The 12 Most Popular Books of May

May 31 2022
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The one thing all of these most popular May books have in common? They’re page-turners! Every single one of them. Clearly, as we head into summer, readers are ready to escape into their bookcations, and these immersive books reflect it, from murder mystery thrillers to charming summer reads. 

The It Girl
by Ruth Ware

Sara’s Pick #1: Who doesn’t love a good thrill from the queen of dark mysteries herself? In Ruth Ware’s latest book, we follow Hannah Jones, a soon-to-be mother who gets an unexpected call from a journalist. Back in Hannah’s university days, her friend April was murdered, with their porter being charged for the crime and locked away. But new evidence comes to light that the porter may have been innocent, and it could have been one of April’s friends, including Hannah and her husband, Will, who killed her in cold blood. A dark academia murder mystery, THE IT GIRL will have you wondering just how well you know your closest friends. Publication Date: July 12

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The It Girl
Ruth Ware

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the “claustrophobic spine-tingler” (People) One by One returns with an unputdownable mystery following a woman on the search for answers a decade after her friend’s murder.

April Clarke-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford.

Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the second, April was dead.

Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide…including a murder.

“The Agatha Christie of our generation” (David Baldacci, #1 New York Times bestselling author) proves once again that she is “as ingenious and indefatigable as the Queen of Crime” (The Washington Post) with this propulsive murder mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

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The Lake House
by Kate Morton

THE LAKE HOUSE by Kate Morton has a different tie to the land than the others on this list. When Alice Edevane’s young brother, Theo, goes missing on the family estate, her family falls apart and they abandon the Edevane estate. When Detective Sadie Sparrow comes across the estate decades later, she is enchanted by the crumbling grounds, but even more so by the secrets she finds there. Morton brings the wilds of Cornwall’s coast and the untamed beauty of the English countryside to life.

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The Lake House
Kate Morton

Filled with mystery and spellbinding secrets, this novel is the perfect escape. Alice Edevane is only 16 years old when her 11-month-old brother vanishes from her family’s idyllic lakeside estate. Decades later, a detective stumbles upon the now crumbling estate and uncovers shocking truths about a past long gone ... yet more present than ever.

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Deep Water
by Emma Bamford

It’s your dream classic vacation: you and your partner throw all of your life savings into a lavish yacht to explore the world’s most exotic lands during your honeymoon. At least that’s what Jake and Virginie had in mind in Emma Bamford’s dazzling debut, DEEP WATER. That is until arriving at what they thought was an island of pristine, isolated beaches on a remote island, only to find they’re not alone. Filled with expat sailors and secrets, the island is more nightmare than dream as the couple describe to Danial Tengku, captain of a Navy vessel that finds the yacht and its passengers in distress, confessing to a collection of murders. It’s then up to Captain Tengku and his crew to uncover what exactly happened and whether Virginie’s claim to have “killed them all” is a story that holds any water. And do so before the Navy vessel’s crew become part of the island’s murderous mysteries themselves. With propulsive writing and thrilling twists and turns, DEEP WATER is the perfect escape to keep you on the edge of your seat until the final page.

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Deep Water
Emma Bamford

The dark side of paradise is exposed when a terrified couple reveals their daunting experience on a remote island to their rescuers—only to realize they’re still in the grips of the island’s secrets—in this intense and startling debut in the tradition of Into the Jungle and The Ruins.

When a Navy vessel comes across a yacht in distress in the middle of the vast Indian Ocean, Captain Danial Tengku orders his ship to rush to its aid. On board the yacht is a British couple: a horribly injured man, Jake, and his traumatized wife, Virginie, who breathlessly confesses, “It’s all my fault. I killed them.”

Trembling with fear, she reveals their shocking story to Danial. Months earlier, the couple had spent all their savings on a yacht, full of excitement for exploring the high seas and exotic lands together. They start at the busy harbors of Malaysia and, through word of mouth, Jake and Virginie learn about a tiny, isolated island full of unspoiled beaches. When they arrive, they discover they are not the only visitors and quickly become entangled with a motley crew of expat sailors. Soon, Jake and Virginie’s adventurous dream turns into a terrifying nightmare.

