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This Winter’s Best Thrillers Will Make You Shiver

The 16 best thrillers of January, February, and March 2019.

Winter brings bone-chilling temperatures to Chicago, making it the perfect time to curl up inside with a book so engrossing you’ll forget the cold. The publishing world seems to agree, because winter and early spring bring some of the best thrillers of the year. Spanning crime, supernatural, political, and other kinds of thrillers, this list contains my favorites — and those I’m most looking forward to — in early 2019.

The Guilt We Carry
By Samuel W. Gailey
Oceanview Publishing, January 8

“Unable to bear the guilt of negligence that led to the death of her younger brother, fifteen-year-old Alice runs away from home. She lives on the streets, makes one bad decision after another, and drowns her guilt in alcohol. But, everything changes when she stumbles upon a startling scene: a dead drug dealer and a duffel bag full of ninety-one thousand dollars in cash.”

Scrublands
By Chris Hammer
Touchstone, January 8

“In Riversend, an isolated rural community afflicted by an endless drought, a young priest does the unthinkable, killing five parishioners before being taken down himself. A year later, accompanied by his own demons from war-time reporting, journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in Riversend. His assignment is simple: describe how the townspeople are coping as the anniversary of their tragedy approaches. But as Martin meets the locals and hears their version of events, he begins to realize that the accepted wisdom…may be wrong.”

No Exit
By Taylor Adams
William Morrow, January 15

“A brilliant, edgy thriller about four strangers, a blizzard, a kidnapped child, and a determined young woman desperate to unmask and outwit a vicious psychopath.”

Last Woman Standing
By Amy Gentry
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, January 15

“Dana Diaz is an aspiring stand-up comedian—a woman in a man’s world. When she meets a tough computer programmer named Amanda Dorn, the two bond over their struggles in boys’ club professions. Dana confides that she’s recently been harassed and assaulted while in L.A., and Amanda comes up with a plan: they should go after each other’s assailants, Strangers on a Train–style. But Dana finds that revenge, however sweet, draws her into a more complicated series of betrayals. Soon her distrust turns to paranoia, encompassing strangers, friends—and even herself. At what cost will she get her vengeance?”

The Suspect
By Fiona Barton
Berkley, January 22

“When two British teenage girls go missing in Bangkok following a hostel fire, journalist Kate Waters is sent to follow the story. Despite the circumstances, she’s thrilled to go, as her estranged son, Jake, is volunteering at a conservancy project a few hours away and she is desperate for a reunion. When she arrives, she’s just one of dozens of journalists vying for interviews with grieving families, and to her shock, the main suspect in the investigation is Jake.”

The Current
By Tim Johnston
Algonquin, January 22

“In the dead of winter, outside a small Minnesota town, state troopers pull two young women and their car from the icy Black Root River. One is found downriver, drowned, while the other is found at the scenehalf frozen but alive. What happened was no accident, and news of the crime awakens the community’s memories of another young woman who lost her life in the same river ten years earlier, and whose killer may still live among them.”

Nowhere Child
By Christian White
Minotaur Books, January 22

“When an American accountant approaches Melbourne art teacher Kimberly Leamy out of the blue and tells her he believes she is Sammy Went, a child who was abducted as a two-year-old from her home in Manson, Kentucky, Kim believes this is a case of mistaken identity. But as she investigates her family, questions arise and she travels to Kentucky to find answers. Like the protagonist, this novel hits the ground running, then navigates multiple twists and turns before arriving at a tense and terrifying climax.” 

The Plotters
By Un-Su Kim; Translated by Sora Kim-Russell
Doubleday, January 29

“Reseng is an assassin. Raised by a cantankerous killer named Old Raccoon in the crime headquarters ‘The Library,’ Reseng never questioned anything: where to go, who to kill, or why his home was filled with books that no one ever read. But one day, Reseng steps out of line on a job, toppling a set of carefully calibrated plans. And when he uncovers an extraordinary scheme set into motion by an eccentric trio of young women—a convenience store clerk, her wheelchair-bound sister, and a cross-eyed librarian—Reseng will have to decide if he will remain a pawn or finally take control of the plot.”

Bellini and the Sphinx
By Tony Bellotto; Translated by Clifford E. Landers
Akashic Books, February 5

“The highly entertaining debut crime-fiction novel from Brazilian music icon and best-selling author Bellotto is finally published in English.”

