Skip To Content
BuzzFeed News Home Reporting To You

17 New Thrillers You Need To Add To Your Summer Reading List

Your summer vacation might be canceled, but your summer reading list is about to get a lot more thrilling.

Posted on June 26, 2020, at 12:28 p.m. ET

Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas (Custom House; May 12)

Custom House

When Ines Murillo accepts a spot at Catherine House — a tuition-free but highly selective, reformist liberal arts university hidden in the woods of Pennsylvania — she expects to leave past traumas behind to spend her time deep in intellectual pursuits. But instead, Ines enters into an environment of sanctioned revelry and experimentation. Soon, she begins to feel trapped at the school, which requires students to spend three years, including summers, completely cut off from the outside world — including their family and friends. When a tragedy occurs at Catherine House, Ines comes to suspect that there might be a hidden agenda at the school, connected to the students selected to study its most mysterious and radical curriculum.

Thomas’s debut novel is a modern-day gothic page-turner that will keep you up past your bedtime with its shocking twists and haunting imagery. It’s also next month’s pick for the BuzzFeed Book Club. Read the first chapter here.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley (William Morrow; June 2)

William Morrow & Company

Every detail of Jules and Will’s wedding on a secluded island off the coast of Ireland had been expertly planned — down to the designer dress and luxe wedding favors. But as the festivities begin, past slights, resentments, jealousy begin to surface: A bridesmaid ruins her dress, the groomsmen are getting inappropriately drunk, and the bride’s oldest male friend seems to think of her as more than a friend. And then someone turns up dead.

Foley, New York Times–bestselling author of The Hunting Party, delivers another atmospheric, Agatha Christie–style whodunit with The Guest List. The multiple points of view will keep you guessing right until the end.

Perfectly Famous by Emily Liebert (Gallery Books; June 2)

Gallery Books

Bree Bennett is a recently divorced former journalist trying to break back into the field at her small-town newspaper. When her favorite famous crime novelist, Ward DeFleur, goes missing following the murder of her daughter, Bree becomes obsessed with finding him. But Ward, who has vowed to give up writing, doesn’t want to be found. All the while, the murderer is still out there.

Liebert’s Perfectly Famous is a fast-paced and smart whodunit that examines the sometimes challenging relationship between mothers and daughters while surprising you at every turn.

Seven Years of Darkness by You-Jeong Jeong (Penguin Books; June 2)

Penguin Books

When the body of a young girl is discovered in a reservoir near a remote South Korean village, three men — the girl's father and two security guards at a nearby dam — each have something to hide about the night of her death. They race to uncover what happened to her, without revealing their own secrets. When their search results in a mass tragedy at the dam, one of the security guards is sent to prison for murder. Seven years later, the convicted guard’s son, Sowon — who is living in the shadow of his mass murderer father — receives a package that promises answers about what really happened, and he must confront a danger he didn’t know existed.

Originally published in Korean in 2015, this intricately plotted novel is an eerie and haunting psychological mystery that will make you understand why Jeong has been called the queen of South Korean thrillers.

Clean Hands by Patrick Hoffman (Atlantic Monthly Press; June 2)

Atlantic Monthly Press

New York corporate lawyer Elizabeth Carlyle is working on a high-stakes case defending a prominent bank, when she finds out another lawyer on the case has lost his phone that contained relevant secret documents. That’s where Valencia Walker, an ex-CIA agent who is now a high-priced fixer, comes in. When the person who copied the secret documents starts blackmailing the firm, Elizabeth and Valencia must work together to outmaneuver whoever or whatever is behind it all.

Part legal thriller, part classic noir, and part spy thriller, Clean Hands is an unputdownable read, filled with private security firms, crooked lawyers, shady black market traders, and Russian organized crime.

The Swap by Robyn Harding (Gallery/Scout Press; June 23)

Gallery/Scout Press

When social media influencer Freya and her husband, Max, move to a bohemian enclave island in the Pacific Northwest after a public scandal, Freya’s only friend is Low, an awkward but manipulative teenage girl. But when new neighbor Jamie and her husband relocate to the island after grappling with infertility, Low is pushed aside. Soon a rift develops between the couples after an ill-conceived night of drug use and sexual experimentation, witnessed — unbeknownst to the couples — by Low. As Low becomes even more obsessed with Freya, the aftermath of that night threatens to tear apart both couples.

