If You're Going to Read Just ONE Book This Summer....You Will Be Making a Terrible Mistake

If you're going to read just one book this summer....you'll be making a terrible mistake! Because with all the amazing new books out right now, you should be probably reading at least two, or even eighteen. And so to get you started, check out this spectacular list of gripping titles that will make for perfect reads for the deck chair, the hammock, the dock, the beach, under a tree, on a city rooftop—wherever you're getting your summer on.  

*****

When the Flood Falls, by J.E. Barnard

About the book: With her career in tatters and her marriage receding in the rear-view mirror, ex-RCMP corporal Lacey McCrae trades her uniform for a tool belt, and the Lower Mainland for the foothills west of Calgary. Amid the oil barons, hockey stars, and other high rollers who inhabit the wilderness playground is her old university roommate, Dee Phillips. Dee’s glossy life was shattered by a reckless driver; now she’s haunted by a nighttime prowler only she can hear. 

As snowmelt swells the icy river, threatening the only bridge back to civilization, Lacey must make the call: assume Dee’s in danger and get her out of there, or decide the prowler is imaginary and stay, cut off from help if the bridge is swept away.

Why we're taking notice: This one won the 2016 Unhanged Arthur Award for Best Unpublished First Crime Novel.

*

Marry Bang Kill, by Andrew Battershill

About the book: For a guy who mugs people for their laptops, Tommy Marlo isn’t such a bad guy. He can’t help trying to make the people he meets — even those he mugs — feel better about their situation. Unfortunately for Tommy, he rips off the daughter of a psychotic, high-ranking member of a notorious motorcycle gang. Even worse, the laptop that he pilfered contains proof of a few gruesome murders and the location of a huge stash of money. Flat broke and marked for death, his only shot at surviving is to rob the motorcycle gang, use the cash to get out of town, and hide out on the small island where his mother now lives. 

What follows is a revisionist crime thriller, a page-turning hybrid of literary and genre fiction for fans of Elmore Leonard or Patrick deWitt. But Battershill writes with a voice all his own. Deftly combining crackling dialogue with biting wit, Marry, Bang, Kill hums with the thrill of chaos as Tommy runs to a quiet island to escape a swelling cast of characters who are trying to arrest, rob, kill, or save him. The island won’t be quiet for long.

Why we're taking notice: Andrew Battershill's first novel, Pillow, was longlisted for the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the 2016 Sunburst Award and shortlisted for the 2016 Kobo Emerging Writer Award.

*

A Tiding of Magpies, by Steve Burrows

About the book: When his most celebrated case is suddenly reopened, Detective Chief Inspector Jejeune‘s long-buried secrets threaten to come to light. Meanwhile, his girlfriend, Lindy, faces an unseen threat of her own, one from which even Jejeune may not be able to protect her. Between fending off inquiries from the internal review and an open murder case that brings more questions than answers, Jejeune will have to rely on the help of the stalwart Sergeant Danny Maik more than ever. But Maik is learning things that cause him to question his DCI‘s actions, both past and present. In the current case, and in the former one, the facts seem clear enough. But it is in the silences, those empty spaces between the facts, that the truth is to be found.

Why we're taking notice: We've been reading Burrows' Birder Murder Mystery series from the start, and they just get better and better. 

*

Zara's Dead, by Sharon Butala

About the book: Fiona Lychenko—now a woman in her late sixties—has spent years researching the death of her high school classmate Zara Stanley, who was brutally murdered at the age of twenty. Determined to solve the crime—something the police weren't able to do—Fiona interviewed everyone she could in her hometown of Ripley, but every trail led to the same dead end. She even published her findings in a book, hoping it would lead to anonymous clues from readers and outliers, and still—nothing. Now, a decade later, Fiona has finally given up hope that the killer would ever be caught.

That is until a brown manila envelope turns up under her door and Fiona once again finds herself embroiled in the midst of a controversy so intricate and tangled that one wrong move could be her undoing.

