Best Books: 2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010
Summer Reads: 2024 | 2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012

The Anatomy of Desire

L.R. Dorn (Morrow)

Told in the form of a true crime docuseries, the pseudonymous Dorn’s debut focuses on the trial of Cleo Ray, a fitness coach and social media influencer, who’s accused of drowning her girlfriend while canoeing on a California lake. This innovative update of Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy, told from multiple perspectives, is un-put-downable.


The Anomaly

Hervé Le Tellier (Other Press)

A commercial plane flight from Paris to New York hits some unusual turbulence shortly before landing safely. A few months later, it becomes clear something extraordinary has happened to the passengers and crew that requires the FBI to isolate them all. This Prix Goncourt winner is a brilliant mix of existential thriller and speculative fiction.


Black Ice

Carin Gerhardsen (Scarlet)

A fatal two-car collision on a Swedish island, initially deemed a single-car accident after one car is buried in snow, has serious repercussions for the three women and two men involved. Plotted with mathematical precision, this complex psychological thriller of flawed people who make bad choices is an outstanding example of Scandi noir.


The Bloodless Boy

Robert J. Lloyd (Melville House)

In 1678 London, real-life scientist Robert Hooke, a member of the Royal Society, helps investigate a series of murders that turn out to be connected to the complicated English politics of the day. With its nuanced characterizations, graceful prose, and intricate mystery, this debut and series launch is a standout in the historical subgenre.


Five Decembers

James Kestrel (Hard Case Crime)

Shortly before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a Honolulu police detective investigates a gruesome double murder. The detective’s quest for the killer takes him on a long journey that exposes him to some of the worst horrors of WWII. Full of surprising twists of fate, this crime novel includes searing scenes of love, devotion, hardship, and courage.


Midnight, Water City

Chris McKinney (Soho Crime)

In the 22nd century, an unnamed investigator looks into the murder of a brilliant scientist, who was found frozen and hacked to pieces in her underwater home at the bottom of the world’s tallest seascraper. This highly original SF noir combines social commentary with the classic loner PI trope for thought-provoking results.


The Photographer

Mary Dixie Carter (Minotaur)

Delta Dawn has achieved success as a photographer of children’s parties among the well-to-do of Brooklyn. Then needy, self-centered Dawn gets a job babysitting for the Straub family, makes herself at home, and starts uncovering their darkest secrets. In a crowded field, this debut psychological thriller stands out from the pack.


The Plot

Jean Hanff Korelitz (Celadon)

Jake Bonner, a failed novelist who teaches creative writing in an MFA program, steals a plot from a student of his who dies soon after leaving the program. When the book Jake writes using the plot becomes a bestseller, someone in the know threatens to expose Jake. This is a compulsively readable send-up of the book publishing world.


The Push

Ashley Audrain (Viking/Dorman)

In this stunning debut, reluctant mother Blythe worries that something’s wrong with her first child, Violet. To save her deteriorating marriage, Blythe has a second child, Sam, whom she adores. Then seven-year-old Violet precipitates a tragedy that leads into the darkest corners of motherhood. This is psychological suspense at its disquieting best.


Steel Fear

Brandon Webb and John David Mann (Bantam)

People are dying aboard an American aircraft carrier headed home from the Persian Gulf. A Navy SEAL traumatized by a recent failed mission in Yemen suspects a serial killer is on the loose. Authentic naval detail and the highly unusual setting help make this edge-of-your-seat, character-driven series debut, the authors’ first foray into fiction, a winner.


These Toxic Things

Rachel Howzell Hall (Thomas & Mercer)

Digital archaeologist Michaela Lambert has an appointment with a client, Nadia Denham, who’s showing signs of Alzheimer’s and wants Michaela to create a digital scrapbook for her. But Nadia is dead, an apparent suicide, when Michaela arrives at Nadia’s shop. This complex, nuanced mystery puts an original spin on the serial killer theme.


Who Is Maud Dixon?

Alexandra Andrews (Little, Brown)

Aspiring novelist Florence Darrow, whose publishing career is going nowhere, welcomes the opportunity to be the live-in assistant to famous writer Maud Dixon. On a research trip to Morocco, things get complicated when Florence wakes up in the hospital after a car crash to find Maud has disappeared. This debut is worthy of Patricia Highsmith.


© PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.