As the sun starts setting a bit earlier and leaves begin to fall, there’s never a better time to pick up a new mystery. These suspenseful thrillers, psychological page-turners, and scandalous stories with Michigan ties are must-reads this spooky season.
Destination Wedding by Aaron Stander
The 11th installment of Aaron Stander’s Ray Elkins Thriller series follows a Memorial Day weekend wedding ceremony that is interrupted when a body is discovered. Stander taught English and writing in the Detroit area while writing his beloved mystery books, many of which feature Michigan landmarks from the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. His familiarity with the area makes for believable twists and turns.
Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell
While it’s not the typical thriller, Once Upon a River is still sure to have you on the edge of your seat. This survivalist journey through rural Michigan follows a young girl in search of her missing mother following the violent death of her father. Campbell paints an intense, and at times uncomfortable, picture of how far the story’s protagonist is willing to go to find herself.
The Crooked Angel: A Burr Lafayette Mystery by Charles Cutter
A murder or an accident? Written by University of Michigan Law School graduate Charles Cutter, this crime novel bounces between Detroit and Grosse Pointe, following defense attorney Burr Lafayette’s struggle to defend Brian Dunn, who is accused of killing his wife with a hunting rifle. With a small-town flair and dozens of quirky characters, this courtroom drama has enough thrills to satisfy even the most die-hard Law and Order fans.
The Alex McKnight Series by Steve Hamilton
Full of suspense, drama, and mystery, this series, which follows fictional ex-Detroit cop Alex McKnight, includes 11 novels and two short stories. The most recent — Riddle Island — was released in 2020. In it, McKnight attempts to solve the case of Jimmy Hoffa, the former Teamsters president who was last seen in a Bloomfield Hills parking lot.
The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne
Spooky is an understatement when discussing this psychological thriller. Set in the wilderness of the Upper Peninsula, this story follows Helena, whose mother was kidnapped by her father, Jacob, long before she was born. Growing up in captivity in the wilderness with Jacob, it’s Helena’s testimony that finally puts her captor behind bars. The story bounces back and forth between her time in the wilderness and the present-day where she learns Jacob has escaped from prison. Both gritty and at times terrifying, this thriller is not for the faint of heart.
The Culinary Competition Series by Janel Gradowski
Fun, light, and filled with murder, these stories are for the mystery enthusiast who still wants to sleep soundly at night. Written by Michigan-based author Janel Gradowski, these books are as whimsical as they are intriguing. With titles like Pies and Peril, Chicken Soup and Homicide, and Doughnuts and Deadly Schemes, the series follows Amy Ridley as she cooks her way through countless mysteries.
She’s Not There by PJ Parrish
Starring an unreliable narrator with major memory loss, She’s Not There leaves readers wondering who they can trust. Written by Michigan-based sisters Kelly Nichols and Kristy Montee, who use the pseudonym PJ Parrish, the story follows Amelia as she runs from a killer who she cannot remember.