Books

18 Canadian mysteries & thrillers to read in summer 2021

If you love a read that sends a chill up your spine, check out one of these great Canadian books!

If you love a read that sends a chill up your spine, check out one of these great Canadian books!

The Creep by Michael LaPointe

The Creep is a novel by Michael Lapointe. (Alex Warrender, Random House Canada)

In The Creep, journalist Whitney Chase grapples with a mysterious compulsion to enhance her coverage with intriguing untruths and undetectable white lies. She calls it "the creep" — an overpowering need to improve the story in the telling. And Whitney has a particular genius for getting away with it.

Set against the ramp-up to the US invasion of Iraq and the decline of print journalism, The Creep portrays an increasingly unequal 21st century — exploring how deceitfulness, self-enhancement and confidently delivered lies can be transfused into fact and constitute a broader violence against the social fabric and public trust.

Michael LaPointe is a writer and critic from Toronto. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, The New York Times and the Times Literary Supplement.

The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream by Dean Jobb

The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream is a book by Dean Jobb. (HarperAvenue, Nicola Davidson)

In The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream, Dean Jobb tells the story of Dr. Thomas Neill Cream, a Canadian doctor who was stalking and murdering women in London, England, in the late 1800s, and who was also suspected of murders in Canada and Chicago. The press called him the Lambeth Poisoner and he was one of most prolific serial killers in history. In this true story of a notorious murderer, Jobb looks at who Cream was and why it took so long to catch and convict him.

Dean Jobb is a journalism professor and writer living in Halifax. He is the author of several nonfiction books, including Empire of Deception and Calculated Risk. Empire of Deception won the Arthur Ellis Award for best true crime book.

The Perfect Family by Robyn Harding

The Perfect Family is a novel by Robyn Harding. (Simon & Schuster Canada, Tallulah Photography)

The Perfect Family is the latest thriller from Robyn Harding. In The Perfect Family, the Adlers seem perfect: happy and successful parents, a charming house and two happy and healthy teenage kids. But when vandals start attacking their house, this facade unravels. Who is attacking their home, and why? The answer lies in a dark secret that could change everything.

Harding is a writer and filmmaker from Vancouver. Her thrillers include The PartyHer Pretty Face and The Swap. Harding also wrote the screenplay for the independent film The Steps, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

No Going Back by Sheena Kamal

No Going Back is a book by Sheena Kamal. (HarperCollins Canada, Malcolm Tweedy)

In No Going Backthe latest Nora Watts crime thriller by Sheena Kamal, Nora finds herself trying to protect Bonnie, the daughter she had given up for adoption. Two years previously, Bonnie had been kidnapped by the ruthless Zhang family. She has made an enemy in Dao, the intimidating triad enforcer for the Zhangs. From Canada to southeast Asia, Nora finds herself pursuing her adversary.

Kamal is a Vancouver-based writer of crime novels. Her book The Lost Ones won the 2018 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize. She is also the author of It All Falls Down.

Sheena Kamal talks about the third instalment of her Nora Watts mystery series No Going Back and debut YA novel Fight Like a Girl.

The Almost Wife by Gail Anderson-Dargatz

The Almost Wife is a novel by Gail Anderson-Dargatz. (gailanderson-dargatz.ca, HarperCollins Canada)

In this thriller by novelist Gail Anderson-Dargatz, a woman named Kira is living the life she's always dreamed. Her fiancé is handsome, wealthy and a great dad to his 13-year-old daughter Olive and their baby Evie. When Kira takes the girls to her childhood summer home, she realizes that her fiancé's ex-wife has followed them.

Anderson-Dargatz is a writer from B.C. Her first novel, The Cure for Death by Lightningwas a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Her other books include A Recipe for Bees, The Spawning Grounds and Turtle Valley. 

The Hunted by Roz Nay

The Hunted is a thriller by Roz Nay. (Simon & Shuster Canada)

The Hunted is a thriller that takes place on a beautiful island off the coast of Tanzania. The main character, Stevie, is still reeling from the death of her grandmother when she decides to follow her boyfriend Jacob on a work trip. As her relationship with Jacob worsens, Stevie finds herself fending off attacks on her life.

Roz Nay is a thriller writer from British Columbia. Her other books include Our Little Secret and Hurry HomeOur Little Secret, won the Douglas Kennedy Prize for best foreign thriller.

