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10 Atmospheric Thrillers Perfect for a Rainy Spring Day

March 29 2023
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Heavy gray skies, sodden ground, and air thick with the promise of a shower can mean only one thing: a rainy spring. When you find yourself trapped indoors this month with rain pattering the windows, make sure you’ve got one of these rich, atmospheric thrillers to match the mood. By turns pulse-pounding, complexly plotted, and emotionally nuanced, these books have more than just suspense to offer. Most of all, they’ve got lush, haunting, and cinematic settings—from the harsh, isolated coasts of Iceland to the tangled and humid swamps of Louisiana—that will transport you far away from the familiar comfort of home.

The Only Survivors
by Megan Miranda

It’s been a decade since the devastating van crash that killed many high school seniors and their teachers. The nine surviving students try to move on, but after one of them commits suicide, the other eight agree to meet up at a house on the Outer Banks every year to commemorate the event, keep each other safe, and hold each other accountable. But this year is different. Just before Cassidy breaks her ties with the group, another survivor dies. Then the reunion’s organizer, Amaya, goes missing as a storm brews, whipping up new anxieties . . . and old suspicions.

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The Only Survivors
Megan Miranda

From the New York Times bestselling author of All the Missing Girls and “master of suspense, Megan Miranda” (Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl), a thrilling mystery about a group of former classmates who reunite to mark the tenth anniversary of a tragic accident—only to have one of the survivors disappear, casting fear and suspicion on the original tragedy.

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Burial Rites
by Hannah Kent

In 1800s Iceland, servant Agnes Magnúsdóttir has been charged with the brutal murder of her master and is sent to an isolated farm to await her execution. While the local family avoids her at first, Agnes finds some companionship in Tóti, a priest who seeks to understand her soul. Soon, the family also begins to see another side to the sensational story that has condemned her. Based on the true story of the last woman put to death in Iceland, BURIAL RITES is a devastatingly beautiful tale about the circumstances that constrain us.

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Burial Rites
Hannah Kent

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Rowing in Eden
by Barbara Rogan

Old Wickham looks like a place out of a Norman Rockwell painting: an idyllic small town in Upstate New York. But beneath its pastoral exterior, its foundation is crumbling from long-held prejudices and tensions. As a string of unexplained fires stokes old furies, the back room of the country store is the site of a Greek chorus of gossip and anger. Meanwhile, local resident Sam and troubled teen Peter have dark secrets from their past that torment their souls. In a place set to blow, it’s only a matter of time before someone lights a match.

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Rowing in Eden
Barbara Rogan

ROWING IN EDENSam is not the only tormented soul in the tiny upstate village of Old Wickham. There's also Peter Quinn, a brilliant, troubled fourteen-year-old with quick fists, no past, and a truckload of attitude. Although a judge found him innocent, Peter knows better. Some things, he figures, "it don't matter why you did 'em, only that you did 'em."
On its surface, Old Wickham, New York, is a Norman Rockwell montage of red-cheeked youngsters skating on ponds, dogs frolicking in the snow, and villagers huddled around wood-burning stoves. Yet someone in this idyllic community has been setting fires. Suspicions divide the village along the usual fault lines. Scapegoats are sought, outsiders shunned. The back room of the country store gives rise to a Greek chorus of collective rage. In this crucible of distrust, unlooked for alliances are forged, old alliances are tested, and no one emerges unchanged.
Alice Hoffman hails Barbara Rogan as a "masterful story teller." The New York Times praises her as a passionate writer whose prose is "as vivid as lightning bolts." Now, with Rowing in Eden, a morally complex story about friendship, love, marriage, and family -- in other words, all the things that matter most -- Barbara Rogan not only fulfills but generously exceeds the expectations of fans and reviewers alike.

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Black Water Rising
by Attica Locke

It’s 1981 in Houston, Texas, and Jay Porter is content to run his backdoor law firm out of a worn-down strip mall if it means keeping his past a secret. But one night, after impulsively saving a drowning woman, Jay finds himself trapped in her world of corruption. Her secrets put him at risk, and soon he is uncovering a labyrinthine mystery that leads to the highest levels of Houston’s corporate powers. Subtle and cinematic, BLACK WATER RISING is a nuanced mystery about greed and racial justice.

