Fall chills bring big thrills

Chris Schluep on October 02, 2019
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Fall is a time for great reads, and during this season no category shines brighter than the mystery and thriller category. If you are a lover of the genre, or even just interested in dipping your toe in, this is the season for you. There are old names and new. There are mysteries and chills galore. And these stories are set not just all over the country, but all over the world.

Read on to learn more:



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The Chestnut Man: A Novel by Soren Sveistrup

Anyone who has watched the American television show The Killing, based on the Danish show The Crime, is familiar with Søren Sveistrup’s work. Although this is his first novel, Sveistrup has been creating creepy crime drama for some time now — The Crime being his best-known work to date. That might change with The Chestnut Man. In this novel, a psychopath is terrorizing Copenhagen. His calling card is a “chestnut man” made of matchsticks and two chestnuts, which he leaves at each bloody crime scene. In order to stop the killer, a pair of detectives must set aside their differences and piece together the clues. But they will be tested, because this case is a tough nut to crack. 


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The Nanny: A Novel by Gilly Macmillan

Although Jocelyn Holt grew up with the trappings of the well-to-do, she spent much of her youth feeling bitter and distant. The detachment she felt was due in no small part to her beloved nanny’s disappearance when Jocelyn was just seven years old. Now grown, she has returned to her parents’ fading estate, where she must confront her troubled past with her mother. But the nanny will return to her life — and the pain that Jocelyn is trying so hard to bury will be resurrected, along with some very dark secrets.


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Land of Wolves (Walt Longmire Mystery) by Craig Johnson

This is Craig Johnson’s 15th book featuring Walt Longmire, and the series keeps on chugging. Walt is a Wyoming sheriff who is fresh off adventures in Mexico (Depth of Winter), where he was rescuing his daughter from the leader of a notorious drug cartel. Now he is back in Wyoming investigating the possible, but not likely, suicide of a shepherd. To complicate things, the appearance of a large wolf has stirred something inside him that has been buried for a long time.


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Heaven, My Home (A Highway 59 Mystery) by Attica Locke

Author Attica Locke is the writer and producer of the TV show Empire, which has won huge audiences. Now she is winning a big audience with her book series featuring Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger who grew up in East Texas. Heaven, My Home is the second book in the series, following the Edgar Award-winning Bluebird, Bluebird. In this new novel, Darren has to battle centuries-old suspicions and prejudices, as well as threats that have been reignited in the current political climate, as he races to find a boy who has disappeared under curious circumstances.


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Full Throttle: Stories by Joe Hill

With books like Heart-Shaped Box, The Fireman, and NOS4A2, Joe Hill long ago established himself as a talented author who can write the heck out of a story. That’s good, because when your father is Stephen King, you’ve got quite the reputation to live up to. In Full Throttle, a collection of 13 stories, Hill’s talents shine through, and it is clear he just keeps getting better and better. These stories are suspenseful and gripping — and he co-wrote two of them with his father, including “In the Tall Grass,” which is slated to be a feature film from Netflix.


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The Butterfly Girl: A Novel by Rene Denfeld

Rene Denfeld’s previous novel, The Child Finder, established her as an author of haunting imagery and lyrical prose. In this new novel she continues the story of Naomi, an investigator with a talent for finding missing children, taking her to the Pacific Northwest, where Naomi’s own sister disappeared. Although her sister has been missing for years, and Naomi has nothing but childhood memories to rely on, she moves to Portland, Oregon, to begin her search. And it is in Portland where she meets another homeless girl, a 12-year-old runaway who sees butterflies as her guides and guardians.


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Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo is well known as a master of young adult novels. But in Ninth House, her first novel for adults, she proves that she’s just simply a master. The story revolves around a young woman from Los Angeles whose life went off the rails, descending into dead-end jobs, a drug-dealer boyfriend, and eventually barely surviving a grisly multiple homicide. But while she is recovering in the hospital, she is granted an opportunity to attend Yale, not because of her stellar academic record but because she can see dead people. Thus begins a tale of power, privilege, dark magic, and murder set among the Ivy League elite.


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Agent Running in the Field: A Novel by John le Carré

John le Carré is to spy novels as Michael Jordan is to basketball. With novels like The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy he established his dominance quickly. Since then he has continued to stay relevant for more than 50 years. (OK, Jordan never did that.) Le Carré’s new novel is the first he has written set in the present day. The story revolves around a 47-year-old veteran of Britain’s Secret Intelligence, who believes his career may be drifting to an end. When he teams up with a younger agent, Florence, who has her eye on a Ukrainian oligarch with a finger in the Russia pie, things start to heat up — much more than he had anticipated.


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The Siberian Dilemma (9) (The Arkady Renko Novels) by Martin Cruz Smith

Speaking of Jordan-like writing talents, Martin Cruz Smith is the author of Gorky Park, which introduced the Russian investigator Arkady Renko way back in 1981 (the year Jordan accepted a basketball scholarship to the University of North Carolina). Since Gorky Park, Arkady’s story has become a best-selling and beloved series. The Siberian Dilemma is the ninth book in the series and takes Arkady to Siberia to find missing journalist Tatiana Petrovna. Martin Cruz Smith’s talent for atmosphere, characterization, dialogue, and driving plotlines is on full display in this new novel.


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A Minute to Midnight (Atlee Pine) by David Baldacci

David Baldacci’s Atlee Pine series began last year with Long Road to Mercy. That book introduced Atlee Pine, an FBI agent with special profiler skills, who had been assigned to investigate a case in the American southwest. In A Minute to Midnight, Atlee returns to her native Georgia to reopen the investigation of the abduction of her twin sister, who Atlee believes may have perished 30 years ago. But when a local woman is found ritualistically murdered — with a bridal veil over her face — Atlee realizes she has stepped into the world of a serial killer.

(This article originally appeared in This Week in Books.)

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