Meet April's Most Highly Anticipated Mysteries

Posted by Cybil on April 1, 2020
If you love a page-turning mystery, you are in for a treat this month. We're seeing a great assortment of highly anticipated mysteries and thrillers all coming out in April.

To help you find the books you'll want to add to your Want to Read shelf, we reached out to the authors whose books are about to dominate your reading time. We asked each mystery writer to tell us about their new novels, the books they'd recommend, and (because why not?) their biggest fears. Happy reading!

 

Darynda Jones, author of A Bad Day for Sunshine

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Goodreads: Summarize your new book in a couple of sentences.

Darynda Jones: A missing girl, a flasher named Doug, and an old flame that refuses to burn out. What else could go wrong on newly sworn-in sheriff Sunshine Vicram’s first day?

GR: What research did you do for the book?

DJ: I did tons of research about small towns in New Mexico even though I live in one. I had to research the more mountainous areas. The pretty parts. I also had to research the heck out of policies and procedures pertaining to county sheriffs and their deputies as opposed to city and state police. And I spent a lot of time on how to go about getting a search and rescue team assembled and coordinated. Lots of layers to that one, and it’s absolutely fascinating.

GR: What’s your definition of a perfect mystery?

DJ: A perfect mystery is one where I don’t figure out whodunit until the bittersweet end. I love to be surprised but not duped. No cheating. The bad guy has to be a plausible choice. He can’t be introduced in chapter 23 only to be revealed as the bad guy in chapter 24.

GR: Who are your all-time-favorite mystery and thriller writers?

DJ: So many! I would say the queens, of course, Agatha Christie, Mary Higgins Clark, and Sue Grafton, top my list. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was brilliant. And I adored Stieg Larsson. More recent writers, for me, are Lee Child, Tana French, Karin Slaughter, Lisa Jewell, and Robert Galbraith. I also love humorous mysteries like those from Janet Evanovich and Jana DeLeon. I could go on and on. Such great talent out there!

GR: What are some new mysteries you've been enoying and recommending to friends? 

DJ: I just read Tana French’s In the Woods and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Fantastic books. And I’m currently reading Karin Slaughter’s Pieces of Her. Neither are brand-new, but I’m just now catching up on my reading. Or trying to.

GR: For someone who hasn't read a mystery in a while, what's a good book to lure them back to the genre? 

DJ: Where the Crawdads Sing. That would hook anyone.

GR: What's your biggest fear? 

DJ: Letting my readers down.
 

Darynda JonesA Bad Day for Sunshine will be available in the U.S. on April 7.


Sara Sligar, author of Take Me Apart

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Sara Sligar: Take Me Apart is about a young woman who goes to California to create an archive from the estate of a famous reclusive photographer. Then she finds evidence that the photographer may have been murdered, and she becomes dangerously obsessed with solving the mystery of this woman's death. The book switches between the present-day narrative and various documents that the photographer left behind, so the reader gets to uncover the truth alongside the archivist. It’s a pretty dark, atmospheric novel about gender and power and ambition.

GR: What research did you do for the book?

SS: Since one of the main characters is a star of the New York art scene in the 1980s, I read a lot about the art movements she would have been part of. I read photography manuals to understand how she would have actually made her photographs and old scientific papers to understand the drugs she takes, which are no longer prescribed. The other half of the book is set in a beach town in Northern California, so I took a research trip to the area to get a feel for the place. I stayed in an Airstream trailer, which became the setting of an important scene in the book. I did a lot of internet deep dives—I spent hours on websites for, like, amateur tree enthusiasts, trying to visualize what kinds of leaves would be on the ground at a certain time of year. I think all those weird little details make the book feel more realistic and immediate.


GR: What’s your definition of a perfect mystery?

SS: I like to leave a book feeling a little unsettled. So for me, a perfect mystery has a satisfying solution but also acknowledges that some things about the human condition are always going to be unsolvable. Twists are cool, but personally I care more about characters and setting. If I’m not invested in the characters, then it’s hard for me to care that someone is someone else’s secret ghost brother.

GR: Who are your all-time-favorite mystery and thriller writers?

SS: Tana French is my ultimate. Her books have an amazing combination of intricate psychology and beautiful sentences and a plot that keeps you turning the pages. It can be hard to get all those things in one book, but she always nails it. I’m a total fangirl.

GR: What are some new mysteries you've been enoying and recommending to friends? 

SS: I loved Liz Moore’s Long Bright River. It’s such an honest, compassionate account of the opioid crisis while also being a very rewarding mystery. I tore through Elizabeth Little’s Pretty as a Picture, which takes place on an isolated film set, and right now I’m immersed in Tiffany Tsao’s The Majesties. It has so many great insights about family dynamics. And I am really looking forward to Steven Wright's The Coyotes of Carthage, which is a political thriller about dark money set in South Carolina.

