2018 delivers a cabinet of tempting curiosities to mystery readers. Just when you thought you were getting the hang of crime fiction’s plot twists, red herrings, and cryptic solutions, the genre will offer something totally unexpected. This year, award-winner Laura Lippman puts a contemporary spin on When a Stranger Comes to Call, Anthony Horowitz drops a character named Anthony Horowitz in the middle of a murder investigation, and British author Stuart Turton spins a dazzling high-concept tale out of the classic Agatha Christie-style whodunit. Not to mention, we have plenty of titles from old favorites, including a new Stephen King blockbuster out in time for your summer reading lists. Check out our list of some of the best mystery books of 2018 below, complete with publishers’ descriptions.
Robicheaux by James Lee Burke
James Lee Burke’s most beloved character, Dave Robicheaux, returns in this gritty, atmospheric mystery set in the towns and backwoods of Louisiana.
Dave Robicheaux is a haunted man.
Between his recurrent nightmares about Vietnam, his battle with alcoholism, and the sudden loss of his beloved wife, Molly, his thoughts drift from one irreconcilable memory to the next. Images of ghosts at Spanish Lake live on the edge of his vision.
During a murder investigation, Dave Robicheaux discovers he may have committed the homicide he’s investigating, one which involved the death of the man who took the life of Dave’s beloved wife. As he works to clear his name and make sense of the murder, Robicheaux encounters a cast of characters and a resurgence of dark social forces that threaten to destroy all of those whom he loves. What emerges is not only a propulsive and thrilling novel, but a harrowing study of America: this nation’s abiding conflict between a sense of past grandeur and a legacy of shame, its easy seduction by demagogues and wealth, and its predilection for violence and revenge. James Lee Burke has returned with one of America’s favorite characters, in his most searing, most prescient novel to date.
Release date: Out now
Dark in Death by J. D. Robb
Lieutenant Eve Dallas returns in Dark in Death, by J.D. Robb, the #1 New York Times bestselling master of suspense, and takes on a case of death imitating art…
It was a stab in the dark.
On a chilly February night, during a screening of Psycho in midtown, someone sunk an ice pick into the back of Chanel Rylan’s neck, then disappeared quietly into the crowds of drunks and tourists in Times Square. To Chanel’s best friend, who had just slipped out of the theater for a moment to take a call, it felt as unreal as the ancient black-and-white movie up on the screen. But Chanel’s blood ran red, and her death was anything but fictional.
Then, as Eve Dallas puzzles over a homicide that seems carefully planned and yet oddly personal, she receives a tip from an unexpected source: an author of police thrillers who recognizes the crime — from the pages of her own book. Dallas doesn’t think it’s coincidence, since a recent strangulation of a sex worker resembles a scene from her writing as well. Cops look for patterns of behavior: similar weapons, similar MOs. But this killer seems to find inspiration in someone else’s imagination, and if the theory holds, this may be only the second of a long-running series.
The good news is that Eve and her billionaire husband Roarke have an excuse to curl up in front of the fireplace with their cat, Galahad, reading mystery stories for research. The bad news is that time is running out before the next victim plays an unwitting role in a murderer’s deranged private drama — and only Eve can put a stop to a creative impulse gone horribly, destructively wrong.
From the author of Echoes in Death, this is the latest of the edgy, phenomenally popular police procedurals that Publishers Weekly calls “inventive, entertaining, and clever.”
Release date: January 30
The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place by Alan Bradley
In the wake of an unthinkable family tragedy, 12-year-old Flavia de Luce is struggling to fill her empty days. For a needed escape, Dogger, the loyal family servant, suggests a boating trip for Flavia and her two older sisters. As their punt drifts past the church where a notorious vicar had recently dispatched three of his female parishioners by spiking their communion wine with cyanide, Flavia, an expert chemist with a passion for poisons, is ecstatic. Suddenly something grazes her fingers as she dangles them in the water. She clamps down on the object, imagining herself Ernest Hemingway battling a marlin, and pulls up what she expects will be a giant fish. But in Flavia’s grip is something far better: a human head, attached to a human body. If anything could take Flavia’s mind off sorrow, it is solving a murder — although one that may lead the young sleuth to an early grave.
Release date: January 30
Force of Nature by Jane Harper
Five women go on a hike. Only four return. Jane Harper, the New York Times bestselling author of The Dry, asks: How well do you really know the people you work with?
When five colleagues are forced to go on a corporate retreat in the wilderness, they reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking down the muddy path.
