THE WASHINGTON POST – The Post looks at the best thrillers and mysteries of 2019.
The Better Sister by Alafair Burke
Readers of this wonderfully twisty thriller about two estranged sisters – married, at different times, to the same man – should get ready to be led down the garden path to a conclusion so morally ambiguous a professional ethicist might have to be called in. You end up feeling both horrified and vaguely complicit.
Beyond All Reasonable Doubt by Malin Persson Giolito
Author of Quicksand, (also on Netflix) Giolito has come up with another knockout legal thriller. More than a decade after a professor is convicted for the grisly murder of a 15-year-old girl, lawyer Sophia Weber agrees to help him petition for a new trial – with a surprising outcome.
Big Sky by Kate Atkinson
The handsome former military man and police inspector Jackson Brodie makes a welcome return. He’s moved to the United Kingdom’s (UK) northeastern coast, where he’s set up a small agency and takes on a case involving a sex-trafficking ring. As with all Atkinson’s books, the richness comes in spending time with the kaleidoscope of characters who spin together in the whirlwind ending.
Conviction by Denise Mina
In this multi-layered tale, a woman’s innocent podcast addiction turns into something darker – setting off a collision between her present and secret past. The narratives roam from Scotland to England to Italy to the murky depths far beneath the sea; they change in tone from violent to spooky to slapstick. Mina, a master of Tartan noir, delivers a tour-de-force of suspense.
The Guardians by John Grisham
In Grisham’s latest terrific novel – his 40th – the main character is a workaholic attorney and Episcopal priest named Cullen Post. He is investigating the wrongful conviction of a black man set up to take the fall for the murder of a white lawyer in a small Florida town 22 years before.
The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
Ruth Ware’s latest pays homage to Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw while slyly updating it. Set in an old mansion that’s been renovated into a “smart house,” the book turns the building – and its thick assortment of blinking surveillance cameras, talking refrigerators, embedded phone and speaker systems – into its own nerve-shattering character.
The Plotters by Un-Su Kim, translated by Sora Kim-Russell
Set in contemporary Seoul, The Plotters delivers a vivid portrait of a mesmerising central character, a stoic orphan named Reseng who becomes an assassin for hire. Kim mixes bookishness, crackpots and commissioned murder into a rich and unsettling blend.
The Quaker by Liam McIlvanney
Based on serial murders that rocked Scotland in the 1960s, The Quaker is a chilling suspense tale that reminds us why noir endures. Just when you think you have figured out the puzzle, suspects or motives dissolve into the Scottish dew.