Summer Reading Roundup: Suspense

Marybeth Whalen

Here’s the truth– I love literary novels and women’s fiction, full of issues and resonant themes and a lot of grappling with stuff. And most of the time, that’s what I’m reading. But sometimes I just want a good old-fashioned, page-turning suspense novel. The best of both worlds (anyone else hear Hannah Montana singing that when you read it?) is when the writing is as strong as the plot. More and more I’m finding suspense writers who have clearly put as much time into the writing as the plot. And that’s when I’m their fan forever. Today I’m pointing you towards some writers who are at the top of their game and have new titles coming out. So if you’re in the mood for a thrill this summer, check these out:



Game Of Secrets by Dawn Tripp. She had me at Scrabble. For a word lover like me, a game of Scrabble as the way to reveal long-held secrets? Yes, please! Love this premise and can’t wait to dive into this one.

Jane Weld was eleven years old when her father, Luce, disappeared in 1957. His skiff was found drifting near a marsh, empty except for his hunting coat and a box of shotgun shells. No one in their small New England town knew for sure what happened until, three years later, Luce’s skull rolled out of a gravel pit, a bullet hole in the temple. Rumors sprang up that he had been murdered by the jealous husband of his mistress, Ada Varick.

Now, half a century later, Jane is still searching for the truth of her father’s death, a mystery made more urgent by the unexpected romance that her willful daughter, Marne, has struck up with one of Ada’s sons. As the love affair intensifies, Jane and Ada meet for their weekly Friday game of Scrabble, a pastime that soon transforms into a cat-and-mouse game of words long left unspoken, and dark secrets best left untold.

Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton. This book’s point of view is a mother and daughter caught in the place between life and death. What happened to put them there? Who is responsible? And will they come back from the place they’re in, rejoining the family and friends who are waiting for them, pacing hospital corridors and sleeping in chairs? I read and loved  Sister by Rosamund Lupton,  but I have to say I liked this one even better. This was one I devoured in a single day because I just had to know.

The school is on fire. Her children are inside.

Grace runs toward the burning building, desperate to reach them.

In the aftermath of the devastating fire which tears her family apart, Grace embarks on a mission to find the person responsible and protect her children from further harm. This fire was not an accident, and her daughter Jenny may still be in grave danger. Grace is the only one who can discover the culprit, and she will do whatever it takes to save her family and find out who committed the crime that rocked their lives. While unearthing truths about her life that may help her find answers, Grace learns more about everyone around her — and finds she has courage she never knew she possessed.

Powerful and beautiful, with a riveting story and Lupton’s trademark elegant style that made Sister such a sweeping success, Afterwards explores the depths of a mother’s unswerving love.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. My cousin, who is an Assistant District Attorney and a voracious reader, raves about Gillian Flynn’s books. I’ve not read her yet, but Gone Girl is one I’m anxiously awaiting. The premise sounds wonderful and I’m excited to have my first experience with Gillian Flynn. It’s true that you never forget your first.

Marriage can be a real killer. 
One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction. ” Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn. 
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? 
As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?
With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.

Playing Dead by Julia Heaberlin. I for one want to know how the slaughter of a family in Chicago, the murder of an Oklahoma beauty queen, and the kidnapping of a little girl named Adriana all fit into this character’s past.

The letter that turns Tommie McCloud’s world upside down arrives from a stranger only days after her father’s death. The woman who wrote it claims that Tommie is her daughter—and that she was kidnapped as a baby thirty-one years ago.

Tommie wants to believe it’s all a hoax, but suddenly a girl who grew up on a Texas ranch finds herself linked to a horrific past: the slaughter of a family in Chicago, the murder of an Oklahoma beauty queen, and the kidnapping of a little girl named Adriana. Tommie races along a twisting, nightmarish path while an unseen stalker is determined to keep old secrets locked inside the dementia-battered brain of the woman who Tommie always thought was her real mother. With everything she has ever believed in question, and no one she can trust, Tommie must discover the truth about the girl who vanished—and the very real threats that still remain.

More Titles I’ve Got On My Radar:

What Happened To My Sister by Elizabeth Flock

The Other Woman’s House by Sophie Hannah

Heartbroken by Lisa Unger

Question for you: read any good suspense novels lately? Do tell!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links. ” This means if you click on the link and purchase the book, She Reads will receive a very small commission. These commissions help us pay for the site and the services we offer.

One Response to Summer Reading Roundup: Suspense

  1. Bianca S. August 3, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Thanks for these recommendations and I was nodding my head in agreement throughout your post. Many thrillers are so focused on the twists and turns of the plot the character development suffers. I really enjoy psychological thrillers so I will definitely give this book a read (thank you). I thought I would recommend a psychological thriller that I recently read entitled, “The Gemini Factor” by author Philip Fleishman ( is a book with fantastic character development and a unique and fascinating story line. This book features two detectives in two different countries dealing with identical murders and come to find out later, they are living very similar lives too! The novel covers mind bending subjects such as the telepathic connection between twins and the relationship between random events. This novel will shake you up and leave you speechless! Hope you will give it a read

Leave a Reply

Site by Author Media