2021 might just be the year where we get to actually, you know, read outside somewhere. Maybe you’re the beach-reader type, or perhaps you’re more like me: Give me a fire escape or Brooklyn stoop any day. But the point remains—we’re all about a little escapism through books.
Murder and Mayhem gathered up some of the most exciting mysteries that you simply don’t want to miss this summer, available now or for pre-order.
The Paradox Twins
The second novel from Joshua Chaplinsky, The Paradox Twins, is an intriguing scraping of found objects and other items from the internet pulled together to create something wholly unlike anything seen before. Twin brothers battle the loss of their father and soon discover that they no longer look like each other anymore. The essence of mystery here is how the narrative explores personal and familial history, including all those little secrets one might hope would be lost to the fleetingness of memory. If you’re looking for something completely different and original, try this one on for size.
The Other Black Girl
This one’s being sold as Get Out meets The Stepford Wives, which for many will be an instant buy. Harris’s debut has all the ingredients of a stand-out mystery. Nella Rogers is an editorial assistant at a major New York publisher and is tired of being the only Black employee. When Hazel, another Black employee, is hired, Nella is thrilled… only for things at the publisher to descend into a truly socially-charged head trip. Got to love a book that transcends any single genre.
The second in the Jessie Teska mystery series (the first being First Cut), Melinek and Mitchell are back with a medical mystery that really lays in on the medical accuracy. This time out, Teska is called in to examine a crushed body found at a San Francisco construction site. Post autopsy, she discovers that it was a murder made to be an accident. What comes next is a dizzying and highly charged investigation that will appease anyone that likes their mysteries and thrillers medically accurate and bold as hell.
The Wife Upstairs
A retelling of Jane Eyre, Rachel Hawkins’s The Wife Upstairs is the sort of book that’ll satisfy a reader’s hunger for a thrilling romance with teeth. Our protagonist, Jane, makes horrible pay walking dogs at a gated community called Thornfield Estates. Everything seems bleak until she meets Eddie Rochester, a widower and also the most mysterious of tenants in the community. Of course, it wouldn’t end with them falling for each other; Hawkins manages to invert your expectations at every turn, resulting in a bonafide page-turner.
The Burning Girls
Get ready for C.J. Tudor to knock you out again. This time Tudor dives into the past, 500 years to be exact. A venerable series of deaths and disappearances occur in Chapel Croft, everything from protestant martyrs burned at the stake to teenage girls disappearing, and even a suicide. Reverend Jack Brooks hopes for a fresh start in the village only to find a cornucopia of secrets and mysticism. It’s a great premise for what is sure to be a tale with a deliciously dark descent into shock and awe.
The Lost Village
Speaking of mysterious towns with dark pasts, Camilla Sten’s The Lost Village takes the trope and walks more into the sort of mystery you might expect from The Blair Witch Project or Silent Hill. Try this on for size: A documentary filmmaker named Alice decides to film an old mining town after her childhood obsession never quite lapses. Of course, the abandoned town is layered richly with all kinds of secrets, and the structure of the book itself is a delightful nod to all those shaky-cam mockumentaries of the 2000s.
Survive the Night
Sager is at the absolute height of his powers. For years now he’s been pumping out one horror-filled thriller after another, and this time around he’s turning his attention to the 90s. Charlie and Josh are both strangers trying to get away from a murder. Not at fault, they are stricken with grief as a serial killer continues to go around killing students. As they drive aimlessly through the night, Charlie begins to suspect Josh as perhaps the killer himself. The paranoia dripping from every page is palpable, making for a compulsive read.
You’re probably already planning on reading this, but in case you haven’t heard, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Colson Whitehead is coming out with a new novel, one that explores crime in 1960s Harlem. Ray Carney, married with the second child on the way, sells furniture. Of course, the neighborhood has no idea that Carney comes from a long line of criminal crooks, and it remains that way for some time until, well, Ray can no longer hide his roots. His cousin Freddie occasionally dropping off jewelry and other pilfered items for sale and monetary gain doesn’t help, either. Whitehead offers a masterful setup only to have it dive into one hell of a breakneck paced novel about New York City and one of its most memorable neighborhoods, Harlem.
If you’ve read Michaelides’ previous novel, The Silent Patient, you have some idea of what to expect in his latest, The Maidens. Here we see Michaelides tearing into Greek tragedy. Edward Fosca is a Cambridge professor with a star-studded reputation. Everyone seems to love the guy, and he has his fair share of admirers. So when Marina Andros, a therapist, believes Fosca to be a murderer and also becomes fascinated with a secret society called The Maidens, the novel spirals into a world of deceit and tragedy.
The Echo Wife
If you like your mysteries rooted in all-things speculative, Sarah Gailey’s latest novel, The Echo Wife, will take your breath away. Evelyn Caldwell is a scientist that has built her career making advances in cloning technology, specifically “the Caldwell Method,” which touches on how to program personality into clones. Her ambition and determination in a male-dominated industry has rewarded her greatly, even though she has neglected both social life and lasting romance. When her husband Nathan leaves her for someone else, she quickly discovers that he has stolen her research and created a clone of her—everything he wants her to be with none of the traits he dislikes. And you bet it just gets weirder from there.