The Next Chapter

8 chilling thrillers perfect for the summer from The Next Chapter's mystery book panel

The Next Chapter columnists J.D. Singh and P.K. Rangachari compile a list of the latest thrillers worth reading.

The Next Chapter's summer mystery list is here. Bookstore owner J.D. Singh and McMaster University professor P.K. Rangachari have curated a list of who's who in the world of whodunits that are perfect for hot weather reading.

Twisted Prey by John Sandford

John Sandford is the author of the crime novel Twisted Prey. (Simon & Schuster/G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

J.D. says: "John Sanford is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and a bestselling author. To date, he has written around 50 novels with three principal characters. He's best known for his Lucas Davenport novels, which are also called the Prey novels. In the 28th novel in the series, Davenport has become a federal marshal, and he is not above playing fast and loose with the law to resolve cases. Over the 28 novels, he has shot and killed any number of bad guys and engineered the demise of others. In Twisted Prey, he's up against an old nemesis who is now a U.S. senator and has presidential ambitions. Every couple of years, I'll pick up a Lucas Davenport novel and they have been consistently excellent." 

Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit

Dirk Kurbjuweit is the author of the author of the murder mystery Fear. (Anansi/Maurice Weiss)

P.K. says: "Fear is more about anxiety than fear. It starts with a son, who is an architect, visiting his father in prison. His father has shot somebody in the head. It turns out the person he has shot is a stalker — the victim had been stalking his son, his wife. The whole thing unravels around the question, 'Who is the stalker?' Fear is set in Berlin and you get a sense of what it feels like growing up in Berlin during the postwar period. It's a creepy book, but fascinating."

Cold Skies by Thomas King

Thomas King is the author of several books, including the mystery novel Cold Skies. (Trina Koster/HarperCollins Canada)

J.D. says: "In 16 years, Thomas King has written three novels in his Thumps DreadfulWater series. These are lively stories. They're witty, they're entertaining, the characters are fun, the writing is clever and the dialogue is crisp. In Cold Skies, our hero, Thumps DreadfulWater, is of Cherokee descent and a San Francisco-based cop, but photography has always been his first love. He quit being a cop when he encountered the Obsidian Killer but that's probably the least interesting part of the story. The most fun part are the interesting, delightful and annoying characters he lives with. These include the sheriff of the town, a couple of young ladies and his cat."

Snare by Lilja Sigurdardottir

Crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardottir is the author of the novel Snare. (Lilja Sigurdardottir/Orenda Books)

P.K. says: "Snare is an interesting book about a young lady who has gone through a messy divorce. She has a son to look after and needs money because Iceland is in a financial crisis. She gets a proposition to be a mule and smuggle cocaine. Cocaine is an utterly fascinating molecule — I teach a lot about it. I've also always been interested in mules. Snare actually gives you a lot of details if you wanted to smuggle cocaine and all the ways you can do it."

Money in the Morgue by Ngaio Marsh and Stella Duffy 

Stella Duffy, featured, completed New Zeland author Ngaio Marsh's novel Money in the Morgue. (Gino Sprio/HarperCollins)

J.D. says: "Ngaio Marsh was a New Zealander who wrote 32 novels featuring an inspector, Roderick Alleyn. These were mostly set in England. She was an eminent Shakespearean, so a number of her novels have Alleyn investigating in and around the theatre. Marsh's last book was published in 1982. Unbeknownst to most of us, there was a fragment of another novel she started writing during the Second World War, but never completed. Stella Duffy, another New Zealand writer, has finished the novel."

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

Michael Ondaatje is the celebrated author of works such as The English Patient and In the Skin of a Lion. (McClelland & Stewart)

P.K. says: "Warlight is mysterious and absolutely beautiful — far better than The English Patient. It has wonderful characters in it. One of them is called The Moth, but all the characters are moths because they fly in and out of that warlight. You see them for a moment, and then they disappear. Warlight has layers upon layers of mystery. It's about memory and illusion, about how wars never really end. As with every Ondaatje book, what you remember are the images — the images here are all stunning."

Dark Chapter by Winnie Li

Dark Chapter is Winnie Li's debut novel. (Winnie Li/Polis Books)

J.D. says: "Winnie Li's first novel is about a dark chapter in the author's life and in the characters life. It's about an assault and its repercussions."

The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani

Journalist Leila Slimani is the author of the thriller The Perfect Nanny. (Catherine Hélie/Gallimard/Penguin)

P.K. says: "The Perfect Nanny is a very scary novel by Moroccan writer Leila Slimani. People are always interested in finding the perfect nanny for their children. A Moroccan-Algerian lawyer decides to scout one and get the perfect 'Mary Poppins.' It turns out not-so-perfect after all."

J.D. Singh and P.K. Rangachari's comments have been edited and condensed.