Is there anything better than curling up with the latest page-turner? Okay, maybe if you add a cup of tea. Or a piece of chocolate. Whatever your vice happens to be. The best new crime books—whether you’re into cozy mysteries, thrillers, or serial killers—are full of twists and turns and unforgettable characters. How many of these have you read?
Nita Prose’s The Maid is already one of the biggest hits of 2022, and it’s easy to understand why. Since it was released in January, this cozy whodunnit has garnered almost 25,000 reviews on Amazon, and a feature film is in the works with Florence Pugh. So, you know, it’s kind of a big deal. What’s even more astounding is that The Maid is Prose’s debut novel!
The main character, Molly, is a maid working at a posh hotel. She likes things “simple and neat,” and her fastidiousness and attention to detail make Molly excellent at her job. But although she loves her job, she struggles to make sense of the world—especially the people in it. When a high-profile guest is murdered, Molly is a prime suspect. Luckily, she has more friends than she ever suspected, and together, they try to unravel the mystery. Lots of reviewers have compared The Maid to Clue while also praising its warm, uplifting heart.
Don’t Know Tough
Reviewers are comparing Eli Cranor’s debut novel, Don’t Know Tough, to Friday Night Lights, but this noir crime story shares its DNA with the Southern Gothic thrillers of Wiley Cash. In small-town Arkansas, high school football star Billy Lowe has a reputation for being tough on the field. But at home, in his mother’s trailer, he’s being abused by his mother’s boyfriend. When that boyfriend turns up dead, Billy is the obvious suspect.
“Eli Cranor’s top-shelf debut, Don’t Know Tough, is Southern noir at its finest, a cauldron of terrible choices and even more terrible outcomes . . . There is a raw ferocity to Cranor’s prose, perfectly in keeping with the novel’s examination of curdling masculinity.”—Sarah Weinman, The New York Times Book Review
Peng Shepherd’s latest novel, The Cartographers, is unlike anything you’ve ever read. When Nell Young finds a map in her dead father’s office—the very map that led to a falling out between father and daughter—she feels compelled to investigate. Why is the map so important? And is someone willing to kill over it?
Critics are comparing Shepherd’s post-modern, magical-realist thriller to the work of Jorge Luis Borges, Ray Bradbury, and Thomas Pynchon. If you’ve never thought of maps as particularly interesting, then get ready to be proved wrong.
The Unknown Beloved
Amy Harmon’s latest novel is set during the Great Depression and begins at the scene of a murder. At the start of The Unknown Beloved, ten-year-old Dani Flanagan’s parents have been murdered, and rookie patrolman Michael Malone is told to sweep the more unusual aspects of the case under the rug. Dani herself is whisked off to Cleveland to live with her aunts, and it would seem that their paths would never cross again.
But fate has other ideas in store. Fifteen years later, Michael and Dani reconnect in Cleveland, where a serial killer is terrorizing the city. Their relationship unfolds even as their secrets are dragged into the light—and all the while, the clock is ticking to find the killer.
Rachel Hawkins began her career as a bestselling YA author (I still love her Hex Hall series), but her page-turning thrillers for adult readers are just as addictive. Reckless Girls maroons six characters on a remote Pacific island for what was supposed to be the ultimate vacation. Instead, it becomes an endless nightmare of paranoia, secrets, and betrayals.
The book begins with a shockingly violent moment, then slowly reels you in with a narrator who is disarmingly charming and lighthearted. The contrast between the promise of adventure and the encroaching dread makes Reckless Girls impossible to put down.
“The disappearance of a young woman leaves her best friend reeling and an NYPD homicide detective digging into her own past in this twisty mystery about the power of female friendships.” That’s the premise of Find Me, the latest novel by Alafair Burke (The Better Sister and The Wife).
There are multiple threads of mystery in this thriller, including Hope Miller’s mysterious, unremembered past, an elusive killer who dropped off the radar, and the death of an NYPD detective’s father in the line of duty. As those threads draw ever closer, the women at the heart of this story uncover things they never wanted to know.
The Last House on the Street
The Last House on the Street dishes up not one but two mysteries, separated by decades and yet connected by the women who were caught in them. Diane Chamberlain skillfully weaves together the two stories—one from 1965 and one from 2010—as the terrible secret of the picture-perfect town of Round Hill is slowly revealed.
The civil rights movement forms the backdrop of this all-too-timely novel, in which the ghosts of the past haunt widowed architect Kayla Carter and her neighbor Ellie Hockley. The two women must confront the truth that lurks just behind the veneer of the charming North Carolina town they call home.
Hot and Sour Suspects
PopTonic’s own Kaitlin Stubbs is a fan of Vivien Chien’s Noodle Shop Mystery series. The eighth book—Hot and Sour Suspects—was published in January, and it’s just as delightful as the other seven entries. Lana Lee is back, and this time, the murder victim is a man who participated in a speed dating event at her restaurant. The more she digs into his past, the more suspects she finds.
You’ll probably want to start at the beginning of this series, but the books are so lighthearted and quick to read that you won’t mind.
The Paris Apartment
One of the buzziest bestsellers of the year so far is Lucy Foley’s The Paris Apartment. The story begins when Jess, hovering near rock bottom, asks her half-brother Ben if she can stay at his apartment. After all, “everything will look better in Paris,” right? This could have been the setup for a charming rom-com, but instead, it’s the start of an unforgettable mystery.
When Jess arrives, Ben is nowhere to be found. As she looks for clues about where he might have gone, she discovers that the other residents of Ben’s apartment building are strange—and possibly sinister. Fans of Only Murders in the Building will enjoy this locked-room mystery from the author of The Guest List.
The Violin Conspiracy
“Ray McMillian is a Black classical musician on the rise—undeterred by the pressure and prejudice of the classical music world—when a shocking theft sends him on a desperate quest to recover his great-great-grandfather’s heirloom violin on the eve of the most prestigious musical competition in the world.”
The Violin Conspiracy is to classical music as The Queen’s Gambit was to chess. Even if you weren’t a fan before, the book will draw you deep into Ray McMillian’s world. Debut author Brendan Slocumb is himself a gifted violinist, and the authenticity with which he writes about the struggles of being a Black classical musician will leave you breathless.
Do you ever wish that you could read one of your favorite mysteries again for the first time? Peter Swanson cleverly reimagines Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None in this heart-pounding thriller. You might think you know what’s going to happen, but Nine Lives will keep you guessing.
Nine seemingly unrelated people all receive a letter containing a list of their names. There’s no explanation. No context. Just a mysterious list. Most of them dismiss the letter—at least until the people on the list start dying. FBI agent Jessica Winslow is desperate to figure out what connects the people on the list… before her own number gets called. Will she be able to figure out the mystery in time?
The Paradox Hotel
Do you enjoy your crime novels with a dash of sci-fi? Then pick up a copy of The Paradox Hotel, the mind-bending, heart-rending novel by Rob Hart. January Cole runs security for a hotel where elite guests can travel back in time. When a body turns up at the hotel, it’s bad enough. Then January realizes she’s the only person who can see it.
Author Chuck Wendig called The Paradox Hotel “a tense, taut cinematic kick to the teeth.” It’s not exactly a light-hearted beach read, but you may find yourself sucked into the futuristic labyrinth and stay up all night to finish this book. Read the sample first, though, before you make a commitment, as this one is a bit different from the other titles on the list.