Best Crime Fiction 2019

The best mysteries, thrillers, and suspense works published in 2019.

See all of our 2019 Best Books lists.

Alger, Cristina. Girls Like Us. Putnam. ISBN 9780525535805.

FBI agent Nell is called home after her father, a policeman from whom she was estranged, dies in an accident. A friend on the force asks her to covertly help him with a case: two young Latinx women who worked as escorts have been murdered. Nell uncovers secrets, corruption, and lies in a town riven by class divisions in Alger’s timely and tense story.

Barclay, Linwood. Elevator Pitch. Morrow. ISBN 9780062678287.

Someone is reprogramming New York City’s elevators, causing death and mayhem. The mayor, a journalist, and two police detectives scramble to find out who’s behind these events and if they’re connected. Barclay pushes all the right buttons with this twisty, believable thriller.

Cha, Steph. Your House Will Pay. Ecco: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780062868855.

In 1991 LA, 13-year-old African American Shawn Matthews’s sister Ava is shot and killed by a Korean shopkeeper. Nearly 30 years later, Korean American Grace Park doesn’t know why her sister and mother are estranged. Then Shawn’s cousin Ray, recently released from prison, is accused of shooting Grace’s mother. Cha’s incredible breakout novel deftly examines race relations, family dynamics, and the limits of forgiveness.

Cleeves, Ann. The Long Call. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. ISBN 9781250204448.

Detective Inspector Matthew Venn is called to a beach where a man’s body is found. Venn’s afraid he should bow out of the investigation because his husband manages the community center where the victim volunteered. When two women with special needs disappear from the center, the case becomes more complex. This atmospheric mystery features vulnerable characters, including the troubled detective.

Eskens, Allen. Nothing More Dangerous. Mulholland: Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316509725.

In this compelling coming-of-age story set in 1976, violence ensues after an African American manager takes over the town’s biggest manufacturer. Boady Sanden, 15, rejects the racism of his small Ozark mountain community. A timely, powerful stand-alone novel.

Harper, Jane. The Lost Man. Flatiron: Macmillan. ISBN 9781250105684.

In the Australian Outback where the people are as unforgiving as the land, a mysterious death forces Nathan Bright to confront his personal mistakes and tortured childhood. A vivid setting and compelling storytelling weave together a gripping tale of isolation and perseverance.

Khan, Ausma Zehenat. A Deadly Divide. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. ISBN 9781250298287.

A mass shooting at a mosque. An atmosphere ripe for hate. A community torn apart. On a case where everyone is suspect, detectives Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty sift through the simmering tensions as Quebec nationalists cheer on the killings and a disillusioned Muslim community mourns their dead. Relevant and heartbreakingly realistic.

McHugh, Laura. The Wolf Wants In. Spiegel & Grau. ISBN 9780399590283.

In a small town ravaged by the opioid crisis, Sadie Keller mourns her brother’s death, but believes the police reports are wrong because he wasn’t an addict. Henley Pettit, 18, knows more than she’s telling. A troubling, intense story of raw emotion and desperation.

Sallis, James. Sarah Jane. Soho Crime. ISBN 9781641290807.

A flawed character, Sarah Jane reveals her life story from her hillbilly childhood until she’s forced to choose between jail or the army. After serving in the Mideast, she becomes a small-town cop, but her mentor disappears. Sarah Jane’s own role in several deaths remains ambiguous. The lyrical, haunting story is narrated in memoir style with an unforgettable voice.

Sveistrup, Søren. The Chestnut Man. tr. from Danish by Caroline Waight. Harper. ISBN 9780062895363.

In this gripping police procedural, Copenhagen detective Naia Thulin and Europol reject Mark Hess track a serial killer. A complication in the form of a fingerprint significantly raises the stakes, making this intricately nuanced thriller impossible to put down.

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