These mystery and thriller books will surely bring joy to avid crime fiction and mystery readers. (Note: For our coverage of best crime, mystery, and thriller books in previous months, please visit here). For our September list, please go here.
Under Color of Law (Trevor Finnegan, 1) by Aaron Philip Clark (October 1). Black rookie cop Trevor “Finn” Finnegan aspires to become a top-ranking officer in the Los Angeles Police Department and fix a broken department. A fast-track promotion to detective in the coveted Robbery-Homicide Division puts him closer to achieving his goal.
Four years later, calls for police accountability rule the headlines. The city is teeming with protests for racial justice. When the body of a murdered black academy recruit is found in the Angeles National Forest, Finn is tasked to investigate.
As pressure mounts to solve the crime and avoid a PR nightmare, Finn scours the underbelly of a volatile city where power, violence, and race intersect. But it’s Finn’s past experience as a beat cop that may hold the key to solving the recruit’s murder. The price? The end of Finn’s career…or his life.
Welcome to Cooper by Tariq Ashkanani (October 1). Cooper, Nebraska, is forgettable and forgotten, a town you’d only stumble into if you’d taken a seriously wrong turn. Like Detective Thomas Levine’s career has. But when a young woman is found lying in the snow, choked to death, her eyes gouged out, the disgraced detective is Cooper’s only hope for restoring peace and justice.
For Levine, still grieving and guilt-ridden over the death of his girlfriend, his so-called “transfer” from the big city to this grubby backwater has always felt like a punishment. And when his irascible new partner shoots their prime suspect using Levine’s gun, all hope of redemption is shattered. With the case in chaos, and both blackmail and a violent drug cartel to contend with, he finds himself in a world of trouble.
It gets worse. The real killer is still out there, and he’s got plans for Detective Levine. And Cooper may just be the perfect place to get away with murder.
Inhuman Trafficking (A Legal Thriller) by Mike Papantonio; Alan Russell (October 5). For Nick “Deke” Deketomis, going where angels fear to tread in waging legal battles has long been a way of life. As managing partner for one of the nation’s largest plaintiffs’ law firms, Deke has gone toe to toe with some of the largest corporations in the world. His firm specializes in the tough, even quixotic, cases that few lawyers would dare to take on. Like human trafficking.
Deke’s target this time is Welcome Mat Hospitality, a firm known for its truck stops and lodging throughout the United States. What Welcome Mat doesn’t advertise is the human trafficking—for sex work and slave labor—going on at many of its properties. For the sake of better profits, Welcome Mat’s ownership has turned a blind eye to this lucrative enterprise.
As invested as Deke is in the case, though, it takes on even greater urgency when the past comes calling with word that his fifteen-year-old goddaughter, Lily Reyes, is missing. When Deke learns that Lily has fallen prey to a notorious trafficker, his personal and professional worlds converge. For his goddaughter to survive, Deke must prevail not only in the legal arena but outside of it.
The Jealousy Man and Other Stories by Jo Nesbo (October 5). Jo Nesbø is known the world over as a consummate mystery/thriller writer. Famed for his deft characterization, hair-raising suspense and shocking twists, Nesbø’s dexterity with the dark corners of the human heart is on full display in these inventive and enthralling stories.
A detective with a nose for jealousy is on the trail of a man suspected of murdering his twin; a bereaved father must decide whether vengeance has a place in the new world order after a pandemic brings about the collapse of society; a garbage man fresh off a bender tries to piece together what happened the night before; a hired assassin matches wits against his greatest adversary in a dangerous game for survival; and an instantly electric connection between passengers on a flight to London may spell romance, or something more sinister.
With Nesbø’s characteristic gift for outstanding atmosphere and gut-wrenching revelations, The Jealousy Man confirms that he is at the peak of his abilities.
The OC by D. P. Lyle (October 5). Restaurant owner and former professional baseball player Jake Longly is hoping for a few weeks of fun with Nicole Jamison in the warm Orange County, CA sun—The OC, baby. After that, they’ll be on their way to LA for the filming of Nicole’s sure-to-be-a-hit screenplay.
On arrival, they discover that Nicole’s friend Megan Weatherly, a local TV reporter, has picked up an anonymous stalker. Megan downplays any real danger, but her new intern Abby, as well as Jake and Nicole, don’t agree. Bit by bit, as the harassment escalates and the shadowy man invades Megan’s world, Jake calls in the big guns from back home in Alabama: Ray and Pancake. But will Ray’s military black ops experience and Pancake’s technical skills be enough to expose the predator in time?
The stalker is no fool and likely has a predatory history. He makes no mistakes and manages to cover his trail completely. So, how do you identify and locate the untraceable? How do you protect Megan from a potentially lethal phantom?
Suddenly the sunshine and safety of The OC seem more facade than reality. Jake and crew must punch through that facade and dig into the dark world of celebrity stalking. The clock is ticking.