Based on the true story of the murder of Alexandra Wiwcharuk in 1962 in Saskatoon, Zara's Dead is the fictional retelling of a very real story, one that has captivated the public and eluded answers for decades.

Why we're taking notice: Those of us who read Butala's bestselling The Girl in Saskatoon will appreciate this metafictional take on Butala's experience with that book. 

*

Sodom Road Exit, by Amber Dawn

About the book: It's the summer of 1990, and Crystal Beach in Ontario has lost its beloved, long-running amusement park, leaving the lakeside village a virtual ghost town. It is back to this fallen community Starla Mia Martin must return to live with her overbearing mother after dropping out of university and racking up significant debt. But an economic downturn, mother-daughter drama, and Generation X disillusionment soon prove to be the least of Starla's troubles: a mysterious and salacious force begins to dog Starla; inexplicable sounds in the night and unimaginable sights spotted on the periphery. Soon enough, Starla must confront the unresolved traumas that haunt Crystal Beach.

Sodom Road Exit might read like a conventional paranormal thriller, except that Starla is far from a conventional protagonist. Where others might feel fear, Starla feels lust and queer desire. When others might run, Starla draws the horror nearer. And in turn, she draws a host of capricious characters toward her—all of them challenged to seek answers beyond their own temporal realities.

Why we're taking notice: We saw Amber Dawn on a panel at The Festival of Literary Diversity this spring, and she had fascinating things to say about genre and the different containers these offer for stories, and the novel's been on our list ever since then. 

*

Cobra Clutch, by A.J. Devlin

About the book: “Hammerhead” Jed Ounstead thought he’d traded the pro-wrestling world for the slightly less dangerous one of a bar bouncer and errand boy for his father’s detective agency, but the squared circle wasn’t quite done with him yet. When his former tag-team partner draws upon their old friendship for help in finding his kidnapped pet snake, Jed finds himself dragged back into the fold of sleazy promoters, gimmicky performers, and violence inside and outside the ring. As the venom of Vancouver’s criminal underworld begins to seep into Jed’s life, a steel chair to the back of the head is the least of his problems.

Cobra Clutch is a fast-paced, hard-hitting debut novel by A.J. Devlin that has an unstoppable combo: a signature move of raucous humour with a super finisher of gritty realism.

Why we're taking notice: From Foreword Reviews: "Cobra Clutch masterfully blends humor, mystery, thrills, action, romance, and heart into a hell of a story featuring a lively wrestler-turned-PI hero. The action scenes are intense, the quiet times heartwarming and engaging, and the humor expertly interjected to accentuate characters and breathe realism into the story." 

*

The Marmalade Murders, by Elizabeth J. Duncan

About the book: The Marmalade Murders is the ninth book in Elizabeth J. Duncan's award-winning mystery series, celebrated for its small-town charm and picturesque Welsh setting and starring amateur sleuth Penny Brannigan.

The competition is friendly and just a little fierce at the annual Llanelen agricultural show as town and country folk gather for the outdoor judging of farm animals and indoor judging of cakes, pies, pastries, chutneys, jams and jellies, along with vegetables, fruit and flowers. But this year, there’s a new show category: murder.

Local artist, spa owner, and amateur sleuth Penny Brannigan agrees to help with the intake of the domestic arts entries and to judge the children’s pet competition on show day. When the president of the Welsh Women's Guild isn’t on hand to see her granddaughter and pet pug win a prize, the family becomes concerned. When a carrot cake entered in the competition goes missing, something is clearly amiss.

A black Labrador retriever belonging to the agricultural show’s president discovers the body of the missing woman under the baked goods table. A newcomer to town, a transgender woman, is suspected, but amateur sleuth Penny Brannigan believes her to be innocent. She sets out to find the real killer, but when a second body is discovered days later, the case is thrown into confusion, and Penny knows it’s up to her to figure out what happened—and why.

Why we're taking notice: Guys! This is a murder mystery in which a body a body is discovered under a baked goods table! Want. 

