The best mysteries & thrillers of August

Chris Schluep on August 20, 2019
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It's a really exciting season for mysteries & thrillers, particularly for stories that bend toward the psychological. Three books from our mystery & thriller list also made it onto our list of the top 10 Best Books of August, so I included them below, along with their Amazon reviews. Then I tacked on a really fun one for good measure. Happy reading, and as always, you can see our full list of the Best Mysteries & Thrillers here.



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The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Imagine landing an interview for the dream job of being a nanny at an architect’s estate in the Scottish Highlands for an excellent salary. Then imagine that one of the children sobs at you at the interview, “It’s not safe…. The ghosts wouldn’t like it.” Needing the money, Rowan isn’t deterred by the tearful warning or the fact that four nannies have quit in the last year, but more unsettling experiences are in store. A strangely unfinished note left by a former nanny, the omniscient smart home system named Happy, and dragging footsteps above her bedroom—even though she’s on the top floor—begin to burrow under Rowan’s skin. Ruth Ware cleverly blends superstitious dread with high-tech surveillance into an intoxicating cocktail of a thriller that goes down smooth and then creeps up on you before you realize what’s happening. The Turn of the Key reminds readers why Ware is often compared to the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie, and is simply one of Ware’s best novels yet. —Adrian Liang, Amazon Book Review



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The Whisper Man: A Novel by Alex North

Told in alternating voices, Alex North's thriller The Whisper Man delivers strong twists and a truly surprising ending. A fresh start always seems like a good idea, but for Tom Kennedy and his son Jake, it doesn't go so well. When the two move back to Tom's hometown, their arrival coincides with the kidnapping of a boy who is Jake's age. The crime appears to have the hallmark of Frank Carter, a serial killer who terrorized the town twenty years earlier, and part of the novel is narrated by the cop who captured Carter decades earlier. The Whisper Man is spine-tinglingly creepy, and the suspense keeps building, layer by layer. Little reveals only serve to keep the reader guessing, and the end feels like more than a reveal--for me it was as if the entire atmosphere of the story took an unexpected and chilly turn. At first, the storyline appears to employ a familiar genre trope, but it veers wonderfully from the expected, and North's inclusion of a touching father-son relationship in this psychological thriller took it to the top of our best of the month list.--Seira Wilson, Amazon Book Review



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Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead: A Novel by Olga Tokarczuk

Janina Duszejko, the book’s solitary, 60-something main character, is earnest bordering on kooky. She writes long, unanswered letters to the police department about animal rights issues. (Hunting is popular in the remote Polish village where she lives and cares for part-time residents’ summer houses.) When she’s not preparing simple meals for herself and a former student with whom she translates William Blake on Friday nights, she’s weathering her ”Ailments” or looking for correlations between what’s on TV and the configuration of “the Planets.” Thinking that names don’t match the person (including her own), she refers to those around her by their defining characteristics: Oddball, Bigfoot, Dizzy, Good News. And it’s through her eyes that we watch the body count rise in this most unusual literary murder mystery.

The book opens with a widely disliked neighbor found dead in his home. As more local figures are murdered, Janina develops a peculiar theory that brings her closer and closer to the truth. Between the indelible first-person voice and the pitch-perfect translation of author Olga Tokarczuk’s original Polish, it’s easy to forget that this engaging portrait of small town life is also a devilishly well-plotted crime novel. —Katy Ball



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The Escape Room: A Novel by Megan Goldin

This book has such a great premise. A group of coworkers is invited to a team-building exercise where they must find their way out of an escape room. They are all competitive, eager to work their way up the corporate ladder, and they crowd into the elevator of a high-rise building, prepared to prove themselves. But when the lights go off and the doors stay shut, it quickly becomes clear that this is no ordinary competition: they’re caught in a dangerous game of survival. This is unlikely to happen in real life (I think), but it's a fun one.




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