The Swap is a slow burn reminiscent of Big Little Lies that looks at toxic relationships and obsession — and culminates in a truly shocking ending.

Nothing Can Hurt You by Nicola Maye Goldberg (Bloomsbury; June 23)

Bloomsbury

When college student Sara Morgan is found murdered in the woods near her upstate New York college in 1997, her boyfriend confesses and takes a plea of temporary insanity despite no history of mental illness. From there, Nothing Can Hurt follows the lives of a circle of community members who feel the ripples of the case — including Sara's half-sister, the teen Sara used to babysit, the woman who discovered her body, and the reporter trying to link the case to a local serial killer.

Described as a thriller for a new generation and based on a true story, Goldberg’s debut explores gendered violence not as an anomaly, but as an everyday occurrence ingrained in our society.

The Dilemma by B. A. Paris (St. Martin's Press; June 30)

St. Martin's Press

The Dilemma centers around a big 40th birthday party thrown for Livia by her husband, Adam. After discovering a secret about her daughter, Marnie, Livia is secretly relieved that Marnie, who is studying abroad, won’t be able to attend. Little does she know that Adam has arranged for Marnie to attend as a surprise. Before her arrival, Adam also hears some terrible news and faces a dilemma of his own. Should he tell his wife, or keep this news to himself to give her a few more hours of happiness?

The Dilemma was one of the most anticipated psychological thrillers of the year, asking the question: Is it better to share a secret that might hurt those you love or lie to protect them?

I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick (Margaret K. McElderry Books; June 30)

Margaret K. McElderry Books

I Killed Zoe Spanos follows Brooklyn teenager Anna Cicconi who thinks she's lucked out when she finds a summer nanny job in the Hamptons. But when she arrives, she finds that the community is still reeling from the disappearance of Zoe Spanos, a local girl who bears a resemblance to Anna. As Anna delves deeper into Zoe’s disappearance, she begins to believe that she and Zoe are connected — and that she herself is responsible for what happened to Zoe.

The novel starts at the end, when Zoe’s body is found and Anna is charged in Zoe’s death and has confessed. But, Martina, a teen who hosts a podcast about the case, isn’t satisfied with Anna’s confession and keeps digging.

Described as the YA thriller to read this summer, Kit Frick’s novel is inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and re-creates the creepy gothic vibes and psychological suspense with a modern twist.

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager (Dutton Books; June 30)

Dutton Books

In Home Before Dark, Maggie Holt returns to Baneberry Hall, the Victorian house she lived in briefly as a child, made famous by her father’s bestselling memoir House of Horrors. These days, she restores old homes and doesn’t remember much about the mere three weeks her family spent in the house before fleeing. So when her father dies and she inherits Baneberry Hall, she decides to renovate and sell it. But although she doesn’t believe in ghosts, her return isn’t smooth. Maggie begins to experience strange occurrences much like those described in the book, causing her to question: Could the house really be haunted? Or is there a simpler — but more sinister — explanation?

Home Before Dark pays homage to The Amityville Horror and, as in Sager’s other novels, the story blends psychological suspense with elements of classic horror, for a creepy, edge-of-your-seat read.

The Golden Cage by Camilla Läckberg (Knopf; July 7)

Knopf

Faye has a dark past that she's worked hard to hide; Jack is a golden boy who grew up with money and privilege. But when Faye and Jack fell in love in business school, Faye dropped out to support him. Years later, they’re married, have a baby, and have more money than Faye could have ever imagined. Despite her wealth, she can’t help but feel that Jack is pulling away and taking the sacrifices she made for him for granted. When she discovers that he’s having an affair, she’s left emotionally shattered and financially struggling — and decides to plot her revenge.

Originally published in Swedish in 2019, The Golden Cage is a fast-paced psychological thriller about betrayal, sex, money, and a scorned wife’s revenge à la Gone Girl.

