The best thrilling mysteries with strong female leads

Who am I?

Bestselling author Candace Havens has published more than 25 books. Her novels have received nominations for the RITA’s, Holt Medallion, Write Touch Reader Awards, and National Reader’s Choice Awards. She is a Barbara Wilson Award winner. She is the author of the biography Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy and a contributor to several anthologies. She is also one of the nation’s leading entertainment journalists and has interviewed countless celebrities from George Clooney to Chris Pratt. Candace runs a free online writing workshop for more than 2000 writers and teaches comprehensive writing classes. She does film reviews with Hawkeye in the Morning on 96.3 KSCS, and is a former President of the Television Critics Association.

I wrote...

A Case for the Cookie Baker

By Candace Havens,

Book cover of A Case for the Cookie Baker

What is my book about?

Ainsley McGregor and the entire town of Sweet River, Texas, are preparing for the annual summer celebration. And thanks to the extra tourist traffic, Ainsley’s shop, Bless Your Art, has never been busier. Good thing her new friend, Lizzie, has opened a bakery nearby and provides Ainsley and her staff with tasty treats and daily sugar rushes. It’s all cookies and fun, until someone ends up dead in the bakery and her new pal is the prime suspect.

Ainsley is convinced Lizzie is innocent. Unfortunately, her brother, the town sheriff, and her boyfriend, Jake, have some not-so-secret suspicions. With a town full of strangers who just might be suspects, Ainsley finds herself targeted by a killer. Even as her world crumbles faster than a cookie, she’s determined to prove her friend’s innocence—if she can stay alive long enough.

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The books I picked & why

These Toxic Things: A Thriller

By Rachel Howzell Hall,

Book cover of These Toxic Things: A Thriller

Why did I love this book?

Rachel Howzell Hall keeps the reader guessing in These Toxic Things. Her protagonist Mickie Lambert creates digital scrapbooks, but when her latest client ends up dead, she's determined to find out why someone wants the peculiar objects the woman had given Mickie to preserve. To find the answers, she ends up crossing paths with a serial killer. It's twisty fun, and Hall's characters are ones you won't forget.

By Rachel Howzell Hall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked These Toxic Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A dead woman's cherished trinkets become pieces to a terrifying puzzle.

Mickie Lambert creates "digital scrapbooks" for clients, ensuring that precious souvenirs aren't forgotten or lost. When her latest client, Nadia Denham, a curio shop owner, dies from an apparent suicide, Mickie honors the old woman's last wish and begins curating her peculiar objets d'art. A music box, a hair clip, a key chain-twelve mementos in all that must have meant so much to Nadia, who collected them on her flea market scavenges across the country.

But these tokens mean a lot to someone else, too. Mickie has been receiving…

Book cover of When No One Is Watching

Why did I love this book?

The best thing about When No One is Watching is the tension doesn't let go until the end. The protagonist Sydney Green is Brooklyn-born and trying to save her neighborhood from gentrification. But it isn't long before she's discovering a few too many coincidences that might just add up to a conspiracy. The more Sydney and her neighbor, Theo, learn about the communities past, the more their lives are in danger. Just remind yourself to breathe while reading this.

By Alyssa Cole,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked When No One Is Watching as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


"I was knocked over by the momentum of an intense psychological thriller that doesn't let go until the final page. This is a terrific read." - Alafair Burke, New York Times bestselling author

*Marie Claire's September Book Club Pick*

Rear Window meets Get Out in this gripping thriller from a critically acclaimed and New York Times Notable author, in which the gentrification of a Brooklyn neighborhood takes on a sinister new meaning...

Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos…

Arsenic and Adobo

By Mia P. Manansala,

Book cover of Arsenic and Adobo

Why did I love this book?

Mixing a good mystery with humor is a special sauce for me. After a bad breakup, Lila Macapagal picks up the pieces and moves home to help her aunt with a failing restaurant. Things go from bad to worse when her ex-boyfriend drops dead—right after an argument with Lila. She's the cops' only suspect, and she knows she didn't do it. It's up to Lila to save herself, along with some help from the nosy aunt network, her best friend, and her Dachshund.

By Mia P. Manansala,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Arsenic and Adobo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A RUSA Award-winning novel!

The first book in a new culinary cozy series full of sharp humor and delectable dishes—one that might just be killer....

When Lila Macapagal moves back home to recover from a horrible breakup, her life seems to be following all the typical rom-com tropes. She's tasked with saving her Tita Rosie's failing restaurant, and she has to deal with a group of matchmaking aunties who shower her with love and judgment. But when a notoriously nasty food critic (who happens to be her ex-boyfriend) drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila, her life quickly swerves…

A Deadly Inside Scoop

By Abby Collette,

Book cover of A Deadly Inside Scoop

Why did I love this book?

A recent MBA grad, Bronwyn Crewse, has taken over the family ice cream parlor. But a dead body nearby causes a few hitches in her plans to improve things. The biggest problem being her poor dad happens to be the lead suspect in the crime. Thankfully, she has some quirky friends to help her find some clues fast. That's a great thing since she might be able to exonerate her dad—if she lives long enough to solve the case.

By Abby Collette,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Deadly Inside Scoop as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book kicks off a charming cozy mystery series set in an ice cream shop—with a fabulous cast of quirky characters.

Recent MBA grad Bronwyn Crewse has just taken over her family's ice cream shop in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and she's going back to basics. Win is renovating Crewse Creamery to restore its former glory, and filling the menu with delicious, homemade ice cream flavors—many from her grandmother’s original recipes. But unexpected construction delays mean she misses the summer season, and the shop has a literal cold opening: the day she opens her doors an early first snow descends on…


By Pintip Dunn,

Book cover of Malice

Why did I love this book?

 Okay, technically, Malice is a futuristic young adult novel, but there's a fantastic mystery here with a strong female protagonist. I did mention these books would be genre-bending. In this one, a young girl knows part of the future--the part where one of her classmates releases a virus that kills two-thirds of the population. Now she's in a race against time to find out who he is before he kills everyone she knows.

By Pintip Dunn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Malice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Could you kill an innocent life today to save millions in the future?

Seventeen-year-old Alice has spent her entire life in the shadows of her charismatic twin brother. And she's utterly content to stay there, as not taking risks means that she doesn't get hurt. Until the day a strange voice appears in her mind, demanding that she approach Bandit, the cute Thai boy in her physics class - and kiss him. Never mind that she's never spoken a word to him before.

Compelled by the excruciating pain in her head, Alice reluctantly obeys. But submitting to the voice sets…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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