Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

9 of the Best Summer 2021 Thrillers

Emily Martin

Contributing Editor

Emily has a PhD in English from the University of Southern Mississippi, MS, and she has an MFA in Creative Writing from GCSU in Milledgeville, GA, home of Flannery O’Connor. She spends her free time reading, watching horror movies and musicals, cuddling cats, Instagramming pictures of cats, and blogging/podcasting about books with the ladies over at #BookSquadGoals ( She can be reached at

Simon & Schuster

Welcome to Hollow’s Edge, the neighborhood is to die for… From the New York Times bestselling author of The Last House Guest—a Reese Witherspoon Book Club selection—comes a riveting new suspense novel about mysterious murders in an idyllic and close-knit neighborhood. When the suspected killer unexpectedly returns to town, everyone–already on edge–begins to wonder just how many secrets are buried on their street, and how far their neighbors will go to maintain peace and quiet…

Without fail, every summer brings with it new thrillers that are page-turning, exciting, and absolutely impossible to put down. What is it about a summer thriller that makes it so special? Summer is the time of year you invest in treating yourself, whether that means lounging on the beach, sitting by the pool, taking a fun trip, or just turning up the AC. And yes, a good thriller feels like a treat. They’re easy to read, but still keep you thinking and guessing. But most importantly, thrillers are just a whole lot of fun. And isn’t that exactly what summer is supposed to be about?

Basically, if you love curling up with a chilling thriller in the heat of summer, you’re not alone. And the thrillers coming out in summer 2021 do not disappoint. Expect edge-of-your-seat moments left and right. Expect new twists unlike anything you’ve ever read before. And expect to stay up late to get to the thrilling conclusions. Here are nine of the best thrillers out this summer.

The Final Girl Support Group book cover

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

Grady Hendrix is an author famous for his unforgettable horror fiction, but his latest novel The Final Girl Support Group takes the author more into thriller territory. At the end of horror movies, the final girls are the only ones left standing after the killer’s murderous rampage. But what happens to those final girls after the credits roll? They join a support group. But not even their group is enough to protect them when a killer comes back and starts coming for the final girls, one by one. Final girls are tough and they’re hard to kill, but will this finally be the end of the line for these women who have survived so much?

cover of for your own good by samantha downing

For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing

For many, summer is a chance to get away from school for a couple of months. But that doesn’t mean thriller writers are going to stop writing about schools. And you know you love reading about them. Samantha Downing’s For Your Own Good is the story of Teddy Crutcher, teacher of the year at the esteemed Belmont Academy. Teddy is the kind of teacher who will do anything for his students, even if it’s the last thing they’d want him to do. Not everyone appreciates Teddy’s methods, but he says it’s all for the student’s own good (cue title card). Then a student’s parent dies suspiciously. And with accusations flying, the police start looking into Teddy’s life.

Velvet was the Night by Silvia MorenoGarcia

Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia delivered twists and thrills with her 2020 novel Mexican Gothic, and now in 2021 she’s back with something entirely different, but still excellent: Velvet Was the Night. Set in Mexico in the 1970s, this is the story of Maite, a secretary who spends her days escaping into the latest issue of Secret Romance. Her next door neighbor Leonora lives the kind of glamorous life that Maite envies. But when Leonora goes missing, Maite becomes obsessed with figuring out what happens to her. And in investigating, she finds herself getting wrapped up in the world of protests and student radicals.

Dream Girl by Laura Lippman

Dream Girl by Laura Lippman

With Dream Girl, Laura Lippman is back with a psychological thriller that’s reminiscent of Stephen King’s Misery. But this is definitely something new. Best-selling author Gerry Andersen is bedridden after a freak accident. The only people he can depend on are two women he barely knows: his assistant and a night nurse. Gerry feels like he’s losing his grip on reality. Most distressingly, he thinks he’s receiving calls from a woman claiming to be the titular character in his novel Dream Girl. But that character is totally fictitious. Or is she?

cover image of Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby

Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby

S.A. Cosby’s latest novel Razorblade Tears is a heart-racingly thrilling mystery that takes on issues of racism, homophobia, fatherhood, and more. The story centers around two ex-con fathers — Ike and Buddy Lee — who band together in a quest for revenge after their two sons are murdered. These two men have very little in common aside from their criminal pasts and the loss of their sons. But as they search for whoever killed their sons, Ike and Buddy Lee are also forced to confront their own prejudices about their sons and each other.

Survive the Night by Riley Sager cover

Survive the Night by Riley Sager

Planning a road trip this summer? With a stranger? That’s what happens in the latest thriller from Riley Sager, Survive the Night. The year is 1991. George H.W. Bush is the president, Nirvana is playing on repeat, and the Campus Killer is threatening Charlie Jordan’s school. In fact, her best friend was the killer’s most recent victim. Nonetheless, Charlie has to get home to Ohio, and so she hooks up with Josh Baxter — a virtual stranger — on the campus ride board so they can ride back to Ohio together. But something seems strange about Josh, and Charlie becomes increasingly worried she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer.

The Perfect Ruin by Shanora Williams

Miami seems like the perfect setting for a summer thriller, doesn’t it? In The Perfect Ruin, author Shanora Williams serves up an ice cold revenge thriller set in the glamorous and steamy hot city of Miami. Lola Maxwell is a wealthy socialite who is accomplished, gorgeous, and beloved for her generosity. She’s also the one responsible for ruining Ivy Hill’s life — and Ivy’s determined to get her revenge. Little by little, Ivy begins to work her way into Lola’s life. She joins her inner circle, becomes her best friend, and even seduces Lola’s handsome surgeon husband. But that’s when Ivy’s revenge plot begins to spiral out of control.

The River Has Teeth by Erica Waters

The River Has Teeth is a young adult paranormal thriller about two girls who end up being one another’s only hope. Natasha’s sister is missing. Her car was found at the edge of a nature reserve, but no one knows what happened to her. The case has gone cold, but Natasha will do anything to find out what happened to her sister. Della’s family has the ability to channel magic, but when the magic goes wrong, her mother turns into an uncontrollable beast. And Della is almost certain her mother is the one who’s responsible for the disappearance of Natasha’s sister.

The Turnout by Megan Abbott

What summer thriller list would be complete without Megan Abbott? Her latest novel The Turnout is set in a family-owned ballet studio, the Durant School of Dance. Dara and Marie Durant — along with Dara’s husband Charlie — inherited the studio from their parents who died in a tragic accident years ago. Dara, Marie, and Charlie spend their lives running the studio, wrapped up in the world of dance six days a week. Then a tragic accident occurs right before the company’s performance of The Nutcracker, and an outsider arrives, threatening to destroy the life that the three have so carefully established for themselves

Want even more thrillers? Here are more of this year’s gripping summer thrillers and 10 more riveting thriller novels you’ll want to read in 2021.