Breaking into the crime game isn’t easy, but every month, a few brave and talented souls make a go of it. For readers, there are few experiences so thrilling as finding a new author whose career is just beginning and whose work promises years of enjoyment to come. But it’s sometimes hard to find those debuts. That’s where we come in. We’re scouring the shelves in search of auspicious debuts and recommending the very best for your reading pleasure.
Madeline Stevens, Devotion (Ecco)
Madeline Stevens’ lush debut is based on her own experiences working as a nanny, and with a cover design that looks like Persona meets Lolita, this one’s definitely up our alley. Devotion follows a nanny and her employer as they become increasingly obsessed with each other’s lives, for a work that should please fans of psychological thrillers and literary fiction alike.
Marlowe Benn, Relative Fortunes (Lake Union)
Marlowe Benn’s charming debut of Jazz-Age hi-jinks is not to be missed. Relative Fortunes introduces feisty heroine Julia Kidd, whose budding publishing company relies on her soon-to-be inheritance of a sizable estate—if her brother doesn’t block her from accessing it first. As she battles for her inheritance, she also explores Manhattan circa 1925, and investigates the murder of a wealthy suffragette whose own family may have wanted her silenced.
R.H. Herron, Stolen Things (Dutton)
Herron has worked as a 911 dispatcher for many years, and her debut is infused with both the emotional truths and daily details of her life’s work. In Stolen Things, a 911 dispatcher picks up a call only to hear the terrified voice of her own daughter reporting a sexual assault. What follows is a textbook study of tension and secrets in small-town America.
Tom Chatfield, The Gomorrah Gambit (Mulholland)
Tom Chatfield had already written several nonfiction books about the intersection of technology and philosophy even before he entered the work of fiction, so we expect his debut thriller of hackers, dark tech, and international intrigue to be nothing short of stunning. The Gomorrah Gambit follows a hacker who will do anything to infiltrate a dark web marketplace and learn its secrets, even subsume his own identity.
Cambria Brockman, Tell Me Everything (Ballantine)
We missed highlighting this one when it came out in July, which was a travesty given how good it looks, so we’re going to talk about it in August instead. A tight-knit group of friends come together in the first days of their new life at college, but one of them has a secret that may turn deadly. This is perfect summer reading fare, especially for those who enjoy psychological thrillers exploring the complexities of human relationships.