Must-read mysteries and thrillers coming this fall

Vannessa Cronin on July 20, 2020
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12 must-read mysteries and thrillers coming this fall

Recently we set out to make a list of the mysteries and thrillers we were most excited for this fall, but we quickly realized that there were so many great series titles publishing between September and December that one list was not going to be enough. With all the great series fiction coming out, there was little room to discuss any of the great standalone crime fiction coming this fall (sidebar: we're happy to report that another golden age for female thriller writers continues to flourish).

So we cheated and made two lists (so many books, so little time). From a thriller about gentrification in a New York neighborhood, to a group of English nursing home residents who turn amateur sleuths to assist a PC crack her first murder case; from an art thief using a small town's coffers as her own, to a London lawyer navigating a racially charged rape case, here are the standalone titles that promise to make this fall a boon for mystery and thriller readers.


When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole

Described as Rear Window meets Get Out, this is one of the most anticipated thrillers of the fall, judging by the advance reviews. Describing the plot, where gentrification takes a decidedly scary turn, fellow author Marian Keyes says: "Dread builds and mutates into near-horror... It was eye-opening, sad, shocking, gripping, I devoured it in one go." (September 1)


Don't Look for Me by Wendy Walker

Wendy Walker's specialty is taking ordinary, suburban families and putting them in "what-would-you-do" high-stakes situations, and then ratcheting the suspense up to 11. Here, a fractured family is left to wonder if mom abandoned them, or was taken, until her teenage daughter decides to get answers, come what may. (September 11)


The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

The Exotic Marigold Hotel meets Midsomer Murders when a local developer is found dead in the English countryside. PC Donna De Freitas catches her first big murder case and four of the septuagenarian residents of a nearby nursing home decide to help her solve it, whether she wants their assistance or not. (September 22)


And Now She's Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall

When a rich doctor wants PI Grayson Sykes to find the girlfriend who ran off with his dog, the task seems simple enough. But the more Gray finds out about the missing girlfriend, the more she suspects that not finding her may be the best outcome. (September 22)


The Talented Miss Farwell by Emily Gray Tedrowe

The Talented Miss Farwell has been described as Catch Me if You Can meets The Talented Mr. Ripley. In it Becky Farwell of Pierson, Illinois works unnoticed as the town treasurer. But in New York she's known as the glamorous Reba Farwell, owner of a fabulous art collection. What if neither of Miss Farwell's twin identities can keep her double life from unraveling? (September 29)


The Kingdom by Jo Nesbø

Roy is a mechanic who lives a simple life in a rural village. But when his brother Carl, an entrepreneur, returns home with plans to build a hotel in town, dark secrets about their family, and the town, rise to the surface. And the protection Roy gave his brother when they were kids, protection Carl counted on, may be about to run its course. This standalone promises to be another disturbing thriller as only Nesbø can write them. (September 29)


The Searcher by Tana French

The writer the New York Times has said "inspires cultic devotion in readers" is back with more small-town Irish noir. This time, instead of the Dublin Murder Squad, the story centers on a Chicago PD veteran and recent divorcé who wants nothing more than to lick his wounds and hoist a pint or two in the peace and quiet of an Irish backwater. But being pulled into a local murder investigation opens his eyes to the fine line between picturesque and grotesque. (October 6)


Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

The lives of a group of people—including Owen Pick, a disgraced geography teacher-turned incel, and a suburban couple, the Roans—intersect with shocking consequences when a young woman, once a patient of Dr. Roan, disappears. Told from three points of view, including the missing girl, Invisible Girl is creepy and compelling in equal measure. (October 13)


Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy

The Perfect Mother—a standout thriller soon to be a movie starring Scandal’s Kerry Washington—was about a group of new moms dealing with the disappearance of a baby. In Goodnight Beautiful happy newlyweds move to a small town in upstate New York, where the wife eavesdrops on her therapist husband's sessions through a vent in the ceiling. So when he goes missing she thinks she has a pretty good idea who he's with, but that's just the beginning of some crazy twists. (October 13)


Little Threats by Emily Schultz

Kennedy Wynn's bond with her twin sister Carter was damaged when Kennedy was convicted of murdering her best friend, Haley. Fifteen years later, Kennedy is out of prison and back in their small Richmond neighborhood, but her return—and the arrival of a crime show host in town—opens up old wounds and old secrets. Schultz's last novel, The Blondes, was excellent, so we have high hopes for this one. (November 10)


Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent

Unraveling Oliver and Lying in Wait were two of our favorite thrillers of the past few years; with them, Liz Nugent proved she wasn't afraid to reach for a brand of darkness not seen since Patricia Highsmith was writing at the height of her powers. In Little Cruelties she does it again, telling the story of William, Brian, and Luke, three brothers still playing the dangerous games they learned at their mother's knee. (November 10)


Take It Back by Kia Abdullah

When Zara Kaleel trades in her high-powered legal career for a job at a sexual assault center she looks forward to helping people like Jodie Wolf, a poor, disadvantaged teenager with a horrific claim about being raped by four classmates. But the boys she accuses come from respectable Muslim families and a legal firestorm breaks out, with the media, the community, and even Zara's own mother taking intractable stands in this thoughtful and provocative legal thriller. (December 8)


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