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Black Water Rising
Attica Locke

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Where Are the Children?
by Mary Higgins Clark

America’s beloved Queen of Suspense, Mary Higgins Clark, started her stellar career with Where Are the Children?, an unforgettable tale of revenge. Years ago, Nancy was found guilty of murdering her two children but was released on a technicality. Eager to start over, Nancy changed her identity and settled down in Cape Cod, where she’s since remarried and had two children. But soon a newspaper article runs in her small town, outing her secret. Then, her children disappear from the front yard, leaving Nancy the prime suspect . . . or the target of a long-festering grudge.

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Where Are the Children?
Mary Higgins Clark

The #1 New York Times bestselling author and Queen of Suspense launched her career with this “indescribably suspenseful” (San Francisco Chronicle) classic thriller following a woman whose past holds a terrible secret.

Nancy Harmon long ago fled the heartbreak of her first marriage, the macabre deaths of her two little children, and the shocking charges against her. She changed her name, dyed her hair, and left California for the windswept peace of Cape Cod. Now remarried, she has two more beloved children, and the terrible pain has begun to heal—until the morning when she looks in the backyard for her little boy and girl and finds only one red mitten. She knows that the nightmare is beginning again...

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Night Film
by Marisha Pessl

In this inventively nightmarish thriller perfect for fans of Stephen King novels and David Lynch films, one veteran reporter falls down a surrealist rabbit hole to try to unravel the mystery of an infamous filmmaker’s dark family legacy. After the young and beautiful Ashley Cordova, daughter to the mysterious horror cult director Stanislas Cordova, is found dead in a warehouse in Manhattan, Scott McGrath is convinced that foul play is to blame. But to solve the crime, McGrath with have to dive headfirst into Cordova’s horrifically hypnotic world and risk everything he holds dear.

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Night Film
Marisha Pessl

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The Heavens Rise
by Christopher Rice

In this chilling coming-of-age novel, Niquette Delongpre is the only one left alive who knows the truth behind the disappearance of her family—and the sudden appearance of her newfound destructive abilities. The answer to both lives at the bottom of a long-hidden well that her father and his workers uncovered in his search to transform a haunted strip of Louisiana swampland into a home. There, a parasite was unleashed that has the potential to destroy the world, and soon Niquette and her friends learn that she isn’t the only one already infected.

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The Heavens Rise
Christopher Rice

From New York Times bestselling author Christopher Rice: Three friends confront a deadly, ancient evil rising to the surface in a “masterful coming-of-age novel” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).

It’s been a decade since the Delongpre family vanished, and still no one can explain the events of that dark and sweltering night. No one except Niquette Delongpre, who left behind her best friends, Ben and Anthem, to save them from her newfound capacity for destruction… She alone knows the source of her very bizarre—and very deadly—abilities: an isolated strip of swampland called Elysium.

Niquette’s father dreamed of transforming the dense acreage surrounded by murky waters into a palatial compound befitting the name his beloved wife gave to it, Elysium: “the final resting place for the heroic and virtuous.” Then, construction workers dug into a long-hidden well, one that snaked down into the deep, black waters of the Louisiana swamp and stirred something that had been there for centuries—a microscopic parasite that perverts the mind and corrupts the body.

Niquette is living proof that things done can’t be undone. Nothing will put her family back together again. But as Niquette, Ben, and Anthem uncover the truth of a devastating parasite that has the potential to alter the future of humankind, Niquette grasps the most chilling truths of all: someone else has been infected too. And unlike her, this man is not content to live in the shadows. He is intent to use his newfound powers for one reason only: revenge.

“Creepy, chilling, and almost impossible to put down” (Booklist), The Heavens Rise is an intense and atmospheric supernatural thriller about the shadowed terrors of the Louisiana bayou.

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Please See Us
by Caitlin Mullen

Atlantic City: filled with casino lights, sleezy motels, and deadly secrets. Clara, a young woman paying rent with tarot readings on the boardwalk, begins having some real and disturbing visions that she is convinced are linked to the recent disappearances of local women. When Clara meets Lily, a woman working at a casino spa and hiding from her past, she’s convinced Lily can help her solve these crimes. But first they’ll have to avoid attracting attention from an unwanted source in this beautifully complex novel about the women our society tries hard not to see.

