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4 Indie Bookstores Offer Their Top Suspense Reads

in Thrillers by

Sunscreen? Check. Swim suit? Check. Summer suspense? Grab some of these. There’s nothing like a good, gripping tale to help you unwind.

We randomly polled four independent bookstores that specialize in murder and mayhem about new bestsellers in the suspense category. Surprisingly, there were no overlaps as each store named four titles selling well, in no particular order:

Murder on the Beach Mystery Book Store, Delray Beach, Florida:

Cheryl Kravetz, a bookseller at the Murder on the Beach Mystery Book Store, named the following four as her top sellers:

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1.) The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn (William Morrow). A woman returns to her home after a 10-month absence, too terrified to step outside. Shades of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” ensue. Stephen King called it “unputdownable.”

2.) The House Swap by Rebecca Fleet (Pamela Dorman Books). This

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debut noir novel is about a couple that trades their city apartment for a house in a beautiful London suburb. Be careful what you wish for.

3.) Skyjack: A Kidnap-and-Ransom Thriller by K. J. Howe (Quercus). An international kidnapping expert is escorting two former child soldiers from an orphanage in Africa when the Sicilian Mafia intervenes.

4.) The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware (Gallery/Scout Press). This author knows how to write about women in trouble. A mysterious letter, an unexpected inheritance, what could go wrong?


The Mysterious Bookshop, New York City:

Tom Wickersham, the  store manager of The Mysterious Bookshop named the four below as his top selections:

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1.) All the Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson (William Morrow). Domestic suspense with twists, turns, lust, greed and deception. Delicious.

2.) The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz (Harper). This masterful classic crime novel has shades of Holmes and Watson. If you loved “The Magpie Murders,” Horowitz has a new series to keep you reading.

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3.) Blood Standard by Laird Barron (G. P. Putnam’s Sons). In this crime fiction debut set in gritty upstate New York, an exiled mob enforcer can’t let a missing girl stay missing.

4.) The Devil’s Half Mile by Paddy Hirsch (Forge Books). Alexander Hamilton brings Wall Street (aka The Devil’s Half Mile) back from the brink of collapse but the bodies start piling up in this debut novel, set in 1799.

Mystery Loves Company, Oxford, Maryland:

Kathy Harig, the owner of the Mystery Loves Company bookstore rattled off these titles as bestsellers:

1.) A Taste For Vengeance by Martin Walker (Knopf). In this 13th of a series, a British tourist fails to check in for her luxury culinary vacation in France. Benoît Courrèges, aka Bruno, a former soldier turned policeman, discovers she was traveling with a man, not her husband, and they are both dead.

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2.) Island of the Mad by Laurie R. King (Bantam). In this latest in a popular series, Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes help an old friend find an aunt gone missing from the Bethlem Royal Hospital (aka Bedlam).

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3.) The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen (Lake Union Publishing). A British woman uncovers her estranged father’s secrets and the love he left behind in Italy during the War.

4.) Beyond the Pale by Clare O’Donohue (Midnight Ink). Two professors go undercover in Ireland to retrieve a priceless rare book manuscript. They hope the caper will spice up their marriage, but they get more than that in this debut.


The Cloak and Dagger, Princeton, N.J.

Jerry Lenaz, proprietor of The Cloak and Dagger bookstore, gave these top suspense titles:

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1.) Fire and Ashes by Elaine Viets (Thomas & Mercer). A 70-year-old playboy is murdered and his 20-year-old girlfriend is accused of setting fire to his mansion. Arson investigator Angela Richman uncovers more than forensic evidence.

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2.) Dark Network by James McCrone (Faithless Elector). FBI Agent Imogen Trager and a computer analyst uncover a vast, criminal conspiracy that aims to steal the presidency.

3.) Yesterday’s News by R.G. Belsky (Oceanview Publishing). Years after investigative reporter Clare Carlson earned a Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of a missing girl, the cold case reopens, and secrets spill.

4.) Second Story Man by Charles Salzburg (Down & Out Books). An arrogant burglar who specializes in exquisite silver meets his match when two policemen team up to end his crime spree, with deadly results.


Joanna Poncavage had a 30-year career as an editor and writer for Rodale’s Organic Gardening magazine and The (Allentown, Pennsylvania) Morning Call newspaper. Author of several gardening books, she’s now a freelance journalist.

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