The Forgotten Girls, by Owen Laukkanen. Laukkanen has been steadily writing a series (Stevens and Windermere) he never intended to write since The Professionals was published in 2012, and this may be the one that makes him a household name. She was a forgotten girl, a runaway found murdered on the High Line train through the northern Rocky Mountains and, with little local interest, put into a dead file. But she was not alone. When Kirk Stevens and Carla Windermere of the joint FBI-BCA violent crime force stumble upon the case, they discover a horror far greater than anyone expected—a string of murders on the High Line, all of them young women drifters whom no one would notice. That has been the case until now. Through the bleak midwinter and a frontier land of forbidding geography, Stevens and Windermere follow a frustratingly light trail of clues—and where it ends, even they will be shocked. If you're not up for tackling the whole series (this is book six), I understand that this works nicely as a stand-alone title. I'm recommending Laukkanen for fans of C.J. Box and Michael Connelly.
Lola, by Melissa Love. For fans of Stieg Larsson's Lisbeth Salander novels, this debut thriller may be just what you're looking for. The Crenshaw Six are a small but up-and-coming gang in South Central LA who have recently been drawn into an escalating war between rival drug cartels. To outsiders, the Crenshaw Six appear to be led by a man named Garcia . . . but what no one has figured out is that the gang's real leader (and secret weapon) is Garcia's girlfriend, a brilliant young woman named Lola. Lola has mastered playing the role of submissive girlfriend, and in the man's world she inhabits she is consistently underestimated. But in truth she is much, much smarter--and in many ways tougher and more ruthless--than any of the men around her, and as the gang is increasingly sucked into a world of high-stakes betrayal and brutal violence, her skills and leadership become their only hope of survival. Uniquely gritty and intense, this novel shows off Love's chops as a crime TV writer (CSI: Miami, Person of Interest, etc.) to perfection.
The Wanderers, by Meg Howrey. Likened to some of my favorite novels in recent years (Station Eleven, The Martian), Howrey's debut about three astronauts training for the first ever manned mission to Mars has already earned a top spot on my reading list. In four years, aerospace giant Prime Space will put the first humans on Mars. Helen Kane, Yoshihiro Tanaka, and Sergei Kuznetsov must prove they’re the crew for the historic voyage by spending seventeen months in the most realistic simulation ever created. Constantly observed by Prime Space’s team of "Obbers," Helen, Yoshi, and Sergei must appear ever in control. But as their surreal pantomime progresses, each soon realizes that the complications of inner space are no less fraught than those of outer space. The borders between what is real and unreal begin to blur, and each astronaut is forced to confront demons past and present, even as they struggle to navigate their increasingly claustrophobic quarters—and each other. Advance reviews are using words like tender, wise and imaginative, and I really can't wait to get my copy.
Close Enough to Touch, by Colleen Oakley. Right up there on the imaginative scale is Oakley's second novel, about a young woman with a rare condition: an allergy to human touch. After a nearly fatal accident, she became reclusive, living in the confines of her home for nine years. But after her mother dies, Jubilee is forced to face the world—and the people in it—that she’s been hiding from. Jubilee finds safe haven at her local library where she gets a job. It’s there she meets Eric Keegan, a divorced man who recently moved to town with his brilliant, troubled, adopted son. Eric is struggling to figure out how to be the dad—and man—he wants so desperately to be. Jubilee is unlike anyone he has ever met, yet he can't understand why she keeps him at arm's length. So Eric sets out to convince Jubilee to open herself and her heart to everything life can offer, setting into motion the most unlikely love story of the year. I'm recommending this for fans of authors like Jodi Picoult and JoJo Moyes.