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The Best Crime and Thriller Novels of the Year So Far

Check out these page-turners so good they’re criminal. We’ve got a Gone Girl-style thriller, a Hollywood throwback from the LA crime maestro, a true crime podcaster tasting her own bitter medicine, and a debut putting a twist on the locked room whodunit.
Tertulia •
Nov 8th, 2023

Happiness Falls by Angie Kim

In The Boston Globe, Gabino Iglesias called the latest thriller by the Edgar award-winning author of Miracle Creek "one of the smartest, most multi-layered mysteries of the year," adding that this story about a Korean American family's world unraveling when their father goes missing "proves that Kim is a powerful voice that's here to stay."

None of This Is True by Lisa Jewell

In the latest thriller by the bestselling author of The Family Upstairs, a true crime podcaster becomes the subject of her own chilling narrative. Publishers Weekly promises that Jewell's fans will be satisfied by its "twisted characters, acidic cultural commentary," and, of course, its "shocking" climax.

Hot Springs Drive by Lindsay Hunter

“The Gone Girl-style thriller you've been waiting for is here,” trumpeted thriller author E.A. Aymar in The Washington Post. This third title from Roxane Gay's imprint is a dark page-turner that centers on the dysfunctional friendship between two suburban women.

Penance by Eliza Clark

A searing take on the true crime genre from the rising star behind the cult shocker Boy Parts. The Economist was taken by this “darkly compelling study of violence, madness and manipulation” that revolves around a sensational murder in an English coastal town.

West Heart Kill by Dann McDorman

Everyone's a suspect in this locked room murder mystery set at a posh hunting lodge in upstate New York, which CrimeReads described as "The Ice Storm if it had been written by Borges and then solved by Chandler." It's a refreshing debut with a tantalizing twist on the classic whodunit.

Bright Young Women by Jessica Knoll

The latest from the author of The New York Times bestseller Luckiest Girl Alive flips the script on the well-tread story of serial killer Ted Bundy and “delivers a spot-on feminist takedown of a kind of masculinity that is not only toxic but lethal,” according to Diana Abu-Jaber in The Washington Post.

The Enchanters by James Ellroy

It’s the summer of 1962 and infamous LAPD officer-cum-private eye Fred Otash (the real life inspiration for Jack Nicholson’s character Jake Gittes in Chinatown) is trying to unravel Marylin Monroe’s mysterious death. From Jimmy Hoffa to the Kennedys, it’s a “razor-sharp, rocket-fast, and always engaging” rollercoaster from the undisputed master of LA crime fiction, declared Air Mail.

Reykjavík: A Crime Story by Ragnar Jónasson

An authentic Icelandic caper co-written by Iceland’s current prime minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, and inspired by a real-life cold case from the ’50s in which a teen girl vanished from a desolate island off Reykjavík’s coast. "This is Nordic noir at its most authoritative," according to the Financial Times.

Brooklyn Crime Novel by Jonathan Lethem

“I was raised in Brooklyn too… and [Lethem] remains, among my childhood friends and I, somewhat of a literary patron saint: the Brooklyn boy who did us proud by immortalizing our borough in contemporary fiction," remarked The Atlantic’s Xochitl Gonzalez, while hailing the Motherless Brooklyn author’s latest crime caper for its “insights about all that we've lost: the wild abandon of kids running the streets, the vital awareness they had of one another's lives.”

The Berry Pickers by Amanda Peters

When an indigenous Canadian girl goes missing in Maine, the aftershocks of her disappearance reverberate throughout this gripping debut that CrimeReads called a “sensitive and devastating saga of families broken, children stolen, and fierce reckonings with the traumas of history… [Its] emotional climax will leave most readers with at least a tear in the eye." 

Devil Makes Three by Ben Fountain

This spy thriller, from the author of the National Book Award-nominated Billy Lynn's Long Half-Time Walk, is set in the chaotic aftermath of the 1991 Haitian coup. “It’s a big, deeply humane political thriller that proves the flame of Graham Greene and John le Carré is still burning,” raved The Washington Post.

The Professor by Lauren Nossett

In the gripping follow up to The Resemblance, former homicide cop Marlitt Kaplan is asked to investigate a college student’s suicide as rumors of an illicit affair with a faculty member make things even messier. “Come for the entertaining, well-crafted mystery, stay for the thoughtful critique of academia,” remarked Kirkus.

The Helsinki Affair by Anna Pitoniak

People Magazine hailed another “delicious female spy novel” from the author of Our American Friend. This time around “the CIA up-and-comer Amanda and her mentor Kath untangle a global conspiracy involving Russian oligarchs and--gulp--Amanda's own father, an agency lifer himself."

