From a no-nonsense lady detective in a Gothic mystery, to a modern day cop who worries her sister is the latest victim of a serial killer; from a trio of pretty things whose jet set lifestyle is an illusion, to a trio in India whose lives are roiled by the fallout from a comment on Facebook, here are some of our favorite mysteries and thrillers of the year so far.
To view all of our selections, visit Amazon Best Books So Far. There you’ll see our overall top 20 picks, plus favorites in categories from mystery, thriller, and suspense, to literary fiction, to romance and sci-fi (and everything in between).
Things in Jars by Jess Kidd
It's remarkable that a tale which starts with the kidnapping of a child, moves on to Bridie Devine, a lady detective who does her best thinking under the influence of some whacky baccy, mentions Bridie's super tall house maid (and former circus performer), adds a spectral pugilist (still clad in shorts and top hat), and garnishes it all with a deviant doctor with an unhealthy interest in the unnatural, still manages to be a cracking mystery. But Jess Kidd manages it, and then some. Did we mention mermaids, Scotland Yard, and public operating theaters? This was the book we read aloud in the office, and begged others to read, too.
Pretty Things by Janelle Brown
When a second-generation grifter, Nina, and her shady boyfriend move to Lake Tahoe, they collide with a woman from Nina’s past, heiress Vanessa Liebling. Behind a glittering façade of old money and fast living, a darker story of social climbing, social media, revenge, and betrayal starts to take menacing shape. An abject lesson in "all that glisters isn't gold," as well as a devastating shell game in a scenario where it's hard to tell the targets from the conmen, Pretty Things is one of those thrillers you want everyone you know to read so you can discuss it.
A Burning by Megha Majumdar
Kicked off by a careless Facebook comment about the government that comes back to haunt the woman who posted it, A Burning is told from three different points of view. Amazon editor Chris Schluep said "Their stories snake around each other to establish a captivating storyline, and while there is ripe space for political and social exploration in this book, Megha Majumbar never sacrifices the inner lives of her characters to explore those broader themes."
Long Bright River by Liz Moore
An epic mystery with a melancholy heart, Long Bright River has decades old secrets, contemporary opioid misadventures, and a police force overrun by the social issues that bedevil a rundown patch of the city. It also has one of the most memorable sister acts of any thriller in the past few years, one sister a by the book cop and single mother, the other a lost sheep, isolated from her family—especially her sister—by a long string of poor choices that culminate in one sister being genuinely concerned that her wayward sibling has become the latest addict/sex worker to catch the eye of a vicious serial killer.
2020 has been a long, strange year so far, but a good year when it comes to mysteries and thrillers. It's hard to pick favorites but here are a few of ours.