GR: For someone who hasn't read a mystery in a while, what's a good book to lure them back to the genre? 

SS: Angie Kim’s Miracle Creek. It’s such a rich and multifaceted book—there’s something for everyone. A trial worthy of Law and Order, a whodunit mystery, thoughtful explorations of immigration and medical ethics and motherhood...there are so many entry points for readers. It was definitely one of my favorite reads last year.

GR: What's your biggest fear? 

SS: Dolls! I am terrified of dolls. The more lifelike, the worse. I have a very strong reaction to the uncanny valley. I try to avoid any movie with spooky dolls or dummies, but one time I was watching a movie and a demon-possessed doll just showed up out of nowhere, two-thirds of the way through the film! I felt very betrayed.
 

Sara Sligar's Take Me Apart will be available in the U.S. on April 28.


Jennifer Hillier, author of Little Secrets 

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Jennifer Hillier: A year after her four-year-old son is kidnapped in a busy farmers' market, Marin Machado learns that her husband is cheating on her with a much younger woman. Little Secrets is about the disappearance of a child and the unraveling of a marriage, and what lengths a woman will go to when she discovers that the two worst things that have happened to her may not be unrelated.

GR: What research did you do for the book?

JH: I always write about what scares me. As the parent of a five-year-old (and my son was four when I wrote Little Secrets), it was natural for me to want to explore my worst-case scenario about my very worst fear–losing my child. So a lot of my research came from my day-to-day life and paying attention to things like Amber Alerts and the missing-child posters I see. It blew my mind to learn that stranger abduction actually makes up a small percentage of kidnappings. The majority of missing children are taken by someone they know, and it's usually a parent.

GR: What’s your definition of a perfect mystery?

JH: I love a big twist at the end, but I don't necessarily think a mystery always requires one–a series of small twists along the way can be just as satisfying. I do think a whydunit can be as compelling as a whodunit, as long as there are secrets and surprises to be revealed. Mysteries are puzzles, and at the end the pieces should all fit together. When the last piece is in place, the reader should be able to see all the things they thought were insignificant but were actually clues. Ideally, anyway.

GR: Who are your all-time-favorite mystery and thriller writers?

JH: Oh, I have so many. Chelsea Cain's work inspired me to write thrillers in the first place. And I've been reading Jeffery Deaver since I first fell in love with the genre. Everything Mark Edwards writes gives me nightmares (and I mean that as a compliment). I will read anything by Alafair Burke, Mary Kubica, Riley Sager, Caroline Kepnes, Laura Lippman, and Liv Constantine. And I'm a big fan of the work coming from fellow Canadian women like myself: Robyn Harding, Samantha M. Bailey, Hannah Mary McKinnon, Roz Nay, and of course my hero, Chevy Stevens.

GR: What are some new mysteries you've been enoying and recommending to friends? 

JH: I'm lucky that I get the opportunity to read some amazing books before they're even published.  I can wholeheartedly recommend Tanen JonesThe Better Liar, Kathleen Barber's Follow Me, and Simone St. James' The Sun Down Motel, which are recent releases and available now. I also think mystery and thriller fans will love Liv Constantine's The Wife Stalker (out in May), Hannah Mary McKinnon's Sister Dear (also out in May), and S.A. Cosby's Blacktop Wasteland (out in July).

GR: For someone who hasn't read a mystery in a while, what's a good book to lure them back to the genre? 

JH: Is it totally tacky to recommend Jar of Hearts, written by me? OK, probably, but hear me out. It's a serial killer thriller, it's a coming-of-age love story, it's a whydunit, it's a police procedural. I think if it's been a while since you've read a mystery/thriller, there will be some element in this book that will remind you of what drew you to the genre in the first place. (All right, plug over, and my apologies.)

GR: What's your biggest fear? 

JH: Losing my child, as I mentioned earlier, is by far my biggest fear. But not to worry, I also have a lot of smaller fears, too, just to keep life interesting: clowns, porcelain dolls, long staircases, foggy nights, and balloons. Yes, balloons. Because sometimes they pop.
 

Jennifer Hillier's Little Secrets will be available in the U.S. on April 21.

 

D.J. Palmer, author of The New Husband

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D.J. Palmer: A year ago, Nina Garrity believed she was a happily married woman. That was before Glen, her husband of 20 years, vanished while fishing on Lake Winnipesaukee. Only his secrets surfaced.
 