There Should Have Been Eight by Nalini Singh

Seven best friends gather at a remote, crumbling New Zealand estate to reminisce about the death of their beloved friend Bea nearly a decade earlier. Trapped by a snowstorm, tensions among the group rise as a deadly secret threatens to upend all of their lives. 

Good Girls Don't Die by Christina Henry

A dark, mind bending thriller about three women who inexplicably find themselves trapped in other people’s lives. “Can this please be turned into a Black Mirror episode?,” pleaded CrimeReads.

The Watchmaker's Hand by Jeffery Deaver

The latest installment in the bestselling Lincoln Rhyme series finds forensic criminalist Lincoln Rhyme and detective Amelia Sachs desperate to stop a murderous madman raining death and destruction on a panic-stricken New York City. It’s another guaranteed nailbiter from The Bone Collector author that Publisher’s Weekly hailed as the “most clever plotter on the planet.” 

Beware the Woman by Megan Abbott

The latest by the bestselling author of The Turnout is an ominous tale of a pregnant woman trapped in a web of surveillance on Michigan’s remote Upper Peninsula, which Vulture called “a suspenseful page-turner best read if you’re looking to escape your own family drama in favor of someone else’s decidedly more dangerous exploits."

All the Sinners Bleed by S. a. Cosby

Legendary novelist Stephen King was taken by this “crackling good police procedural” from the prize-winning author of Blacktop Wasteland that tells the story of a Black sheriff in a small Southern town investigating a complicated serial murder. 

Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead

This highly anticipated sequel to Harlem Shuffle from the two-time Pulitzer prize winner is “a dazzling treatise, a glorious and intricate anatomy of the heist, the con and the slow game,” according to crime writer Walter Mosley in The New York Times Book Review

The Eden Test by Adam Sternbergh

Thriller writer Dave White had high praise for this unnerving nail-biter about a picture-perfect couple who retreats to a secluded upstate New York cabin for a last-ditch effort to save their marriage. “It’s my favorite book of the year. Even when the book gets super wild, Adam sells it through character. Every twist, every moment is believable.”

Small Mercies by Dennis Lehane

This brutal story of a missing teen by the noted Mystic River author captures a bitterly divided Boston during the historic desegregation of its schools with “a gravitas seldom found in crime novels,” according to Dennis Drabelle in The Washington Post.

Sing Her Down by Ivy Pochoda

Book critic Michael Schaub called this western noir from the acclaimed author of These Women “one of the best crime novels in recent years,” adding that “it places Pochoda squarely in the ranks of Los Angeles crime writers such as Raymond Chandler and Walter Mosley, although her style is all her own.”

The Stolen Coast by Dwyer Murphy

In the latest from the editor-in-chief of CrimeReads, a Harvard-educated lawyer runs a lucrative side gig harboring fugitives on the run from their enemies in a noir caper The New York Times called a "twisty, enthralling heist yarn."

City of Dreams by Don Winslow

The second book in “The City” trilogy by the celebrated Savages author is “a crime classic. Winslow's best book, by far. You won't put it down,” hailed horror master Stephen King.

The Spare Room by Andrea Bartz

The latest from the bestselling author of We Were Never Here is about a single woman quarantined at a glamorous couple’s remote mansion who unearths a sinister secret. People called the pandemic thriller, “a fresh and sexy ride, perfect for reading poolside."  

Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton

In The Guardian, author Alex Preston called this eco-thriller from the Booker Prize-winning author of The Luminaries  “a smart, satirical novel about the clash between a gardening collective and a scheming tech billionaire” with an ending that “propels it from a merely very good book into a truly great one."

You Know Her by Meagan Jennett

Grimdark Magazine's Fabienne Schwizer found this debut crime thriller about a small town bartender’s brutal act of feminine rage “well written, impeccably paced and dripping with Southern Gothic atmosphere.” Adding that “this is the sort of story … that makes you question your own morality.” 

The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz

Written by a working therapist and Psychology Today columnist, this buzzy suspense debut about a failed author’s nightmare at an exclusive writer's retreat had bestselling author Jo Piazza pausing to take it all in. “This book is a twisty, turny delight and the thriller writing is so top notch I found myself stopping to digest. Halfway through and can’t wait to finish.”

Panther Gap by James A. McLaughlin

CrimeReads chief Dwyer Murphy was already a big fan of McLaughlin's 2018 debut Bearskin, and called his follow up caper about two estranged brothers chasing down a dangerous inheritance a “journey through the underbelly of the American West” that is “set to cement [McLaughlin’s] place in the crime world." 

Ozark Dogs by Eli Cranor

Award-winning crime author S. A. Cosby raved about this Southern thriller of two families grappling with the aftermath of a murder in their small Arkansas town, urging readers to grab a copy for its “blisteringly good story about the cost of violence and the bonds of blood.”

