The results are in for the Most Popular Books of April, and these top reads are as delightful and refreshing as the arrival of the spring season. Check out which books topped the list and which other genres your fellow readers are enjoying as well!
You know what The Great British Bake Off needs? Murder. In THE GOLDEN SPOON, six lucky contestants head up to the estate of celebrated baker Betsy Martin each year to prove they are the best of the best on TV. In such a stressful situation, it seems inevitable that someone was going to get the axe, literally. After a body is found bleeding all over a cake, the six bakers turn their suspicions on each other, trying to figure out which one of their colleagues is not as sugar-sweet as they seem. A locked-room mystery in the middle of a TV show, THE GOLDEN SPOON has the kind of mayhem and madness everyone with a fine palate can appreciate (and probably would be a lot of fun to read at a cafe!).
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“This delicious combination of Clue and The Great British Bakeoff kept me turning the pages all night!” —Janet Evanovich, #1 New York Times bestselling author
Only Murders in the Building meets The Maid in this darkly beguiling locked-room mystery where someone turns up dead on the set of TV’s hottest baking competition—perfect for fans of Nita Prose, Richard Osman, and Anthony Horowitz.
Every summer for the past ten years, six awe-struck bakers have descended on the grounds of Grafton, the leafy and imposing Vermont estate that is not only the filming site for “Bake Week” but also the childhood home of the show’s famous host, celebrated baker Betsy Martin.
The author of numerous bestselling cookbooks and hailed as “America’s Grandmother,” Betsy Martin isn’t as warm off-screen as on, though no one needs to know that but her. She has always demanded perfection, and gotten it with a smile, but this year something is off. As the baking competition commences, things begin to go awry. At first, it’s merely sabotage—sugar replaced with salt, a burner turned to high—but when a body is discovered, everyone is a suspect.
A sharp and suspenseful thriller for mystery buffs and avid bakers alike, The Golden Spoon is a brilliant puzzle filled with shocking twists and turns that will keep you reading late into the night until you turn the very last page of this incredible debut.
It’s not often that a Goodreads review convinces me (I use it more to find similar opinions after I’ve finished the book), but popular Goodreads reviewer Emily May wrote a rave review of STRANGE SALLY DIAMOND where she said, “I’d be very surprised if this doesn’t end up being one of the most popular books of 2023,” and that was all I needed to get me to pick up this book. That and the fact that I just so happened to magically find a galley in the office within the same week. Sally Diamond is a recluse, dealing with trauma from her past, who emerges from her isolated Ireland home when curious messages from a stranger arrive. As she journeys onward, the world reveals itself in all its beauty and darkness—she finds friends and enemies, learns how to trust, and uncovers secrets of her past and the strangers that are quickly adding up and entering her life.
The internationally bestselling author of the “dark, captivating psychological thriller” (People) Lying in Wait returns with a wickedly dark, twisted, and brilliantly observed new novel about an enigmatic woman confronting her unknown past.
Reclusive Sally Diamond causes outrage by trying to incinerate her dead father. Now she’s the center of attention, not only from the hungry media and police detectives, but also a sinister voice from a past she does not remember. As she begins to discover the horrors of her early childhood, Sally steps into the world for the first time, making new friends, big decisions, and learning that people don’t always mean what they say.
But who is the man observing Sally from the other side of the world, and why does he call her Mary? And why does her new neighbor seem to be obsessed with her? Sally’s trust issues are about to be severely challenged…
BEFORE YOU KNEW MY NAME is a great pick for book clubs that love crime fiction. This gripping, beautifully written novel is about two women who move to NYC to reinvent themselves. Alice is eighteen and looking to escape the troubles of her childhood. Ruby is a thirty-six-year-old Australian expat in need of a fresh start. Their worlds collide when Ruby finds Alice’s dead body near the Hudson River. Shaken, Ruby seeks closure for them both. It’s an intense read that prompts discussion about loneliness, misogyny, trauma, and the power of human connection.
