For so many of us, a thriller is the quintessential summer read. The suspense, the intrigue the adventure — these books are escapist in the best way. And yet with so many thriller and mystery books out there, it’s hard to know which are worth loading into your beach bag.
For some help, we scoured our reviews from this year and compiled a list of 17 that our reviewers have loved so far.
Camino Island , by John Grisham (Doubleday). An entertaining departure from Grisham’s legal thrillers, “Camino Island” is about a heist of F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts from Princeton University’s main library, a bookish thief and a struggling young novelist. — Mike Rosenwald
Defectors , by Joseph Kanon (Atria). Kanon uses the tangled ties between two brothers to explore the world of espionage at the height of the Cold War. Kanon, the author of “The Good German,” and “The Prodigal Spy,” among others, is a master of the spy genre, and here delivers a book that will appeal to fans of “The Americans’’ and “Bridge of Spies.” — Patrick Anderson
Endgame , Ahmet Altan (Europa). Guns go off early in this seaside noir. An implicit critique of Turkey’s corrupt justice system, “Endgame” is also a comic and charmingly absurd novel whose author is on trial for links to last year’s failed coup. — Nathan Scott McNamara
Every Night I Dream of Hell , by Malcolm Mackay (Mulholland). Plunge into the world of hit men employed by a Scottish mob. As gangs and factions make moves and countermoves in this fast-paced tale, Mackay provides sardonic insights into the thuggish life. — Dennis Drabelle
Fateful Mornings , by Tom Bouman (Norton). With convincingly suspenseful turns of the screw, Bouman provides an original, terrifying take on the serial-killer theme. What begins as a search for a missing young woman in a rural Pennsylvania town grows into a network of secrets whose uncovering will shock a region. — Michael Sims
The Force , by Don Winslow (William Morrow). At the center of this cinematic tome is a powerful New York City police detective. He’s arrogant, corrupt, smart and violent. He steals a lot of cash and heroin from a drug bust. Things get complicated. Malone gets tossed in the slammer. If this sounds like a good pitch for a summer blockbuster, that’s because it is. — Neely Tucker
I See You , by Clare Mackintosh (Berkley). In ex-cop Clare Mackintosh’s smashing second novel, “I See You,” unsuspecting women using the London subway system are targeted by a madman. — P.A.
Little Deaths , by Emma Flint (Hachette). A moody thriller based on the true story of Alice Crimmins, who was convicted of murdering her children in Queens in 1968, but whose role in their deaths remains uncertain. — Maureen Corrigan
The Long Drop , by Denise Mina (Little, Brown). Celebrated for her Garnethill suspense trilogy, as well as for her Alex Morrow police procedural series, here Denise Mina trains her moody sensibilities on an episode from the career of Scotland’s most infamous serial killer. — M.C.
Magpie Murders , by Anthony Horowitz (Harper). British author Anthony Horowitz’s sleek, fun, cunning work is a novel-within-a-novel, a flawless imitation of the Golden Age mysteries of Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh and Margery Allingham. — Charles Finch
Not a Sound , by Heather Gudenkauf (Park Row). There’s minimal blood and zero sexual depravity in Gudenkauf’s psychological suspense story. Think Mary Higgins Clark or Lisa Scottoline, accented with a dash of inspiration from that vintage Audrey Hepburn movie “Wait Until Dark.” — M.C.
Proving Ground , by Peter Blauner (Minotaur). A New York civil rights lawyer is found murdered, and his son, a soldier just returned from the war in Iraq, seeks to find his killer — and cope with deep-seated personal demons — P.A.
Prussian Blue , by Philip Kerr (Marian Wood/Putnam). The 12th Bernie Gunther mystery is as brisk and agile as its German police detective protagonist. It moves back and forth between Nazi Germany in 1939 and the French Riviera in 1956, with two suspenseful tales that for a while seem unconnected but aren’t. — D.D.
Quicksand , by Malin Persson Giolito (Other). This Swedish import takes us deep into the life of Maja Norburg, who is 18, blessed with beauty, brains and rich parents — and on trial for mass murder. What we don’t know is whether the story will end with Maja going to prison. — P.A.
Since We Fell , by Dennis Lehane (Ecco). Lehane’s 14th novel takes the author back to his old New England stomping grounds, that fertile place of “Mystic River” and “Shutter Island.” A pleasantly twisted character study and a love story, it turns, down to the last page, on the captivating heart of a disgraced television journalist. — N.T.
The Switch , by Joseph Finder (Dutton). It could happen to any of us: accidentally grabbing the wrong laptop off the security conveyor belt at the airport. For the hero of Joseph Finder’s propulsive novel “The Switch,” this innocent mishap puts him in the middle of a dangerous scenario involving lies, leaks and threats to our liberties. — Carol Memmott
Testimony , by Scott Turow (Grand Central), Attorney Bill ten Boom, the narrator of Scott Turow’s smart, demanding thriller, accepts an invitation to be a special prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. His assignment? To learn exactly what happened in 2004 at a refugee camp in Tuzla, Bosnia, where 400 Roma were allegedly buried alive, it’s unclear by whom. — D.D.
Nora Krug is an editor and writer in Book World.