Best Crime Fiction of 2022

Sisters on the run from racists, senior assassins dodging bullets, and a photographer plagued by ghosts featured in the best crime fiction of 2022.

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Emerson, Ramona. Shutter. Soho Crime. ISBN 9781641293334.

Diné writer Emerson’s gripping debut stars Diné crime-scene photographer Rita Todacheene, who has been seeing spirits since she was little. When a ghost implores her to solve her grisly murder, Rita is thrown into a viper’s nest of organized crime, police corruption, and danger. The layered plot, combined with Rita’s memories of life with her grandmother on a Navajo reservation and her experiences of being ostracized because of her psychic abilities, make this a must-read.

Gentill, Sulari. The Woman in the Library. Poisoned Pen: Sourcebooks. ISBN 9781728261942.

A complex, riveting story within a story from Ned Kelly Award winner Gentill. Writer Freddie Kincaid is sharing a table with three others at the Boston Public Library when they hear a scream and discover that a woman has been murdered. As she narrates, Freddie recounts her growing friendship with and suspicion of the others. Then it becomes clear that a bestselling Australian novelist is writing Freddie’s story while coping with her own stalker.

Glass, Ava. Alias Emma. Bantam. ISBN 9780593496794.

Glass writes a British spy thriller for the current moment. Emma is eager to start her first big assignment: get Michael, the son of Russian dissidents, to safety and prevent Russian agents from capturing him. They must take to the alleys, sewers, and back channels of London, because the Russians have hacked into London’s extensive network of CCTV cameras. This adrenaline-fueled series launch gives Jason Bourne and James Bond a run for their money.

Morris, Wanda M. Anywhere You Run. Morrow. ISBN 9780063271821

Alternate points of view propel Morris’s stunning, frightening second novel, which immerses readers in 1964 Jackson, MS. The Richards sisters are in trouble: rebellious Violet has killed the white man who raped her, while Marigold, who dreams of becoming a lawyer, is pregnant and unmarried. First Violet, then Marigold, flee Jackson, but neither can outrun her troubles, and there’s nowhere to hide. Issues of registering Black voters and surviving Jim Crow “justice” couldn’t be more pertinent.

Penny, Louise. A World of Curiosities. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. (Chief Inspector Gamache, Bk. 18). ISBN 9781250145291.

A grim, intricately plotted story forces readers to search for contrasting moments of hope. In 1999, Armand Gamache was convinced that sexually abused children Fiona and Sam were responsible for their mother’s murder, but only Fiona did time. Now Fiona and Sam are in Three Pines when several murders occur—all connected to a painting found in a hidden room. The backstories of Gamache and his second in command are revealed in this compelling tale of forgiveness and redemption.

Raybourn, Deanna. Killers of a Certain Age. Berkley. ISBN 9780593200681.

Four well-trained female assassins star in this explosive, humorous thriller reminiscent of the 2010 movie RED. Billie Webster and her three friends, recruited in their 20s, were the first all-women team of assassins trained to kill Nazis. Eventually, they moved onto killing dictators and sex traffickers. Now, 40 years later, the recently retired women must use all their skills in a fast-paced gamble to save themselves before their own agency removes them for good.

Rosen, Lev A.C. Lavender House. Forge. ISBN 9781250834225.

A noir-tinged plot and a fresh take on a PI whodunit enliven YA author Rosen’s adult debut. In 1952, San Francisco police inspector Evander “Andy” Mills is caught in a raid on a gay club. Fired, evicted, and blacklisted, he considers suicide. Then he’s hired by Pearl, who believes that her heiress wife has been murdered at her secluded estate, Lavender House, where a queer found family flourishes—did one of its members commit the crime?

Schellman, Katharine. Last Call at the Nightingale. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. ISBN 9781250831828.

Schellman’s compelling, atmospheric series debut conveys a strong sense of 1924 Jazz Age New York and introduces the Nightingale, a nightclub where people of different races, classes, and sexualities come together. Vivian Kelly, a young Irish dressmaker, craves the carefree abandon of evenings spent at the Nightingale, until she’s caught up in a raid and pulled into a violent world. In exchange for her freedom, she agrees to investigate a murder.

Skördeman, Gustaf. Geiger. Grand Central. tr. from Swedish by Ian Giles. ISBN 9781538754375.

A one-word phone call reactivates a sixtysomething sleeper agent and triggers the murder of a beloved Swedish TV personality. Crusading cop Sara Nowak learns of the murder and pursues the case. She begins to uncover corruption, rot, and uncomfortable memories; not everyone is happy that she’s involved. Swedish screenwriter Skördeman’s debut is a thrilling mix of police procedural, family novel, and spy story, starring two kick-ass women with complex backstories.

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