Plenty of chills and thrills are out there for suspense lovers this summer. Pick up one of these three novels and make it a season to shiver.
In the name of the father
Chevy Stevens’ debut thriller, Still Missing, was a runaway hit, and her hotly anticipated follow-up, Never Knowing, is nearly impossible to put down.
Sara is a feisty single mother—simultaneously running a carpentry business and planning her wedding—who feels an uneasy void in her life. With little connection to her adoptive parents, she decides to investigate the identity of her birth parents. Her search leads to a startling discovery: Sara’s birth mother was the rape victim and sole survivor of the elusive Campsite Killer.
As the killer strikes out on another murderous rampage, Sara slowly learns more about herself—and her biological father. Through phone calls, the killer manages to torture Sara and yet also endear himself to her. Hiding this news from her family and fiancé, Sara risks her job, her relationship and even her own daughter to catch the man who has evaded everyone, including herself.
With heart-pounding action and a main character whose faults only make her more engaging, this spine-tingling novel grapples with the danger and pain of unrevealed truth.
A murderous Irish summer
Benjamin Black’s previous mysteries—all set in 1950s Dublin—have been lauded for their tight pacing, intelligent plotting and ambient setting. This writerly skill comes as no surprise, however, as Black is actually the pen name of Booker Award-winning novelist John Banville, who brings his literary acumen (and deeply Irish sensibility) to his noir mystery side project.
A Death in Summer, his newest offering, deftly follows suit, reprising the amateur detective stylings of wry and moody medical pathologist Quirke, who continues to struggle against the memory of his own troubled Catholic childhood and painful lost love.
This time, Quirke sets out to find the truth behind the murder of Richard Jewell, a much-despised newspaper tycoon whose gunshot-to-the-head “suicide” screams foul play. Jewell’s wife, the wonderfully disaffected—i.e., French—Françoise,seems an obvious suspect (though this doesn’t stop Quirke from becoming romantically entwined with her), as do a whole host of individuals ranging from lowly Dublin goons to men and women of prominent social standing. Quirke’s daughter, Phoebe, and assistant, Sinclair, also take roles in the investigation, and Black gracefully moves between his characters in a fashion that leaves readers hanging on his words and hungering for more.
In short, A Death in Summer does everything that a good mystery should do: tantalize without conspicuously withholding, divulge clues in measured and surprising ways and interweave the lives and woes of the series’ recurring characters. Moreover, Black stands out within his genre by gesturing towards social issues larger than each book itself—in this case, the era’s unspoken prejudices and great evils and misconduct within the Church and clergy—without letting such moral quandaries overtake the story.
A welcome voice in the mystery genre, Black has established a series worth following and a central character worth coming back to.
Working just a smidgeon outside the law, Casey Woods’ crew of experts, “Forensic Instincts,” tackles the daunting case of a kidnapped kindergartener, Krissy, in Andrea Kane’s The Girl Who Disappeared Twice. Years before, Krissy’s six-year-old aunt was also kidnapped—and never heard from again. Now Krissy’s mother, family court judge Hope Willis, desperately seeks help, official or otherwise, to locate her missing daughter.
FI tackles the job with all the esprit that comes naturally to a psychologist, an almost-super-skilled techno-savant and a former Navy SEAL (not to mention Hero the bloodhound). Assembling the disparate facts of Krissy’s disappearance, they form a picture that confronts the guilty, satisfies the romantic and brings a gratifying answer to the whole puzzle.
Known for her ability to seamlessly combine the emotional and technical threads of her stories, Kane succeeds once again with The Girl Who Disappeared Twice.