The Retreat by Elisabeth de Mariaffi

The Retreat is a novel by Elisabeth de Mariaffi. (HarperCollins, George Murray)

The Retreat tells the story of a former principal dancer, Maeve Martin, who arrives at a snowy mountain retreat called High Water Center for the Arts. Maeve's plans to start her own dance company are derailed after an avalanche traps everyone inside and guests start dropping one by one.

Elisabeth de Mariaffi is a writer from St. John's. Her debut collection of stories, How to Get Along with Women, was a finalist for the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize. Her other books include Hysteria and The Devil You Know.

Elisabeth de Mariaffi's is a Giller nominee who has written several best-sellers all while holding down a day job and raising her four children. Her latest novel The Retreat was the topic of conversation with Gill Deacon for Here and Now's Tuesday afternoon book club.

Bone Black by Carol Rose GoldenEagle

Bone Black is a novel by Carol Rose GoldenEagle. (Nightwood Editions)

Bone Black is about one woman's search for her missing sister, and her need to take the case into her own hands. When her twin sister goes missing, Wren StrongEagle immediately reports it to the local police. Feeling dismissed and worrying the case won't be investigated properly, Wren launches into action and decides to find justice on her own.

Carol Rose GoldenEagle is a Cree and Dene author whose books include the novel Bearskin Diary and the poetry collection Hiraeth. Her forthcoming novel The Narrows of Fear, is set to be released in fall 2020.

The Cree/Dene writer and journalist Carol Rose GoldenEagle on her thriller Bone Black, about an Indigenous woman who takes justice into her own hands when the system fails her.

Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena

Not A Happy Family is Shari Lapena's sixth thriller. (Tristan Ostler, Doubleday Canada)

In Shari Lapena's new thriller, Not a Happy Family, the wealthy residents of Brecken Hill are shaken by the murders of their neighbours, Fred and Sheila Merton. The suspicion turns on Fred and Sheila's three adult children, who stand to inherit millions.

Lapena is an internationally bestselling author of thrillers like The Couple Next DoorSomeone We Know and The End of Her. She lives in Toronto.

Best selling author Shari Lapena takes The Next Chapter Proust Questionnaire.

The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Laurie Elizabeth Flynn is a former model who lives in London, Ont. with her husband and three children. She is the author of three young adult novels. (Simon & Schuster, Sandra Dufton)

Newfound freedom, insecurity, sexual competition — these are the elements Laurie Elizabeth Flynn mixes together in her psychological thriller, The Girls Are All So Nice Here. The book is about two former best friends, Ambrosia and Sloane, who return to their college reunion to learn that they have been targeted by someone who wants revenge for what they did 10 years before.

Flynn is a novelist based in London, Ont. She is also the author of the YA novels FirstsAll Eyes on Her and Last Girl Lied To.

Laurie Elizabeth Flynn talks to Shelagh Rogers about her psychological thriller The Girls Are All So Nice Here.

Not Dark Yet by Peter Robinson

Not Dark Yet is a novel by Peter Robinson. (Paul Hansen, McClelland & Stewart)

Not Dark Yet is the 27th book in the Inspector Banks mystery series by Peter Robinson. In Not Dark Yet, there's been a double murder on a property developer's luxury home. The owner has ties to the mafia — and when the security camera reveals ties to even more crimes, the original murders that brought Banks on the scene look completely different.

Robinson is a Canadian mystery writer. His books have won awards and have been translated into 20 languages. He's been called the master of the police procedural.

Obsidian by Thomas King

Obsidian is a novel by Thomas King. (HarperCollins Canada)

Thomas King's sly investigator Thumps DreadfulWater returns in Obsidian. After the famed producer of a true-crime documentary turns up dead, Thumps is forced to look into an old cold case he had tried to forget: the Obsidian murders. When someone starts leaving reminders of the case around Chinook, Thumps is compelled to confront the incident that left his girlfriend and her daughter dead.

King is a Canadian-American writer of Cherokee and Greek ancestry. He delivered the 2003 Massey Lectures, The Truth about Stories. His books include Truth & Bright WaterThe Inconvenient Indian and The Back of the TurtleThe Back of the Turtle won the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction in 2014.

Marissa Stapley talks to Shelagh Rogers about her new novel, Lucky.