Winner of Crime Debut and Readers’ Choice Awards—Sisters in Crime
“A brave and timely novel.” —Clare Mackintosh, internationally bestselling author of Hostage
This is not just another novel about a dead girl. Two women—one alive, one dead—are brought together in the dark underbelly of New York City to solve a tragic murder.
When she arrived in New York on her eighteenth birthday carrying nothing but $600 cash and a stolen camera, Alice Lee was looking for a fresh start. Now, just one month later, she is the city’s latest Jane Doe. She may be dead but that doesn’t mean her story is over.
Meanwhile, Ruby Jones is also trying to reinvent herself. After travelling halfway around the world, she’s lonelier than ever in the Big Apple. Until she stumbles upon a woman’s body by the Hudson River, and suddenly finds herself unbreakably tied to the unknown dead woman.
Alice is sure Ruby is the key to solving the mystery of her short life and tragic death. Ruby just wants to forget what she saw…but she can’t seem to stop thinking about the young woman she found. If she keeps looking, can she give this unidentified Jane Doe the ending and closure she deserves?
A “heartbreaking, beautiful, and hugely important novel” (Rosie Walsh, New York Times bestselling author), Before You Knew My Name doesn’t just wonder whodunnit—it also asks who was she? And what did she leave behind?
Mothers-in-law get a bad reputation but, for some, it’s absolutely justified. Meridia’s mother-in-law, Eva, is probably one of the worst there is, especially because she commands a swarm of bees that she frequently sics on Meridia whenever she’s in a bad mood. But this kind of abuse is nothing new to Meridia, who spent her childhood neglected by her parents, only finding company in the ghosts that haunted her house. An epic of supernatural proportions, OF BEES AND MIST blends horror, magical realism, and human drama into one unforgettable book.
Erick Setiawan's richly atmospheric debut is a beautiful, engrossing fable of three generations of women in two families; their destructive jealousies, their loves and losses, their sacrifices and deeply rooted deceptions, and their triumphs.
Of Bees and Mist is a fable of one woman's determination to overcome the haunting magic that is created by the people she loves and the oppressive secrets behind their broken lives. Raised in a sepulchral house where ghosts dwell in mirrors, Meridia spends her childhood feeling neglected and invisible. Every evening her father vanishes inside a blue mist without so much as an explanation, and her mother spends her days beheading cauliflowers in the kitchen. At sixteen, desperate to escape, Meridia marries a tenderhearted young man. Little does she suspect that his family is harboring secrets of their own. There is a grave hidden in the garden. There are two sisters groomed from birth to despise each other. And there is Eva, the formidable matriarch whose grievances swarm the air like an army of bees—the wickedest mother-in-law imaginable.
Erick Setiawan takes Meridia on a tumultuous ride of hope and heartbreak as she struggles to keep her young family together and discovers long-kept secrets about her own past as well as the shocking truths about her husband's family.
Parties are prime places for murder. Loud noises, a mass of people, all sorts of chaos — a homicide is bound to slip through the cracks. Which is exactly what happens during Nadine Walsh’s intricately planned summer garden party. But nothing ruins a get-together like a corpse in the basement, so Nadine must pull herself together and figure out who has done this, all while dealing with the numerous personal problems and secrets of her friends and family. As much a whodunit as a who died, A DEATH AT THE PARTY is proof-positive that introverts have the right idea when it comes to going out to these kinds of affairs.
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In this tense, spellbinding thriller set over the course of a single day, a woman prepares for a party that goes dreadfully wrong—for fans of Ashley Audrain and Lisa Jewell.
Nadine Walsh’s summer garden party is in full swing. The neighbors all have cocktails, the catered food is exquisite—everything’s going according to plan.
But Nadine—devoted wife, loving mother, and doting daughter—finds herself standing over a dead body in her basement while her guests clink glasses upstairs. What happened? How did it come to this?
Rewind to that morning, when Nadine is in her kitchen, making last-minute preparations before she welcomes more than a hundred guests to her home to celebrate her mother’s birthday. But her husband is of little help to her, her two grown children are consumed with their own concerns, and her mother—only her mother knows that today isn’t just a birthday party. It marks another anniversary as well.
