horseman (A Tale of Sleepy Hollow) by Christina Henry (September 28). Everyone in Sleepy Hollow knows about the Horseman, but no one really believes in him. Not even Ben Van Brunt’s grandfather, Brom Bones, who was there when it was said the Horseman chased the upstart Crane out of town. Brom says that’s just legend, the village gossips talking.
More than thirty years after those storied events, the village is a quiet place. Fourteen-year-old Ben loves to play “Sleepy Hollow boys,” reenacting the events Brom once lived through. But then Ben and a friend stumble across the headless body of a child in the woods near the village, and the discovery makes Ben question everything the adults in Sleepy Hollow have ever said. Could the Horseman be real after all? Or does something even more sinister stalk the woods?
The Man Who Died Twice (A Thursday Murder Club Mystery) by Richard Osman (September 28). Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim—the Thursday Murder Club—are still riding high off their recent real-life murder case and are looking forward to a bit of peace and quiet at Cooper’s Chase, their posh retirement village. But they are out of luck.
An unexpected visitor—an old pal of Elizabeth’s (or perhaps more than just a pal?)—arrives, desperate for her help. He has been accused of stealing diamonds worth millions from the wrong men and he’s seriously on the lam.
Then, as night follows day, the first body is found. But not the last. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim are up against a ruthless murderer who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can our four friends catch the killer before the killer catches them? And if they find the diamonds, too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus? You should never put anything beyond the Thursday Murder Club.
Richard Osman is back with everyone’s favorite mystery-solving quartet, and the second installment of The Thursday Murder Club series is just as clever and warm as the first—an unputdownable, laugh-out-loud pleasure of a read.
The Body on the Bed by Leonard Krishtalka (September 28). Mary finds the body on the bed in the house next door. Smart, tough and inquisitive, she covers the murder trial as the first woman reporter for the Kansas Daily Tribune. Amid the upheaval of post-Civil War Lawrence, she unravels the diabolical plots and desperate lives that led to three dead bodies and a shocking last act.
Did a doctor’s brazen affair with his patient’s wife incite him to murder? On the morning of April 28, 1871, the body of Isaac Miles Ruthman is found poisoned in his bed in Lawrence, Kansas. His doctor, John J. Medlicott, a fervent churchgoer, is arrested and charged with first degree murder. He’s carrying a picture of Ruthman’s wife, Anne Catherine, and two of her love poems in his wallet. He’d visited Ruthman the previous evening to give him a medicinal powder–a poison cocktail of deadly nightshade and morphine, according to the autopsy.
Is it a coincidence that the doctor’s wife, Sarah, died suddenly and mysteriously just four months earlier? Did Medlicott first kill her, then Ruthman? Or did Ruthman commit suicide, depressed over his finances and ill health–authorities had to break into his bedroom when they found the door locked from the inside.
Mary Fanning, sharp, strong-willed, and the first woman correspondent for the Kansas Daily Tribune, is assigned to report on the trial and investigate Ruthman’s poisoning. Her independence leads her to fight for suffrage for women and Blacks in post-Civil War Kansas. Her ardor leads her into an illicit love affair with a woman. Her incisive mind leads her to uncover lives torn by lust, obsession, and deceit, a trail of dead victims, and the fiendish scheme behind the body on the bed.
Murder Outside the Lines by Krista Davis (September 28). With Halloween just around the corner, the fall colors in Georgetown are brilliant. As manager of the Color Me Read bookstore, coloring book creator Florrie Fox has arranged for psychic author Hilda Rattenhorst to read from Spooktacular Ghost Stories. But the celebrity medium arrives for the event in hysterics, insisting she just saw a bare foot sticking out of a rolled-up carpet in a nearby alley. Is someone trying to sweep murder under the rug? Florrie calls in her policeman beau, Sergeant Eric Jonquille, but the carpet corpse has disappeared without a trace.
Then in the middle of her reading, Hilda chillingly declares that she feels the killer’s presence in the store. Is this a publicity stunt or a genuine psychic episode? It seems there’s no happy medium. When a local bibliophile is soon discovered missing, a strange mystery begins to unroll. Now it’s up to Florrie and Jonquille to expose a killer’s true colors.