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Eight thrillers and mysteries to read this summer

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As we start to see the possible glimmer of a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, another summer is nearly upon us in all its halcyon glory. Like many people, I’ve found a new appreciation for the written word during these long months of quarantine and isolation. So even as parts of the country begin to reopen, I find myself looking for a quiet spot on my back deck to sit and read an engrossingly good book. Here are a few of this year’s mysteries and thrillers I’m personally looking forward to as the days get longer and the nights get warmer.

These are in no particular order, but every one will keep you on the edge of your lawn chair this summer.

“Arsenic and Adobo,” by Mia P. Manansala

Even though I tend to write dark, hardboiled stories in which people get hit in the face with tools, I love to read a well-written and quirky cozy mystery. Manansala has created just that with her debut novel, a tale full of eccentric characters, humorous situations and an oh-so-tricky mystery. Check this one out for the poetic prose and the mouth-watering recipes that are integral to the plot.

Five great new mysteries and thrillers for your TBR pile

“Dead of Winter,” by Stephen Mack Jones

Jones’s latest entry in the critically acclaimed August Snow series, which introduced us to the eponymous Michigan detective, is a P.I. story with an eye toward social issues and a firm grasp on the tropes of the genre, making it fresh and familiar at the same time.

“The Other Black Girl,” by Zakiya Dalila Harris (available June 1)

“The Other Black Girl” is a thriller that begins with a tried-and-true formula: a rivalry in the workplace. However, Harris adds her own spin to the premise while deconstructing the fine line many Black Americans have to navigate in corporate America. Her style is easy to digest but will force you to contemplate its potent subtext.

“Bath Haus,” by P.J. Vernon (available June 15)

This is the perfect novel for those looking for the proverbial “beach read.” Suspenseful, sensual and exceedingly clever, this thriller is the literary equivalent of sipping a glass of white wine while listening to your neighbors have a lovers’ spat . . . before one of them picks up a knife. Vernon has an electric style that leaps off the page.

“The Turnout,” by Megan Abbott (available Aug. 3)

Abbott is a legend for good reason. No one combines the style of classic noir with the psyches of sophisticated men and women who are willing to do anything — anything — to succeed better than Abbott. Her latest is a dizzyingly fascinating story of a family-owned dance studio and the weight of unrequited ambition. An instant classic.

“Runner,” by Tracy Clark (available June 29)

Clark’s fourth Cass Raines novel finds the tough and determined Chicago P.I. on the trail of a runaway foster child who has secrets that are explosive enough to get her and Cass killed. Clark has a unique voice in the P.I. genre, one that is articulate, daring and ultimately hopeful.

The plot of ‘The Plot’ — the best thriller of the year (so far) — is too good to give away

“Clark and Division,” by Naomi Hirahara (available Aug. 3)

“Clark and Division” tells the story of one sister investigating the death of another set against the backdrop of the horrific internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Hirahara is a writer with a meticulous grasp of the historical events that inspired her past works, and her next novel is no exception. Crime fiction is at it’s best when telling a compelling story while also analyzing the shadowy foundations of human nature. Very few writers do that better than Hirahara.

“Survive the Night,” by Riley Sager (available June 29)

Set during the height of the Grunge era, “Survive the Night” follows a young college student traveling cross-country with a man who may not be who he says he is. Two strangers thrown together by chance will confront the darkness that lives in that strange space between what we think we know and what we can prove.

S.A. Cosby is the author of “Blacktop Wasteland.” His next book, “Razorblade Tears,” is forthcoming July 6.

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