Still, Nadine will focus just on tonight. Everyone deserves a celebration after the year they’ve had. A chance for fun. A chance to forget. But it’s hard to forget when Nadine’s head is swirling with secrets, haunting memories, and concerns about what might happen when her guests unite.
“Jeannette Walls is an absolute master at evoking time and place, and does so masterfully in a riveting narrative about the moonshine wars that took place during the Depression. Sallie Kincaid has to confront conflicts not only from rivals but from family members too as secrets rooted deep in the past may prove to be more dangerous than opposing gangs or determined minions of the law. The author not only creates unforgettable characters but also has an uncanny ability to make locale another participant in the story, as the hills and valleys of Sallie's world come alive. The result is further proof that she is a true descendant of an ancient art, that of brilliant storytelling.” —Bill Cusumano, Square Books
From Jeannette Walls, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Glass Castle, comes a riveting new novel about an indomitable young woman in Virginia during Prohibition.
Most folk thought Sallie Kincaid was a nobody who’d amount to nothing. Sallie had other plans.
Sallie Kincaid is the daughter of the biggest man in a small town, the charismatic Duke Kincaid. Born at the turn of the 20th century into a life of comfort and privilege, Sallie remembers little about her mother who died in a violent argument with the Duke. By the time she is just eight years old, the Duke has remarried and had a son, Eddie. While Sallie is her father’s daughter, sharp-witted and resourceful, Eddie is his mother’s son, timid and cerebral. When Sallie tries to teach young Eddie to be more like their father, her daredevil coaching leads to an accident, and Sallie is cast out.
Nine years later, she returns, determined to reclaim her place in the family. That’s a lot more complicated than Sallie expected, and she enters a world of conflict and lawlessness. Sallie confronts the secrets and scandals that hide in the shadows of the Big House, navigates the factions in the family and town, and finally comes into her own as a bold, sometimes reckless bootlegger.
You will fall in love with Sallie Kincaid, a feisty and fearless, terrified and damaged young woman who refuses to be corralled.
Many times in gothic novels, a place calls to a character. For Libby Snow, the protagonist of WOMEN OF THE DUNES, that place is Ullaness. Named for the eighth-century Norsewoman at the center of a story of feuding siblings, the land belongs to the Sturrock family, and the tale of Ulla has been haunting them ever since. They hope it might be put to rest as Libby, an archaeologist, sets out to excavate a strange dune—only to have her mission derailed when a storm reveals the remains of a century-old man. What other dark tales plague the Sturrocks, and how is Libby’s family history intertwined? You’ll just have to read on to find out.
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Kingfisher is a master at weird and truly bizarre, and THE HOLLOW PLACES as a wonderful blend of fantasy and horror does not disappoint. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always dreamed of stumbling upon a magical doorway or a portal into another universe. This, however, has me second-guessing that desire. Kara is recently divorced and living with her uncle while she gets back on her feet. When he goes to the hospital for surgery, she promises to help him run his museum of wonders and oddities. It would have been weird enough to just find a bunker with a very vague and slightly terrifying message, but that’s only the beginning. This bunker is filled with portals to alternate dimensions and realities and creatures that feed on fear.
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A young woman discovers a strange portal in her uncle’s house, leading to madness and terror in this gripping new novel from the author of the “innovative, unexpected, and absolutely chilling” (Mira Grant, Nebula Award–winning author) The Twisted Ones.
Pray they are hungry.
Kara finds the words in the mysterious bunker that she’s discovered behind a hole in the wall of her uncle’s house. Freshly divorced and living back at home, Kara now becomes obsessed with these cryptic words and starts exploring this peculiar area—only to discover that it holds portals to countless alternate realities. But these places are haunted by creatures that seem to hear thoughts…and the more one fears them, the stronger they become.
With her distinctive “delightfully fresh and subversive” (SF Bluestocking) prose and the strange, sinister wonder found in Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, The Hollow Places is another compelling and white-knuckled horror novel that you won’t be able to put down.