Now, it’s up to Danial to determine just how much truth there is in Virginie’s alarming tale. But when his crew make a shocking discovery, he realizes that if he doesn’t act soon, they could all fall under the dark spell of the island.

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The Lying Game
by Ruth Ware

The morning after something sinister washes up on the ocean shores near their boarding school, three women in and around London receive the very text message they’ve been dreading since their dubious expulsion. “I need you,” it reads, from Kate, the fourth girl they used to be inseparable from during their school days. Raw and all-consuming, THE LYING GAME sees the potentially life-threatening outcomes of abetting deceit and keeping the wrong secrets. Sink into this atmospheric psychological thriller before Ware’s latest, THE IT GIRL, comes out this July!

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The Lying Game
Ruth Ware

Praise for Ruth Ware’s instant New York Times, USA TODAY, and Los Angeles Times bestseller:

“So many questions....Until the very last page! Needless to say, I could not put this book down!” —Reese Witherspoon

“Once again the author of The Woman in Cabin 10 delivers mega-chills.” —People

“Missing Big Little Lies? Dig into this psychological thriller about whether you can really trust your nearest and dearest.” —Cosmopolitan

From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10 comes a chilling new novel of friendship, secrets, and the dangerous games teenaged girls play.

On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten, along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister…

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isa—receive the text they had always hoped would never come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second-rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty. But their little game had consequences, and as the four converge in present-day Salten, they realize their shared past was not as safely buried as they had once hoped…

Atmospheric, twisty, and with just the right amount of chill to keep you wrong-footed, The Lying Game is told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, lending itself to becoming another unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

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The Night She Disappeared
by Lisa Jewell

In this twisted psychological thriller from New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell, a writer stumbles upon a new clue in an old cold case. No one knows what happened to the young woman and her boyfriend who, after a party at a friend’s estate one year ago, disappeared in the woods known as the Dark Place. But when a writer moves into a nearby cottage and finds a note reading simply “Dig Here,” she uncovers more than one secret that’s been buried for years.

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The Night She Disappeared
Lisa Jewell

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone comes “her best thriller yet” (Harlan Coben, New York Times bestselling author) about a young couple’s disappearance on a gorgeous summer night, and the mother who will never give up trying to find them.

On a beautiful summer night in a charming English suburb, a young woman and her boyfriend disappear after partying at the massive country estate of a new college friend.

One year later, a writer moves into a cottage on the edge of the woods that border the same estate. Known locally as the Dark Place, the dense forest is the writer’s favorite place for long walks and it’s on one such walk that she stumbles upon a mysterious note that simply reads, “DIG HERE.”

Could this be a clue towards what has happened to the missing young couple? And what exactly is buried in this haunted ground?

“Utterly gripping with richly drawn, hugely compelling characters, this is a first-class thriller with heart” (Lucy Foley, New York Times bestselling author) that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

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The Summer Place
by Jennifer Weiner

Ariele’s Pick: THE SUMMER PLACE embodies what Jennifer Weiner does best: she writes about families, motherhood, and growing up and finding your own way with empathy and humor. There’s grief and joy and death, because everyone went through something during the two-plus years we have been grappling with Covid—but somehow Weiner turned the pain of losing her mother, her father-in-law, and her beloved dog, one after the next after the next, into inspiration for a fictional tale that is compelling and relatable and, somehow, full of warmth. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the delicious food and vibrant beach scenes that add to the transporting quality of Weiner’s work! THE SUMMER PLACE will transport you to Cape Cod and summer vibes—and will also teach you to embrace life’s many twists and turns with open arms and a wink. 

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The Summer Place
Jennifer Weiner

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of That Summer comes another heartfelt and unputdownable novel of family, secrets, and the ties that bind.

