Feature

Lisa Gardner recommends 6 books with powerful female leads

The best-selling author recommends works by M.C. Beaton, Karin Slaughter, and more

In Lisa Gardner's new crime thriller, Before She Disappeared, an amateur sleuth moves to a Haitian neighborhood in Boston to investigate a teenager's disappearance. Below, the best-selling author recommends six other books featuring powerful female leads.

The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughter (2020).

Slaughter's most recent novel featuring medical examiner Sara Linton is a brilliant mix of a current murder case and a reckoning with ghosts of the past. The result is a breathless serial-killer thriller with a very human edge.

Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger (2020).

This modern-day twist on Strangers on a Train dazzled me from page one. For Selena Murphy, revealing to a fellow train passenger that she just saw a video of her husband screwing their nanny is cathartic. Until the nanny goes missing. Until she starts receiving texts from the other passenger. And down the rabbit hole you go.

A Conspiracy of Bones by Kathy Reichs (2020).

Temperance Brennan is a forensic anthropologist, a woman of science dealing with the dark underbelly of human desires. In Conspiracy, her very sanity is attacked. Trying to recover from neurosurgery, still racked by migraines and possible hallucinations, Temperance receives a string of mysterious texts containing the image of a corpse. What follows is a Hitchcockian tale of survival. I love this edgy series.

My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (2018).

Korede knows things most sisters don't: how to best dispose of a body; how bleach destroys evidence. Now her sister Ayoola's third boyfriend is dead, and Korede is tiring of the routine. This groundbreaking novel is not about what it means to be a killer, but about what it means to love a sociopath that your family created.

Murder on Cold Street by Sherry Thomas (2020).

Thomas' brilliant take on Sherlock Holmes makes him a brother invented for cover by actual sleuth Charlotte Holmes. The series cleverly incorporates classic Sherlock elements while adding the raw edge of a brilliant woman trying to conform to Victorian societal norms.

Beating About the Bush by M.C. Beaton (2019).

Agatha Raisin is like Miss Marple with a drinking problem. She's rude, opinionated, obsesses over gin and tonics, and once confronted with a problem, can't let it go. The series' 30th installment is the perfect one-night read. It will make you gasp, laugh, and feel like you had a fabulous night out with your favorite girlfriend.

This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.

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