In Detective John Skaggs, I have found the real-life Jimmy McNulty. McNulty was the head-strong and virtuous homicide detective in HBO’s The Wire who viewed the gang murders he was assigned to investigate as deserving as any other high-profile case--the victims were human beings, after all. When Skaggs was called to investigate the murder of a black detective’s son in South Central Los Angeles, what envelopes is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with the perception of black-on-black violence in America. In gritty, noirish prose, Leovy lays flat the issues and offers a simple analysis: violence is endemic when police focus is on preventive tactics instead of convicting existing crime. For fans of The Wire, Blood Will Out, and the podcast Serial, pick this up if you want to learn what it is to be a real “po-lice” like John Skaggs, not just another cop. --Jeremy B.
More than anything, this was a novel that surprised me. I'd be reading and enjoying what felt like a standard mystery when a clever turn of phrase or witty observation would shock me out of my book stupor. I'd have to stop and reread and appreciate. That, I think, is the best way to describe Evans' newest: a literary mystery with sharp moments of recognition. Uneasiness permeates every page until the unsettling end. It's a curious read and I highly recommend it! --Lauren P.
Once upon a time there were two little girls who were as different as could be: one was brashly pretty and outspoken, the other quiet and watchful. In fact, the only thing they had in common was the man who took them. Despite the odd summer that binds them, as adults they are still vastly different: Carly May is a semi-successful actress and Lois is an pseudonymous author and professor. This book shimmers with anxiety, going back and forth between the women's present and their twelfth summer. I was drawn to the story of these girls who were technically unharmed, but not unchanged and I was sucked in by Mitchell's skilled writing. This is a strange, menacing piece of work and I couldn't put it down! --Lauren P.
This collection of short stories is not as much a compilation of fairy tales as it is a collection of vaguely messed up real-world stories that just happened to be manufactured in the same factory as fairy tales. Jean Thompson's slant on classic fables seems to drag them kicking and screaming into the realm of possibility. The story of Prince Charming's search for Cinderella changes into the tale of a mentally stunted thousandaire in search for the one night stand that he can't quite remember. And then there is the re-telling of the Pied Piper who avails himself of a little human trafficking. An excellent package, give it a try for yourself or macabre friend. --Chris
I’ve never read a book quite like this before. It’s a unique take on the horror genre, not so much a "scary story" as it is a dark and unsettling exploration of mysteries, secrets, and personal tragedies. Lauren Oliver has taken the classic theme of the haunted house and rejuvenated it with uncommon emotion and tenderness, creating a refreshingly original ghost story. With shifting perspectives, we see the house through the eyes of each of its inhabitants, some of them living and some of them dead, all of them searching for peace in their own ways. These characters are very real and very human, and their stories are as touching as they are chilling. This is horror with heart and soul. --Jason
If you’re prone to nightmares, this book is not for you. This is the kind of horror that gets under your skin and lives there, pumping dread and shadows into your bloodstream, conjuring demons in your psyche. If you’re easily frightened, find something else to read. Unless you’re like me, and you enjoy being frightened. In that case, dive right in, because you’re in for a treat. In this twisted tale of desperation and madness, humanity searches the depths of the ocean for a cure to a confounding and deadly plague. What they find might be worse than the disease they are trying to escape. The Deep is full of torturous ideas and terrifying imagery, a cornucopia of dark wonders to satisfy even the most jaded of horror fans. I cringed. I recoiled. I held my breath. And I loved it. --Jason
Take the psychological suspense of Gone Girl and add it to the dread of Strangers on a Train and you've got Girl on the Train! Hawkins' debut is poised to be one of the most talked about books of 2015 and with good reason: she's written a skilled thriller that we can all relate to (especially commuters!) All of us, at one time, have stared dully out of a moving vehicle, our gaze snagging on something and our imagination running wild. Rachel takes the same train every day, and every day she makes sure to look for the "perfect couple" that live in her old neighborhood. She thinks about them often, conjecturing that they live the kind of ideal life she dreamed about with her ex-husband. But then she sees something odd and is pulled into a murder case stranger than anything she could have imagined. I raced through the pages, eager to make it to the end, and I loved that I not only got Rachel's shaky point of view (I love a good unreliable narrator!), but that of the missing woman and her neighbor, the new wife of Rachel's ex. Pick this up for the great cover design and stay for the engrossing story! --Lauren P.
