One of the most popular genres in books is the mystery & thriller genre. But it’s a category that has its skeptics. Some people think the books are too formulaic. Some think they are too violent or macabre. Some think that, as I once did before I truly understood the category, they are too lowbrow. Silly me. All I needed to do was to pick one up and start reading. If you don’t think you like mysteries and thrillers, you probably just need to do the same.
For those doubters out there, here’s a list to start with. And for the vast majority of readers who enjoy mysteries & thrillers, here’s a list to provide your next great read. Each of the books below was picked as a top 10 Best of the Month pick before it made our list of the Best Mysteries & Thrillers of the Year So Far–so I have included the Best of the Month reviews with each title.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides feels like it could be the big psychological thriller debut of 2019. The novel takes a few chapters to clear its throat and set the plot in motion, but once the tracks are laid it’s full steam ahead. Alicia Berenson is one-half of a glamorous couple—she’s an artist married to her fashion photographer husband, Gabriel. But when Gabriel returns home late one night, she shoots him five times in the face and refuses to speak again. Now she is being held in an institution outside London called the Grove. When a psychotherapist named Theo Faber becomes obsessed with her case, he finds his way to the Grove to treat her. Dark twists and delightful turns follow, secrets (and a diary) are revealed, and you will likely find yourself racing to the end.–Chris Schluep, the Amazon Book Review
The Current: A Novel by Tim Johnston
Tim Johnston’s Descent, a complex missing-person thriller set in the shadowy wilderness of the Rocky Mountains, was one of 2015’s most pleasant surprises. His follow-up, The Current, is equally, if not more, impressive: Two young women are pulled from the frigid winter waters of a Minnesota river, one dead and the other barely alive. The incident—which is no accident—recalls a similar tragedy 10 years earlier, and the survivor soon realizes their stories have deeper connections than just the river. Small towns with secrets is well traveled territory, but Johnston rises above any tropes through his fully realized characters, each filled with currents of grief, regret, and especially love. And as methodical as Johnston is at unwrapping his carefully plotted story, readers will churn through The Current‘s 400 pages—a paradox that only the most accomplished mystery writers ever achieve. The only complaint is that we might have to wait another three years for his next one. —Jon Foro, Amazon Book Review
The Lost Man by Jane Harper
The Australian outback has never looked as bleak and dangerous as it does in Jane Harper’s latest, The Lost Man. The stockman’s grave is a dark local landmark, the origin of urban legends, and now the site of another mysterious death. There is no detective chasing a killer in The Lost Man; only Nathan, the dead man’s brother, trying to work out how his sibling ended up where and how he did. Family history plays an important role in the story: Nathan, his brother Bub, and their now-dead brother Cam were raised in a house beset by violence. Their father is deceased, but all three brothers have stayed on to work and live in the incredibly harsh surroundings. Cam was the solid one, always responsible, the brother everyone liked. So how did he, of all people, end up dead? Deceptive twists sneak up on the reader, and with The Lost Man Harper has crafted another slow burn mystery that catches the reader unaware right up to the surprise ending. —Seira Wilson, Amazon Book Review
Early Riser: A Novel by Jasper Fforde
Jasper Fforde has a way with words and worlds. His latest novel is set in an alternate Wales where most of the human population hibernates through the deadly winter months. A few people—members of the Winter Consul Service—stay awake to watch over the sleepers and to ensure that everyone has a peaceful winter. Enter Charlie Worthing, who is embarking on his first winter and attempting to navigate the ins and outs of his new job, complete with intense isolation, nebulous Wintervolk, and the stray zombified aristocrat. The last thing Charlie is equipped for is a visit to Sector Twelve. The story is told, of course, with Fforde’s particular brand of winking humor, which fans of his previous books will love. All in all, this book is a delightful romp through an eye-blinkingly new world. –Alison Walker
Recursion: A Novel by Blake Crouch
The mind-bending thrillers of Blake Crouch (Dark Matter, Pines) remind me of Michael Crichton at the top of his game, but peopled with more complex characters. After New York City detective Barry Sutton sees a woman jump off a ledge because she’s a victim of FMS—False Memory Syndrome—he decides to track down her story of suddenly remembering a whole life she apparently lived instead of her “real” one. The strangest aspect of FMS is that friends and family of the afflicted also remember portions of the false lives. Motivated by a tragedy in his own past he wishes he could change, Sutton is determined to find out whether FMS is truly false or the gate to a new, better life. Alternate-reality stories are tough to maintain while suspending the reader’s disbelief, but Crouch’s cinematic style makes every moment vibrant, suspenseful, and convincing as his heroes struggle to untangle an impossible solution. —Adrian Liang, Amazon Book Review
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