Home Before Dark
Maggie Holt returns to Baneberry Hall, the house made famous by her father’s bestselling horror memoir, House of Horrors, twenty-five years after her terrified parents fled with her in tow from the house in the middle of the night. Is the place really haunted by evil forces, as her father claimed? Or are there more earthbound—and dangerous—secrets hidden within its walls? Alternating between Maggie’s uneasy homecoming and chapters from her father’s book, Home Before Dark is the story of a house with long-buried secrets and a woman’s quest to uncover them—even if the truth is far more terrifying than any haunting.
Watching from the Dark
Aidan Poole logs on to his laptop late at night to Skype his girlfriend, Zoe. To his horror, he realizes that there is someone else in her flat. Aidan can only listen to the sounds of a violent struggle taking place in the bathroom—and then the sound of silence. He is desperate to find out if Zoe is okay. But then why is he so hesitant to call the police? When Aidan’s cryptic messages finally reach them, Detective Chief Inspector Jonah Sheens and his team take the case, discover the body, and begin wading into Zoe’s circle of friends and lovers with dangerous secrets.
The Spies of Shilling Lane
Reeling from her recent divorce and choked by small-town gossip, Mrs. Braithwaite leaves her English village to seek solace from her clever daughter Betty, who took work in London at the first rumbles of war. But when she arrives, Betty’s landlord, the timid Mr. Norris, informs her that Betty hasn’t been home in days–with the chaos of the bombs, there’s no telling what might have befallen her. Aghast, Mrs. Braithwaite sets out to find her only daughter. Storming into the London Blitz, Mrs. Braithwaite drags the reluctant Mr. Norris along as they piece together Betty’s unexpectedly chaotic life. As she is thrown into the midst of danger and death, Mrs. Braithwaite is forced to rethink her old-fashioned notions of status, class, and reputation.
A Time for Mercy
Clanton, Mississippi. 1990. Jake Brigance, the hero from A Time to Kill, finds himself embroiled in a deeply divisive trial when the court appoints him attorney for Drew Gamble, a timid sixteen-year-old boy accused of murdering a local deputy. Many in Clanton want a swift trial and the death penalty, but Brigance digs in and discovers that there is more to the story than meets the eye. Jake’s fierce commitment to saving Drew from the gas chamber puts his career, his financial security, and the safety of his family on the line.
In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate abandon suburbia and move to forty-four acres of rural land in Vermont where they will begin the ultimate DIY project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this beautiful property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the local legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. With her passion for artifacts, Helen finds special materials to incorporate into the house–a beam from an old schoolroom, bricks from a mill, a mantel from a farmhouse–objects that draw her deeper into the story of Hattie and her descendants, three generations of Breckenridge women, each of whom died suspiciously. As the building project progresses, the house will become a place of menace and unfinished business: a new home, now haunted, that beckons its owners and their neighbors toward unimaginable danger.
Newly married and navigating life with a preschooler as well as her adopted adolescent son, Manon Bradshaw is happy to be working part-time in the cold cases department of the Cambridgeshire police force, a job where she spends more time online shopping than solving crimes. But when Manon is on a walk with her four-year-old son in a peaceful suburban neighborhood and discovers the body of a Lithuanian immigrant hanging from a tree with a mysterious note attached, she knows her life is about to change. Suddenly, she is back on the job full-force, trying to solve the suicide—or is it a murder—in what may be the most dangerous and demanding case of her life.
When Kiki Pew, a prominent high-society dowager vanishes during a swank gala, and is later found dead in a concrete grave, panic and chaos erupt. Not only was she wealthy, she was a founding member of the POTUSSIES, a group of women dedicated to supporting the President. Never one to miss an opportunity to play to his base, the President immediately declares that Kiki was the victim of rampaging immigrant hordes. This, it turns out, is far from the truth. Enter Angie Armstrong, wildlife wrangler extraordinaire, who arrives at her own conclusions after she is summoned to the posh island to deal with a mysterious and impolite influx of huge, hungry pythons. Irreverent, ingenious, and highly entertaining, Squeeze Me perfectly captures the absurdity of our times.
Karen M. McManus
Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each other, and they’ve never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they’re surprised . . . and curious. Their parents are adamant they go. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother’s good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it’s immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious—and dark—their family’s past is.
The Ghosts of Eden Park
This work of nonfiction combines the best of Gatsby-era excess with crooked cops and bootleggers and reads like a novel. In the early days of Prohibition, a German immigrant named George Remus starts trafficking whiskey. Within two years he’s a multi-millionaire, hosting lavish parties with his second wife, Imogene. Pioneering prosecutor Mabel Walker Willebrandt is determined to bring him down, and dispatches her best investigator, Franklin Dodge, to look into his empire. With the fledgling FBI on the case, Remus is quickly imprisoned for violating the Volstead Act. Her husband behind bars, Imogene begins an affair with Dodge. Together, they plot to ruin Remus, sparking a bitter feud that soon reaches the highest levels of government—and that can only end in murder.
When college friends Wynn and Jack decide to canoe the Maskwa River in northern Canada, they anticipate long days of leisurely paddling and picking blueberries, and nights of stargazing and reading paperback Westerns. But a wildfire making its way across the forest adds unexpected urgency to the journey. One night, with the fire advancing, they hear a man and woman arguing on the fog-shrouded riverbank; the next day, a man appears on the river, paddling alone. Is this the same man they heard? And if he is, where is the woman?
