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Not your mother’s romantic suspense. No, we didn’t dream of Manderley again. Romantic suspense in the twenty-first century has moved far beyond the gothic and settled nicely into the suburbs.
This modern take on romantic suspense is less about finding love in a tense situation and more about all of the varying relationships the heroine has—with family, friends, and with herself. These books all take place in the comfortable land of the suburbs. Those leafy trees and oversize garages hide the best secrets, after all.
Behind Closed Doors. By B. A. Paris. 2016. St. Martin’s, $25.99 (9781250121004).
The marriage of Grace Harrington and Jack Angel seemed perfect, except for what went on behind closed doors. On their honeymoon, Grace’s new husband, Jack, reveals his psychopathic nature, using Grace’s deep love for her special-needs sister, Millie, as leverage in concocting a depraved scheme that will ruin both women.
Come Sundown. By Nora Roberts. 2017. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (9781250123077).
Alice Bodine turns up at her family’s Montana ranch and luxury resort battered, bruised, and with no memory of her old life, 25 years after running away. Her niece puts Alice’s return together with the recent murders of two women and suspects that someone very twisted may be living nearby.
The Couple Next Door. By Shari Lapena. 2016.Viking/Pamela Dorman, $26 (9780735221086).
Anne and Marco Conti take their baby monitor with them to dinner at their next-door neighbors’ house and check on baby Cora in her crib every half hour. But when the Contis return home, their front door is open, and Cora is gone. The police are suspicious: Anne is suffering from postpartum depression, and Marco’s business is in financial trouble. The couple turns to Anne’s wealthy parents for help, as the events behind the child snatching are gradually unveiled.
The Fifth Letter. By Nicola Moriarty. 2017. Morrow, $26.99 (9780062413567).
Joni, Deb, Trina, and Eden have been best friends since high school, and they know all of one another’s secrets. Or do they? In an effort to reconnect, Joni suggests a game of confession, with each of the four women revealing her deepest secret in an anonymous letter to the others. The game takes a dark turn when Joni finds a fifth letter admitting a long-hidden obsession by one of them that may put them all in danger. But which of them wrote it and still hides the most explosive secret of all?
Into the Water. By Paula Hawkins. 2017. Riverhead, $28 (9780735211209).
Nel has obsessed over the drowning pool, a spot in the river behind her family’s English home where several women had lost their lives, as far back as her estranged sister, Jules, can remember. When Nel is discovered in the pool, Jules returns home to care for Nel’s prickly teenage daughter. As Nel’s apparent suicide is investigated, past events surface—and some of them are barely past.
Truly Madly Guilty. By Liane Moriarty. 2016. Flatiron, $26.99 (9781250069795).
Moriarty handles neighborhood secrets, indiscretions, and twists like no one else. A spontaneous barbecue upends the lives of three couples in suburban Sydney. From the start, readers know that something terrible has happened—Erika can’t quite remember the details, Clementine doesn’t want to remember them, and their husbands are struggling with the aftermath. But it’s not until midway through the story that Moriarty shows her hand.
What She Knew. By Gilly Macmillan. 2016. Morrow, $14.99 (9780062413864).
When eight-year-old Ben runs ahead of his mother, Rachel, as they walk home from the park, she thinks nothing of it. After all, he has the family dog with him, and she knows the clearing he is headed for. But when she arrives mere minutes later, he’s nowhere to be found, and the dog is there with a broken leg. Days pass, and the police have few leads, while an anonymous blog (complete with awful comments from the peanut gallery) threatens to derail the investigation.
The Widow. By Fiona Barton. 2016. NAL, $25.95 (9781101990261).
Jean is the wife of Glen Taylor, a delivery driver suspected of abducting a two-year-old. The problem is, there’s no body, and the one hint of a confession was obtained illegally. Several years after his trial is dismissed, Glen dies in a random traffic accident. Now Jean isn’t the wife; she’s the widow. Reporter Kate Waters is determined to get to the bottom of the story, which has haunted her for years. With Glen gone, will Jean finally open up about what really happened?
You Will Know Me. By Megan Abbott. 2016. Little, Brown, $26 (9780316231077).
Devon Knox is a gymnastic prodigy on the brink of realizing her Olympic dreams. Her parents, Katie and Eric, have devoted themselves to making this dream a reality. But when a gym member is brutally murdered, this dream, along with everything Katie thought she knew about her daughter and her family, comes into question.
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