Red Queen by Juan Gómez-Jurado

In the Financial Times, noir author Adam LeBor praised the propulsive first installment of a bestselling Spanish trilogy — coming soon to Prime Video — about an EU supersleuth with a genius level IQ that "fizzes with energy and lively scene-setting while switching between Madrid's most glamorous enclaves and its seedy backstreets."

The Kind Worth Saving by Peter Swanson

The New York Times’ Sarah Lyall assures readers they’re in for a "shocking sleight-of-hand twist that is, trust me, impossible to predict” in this entertaining noir featuring a high school teacher turned private eye.

Stone Cold Fox by Rachel Koller Croft

"I read this book in a matter of hours. It's a romp. Fun and fucked up, just how we like 'em," confessed The Vampire Diaries show-runner Julie Plec about this debut thriller starring a man-eating swindler with her eyes trained on the ultimate blue-blooded prey.

48 Clues Into the Disappearance of My Sister by Joyce Carol Oates

The latest by the celebrated author is a thriller about a brilliant sibling who vanishes without a trace, which Kirkus called “a kaleidoscopic portrait of an unforgettable woman whose memory everyone honors only by distorting it."

 The Soulmate by Sally Hepworth

A distraught woman’s deadly plunge unravels a complicated web of secrets in the latest nail-biter from The Secrets of Midwives author, which YA author Lauren Emily Whalen promises “will keep readers in its thrall, making them wonder how well someone can really know their partner."

Decent People by De'shawn Charles Winslow

"It's been a very long time since I've read a good, old-fashioned whodunnit, and this is a most outstanding one, accomplishing several feats at once,” writes author Robert Jones, Jr. in his Witness newsletter. “It's a compelling mystery with brilliant misdirections and surprising revelations..." Actor and avid reader/publisher Sarah Jessica Parker is also a fan, and was passing around her advance copy of the book to plenty of folks in her literary orbit before the book officially dropped.

The Villa by Rachel Hawkins

In The Washington Post, best-selling crime author Karin Slaughter raves about this one, promising readers "a turn at the end that you won't see coming" and "lots of Easter eggs and fun nods to pop culture and literary history."

Up with the Sun by Thomas Mallon

CrimeReads senior editor Molly Odintz put this high on her list of historical crime novels to look forward to in 2023: "There’s nothing more cynical than a crime novel about failed Hollywood dreams, and I can’t wait to be emotionally devastated by this one."

The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes

For her book club, Reese Witherspoon kicked off 2023 with a suspenseful page turner set in the Berkshires. "This is an absolute, can't-put-it-down thriller...It's truly a wild ride that had me flying through chapter after chapter — which I think is the perfect way to kick off your year of reading."

Everybody Knows by Jordan Harper

On NPR’s Fresh Air, book critic Maureen Corrigan gave this "LA noir for the #MeToo era" the ultimate Cali crime novel endorsement: "I'd like to think Chandler himself might get a kick out of Everybody Knows. He'd be baffled, of course, by its ultimately feminist sexual politics; but he'd be tickled to see how the LA hardboiled mystery form he largely created continues to chronicle a world even more fatally obsessed with images and false gods than he could ever have envisioned."

What Lies in the Woods by Kate Alice Marshall

New York Times writer Sarah Lyall gushed about this dark tale of friends haunted by a terrible past. "Marshall elevates the novel with unexpected plot twists, deep psychological perspicacity, and an endlessly interesting dance between past and present that evokes the dread and intensity of Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects."

Exiles by Jane Harper

In Book Riot, writer Erica Ezeifedi delighted in the latest caper from a Down Under detective. "The best things about Harper’s books are on full display here — a slow burn mystery, realistic characters, and a living, breathing Australian setting. While fans of Aaron Falk will be the most familiar with everything going on, you don’t have to have read the previous books to enjoy this.”

The Shards by Bret Easton Ellis

On NPR, Gabino Iglesias relished the return of a 90's literary enfant terrible. "It's been a dozen years since Bret Easton Ellis published a novel. And his latest, The Shards ... is worth the wait. Hermetic, paranoid, sleek, dark--and with brief explosions of the sex and violence that have characterized Ellis' oeuvre-- The Shards is a stark reminder that the American Psycho author is a genre unto himself."

The Thing in the Snow by Sean Adams

In The Washington Post, Becky Meloan warms up to a humorous psychological thriller set in the freezing cold. "The absurdity of the modern workplace has inspired copious satires, and like the creators of 'Office Space' and 'Severance,' Adams winningly skewers corporate life."

City Under One Roof by Iris Yamashita

Mystery Scene Magazine's Hank Wagner found this Alaska-set debut "a perfect winter read, guaranteed to hold your attention rapt through several long, cold nights. Clever and claustrophobic, dark and atmospheric, the well-crafted, expertly executed City Under One Roof is crime fiction at its best."

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