*

Creep, by R.M. Greenaway

About the book: It seems the October rains have brought death and disaster to North Vancouver. A missing hiker is found by his son and daughter, a foul smell leads to a mauled body in a crawl space, and a small boy is attacked by a man in wolf form. 

Once an up-and-coming Serious Crimes investigator, these days Constable Cal Dion is back on general duties, feeling out-of-the-loop and rebellious. On a routine canvassing task, he finds himself questioning an attractive witness, one he feels is peripheral enough to the crawl space case that he would be safe in asking her out. Of course, it’s the worst decision.… Constable David Leith is in the thick of the same investigation, a case complicated by rumours running wild and a most elusive suspect. Halloween has brought out the ghouls for Leith and his team … and possibly a shapeshifter as well, with murder on its mind.

Why we're taking notice: From Sam Wiebe, "a haunting, well-wrought tale, with echoes of The Hound of the Baskervilles, set against the dark majesty of Vancouver's North Shore."

*

Jar of Hearts, by Jennifer Hillier

About the book: When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong—one of the most popular girls in school—disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.

But fourteen years later, Angela Wong's remains are discovered in the woods near Geo's childhood home. And Kaiser—now a detective with Seattle PD—finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.

To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer. But to Geo, he's something else entirely. Back in high school, Calvin was Geo's first love. Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met right up until the night Angela was killed.

For fourteen years, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one. For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela's death until Geo was arrested and sent to prison.

While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows. Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.

How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief? How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it?

Why we're taking notice: "A gripping page-turner about crime and punishment, guilt and hope...this one hurts, and that's a compliment." —Caroline Kepnes, New York Times bestselling author of You and Hidden Bodies

*

Cold Skies, by Thomas King 

About the book: Thumps DreadfulWater has finally found some peace and quiet. His past as a California cop now far behind him, he’s living out his retirement as a fine-arts photographer in the small town of Chinook. His health isn’t great, and he could use a new stove, but as long as he’s got his cat and a halfway decent plate of eggs, life is good.

All that changes when a body turns up on the eve of a major water conference and the understaffed sheriff’s department turns to Thumps for help. Thumps wants none of it, but even he is intrigued when he learns the deceased was developing a new technology that could revolutionize water and oil drilling . . . and that could also lose some very powerful people a lot of money. As strangers begin to pour into Chinook for the conference, Thumps finds himself sinking deeper and deeper into a conflict between secretive players who will kill to get what they want. 

In Cold Skies, the sly, wry, reluctant investigator of DreadfulWater and The Red Power Murders returns for another irresistible mystery that only Thomas King could tell.

Why we're taking notice: Thomas King+Crime Fiction=SIGN US UP, PLEASE. 

*

The Showrunner, by Kim Moritsugu

About the book: Rising-star showrunner Stacey McCreedy has one goal: to leave behind her nerd-girl origins and become a power player—like Ann Dalloni, her former mentor and current producing partner. Ann, meanwhile, is feeling her age and losing her mind. But she’ll be damned if she cedes control of their hit primetime TV show to Stacey. 

After Ann hires Jenna, a young actress hoping to restart her stalled career, as an assistant, the relationship between Ann and Stacey deteriorates into a blood feud. Soon, Jenna must choose whom to support and whom to betray to achieve her own ends. And Stacey will find out if she possesses the killer instinct needed to stay on top.

Why we're taking notice: Once you get started reading this novel, it's really hard to quit and hold on for the ending when things take a turn for the, um, murderous

*

A Dangerous Crossing, by Ausma Zehanat Khan

About the book: For Inspector Esa Khattak and Sergeant Rachel Getty, the Syrian refugee crisis is about to become personal. Esa’s childhood friend, Nathan Clare, calls him in distress: his sister, Audrey, has vanished from a Greek island where the siblings run an NGO. Audrey had been working to fast-track refugees to Canada, but now, she is implicated in the double-murder of a French Interpol agent and a young man who had fled the devastation in Syria.

