Best Crime Fiction of 2023

This year’s best crime fiction novels contain simmering secrets, rage and revenge, dogged detectives, and plenty of murder and mayhem. Dig in!


Chua, Amy. The Golden Gate. Minotaur. ISBN 9781250903600.

Inspired by a ghost story, this complex debut set in 1944 in Berkeley, CA, incorporates San Francisco history and World War II racism, along with class differences and social issues of prejudice. Homicide detective Al Sullivan, who is biracial, investigates the assassination of a presidential candidate in an intriguing murder case whose suspects include the granddaughters of a wealthy society matron.

Clark, Tracy. Fall. Thomas & Mercer. ISBN 9781662512551.

A twisty plot and well-developed characters feature in Clark’s second police procedural starring Chicago detective Harriet Foster as she and her new partner, Grace Li, investigate the suspicious deaths of several Chicago aldermen. Their prime suspect took the fall and went to prison for her crooked colleagues, but she swears she’s being set up. Foster and Li puzzle over the case and, as women of color, contend with working in a profession of mostly men.

Cosby, S.A. All the Sinners Bleed. Flatiron. ISBN 9781250831910.

Elected as the first Black sheriff in Charon County, VA, Titus Crown investigates a school shooting and a case involving sexual abuse and the murders of Black children. Crown carries the weight of grief and faith, along with the complex legacy of a community founded on corruption and racism, in Cosby’s powerful and gritty mystery.

Herron, Mick. The Secret Hours. Soho Crime. ISBN 9781641295215.

“Slough House” series author Herron’s wickedly human spies, all of them not quite what they seem, bumble and connive their way through this riveting stand-alone. In modern-day London, an investigative committee looking into past MI5 misdeeds is limping to a close when they’re handed a bombshell file about activities in 1990s Berlin. Dual plotlines that dovetail delightfully, large doses of drollery, and whiplash action inform this brilliant spy novel.

Kapoor, Deepti. Age of Vice. Riverhead. ISBN 9780593328798.

The lives of three vividly drawn characters intersect in this magnificent, sprawling India-set tale. Ajay, sold into servitude at age eight, goes to work for Sunny, the scion of a crime gang family. Neda, a journalist writing about corruption, is drawn into Sunny’s booze- and drug-filled lifestyle. But things fall apart when Sunny tries to break free of his family and then commands Ajay to take the blame for a friend’s tragic car crash.

Lehane, Dennis. Small Mercies. Harper. ISBN 9780062129482.

Lehane’s remarkable novel explores racism, hatred, and fear in Boston during the desegregation busing crisis. Set in 1974, it is told through the life of tough Southie resident Mary Pat Fennessey, whose teenage daughter Jules goes missing, as well as the observations of a local cop. It’s a rage-filled story of a grieving parent, representative of one time and place but with much to say about the simmering anger in this country.

Rao, Nilima. A Disappearance in Fiji. Soho Crime. ISBN 9781641294294.

Rao’s debut insightfully explores the evils of colonialism. In 1914, Police Sergeant Akal Singh, an Indian Punjab Sikh, is sent to a British colonial outpost in Fiji. Assigned to look for an Indian woman who indentured herself and then disappeared, Singh investigates and uncovers a web of brutality within the plantation system that exploits indentured laborers and abuses women, a stark contrast to the beauty of the surroundings.

Shames, Terry. Guilt Strikes at Granger’s Store. Severn House. ISBN 9781448311279.

In the 10th installment of Shames’s excellent regional series, Jarrett Creek, TX, Chief of Police Samuel Craddock works on a case that snowballs. A feed store owner is threatened and assaulted; his store is burned down to conceal a murder, and a long-dead body is discovered under the floorboards. Lucky for residents and series fans, Craddock shows no signs of slowing down.

Simon, Nina. Mother-Daughter Murder Night. Morrow. ISBN 9780063315044.

Three generations of strong women star in Simon’s dazzling cozy-adjacent debut. Lana, estranged from her daughter since Beth became a single mother years ago, moves in with Beth and her now-teenage daughter, Jack, while undergoing cancer treatments. When Jack comes across a floater while kayaking and then is accused of the murder, it’s a family affair to exonerate her and ferret out the killer, Columbo-style.

Yamashita, Iris. City Under One Roof. Berkley. ISBN 9780593336670.

Setting and atmosphere mark this debut locked-room mystery as unique. In Point Mettier, AK, all 205 full-time residents of the town live in the single building of the Davidson Condos. When a teenager finds body parts in a cove, the residents don’t talk to the police until Detective Cara Kennedy shows up, looking for her missing husband and son. As other body parts appear, it’s the women who team up to find answers in this unusual small town.

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