The Top Twelve Mystery Novels of 2019
- The Whisper Man by Alex North (Celadon Books)
We seem to be inundated with domestic suspense novels these days—I guess we have to blame Gone Girl for that (depending on your tastes). In this imaginative departure a crucial question is asked. Have you ever been away from home for a long time and considered to moving back? Put that idea at the tip of the pen of Alex North and you have a creepy psychological novel, full of twists, but his style is that slow-burn style, where you’re just waiting for the shock ending. And, what a surprise ending it was. It shocked the heck out of me.
2. After the Eclipse by Fran Dorricott (Titan Books)
Is the past ever dead? Not in Fran Dorricott’s stellar debut. The book starts with a solar eclipse and parents instructing their daughter Cassie to keep an eye on her younger sister. She doesn’t do a good job of it and her sister is kidnapped and presumably killed. Twenty years later, we’re waiting for another eclipse and more young girls are getting kidnapped. And in a fight for redemption Cassie is determined to bring the killer to justice.
3. Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson (William Morrow)
Peter Swanson is one of those novelists who have the keen ability to put their readers off-balance from first to last page and in his latest novel, he portrays a world where you can’t distinguish the psychotic from the real. A women with some serious mental issues, becomes fixated on her neighbor, she alternates between her conviction that he’s a killer while at times doubting her sanity.
4. Widows-in-Law by Michele W. Miller (Blackstone Publishing)
Have you read a book and wanted it never to end? Michele Miller penned one of those , where a group of women find themselves immersed in the world of illegal gambling while matching wits with the leader of murderous gang.
5. The New Iberia Blues by James Lee Burke (Simon & Schuster)
James Lee Burke is no doubt the poet of American crime writing and in his latest, he takes us down a path that becomes darker and more menacing with each page. Dave Robicheaux finds himself in the cross-hairs of everyone from mobs, the unhinged, and the homicidal and all the while, he never loses his humanity.
6. Beyond All Reasonable Doubt by Malin Persson Giolito (Other Press)
Since the whole Millennium Trilogy, we’ve been inundated with Scandinavian thrillers of various qualities. This one stands out as something up to par with Larsson. Beyond Reasonable All Doubt is more than legal thriller, with a search for truth that often can bring disturbing answers.
7. The Murder List by Hank Phllippi Ryan (Forge Books)
Ryan manages never to write the same book twice and Murder List has been here strongest effort. This is a page-turner thriller that asks philosophical questions, challenges us from start to finish and ultimately shocks us. The enduring theme of this book is how on the surface someone’s life can look perfect, but how dark secrets, rivalries, can lurk behind the scenes.
8. Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison (Mira Books)
A fine effort by Ellison that is timely and explores the lies of the privileged. A girl is killed at a school for girls from wealthy families. The murder starts to expose some very nasty secrets and how beneath the wholesome exterior are some rotten secrets which note even the strong fragrance of hypocrisy can mask
9. Under Occupation by Alan Furst (Random House)
When you’re looking to find a contemporary Eric Ambler or Graham Greene look no further than Furst. His latest is based upon a neglected part of history, the forced labor of Poles in armaments factories during World War II and the role of intelligence in the fight against the Germans.
10. The Paris Diversion by Chris Pavone (Crown)
Simply said, the world has been crying for a novelist of intrigue like Chris Pavone. I won’t bother to write about the plot. I will just say, “Read the book now.”
11. No Exit by Taylor Adams (William Morrow)
Adam’s debut poses some questions and dumps us into a dilemma. What do you do if you’re at a rest stop and you see a little girl locked in a van and there is no cell-phone signal? Enough said.
12. The Chain by Adrian McKinty (Mulholland Books)
Finally, Adrian McKinty is on of those stories of a struggling author who has reached enormous heights after suffering some dark times. Check out Jeff Glor’s interview on Saturday Morning. The premise is morbidly sick, your child is kidnapped and you need to kidnap another child to have your child released and send $25,000 via Bitcoin and the chain goes on. What could possibly go right with that?