Best Crime Fiction of 2020

A wheelman-turned-family man, four crafty retirees, a newly made vigilante. The best crime fiction published in 2020.

See all of our 2020 Best Books lists


Anappara, Deepa. Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line. Random. ISBN 9780593129197.

Nine-year-old Jai lives with his family in the smoggy, polluted slum of an Indian city. Applying the techniques he’s seen on true-crime TV shows and appointing himself the leader, Jai and his friends Pari and Faiz investigate a classmate’s disappearance. The trio encounter indifferent police, street gangs and bullies, and increasing danger as more children are abducted. This is a heartbreaking and vivid debut.


Cosby, S.A. Blacktop Wasteland. Flatiron. ISBN 9781250252685.

No one can drive like Beauregard “Bug” Montage. The former wheelman-turned-family man is trying to earn an honest living, but it’s not easy with the bills piling up. One last job. Then he’ll go straight. Turns out a souped-up V8 and a nitro kit aren’t enough to outrun the consequences of a heist gone sideways. This action-packed high-octane ride will have readers holding on for dear life.


French, Tana. The Searcher. Viking. ISBN 9780735224650.

Cal Hooper hangs up his spurs as a Chicago police detective and buys a cottage in western Ireland, seeking a simpler way of life. But when he’s pulled into looking for the missing brother of a local kid, he runs afoul of his seemingly amiable neighbors. With beautiful language and imagery, French’s literary crime story uncovers the darkness behind the brogues and bogs.


Lourey, Jess. Unspeakable Things. Thomas & Mercer: Amazon. ISBN 9781542008785.

Someone is hurting the boys in a small Minnesota town. They disappear. They come back. They’re different. Cassie McDowell is powerless against the predator living in her own home, but that makes her even more determined to stop the evil preying on her town. A chilling tale that explores the intersection between depravity and innocence, and one in which monsters are real.


Osman, Richard. The Thursday Murder Club. Pamela Dorman: Viking. ISBN 9781984880963.

The bodies are piling up at Coopers Chase Retirement Village, but not for the usual reasons. Fortunately, the Thursday Murder Club is on the case. Four crafty retirees with an impressive network of contacts get busy sussing out clues and influencing the police investigation. A quirky, fun murder mystery where quick-witted golden-agers steal the show.


Penny, Louise. All the Devils Are Here. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. ISBN 9781250145239.

When Armand Gamache’s godfather is struck down in an intentional hit-and-run in Paris, the entire family searches for answers, assuming the beloved man was investigating corporate wrongdoing. An intensifying investigation set in a sumptuously described Paris ensues. With superb characterizations and a deftly plotted story, Penny’s novel celebrates family complexities, trust, and love.


Pinter, Jason. Hide Away. Thomas & Mercer: Amazon. ISBN 9781542005906.             

Rebuilding her life after her husband’s shocking murder destroys her children and family, a determined woman refuses to be a victim. With her newfound knowledge, she forces an investigation into a suicide. A cop with his own tragic backstory joins forces with this newly made vigilante in a riveting, suspenseful story.


Stewart Taylor, Sarah. The Mountains Wild. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. ISBN 9781250256430.

Twenty-three years after her cousin disappeared in Ireland, a Long Island homicide detective returns to the scene in an intricately plotted, atmospheric story with a stunning conclusion. the author deftly contrasts the history and romance of Ireland with the ugliness of crimes involving missing women and murder victims.


Weiden, David Heska Wanbli. Winter Counts. Ecco. ISBN 9780062968944.

Virgil Wounded Horse is the enforcer residents of the Lakota Rosebud reservation call when “the law” can’t or won’t help them get justice. His latest gig: stop the dealers bringing poison into Rosebud, which gets personal when his nephew is targeted by the drug gang. Weiden’s “Native noir” is a journey of redemption, community, and survival in a harsh environment.


See all of our 2020 Best Books lists

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