Catherine is just an average woman with all the trappings of a nice life: loving family, beautiful home, and a thriving career. Until one day she idly picks up a book she finds lying around the house and finds herself unable to put it down. At first she's transfixed by the story, but then she realizes with mounting horror that the book is about her. It's based on something that happened to her years ago, something only one person knew about--and he's dead. Her life implodes and readers have a front row seat. Disclaimer rotates between Catherine's point of view, her struggling son's, her bewildered husband's, and the righteously angry author with the poison pen. Knight writes movingly about the consequences of our choices and the way they can spread in our life like ripples in a pond. I couldn't put it down and I was truly surprised by the ending--this was an impressive debut and Renee Knight is an author to watch! --Lauren P
Brigid Quinn is one of my favorite new characters! Rage Against the Dying introduced her as the bad-ass former FBI agent who has more in common with Dirty Harry than Miss Marple--now she's facing problems closer to home. She's taken in her college-age niece and there's something not quite right about her, but no one else can see it. Brigid has spent a lifetime hunting evil, can she recognize it in the people she loves? Masterman kept me guessing throughout this tightly plotted thriller and I can't wait to see what comes next! --Lauren P.
I'm not sure what would be scarier, vacationing with a group of young and naive worry free newlyweds for three weeks to mexico, or being eaten alive by a giant plant that shrouds an ancient Mayan temple off the beaten path? Both scenarios are frightfully weaved together in this contemporary horror novel. It's as simple as that, yet one of the few books to have actually made me cringe. It may be a quick read, but the author's choice of words illustrate both the characters and the setting hauntingly well. I now think twice about entering a garden or buying a ticket to Cabo after reading this book. --Jordan
Master of suspense writer Scott Smith (A Simple Plan) returns with this creepy novel of a tropical vacation gone horribly wrong. Pure terror interwoven with great characterization makes this book utterly enjoyable... but make sure and put it down before lunch! --Sarah B.
I think the best word to describe this book is atmospheric: from page one I was plunged into the beautiful, lonely town where Ben Tierney lives. He moved his wife and kids from New York City to Swannhaven, hoping for a fresh start on the acres of forest and meadow he purchased, along with a rambling estate that is, even at its best, slightly creepy. Duffy's writing is what makes the story stand out: one minute he's lovingly describing the breadth of a country sunset, the next he is scaring the daylights out of you. And everything in this book is scary, from the wind screaming through the eaves of the expensively remodeled estate, to the malevolent watcher in the woods, to the townspeople who are straight out of a Shirley Jackson story - and I couldn't put it down! I made the mistake of reading this at night, which meant I had to read it all the way through or risk nightmares. Even still, I loved House of Echoes and I look forward to Duffy's next book! --Lauren
Irene is the first book in Pierre Lemaitre's stunning Commandant Camille Verhoeven Trilogy, but it's actually the second book released in the U.S. The second book in the series, Alex, was released first. I'm not sure why, but I love these books nonetheless! They are twisty-turny mysteries that wheedle their way into your mind and haunt your dreams for weeks afterwards. Camille Verhoeven is a brilliant detective and the perfect nuanced character to support a trilogy. I can't say enough good things about Lemaitre's writing--give them a try and see for yourself! --LAUREN
I love Chelsea Cain's Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell series, so I was excited to see she was starting another. Fortunately, One Kickdoes not disappoint! Readers are introduced to Kick, a woman who survived a horrific childhood to become a strong, but damaged adult. When she starts to help the FBI track a predator who is eerily similar the one she remembers, she opens a Pandora's Box worth of horror. Graphic and engrossing, Cain's newest kept me on the very edge of my seat! --LAUREN
Welcome to your new favorite mystery/adventure/haunted house/all-around weird novel. Told through letters, camera footage, and journal entries, The Supernatural Enhancements has something fantastic to offer in every chapter. The main character, A., though perhaps a bit overly verbose in his opening letters, is a delight to keep up with in his attempts to discover the secrets of Axton House. His sidekick, Niamh, a mute girl who communicates through her journal, is perhaps even more interesting a character than A. Despite being told through so many different mediums, I never found the story-line jarring or difficult to follow. If you're looking for something just a little bit different, pick up The Supernatural Enhancements. You won't be disappointed. --EM
Styled after an Ikea catalog, this horror novel delighted my inner typesetting/design nerd. Then it played to my sympathies by starring a cast of characters that work for the great and powerful Orsk--an Ikea knock-off store. The eclectic group of "team partners" is drafted by the store's fearless leader to solve the reoccurring problems that keep cropping up in the off hours of the store. A couple of them suspect the property's shady past as a panopticon-style prison in the 19th century might play a role in the late-night shenanigans. The creep-factor in this frequently grotesque story had me continuing to keep my back to the wall to prevent being ambushed by an army of blank faced penitents wanting to "reform" me. --CHRIS
"R" is a zombie. He isn't like his fellow Dead. He may not have a heartbeat, he may eat brains, but R dreams too. When R meets the very much alive Julie, and decides to save her instead of eat her brain, things start to change. Something is happening to him, and every day he feels more…alive? This is the most unusual zombie book I've ever read. The writing is delicious and I just loved every bit of the story. You have to give Warm Bodies a try, even if you're not a big zombie-genre fan. I think most people, girls and boys alike, most ages, would get something out of it. Despite its humorous moments scattered throughout, in a way it's thought provoking and surprisingly deep; much more than I expected. I really look forward to more of this author's work. Isaac Marion definitely has a way with words, and I want more. --LEAH
On a New York night, Kitty Genovese was murdered just outside her apartment building while people in the surrounding buildings watched. For five decades since her murder, the infamous Kitty Genovese case has captured the attention of the American public, spurring what is known as the bystander effect. In his book, Kevin Cook examines this crime from perspectives such as Kitty's killer, Winston Moseley, to her girlfriend, Mary Ann Zielonko, to residents of the buildings near where the crime was committed. Cook also debunks several myths that have come to be commonly associated with the case. A fantastic overview of the murder, investigation, and trial, Kitty Genovese is an excellent read for both true crime enthusiasts and those new to the genre. --HEATHER H.
