The term grip lit refers to the new wave of gripping psychological thrillers that are taking the book world by storm. Readers have devoured books by both British and American authors—think of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl and Paula Hawkins's The Girl on the Train, and of up-and-coming authors such as Charlie Donlea. In 2019 Kensington is publishing new books by some of Britain's newest and best writers in this growing genre.
While grip lit tends to be written by female authors and to feature female protagonists, it isn't a "women's genre," says Vida Engstrand, Kensington's communications director. These books tend to appeal to "men, women, and everyone in between," Engstrand says. "It's a category that allows what are essentially thriller novels to defy genre fiction snobbery. People who normally wouldn't consider themselves thriller or crime fiction readers seem open to mixing grip lit and literary fiction on their shelves."
Fans can get a jump on 2019 with Kensington's December release of Fiona Cummins's The Collector, the sequel to her 2018 bestseller Rattle. It's a deep dive into the minds of a murderer and a detective who are equally ruthless. Kensington editorial director Alicia Condon hails the story for its "unforgettably creepy killer and his enigmatic teen protégé, who kept me guessing about his true intentions right up to the last page."
In February comes The Temp, the sophomore novel by Michelle Frances, a former BBC development exec who Condon says has unique insight into "the psyche of the privileged English professional woman and the underlying conflict between the haves and have nots." The novel probes the dark heart of workplace competition, where two women will do whatever it takes—including committing murder—to get ahead.
Former police and military psychologist Emma Kavanagh brings her expertise to I Am Watching, about a serial killer whose reign of terror inexplicably continues after he's incarcerated. Kavanagh's capacity for deft misdirection will keep readers on their toes.
Many of Kensington's 2019 grip lit titles explore the dynamics in female relationships. Emma Rowley's Where the Missing Go (Apr.) introduces a mother who works at a helpline for missing teens, where she receives a call from her own daughter. Isabel Ashdown's Beautiful Liars (June) tells the story of a true crime TV show host who must cover the decades-old disappearance of her best friend. Debbie Howells's Her Sister's Lie (June) excavates the tormented relationships within a family in the aftermath of a mother's death.
The wide appeal of grip lit owes much to its psychological depth. Unreliable narrators keep readers guessing about the truth, deep and realistic probing into histories and motives humanize killers, and carefully crafted settings create an inescapable atmosphere. "Something I love about grip lit," Condon says, "is the way an author portrays the tension between what's happening on the surface and what's actually going on underneath."
Kensington editor-in-chief John Scognamiglio sees an intensity and intellectual challenge in the books of these U.K. grip lit authors that he doesn't always sense in works by their American contemporaries. "There's always an unexpected twist or turn to the story that you rarely find in American suspense thrillers," Scognamiglio says. "The stories are always darker and more dangerous."
Grip Lit from Kensington in 2019
$9.99 mass market (432p)
I Am Watching
Where the Missing Go
$15.95 trade paper (304p)
For more information and more grip lit titles, visit kensingtonbooks.com or contact Lulu Martinez, senior communications manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.