When a chance encounter brings Simon Fitch, a local middle school teacher, into Nina’s life, she finds herself falling in love again. After many months of deliberation, she decides to build a new life with this new man. But before she can accept Simon’s marriage proposal, she must determine that she's not making another terrible choice in a husband. In doing so, Nina will uncover the shocking truth: The greatest danger to herself and her children are the lies people tell themselves.

GR: What research did you do for the book?

DJP: The New Husband is a psychological drama, so I focused my research on how smart, capable, knowledgeable people can fall victim to self-deception and be made to question their reality, memory, or perceptions. I believe The New Husband will resonate on a deeply personal level for anyone who’s ever had their happily ever after dashed to pieces. But the story is also a universal one about family and the ties that both bind us and tear us apart—and, because it’s a thriller, there’s plenty of tension along the way.

GR: What’s your definition of a perfect mystery?

DJP: The perfect mystery should start with a question, and the answer should come together for the reader as close to the last page as possible. Between those pages, the reader should get memorable characters who are easy to root for and a host of suspects who could have done the crime.
 
However, The New Husband is more suspense than traditional mystery, which in my mind makes the core question less of a whodunit and more of a whydunit. Suspense fiction done right keeps the reader on edge and desperate to know what’s going to happen next while also wondering which of the characters, if any, will survive—both physically and emotionally.

GR: Who are your all-time-favorite mystery and thriller writers?

DJP: Stephen King is the author I credit with turning me into a reader. What I like most about his books is how he seamlessly blends elements of mystery, suspense, drama, and, yes, horror into can't-put-down stories with memorable characters and surprising twists.
 
Naturally, I should put my father, Michael Palmer, on any list of favorite mystery/thriller writers, and I had the distinct honor of writing Michael Palmer medical suspense novels after his death in 2013.
 
When it comes to police procedurals—a favorite genre of mine—Lisa Gardner tops my list, along with Karin Slaughter (who writes amazing standalone stories as well), Michael Connelly, and Tess Gerritsen. I also enjoy a core group of Boston-based writers, including Joe Finder, Bill Landay, William Martin, and Hank Phillippi Ryan.
 
Since the D.J. Palmer books focus on “domestic suspense” stories, I've become a huge fan of Lisa Jewell, Lisa Scottoline, and Ruth Ware. I'll also read anything by Greer Hendricks/Sarah Pekkanen, Jennifer Hillier, B.A. Paris, Liv Constantine, Alice Feeney, Riley Sager, and Shari Lapena, among many others.
 
The king of suspense fiction for me is Harlan Coben, and through him I've discovered the work of Alafair Burke, Danielle Girard, Brad Parks, C.J. Box, and Gregg Hurwitz.
 
Oh, boy, I'm not nearly done listing writers I admire (hello, Lee Child), but I fear I've gone on too long.

GR: For someone who hasn't read a mystery in a while, what's a good book to lure them back to the genre? 

DJP: Two books immediately come to mind, both massive bestsellers. If you want terrific writing combined with some of the best descriptive prose about nature I've ever come across and blended with a truly delightful mystery, you can do no better than Where the Crawdads Sing, the blockbuster from Delia Owens.

For a compelling mystery that's compulsively readable, I strongly suggest The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, another debut novelist who rocketed right to the top of the charts. Most readers who try these books will quickly look to pick up another mystery or thriller.
 
Another terrific writer, and dear friend, Lou Berney, wrote a tremendous book titled November Road, with a unique road trip story that is directly related to the JFK assassination that I highly recommend.

GR: What's your biggest fear? 

DJP: I’m always nervous about letting down my readers. I understand that when you open a D.J. Palmer book, you're committing a bit of money as well as time away from your family and other obligations. In return, it's my responsibility to deliver a compelling, exciting, and surprising read, professionally done, with high entertainment value. And that’s no small task. I never take my devoted readers for granted, and I keep these readers in mind with every word I write.
 
Outside of my professional life, I try not to focus on my fears, because those can be limiting. I will confess, though, that I'm no longer skiing the black diamond trails unless they're perfectly groomed.
 

D.J. Palmer's The New Husband will be available in the U.S. on April 14.


 
Don't forget to add these thrilling reads to your Want to Read shelf, and tell us which mysteries you're most excited about in the comments below.