An Unwanted Guest
At an inn in the Catskills, a blizzard turns the romantic retreat into a nightmare: electricity is shut off, roads become impossible to navigate, and then the guests begin to turn up dead. From the author of the bestseller The Couple Next Door comes a classic horror story setup reinvigorated by Shari Lapena’s ingenious capability for surprises and twists. —Jonathan Russell Clark
The Witch Elm
Give the gift of brand-new spine-chilling suspense by an Edgar Award-winning crime writer whose cross-genre work has lifted her to cult status. This book begs self-examination, forcing us to ponder how well we really know ourselves and our tendencies. It might be the one you “can’t put down,” even though it’ll make you get out of bed to double-check that the doors are locked. —Romy Weinberg
Deborah Harkness’s paranormal romance novel takes Marcus MacNeil on a time-traveling adventure, from the battlefields of the Revolutionary War to present-day Paris—after he’s morphed into a vampire. Although he’s immortal, Marcus is challenged by this status and finds that he may not be able to escape his past. —Romy Weinberg
Inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s classic novel Rebecca (itself a must-read-in-your-life book), Lisa Gabriele’s The Winters updates du Maurier’s Gothic tale and replaces Manderley with the Asherley estate in the Hamptons. With vivid and evocative prose, Gabriele shows that a great writer can breathe new life into even seminal works. Like du Maurier’s original, The Winters is about a young woman’s quick engagement to a wealthy widower, but when she’s brought to his home and meets his teenage daughter, she discovers that the family keeps disturbing secrets involving her fiancé’s previous wife, Rebekah. —Jonathan Russell Clark
The Girl Before
Jane’s ready to start fresh, so a move to a new place seems like just what she needs. She finds a gorgeous house, one in which the architect charges low rent but has strange restrictions on what the tenant can and can’t do. But when Jane discovers that the previous tenant looked remarkably like herself and died under mysterious circumstances, she begins to wonder what’s really going on around her. —Swapna Krishna
The Flight Attendant
When Cassandra wakes up next to a dead man after a night of binge-drinking with no memory of what happened, she begins to lie. She lies to her fellow flight attendants, she lies to the authorities, she lies to everyone. After all, it’s better than the truth: she has no idea what happened, and she’s starting to wonder if she’s guilty of this terrible crime. —Swapna Krishna
We all know dads love John Grisham—need we say more? OK, OK. Grisham’s newest novel takes place in 1940s Mississippi, where a WWII vet walks into his church one day and shoots his pastor and friend. More perplexing is that the man won’t explain why he did it. The Reckoning is both vintage Grisham while also a deeper exploration than Dad might expect. —Jonathan Russell Clark
The Price You Pay
Aidan Truhen’s novel is an unpredictable thriller with a distinctive antihero at its center. That would be Jack Price, a drug dealer who finds himself targeted by a group of internationally renowned assassins, at which point things escalate dramatically, with a blend of bleak humor and violence throughout. —Tobias Carroll
Light It Up
In this captivating thriller featuring war veteran Peter Ash, a hijacking reveals the deep complications of Colorado’s thriving marijuana business. Peter’s good friend, Henry, has a daughter who runs a security company that protects cash-rich cannabis entrepreneurs. Henry’s son-in-law and the company’s operations manager are carrying a large sum of client money when their vehicle vanishes, leaving Henry’s daughter and her company in grave danger. —Jessica Mizzi
City of Secrets
Elizabeth Miles may have secrets and ghosts in her own past, but she does what she can to help other high-society women solve their problems. Her friend Priscilla Knight has been left penniless after her husband died under mysterious circumstances and in great debt, and Priscilla herself is suspected of his murder. Elizabeth fights to clear Priscilla’s name, but must do so without letting the skeletons in her own closet come to light. —Swapna Krishna
After her fiancé leaves her just before their wedding, Maggie Harris moves to Solace Island with her sister, hoping to find some peace. What she doesn’t expect is to meet Luke Benson, a handsome neighbor, who ends up saving Maggie’s life when she’s almost run down by a car. Who is this mysterious Luke, and why would someone want to hurt Maggie? —Swapna Krishna
The Pentagon, the NSA, and the CIA are simultaneously hacked by an unknown enemy known only as The Fox. In Forsyth’s latest, the bestselling master of international intrigue dials up a propulsive race-against-the-clock thriller about technological espionage. Publishers Weekly guarantees “genre fans will be enthralled.” —Ben Kassoy
Tom Clancy Oath of Office
The latest in Tom Clancy’s bestselling series puts Jack Ryan up against his toughest challenge yet. Two nuclear missiles have been hijacked. His son has been abducted. Can President Ryan and the Campus team save Jack Junior, recover the nukes, and thwart their enemy? And how can they thwart their enemy, when he won’t even show his face? —Ben Kassoy
Mysteries and thrillers (especially psychological thrillers!) will make your heart pound, cause the hair on the back of your neck stand up, and produce a lump in your throat that’s impossible to swallow. Why not give all three sensations to someone you love this holiday season by gifting them a good book? These titles cover murder in the Catskills and Florida’s Gold Coast, haunted houses new and old, John Grisham’s latest, paranormal romance, and a flight attendant who might’ve committed murder in a drunken, blacked-out state. We present the very best thriller books of 2020 to give as gifts this holiday season. Or if true stories are more your thing, check out the 40 Best True Crime Books of All Time.
Featured Image: Chelsea Fone