When her twenty-two-year-old stepdaughter announces her engagement to her pandemic boyfriend, Sarah Danhauser is shocked. But the wheels are in motion. Headstrong Ruby has already set a date (just three months away!) and spoken to her beloved safta, Sarah’s mother Veronica, about having the wedding at the family’s beach house in Cape Cod. Sarah might be worried, but Veronica is thrilled to be bringing the family together one last time before putting the big house on the market.

But the road to a wedding day usually comes with a few bumps. Ruby has always known exactly what she wants, but as the wedding date approaches, she finds herself grappling with the wounds left by the mother who walked out when she was a baby. Veronica ends up facing unexpected news, thanks to her meddling sister, and must revisit the choices she made long ago, when she was a bestselling novelist with a different life. Sarah’s twin brother, Sam, is recovering from a terrible loss, and confronting big questions about who he is—questions he hopes to resolve during his stay on the Cape. Sarah’s husband, Eli, who’s been inexplicably distant during the pandemic, confronts the consequences of a long ago lapse from his typical good-guy behavior. And Sarah, frustrated by her husband, concerned about her stepdaughter, and worn out by challenges of life during quarantine, faces the alluring reappearance of someone from her past and a life that could have been.

When the wedding day arrives, lovers are revealed as their true selves, misunderstandings take on a life of their own, and secrets come to light. There are confrontations and revelations that will touch each member of the extended family, ensuring that nothing will ever be the same.

From “the undisputed boss of the beach read” (The New York Times), The Summer Place is a testament to family in all its messy glory; a story about what we sacrifice and how we forgive. Enthralling, witty, big-hearted, and sharply observed, this is Jennifer Weiner’s love letter to the Outer Cape and the power of home, the way our lives are enriched by the people we call family, and the endless ways love can surprise us.

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Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
by Matthew Sullivan

A bookstore actually creates the ideal atmosphere for a mystery. Answers hide in plain sight among the rows and rows of titles, and readers must put together the puzzle pieces of the who, what, when, and why of each query to find the answer. Yet bookseller Lydia Smith finds herself in a much more troubling puzzle upon discovering Joey, one of her favorite customers, dead among the Bright Ideas stacks.

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Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
Matthew Sullivan

When a bookshop patron commits suicide, his favorite store clerk must unravel the puzzle he left behind in this “intriguingly dark, twisty” (Kirkus Reviews) debut novel from an award-winning short story writer.

Lydia Smith lives her life hiding in plain sight. A clerk at the Bright Ideas bookstore, she keeps a meticulously crafted existence among her beloved books, eccentric colleagues, and the BookFrogs—the lost and lonely regulars who spend every day marauding the store’s overwhelmed shelves.

But when Joey Molina, a young, beguiling BookFrog, kills himself in the bookstore’s upper room, Lydia’s life comes unglued. Always Joey’s favorite bookseller, Lydia has been bequeathed his meager worldly possessions. Trinkets and books; the detritus of a lonely, uncared for man. But when Lydia flips through his books she finds them defaced in ways both disturbing and inexplicable. They reveal the psyche of a young man on the verge of an emotional reckoning. And they seem to contain a hidden message. What did Joey know? And what does it have to do with Lydia?

As Lydia untangles the mystery of Joey’s suicide, she unearths a long buried memory from her own violent childhood. Details from that one bloody night begin to circle back. Her distant father returns to the fold, along with an obsessive local cop, and the Hammerman, a murderer who came into Lydia’s life long ago and, as she soon discovers, never completely left. “Both charming and challenging” (Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review), Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is a “multi-generational tale of abandonment, desperation, and betrayal…inventive and intricately plotted” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).

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The Eyes of the Queen
by Oliver Clements

Based on the true story of John Dee—scientist, alchemist, and advisor to Queen Elizabeth I—this gripping historical thriller traces the beginning of England’s intelligence gathering. Together with his queen, Dee must face her enemies before they destroy the new Age of Enlightenment and the rising British Empire in 1572.

