The Finalists by David BellThe premise: a group of ambitious students who are in the running for a full-ride scholarship at an elite private college gather for interviews and to take a rigorous written exam.
The problem: a front-runner in the competition dies suddenly of an apparent poisoning and the remaining five, now suspicious of each other, discover they're trapped inside the building together.
For fans of: dark academia, locked room mysteries, and Squid Game.
Just Like Home by Sarah GaileyWhat it's about: After 12 years of estrangement, Vera Crowder is returning home to care for her dying mother. To say the circumstances are complicated is an understatement -- her mother is as cruel and critical as ever and the house is haunted by the legacy of her father, who was unmasked as a serial killer.
Is it for you? The genre-blending in Just Like Home leans heavily into gothic horror territory, while secondary characters raise important yet difficult questions about the sometimes unseemly nature of true crime "fandom" that might alienate some readers.
The Local by Joey HartstoneWhat it is: a dramatic, richly detailed legal thriller about a brooding lawyer, his hot-headed client, and the intersection between murder, xenophobia, and...patent law?
The setup: In an East Texas town that's become a hub for quick, lucrative copyright cases, civil attorney James Euchre tries his hand at criminal law when a judge who ruled against his client in a lawsuit turns up dead.
Read it for: the colorful cast of side characters and surprising but welcome moments of wry humor.
The Displacements by Bruce HolsingerWhat it's about: When an unprecedented category 6 hurricane hits the Southeast, a wealthy Miami family loses everything and winds up in a displaced persons shelter in Oklahoma that fills with even more people after Houston, Texas, is also destroyed.
Why you should read it: come for the action-packed disaster story; stay for the thought-provoking exploration of climate change, late capitalism, and a society that started falling apart long before the storm.
You might also like: Just Get Home by Bridget Foley; Breakout by Paul Herron.
Can't Look Away by Carola LoveringWhat it is: an intricately plotted and moving tale of suburban malaise, social isolation, and the complex reality behind the facade of a "perfect" life.
Starring: yoga teacher Molly, whose seemingly idyllic home and family mask her intense loneliness and the long shadow of a past relationship with a famous singer; Molly's new friend Sabrina, a new arrival to their Connecticut community who is much more than she seems.
Reviewers say: "A slow-burning literary tease that plumbs the heights and depths of young love, creative ambitions, friendship, and betrayal" (Kirkus Reviews).
Little Nothings by Julie MayhewWhat it's about: Loner Liv Travers is thrilled to finally be "one of the girls" and treasures her tight-knit friendship with fellow suburban moms Beth, Binnie, and Ange. But Ange has expensive tastes, and Liv's insecurity and rapidly increasing debt lead to a shocking event on a group trip to Corfu.
How it's told: alternating through time and space, between the group's picturesque Greek holiday in the present and their past together in and around London.
For fans of: Wahala by Nikki May; Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton.
The Wild One
by Colleen McKeegan
What it is: an engaging coming-of-age thriller about what happens when past and present are put on an unstoppable, calamitous collision course.
Starring: Manhattan grad student Amanda, whose seemingly perfect life with her boyfriend is propped up on a rickety foundation of troubling relationship dynamics, unaddressed trauma, and the events of a dark summer night in her childhood that she's managed to keep hidden until now.
Reviewers say: The Wild One "has hints of Tana French and Tara Isabella Burton" and "touches on tough topics without becoming voyeuristic" (Kirkus Reviews).
Good Husbands by Cate RayHow it started: Priyanka, Stephanie, and Jess have never met but have one thing in common -- each has just received an anonymous letter accusing her husband of committing sexual assault more than 20 years ago.
How it's going: Each woman reacts differently to the news, until their search for answers brings them together to discover what really happened and determine what the truth means for their families and their futures.
About the author: Cate Ray is a pseudonym of mystery author Cath Weeks, whose previous work includes The Wife's Shadow and Friends Don't Lie.
Project Namahana by John TeschnerWhat it is: an intensifying, intricately plotted eco-thriller about an unlikely team of investigators looking into a recent series of drowning deaths and possible ties to a powerful agriculture and chemical company.
Starring: flawed combat vet Micah Bernt, whose efforts to rebuild his life are derailed by the apparent drowning of his kindly landlord Clifton; Michael Lindstrom, an employee sent by the company to report on what happened to Clifton and bury any evidence of corporate malfeasance.
Reviewers say: The action in Project Namahana "builds to a satisfying resolution that doesn’t pull punches and is true to the book’s spirit of portraying a less-than-postcard-perfect image of Hawaii" (Publishers Weekly).
The Wife Before by Shanora WilliamsHow it begins: Down on her luck Samira Wilder is swept off her feet by famous golfer Roland Graham and seduced by his luxurious lifestyle, she tries to forget about the speculation about the death of his first wife Melanie.
What goes wrong: the discovery of Melanie's long-hidden diaries in Roland's mansion forces Samira to accept that things aren't what they seem and look to her own survival as quickly as she can.
Read it for: the flawed protagonist, whose difficult past humanizes her puts her decisions into context.
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