Being presented with a problem and finding the solution to it is one of the most basic and bare-bone pleasures known to us. It stimulates our creative thinking and instills in us an innate sense of accomplishment, even if it’s only the smallest of victories.
When the problem actually presents an intriguing puzzle, it can be as enjoyable as any non-problematic pleasure in life. I think as a whole, the human civilization has become somewhat addicted to solving puzzles of all kinds, and to supplement this incessant demand, authors have one day come up with the mystery genre, which today also encompasses thrillers.
Whether it’s theft, murder, disappearance, or some widespread conspiracy, mystery and thriller novels have always sought to entertain us by constantly pushing us to answer questions without obvious solutions and challenging our expectations with the real answers.
There definitely are and will be more worthy books in this genre than I’ll ever get to read, but in here you will find the mystery and thriller novels which I did have the time to get acquainted with and believe are worthy of a greater spotlight.
“Still Life” by Louise Penny – No Accidents in Three Pines
Louise Penny, back in 2008, began something I’m sure even she had trouble anticipating, creating the first novel in the Chief Inspector Gamache Mystery series (now with sixteen entries and counting), titled Still Life.
For his first time out under the sun, the inspector is tasked with a deceitful case, appearing like an open-and-shut tragic accident. Gamache, however, can feel there’s something dark and rotten hiding in the remote woods of Three Pines.
A Fatal Grace” by Louise Penny – An Open Death Nobody Saw
Louise Penny has brought the quaint streets of Quebec to the forefront of the literary world with her Chief Inspector Gamache Mystery series, and it was in large part due to the second novel, A Fatal Grace, winner of the 2007 Agatha Award for Best Novel.
Following Chief Inspector Gamache once again, we are treated to his investigation into macabre Christmas murder in a picturesque Quebecois village.
“The Cruelest Month” by Louise Penny – Fatal Fright at a Seance
Louise Penny has certainly drawn the little community of Three Pines from its relative forgotten obscurity in A Chief Inspector Gamache Mystery series, and the third entry, The Cruelest Month, brings it right back to the foreground of Quebec news.
Celebrating Easter, the people of Three Pines decide to hold a seance to clear the evil spirits, when one of them dies of fright. Foul play is nowhere to be found, but Gamache’s experience tells him otherwise.
“A Rule Against Murder” by Louise Penny – Domestic Summer Storm
Louise Penny seems determined never to give Chief Inspector Gamache a moment of respite, and in the fourth book of the series, titled A Rule Against Murder, he finds himself drawn into an investigation while celebrating his wedding anniversary with Reine-Marie.
The isolated manor they’re staying at is also host to family reunion, one which leaves a dead body behind in the wake of a storm.
“Booked to Die” by John Dunning – The Bookseller’s Justice
John Dunning has been working on his award-winning book-centered mystery series, the Cliff Janeway novels, for over two decades at this point, offering a taste of something unique in a sea of thrillers.
The first novel which started it all, Booked to Die, introduces us to the Cliff Janeway as he first loses his badge by taking a bit of revenge on a murder suspect, and then opens a small bookshop while still searching for evidence to take the man down for good… and this is when more bodies start appearing.
“The Bookman’s Wake” by John Dunning – The Edition Worth Killing for
John Dunning has become known in recent years for his ability as an author to integrate his love for books into his stories as pivotal plot elements.
In The Bookman’s Wake, the second entry in the Cliff Janeway Novels series, we follow the cop-turned-bookdealer on his adventure to reign in a fugitive from Denver, one who possibly stole a priceless edition of Poe’s “The Raven”. To find the mysterious woman, he’ll have to delve deep into the strange past surrounding the book.
“The Guest List” by Lucy Foley – The Perfect Ruination
Lucy Foley has decided to treat us to yet another instant classic, this time drawing inspiration from the timeless works of Agatha Christie in her latest novel titled The Guest List.
A whodunit murder mystery at heart, it takes us to a remote wedding celebration between a rising television star and a magazine publisher. Everything seemed slated for perfection, until a body suddenly turns up, sparing none from the lens of suspicion.
