Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

Buy, Borrow, Bypass: 5 Female Leads in Thrillers and Mysteries

This content contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Jamie Canaves

Contributing Editor

Jamie Canavés is the Tailored Book Recommendations coordinator and Unusual Suspects mystery newsletter writer–in case you’re wondering what you do with a Liberal Arts degree. She’s never met a beach she didn’t like, always says yes to dessert, loves ‘80s nostalgia, all forms of entertainment, and can hold a conversation using only gifs. You can definitely talk books with her on Litsy and Goodreads. Depending on social media’s stability maybe also Twitter and Bluesky.

This is a guest post from Jamie Canaves, creator of Dinky Cow, writer, and lover of everything ’80s–except Freddy Krueger. Her happily-ever-after is living inside a seaside bookstore equally stocked with chocolate—please slide pizza under door. Follow her on Twitter @Oh_Dinky.


While I’m pretty good about reading any and all genres, I’m a sucker for a good mystery, thriller, or suspense novel. And by sucker I mean I inhale them because Holy Red Herring, Batman I need to know who, where, and with what! Okay, maybe I mixed my Batman and Clue references but it works because these books either mix genres or give the genre a few elbows and make themselves unique.

you can trust meYou Can Trust Me by Sophie McKenzie

A good blend of women’s fiction mixed with mystery/suspense and a dash of a psychological thriller (point of view change between chapters that puts you in the mind of the murderer). This isn’t your typical lawyer, PI, or cop going after the bad guys—it’s a stay-at-home mom who knows her best friend didn’t commit suicide and with all the red herrings, good luck trying to figure it out. Seriously, everyone is a suspect.

Borrow- while a satisfying read I almost didn’t get past the beginning, which seemed so obsessed with Julia discussing the current state of her marriage and her husband’s former mistress (all at the same party) I kept thinking I’d downloaded the wrong book.

north of bostonNorth of Boston by Elisabeth Elo

A gritty book that proves ladies make excellent leads in dark thrillers. Pirio Kasparov is a deliciously complex character who is not buying the BS story that her friend’s death—and her almost death—was an accident. The oceanic hit and run sets off a very dark mystery you’ll never guess while taking you to interesting places and introducing you to wonderfully unique characters far from stereotypes.

Buy- even though I did have to skip a couple pages in the end because it really hit my “literary no-fly zone.” If this was Elisabeth Elo’s debut novel she can have my money now for the next book.

whiskey-tango-foxtrotWhiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer

I picked this book up without even reading a blurb because I needed it for a book challenge (animal in the title). Talk about every star in the book universe aligning to give me a perfect book to read. You’re introduced to three characters separately: Leila in Burma, Leo in Oregon, and Mark in NY, and have no idea what’s to come. Slowly—in the good way, not the boring way—the characters and mystery begin to come together and you realize cyber-thriller, conspiracy-thriller and a sprinkling of sci-fi is a perfect recipe when brilliantly executed.

Buy! Especially if you’re looking to read more inclusive lit and/or are drawn to a good conspiracy theory.

the magician's daughterThe Magician’s Daughter: A Valentine Hill Mystery by Judith Janeway

Valentine, a down on her luck magician, ends up accidentally reuniting with her con-artist mother after years of estrangement and finds herself at the heart of a mystery. Add magic acts, long lost uncles, FBI, police and an inescapable childhood and you’re in for a fun book.

Borrow- because a few times I had to remind myself this was fiction, there was stereotypical “bad guys do bad things” and some info dumping in dialogue. Although, it being a quick, fun read with a main character I really enjoyed made up for it.

thousand-dollar-tan-line-rob-thomas-jennifer-graham-veronica-mars-novel-e1393110929789The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars #1) by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

Let’s see if I can write this while keeping my fangirling at a controllable level. I only recently watched VM for the first time and I LOVED the show, the characters, and the modern-noir with the twist of a teen female lead. So naturally I watched the movie and then bought the books. I was thrilled to discover the 1st book starts just months after where the movie left off (now an adult Veronica making her way in the world) and is like binging on episodes of VM!

Buy. Buy. Buy- if you’re a fan. If you haven’t watched the show get on that! Or borrow, it gives just the right amount of character history that the book is enjoyable on its own as it’s a good mystery with an unpredictable outcome. For the audiobook lover, it’s narrated by Kristen Bell.


Book Riot Live is coming! Join us for a two-day event full of books, authors, and an all around good time. It’s the convention for book lovers that we’ve always wanted to attend. So we are doing it ourselves.