Get Gripped: Mystery, Thriller and Crime Novels to Read This Spring

These are the kind of books they had to make up the word "unputdownable" for. 

*****

Far From True, by Linwood Barclay

About the book: After the screen of a run-down drive-in movie theater collapses and kills four people, the daughter of one of the victims asks private investigator Cal Weaver to look into a break-in at her father's house. Cal discovers a hidden room where salacious activities have taken place—as well as evidence of missing DVDs. But it may not be the discs the thief was interested in.

Meanwhile, Detective Barry Duckworth is still trying to solve two murders he believes are connected, since each featured a similar distinctive wound. And when yet another murder happens, Cal and Barry are both driven to pursue their investigations, no matter where they lead. But where they lead may be more horrific than either man can imagine.

Why we're taking notice: This is the second title in the bestselling Barclay's Promise Falls trilogy. Readers will want to know what happens next. 

** 

What's Left Behind, by Gail Bowen

About the book: The latest novel in the Joanne Kilbourn Shreve series opens in the month of May, a time of beginnings when all things seem possible. Joanne's husband, Zack, recently elected mayor of Regina, is optimistic that he can garner the public support necessary to make Regina a city that works—not just for the few, but for the many. Their oldest son Peter is marrying Maisie Crawford, a woman as clever and forthright as she is lovely. Their lakeside wedding is a dream come true, but when a former lover of a member of the bridal party shows up, the dream becomes a nightmare. Before the bride's bouquet has wilted, there's an act of sickening cruelty; soon afterwards, there's a murder.

Devastated, Joanne and Zack search for answers. As it becomes increasingly unclear whether political agendas, shattered romance, or a secret buried deep in the past have motivated the crimes, the loyalties of the Shreve family are tested. A gripping mystery with a social conscience, this is a novel of high stakes and innocence lost.

Why we're taking notice: Critic Sarah Weinman includes Bowen among those long-time authors who "cast long shadows" over the Canadian crime writing scene, and with her 16th Joanne Kilbourn mystery, she's still going strong.  

** 

A Cast of Falcons, by Steve Burrows

About the book: A man falls to his death from a cliff face in western Scotland. From a distance, another man watches. He approaches the body, tucks a book into the dead man’s pocket, and leaves.

When the Scottish police show visiting Detective Chief Inspector Domenic Jejeune the book, he recognizes it as a call for help. But he also knows that answering that call could destroy the life he and his girlfriend Lindy have built for themselves in the village of Saltmarsh, in north Norfolk.

Back in Saltmarsh, the brutal murder of a researcher involved in a local climate change project has everyone looking at the man’s controversial studies as a motive. But Sergeant Danny Maik, heading the investigation in Jejeune’s absence, believes a huge cash incentive being offered for the research may play a crucial role.

With their beleaguered Chief Superintendent blocking every attempt to interview the project’s uber-wealthy owners, Jejeune and Maik must work together to find their answers. But will the men’s partnership survive when the danger from above begins to cast its dark shadow?

Why we're taking notice: The first book in the series won the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel, and really, how did the world make it so long without a birdwatching murder series anyway?

** 

Tumbled Graves, by Brenda Chapman

About the book: When Adele Delaney and her daughter, Violet, go missing, Jacques Rouleau is called upon to investigate. However, struggling with the impending death of his ill ex-wife, he sends Kala Stonechild and Paul Gundersund instead. Stonechild has been trying to adapt to life as her young cousin Dawn’s guardian, and even though Gundersund has offered support, Stonechild is at risk of losing custody.

On the second day of the investigation, Adele’s body turns up, dumped on the shoulder of the highway with no sign of her daughter. Her husband, Ivo, denies any involvement with either his wife’s death or their child’s disappearance, but not everyone is convinced. As the investigation unfolds, Stonechild learns that Adele was once entangled with a Montreal biker gang and heads to Quebec to investigate further.

As Stonechild and Gundersund juggle personal troubles and a complicated, dangerous case, they find themselves piecing together a chain of disasters leading back to a single betrayal.

Why we're taking notice: The first Stonechild and Roleau novel was nominated for an Arthur Ellis Award in 2015. Publishers Weekly notes of this latest book: "Richly drawn characters enhance this well-constructed, thoroughly enjoyable whodunit that will leave readers eager for the next instalment."

**

She's Not There, by Joy Fielding 

About the book: A lifetime ago, every year Caroline Shipley looked forward to her wedding anniversary. But then a celebratory trip to Mexico for the occasion with her husband and friends ended in the unsolved kidnapping of her infant daughter, Samantha. Now, fifteen years after that horrific time, divorced and isolated, Caroline is forced to relive the kidnapping by reporters who call every year on the anniversary of Samantha's disappearance. However, this year when the phone rings, Caroline hears the sweet voice of a girl claiming to be her long-lost daughter.

