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.
Holly Watt, To the Lions (Dutton)
To the Lions is a highly promising debut thriller from veteran investigative reporter, Watt, who has covered refugee crises around the world and written about international affairs at the highest rungs of her field. Her protagonist has a similar background—a dogged reporter with an elaborate web of contacts around the world. In To the Lions, she hears whispers in a nightclub about a scion’s suicide, and a death with important ramifications she decides to probe. What follows is one-part spy thriller, one-part journalism procedural, all with a dash of Hitchcock set amongst world destinations both seedy and glamorous.
Lara Prescott, The Secrets We Kept (Knopf)
Prescott’s debut is an epic of passion, daring, and art. Part spy thriller, part intimate drama, The Secrets We Kept is the story of two women working for the government during tense days in the Cold War, enlisted for an audacious plot: smuggling Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago out of the Soviet Union and into worldwide publication.
David Koepp, Cold Storage (Ecco)
Koepp’s debut promises a welcome revival to the genre of contagion thrillers, and it’s no surprise that Koepp, an enormously successful screenwriter, brings verve and innovation to the story. Cold Storage sees the release of a toxic fungus from its storage space deep beneath the earth’s surface, and once it’s out, there’s a race-against-the-clock to save humanity from a wave of destruction. Koepp handles the high-octane plot with a deft hand, and amidst all the danger there’s a strong wit underlying the prose. Cold Storage is easily one of the season’s most entertaining novels.
John Vercher, Three-Fifths (Agora)
John Vercher’s compelling debut follows a young biracial man passing as white who must confront his own internalized hatred after a fateful night leaves a young black man dead at the hands of the protagonist’s school-buddy-turned-white-supremacist. This is one of many books we’re looking forward to coming from the new imprint Agora.
Lizzy Barber, A Girl Named Anna (MIRA)
Berber’s debut is a gripping psychological thriller that burrows deep into a woman’s traumatic past and a family mystery, the disappearance of the woman’s sister fifteen years prior. A Girl Named Anna is a novel about rules, transgressions, identity, and a whole lot more. Barber is a precise, assured writer, and here she conjures up a vivid world full of questions and secrets.