But one of the women doesn’t come out of the woods. And each of her companions tells a slightly different story about what happened.
Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing hiker. In an investigation that takes him deep into isolated forest, Falk discovers secrets lurking in the mountains, and a tangled web of personal and professional friendship, suspicion, and betrayal among the hikers. But did that lead to murder?
Release date: February 6
The Gate Keeper by Charles Todd
On a deserted road, late at night, Scotland Yard’s Ian Rutledge encounters a frightened woman standing over a body, launching an inquiry that leads him into the lair of a stealthy killer and the dangerous recesses of his own memories in this 20th installment of the acclaimed New York Times bestselling series.
Hours after his sister’s wedding, a restless Ian Rutledge drives aimlessly, haunted by the past, and narrowly misses a motorcar stopped in the middle of a desolate road. Standing beside the vehicle is a woman with blood on her hands and a dead man at her feet.
She swears she didn’t kill Stephen Wentworth. A stranger stepped out in front of their motorcar, and without warning, fired a single shot before vanishing into the night. But there is no trace of him. And the shaken woman insists it all happened so quickly, she never saw the man’s face.
Although he is a witness after the fact, Rutledge persuades the Yard to give him the inquiry, since he’s on the scene. But is he seeking justice — or fleeing painful memories in London?
Wentworth was well-liked, yet his bitter family paint a malevolent portrait, calling him a murderer. But who did Wentworth kill? Is his death retribution? Or has his companion lied? Wolf Pit, his village, has a notorious history: in Medieval times, the last wolf in England was killed there. When a second suspicious death occurs, the evidence suggests that a dangerous predator is on the loose, and that death is closer than Rutledge knows.
Release date: February 6
A Death in Live Oak by James Grippando
From the 2017 winner of the Harper Lee Prize for legal fiction comes a powerful and timely story of race, politics, injustice, and murder as shocking and incendiary as today’s headlines.
When the body of Jamal Cousin, president of the pre-eminent black fraternity at the Florida’s flagship university, is discovered hogtied in the Stygian water swamps of the Suwanee River Valley, the death sets off a firestorm that threatens to rage out of control when a fellow student, Mark Towson, the president of a prominent white fraternity, is accused of the crime.
Contending with rising political tensions, racial unrest, and a sensational media, Townson’s defense attorney, Jack Swyteck, knows that the stakes could not be higher — inside or outside the old Suwanee County Couthouse. The evidence against his client, which includes a threatening text message referencing “strange fruit” on the river, seems overwhelming. Then Jack gets a break that could turn the case. Jamal’s gruesome murder bears disturbing similarities to another lynching that occurred back in the Jim Crow days of 1944. Are the chilling parallels purely coincidental? With a community in chaos and a young man’s life in jeopardy, Jack will use every resource to find out.
As he navigates each twist and turn of the search, Jack becomes increasingly convinced that his client may himself be the victim of a criminal plan more sinister than the case presented by the state attorney. Risking his own reputation, this principled man who has devoted his life to the law plunges headfirst into the darkest recesses of the South’s past, and its murky present, to uncover answers.
For Jack, it’s about the truth. Traversing time, from the days of strict segregation to the present, he’ll find it — no matter what the cost — and bring much-needed justice to Suwanee County.
Release date: February 6
Night Moves by Jonathan Kellerman
The #1 New York Times bestselling author and master of the psychological thriller makes all the right moves in this new novel of spellbinding suspense.
Even with all his years of experience, LAPD homicide detective Milo Sturgis knows there are crimes his skill and savvy cannot solve alone. That’s when he calls on brilliant psychologist Alex Delaware to read between the lines, where the darkest motives lurk. And if ever the good doctor’s insight is needed, it’s at the scene of a murder as baffling as it is brutal.
There’s no spilled blood, no evidence of a struggle, and, thanks to the victim’s missing face and hands, no immediate means of identification. And no telling why the disfigured corpse of a stranger has appeared in an upscale L.A. family’s home. Chet Corvin, his wife, and their two teenage children are certain the John Doe is unknown to them. Despite that, their cooperation seems guarded. And that’s more than Milo and Alex can elicit from the Corvins’ creepy next-door neighbor — a notorious cartoonist with a warped sense of humor and a seriously antisocial attitude.
As the investigation ensues, it becomes clear that this well-to-do suburban enclave has its share of curious eyes, suspicious minds, and loose lips. And as Milo tightens the screws on potential persons of interest — and Alex tries to breach the barriers that guard their deepest secrets — a strangling web of corrupted love, cold-blooded greed, and shattered trust is exposed. Though the grass may be greener on these privileged streets, there’s enough dirt below the surface to bury a multitude of sins. Including the deadliest.
