In fiction, as in life, dark shadows lurk beneath the media spotlight. New books consider the perils of celebrity, the dangers of our collective obsession with true crime—and in some cases, the intersection between the two.
Simone St. James. Berkley, Mar.
In St. James’s latest, a “chilling paranormal thriller,” per PW’s review, true crime blogger Shea Collins has a passion for long-unsolved cases, fueled by the attempted abduction that interrupted her childhood. When acquitted serial-murder suspect Beth Greer agrees to be interviewed for the show, Shea thinks she’s found a perfect subject, but Beth’s echoing mansion conceals potentially deadly secrets.
Jennifer McMahon, Scout, Apr.
In 1978, a brilliant psychiatrist brings home Iris—a shy, feral adolescent and a former patient—to live with her and her orphaned grandchildren, Vi and Eric, in their Vermont home. In 2019, Vi, who has become a popular podcaster named Lizzy Shelley (one of many Frankenstein nods) returns to Vermont to investigate a monster sighting. The two timelines intertwine in what PW’s starred review called “a must for psychological thriller fans.”
Denise Mina. Mulholland, July
The sequel to Mina’s 2019 Conviction, which PW’s starred review called a “metafictional marvel,” opens as former rock star Fin and amateur crime podcaster Anna are enduring the vacation from hell, with Anna’s obnoxious ex-husband and their bored children in tow. Then, an excuse to bow out: a 20-year-old YouTube star has vanished. Her last video, showcasing a treasure and a revolving bookcase, sends Anna and Fin on a race across Europe to track her down, with some menacing characters in pursuit.
Caite Dolan-Leach. Ballantine, Apr.
Actor Liv Reed suffers an emotional breakdown on a Manhattan street and retreats to the House of Light spiritual center in upstate New York for meditation and privacy. Once there, she hears rumors that women at the center have been dying by suicide, and uses her name recognition to start a podcast about what’s really going on behind the beaded curtain. PW’s review called the novel an “evocative, character-propelled thriller.”
The Darkness of Others
Cate Holahan. Grand Central, Aug.
Therapist Imani Banks is shocked when her best friend Melissa disappears, leaving behind her teenage daughter and the body of her movie-director husband—and dismayed when her missing friend is accused of the murder. Imani sets out to exonerate her friend and find the true killer, who may be closer than she’d thought.
Janelle Brown. Random House, Apr.
Pretty Things author Brown “has upped her game with this one,” per PW’s starred review. After falling out of Hollywood favor, former child TV star Sam buried her troubles in pills and alcohol, while her identical twin and fellow former star Elli got married and tried for a conventional life. When Sam learns that Elli’s perfect husband has left her, and that she’s absconded with her newly adopted toddler to a spa, or possibly a cult, in Ojai, Calif., she’s determined to save her sister from whatever demons—internal or external—have got her in their thrall.
A Killing in Costumes
Zac Bissonnette. Crooked Lane, Aug.
In this debut cozy, Jay and Cindy, two soap opera stars turned movie memorabilia emporium owners, think they’ve hit the jackpot when a nonagenarian leading lady brings them her wardrobe to sell. Soon after, their competitor from a high-profile auction house turns up dead, and the pair need to find the real murderer in order to clear their names.
The Last Housewife
Ashley Winstead. Sourcebooks, Aug.
It’s been eight years since Shay Evans and her best friend, Laurel, escaped a patriarchal cult and the violent, mesmerizing man who’d kept them there. When Laurel turns up dead, Shay is afraid that her past has returned for her. With the help of a true crime podcast host, Shay sets out to learn what happened to Laurel, and faces hard questions about how far she’d go to destroy the men who’d so nearly destroyed her.
Kellye Garrett. Mulholland, Mar.
Controversial reality TV star and party girl Desiree Pierce is found dead in a Bronx playground after celebrating her 25th birthday. The police confidently deem her death a heroin overdose, but Desiree’s estranged half sister, Lena Scott, knows that can’t be true—Desiree was terrified of needles. PW’s starred review called Garrett’s latest an “insightful, briskly plotted novel” that “explores racism and sexism with aplomb.”
Number One Fan
Meg Elison. Mira, Aug.
A woman gets in the wrong cab, accepts a drink from the driver, and wakes up chained in his basement. Buckle up for a Misery-like twist: the woman, Eli Grey, is a successful fantasy author, and her abductor is obsessed with her work. Elison is also the author of 2014’s The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, which won the Philip K. Dick Award for best science fiction trade paperback original published in the U.S.
Catherine Ryan Howard. Blackstone, Aug.
Former soap opera actor Adele Rafferty may be out of her depth as a last-minute replacement in a psychological horror film, but she’s determined to forge a new career for herself. When the horrors in the script start to manifest on the isolated set in West Cork, Ireland, Adele faces a gnawing fear that she won’t live to see premiere night.
The Things We Do in the Dark
Jennifer Hillier. Minotaur, July
Police find Paris Peralta in her bathroom, drenched in blood and clutching a razor over the body of her comedian husband, but she’s less worried about the inevitable murder charge than about her past coming to light. Compounding her fears is the release from prison of Ruby Reyes, convicted two decades earlier of a similar murder, who threatens to expose Paris’s long-hidden secrets.