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Reading a debut novel by a new author is like meeting a new friend for the first time and realizing you want to be besties for eternity. There’s something about a new story from a fresh voice and a writing style that you haven’t already been introduced to that can be so intoxicating. Here are some of my favorite debut novels from the best female voices in the thriller genre.
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
Ani FaNelli is a successful woman who has the perfect job, perfect fiancé and a wardrobe to die for, but she also has a sordid past that is coming back to haunt her. As her wedding date approaches, a documentary producer invites Ani to participate in his documentary about a tragedy that took place at the prestigious high school she attended. Although the truth could shatter her perfect image, Ani must confront her past and set the record straight once and for all.
Stone Cold Fox by Rachel Koller Croft
Bea grew up as a sidekick to her mother in forced instruction in the art of swindling men. Now she’s ready to escape her mother’s shadow, and disappear safely into old-money domesticity—and be rich. Filthy rich. She finds her mark in the dull but wealthy Collin, knowing that it’s his family’s approval she truly needs—especially his childhood best friend, Gale. With a storyline filled with rich people behaving badly, it begs the question: who really is the villain here? What begins as an amusing cat-and-mouse game quickly develops into a dangerous pursuit of the grisly truth. Finding herself at a literal life-and-death crossroads with everything on the line, Bea must finally decide who she really wants to be.
Nice Girls by Catherine Dang
Mary has just retuned home to Liberty Lake, Minnesota and is completely different than the chubby, quiet, whiz kid that she was when she left. Now she is thinner and hiding from everyone the reason she was kicked out of Cornell. Not soon after she arrives home, the beautiful social media star Olivia goes missing. Olivia and Mary used to be best friends and if anyone knows the real Olivia, it’s Mary. As the town obsesses over Olivia’s disappearance, Mary finds another local teen who has also went missing under mysterious circumstances that was dismissed as a runaway—and wonders if the two are connected.
In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead
Ten years ago, Heather Shelby’s murder at Duquette University left her friend group in shambles. Now, with the ten-year reunion approaching, Jessica Miller is ready to return to Duquette to show everyone the confident and successful woman she’s become. With the reunion approaching and Heather’s murder a cold case, not everyone is ready to leave the past in the past and someone is set out for revenge. As the friends reunite, they must confront the secrets they’ve been harboring and find out exactly what happened that night.
White Ivy by Susie Yang
When Ivy runs into Sylvia she thinks it’s pure fate. Years ago, Ivy was in love with Sylvia’s brother Gideon but was abruptly sent to China after her mother found items Ivy had stolen to keep up with the lifestyle she was craving (a trick she learned from her grandmother). Now, Ivy will stop at nothing to infiltrate her way back into Gideon’s life and finally have the future she’s obsessed over since she was a child. When someone from Ivy’s past comes into the picture, Ivy realizes this person has all it takes to shatter the lifestyle she’s been fighting so hard to have.
Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen
In summer in Atlantic City, a young boardwalk psychic named Clara finds herself in an unusual friendship with Lily, a woman who has relocated from New York City looking to leave her past behind. What the two don’t realize is a man is terrorizing Atlantic City and dumping bodies in the marshland behind a motel. When Clara begins to have terrorizing visions she thinks related to the murders, she and Lily must work together to try to protect the women of Atlantic City and stay out of the path of the murderer.
Tell Me Everything by Cambria Brockman
After arriving at Hawthorne College as a freshman, Malin finds herself with a great group of friends that will last her entire four years at the university. Not only is Malin hiding a secret past of her own, but by the end of Senior Day, the tension mounts at a point that is impossible to bear as secrets between the friend group are exposed and Malin will do whatever it takes to keep her past hidden from the group.
Look What You Made Me Do by Elaine Murphy
Carrie just wants a normal, boring life, but her sister Becca is holding her back from the normalcy she craves. That’s how Carrie ends up in the woods again one night, helping Becca bury another body…and has been helping her for a decade. Becca always has a reason for the killings she commits, and Carrie always helps her cover them up. When the police find thirteen dead bodies in the woods, Becca swears they aren’t her victims and soon enough, the second serial killer in town begins to target Carrie.
Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian
Chloe is far from your average college freshman. Not only is she a psychopath who is part of an unusual clinical study with other anonymous psychopath students, but she’s arrived at the university with one goal – kill Will Bachman. When one of the other students in the study is found murdered, the game of cat and mouse begins. As Chloe gets closer and closer to the day she can finally kill Will, she must also outsmart a murderer who has their eyes set on Chloe and the other students in the study.