Plunged back into the world of heartbreak, suspicion and questions that led the case to run cold so many years ago, Caroline doesn't know what or who to believe. But when she starts to figure it out, she finds the answers dangerously close to home.

Why we're taking notice: Because this is Joy Fielding, whose thrillers have been unnerving and enthralling readers for decades

**

Cold Girl, by R.M. Greenaway

About the book: It’s too cold to go missing in northern B.C., as a mismatched team of investigators battle the clock while the disappearances add up.

A popular rockabilly singer has vanished in the snowbound Hazeltons of northern B.C. Lead RCMP investigator David Leith and his team work through the possibilities: has she been snatched by the so-called Pickup Killer, or does the answer lie here in the community, somewhere among her reticent fans and friends?

Leith has much to contend with: rough terrain and punishing weather, motel-living and wily witnesses. The local police force is tiny but headstrong, and one young constable seems more hindrance than help—until he wanders straight into the heart of the matter. 

The urgency ramps up as one missing woman becomes two, the second barely a ghost passing through. Suspects multiply, but only at the bitter end does Leith discover who is the coldest girl of all.

Why we're taking notice: Cold Girl was winner of the Crime Writers' of Canada's 2014 Unhanged Arthur Award for Best Unpublished First Crime Novel and got a great review in the Globe and Mail a few weeks back. 

**

Triggerfish, by Dietrich Kalteis (OUT IN JUNE)

About the book: Rene Beckman is a dishonoured ex-cop with only two things on his mind: his new boat, the Triggerfish, and his hot date, an environmentalist named Vicki. When the two unknowingly dock the boat in the same secluded cove as a Mexican cartel’s drug submarine, the date ends with a bang.

With the cartel’s coke-for-guns deal with local bikers torched by Beckman, he’s forced to go on the run with half the underworld chasing him through the streets of Vancouver and the waters surrounding it. While he tries to stay alive, a woman from Beckman’s past — currently on the run from CSIS and the anti-terror squad — comes back to settle an old score.

When the gangs start to go after his friends, the ex-cop stops running and turns the tables. With a ragtag crew of his own, Beckman faces the cartel and bikers head on. Fast, vicious, and thrilling, Triggerfish delivers a story where all the criminals are in conflict and no one is certain who will come out on top.

Why we're taking notice: This is Kalteis' third novel. His award-winning first book was hailed as one of the best Vancouver crime novels ever. 

**

Book Cover The Language of Secrets

The Language of Secrets, by Ausma Zehanat Khan

About the book: Detective Esa Khattak heads up Canada's Community Policing Section, which handles minority-sensitive cases across all levels of law enforcement. Khattak is still under scrutiny for his last case, so he's surprised when INSET, Canada's national security team, calls him in on another politically sensitive issue. For months, INSET has been investigating a local terrorist cell which is planning an attack on New Year's Day. INSET had an informant, Mohsin Dar, undercover inside the cell. But now, just weeks before the attack, Mohsin has been murdered at the group's training camp deep in the woods.
INSET wants Khattak to give the appearance of investigating Mohsin's death, and then to bury the lead. They can't risk exposing their operation, or Mohsin's role in it. But Khattak used to know Mohsin, and he knows he can't just let this murder slide. So Khattak sends his partner, Detective Rachel Getty, undercover into the unsuspecting mosque which houses the terrorist cell. As Rachel tentatively reaches out into the unfamiliar world of Islam, and begins developing relationships with the people of the mosque and the terrorist cell within it, the potential reasons for Mohsin's murder only seem to multiply, from the political and ideological to the intensely personal.

Why we're taking notice: Khan holds a Ph.D. in International Human Rights Law and is a former adjunct law professor, and her Detective Khattak (who is the first Pakistani-Canadian detective in all of CanLit, we think) is back in this, her second novel, which is getting great reviews. 

**

Crazy Dead, by Suzanne F. Kingsmill (OUT IN JUNE)

About the book: Struggling to escape the sticky blackness of clinical depression, zoologist Cordi O’Callaghan is admitted to a psychiatric ward in Toronto. As she slowly recovers, one of the patients dies. Cordi must convince a skeptical medical staff that the woman has been murdered, while healing her own mind at the same time. Her suspects include medical personnel and patients suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, alcoholism, OCD, and panic disorder. Martha, Cordi’s lab technician, tries in dramatic fashion to help Cordi solve the murder, while Jacques, a recovering alcoholic, helps out and steals Cordi’s heart along the way.

Why we're taking notice: The idea of a sleuth suffering from clinical depression is not so farfetched really, but one being diagnosed and treated for the illness is another narrative leap altogether. The fourth Cordi O'Callaghan mystery comes with an intriguing premise. 

