The best thrillers of 2022 by emerging female writers
Author photo credits: Rachel Crittenden; Kate Hannon; Lisa Harding; Carucha L. Meuse; Verity Rivers; Erin Young
Evening meeting at the cinema? Think again. A recent Saturday Night Live the skit depicts a slew of women eager to ditch their husbands and boyfriends for a night out and dive straight into a streaming Netflix or Hulu thriller, texting OMG!!! and Munch-scream emojis to their sisters and girlfriends.
And who among us doesn’t love a killing spree? Many thrilling film or television dramatizations are inspired by an original book or books, from Agatha Christie’s Poirot mysteries to PD James’ Inspector Dalgliesh series to Kill Evebased on that of Luke Jennings Code name Villanelle. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve sheltered in place with village cozies and gritty urban drama, even the romantic, painterly sweep of Kenneth Branagh’s rendition of Dame Christie’s Death on the Nile. And often we sought out the print version from a bookseller or an independent library.
As the season rolls on, there is a bumper crop of female writers who have expanded the thriller form, writing in a literary register while probing themes of fairness and complex connections to family, career, and life. culture. Thrillers offer tantalizing plots and moods—polar, how and why, is it a corpse or just a MacGuffin?– that these writers flesh out in innovative ways, sifting through the clues of an ever more incomprehensible and consequential world. From a veiled secret society in Pakistan to the cornfields of Iowa, from the ice cream parlors of Greenland to the hip-hop lounges of New York, these emerging talents weave webs of suspense that trap us and only let go. on the last page. The future is bright for these scribes of our darkest impulses.
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The return of Faraz Aliby Amina Ahmad
Gender politics simmers beneath the surface of Pakistani American Ahmad’s stylish and atmospheric debut as the title protagonist, a policeman, searches for answers to questions that have haunted him since childhood, when he was snatched from his mother. and its sister in Mohalla, an enclave within the ancient walled city of Lahore. But times are changing and revolution is in the air; Ali must confront his unstable feelings for his overbearing father as murder and mayhem pursue him. Ahmad oscillates between the 1940s and 1960s, evoking a culture rooted in tradition but teetering in modernity, the way patriarchy imprisons both men and women, its “shadows cast by the looming kothas…those dark, crumbling buildings” .
girl in ice creamby Erica Ferencik
In Ferencik’s supple and dazzling novel, Val Chesterfield, a Massachusetts linguist with a passion for dead Norse languages, stumbles into a perilous arctic maze that swings back and forth to her own troubled psyche. A climatologist from northern Greenland entrusts Val with an inexplicable enigma: he has dug up a 15-year-old girl…living– from a crevasse of ice, stammering in fragments and sentences that do not resemble any speech on earth. Struck with the fear of flying but armed with Ativan, Val makes the journey to the same freezing camp where her twin brother committed suicide – or did he? As the pieces fit together, she finds herself on the edge of an ominous arctic twilight, yearning for connection and her comfort zone: “I felt safer in my office, alone with my books, charts, my runic symbols and my old texts; and when I deciphered a piece of language – even a word! – a shiver of understanding made my back shake. The distance between me and another human being, just for this moment, has been erased.
Like a sisterby Kelly Garrett
Lights, camera, corpse: When Desiree Pierce, a 25-year-old black reality TV star, is found dead on a Bronx playground, everyone is quick to dismiss her as an overdose, victim of her own self-destructive impulses. But his half-sister, Lena Scott, thinks otherwise, dodging a phalanx of complacent investigators and Mel, their larger-than-life father, a hip-hop entrepreneur — and putting himself in danger. Garrett’s tense novel depicts the pomp of the haves and the struggles of the have-nots in a New York divided along race and class lines, infusing classic black storytelling with Big Apple glamor and buzzing texts and tweets – #pageturner.
Cartographersby Peng Shepherd
Reminiscent of the work of Dan Brown, Shepherd’s absorbing and inventive second novel showcases the art of cartography as a young woman’s obsession puts her in the crosshairs of a determined killer. Nell idolizes her father, Dr. Daniel Young, a legendary cartographer; but a painful separation erupts after they bicker over a cheap gas station card. When he is later found dead at his desk in the New York Public Library, Nell realizes the map is a valuable rarity, a portal to a world not found in any atlas. Her quest for the truth takes her upstate and to a “little ghost town…the secret that hides there.” How can an entire community just slip off the grid and disappear? Shepherd plays skillfully with the known unknowns, how we navigate the dark roads of the heart
Love of my lifeby Rosie Walsh
Specters in the light of Daphne du Maurier’s work permeate this brooding, nuanced tale as the talented Walsh — a recent Good Morning America Book Club pick — questions why we cheat on those we love. To the outside world, Leo and Emma look like a happily married London couple with unusual but satisfying jobs: she’s a marine biologist while he writes obituaries. Together they adore their young daughter, Ruby. But lymphoma stalks Emma and her family; clinic visits and uncertain prognoses erode the pastel facade of their lives. All it takes is the passing gravitational pull of a stranger to destabilize them. And when Leo writes his wife’s obituary…In case—his research leads to mortifying questions: who is this woman who claims to be his wife? Why is she barnacled in secrets?
The fieldsby Erin Young
We all know the trope, or think we know it: a woman in her twenties is found dead in a cornfield, and the investigator recognizes the victim as a childhood friend. But as sure as Easttown Mare has brilliantly changed the format of police procedural, just like Erin Young in his gripping, lean-limbed new novel, the first in a series. The cunning and sharp-eyed Sergeant Riley Fisher pursues a would-be serial killer in an Iowa county caught between the ambitions of Big Agriculture and failing family farms. Young’s plot ignites like a prairie fire as the body count mounts and Riley’s own past bursts into the present, testing his instincts crime scene after crime scene, “bursts of amber light springing from waterways and wetlands, home to deer and turtles, beavers, and snakes.
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