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If sunny beach reads aren't cutting it, add these thrillers to your summer book list

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

What could be better than summertime and a really good book? At WEEKEND EDITION, we're always on the hunt for book recommendations, old and new. So we're reaching out over the next few weeks to some of our favorite authors for suggestions. First up, thrillers - and Adrian McKinty is a master of the genre. He's the author behind the just-can't-put-them-down novels "The Chain" and "The Island." Welcome, Adrian, to the show.

ADRIAN MCKINTY: It's wonderful to be here.

RASCOE: I notice that you have some suggestions for books that are about bad things happening on airplanes, which is kind of one of my favorites. Tell us about these books. Is your intent to have people reading them while they're flying? Because that's when I do a lot of my reading.

MCKINTY: OK, I have to say, the two thrillers I have, "Drowning" by T.J. Newman and "The Anomaly" by Herve Le Tellier, are so terrifying that I would absolutely not read them on the plane.

RASCOE: OK (laughter).

MCKINTY: Those books really scared me witless. And I would read them on the beach. I would read them on the bus. I would read them on other forms of transportation. But, oh, my goodness, me personally, I would not read these on a plane.

RASCOE: (Laughter) And so what makes them stand out?

MCKINTY: Well, they're just so gripping and so realistic. You're absolutely right there in the action. T.J. Newman - this is her second book about airplane disasters. They say it's like a disaster procedural that she does. And those books - oh, my goodness. Her first one was called "Falling." The second one is called "Drowning." And they're both about things that plausibly, absolutely could happen. They're both sold at airports. I wouldn't buy them at the airport.

RASCOE: (Laughter) What about "The Anomaly"? Is that also kind of a procedural, or how does it differ from the "Drowning" one?

MCKINTY: That's a little bit stranger. That's about an Air France flight from Charles de Gaulle to JFK, and it hits a bump of turbulence. And then strange things start to happen after it touches down in New Jersey.

RASCOE: Ooh, I like that.

MCKINTY: And that's a...

RASCOE: (Laughter).

MCKINTY: Yes, that's - that one's quite a bit weirder.

RASCOE: See, I like weird, and I like when strange things start to happen (laughter).

MCKINTY: Absolutely. That one will have you scratching your head for the first 100 pages, really scratching your head for the second 100 pages, and at the end you're going to go, what did I just read? I love that book. I thought it was wonderful.

RASCOE: And there's also a new novel by S.A. Cosby on your list. I spoke to him just a few months back about a kids' book that he wrote. And I'm guessing this one is not for kids.

MCKINTY: This one is not for kids. I was texting with Shawn, and he was saying that he got the idea for this book while watching the scary and terrifying "True Detective" Season 1, which was really a scary, intense season. And he thought, hmm, I wonder if I can take that vibe and put it where I live in southern Virginia. And he's turned in an incredibly dark and thrilling mystery novel, police procedural, set in his neck of the woods. That's also a wonderful book.

RASCOE: And what's the name of the book?

MCKINTY: "All The Sinners Bleed."

RASCOE: There is a new Ruth Ware book. She is huge in fiction land, and you see her books everywhere. I've read at least one of them. Our editor also said she's a fan. Tell us about Ruth Ware's new book.

MCKINTY: OK, well, I've read all of Ruth's books, and I also am a fan boy of Ruth. So her novels tend to fall into an Agatha Christie one or an Alfred Hitchcock one. And this new one, "Zero Days" - this is definitely an Alfred Hitchcock one. This is a woman-on-the-run story and being pursued through England by goodies and baddies and the police. And it's just one of those novels where it starts fast, it keeps going fast and it goes fast all the way through to the end.

RASCOE: And so what else do you have for us? I see some intriguing titles like "My Sister, The Serial Killer" and "Strange Sally Diamond." "My Sister, The Serial Killer" - that definitely stands out.

MCKINTY: OK, "My Sister, The Serial Killer" - it's in paperback. It's been in paperback for a couple of years now. It's by Oyinkan Braithwaite. She's a Nigerian writer from Lagos. And as you can imagine from the title, it's a dark comedic thriller that's take place in Lagos. And it's about a lady called Korede and her sister and the relationship between her and her sister, which is - it involves a love triangle and their boyfriend and also...

RASCOE: And murder - it says a murder (laughter).

MCKINTY: Yes. Also the fact, the unfortunate problem, that her sister is a bit of a serial killer. So...

RASCOE: (Laughter) That's always tricky.

MCKINTY: Yes. And that book - I found it to be - it's not just a thriller, but it's also really, really funny. I spent a weekend with Oyinkan at the Oslo Writers Festival, and she was just as hilarious as the book is. It's ironic and black humor and so is Oyinkan, and that's also a wonderful book.

RASCOE: And what about "Strange Sally Diamond"?

MCKINTY: So "Strange Sally Diamond" is just published. It's a really interesting story of a 42-year-old neurodivergent woman who lives in a small town in County Roscommon in the middle of Ireland. And people are very suspicious of her. She doesn't talk much. And then strange events start to happen.

RASCOE: Once again the strange events - I love that. "Strange Sally Diamond" - that's by Lizzy Nugent.

MCKINTY: Lizzy Nugent, who's an Irish writer - she was born in Dublin, lived a bit in England, back in Ireland now. She's a really interesting writer.

RASCOE: There's one last one on your list that's not old really, but you call it a classic of the genre. And I think most people are probably familiar with it because of that movie.

MCKINTY: Yes. This is the 10th anniversary of the paperback. It doesn't seem like it's been 10 years. I don't know where time goes. But this is the 10th anniversary of the paperback of "Gone Girl"...

RASCOE: Yes.

MCKINTY: ...By Gillian Flynn. And everybody knows that story. I'm not going to spoil it. But there's an amazing twist about a third of the way into the book, and I didn't see the twist coming. And I'm not going to spoil it for anybody. And the film does an incredible job keeping the truth of the twist in the book. The film is great. I think the book is better. But if you haven't seen the film or read the book, read the book first and then jump into the film.

RASCOE: That is Adrian McKinty. His new novel is "The Detective Up Late." Thank you so much for these recommendations.

MCKINTY: Oh, thank you. And it's been a great year for thrillers, and there will definitely be one that you can find. So pop into your local bookstore, and you will definitely find a thriller to your taste. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Ayesha Rascoe
Ayesha Rascoe is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday and the Saturday episodes of Up First. As host of the morning news magazine, she interviews news makers, entertainers, politicians and more about the stories that everyone is talking about or that everyone should be talking about.