Aug 24 2017 2:00pm

5 Grip-Lit Novel Recommendations for Fall

As the nights draw close and the leaves turn red and we’re all made melancholy by the death of summer, it’s time to curl up with a dark thriller. If you like twisty plots and twisted characters, then you might turn to grip-lit, a genre that has taken root in the bestseller lists. There’s a bumper crop of new releases to lay in store for fall, and here are five titles I can’t wait to sink my teeth into.

Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton 

While drifting silently over the Northumbrian wilderness in a hot-air balloon, Jessica Lane witnesses a vicious attack on a woman at a remote house. The killer thought he’d found the perfect place for murder: somewhere he’d never be seen. But Jessica sees. And he sees her. His gunshot brings down the pleasure flight.

When the police arrive on the scene of the balloon crash, they’re bewildered to discover that one person apparently survived but fled the scene. Maybe Jessica is hurt or concussed or confused? Or maybe a killer is hunting down the only witness to his terrible crime.

Award-winning author Sharon Bolton consistently delivers tense chillers. And with a reputation for writing a strong sense of place, I’m itching to visit Bolton’s home landscape in the North of England. 

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The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti

Another novel that opens with a startling scene: thousands of dead starlings fall onto a high school sports field. On the same day, a troubled girl who other teens call “The Witch” goes missing. Soon, a male teacher is suspected of involvement in her disappearance, and the lives of his family and this sleepy Pennsylvania town start to unravel.

The creepiness of dead birds raining over a small town sets an ominous tone that pervades the novel. Moretti stains the domestic setting with shades of the macabre, wrapping the reader in the folds of a tight community where everybody knows everybody else so there are no secrets—or so they think. Adept switches between four points of view turn up the tempo.

New York Times and Amazon bestselling author Kate Moretti is renowned for complex characters and convincing twists; this latest has been hailed as her best yet.

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Lies She Told by Cate Holahan

Call me narcissistic, but I love a novel about novelists. Add to that a subplot about a marriage put under pressure by fertility treatment and I’m hooked. 

Liza Cole has 30 days to write a novel and reclaim her place on the bestseller list. But when the plot of her crime story and a real-life mystery start to blur, it becomes clear that the truth may be darker than fiction. A dual storyline that crisscrosses between Liza and her fictional shadow-twin, Beth, keeps the pace bobbing and the plot weaving.

An award-winning journalist and author, Cate Holahan’s previous novel, The Widower’s Wife, was named by Kirkus Reviews as one of the best books of 2016. Readers who’ve been eagerly awaiting further dark adventures from her pen will have double the thrills in Lies She Told.

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Working Fire by Emily Bleeker

Claustrophobic communities and long-buried secrets feature in one of my favorite grip-lit novels of all time, Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects, so I’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of Emily Bleeker’s latest, which visits similar fertile ground.

In Working Fire, Ellie Brown is forced to leave med school in the city and return to her stifling hometown when her father falls ill. After finding work as a paramedic, Ellie’s ambulance is one day sent to a familiar address: her sister’s home, where Amelia has been shot in a home invasion. With a dual narrative that allows both women to tell the story, we witness the events leading up to Amelia’s shooting and Ellie’s investigation into what happened to her critically-ill sister.

Themes of loyalty and trust pervade this new suspense novel from the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Wreckage and When I’m Gone.

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Three Strikes by Kate Kessler

Homecoming also features in Kessler’s third novel of the Audrey Harte series, which fittingly takes place at Thanksgiving. Just when Audrey thinks domestic life is settling down, a girl arrives on the doorstep claiming she was given up for adoption by a childhood friend. But in the little town of Edgeport, the local residents do not give up their secrets easily.

In the first two installments—It Takes One and Two Can Play—Kessler was lauded for her strength of voice and humor, offering a less bleak take on the “grip-lit” genre. Plus, Audrey Harte is a compelling heroine: a juvenile murderer who “did a bad thing for the right reasons” and served her time.

Known for her genre-bending plots and taut prose, Kate Kessler expands her well-reviewed series by coming full circle—returning to Audrey’s relationship with Maggie Jones, the friend she killed to protect all those years before. 

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Bonus: Can I have one more grip-lit, just for luck? I love fiction that crosses genres, so a historical novel that offers both rouge and noir amid a cast of Hollywood starlets fits the bill. In The Glamorous Dead by Suzanne Gates, Miss Penny Harp is a movie extra in the “dream factories” of the 1940s. When she finds a thumb belonging to an actress friend, she is accused of murder, but the queen of film noir, Barbara Stanwyck, comes to Penny’s aid.  