Blacktop Wasteland by S. A. Cosby (Flatiron; July 14)

Flatiron

Today Beauregard “Bug” Montage is a hard-working and honest family man and mechanic. But not that long ago, he was known as one of the best getaway drivers in the Southeast. Bug has tried to put all of that behind him — but when his new life starts to fall apart around him and his financial obligations start to mount, he can’t turn down a lucrative gig as a getaway driver in a major jewelry store heist. Then the robbery goes sideways — and Bug’s life and family are in danger.

Part heist story, part Southern noir, Blacktop Wasteland is a twisty crime thriller that explores the way poverty, race, toxic masculinity, and the American Dream affect the choices we make.

The End of Her by Shari Lapena (Pamela Dorman Books; July 28)

Pamela Dorman Books

Stephanie has everything she ever wanted: two newborn twin daughters and a loving husband Patrick. But when a woman from Patrick’s past accuses him of murdering his first wife — who he claims died in a tragic accident — Stephanie doesn’t know who to believe. Patrick insists it’s just a blackmail attempt, but this woman knows personal things about Patrick that make Stephanie question her husband and the life she’s built with him.

A novel of domestic suspense with shifting POVs, The End of Her will have you questioning who to believe right up until the end.

Playing Nice by J. P. Delaney (Ballantine Books; July 28)

Ballantine Books

When Pete and his partner Maddie are told out of the blue that the son they’ve been raising for two years isn’t really their son — that their actual son was switched at birth with the son of another couple, Miles and Lucy — they’re devastated. The two families try to come together to combine their separate lives in the hope of becoming one unconventional blended family. But when an investigation into the hospital’s mistake brings about some new and disturbing questions about the night the babies were switched, the couples have to decide if they can trust each other — and if they can trust their own partners.

Playing Nice plays on every parent’s worst fears with an almost-too-real but completely terrifying dilemma.

In Case of Emergency by E. G. Scott (Dutton Books; Aug. 4)

Dutton Books

When Charlotte, a thirtysomething Long Island woman, realizes her new and slightly mysterious boyfriend — who had asked her to keep their relationship a secret — is missing, she’s afraid to go to the police. So when the police come to her and ask her to identify a body, she assumes the worst. At first she’s relieved to see that the body is not that of her boyfriend but instead a Jane Doe she’s never met — but when the police tell her she was listed as the woman’s emergency contact, Charlotte realizes she’s a suspect. It’s now up to her to find the connection she shares with the dead woman, and figure out how her missing boyfriend fits into the mystery.

In Case Of Emergency is a fast-moving and sharp thriller that examines the roles that loneliness, trauma, and friendship play when deciding who to trust.

Three Perfect Liars by Heidi Perks (Gallery Books; Aug. 18)

Gallery Books

When an office fire destroys an ad agency, and a body is found among the destruction, three ambitious women — all with a grudge against the CEO — come under suspicion. Laura has just returned from maternity leave to learn that the woman who had been covering her responsibilities is sticking around, thanks to the CEO. Mia, Laura’s cover, has become popular and indispensable around the office but has a secret reason she’s so desperate to keep her job. And Janie, the CEO’s wife who gave up her own career for her husband, has a secret of her own.

Told from the points of view of each of these women, Three Perfect Liars is a tense psychological thriller that shows just how quickly lies, gossip, and secrets can turn into murder.

Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden (Ecco; Aug. 25)

Ecco

On a Native American reservation in South Dakota, both the American justice system and the tribal council often fall short. So Virgil Wounded Horse is known as the local enforcer, hired to deliver his own vigilante justice when other avenues fail. Things become personal when Virgil’s nephew overdoses on heroin being trafficked in, and he sets out with his ex-girlfriend to find the source of the drugs. What they find is a complicated web of rapidly expanding drug cartels and a world of money, power, and violence.

Winter Counts is a gritty and twisting crime thriller that offers commentary on what it means to be a Native American in the 21st century, while keeping readers on the edge of their seats.

ADVERTISEMENT