Release date: February 13
Sunburn by Laura Lippman
New York Times bestselling author Laura Lippman returns with a superb novel of psychological suspense about a pair of lovers with the best intentions and the worst luck: two people locked in a passionate yet uncompromising game of cat and mouse. But instead of rules, this game has dark secrets, forbidden desires, inevitable betrayals — and cold-blooded murder.
One is playing a long game. But which one?
They meet at a local tavern in the small town of Belleville, Delaware. Polly is set on heading west. Adam says he’s also passing through. Yet she stays and he stays — drawn to this mysterious redhead whose quiet stillness both unnerves and excites him. Over the course of a punishing summer, Polly and Adam abandon themselves to a steamy, inexorable affair. Still, each holds something back from the other — dangerous, even lethal, secrets.
Then someone dies. Was it an accident, or part of a plan? By now, Adam and Polly are so ensnared in each other’s lives and lies that neither one knows how to get away — or even if they want to. Is their love strong enough to withstand the truth, or will it ultimately destroy them?
Something — or someone — has to give.
Which one will it be?
Release date: February 20
Down the River Unto the Sea by Walter Mosley
Joe King Oliver was one of the NYPD’s finest investigators, until, dispatched to arrest a well-heeled car thief, he is framed for assault by his enemies within the NYPD, a charge which lands him in solitary at Rikers Island.
A decade later, King is a private detective, running his agency with the help of his teenage daughter, Aja-Denise. Broken by the brutality he suffered and committed in equal measure while behind bars, his work and his daughter are the only light in his solitary life. When he receives a card in the mail from the woman who admits she was paid to frame him those years ago, King realizes that he has no choice but to take his own case: figuring out who on the force wanted him disposed of — and why.
Running in parallel with King’s own quest for justice is the case of a Black radical journalist accused of killing two on-duty police officers who had been abusing their badges to traffic in drugs and women within the city’s poorest neighborhoods.
Joined by Melquarth Frost, a brilliant sociopath, our hero must beat dirty cops and dirtier bankers, craven lawyers, and above all keep his daughter far from the underworld in which he works. All the while, two lives hang in the balance: King’s client’s, and King’s own.
Release date: February 20
Duel to the Death by J.A. Jance
From New York Times bestselling author and “grand master of the game” (The Providence Journal) J.A. Jance, an electrifying new thriller featuring Ali Reynolds.
After taking down the man responsible for his best friend’s death, Stuart Ramey thinks the case is finally closed. That is, until Stu finds himself left with a multimillion dollar fortune in Bitcoin in a desperate bid by Frigg, a rogue A.I. program created by the killer, to keep itself from being fully deactivated.
To sort out his situation and take Frigg down for good, Stu enlists the help of Ali Reynolds and the rest of his cyber security colleagues at High Noon Enterprises. But they are not the only ones who know about Frigg’s existence.
Graciella Miramar, an unassuming accountant to all appearances, is actually the right-hand woman to El Pescado, the leader of a dangerous drug cartel. She’ll do anything to get her hands on that program. With Frigg’s help, Graciella hopes to take over her father’s criminal underworld and become wealthy beyond her wildest dreams. But Stu — and El Pescado and his henchmen — may not be so easily defeated.
Written in J.A. Jance’s classic “take-no-prisoners” style (Kirkus Reviews), in this thriller, Stu, Ali, and their team will come to realize that everything has its price.
Release date: March 20
The Disappeared by C. J. Box
Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett has two lethal cases to contend with in the electrifying new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author C. J. Box.
Wyoming’s new governor isn’t sure what to make of Joe Pickett, but he has a job for him that is extremely delicate. A prominent female British executive never came home from the high-end guest ranch she was visiting, and the British Embassy is pressing hard. Pickett knows that happens sometimes — these ranches are stocked with handsome young cowboys, and “ranch romances” aren’t uncommon. But no sign of her months after she vanished? That suggests something else.
At the same time, his friend Nate Romanowski has asked Joe to intervene with the feds on behalf of falconers who can no longer hunt with eagles even though their permits are in order. Who is blocking the falconers and why? The more he investigates both cases, the more someone wants him to go away. Is it because of the missing woman or because he’s become Nate’s advocate? Or are they somehow connected? The answers, when they come, will be even worse than he’d imagined.
