There are plenty of suspense novels and mystery books that take place in big cities. And there are lots of great crime books set in tiny rural villages or isolated farmhouses. But if you’ve had enough of skyscrapers and isolated forest settings for a little while, why not try one of these excellent books about crime in the suburbs? The veneer of perfection so often associated with suburbia makes it a rich setting for crime novels. From stories about psychopaths hiding in plain sight to novels that explore the cost of family secrets, these books all tackle the hidden darkness lurking in the suburbs.
Welcome to Maple Street, a picture-perfect slice of suburban Long Island, its residents bound by their children, their work, and their illusion of safety in a rapidly changing world.
Arlo Wilde, a gruff has-been rock star who’s got nothing to show for his fame but track marks, is always two steps behind the other dads. His wife, beautiful ex-pageant queen Gertie, feels socially ostracized and adrift. Spunky preteen Julie curses like a sailor and her kid brother Larry is called “Robot Boy” by the kids on the block.
Their next-door neighbor and Maple Street’s Queen Bee, Rhea Schroeder—a lonely community college professor repressing her own dark past—welcomes Gertie and family into the fold. Then, during one spritzer-fueled summer evening, the new best friends share too much, too soon. As tensions mount, a sinkhole opens in a nearby park, and Rhea’s daughter Shelly falls inside. The search for Shelly brings a shocking accusation against the Wildes that spins out of control. Suddenly, it is one mom’s word against the other’s in a court of public opinion that can end only in blood.
The Girl Next Door is a grim story about the crimes that can go unnoticed in the nicest, most well-tended suburban neighborhoods. Meg and Susan are teenage sisters who live with their cruel, psychopathic aunt. She keeps them in the basement of her house, subjecting them to torture after torture. The sisters' story is narrated by a twelve-year-old neighbor, whose fear and confusion as he watches the town slowly overtaken by a creeping evil makes the book all the more chilling.
by Sara Blaedel
Detective Louise Rick finds herself working two homicides at once in The Midnight Witness, a twisty thriller from one of the best international mystery writers working today, Sara Blaedel. Louise is working the case of a young woman found strangled in a Copenhagen park. When her best friend admits to knowing a male journalist who was murdered around the same time, she reluctantly agrees to work that case, too. The deeper she delves into both cases, the more dangerous things get for her friend, and for Louise herself.
by Jeff Abbott
A dark mystery suspense novel about the aftermath of murder in a tight-knit community, Never Ask Me explores the devastating cost of family secrets. When Danielle Roberts, a beloved community member and local adoption counselor, is found dead on a park bench in the quiet Austin suburb of Lakehaven, the town is shocked to its core. And no one is more shocked than Danielle's neighbors, the Pollitts, who considered her family. As the four Pollitts grapple with what happened, the secrets they're hiding from each other finally come to light—with shocking consequences for the whole town.
by Sandra Brown
In Outfox, FBI agent Drex Easton attempts the catch of a lifetime in an unremarkable suburban neighborhood. Drex has been after conman Weston Graham for thirty years. Assuming countless disguises, Graham has conned eight women out of their fortunes; each time, the women, along with a mysterious man, have disappeared. Now, Drex is certain he has a suspect in Jasper Ford, who has recently married a wealthy businesswoman. Posing as their neighbor, he sets up surveillance, determined to bring Graham to justice. But it'll take all his smarts and tricks to stay alive long enough to succeed.
Related: The Best Sandra Brown Thrillers
Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a seventeenth century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Muzzled, she walks the streets and enters homes at will. She stands next to children's bed for nights on end. Everybody knows that her eyes may never be opened or the consequences will be too terrible to bear.
When a former student of his interferes with a murder investigation, psychologist Joe O'Loughlin steps in to try to set things right. At first, the case involves the murder of a mother and her teenage daughter. But soon, Joe finds connections between their murders and a series of gruesome attacks. As he uncovers more and more strange similarities, Joe realizes that his fate is linked to that of a brutal killer, one he has to find if he wants to stay alive.
With James O. Born
No list of crime books would be complete without a James Patterson novel. In Hidden, Patterson turns his practiced eye to small-town crime. Mitchum, rejected by the Navy SEALS, has made peace with his life as an unofficial private eye in the small town he calls home. That is until his fourteen-year-old cousin is abducted. Enraged and determined to protect his family, Mitchum calls on every skill he possesses to track down the kidnapper—even if it means putting himself in mortal danger.
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