Esa and Rachel arrive in Greece to a shocking scene, witnessing for themselves the massive fallout of the Syrian war in the wretched refugee camps. Tracing Audrey’s last movements, they meet some of the volunteers and refugees—one of whom, Ali, is involved in a search of his own, for a girl whose disappearance may be connected to their investigation. The arrival of Sehr Ghilzai—a former prosecutor who now handles refugee claims for Audrey’s NGO—further complicates the matter for Esa, as his feelings towards her remain unresolved.

Working against time, with Interpol at their heels, Esa and Rachel follow a trail that takes them from the beaches of Greece, to the Turkish–Syrian border, and across Europe, reaching even the corridors of power in the Netherlands. Had Audrey been on the edge of a dangerous discovery, hidden at the heart of this darkest of crises—one which ultimately put a target on her own back?

Why we're taking notice: We've loved all the books in Khan's Esa Khattak series, and this one is totally gripping, all the while bringing to life the Syrian War with its atrocities and the experiences of its refugees in a vital and powerful way. 

*

The Apocalypse of Morgan Turner, by Jennifer Quist

About the book: Morgan Turner's grief over her sister's brutal murder has become a rut, an everyday horror she is caught in along with her estranged parents and chilly older brother. In search of a way out, she delves the depths of a factory abattoir, classic horror cinema, and the Canadian criminal justice system, as it tries her sister's killer and former lover, who is arguing that he is "Not Criminally Responsible" for his actions because of a mental disease. Whatever the verdict, Morgan—with the help of her Chinese immigrant coworkers, a do-gooder, and a lovelorn schizophrenia patient—uncovers her own way to move on.

Why we're taking notice: We promise, you've never read a novel about a crime from a point of view like Morgan's, and the tension Quist creates around the court case and the delivery of the verdict makes for an incredible read. 

*

Erasing Memory, by Scott Thornley 

About the book: Detective Superintendent MacNeice is returning from a pilgrimage to his wife’s grave when he’s called to a crime scene of singular and disturbing beauty. A young woman in evening dress lies gracefully posed on the floor of a pristine summer cottage so that the finger of one hand regularly interrupts the needle arm of a phonograph playing Schubert’s Piano Trio. The only visible mark on her is the bruise under her chin, which MacNeice recognizes: it is the mark that distinguishes dedicated violinists, the same mark that once graced his wife. The murder is both ingenious and horrific, and soon entangles MacNeice and his team in Eastern Europe’s ancient grievances.

Why we're taking notice: Thornley's series has been popular for years, but if you've missed it, jump on board with this smart new edition of the first book (and the ones that follow!). 

*

Sister of Mine, by Laurie Petrou

About the book: Penny and Hattie are sisters in a small town, bound tight to the point of knots. They share a secret they cannot escape, even while it pulls them apart. One night, a match is lit, and Penny’s terrible husband is killed—a marriage going up in flames, and offering the potential of a new life. The sisters retreat into their family home—a house of secrets and memories – and try to live in the shadow of what they put in motion. But Penny’s husband is not the only thing they are hiding, from the outside world and from each other. Under a cloud of long-held resentments, sibling rivalry, and debts unpaid, the bonds of sisterhood begin to crack. How long will Penny and Hattie demand the unthinkable of each other? How often will they say, “You owe me,” and when will it ever be enough? 

Why we're taking notice: This one's getting great reviews and was just named as one of The Globe and Mail's top picks to take to the cottage this summer.

*

Find You in the Dark, by Nathan Ripley

About the book: Martin Reese is obsessed with murder. 

For years, he has been illegally buying police files on serial killers and studying them in depth, using them as guides to find missing bodies. He doesn’t take any souvenirs, just photos that he stores in an old laptop, and then he turns in the results to the police anonymously. Martin sees his work as a public service, a righting of wrongs that cops have continuously failed to do.
Detective Sandra Whittal sees it differently. On a meteoric rise in police ranks due to her case-closing efficiency, Whittal is suspicious of the mysterious caller—the Finder, she names him—leading the police to the bodies. Even if the Finder isn’t the one leaving bodies behind, who’s to say that he won’t start soon?

