Everyone has their own opinion about what makes a good summer reading material, but for me, one genre always ends up in my beach bag: thrillers. Exciting, suspenseful, action-packed, and, if done well, surprising, there's just something about these books that makes them especially beach binge-reading worthy, which is why you're going to want to include these thrillers on your summer TBR list. Nothing quite says summer reading like murder, mystery, and a good old-fashioned plot twist.
I have loved thrillers for as long as I have loved reading itself. I still remember spending summer vacations as a kid plowing through my required school reading in June so I could spend the rest of vacation with the good stuff: the latest installment of the Harry Potter series, and whatever mystery, thriller, or suspense novel I could get my hands on. I speed read The Talented Mr. Ripley during a long car ride with the family when I was 11, and used it as an argument for why I shouldn't have to go back to school in the fall. When I was 13, I devoured Shutter Island in one day at the beach, and never quite looked at the water the same again. I spent the summer between my freshman and sophomore year in college plowing through all three of Stieg Larsson's Millennium novels, and this summer, I already have a list a mile long of murder mysteries, police procedurals, and psychological thrillers ready to be read oceanside. What can I say, it just isn't summer without a dead body, a red herring, and a healthy dose of suspense.
If you want to kick of the hottest season of reading the right way, then make sure you add these 15 thrillers to your summer TBR list. From murder mysteries to psychological suspense, these heart-pounding novels will leave you on the edge of your seat — or, at the very least, your beach chair.
1'Into the Water' by Paula Hawkins
If you haven't already read Paula Hawkins' latest psychological suspense novel, what are you waiting for? One of the most anticipated thrillers of the year, Into the Water is a complex and layered murder-mystery that spans several generations and the demise of more than one "troublesome" woman. Dark, twisty, and unputdownable, move this #1 New York Times bestseller to the top of your TBR list, before someone spoils the shocking ending for you.
2'Since We Fell' by Dennis Lehane
From the author of Mystic River and Shutter Island comes another edge-of-your-seat thriller where nothing is quite as it seems. In Since We Fell, Rachel tries to live a quiet, peaceful life with her husband following an on-air mental breakdown that ended her journalism career. But a chance encounter threatens to tear down everything she has worked so hard to build, and Rachel soon finds herself wading through dangerous waters of violence, deceit, and madness. A unique and surprising novel from a true master, Since We Fell is one of this summer's absolute must-reads.
3'The Day I Died' by Lori Rader-Day
The perfect paperback to toss in your beach bag, Lori Rader-Day's The Day I Died is a suspenseful story about how far one mother is willing to go to protect herself and, more importantly, her son. When Anna is hired by local authorities to use her skills in handwriting analysis to help find a missing child, she is reluctant to get involved in a case that so closely resembles her own secret past. But when her own son goes missing, Anna has no choice but to confront her past in order to save her child's future. Smart and beautifully written, The Day I Died is a provocative and engaging read you won't want to put down.
4'The Good Widow' by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke
Dive into a world of intense domestic drama in bestselling authors Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke's debut suspense novel, The Good Widow. When Jacks Morales opens her front door, the last thing she expects to see is two police officers informing her that her husband of eight years has died in a car accident in Maui with another woman — especially when he was supposed to be on a business trip in Kansas alone. Struggling with the unexpected death and the revelation that her marriage wasn't what she thought it was, Jacks shuts herself off from the world. That is, until Nick, the fiancé of the woman who died in the accident along with Jacks's husband, convinces her to head to Hawaii find out the truth about their partners, once and for all. Fast-paced and thrilling, The Good Widow will have you looking at love in a whole new light.
5'The Owl Always Hunts at Night' by Samuel Bjork
Return to the investigative world of Mia Kruger in Samuel Bjork's follow-up his internationally bestselling thriller, I'm Travelling Alone. In The Owl Always Hunts at Night, Mia rejoins Holger Munch and his team and dives head-first into the case of a missing teen who turns up dead, her body ritualistically arranged on a bed of feathers. The only clue? A haunting video of the victim's imprisonment before being killed that the team must decode before the killer strikes again. Expertly paced and thoughtfully plotted, The Owl Always Hunts at Night will leave you shaken to your core.
6'Do Not Become Alarmed' by Maile Meloy
Parents want nothing more than to keep their children safe and protected, so what happens when their worst fears become a reality? Maile Meloy explores every mother and father's nightmare in Do Not Become Alarmed, a thrilling novel about the disappearance of six children in the rain forest of South America. While on an excursion as part of their holiday cruise, a series of setbacks lead three families to lose track of their kids, and sets in motion the most terrifying experience possible, both for the children and the adults. An action-packed novel with serious emotional depth, Do Not Be Alarmed demands to be finished in one sitting, so get your sunscreen ready. You won't be able to put this one down until the very end.