These should keep the blood pumping on a chilly night in Fall. Happy Autumn, and happy reading!

Comment below for a chance to win an audiobook copy of All the Little Children by Jo Furniss!

To enter, make sure you're a registered member of the site and simply leave a comment below.

TIP: Since only comments from registered users will be tabulated, if your user name appears in red above your comment—STOP—go log in, then try commenting again. If your user name appears in black above your comment, You’re In!

All the Little Children Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry at beginning at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) August 24, 2017. Sweepstakes ends 2:59 p.m. ET September 5, 2017. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.


To learn more or order a copy, visit:

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Jo Furniss is the author of the Amazon bestseller All the Little Children (Lake Union Publishing; September 1, 2017). Originally from the UK, Jo is a former BBC journalist who has lived in Cameroon and Switzerland and now resides with her family in Singapore. You can visit her at or on her Facebook page.  

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Tricia Blount
1. wynne68
Patti Blount
Sounds like a great contest. :)
Jennifer Hodges
5. ViolinGeek
Going to have to add all of these to my neverending list!
10. Kiera Thomas
Looks like a good read!
10. Gabe
Make me a winner!
12. Corkrose
Love books - love winning books thanks
Karen Hansen
13. lolalily
Love audiobooks , having floaters so audio is so much better
Robert Grieco
14. RobG
These books look like they'll scare the hell out of me!
Connie Fischer
16. Connie Fischer
"All the Little Children" sounds like a book that will keep the reader totally mesmerized! Love it!
22. Lynda Schoenfelder
Awesome contest! Hope I am a winner! Thanks!
Susan Illis
23. sillis
Thanks for the recommendations! I'm ready for some fall reading.
Sally Schmidt
25. bigcootie
What a great list to add to my TBR, and what a great book for an audio giveaway. Thanks!
Lori Provenzano
26. Mountainesque
Never heard the term 'grip-lit' before. Great phrase way to describe 'white knuckle' reads, which all the selected books appear to encapsulate.
Jackie Wisherd
27. JackieW
Sounds Like the kind of story I like to read.
Michael Carter
28. rubydog
Please enter me in this sweepstakes.
30. Phyllis Schmitz
Thanks for the chance to win!
Vernon Luckert
32. vl4095
Would love to try an audiobook, would be my first.
36. Winnipeg Wendy
I'd never heard the term griplit before but it seems like a great way to designate those thrillers that aren't really mysteries but keep you reading late into the night.
susan beamon
37. susanbeamon
I can use another audio book. They help me driving.
vickie dailey
41. kidcurry
lots of great mysteries to cozy up to this fall - would love the chance to have an audiobook thriller - not had that experience yet
Martha DeMarco
42. md238
Love audiobooks, on the road at least once a month to visit my grand baby.Would love to win this one, sounds like a great book!
Jason Carlson
43. jcarl02
I love these kind of books, great books to cozy up with on a cool night.
Terry Pearson
44. hippiechick1955
I could scratch this one off my To Purchase list if I won. That would be sweet!
Meredith Miller
45. meredithfl
Great recommendations! I'll have to look into these.
Connie Williamson
47. angelbun
Every one of these books look interesting to me!
Margot Core
48. AnnaZed
Until today I did not realize that I was a grip-lit fan or part of a trend. I looked it up; aparently I am!
Susan Morris
51. Samfor3
I love your recommendations for a great fall read. Love grip-lit.
Martha LaChance
52. mlachance9
I love audiobooks while working out and working.
54. kmint
Hope to be the winner of this one!
Marjorie Manharth
55. mmanharth
Audio books keep me fit - I don't even realize I'm exercising. Love it. This sounds like a good one.
Marjorie Manharth
55. mmanharth
Audio books keep me fit - I don't even realize I'm exercising. Love it. This sounds like a good one.
April Aldo
56. April227
What a great selection of books, I would love the chance to win one.
Kris Kaminski
60. kjkski
count me in! this would be great for the road trip.
Kris Kaminski
61. kjkski
count me in! this would be great for the road trip.
Diana Coomer
65. dlcoomer
I'll have to get the first two installments as this sounds so good!
66. LStirling
Great recommendations. An author who knows good suspense books, I'm sure knows how to write one. Would love to win her book!
Karina Thibodeau
68. Storm992472
I would love to win this audiobook. Thank you for the chance.
Karina Thibodeau
68. Storm992472
I would love to win this audiobook. Thank you for the chance.
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