Lucky by Marissa Stapley

Lucky is a novel by Marissa Stapley. (Simon & Schuster)

Lucky is a novel about a scam artist named Lucky Armstrong. She just pulled off her biggest scam yet, a million dollar heist with her boyfriend. But things don't go as planned and Lucky ends up alone. Her escape hatch is a lucky lottery ticket she bought. It's worth millions, but if she cashes it in, the police will know where she is. With no one she can trust, and nothing to lose, what is she going to do?

Marissa Stapley is a writer and journalist from Toronto. Her other novels include Mating for LifeThings to Do When It's Raining and The Last Resort.

When he's not saving patients in the ER, Vancouver's Dr. Daniel Kalla writes thrillers. His latest, Lost Immunity, turns vaccine hesitancy and misinformation into a page-turner. He joins us to discuss whether, in a pandemic, fiction can be stranger than truth.

Lost Immunity by Daniel Kalla

Lost Immunity is a novel by Daniel Kalla. (Michael Bednar Photography, Simon & Schuster Canada)

In the novel Lost Immunity, a dangerous bacteria has caused local outbreaks around the world. When it hits Seattle, the local public health officer asks a pharmaceutical company working on the vaccine to release it to the city early. At first, the controversial plan works. But when people start dying from an even more terrible and more mysterious illness, the vaccine gets blamed. Can they figure out what's really happening before it's too late?

Daniel Kalla is an emergency room doctor, as well as an international bestselling author of 10 books, including We All Fall Down and The Last High.

Charles Demers talks to Shelagh Rogers about his new book, Primary Obsessions.

Primary Obsessions by Charles Demers

Primary Obsessions is a novel by Charles Demers. (Douglas & McIntyre)

Primary Obsessions is the first book in a new mystery series revolving around psychiatrist Dr. Annick Boudreau by comedian and novelist Charles Demers. In Primary Obsessions, one of Dr. Boudreau's patients, Sanjay, is accused of a violent crime. The police as convinced he's the culprit, but Boudreau disagrees — and she's going to do whatever it takes to prove Sanjay's innocence.

Demers is a Juno Award-nominated comedian and author from Vancouver. He is also the author of the crime novel Property Values.

Host Piya Chattopadhyay speaks to Ashley Audrain about her debut novel, The Push — a searing look at motherhood told as a psychological thriller. The conversation explores the expectations put on moms, including the ones they put on themselves; what goes wrong when motherhood and womanhood get too entangled; and goes beyond "bad mom" tropes to delve into the things mothers wish they could say — and why we all need to listen when they do say them.

Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia

Dead Dead Girls is a book by Nekesa Afia. (FizCo Photography, Berkley)

Dead Dead Girls is set in 1926 Harlem, where young Black women like Louise Lloyd are ending up dead. Following a harrowing kidnapping ordeal in her teens, Louise is doing everything she can to maintain a normal life. But when a girl turns up dead in front of the café she works at, Louise is forced to confront something she's been trying to ignore — two other local Black girls have been murdered in the past few weeks. 

Nekesa Afia is a publishing student who recently finished a degree in journalism. Dead Dead Girls is her second novel. 

The Push by Ashley Audrain

The Push is a novel by Ashley Audrain. (Viking Canada, Barbara Stoneham)

The Push is a thriller about a woman who is experiencing motherhood for the first time, but it's not like anything she expected — in fact, it's everything she was terrified it would be. When Blythe's first child, Violet, is born, she feels no connection to the baby — and Violet isn't anything like other babies. But Blythe's husband is convinced it's all in her head, and everything will be fine if she just relaxes. But what if he's wrong? And if he's right, what does that say about Blythe?

Ashley Audrain is the former publicity director of Penguin Canada. The Push is her first novel.

Linwood Barclay talks about the art of writing crime fiction

2 years ago
Duration 4:12
In the CBC Books 'Why I Write' series, Canadian authors talk about what literature means to them.

Find You First by Linwood Barclay

Find You First is a book by Linwood Barclay. (HarperLuxe)

Find You First is the latest thriller from bestselling author Linwood Barclay. Miles Cookson is a millionaire who has been told he only has a short time left to live. He decides it's time to connect with the children that were born with sperm he donated decades before. But as his search unfolds, his offspring vanish, one by one. What is happening? Who is behind it? And can Miles figure it out before it's too late?

Barclay is an American Canadian thriller writer, with almost 20 books to his credit. His books include the adult thrillers Broken Promise, A Noise Downstairs, Elevator Pitch and the middle-grade novels Escape and Chase.

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