Release date: March 27
I’ve Got My Eyes on You by Mary Higgins Clark
A new thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author and “Queen of Suspense” Mary Higgins Clark.
After a party when her parents are away, 18-year-old Kerry Dowling is found fully dressed at the bottom of the family pool.
The immediate suspect is her boyfriend who had a bitter argument with her at the party. Then there is a 20-year-old neighbor who was angry because she didn’t invite him to the party.
Or is there someone else who has not yet been seen on the radar?
Kerry’s older sister Aline, a 28-year-old guidance counselor, is determined to assist the Prosecutor’s Office in learning the truth. She does not realize that now she is putting her own life in danger…
Release date: April 3
The Outsider by Stephen King
An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation. At a time when the King brand has never been stronger, he has delivered one of his most unsettling and compulsively readable stories.
An 11-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.
As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.
Release date: May 22
The Word Is Murder by Anthony Horowitz
The New York Times bestselling author of Magpie Murders and Moriarty brilliantly reinvents the classic crime novel once again with this clever and inventive mystery starring a fictional version of the author himself as the Watson to a modern-day Holmes, investigating a case involving buried secrets, murder, and a trail of bloody clues.
A woman crosses a London street.
It is just after 11am on a bright spring morning, and she is going into a funeral parlor to plan her own service.
Six hours later the woman is dead, strangled with a crimson curtain cord in her own home.
Enter disgraced police detective Daniel Hawthorne, a brilliant, eccentric man as quick with an insult as he is to crack a case. And Hawthorne has a partner, the celebrated novelist Anthony Horowitz, curious about the case and looking for new material.
As brusque, impatient, and annoying as Hawthorne can be, Horowitz — a seasoned hand when it comes to crime stories — suspects the detective may be on to something, and is irresistibly drawn into the mystery. But as the case unfolds, Horowitz realizes he’s at the center of a story he can’t control… and that his brilliant partner may be hiding dark and mysterious secrets of his own.
A masterful and tricky mystery which plays games at many levels, The Word is Murder is Anthony Horowitz at his very best.
Release date: June 5
The Woman in the Woods by John Connolly
From internationally bestselling author and “creative genius who has few equals in either horror fiction or the mystery genre” (New York Journal of Books) comes a gripping thriller starring Private Investigator Charlie Parker. When the body of a woman — who apparently died in childbirth — is discovered, Parker is hired to track down both her identity and her missing child.
In the beautiful Maine woods, a partly preserved body is discovered. Investigators realize that the dead young woman gave birth shortly before her death. But there is no sign of a baby.
Private detective Charlie Parker is hired by a lawyer to shadow the police investigation and find the infant but Parker is not the only searcher. Someone else is following the trail left by the woman, someone with an interest in much more than a missing child… someone prepared to leave bodies in his wake.
And in a house by the woods, a toy telephone begins to ring and a young boy is about to receive a call from a dead woman.
Release date: June 12
Island of the Mad by Laurie R. King
Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes untangle the slippery threads of insanity and deadly secrets as they investigate a disappearance in the New York Times bestselling series that Lee Child called “the most sustained feat of imagination in mystery fiction today.”
A June summer’s evening, on the Sussex Downs, in 1925. Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are strolling across their orchard when the telephone rings: an old friend’s beloved aunt has failed to return following a supervised outing from Bedlam. After the previous few weeks — with a bloody murder, a terrible loss, and startling revelations about Holmes — Russell is feeling a bit unbalanced herself. The last thing she wants is to deal with the mad, and yet, she can’t say no.
The Lady Vivian Beaconsfield has spent most of her adult life in one asylum after another, yet she seemed to be improving — or at least, finding a point of balance in her madness. So why did she disappear? Did she take the family’s jewels with her, or did someone else? The Bedlam nurse, perhaps?
The trail leads Russell and Holmes through a lunatic asylum’s stony halls to the warm Venice lagoon, where ethereal beauty is jarred by Mussolini’s Blackshirts, where the gilded Lido set may be tempting a madwoman, and where Cole Porter sits at a piano, playing with ideas…
Release date: June 12
The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
The Rules of Blackheath
Evelyn Castle will be murdered at 11:00 pm.
There are eight days, and eight witnesses, for you to inhabit.
We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.
Understood? Then let’s begin…
Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others…
The most inventive debut of the year twists together a mystery of such unexpected creativity it will leave readers guessing until the very last page.
Release date: September 18
What mysteries are you looking forward to reading this year? Leave a comment and let us know!