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The Eyes of the Queen
Oliver Clements

“[A] rollicking new historical thriller…taut, made-for-movie-theater tension and delicious, snickering-from-the-back-row wit.” —New York Times Book Review

In this first novel of the exhilarating Agents of the Crown series, a man who will become the original MI6 agent protects England and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I from Spain’s nefarious plan to crush the Age of the Enlightenment.

After centuries locked in an endless cycle of poverty, persecution, and barbarity, Europe has finally emerged into the Age of Enlightenment. Scientists, philosophers, scholars, and poets alike believe this to be a new era of reason and hope for all. But the forces of darkness haven’t completely dissipated, as Spain hunts and butchers any who dare to defy its ironclad Catholic orthodoxy.

Only one nation can fight the black shadow that threatens this new age, and that is Britain, now ruled by a brilliant young Queen Elizabeth I. But although she may be brave and headstrong, Elizabeth knows she cannot win this war simply by force of arms. After her armies have been slashed in half, her treasury is on its knees. Elizabeth needs a new kind of weapon forged to fight a new kind of war, in which stealth and secrecy, not bloodshed, are the means.

In this tense situation, Her Majesty’s Secret Service is born with the charismatic John Dee at its head. A scholar, a soldier, and an alchemist, Dee is loyal only to the truth and to his Queen. And for her, the woman he’s forbidden from loving, he is prepared to risk his life.

A visceral and heart-pumping historical thriller, The Eyes of the Queen is perfect for fans of Ken Follett and Dan Brown.

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The Foundling
by Ann Leary

Sharon’s Pick:  Based on a true story from the author’s family history, Ann Leary’s THE FOUNDLING is a poignant and gripping story of two childhood best friends who reconnect as employee and inmate at the most acclaimed women’s asylum in 1927 Pennsylvania. A deft examination of the eugenics movement of the early 20th century through the lens of an unbreakable female friendship, THE FOUNDLING will stay with you long after you finish the final page. 

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The Foundling
Ann Leary

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Good House, the story of two friends, raised in the same orphanage, whose loyalty is put to the ultimate test when they meet years later at a controversial institution—one as an employee; the other, an inmate.

It’s 1927 and eighteen-year-old Mary Engle is hired to work as a secretary at a remote but scenic institution for mentally disabled women called the Nettleton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing Age. She’s immediately in awe of her employer—brilliant, genteel Dr. Agnes Vogel.

Dr. Vogel had been the only woman in her class in medical school. As a young psychiatrist she was an outspoken crusader for women’s suffrage. Now, at age forty, Dr. Vogel runs one of the largest and most self-sufficient public asylums for women in the country. Mary deeply admires how dedicated the doctor is to the poor and vulnerable women under her care.

Soon after she’s hired, Mary learns that a girl from her childhood orphanage is one of the inmates. Mary remembers Lillian as a beautiful free spirit with a sometimes-tempestuous side. Could she be mentally disabled? When Lillian begs Mary to help her escape, alleging the asylum is not what it seems, Mary is faced with a terrible choice. Should she trust her troubled friend with whom she shares a dark childhood secret? Mary’s decision triggers a hair-raising sequence of events with life-altering consequences for all.

Inspired by a true story about the author’s grandmother, The Foundling offers a rare look at a shocking chapter of American history. This gripping page-turner will have readers on the edge of their seats right up to the stunning last page…asking themselves, “Did this really happen here?”

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The Sweetest Days
by John Hough

Pete and Jackie Hatch have been together for decades; they were high school sweethearts, although they didn’t marry until years after an explosive incident at the end of senior year broke them apart. Now in their sixties, with their only daughter grown and facing scary news about Jackie’s health, they travel to their Cape Cod hometown for Pete’s first book signing. But a disastrous encounter with an old schoolmate brings their long marriage to the breaking point and forces them to revisit the long-ago event that changed the trajectory of their lives.