“The Sentence is Death” by Anthony Horowitz – Enemies of the Deceased
Anthony Horowitz has decided to take us back to a simpler time for straightforward murder mysteries with his Detective Daniel Hawthorne series, with the second book having seen the light of day recently, titled The Sentence is Death.
In it, we follow the detective on another curious case, this time involving the murder of a celebrity-divorce lawyer, Richard Pryce, via a bottle of wine worth three thousand pounds.
“Street Music” by Timothy Hallinan – The End of the Line
Timothy Hallinan has accomplished the great exploit of creating characters many of us have grown attached to over the years with his Poke Rafferty Thriller series, and in the ninth novel, titled Street Music, we’re finally reaching the terminal station.
In this last outing of his, we witness Poke investigating into the disappearance of a cantankerous old gang member, all while contending with the puzzling trials of being a father and seeing his daughter maturing into a woman.
“Revenge at Sea” by Brian O’Sullivan – Detective Newsman
Brian O’Sullivan is further and further stretching his writing arm in the thriller genre, moving away from political topics to give us a more classic crime story in his latest book, Revenge at Sea.
Following a small-time reporter by the name of Quint Adler, the story takes us on a wild chase as he becomes a suspect in some gruesome murders and is forced to finish the search for truth he foolishly started in hopes of moving up in life.
“The Unrepentant” by E.A. Aymar – Nowhere to Run
E.A. Aymar may not be a huge name in the literary crime genre, but he is certainly getting up there with his recent novel titled The Unrepentant.
Following the eighteen-year-old Charlotte Reyes, we witness a story taking us to the darkest corners of the human mind as she is first forced to run, and then finally make a stand against the kidnappers relentlessly pursuing her, willing to take her in dead rather than alive.
“The Night Fire” by Michael Connelly – The Investigator’s Flame
Michael Connelly may have traveled a long road with Harry Bosch, but he found a way to breathe a new life into him, partnering him up with detective Renee Ballard.
In the second book in their series, titled The Night Fire, the duo sets out to solve a case which haunted Harry’s mentor for over twenty years until his death, the unsolved murder of a troubled young man.
“The Turn of the Key” by Ruth Ware – The Imperfect Victim
Ruth Ware’s career may not have started long ago, but she has so far maintained a high standard for herself, one she does her absolute best to live up to in her fifth novel, The Turn of the Key.
In it, we follow the story of Rowan Caine who took up a “too good to be true” nanny job at a luxurious estate, only to end up being accused of murdering a child.
From her prison cell, she writes to her lawyer, trying to unravel to complexity of all she has been through, consistently adamant she is no killer… but then who is?
“This Storm” by James Ellroy – Tracing the Veins of Corruption
James Ellroy has for a long time been a strong pillar in the Noir genre, specifically basing his works around the city of angels.
In his recent novel, This Storm, he goes back to what he does best, taking us to 1942 L.A. where an unearthed body jump-starts a veritable underground war defined by self-serving and corrupt figures from all walks of life.
“Birthday Girl” by Matthew Iden – Snatcher of Innocence
Matthew Iden has never shied away from exposing the macabre and virulent aspects of the world in his writings, and in Birthday Girl he dives yet again into the abyss known as the human mind.
In this story, we are presented with a former criminal psychologist, Elliot Nash, living on the streets of Washington after his life went off the rails following the murder of his daughter.
Fate does throw him a bone when a woman seeks out his help, believing her child to not only still be alive a year after the abduction, but also part of a series of kidnappings having claimed seven children so far.
“Night of the Jaguar” by Michael Gruber – Jungle Blood on the City Streets
Michael Gruber has captivated the attention of many thriller and murder mystery fans with his Jimmy Paz series, injecting some fresh and new perspectives into a genre which has at times grown stale due to its own long-lasting popularity.
In Night of the Jaguar, we follow Jimmy Paz once again on a strange and convoluted journey involving murdered Cuban-American business lords, a shaman who wants to save his forests in South Africa, the world of “Santeria” and Colombian drug lords to top it all off.