7'The Last Place You Look' by Kristen Lepionka
Meet your new favorite investigator in Kristen Lepionka's debut thriller, The Last Place You Look. Dark, brooding, and still damaged from the death of her cop father in the line of duty, PI Roxane Weary spends most of her time drinking and avoiding work. That is, until she is hired to investigate the disappearance of Sarah Cook, a teenager who went missing 15 years ago, on the same night both of her parents were brutally murdered. On behalf of Sarah's boyfriend, the man wrongfully convicted of the crimes, Roxane works tirelessly to uncover the truth about what happened to Sarah, to her parents, and to other beautiful young women who have gone missing or turned up dead in the small suburban area of Ohio. Dark and dangerous, the only thing better than the spine-tingling plot of The Last Place You Look is the compelling characters.
8'If We Were Villains' by M. L. Rio
Buckle up for the bookish thriller of the year with M. L. Rio's If We Were Villains, a brilliant debut about love, obsession, and Shakespeare. When Oliver is released from prison after serving a 10-year sentence for a murder he may or may not be responsible for, the most unlikely ally greets him on the outside: Detective Colborne, the man responsible for putting him behind bars. Together, the pair dive head-first into the mystery that has haunted them both for a decade, one involving an elite college, Shakespeare scholars, and a group of friends still desperately trying to hide the truth. Emotionally intense and delightfully suspenseful, If We Were Villains is a unique thriller literary-lovers won't be able to put down.
9'The Child' by Fiona Barton (June 27)
From the bestselling author of The Widow comes one of the year's most highly anticipated thrillers, Fiona Barton's The Child. When the body of a small child was discovered during the demolition of an old house in London, journalist Kate Waters becomes obsessed with finding out everything she can about the Building Site Baby. When her investigation leads her back in time to the disappearance of a newborn baby decades earlier, Kate soon learns that there are more secrets — and more danger — left to be uncovered. Like its predecessor, The Child is a twisty and tantalizing story you won't be able to put down.
10'Every Last Lie' by Mary Kubica (June 27)
If you couldn't put down The Good Girl, you'll want to add Mary Kubica's newest thriller to your summer reading list ASAP. After her husband dies in a tragic car that spares her four-year-old daughter, Clara Solberg is left heartbroken and desperate for answers. Believing that it was no accident at all, she embarks on a dangerous and deadly journey to uncover the truth about her husband's untimely death only to find out she barely knew his real life. Covering the months before the accident from Nick's perspective and the ongoing investigation from Clara's, Every Last Lie is a shocking psychological thriller that is so much more than it appears to be.
11'House of Spies' by Daniel Silva (July 11)
Get ready to save the world again with world-class spy, assassin, and art restorer Gabriel Allon in Daniel Silva's latest thriller, House of Spies. In his latest, nail-biting, globe-trotting adventure, Allon hunts down one of the most deadly and dangerous terrorists in the world before with the unlikely help of a wealthy drug lord and his beautiful wife. Fast-paced and action-packed, House of Spies is an exhilarating thriller worthy of the big screen.
12'The Breakdown' by B. A. Paris (July 18)
One of Bustle's Most Anticipated Thriller Novels of 2017, The Breakdown is sure to be one of the most tantalizing reads of the year. In it, Cass is struggling to forget the woman she saw sitting in her car in the woods that rainy night — the same woman who was later killed. And while she can't stop herself from obsessing over that night, Cass seems to be forgetting everything else, from where she parked the car to whether or not she took her medication. Is it just the guilt that is making her feel like she's losing her mind, or is that feeling that someone is watching her more than just a feeling after all?
13'The Lying Game' by Ruth Ware (July 25)
From the bestselling author of The Woman in Cabin 10 comes another dark and twisty thriller about the fine line between truth and deceit. In The Lying Game, four estranged childhood friends are forced back together to face their collective past when their individual futures are threatened by the lies they told all those years ago. A chilling and provocative story about murder, friendship, and the power of the truth, The Lying Game will keep readers wondering just who they can trust until the very end.
14'Fierce Kingdom' by Gin Phillips (July 25)
In this heart-stopping thriller from multitalented author Gin Phillips, one mother will stop at nothing to protect her young son from the dangers that threaten both of their lives. In Fierce Kingdom, Joan and her son Lincoln are enjoying the perfect day at the zoo — that is, until gunshots are fired, and Joan, along with several other innocent people, is trapped inside like the animals she came to see. Over the course of three hours, and the rest of the novel, her love and maternal instincts are put in hyperdrive as she desperately searches for salvation for herself and her son. A haunting story that will keep readers frantically turning pages until the very end, Fierce Kingdom is a stunning novel you'll be talking about all summer long.
15'A Stranger in the House' by Shari Lapena (Aug. 15)
New York Times bestselling author Shari Lapena returns this summer with another hair-raising thriller: A Stranger in the House. One moment, Karen is at home waiting for her husband, but the next, she is in a hospital bed following a car crash she can't remember. What or who made Karen seemingly run frantically from her house? The police think she's guilty of something, but the truth is always so much more complicated, and so much darker, than it seems.