Fear of the unknown has rarely been so potent or so moving. As a longtime horror fan, I've become somewhat jaded to the genre, and it has gotten increasingly difficult for ‘scary stories’ to actually scare me, but the bleak atmosphere and ominous dread of Bird Box made me genuinely uneasy. Josh Malerman is relentless. He had me by the throat from page one, and he just kept tightening his grip until I was helpless in his grasp, compelled to keep reading despite feeling a constant anxiety about what I might find waiting for me on the next page. The unseen menace haunting this book has a very real presence, nightmarish and unsettling, eerie and disquieting; I couldn't close my eyes, but I was afraid to keep them open. With ever-mounting tension and a deeply sinister edge,Bird Box is a masterpiece of modern literary horror. --JASON
It’s a rare breed of horror novel that can give me chills in the middle of an Arizona Spring, but in spite of a hundred degrees worth of dry heat outside, reading Christopher Golden’s Snowblind left me frigid. I could almost feel the snow on my skin, and the icy dread was as real for me as it was for the people of Coventry, trapped in the winter of Golden’s spectral blizzard. Reminiscent of Dean Koontz at his absolute best, this modern classic of supernatural horror is haunting and vivid, a nightmare as elegant and emotional as it is eerie. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to enjoy snow again without wondering what might be hiding in the whiteout… --JASON
The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair starts slowly, but gathers steam at an exquisite pace. Reading this, I was never quite sure of my footing--who is Harry Quebert? Who is the bad guy in a town filled with bad guys? And who killed Nola Kellergan back in 1975? Throughout the twists and turns of this mesmerizing debut I was reminded both of Twin Peaks and Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson. If you like unpredictable mysteries and books that explore the dark corners and seedy underbellies of small towns, then don't miss Joel Dicker's fantastic new book! --LAUREN
Read this book. I mean it. I don't do zombies, they're just not my thing. I think they are an over-played, cheap, marketing gimmick. At least I thought that before I read The Girl With All the Gifts. If this is the new wave of zombies, count me in. It's smart, it's scientific, and it's both sad and ultimately hopeful. M R Carey has written a horror book for those of us who believe that 'genre fiction' can be more than just pulp. But if you're in to that sort of thing, there plenty of gross out moments too. --HEATHER
Joseph O'Loughlin, the psychologist at the heart of Robotham's absorbing mysteries, is the perfect character to carry a series. He's smart, observant, nuanced, and puts me in mind of Sherlock Holmes. I love reading about the way he gets into people's heads, the conclusions he draws from watching them, and the personal and health issues he struggles with. Watching You, the latest in the series is just as dark and full of twists and turns as all the previous! I'd recommend him to fans of Sophie Hannah and Mo Hayder. --Lauren
As an avid reader and bookseller, I love books about the publishing industry, and I also love thrillers—Panove's newest combines both!The Accident follows an explosive manuscript on its journey through the publishing houses and the body count it leaves in its wake. Pavone is excellent at creating fully-realized characters, people who are compelling no matter how short a glimpse in their life we get. I was invested in every story and I raced to the conclusion! Fans of Gillian Flynn and Dennis Lehane will love The Accident! --Lauren
I recognize well-written noir when each sentence feels like a story unto itself; strung together those sentences form a book that feels somehow "more" than any other out there. The Black-Eyed Blonde is such a book—Black manages to mimic the style of one of the best-known authors of the 20th-century, Raymond Chandler while still keeping a distinct voice. And Chandler fans will be happy to see Phillip Marlowe back roaming the mean streets of L.A. There is a sultry femme fatale, a sinister philanthropist, and plenty of punches thrown, pistols whipped, and suits ruined. The Black-Eyed Blonde is a tall drink of whisky, and I enjoyed every drop! --Lauren