Sometimes life takes you in unexpected directions. For example, Max Costa was just a simple con man working as a ballroom dancer on a cruise ship when a fateful encounter with the beautiful Mecha—and her eccentric and slightly disturbed composer husband—turns Max into a fugitive. Max and Mecha meet up again and again as the years go on and the world turns, but their passion remains. WHAT WE BECOME is a lush work that is sure to capture your imagination with its gorgeous descriptions and sparkling dialogue.
One of the newest additions to the locked-room subgenre, THE WOMAN IN THE LIBRARY takes the locked-room formula and ups the suspense ante. The Boston Public Library has a beautiful reading room that attracts people from all walks of life. When security asks all visitors to stay exactly where they are after hearing a woman’s terrified scream, four strangers find themselves stuck together. What starts off as a pleasant, if inconvenient, meeting turns sinister as it becomes clear that one of them is not as innocent as they seem. Trapped together within a locked room, will the other three patrons be able to make it out of the reading room alive? You’ll just have to grab a seat at the table and find out for yourself.
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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.
Once you finish this iconic thriller classic, check out the recently released sequel, WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN NOW?
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...
With a title like this, you know you’re in for a good time. A BOTANIST’S GUIDE TO PARTIES AND POISONS follows Saffron Everleigh, a young botanist who, in spite of losing her father and being sexually harassed by the head of her department, remains steadfast in her dedication to her work. And that drive is going to serve her well when she has to prove that her boss, Dr. Maxwell, isn’t a murderer. But when there is a mysterious poisoning of one of the professors’ wives at a party, Saffron finds herself embroiled in more than just scandal, partnering up with the mysterious and handsome microbiologist Alexander Ashton. But will Saffron wilt under the pressure or will she finally come into bloom?
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It may seem far-fetched to call a Stephen King book a cozy read, but in his newest novel FAIRY TALE, he set out to write a story that would make him happy. And while the book still holds scary moments and plenty of nods to horror, the story has so many aesthetics reminiscent of classic fantasy worlds, and the result is an epic saga that instantly transports readers into the depths of King’s imagination. FAIRY TALE is propelled by Charlie Reade, a teenage boy who, upon inheriting a cassette tape from his late neighbor Mr. Bowditch, discovers that the shed in Mr. Bowditch’s backyard is a portal to another world. With Mr. Bowditch’s dog, Radar, by his side, Charlie enters this world and is thrust into the ultimate battle between good and evil, where the stakes are at an all-time high.
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Legendary storyteller Stephen King goes into the deepest well of his imagination in this spellbinding novel about a seventeen-year-old boy who inherits the keys to a parallel world where good and evil are at war, and the stakes could not be higher—for that world or ours.
Charlie Reade looks like a regular high school kid, great at baseball and football, a decent student. But he carries a heavy load. His mom was killed in a hit-and-run accident when he was ten, and grief drove his dad to drink. Charlie learned how to take care of himself—and his dad. When Charlie is seventeen, he meets a dog named Radar and her aging master, Howard Bowditch, a recluse in a big house at the top of a big hill, with a locked shed in the backyard. Sometimes strange sounds emerge from it.
Charlie starts doing jobs for Mr. Bowditch and loses his heart to Radar. Then, when Bowditch dies, he leaves Charlie a cassette tape telling a story no one would believe. What Bowditch knows, and has kept secret all his long life, is that inside the shed is a portal to another world.
King’s storytelling in Fairy Tale soars. This is a magnificent and terrifying tale in which good is pitted against overwhelming evil, and a heroic boy—and his dog—must lead the battle.
Early in the Pandemic, King asked himself: “What could you write that would make you happy?”
“As if my imagination had been waiting for the question to be asked, I saw a vast deserted city—deserted but alive. I saw the empty streets, the haunted buildings, a gargoyle head lying overturned in the street. I saw smashed statues (of what I didn’t know, but I eventually found out). I saw a huge, sprawling palace with glass towers so high their tips pierced the clouds. Those images released the story I wanted to tell.”
