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Here are some mysteries and thrillers to curl up with this fall

Images courtesy of the publishers.

When the September air starts to shift and a crispness sets in, it’s only natural to want to pull out your favorite blanket, brew a cup of tea, and curl up with a good book. While we know that mystery and thriller genre books may not be everyone’s cup of tea, Michigan Radio staffers couldn’t help but share some of our favorite spine-tingling books to help you enjoy the fall season.

From a serial killer sister, to a collection of Black Mirror-esque stories about Black identity, to a cozy lodge turned creepy, here are some of the favorite recent mystery and thriller reads from Michigan Radio staff:

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
Recommended by April Baer, Stateside Host

If you're into Angeline Boulley but are ready for something more intense, this one's worth a look. It's more of a horror novel, but the way the narrative unfolded kept me turning pages, and the mix of characters was great. This is the story of a secret kept by four friends in Blackfoot country. Someone is hunting them, seeking bloody amends for a mistake they made together as teenagers. Rich, deeply spooky atmosphere, with lots to think about concerning generational trauma, and the costs of forgetting history.

Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Recommended by Briana Rice, Detroit Reporter

Dystopian and supernatural short stories. Think Black Mirror but all stories about the Black identity.

The Athena Club trilogy by Theodora Goss
Recommended by Jodi Westrick, Digital Director

If you're familiar with Sherlock Holmes, Jekyll & Hyde, Frankenstein, Dr. Moreau and some other classic horror and science fiction, you'll enjoy this new take on those classics. The series features the daughter of Dr. Jekyll and a crew of other "monstrous" women as they work to solve a mystery in London. You'll fall in love with the characters and setting - so it's a good thing there are three books in this series to binge!

  • The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter
  • European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman 
  • The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Recommended by Steve Chrypinski, Marketing Director

This book takes the classic mystery and gives it a unique spin with an autistic boy trying to find the killer of a neighbor's dog.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Recommended by Steve Chrypinski, Marketing Director

This is the first book in the trilogy of mystery books (and movies) but it is probably the best. A Swedish journalist teams up with an eccentric computer hacker to solve a mystery that leads to a web of government corruption.

A Hint of Light by Kristin Kisska
Recommended by Vince Duffy, News Director

The suspense builds slowly in this book, as a heart-wrenching story of addiction and the secrets families keep play out following a death in the family. It's an exploration of familial guilt, forgiveness and unconditional love - and a twist at the end.

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Recommended by April Van Buren, Stateside Producer

This darkly comic tale simultaneously had me on the edge of my seat and bursting out laughing at inappropriate moments. The novel follows two sisters in Nigeria: one with a string of dead boyfriends, and the other who has been reluctantly conscripted into cleaning up her sister's bloody messes. I laughed, I cried, I gasped out loud. Braithwaite manages to satirize the world's obsession with young, beautiful women while also exploring the very real and complicated dynamics of sibling relationships.

The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff
Sarah Cwiek, Detroit Reporter

I've been a BIG mystery/thriller fan practically since I started reading and thus have MANY favorites, so for now I'll stick with one I read most recently and loved—The Bandit Queens, a debut novel. It's definitely mysterious and suspenseful--the premise is that Geeta, who lives in a rural village in India, was abandoned by her abusive husband five years ago. Pretty much everyone assumes she killed him, and Geeta is actually fine with that--it gives her a certain freedom and independence she wouldn't have otherwise, even if the other villagers seem to shun her. However, things really get interesting when other women in the village start coming to Geeta for advice on how to murder their own abusive husbands, and Geeta feels forced to play along. The plot gets wilder from there, and can strain credulity at times, but you'll hardly mind because this book is so thoroughly entertaining. It's hard to believe, but somehow Shroff manages to take a book about a very grim theme--horrific gender-based violence against women--and make it not only consistently hilarious, but also an empowering story of women who, though they may have tons of disagreements with each other, also empower and make space for each other to fight back against oppressive patriarchy.

How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House, by Cherie Jones
Recommended by Mercedes Mejia, Stateside Producer

I don't often read mystery/thrillers, but when a friend suggested this book I gave it a try and I was immediately enthralled. The book opens with a murder on a touristy Caribbean Island and follows a cluster of characters connected to it. At the center of the story is Lala, a young woman trapped in a violent marriage – as her mother had been before her. Things go from bad to worse for Lala who has a small child. The title “one-armed sister” is drawn from a tale she is told by her grandmother, the moral of which is to avoid the temptation of darkness lest you end up maimed by the monster that lives there. The book definitely sheds light on the domestic violence that women in poverty are susceptible to, and how that leads to intergenerational trauma.

Yellowface by R.F. Kuang
Recommended by Kate Wells, Health Reporter

Brilliantly written, gripping, terrifying novel about a white writer who steals her more-talented, Asian rival/frenemy's masterpiece. This book will freak you out. I had to take breaks while reading it, because it was so engrossing and uncomfortable that it was practically panic-inducing. I dare you to read this and not find yourself thinking about it for a long time to come.

The Last to Vanish by Megan Miranda
Recommended by Rebecca Williams, Senior News Editor

This mystery is set in a mountain town in North Carolina, but Megan Miranda's evocative descriptions of the town where this mystery is set made me think of the hikes I've taken out West. The mystery unfolds in a cozy lodge that quickly becomes creepy. I loved the protagonist and I did not see the plot twists coming.

Cover Story by Susan Rigetti
Recommended by Jodi Westrick, Digital Director

This is a breezier thriller for those who liked Netflix's Inventing Anna or The Dropout podcast and Hulu show. It's structured in a way that makes you want to keep reading and it's completely possible to finish it in a day or two.

I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
Recommended by Jodi Westrick, Digital Director

This non-fiction novel follows "one woman's obsessive search for the Golden State Killer." If you consume a lot of true crime content (guilty), this book will engross you as Michelle McNamara tries to unravel the myself of the Golden State Killer - "the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorized California for over a decade." The story of the Golden State Killer is terrifying in itself, and McNamara does an excellent job detailing the history as well as the attempts to discover who he was. If you enjoy this, I also highly recommend the Man in the Window podcast from the LA Times.

Jodi is Michigan Public's Director of Digital Audiences, leading and developing the station’s overall digital strategy.
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