Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

The Best Mystery, Thriller, and True Crime Books Out In June

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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.

Summer has finally arrived. Whether that makes you happy or not, the good news is it’s a new month and publishing is putting out a ton of books all month long. Love summer? Sit outside with your new stack of books to read and solve mysteries. Hate summer? Stay inside with your new stack of books to read and solve mysteries. Either way, I’ve put together a selection of very different mystery, thriller, and true crime books for you depending on your reading mood and tastes.

There are two historical mysteries taking you to New York: one is set during the Harlem Renaissance, the other is set in the Jazz Age. We have got a psychological suspense that will keep you on your toes and a classic Japanese mystery that was inspired by an Agatha Christie favorite. There is a contemporary YA of a sister investigating her older sister’s killing, a PI looking for her girlfriend, a new release in a favorite series, and two nonfiction books: one a true crime looking into the murders that Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys was based on.

So stack your bookmarks, grab your favorite reading beverage and snack, and let’s go read some mystery, thrillers, and crime.

cover image for Harlem Sunset

Harlem Sunset (Harlem Renaissance Mystery #2) by Nekesa Afia

If you’re looking for a mystery series set during the Harlem Renaissance, slam on the brakes: you’ve found it! Louise Lloyd was kidnapped as a teen and escaped, rescuing the other girls. It’s what she’s always been known for, even though she’d like to not be. This starts after the events of the first book, when she’s bullied by police into helping them with a case. Now, after reconnecting with a fellow kidnapping survivor, said girl is found dead, and Louise’s girlfriend is the one covered in her blood…

If you want to start at the beginning, pick up Dead Dead Girls.

cover image for In the Dark We Forget

In the Dark We Forget by Sandra SG Wong

If you’re looking for psychological suspense, here’s your next read! Cleo Li’s parents disappeared shortly after winning $47 million in a lottery. Now Li has woken up not remembering who she is. The more she tries to remember, the more suspicion begins to point to her…

cover image The Black Girl Left Standing

The Black Girls Left Standing by Juliana Goodman

This is for YA contemporary fans! Katia Willet has been killed by an off-duty police officer and her younger sister, Beau, is determined to uncover what really happened. But the only witness, her sister’s boyfriend, has disappeared. So she starts a Twitter account for anonymous tips. But at 16, with a world of other things happening, including her family grieving, how much can she put on the line to solve this?

cover image for  Death on Gokumon Island

Death on Gokumon Island (Detective Kosuke Kindaichi #2) by Seishi Yokomizo, translated by Louise Heal Kawai

If you’re not already reading translated mysteries, you absolutely should be. In this particular case, the series number doesn’t matter that much, since they’ve been translated out of order to begin with and all read as standalone mysteries. This one is a classic Japanese mystery that was inspired by And Then There Were None. A lot of Japanese mysteries have Christie and Holmes influences, and it’s so fun to see. If no matter what you hear you still have to start with #1: The Honjin Murders.

cover image for  Last Call at the Nightingale

Last Call at the Nightingale by Katharine Schellman

If the Jazz age and speakeasy is music to your ears, here’s the start to a new series. Set in 1924, New York, we follow Vivian Kelly, a seamstress who lives with her sister. Being that neither of those things excite her, she spends her nights at a speakeasy, The Nightingale. But the fun always comes to an end, in this case when she finds a body and the club is raided by police.

cover image for Vera Kelly: Lost and Found

Vera Kelly: Lost and Found (Vera Kelly #3) by Rosalie Knecht

This is a great historical series that follows Vera Kelly from a career as a spy to becoming a PI. Set in the early ’70s, we follow Vera and her girlfriend, Max, from Brooklyn to LA. This time, we have a mystery close to home as Max’s family is having all kinds of issues — including an occultist charlatan that may be siphoning family money — before Max herself disappears. Good thing her girlfriend Vera is a PI and on the case! If you want to start at the beginning of the series, pick up Who Is Vera Kelly?

cover of Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels and Crooks by Patrick Radden Keefe, featuring the title in front of a police line up wall

Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels and Crooks by Patrick Radden Keefe

If you love nonfiction by journalists, you should absolutely be reading Patrick Radden Keefe who has brought us the true crime nonfiction books Empire of Pain and Say Nothing. Here, instead of a focus on one crime or corruption, we have a collection of 12 of his most celebrated articles from The New Yorker. “They reflect on some of my abiding preoccupations: crime and corruption, secrets and lies, the permeable membrane separating licit and illicit worlds, the bonds of family, the power of denial.” — sold!

cover image for We Carry Their Bones

We Carry Their Bones: The Search for Justice at the Dozier School for Boys by Erin Kimmerle

The novel The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead is based on a true story which Forensic anthropologist Erin Kimmerle investigates in this book. The Arthur G. Dozier Boys School, a Florida juvenile reform school created in the 1900s, existed for over a century, until the surfacing of abuse, cruelty, and even “mysterious” deaths finally got it shut down. Kimmerle helped locate the school’s graveyard in order to identify the children buried, using forensic and DNA testing.

cover image for The Locked Room

The Locked Room (Ruth Galloway #14) by Elly Griffiths

*Sounds the alarm for Ruth Galloway fans* If you’re a fan, certainly you’ve already stopped reading and gone off to get a copy. For those who’ve yet to discover this series, you’ll want to start with The Crossing Places where Ruth Galloway, a forensic archaeologist, is introduced. Detective Chief Inspector Nelson calls on her at the start of the series to help with bones found in a marsh near where she lives…

You should have a nice stack of crime books going into June, but if it’s never enough there’s plenty of mystery posts to peruse.