The Syndicate
By Guy Bolton
Oneworld Publishing, February 7

“Eight years have passed since the events of The Pictures. Jonathan Craine has left his old life in Hollywood behind him, content to live out his days on a farm in rural California with his teenage son. But when infamous mobster and Las Vegas founder Bugsy Siegel is killed at his home in Beverly Hills, Craine is forced to face his past once again. Summoned to Las Vegas to meet mob head Meyer Lansky, Craine is given the impossible task of finding Siegel’s murderers. He has no access to crime reports, no police contacts and no one to help in his investigation other than an ageing hit man and a female crime reporter with her own agenda. But Lanksy’s orders aren’t to be ignored; if Craine can’t find Siegel’s murderers in five days, he and his son will both be killed.”

The Good Lie
By Tom Rosenstiel
Ecco, February 12

“When a shadowy American diplomatic complex is attacked in North Africa, the White House is besieged by accusations of incompetence and wild conspiracy theories. Eager to learn the truth, the president and his staff turn to Peter Rena and his partner, Randi Brooks. The investigators dive headfirst into the furtive world of foreign intelligence and national security, hoping to do it quietly. That becomes impossible, though, when it blows up into an all-out public scandal: Congress opens hearings and a tireless national security reporter publishes a bombshell exposé.”

American Spy
By Lauren Wilkinson
Random House, February 12

“It’s 1986, the heart of the Cold War, and Marie Mitchell is an intelligence officer with the FBI. She’s brilliant but she’s also a young black woman working in an old boys’ club, and her career has stalled out; she’s overlooked for every high profile squad, and her days are filled with monotonous paperwork. So when she’s given the opportunity to join a shadowy task force aimed at undermining Thomas Sankara, the charismatic, revolutionary president of Burkina Faso, whose Communist ideology has made him a target for American intervention, she says yes.”

The Burning Island
By Hester Young
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, February 12

“Journalist Charlie Cates has always believed in facts, in what can be proved—her career depends on it. Which is why she has never truly accepted the supernatural visions that guide her to children in danger. After her work on a high-profile missing-child case brings unwanted fame, she reluctantly flees to the lush Big Island of Hawaii with her best friend, Rae. Determined to avoid her disturbing visions, Charlie begins writing what seems to be a harmless interview of a prominent volcanologist, Victor Nakagawa. But her hopes for a peaceful vacation are soon dashed by haunting dreams of a local girl who went missing six weeks earlier.”

While You Sleep
By Stephanie Merritt
Pegasus Books, March 5

“On a remote Scottish island, the McBride house stands guard over its secrets. A century ago, a young widow and her son died mysteriously there; just last year a local boy, visiting for a dare, disappeared without a trace. For Zoe Adams, newly arrived from America, the house offers a refuge from her failing marriage. But her peaceful retreat is disrupted by strange and disturbing events: nighttime intrusions; unknown voices; a constant sense of being watched.”

The Conviction of Cora Burns
By Carolyn Kirby
Dzanc Books, March 19

“With the power and intrigue of Laura Purcell’s The Silent Companions and Sarah Schmidt’s See What I Have Done, Carolyn Kirby’s debut novel delves into Victorian London’s dark underbelly and the question of where we first learn violence: from our scars or from our hearts.”

The Night Visitors
By Carol Goodman
William Morrow, March 26

“Mattie, a social worker in her fifties who lives in an enormous run-down house in the middle of the woods. Mattie lives alone and is always available, and so she is the person the hotline always calls when they need a late-night pickup. And although according to protocol Mattie should take Alice and Oren to a local shelter, instead she brings them home for the night. She has plenty of room, she says. What she doesn’t say is that Oren reminds her of her little brother, who died thirty years ago at the age of ten.

About Amy Brady

Amy Brady is the Senior Editor of the Chicago Review of Books and Deputy Publisher of Guernica Magazine. Her writing has appeared in The Village Voice, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Dallas Morning News, The Awl, Literary Hub, McSweeney's, and elsewhere. Follow her on Twitter at @ingredient_x.

1 comment on “This Winter’s Best Thrillers Will Make You Shiver

  1. Awesome list. Can’t wait to read ALL of them. Thank you for sharing.

    Like

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