It’s this decade’s biggest publishing sensation. “Grip lit” is topping the bestseller lists and filling train carriages with book jackets screaming suspense. And whether you’ve heard of “grip-lit” or not, it’s likely you will know its modern day chart-toppers. Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, and I Let You Go, sound familiar? What ties these psychological thrillers together is their overtly feminine slant – female writers supplying female leads who are much, much more than bitches and bodies. The Bookseller has heralded it a new phenomenon and author Marian Keyes coined the memorable “grip-lit” phrase that’s seeing more female authors’ names on the bestseller lists.

gone girl

New moniker it may be, but new trend? Probably not. A quick trip down literary memory lane proves that female wordsmiths have long reigned supreme in this genre. Masters of intrigue include the queen of crime herself Agatha Christie and – of course – the late P.D James, stretching back to classic writers such as Daphne Du Maurier and the Brontë sisters who did their fair share of spinning tales of suspense.

the girl on the train

Old hat or new feminist genre, whatever the (ahem…) case, there’s a new generation hungry for thrills. Get ready to be gripped by grip lit – if you’re not already – with our edit of this summer’s biggest mysteries, just waiting to be to unravelled.

dear amy

Dear Amy – Helen Callaghan

 
Dear Amy all the “grip-lit” boxes with twists and turns aplenty. The story’s premise will have you hooked: Margot, an agony aunt for The Cambridge Examiner’s Dear Amy advice column, receives a letter claiming to be from a missing woman, presumed dead. Hoax or honest cry for help? It might be far fetched at times but it’s the very definition of a page-turner – and the ending is cleverly done.

Published by Michael Joseph. Helen Callaghan’s Dear Amy is out 16 June.

the girls emma cline

The Girls – Emma Cline

 
You might have heard the buzz surrounding this summer’s blockbuster. From new writer and twenty-something American Emma Cline, The Girls was subject to a bidding war between a dozen publishing houses and secured a film deal before a page was published. Likened to The Virgin Suicides, it’s loosely based on the Manson crimes in California in the summer of 1969, written after a teenage Emma became “obsessed with the Manson girls” during a period of correspondence with 55-year-old musician Rodney Bingenheimer. Evie Boyd is her protagonist, a teen who gets sucked into this violent counterculture.

The Girls is out 16 June, published by Penguin Random House.

The last one Alexandra Oliva

The Last One – Alexandra Oliva

 
Another publishing sensation (securing a six-figure deal) and first-time novel, The Last One can be sort of summed up as the rather unexpected lovechild of The Truman Show and dystopian hit Station Eleven. When contestant Zoo signs up for a survivalist reality TV show it questions what is fact and what is fiction – and what is fair game. The Last One is a psychological thriller that’s gripping to the last.

Published by Michael Joseph, Alexandra Oliva’s The Last One is out 12 July.

nora roberts the obsession

The Obsession – Nora Roberts

 
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Liar, Nora Roberts sharpens her thrill skills again with a tale of spooky suspense in small town America. As a girl, Naomi Bowes discovers a gruesome secret about her father, which sends her family into hiding. Once grown up, Naomi retreats to a crumbling house in a small community but fears her past will come back to haunt her. It might not take much guesswork to figure out the plot of The Obsession, but Roberts’s rich prose and dialogue will have you entertained throughout.

The Obsession by Nora Roberts is out now, published by Little, Brown.