As the temperature continues to rise to scorching levels and turns everywhere I go into my own personal tanning salon, there’s nothing better to alleviate the burn than reading a good ol’ mystery. Why mystery, you wonder? Blame it on my inexplicable love for the Investigation Discovery network, but there’s always been something about murders and the chase to catch the bad guy before he strikes again that gets my heart pounding. And for the hot, muggy days that seem to go on forever, losing myself in the thrill of the crime is my favorite way to breeze through the long hours. Whether I’m running down the streets of New York with Eve Dallas or kicking ass with Lisbeth Salander in Sweden, crime fiction is the perfect genre to fight the blistering heat.
1. Naked in Death by J.D. Robb
Set in New York City in the late 21st century, this first story of the In Death series introduces Lt. Eve Dallas investigating a senseless murder that brings back memories from a troubled past. Dallas is an incredible heroine, fiercely dedicated to the law, and most importantly to bringing justice to the dead and their loved ones. Eve is wonderfully sassy, confident in her abilities, and laser-focused on defending those in need. Add in a hot love interest, the simply amazing yet mysterious Roarke with his killer Irish accent, and what more could you possibly ask for? Throughout the series, you’ll not only fall in love with Eve and Roarke, but the eclectic cast of characters that make up Dallas’ inner circle. While the mysteries are unique with futuristic elements, what truly makes them unforgettable is the impact these cases have on the development of Eve’s relationships with her friends and Roarke. Robb’s writing brings these characters to life with a vibrancy that only exists in such strong individuals. The moment you turn the first page, you’ll be pounding the pavement on the cold, unforgiving streets of NYC with Dallas in no time.
2. Becoming Rain by K.A. Tucker
Clara Bertelli is an undercover officer, and her next target is Luke Boone, an individual suspected of running a car theft ring. Posing as socialite Rain Martines, she catches Luke’s attention and manages to get an inside look on her prime suspect. Unfortunately, as the two get closer, lines start to blur and Clara can no longer tell the part she’s playing from what she’s truly feeling for Luke. Told in dual POVs, the push-and-pull between cop and criminal is achingly tense. As the second novel in the Burying Water series, Tucker continues to weave romance and suspense seamlessly together. Clara is another heroine you wouldn’t dare to mess with, and the cat-and-mouse dance between the two will leave you on the edge of your seat until the very end. While the second book in a series, Becoming Rain is my favorite because Clara and Luke’s relationship is filled with the most heart-pounding action and intrigue one can only find in the best of suspense novels.
3. All Fall Down by Ally Carter
Ally Carter is the QUEEN of kick-ass heroines, and you know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever read the Gallagher Girl series. The Embassy Row series, of which All Fall Down is the first, definitely doesn’t disappoint, as Carter brings a new daring, courageous heroine for young girls to look up to. Grace Blakely lives on Embassy Row—where ambassadors from all over the world live next door to one another—and is desperate to find her mother’s killer and get revenge. However, as the granddaughter of the American ambassador, one wrong move could land her—and the rest of the countries along Embassy Row—into upheaval. Even with new friends by her side, and childhood friend and Russian neighbor Alexei keeping an eye on Grace, not all is as it seems. And when the truth is finally revealed, Grace’s entire world may shatter. With a twist that kept me on my toes until the very end, I definitely couldn’t wait to get my hands on the next book in the series. Grace’s thirst for adventure and excitement is reminiscent of Carter’s heroines in previous series, yet the setting ensures a completely new story fans both old and new will absolutely love.
4. He Will Be My Ruin by K.A. Tucker
Tucker makes another appearance on this list with He Will Be My Ruin, a story of friendship, betrayal, and a bit of romance all in one. Maggie Sparkes is in New York collecting her best friend Celine’s items after she committed suicide. While Maggie struggles to understand why Celine would end her life, she comes across a mysterious photo of a man that reads on the back, “He will be my ruin.” Confident that Celine didn’t end her own life, Maggie sets out to find the truth behind her friend’s untimely death. In doing so, she uncovers the harsh reality of their friendship, and leaves her wondering just how well she truly knew Celine. With two guys from Celine’s past competing for her attention as well, Maggie’s quest to find justice for her friend becomes even murkier. With every step she gets closer to the truth, there’s always someone waiting to keep the true nature of Celine’s death buried. Tucker’s latest book kept me on the edge of my seat, and if this story taught me anything, it’s to trust no one.
5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Lisbeth Salander is basically the epitome of kick-ass heroines. Salander, a computer genius, is enlisted to help journalist Mikael Blomkvist with a decades-old unsolved mystery. Filled with brutal action, and at times mind-numbing details of the investigation, Larsson crafted a simply fantastic mystery. As a journalism major, I also loved the amount of thought put into Blomkvist’s efforts to revitalize his failing newspaper. His reporting and investigative skills definitely came into use when working to solve the disappearance of a young girl from years past. Together the two make an unlikely duo, but ultimately are a tour de force against those fighting to keep the secret in the past. Filled with action, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is unflinchingly raw and brutal in its intensity and will leave you reeling long after you’ve finished the last page.
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