No Memes of Escape by Olivia Blacke (October 5). Odessa Dean has made a home of Brooklyn. She has a fun job waiting tables at Untapped Books & Café and a new friend, Izzy, to explore the city with. When she’s invited on a girls’ day out escape room adventure, she jumps at the chance. It’s all fun and games until the lights come on and they discover one of the girls bludgeoned to death…
The only possible suspects are Odessa and the four other players that were locked in the escape room with the victim. She refuses to believe that one of them is responsible for the murder, despite what the clues indicate. In between shifts at the café, Odessa splits her time interviewing the murder suspects, updating the bookstore’s social media accounts, and searching for the impossible–an affordable apartment in Brooklyn.
But crime–and criminally high rent–waits for no woman. Can Odessa clear her and Izzy’s names before the police decide they’re guilty?
Twisted Tea Christmas by Laura Childs (October 5). Tea maven Theodosia Browning and her tea sommelier, Drayton Conneley, are catering a Victorian Christmas party at a swanky mansion in downtown Charleston. Drucilla Heyward, the hostess, is one of the wealthiest women in town.
As the champagne flows and the tea steeps, Drucilla is so pleased with the reception by her partygoers that she reveals her secret plan to Theodosia.
The Grande Dame has brought the cream of Charleston society together to reveal that she is planning to give her wealth away to various charitable organizations. However, before she can make the announcement, Theodosia finds her crumpled unconscious in the hallway. It looks like the excitement has gotten to the elderly woman–except that there is a syringe sticking out of her neck.
Just Thieves by Gregory Galloway (October 12). A down and dirty gem of a tale—a twisty and twisted crime novel that evokes the worlds of George V. Higgins, Patricia Highsmith, and David Mamet, destined to be a Neo-noir classic.
Rick and Frank are recovering addicts and accomplished house thieves. They do not steal randomly – – they steal according to order, hired by a mysterious handler. The jobs run routinely until they’re tasked with taking a seemingly worthless trophy: an object that generates interest and obsession out of proportion to its apparent value.
Just as the robbery is completed, the two are involved in a freak car accident that sets off a chain of events and Frank disappears with the trophy. As Rick tries to find Frank, he is forced to confront his past, upending both his livelihood and his sense of reality. The narrative builds steadily into a powerful and shocking climax. Reveling in its con-artistry and double-crosses, Just Thieves is a nail-biting, noirish exploration of the working lives of two unforgettable crooks and the hidden forces that rule and ruin their lives.
The Best American Mystery and Suspense 2021 by Alafair Burke, Steph Cha (October 12). Steph Cha, a rising star who brings a fresh perspective as series editor, takes the helm of the new The Best American Mystery and Suspense, with best-selling crime novelist Alafair Burke joining her as the first guest editor.“Crime writers, forgive the pun, are killing it right now creatively,” writes guest editor Alafair Burke in her introduction.
“It was difficult—painful even—to narrow this year’s Best American Mystery and Suspense to only twenty stories.” Spanning from a mediocre spa in Florida, to New York’s gritty East Village, to death row in Alabama, this collection reveals boundless suspense in small, quiet moments, offering startling twists in the least likely of places. From a powerful response to hateful bullying, to a fight for health care, to a gripping desperation to vote, these stories are equal parts shocking, devastating, and enthralling, revealing the tension pulsing through our everyday lives and affirming that mystery and suspense writing is better than ever before.
A Corruption of Blood by Ambrose Parry (October 19). Edinburgh, 1850. This city will bleed you dry. Dr Will Raven is a man seldom shocked by human remains, but even he is disturbed by the contents of a package washed up at the Port of Leith. Stranger still, a man Raven has long detested is pleading for his help to escape the hangman.
Back in the townhouse of Dr James Simpson, Sarah Fisher has set her sights on learning to practise medicine. Almost everyone seems intent on dissuading her from this ambition, but when word reaches her that a woman has recently obtained a medical degree despite her gender, Sarah decides to seek her out.
Raven’s efforts to prove his former adversary’s innocence are failing and he desperately needs Sarah’s help. Putting their feelings for one another aside, their investigations take them to both extremes of Edinburgh’s social divide, where they discover that wealth and status cannot alter a fate written in the blood.
Diamond and the Eye by Peter Lovesey (October 19). A Bath antiques dealer has disappeared, and detective Peter Diamond has been saddled with the “help” of a hardboiled Philip Marlowe wannabe private investigator in cracking the case. MWA Grand Master Peter Lovesey’s 20th installment in the award-winning series will have readers laughing from the first page.
If there’s one thing detective Bath Peter Diamond has no patience for, it’s a dumb git trying to get involved in one of his investigations—for example, a Philip Marlowe-wannabee private investigator like the self-styled Johnny Getz (his card claims he Getz results). But fate has saddled Diamond with this trial.
A Bath antiques dealer, Septimus “Seppy” Hubbard, has disappeared without a trace, and his daughter, Ruby, has hired Johnny Getz to find him. When a dead body is discovered in Seppy’s locked-up store, the missing persons case becomes a murder investigation, and now Diamond has to collaborate with the insufferable private eye.