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Please See Us
Caitlin Mullen

In this sophisticated, suspenseful debut reminiscent of Laura Lippman and Megan Miranda, two young women become unlikely friends during one fateful summer in Atlantic City as mysterious disappearances hit dangerously close to home.

Summer has come to Atlantic City but the boardwalk is empty of tourists, the casino lights have dimmed, and two Jane Does are laid out in the marshland behind the Sunset Motel, just west of town. Only one person even knows they’re there.

Meanwhile, Clara, a young boardwalk psychic, struggles to attract clients for the tarot readings that pay her rent. When she begins to experience very real and disturbing visions, she suspects they could be related to the recent cases of women gone missing in town. When Clara meets Lily, an ex-Soho art gallery girl who is working at a desolate casino spa and reeling from a personal tragedy, she thinks Lily may be able to help her. But Lily has her own demons to face.

If they can put the pieces together in time, they may save another lost girl—so long as their efforts don’t attract perilous attention first. Can they break the ill-fated cycle, or will they join the other victims?

A “beautifully written, thoughtful page-turner” (Chloe Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Immortalists), Please See Us is an evocative and compelling psychological thriller that explores the intersection of womanhood, power, and violence.

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Little Cruelties
by Liz Nugent

In her razor-sharp, Patricia Highsmith–ian prose, Liz Nugent offers a slow-burn thriller set in Dublin about the darkness that infects our most childish desires. William, Brian, and Luke are brothers, born only a year apart. And like most brothers, they like to play games with and pranks on each other. But these games have an edge to them. Spurred on by their charming and toxic mother, the boys have been trained to compete with one another for her love. Soon, what seemed like preteen fun and games inevitably takes a deadly turn.

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Little Cruelties
Liz Nugent

From the internationally bestselling author of Lying in Wait, a biting and masterful new “dark jewel of a novel” (A.J. Finn, #1New York Times bestselling author) that explores the many ways families can wreak emotional havoc across generations, appealing to fans of HBO’s acclaimed series Succession.

All three of the Drumm brothers were at the funeral.

But one of them was in the coffin.

William, Brian, and Luke: three boys, born a year apart, trained from birth by their wily mother to compete for her attention. They play games, as brothers do…yet even after the Drumms escape into the world beyond their windows, those games—those little cruelties—grow more sinister, more merciless, and more dangerous. And with their lives entwined like the strands of a noose, only two of the brothers will survive.

Hailed by New York Times bestselling author Shari Lapena as “brilliant, engrossing,” and perfect for fans of breathtaking suspense, Little Cruelties gazes unflinchingly into the darkness collecting in the corners of childhood homes, hiding beneath marriage beds, clasped in the palms of two brothers shaking hands. And it confirms that Liz Nugent is truly “a force to be reckoned with” (Lisa Jewell, New York Times bestselling author) in contemporary fiction.

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The Levee
by William Kent Krueger

In this original audio novella, a devastating flood threatens more than just lives. In 1927, one of the largest floods in American history has already begun swelling the Mississippi River, trapping one family behind the walls of their ancestral home. A crew of four—three convicts forced into service and a leader with unknown motives—fights their way through the current to the house, but upon arriving they find a family divided about if they should leave . . . or protect the place they love against all the odds.

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The Levee
William Kent Krueger

An audio original novella from the bestselling author of Ordinary Grace and This Tender Land, The Levee is a powerful, captivating story of a family, a storm, a complicated rescue, and the true cost of survival.

It’s 1927, and the most devastating flood in American history has swelled the Mississippi River to a width of eighty miles. In an attempt to save a family trapped by the rising water, four men in a tiny rowboat battle the treacherous flow: three are convicts, on loan from the local prison and pressed into service; the fourth, the leader of the team, is driven by his own hidden motives. But to their surprise upon arrival at Ballymore, an ancestral home protected by a high, circular levee, not everyone in the family feels the need to be saved. Pride, greed, loyalty, and even love create their own complex currents behind the massive wall. As the threat from the flood increases and time ticks away, the crew and the family must decide on a course of action, and a desperate plan is hatched to save the weakening levee and all it was built to protect.

The Levee is a propulsive, heartfelt tale of courage, cowardice, and sacrifice in a historic moment when the indomitable human spirit is pitted against the awesome and destructive power of nature.

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Photo credit: iStock / Emilija Randjelovic

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