Love the small-town charm of Louise Penny’s novels? William Kent Krueger’s LIGHTNING STRIKE will plop you down in Aurora, a close-knit community on the shore of Minnesota’s Iron Lake. When twelve-year-old Cork O’Connor stumbles upon the hanging body of a respected community member, his sheriff father launches an investigation into what appears to be a suicide. But Cork suspects otherwise. As you delve into the mystery, you’ll fall in love with these characters while they grow and change in the aftermath of tragedy.
An instant New York Times bestseller, this prequel to the acclaimed Cork O’Connor series is “a pitch perfect, richly imagined story that is both an edge-of-your-seat thriller and an evocative, emotionally charged coming-of-age tale” (Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author) about fathers and sons, small-town conflicts, and the events that shape our lives forever.
Aurora is a small town nestled in the ancient forest alongside the shores of Minnesota’s Iron Lake. In the summer of 1963, it is the whole world to twelve-year-old Cork O’Connor, its rhythms as familiar as his own heartbeat. But when Cork stumbles upon the body of a man he revered hanging from a tree in an abandoned logging camp, it is the first in a series of events that will cause him to question everything he took for granted about his hometown, his family, and himself.
Cork’s father, Liam O’Connor, is Aurora’s sheriff and it is his job to confirm that the man’s death was the result of suicide, as all the evidence suggests. In the shadow of his father’s official investigation, Cork begins to look for answers on his own. Together, father and son face the ultimate test of choosing between what their heads tell them is true and what their hearts know is right.
In this “brilliant achievement, and one every crime reader and writer needs to celebrate” (Louise Penny, #1 New York Times bestselling author), beloved novelist William Kent Krueger shows that some mysteries can be solved even as others surpass our understanding.
“It is truly the sign of a gifted author that a book devoted to teaching people the correct way to kill someone and get away with it could be so entertaining, so clever, so funny, and also be a really feel-good story. It is also a testament to the author that the characters were so likeable or despicable, depending on whether they were the student or the person to be deleted, that you were rooting for their success. This is one book I won’t soon forget. If you love murder mysteries, clever mission—impossible-type scenarios, and just a great well-written story, then this is definitely one you don’t want to miss.” —Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction
From the diabolical imagination of Edgar Award–winning novelist, playwright, and story-songwriter Rupert Holmes comes a devilish thriller with a killer concept: The McMasters Conservatory for the Applied Arts, a luxurious, clandestine college dedicated to the fine art of murder where earnest students study how best to “delete” their most deserving victim.
Who hasn’t wondered for a split second what the world would be like if a person who is the object of your affliction ceased to exist? But then you’ve probably never heard of The McMasters Conservatory, dedicated to the consummate execution of the homicidal arts. To gain admission, a student must have an ethical reason for erasing someone who deeply deserves a fate no worse (nor better) than death. The campus of this “Poison Ivy League” college—its location unknown to even those who study there—is where you might find yourself the practice target of a classmate…and where one’s mandatory graduation thesis is getting away with the perfect murder of someone whose death will make the world a much better place to live.
Prepare for an education you’ll never forget. A delightful mix of witty wordplay, breathtaking twists and genuine intrigue, Murder Your Employer will gain you admission into a wholly original world, cocooned within the most entertaining book about well-intentioned would-be murderers you’ll ever read.
Rupert Holmes’s much celebrated career ranges from chart-topping story songs with surprising twists—“Escape (The Pina Colada Song)”—to Tony Award–winning whodunit musicals—The Mystery of Edwin Drood—Edgar Award–winning comedy-thrillers—Accomplice—and the Nero Wolfe Best American Mystery Novel nominated Where the Truth Lies, made into an Atom Egoyan motion picture starring Colin Firth and Kevin Bacon. Called “an American treasure” (Los Angeles Times), “a true Renaissance man” by Newsweek, “a comic genius” (Kirkus Reviews) and simply “a genius” (The Times, London), Rupert Holmes brings his wickedly clever storytelling talents to this outrageous and darkly comic mystery set in a secret, idyllic campus where students learn how to “do in others as you would have others do you in.”
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