The Axiom Paradox by C. T. Knight (October 19). Fresh out of the academy, a team’s first mission turns deadly when the secret organization Shadow demands Ensign Singe thwart the execution of a dangerous criminal. An act not easy to achieve when the discordant teammates are at odds with each other.
Varick—an IGC rule thumping lackey—pilots the craft and the other team mate—med-science officer Colobus leads them into a dangerous battle for the Light. Their fate lands them in the heart of a war where they must choose a side. But how do they choose when terrorists kidnap and torture them and the Intergalactic Council (IGC) want them dead.
The Judge’s List by John Grisham (October 19). In The Whistler, Lacy Stoltz investigated a corrupt judge who was taking millions in bribes from a crime syndicate. She put the criminals away, but only after being attacked and nearly killed. Three years later, and approaching forty, she is tired of her work for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct and ready for a change.
Then she meets a mysterious woman who is so frightened she uses a number of aliases. Jeri Crosby’s father was murdered twenty years earlier in a case that remains unsolved and that has grown stone cold. But Jeri has a suspect whom she has become obsessed with and has stalked for two decades. Along the way, she has discovered other victims.
Suspicions are easy enough, but proof seems impossible. The man is brilliant, patient, and always one step ahead of law enforcement. He is the most cunning of all serial killers. He knows forensics, police procedure, and most important: he knows the law.
He is a judge, in Florida—under Lacy’s jurisdiction.
He has a list, with the names of his victims and targets, all unsuspecting people unlucky enough to have crossed his path and wronged him in some way. How can Lacy pursue him, without becoming the next name on his list?
Five Decembers by James Kestrel (October 26). December 1941. America teeters on the brink of war, and in Honolulu, Hawaii, police detective Joe McGrady is assigned to investigate a homicide that will change his life forever. Because the trail of murder he uncovers will lead him across the Pacific, far from home and the woman he loves; and though the U.S. doesn’t know it yet, a Japanese fleet is already steaming toward Pearl Harbor.
This extraordinary novel is so much more than just a gripping crime story—it’s a story of survival against all odds, of love and loss and the human cost of war. Spanning the entirety of World War II, FIVE DECEMBERS is a beautiful, masterful, powerful novel that will live in your memory forever.
A Line to Kill by Anthony Horowitz (October 19). When Ex-Detective Inspector Daniel Hawthorne and his sidekick, author Anthony Horowitz, are invited to an exclusive literary festival on Alderney, an idyllic island off the south coast of England, they don’t expect to find themselves in the middle of murder investigation—or to be trapped with a cold-blooded killer in a remote place with a murky, haunted past.
Arriving on Alderney, Hawthorne and Horowitz soon meet the festival’s other guests—an eccentric gathering that includes a bestselling children’s author, a French poet, a TV chef turned cookbook author, a blind psychic, and a war historian—along with a group of ornery locals embroiled in an escalating feud over a disruptive power line.
When a local grandee is found dead under mysterious circumstances, Hawthorne and Horowitz become embroiled in the case. The island is locked down, no one is allowed on or off, and it soon becomes horribly clear that a murderer lurks in their midst. But who?
Both a brilliant satire on the world of books and writers and an immensely enjoyable locked-room mystery, A Line to Kill is a triumph—a riddle of a story full of brilliant misdirection, beautifully set-out clues, and diabolically clever denouements.
Better Off Dead (A Jack Reacher Novel) by Lee Child; Andrew Child (October 26). Reacher goes where he wants, when he wants. That morning he was heading west, walking under the merciless desert sun—until he comes upon a curious scene. A Jeep has crashed into the only tree for miles around. A woman is slumped over the wheel.
Dead? No, nothing is what it seems. The woman is Michaela Fenton, an army veteran turned FBI agent trying to find her twin brother, who might be mixed up with some dangerous people. Most of them would rather die than betray their terrifying leader, who has burrowed his influence deep into the nearby border town, a backwater that has seen better days. The mysterious Dendoncker rules from the shadows, out of sight and under the radar, keeping his dealings in the dark.
He would know the fate of Fenton’s brother. Reacher is good at finding people who don’t want to be found, so he offers to help, despite feeling that Fenton is keeping secrets of her own. But a life hangs in the balance. Maybe more than one. But to bring Dendoncker down will be the riskiest job of Reacher’s life. Failure is not an option, because in this kind of game, the loser is always better off dead.
Gated Prey (Eve Ronin, 3) by Lee Goldberg (October 26). Los Angeles County Sheriff’s detective Eve Ronin and her soon-to-retire partner, Duncan Pavone, are running a 24-7 sting in a guard-gated enclave of palatial homes in Calabasas. Their luxury McMansion is a honey trap, set to lure in the violent home invaders terrorizing the community. The trap works, leaving three intruders dead, a body count that nearly includes Eve and Duncan.
Eve’s bosses are eager to declare the case closed, but there are too many unanswered questions for her to let go. Was the trap actually for her, bloody payback for Eve’s very public takedown of a clique of corrupt deputies? Or is there an even deadlier secret lurking behind those opulent gates? Eve’s refusal to back down and her relentless quest for the truth make her both the hunter…and the prey.