On his latest dig, Martin searches for the first kill of Jason Shurn, the early 1990s murderer who may have been responsible for the disappearance of his sister-in-law, whom he never met. But when he arrives at the site, he finds a freshly killed body—a young and recently disappeared Seattle woman—lying among remains that were left there decades ago. Someone else knew where Jason Shurn buried his victims . . . and that someone isn’t happy that Martin has been going around digging up his work.

When a crooked cop with a tenuous tie to Martin vanishes, Whittal begins to zero in on the Finder. Hunted by a real killer and by Whittal, Martin realizes that in order to escape the killer’s trap, he may have to go deeper into the world of murder than he ever thought.

Why we're taking notice: Ripley's book is tricky, totally absorbing, and will make you uneasy—in the best way—about just where your sympathies lie.

Still Water, by Amy Stuart

About the book: Clare has to find them.
Sally Proulx and her young boy have mysteriously disappeared in the stormy town of High River. Clare is hired to track them down, hoping against all odds to find them alive. But High River isn’t your typical town. It’s a place where women run to—women who want to escape their past. They run to Helen Haines, a matriarch who offers them safe haven and anonymity. Pretending to be Sally’s long-lost friend, Clare turns up and starts asking questions, but nothing prepares her for the swirl of deception and the depth of the lies.
Did Sally drown? Did her son? Was it an accident, or is their disappearance part of something bigger?
In a town where secrets are crucial to survival, everyone is hiding something. Detectives Somers and Rourke clearly have an ulterior motive beyond solving the case. Malcolm Boon, who hired Clare, knows more about her than he reveals. And Helen is concealing a tragic family history of her own. As the truth surges through High River, Clare must face the very thing she has so desperately been running from, even if it comes at a devastating cost. Compulsively gripping and twisty, Still Water is a deep dive of a thriller that will leave you breathless.

Why we're taking notice: If you loved Stuart's bestselling debut, Still Mine, its follow-up will not disappoint. And if you missed the debut, jump in anyway—the water is swirling.  

*

It Begins in Betrayal, by Iona Wishaw

About the book: Summer descends over the picturesque King’s Cove as Darling and Lane’s mutual affection blossoms. But their respite from solving crime is cut short when a British government official arrives in Nelson to compel Darling to return to England for questioning about the death of a rear gunner under his command in 1943.

In Darling’s absence, Ames oversees the investigation into the suspicious death of a local elderly woman and uncovers a painful betrayal inflicted forty years earlier. Meanwhile, Lane follows Darling to London, where he is charged with murder and faces hanging. While desperately seeking answers, Lane is presented with a proposal that could save the man she loves, but only if she returns to the very life she sought to leave behind.

Why we're taking notice: So, the Lane Winslow Mystery series is definitely our new summer romance. I dove right in and read It Begins in Betrayal, the fourth book in the series, and I loved it. It's so smart, funny, feminist and amazing, and now I get to go back and read Lane Winslow from the start. I've already got the first done, A Killer in King's Cove, and am looking forward to devouring the rest. 

July 5, 2018
Books mentioned in this post
Sodom Road Exit

Sodom Road Exit

edition:Paperback
More Info
The Marmalade Murders

The Marmalade Murders

A Penny Brannigan Mystery
edition:Hardcover
tagged : cozy
More Info
Creep

Creep

A B.C. Blues Crime Novel
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
More Info
Jar of Hearts

Jar of Hearts

edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover
tagged : crime
More Info
Cold Skies

Cold Skies

A DreadfulWater Mystery
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback Hardcover
More Info
Erasing Memory

Erasing Memory

A MacNeice Mystery
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
More Info
Sister of Mine

Sister of Mine

A Novel
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
More Info
It Begins In Betrayal

It Begins In Betrayal

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
More Info
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