Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews.
This modern spy novel pits two covert operatives against each other in an intricate cat-and-mouse game. As Dominika and Nathaniel ply their tradecraft, they navigate the moral ambiguities of a post–Cold War world, where no one is as they seem and betrayal is business as usual.
Read-alikes: Alan Furst’s Night Soldiers, John le Carré’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and Charlie Huston’s Skinner.
The Outcasts by Kathleen Kent.
Love, morality and greed collide in this Reconstruction-era western. A whore without a heart of gold, Lucinda escapes from a Fort Worth brothel to begin a new life—and a new con. She and her lover are bound to cross paths with Texas Ranger Nate, who is chasing stone-cold killer McGill. Both Nate and Lucinda are unforgettable characters, driven by the need to survive.
Read-alikes: Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers, Charles Portis’ True Grit, and 3:10 from Yuma (film, Lionsgate, 2007)
Last Days by Adam Nevill.
Deep in debt, documentary filmmaker Kyle Freeman reluctantly accepts the financial backing of an enigmatic self-help guru to make a movie about infamous cult the Temple of the Last Days. Unique, atmospheric, and deeply disturbing, Nevill’s novel delivers a visceral horror experience that will haunt readers long after they put the book down.
Read-alikes: Ramsey Campbell’s The Grin of the Dark, Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, and Paranormal Activity (film, Paramount Pictures, 2009)
Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell.
London, 1854: The Artist of Death ritualistically re-creates the sensational Ratcliffe murders inspired by the writings of the notorious opium addict Thomas De Quincey. In this fast-paced mystery, filled with colorful characters and authentic period detail, Scotland Yard detectives, along with De Quincey and his daughter, must find the Artist of Death before he executes another macabre masterpiece.
Read-alikes: Stephen Gallagher’s The Bedlam Detective, P. D. James and T. A. Critchley’s The Maul and the Pear Tree: The Ratcliffe Highway Murders, 1811, and Alan Moore’s From Hell.
Me before You by Jojo Moyes.
Unemployed 26-year-old Louisa takes the only job she can find: as a “care assistant” to 35-year-old quadriplegic Will. When Louisa discovers the depth of Will’s unhappiness, she embarks on a mission to convince him that life is worth living and, in the process, begins to think about her own future. This bittersweet, quirky novel recounts an unlikely friendship while grappling with complex issues in a realistic and sensitive manner.
Read-alikes: Jonathan Evison’s The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, Elizabeth Berg’s Talk before Sleep, and Michelle Wildgen’s You’re Not You.