What a great month for mysteries and thrillers. Maybe it's the cold weather (or if you're in the Pacific Northwest, the gray, rainy weather). We're all shut in. We're sipping our tea and reading mysteries with unreliable narrators, or CIA thrillers written by CIA analysts, or psychological suspense that keeps us up at night. This may be a record... three books from the Best Mystery & Thrillers category were also in our Top 10 Best Books of the Month. As you'll see, we probably could have put more thrillers in the Top 10; but there were other categories to choose from, and while it may currently seem otherwise, people do read other categories of books.
Here's a selection from the Best Mysteries & Thriller of January:
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn - In her Best of the Month review, Senior Editor Seira Wilson wrote: "The Woman in the Window is a seductive and unpredictable novel, like the Hitchcock movies to which author A.J. Finn pays homage. Finn’s protagonist Anna Fox is a child psychologist who lives alone in a New York suburb with a case of agoraphobia so debilitating she hasn’t left the house in months. To occupy her time Anna watches film noir classics from her vast collection, interacts with people online, and sometimes spies on her neighbors. It’s all very innocuous until she sees a horrible crime take place in the house across the park, recently inhabited by a new family. Call the police and report it, right? Things are a little more complicated for Anna—exacerbated by her routine consumption of prescription drugs with a lot of wine. Author A.J. Finn throws curve balls where you least expect them; I gasped out loud and in public, twice, while reading this novel because I was so taken by surprise. In the gap of time since Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train we’ve been asking ourselves, when will we find the next big must-read psychological thriller? I think A.J. Finn’s The Woman in the Window answers that question."
Need to Know by Karen Cleveland - Amazon's Adrian Liang wrote the Best of the Month review for Need to Know, which was also our Debut Spotlight: "The last thing that CIA analyst Vivian Miller expects to see when she finally accesses the files of a suspected Russian sleeper cell is the face of someone close to her. Someone she thought she could trust with her four children. Someone whose exposure as a Russian spy will destroy her hard-fought career. Miller panics and deletes the file. She knows she's only delayed the inevitable exposure…unless she can use her skills to extract herself and her family. Debut author Karen Cleveland capitalizes on her own experiences as a CIA analyst, shedding light on the gritty and unromantic day-to-day realities of intelligence work even as she tightens the screws on Miller. Russian threats, a CIA internal investigation sniffing closer, and the constant fear that those whom she trusts are not worthy of her faith hamstring Miller's ability to get loose of the situation, while her family is put squarely in the crosshairs. Cleveland brings an invigorating, authoritative twist to the usual CIA thriller, putting you on edge while you flip pages like crazy to find out what happens next."
The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey - In her Best of the Month review, Amazon's Vannessa Cronin did a great job of setting up this mystery that introduces a fabulous new heroine: "Set in 1920s Bombay, The Widows of a Malabar Hill introduces Perveen Mistry, Bombay’s first female solicitor, who works for her father’s law firm, handling contracts and estate work. When one of her father’s Muslim clients dies and the trustee of the estate submits paperwork, signed by his three widows, donating the bulk of their inheritance to charity, Perveen’s suspicions are aroused. The widows live in purdah, totally cut off from the outside world, and as she delves deeper into the secrets and betrayals in the house on Malabar Hill, what started as a routine inquiry quickly escalates to murder. Perveen has painful experience of the ways in which women’s voices can be silenced, and driven by personal tragedy to protect the rights of such women, even murder can’t deter her. Massey deftly evokes the sights, the sounds, and the heat of Bombay as her clever and determined heroine, aided by a large supporting cast of sharply-drawn characters, sidesteps both custom and danger to deliver justice."
The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen - Although we didn't select The Wife Between Us as one of our Top 10 Best Books of the Month, we could tell it was going to be a hit (and the Best Mysteries & Thrillers of the Month list is nothing to sniff at). The writing duo of Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen have written a first wife/second wife, multi-point-of-view page-turner that has firmly placed it on best seller lists. This book is everywhere right now.
In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code: little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.
In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he's put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank . . . until one of them turns up dead. That's when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.
Sound good? It is. In fact, it's great.
There are even more great books in our list of the Best Mysteries & Thrillers of January. Check them out here.