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The Sweetest Days
John Hough

A riveting and poignant portrait of marriage—lauded by New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand as “gorgeous and heartbreaking”—that explores the long union of a middle-aged couple grappling with secrets, illness, and loyalty.

Pete and Jackie Hatch have been together for decades; they were high school sweethearts, although they didn’t marry until years after an explosive incident at the end of senior year broke them apart. Now in their sixties, with their only daughter grown and facing scary news about Jackie’s health, they travel to their Cape Cod hometown for Pete’s first book signing. But a disastrous encounter with an old schoolmate brings their long marriage to the breaking point and forces them to revisit the long-ago event that changed the trajectory of their lives.

Exceptionally moving and heralded by New York Times bestselling author Mary Beth Keane as “brutally honest and true,” The Sweetest Days is an insightful portrait of a couple in it for the long haul, and of the deepest feelings, both tender and fierce, that are held in the wake of an enduring marriage.

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The Sisters of Versailles
by Sally Christie

Passion, politics, and palace intrigue are a family affair in this lush novel about the famous Nesle sisters—four of whom would become mistresses of France’s King Louis XV. THE SISTERS OF VERSAILLES is a vivid look at how sex was (and still is) used to exact control over a monarch, and how even the bonds of sisterhood may not be strong enough to withstand the grandeur of Versailles.

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The Sisters of Versailles
Sally Christie

Were you scandalized by Madame Nesle de la Tourelle’s costumes at Louis XV’s Versailles? Would you be surprised to learn that four of her sisters were also mistresses to the king? Sally Christie reimagines the lush Versailles court in all its excesses and offers up a complex exploration of power and sisterhood.

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Such a Quiet Place
by Megan Miranda

Molly says: A member of my book club requested we read a thriller this month, and I was quick to suggest Megan Miranda. It was the perfect opportunity to read an author whose work I’ve long heard great things about. We selected her most recent novel, SUCH A QUIET PLACE, about a tight-knit community rocked by the murder of two of their neighbors a year prior. The convicted murderer? One of their own, Ruby Fletcher. But now Ruby’s conviction has been overturned and she’s returned to the neighborhood for reasons unknown. Suspicion spreads and the perceived safety of their neighborhood is threatened once again. SUCH A QUIET PLACE was a slow burn at first, but I ripped through the back half of the book like wildfire. In addition to its surprising twists and turns, I also thought it provided an interesting commentary on the popularity of true crime and people’s misplaced confidence as amateur detectives. I look forward to reading Megan Miranda’s other books!

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Such a Quiet Place
Megan Miranda

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Last House Guest—a Reese Witherspoon Book Club selection—comes a new riveting suspense novel about a mysterious murder in an idyllic and close-knit neighborhood.

We had no warning that she’d come back.

Hollow’s Edge used to be a quiet place. A private and idyllic neighborhood where neighbors dropped in on neighbors, celebrated graduation and holiday parties together, and looked out for one another. But then came the murder of Brandon and Fiona Truett. A year and a half later, Hollow’s Edge is simmering. The residents are trapped, unable to sell their homes, confronted daily by the empty Truett house, and suffocated by their trial testimonies that implicated one of their own. Ruby Fletcher. And now, Ruby’s back.

With her conviction overturned, Ruby waltzes right back to Hollow’s Edge, and into the home she once shared with Harper Nash. Harper, five years older, has always treated Ruby like a wayward younger sister. But now she’s terrified. What possible good could come of Ruby returning to the scene of the crime? And how can she possibly turn her away, when she knows Ruby has nowhere to go?

Within days, suspicion spreads like a virus across Hollow’s Edge. It’s increasingly clear that not everyone told the truth about the night of the Truett’s murders. And when Harper begins receiving threatening notes, she realizes she has to uncover the truth before someone else becomes the killer’s next victim.

Pulsating with suspense and with the shocking twists that are Megan Miranda’s trademark, Such a Quiet Place is Megan Miranda’s best novel yet—a twisty locked-box thriller that will keep you turning pages late into the night.

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