Social Creature by Tara Isabella BurtonStarring: wealthy, glamorous Lavinia, and penniless, forgettable Louise, who hit it off despite their differences, and are soon painting Manhattan red -- but how long will the party last?
Why you might like it: The glitz and glamour of the money-is-no-object lifestyle in New York is a draw in itself, but the real appeal is in the souring relationship between the two women. You know it won't end well from the early pages, but following along is undeniably enjoyable.
For fans of: Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley.
Jar of Hearts by Jennifer HillierWhat it's about: Fourteen years ago, Angela Wong disappeared. Her best friend Geo has just given testimony against her own high-school boyfriend, now known as the Sweetbay Strangler -- and is facing jail time herself as an accessory.
Why you might like it: What happened that night? Flashbacks allow the story to unfold slowly, the tension always increasing. Meanwhile, women in the present are dying in eerily similar ways.
For fans of: the gruesome realism of the grisly Heartsick series by Chelsea Cain.
Star of the North by D.B. JohnStarring: newly recruited CIA agent Jenna Williams, whose sister disappeared from a South Korean beach 12 years ago; Mrs. Moon, an enterprising North Korean peasant; and ambitious North Korean diplomat Colonel Cho, whose murky family history spells danger if exposed.
What it's about: Jenna's dangerous search for her sister; the systemic oppression and suffering of North Korea's citizens.
Why you might like it: Extremely well-researched, this novel offers a nerve-wracking glimpse of the world's most secretive regime.
The Real Michael Swann by Bryan ReardonWhat happens: Problems on Amtrak's New Jersey routes cause a backup at Penn Station; when a bomb explodes there, the casualties are massive. Julia Swann believes her husband Michael has survived, and begins a desperate search to find him.
Why you might like it: As Julia is forced to confront difficult questions (why hasn't Michael called her? Is he somehow involved in the bombing?), this novel moves from family drama to page-turning (and terrifyingly plausible) suspense novel.
The Precipice by Paul DoironWhere it's set: In this 6th in the series starring game warden Mike Bowditch, he's headed to Maine's Hundred-Mile Wilderness, along the Appalachian Trail, where two women have disappeared.
What happens: While it's conceivable that coyotes are responsible, it's more likely that humans are the problem -- and the stakes increase when Mike's girlfriend, biologist Stacy Stevens, also disappears.
Why you might like it: The vividly depicted wilderness, multi-faceted characters, and increasing suspense set this "among the very best outdoors-based crime dramas" (Booklist).
Silent Creed by Alex KavaWhere it's set: In the middle of a North Carolina mudslide -- literally.
What happens: In this sequel to Breaking Creed, K-9 trainer Ryder Creed and his dog Bolo are searching for victims of a landslide, but it seems at least one was killed purposefully.
Read it for: the intriguing relationship between Creed and Bolo and the possibility of a romantic one with Creed's FBI colleague, Maggie O'Dell, whom series fans will recognize.
For fans of: James Rollins' Tucker Wayne series, which also stars a working dog.
The Seventh Plague by James RollinsWhere it's set: This is James Rollins' Sigma Force series, so we're talking all over the world, but the catalyst is the possibility that ancient plagues are returning in Egypt. The team's push to stop the spread takes them to Sudan and the Arctic.
Why you might like it: Bigger than life, this 12th in the series features "exotic locales, heroic quests, quixotic villains, action galore" (Publishers Weekly), as well as some nifty scientific and historical tidbits.
Afterlife by Marcus SakeyWhere it's set: an alternate Chicago, populated only by those who died violently -- some of whom have learned that their power grows when they kill others.
What it's about: FBI agent Will Brody is hunting down a sniper when he's killed by a bomb; waking up in this other Chicago, he remains determined to stop the sniper, who seems to have connections to the deadly inhabitants of the afterlife.
Why you might like it: Smart writing, a powerful love story, plenty of action (and violence) and an intriguing, disturbing premise combine for a "noodle-bender of the first order" (Kirkus Reviews).
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