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5 Psychological Thrillers You Should Read This Month


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Hello, readers, and hello, April. We are starting to see glimmers of the big psychological thrillers of the summer, from such fan favorites as Megan Abbott, Paula Hawkins, and Robyn Harding. In the meantime, April has plenty to offer us. Let’s take a book into the nascent sun and try and get some vitamin D and some sense of normalcy. It’s going to happen, right? We’re going to be normal again, aren’t we?

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Caroline Kepnes, You Love Me
(Random House)

Long before Kepnes’s brilliantly sick series of books, she worked at Entertainment Weekly (also the former workplace of crime writer Julia Dahl, regular CrimeReads contributor Daneet Steffens, and me). Reading Kepnes is like a mashup of EW and Jim Thompson: she writes essentially dark books from the point-of-view of the twisted Joe Goldberg, who is just looking for a woman to love who doesn’t drive him to commit multiple murders. But she also sprinkles her books with pitch perfect pop culture references, including many references to Pitch Perfect. It’s hard since the success of the Netflix adaptation of Kepnes’s books not to see Joe as Penn Badgley: the former Gossip Girl star is a pitch perfect Joe: too eager, yet still endearing, which is probably how Ted Bundy rolled too. Oh, right, and You Love Me delivers and then some. You should read it.

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Carole Johnstone, Mirrorland
(Scribner)

Johnstone’s book moves between our world to Mirrorland, a dark place conjured up by two sisters, Cat and El. Cat is now living in Los Angeles, far from her childhood home in Edinburgh where the sisters dreamed of creatures living under the stairs, witches, pirates, and clowns (obviously nothing is scarier than clowns). Cat is moved to return after El disappears, and the house is just as spooky and shadowy as it was in her youth. But now the secrets about her family and the house are both coming to light—every room seems to hold a clue Cat must follow to find El and go back to Mirrorland.

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Flynn Berry, Northern Spy
(Viking)

Spy is Berry’s third novel, and though it didn’t quite hit the high marks of her Edgar-winning debut, Under the Harrow, a spooky and sad story of two sisters, one of whom is murdered, it’s still a complex and engaging read. Her second book, A Double Life, was also a meditation on family and disappointment, based on the story of Lord Lucan, a socialite who disappeared from his family home, fleeing a bloody crime scene and leaving his children in shambles. In Northern Spy Berry again delves into the prickly relationship between sisters, with the backdrop of the IRA and the uneasy peace in Northern Ireland.

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Joshilyn Jackson, Mother May I
(William Morrow)

Jackson is an old hand at fiction but relatively new to domestic suspense, and she is already damned good at it. Our heroine, Bree Cabbat, has a perfect life until she realizes she’s in a psychological thriller—oh, no, until her baby is kidnapped. The suspense is amped up until the reader is forced to ponder the question: How far should a mother go to find a missing child? Within this story Jackson weaves careful and insightful commentary on mothering, privilege, trauma, and forgiveness, elevating it above your average psychological thriller.

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Dario Diofebi, Paradise, Nevada
(Bloomsbury)

Diofebi’s debut novel begins with a bang: on May 1, 2015, a bomb explodes in the Positano Luxury Resort in Las Vegas. The resort is an exact replica of the Amalfi coast: a slice of Italy on the Strip. Diofebi, who is Italian, is deft with a large cast of characters, some American, some Italian, a cocktail waitress and a professional poker player, a Mormon journalist, and an Italian tourist. This book aims high and delivers: the combination of his Vegas setting and his empathetic characters push this into a crime novel as a comedy of manners writ broad. An auspicious debut for Diofebi.

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Michael Neff
Algonkian Producer
New York Pitch Director
Author, Development Exec, Editor

We are the makers of novels, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

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