EW's picks for the juiciest, most intriguing reads.
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Credit: Illustration by Robert Sammelin for EW

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Winter Thrillers
Credit: St. Martin's Publishing Group

Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins

If Lord of the Flies and A Simple Favor got together, you'd have something akin to this gothic thriller set in the deceptively inviting climes of a South Pacific island. When best friends Amma and Brittany hire Lux McAllister and her layabout boyfriend, Nico, to sail them to Meroe Island, it seems like a ticket to paradise, despite the creepy legends surrounding the place. But paradise is crowded; they arrive to find another boat, home to well-heeled couple, Jake and Eliza, already moored. Lux isn't the only one keeping secrets, and the introduction of a seedy stranger sends things off the rails as the island starts to close in. Rachel Hawkins merges pitch-black comedy and wicked, gasp-inducing thrills, surprising at every turn as she uses the genre to comment on vengeance and femininity. Reckless Girls is a literary piña colada, curdled — sickeningly sweet, irresistible, and disturbing in its turn from delicious to deadly. (Jan. 4) —Maureen Lee Lenker

Winter Thrillers
Credit: Atlantic Books

Mouth to Mouth by Antoine Wilson

On one level — the simplest level — this is a story about an unnamed writer in the midst of what he's come to realize is completely middling success. He's on his way to Germany for a mini book tour that he hopes will be the start of something (he's been told, or maybe he's led himself to believe, that he's popular in Europe), when he runs into an old college classmate during a layover at JFK. Jeff Cook is now an undisputed success and invites the narrator into the first-class lounge for a catch-up. The catch-up morphs into a disclosure (of what, we can't say), and the disclosure becomes a full-blown confession. And while Mouth's premise may sound like straightforward fiction, by the end of the slim volume Antoine Wilson has made sure to wallop the reader with the realization that the story has been eerier than they ever realized. (Jan. 11) —Seija Rankin

Winter Thrillers
Credit: HarperCollins

Wahala by Nikki May

Someday Sex and the City will no longer be the default cultural reference point for a story of four women in the big city. Until then: Here the girls are Anglo-Nigerian women in London; one has a sinister past and even more sinister intentions for her "friends." Wahala is high on melodrama, like many thrillers, but also on aspirational details (careers, real estate, clothes), making for a refreshing respite from its drearier genre brethren. (Jan. 11) —SR

Winter Thrillers
Credit: HarperCollins

Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka

There's no question whodunit here: The killer is already in prison when the book begins. The story Notes aims to tell is how he got there. (It has at least something to do with the fact that he was abandoned as a little boy to foster care, though nature might beat nurture, too.) But as Danya Kukafka (Girl in Snow) writes, "There are millions of men out there who want to hurt women — people seem to think that Ansel Packer is extraordinary, because he actually did." So she turns most of her attention to the females around him: the teen mother, Lavender, who leaves him behind; Saffron Singh, the police officer who can smell his guilt from the first kill; and a girl named Hazel, whose twin fatally fails to see the deadness behind his eyes. Without a real mystery to unravel, the pace inevitably slackens, and Kukafka tends to get lost in the curlicues of her character studies. But she also takes care to give Packer's victims what they never got in life: a voice. (Jan. 25) —Leah Greenblatt

Winter Thrillers
Credit: Penguin

Good Rich People by Eliza Brazier

The literary equivalent of a bottle episode, Eliza Jane Brazier's second thriller in as many years takes place almost entirely in a literal house of horrors high above Los Angeles. But since these are the Hollywood Hills, the terror actually lies a few layers beneath a facade of beauty and riches — the house itself is a masterpiece. Lyla lives on her mother-in-law's estate; she shares a glass mansion with her husband, and there's a near-castle for the family matriarch, who keeps busy forcing her family members to play a twisted game of invite-less-privileged-people-to-rent-out-the-guest-house-and-see-how-quickly-their-lives-can-be-ruined. Every character in the book's universe is more vile than the next, but just because there's no one to root for doesn't mean the game isn't a little fun to watch. (Jan. 25) —SR

Winter Thrillers
Credit: Simon and Schuster

Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner

Helen has everything she's ever wanted: a beautiful showpiece home in one of the poshest parts of London, a handsome architect husband named Daniel, and finally, a pregnancy that's stuck. But when her sister-in-law skips out on the childbirth class they were supposed to take together, Helen makes do with a fellow expectant mother instead—a brash, chatty girl called Rachel who seems more than eager to be her new best friend. So eager that she keeps turning up everywhere. Could it have anything to do with how distracted Daniel seems to be lately, or does it go back even further to their college days at Cambridge? Katherine Faulkner, an investigative journalist by trade, structures her debut like she's piecing together a cold case, though Rachel can't seem to stop dropping hot clues. Greenwich does that frustrating thriller thing of relying on familiar tricks to keep the plot machinery moving (Oh, the ill-timed dead phone batteries!). But the story is more than propulsive enough to keep plunging ahead; the descriptions of female friendships and city life still land a cut above standard paperback fare, and the last line is a killer. (Jan. 25) —LG

Winter Thrillers
Credit: Simon and Schuster

Our American Friend by Anna Pitoniak

An immoral president, a distant first lady, a shadowy Soviet connection — the basis for Anna Pitoniak's third novel rings triggeringly familiar, but the narrative layers beneath it are wholly original. It follows journalist Sofie Morse as she begins work on what she's told is the first lady's authorized biography but, like the dolls from Mother Russia herself, the assignment reveals itself to be nothing like what it seemed. (Feb. 15) —SR

Winter Thrillers
Credit: William Morrow

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

Lucy Foley seems to be on a mission to establish herself as something of a modern-day Agatha Christie. In her most recent best-seller (2020's The Guest List), she placed her doomed protagonists on an island off the coast of Ireland, and this winter the author's setting of choice is a ritzy, isolated apartment building in the City of Light. Its residents include a cryptic concierge, a socialite hiding a whole lot under her Hermès scarf, an aspiring investigative journalist, and his half sister, who arrives for a visit to find him missing under very troubling circumstances. She launches her own hasty investigation, and the search to uncover her brother's surely doomed fate leads into a dark Parisian underworld and, ever Christie-ian, back to the residents of the building. (Feb. 22) —SR

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