** 

Green River Falling, by R.J. McMillen

About the book: When a series of murders targeting oil pipeline workers strikes in a remote coastal community in northern BC, Dan Connor and Walker pair up once again to solve the mystery.

Five pipeline employees have been murdered and a journalist is missing, and all the clues seems to lead to a Haida man who is also Walker's friend.

Walker is convinced that his friend is innocent, and when RCMP officer Dan Connor is pulled into the investigation, the two pair up once again to search out the truth.

Why we're taking notice: McMillen's third Dan Connor mystery is pulled from the headlines, as controversy over pipelines continues in British Columbia, and elsewhere. 

**

I'm Thinking of Ending Things, by Iain Reid (OUT IN JUNE)

About the book: A woman embarks on a first road trip with her boyfriend, Jake, amidst doubts and questions of commitment. When the two take an unexpected detour, she is stranded in a deserted high school, wondering if there is any escape at all. In this suspenseful literary debut, Iain Reid explores the depths of the human psyche, questioning consciousness, free will, the value of relationships, fear, and the limitations of solitude. Tense, gripping, and atmospheric, this novel will haunt you long after the last page is turned.

Why we're taking notice: Reid has won acclaimed for his two previous books, both heartwarming memoirs. We're looking forward to seeing where he takes his reader with this change of literary pace. 

**

Indiana Pulcinella, by Garry Ryan

About the book: After saving the Calgary Stampede from a potential terror attack in Glycerine, Detectives Lane and Li find themselves on the hunt yet again, this time following a pair of gruesome killers whose perfectly composed crime scenes match those of an inmate put away by Calgary Police years earlier. As more people come into the line of fire, Lane must team up with some unlikely new allies in order to crack the case.

Meanwhile, with the birth of a new nephew, the happily chaotic Lane household must deal with the taciturn detective's estranged, fundamentalist family and their efforts to interfere in raising the child.

Why we're making notice: Ryan's second Detective Lane novel won a Lamba Literary Award 2007. This latest is the seventh novel in the series. 

**

Still Mine, by Amy Stuart

About the book: Clare is on the run.

From her past, from her husband, and from her own secrets. When she turns up alone in the remote mining town of Blackmore asking about Shayna Fowles, the local girl who disappeared, everyone wants to know who Clare really is and what she’s hiding. As it turns out, she’s hiding a lot, including what ties her to Shayna in the first place. But everyone in this place is hiding something—from Jared, Shayna’s secretive ex-husband, to Charlie, the charming small-town drug pusher, to Derek, Shayna’s overly involved family doctor, to Louise and Wilfred, her distraught parents.

Did Shayna flee? Was she killed? Is it possible she’s still alive?

As Clare uncovers the mysteries around Shayna’s disappearance, she must confront her own demons, moving us deeper and deeper into the labyrinth of lies and making us question what it is she’s really running from. Twisting and electrifying, this is a get-under-your-skin thriller that will make you question what it means to lose yourself and find yourself in the most unlikely places.

Why we're taking notice: Stuart made this fantastic recommended reading list for us in March. And her book has been on the bestseller list for weeks and weeks now...

** 

Book Cover Skinny Dipping With Murder

Skinny Dipping With Murder, by Auralee Wallace

About the book: Welcome to Otter Lake, where the relaxing, restorative atmosphere is to die for. 

Erica Bloom is in no rush to return to Otter Lake, the site of her mother's spiritual retreat for women. Erica met her inner goddess years ago and she's happy to have forged a new identity on her own, thank you very much. But her new-age-y, well-meaning mother is losing her grip on the business, and needs Erica's help. So she heads back to her New Hampshire hometown, where nothing much has changed-except for maybe the body in the well… 

When Erica was a teenager, she fell prey to a practical joke that left her near-naked in Otter Lake's annual Raspberry Social. The incident was humiliating, but it wasn't like anyone got killed—until now. Those who were behind that long-ago prank are starting to turn up dead, and Erica's appearance in town makes her a prime suspect. To make matters worse, the town sheriff just happens to be Erica's old nemesis, Grady Forrester… who also happens to be hotter than ever. Can Erica find a wayto dig up the truth-before someone digs her grave?

Why we're taking notice: The first book in Ottawa-resident Wallace's Otter Lake series sounds like serious fun. "Erica 'Boobsie' Bloom challenges Stephanie Plum for the title of funniest sleuth," enthuses bestselling author Denise Swanson. 

May 2, 2016
Books mentioned in this post
Tumbled Graves

Tumbled Graves

A Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
More Info
Cold Girl

Cold Girl

A B.C. Blues Crime Novel
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
More Info
Triggerfish

Triggerfish

A Crime Novel
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : crime
More Info
Crazy Dead

Crazy Dead

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
More Info
Green River Falling

Green River Falling

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : cozy
More Info
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