Check out more recent articles, including:
The 28 Most Anticipated Mysteries & Thrillers of 2020
24 New Mysteries Readers Are Loving
Author Lisa Jewell Shares Her Favorite Domestic Suspense Novels

Comments Showing 1-24 of 24 (24 new)

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message 1: by Max (new)

Max I really like the questions for each book. Instead of relying on the descriptions I immediately went into the questions to see if the answers convinced me. And Take Me Apart nailed every question! I will definitely be checking out that one for the answers alone, congrats Sara Sligar!


message 2: by Clarke (new)

Clarke Wallace Wonderful assortment of mysteries/thrillers for April. You missed however a good one released last fall that has mystery, touches of humor called HARM'S WAY, from Beacon Publishing Group.

Clarke Wallace


message 3: by Anne Pearce (new)

Anne Pearce All of them!!!


message 4: by Mary (new)

Mary Linwood Barclay and John Hart any of their books.


message 5: by Alison (new)

Alison Alice-May I loved Jar of Hearts and I think it would be an excellent lure back to this type of writing.


message 6: by Karen (new)

Karen I tend to read historical novels, but recently received a ARE of The New Husband by DJ Palmer, from St. Martin's Press. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Must admit I wanted to shake Nina back to her senses a few times! This was my first ever "Palmer" read and I will be looking to read more. Thank you!!


message 7: by Indira (new)

Indira Grillet How can we get the books if everything is locked down?


message 8: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Thank you! They are all on my to read list!


message 9: by Joanne (new)

Joanne Corbett I am going to BUY this book by D.J Palmer because I love the same authors she mentioned ( I was a great fan of her dad's also) I like this type of mystery " The New Husband" is on my list


message 10: by Robin (new)

Robin LOVE this format of asking these questions of the authors ... I will now have some new authors to follow because I connect with their recommendations. That will definitely make me check their books out! :)


message 11: by Janet (new)

Janet Martin Indira wrote: "How can we get the books if everything is locked down?" Mail order--you can call your local bookstore and they might do it for you--or purchase digital downloads or borrow them from your library to read or listen to on your computer, smart phone, or tablet if you don't have a dedicated e-reader. Chances are these new titles will have long wait lists, but some might surprise you


message 12: by TMR (new)

TMR I love these interesting questions and answers. Definitely added some more to my list.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

I have "A Match Made for Murder" by Iona Whishaw on pre-order with ETA of Apr 28/20


message 14: by August (new)

August Indira wrote: "How can we get the books if everything is locked down?"
Some book stores are letting you order them ahead of time and then letting you pick them up outside of the bookstore.


message 15: by Sherri (new)

Sherri Interesting answers about their books, but concerning authors they admired, none of these authors mentioned Louise Penny, who I think is the best of the best.


Amy "the book-bat" Joanne wrote: "I am going to BUY this book by D.J Palmer because I love the same authors she mentioned ( I was a great fan of her dad's also) I like this type of mystery " The New Husband" is on my list"

Psst... DJ Palmer is a male. His name is Daniel.
I met his dad (Michael Palmer) when he came to a bookstore I was working in to sign books. He was a very nice man and had many interesting stories to share.


message 17: by Rosa (new)

Rosa Burgos Indira wrote: "How can we get the books if everything is locked down?"
Ebooks and audiobooks!


message 18: by Judy (new)

Judy Ashley Indira wrote: "How can we get the books if everything is locked down?"

Bookstores need business. They ship books.


message 19: by Annie (new)

Annie Lately, I've been reading thriller and mystery books . One of the interesting title for me is The New Husband, even though each other looks like good as well.


message 20: by Morgan (new)

Morgan Janet wrote: "Indira wrote: "How can we get the books if everything is locked down?" Mail order--you can call your local bookstore and they might do it for you--or purchase digital downloads or borrow them from ..."

My library has been closed for weeks so I have had to buy some books on Amazon. They are not cheap and I don't like spending money when I could get books at the library, BUT, desperate times calls for desperate measures.


message 21: by Laura (new)

Laura Hartmann-Villalta some great titles here!


message 22: by Max (new)

Max Sherri wrote: "Interesting answers about their books, but concerning authors they admired, none of these authors mentioned Louise Penny, who I think is the best of the best."

I was thinking the same thing. Each book is getting better and better, and both the plot and the writing is stunning.


message 23: by Lynne (new)

Lynne I have been reading constantly on my iPad since 2012 after an intense knee surgery. Since I could not go out to buy my books, I started reading them on my iPad so I could download them 24/7. That’s the best part about e-books, they are always at hand. The WORST part of e-books, and this is a huge issue, is that after reading hundreds and hundreds of books, I have NOTHING to show for it! I wish book publishers would give you a free e-copy when you buy their book. A win win for us both!


message 24: by Donna (new)

Donna Hines All of these were great reads. Darynda Jones just released a new ARC entitled, A Good Day For Chardonnay which will be available to the public in July and it was fantastic and highly recommended.


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