Best thriller and mystery books of 2020

Maureen Corrigan

THE WASHINGTON POST – These books will keep you up all night with edge-of-your-seat action and gripping mysteries.

Do yourself a favour, add them to your must-read book list.

CITY OF MARGINS

By William Boyle

In his fifth novel, Boyle again captures the Brooklyn neighbourhood where he grew up. He knows the music of the Italian American voices, from punk to bar stool to operatic. Mob goons, college dropouts, melancholy widows and pink-haired rockers mix it up in this deliciously convoluted tale that reads like a fresh new season of The Sopranos.

DEAD LAND

By Sara Paretsky

Private eye, VI ‘Vic’ Warshawski is back for the 20th time in a perfectly pitched political-rot thriller. The novel’s robustly flavoursome cast includes a semi-deranged land preservationist, a corrupt Nobel Prize winner, a Chilean Ayn Rand disciple and several  wonderful dogs.

DJINN PATROL ON THE PURPLE LINE

By Deepa Anappara

Set in a sprawling slum in an unnamed city in India, Djinn Patrol follows nine-year-old Jai and a group of friends as they investigate the murder of a classmate. Despite the tragic events that unfold, Jai’s voice retains a stubborn lightness, a will to believe in the possibility of deliverance in this fallen world.

LONG BRIGHT RIVER

By Liz Moore

Long Bright River is both a suspense tale and a family saga that explores the relationship between two sisters – one a cop, the other an addict – who live in Philadelphia. This sweeping story twists, turns and subverts readers’ expectations, while also growing into something else: an elegiac novel about a blighted city.

THE MISSING AMERICAN

By Kwei Quartey

With The Missing American, Kwei Quartey has launched a series with private investigator Emma Djan. Her first big case involves the middle-aged American of the title, who travels to Ghana to track down whoever swindled him out of USD4,000 in an Internet scam. The search for him is both suspenseful and wonderfully atmospheric.

ONE BY ONE

By Ruth Ware

Ware’s latest is the most brazenly Christie-ish of all her novels, directly taking inspiration from Ten Little Indians. Ware sets her story at a ritzy ski chalet in the French Alps, where employees of a tech startup disappear, one by one, from a work retreat. Ware expertly scatters red herrings, so that even the most alert reader becomes diverted into false deductions and dead ends.

THE SEARCHER

By Tana French

The title of French’s latest stand-alone crime novel is a nod to the John Ford-vexed masterpiece, The Searchers, and like that book, it is essentially a Western. A lone man, an outsider – in this case a retired Chicago cop – is drawn into an obsessive quest to find a young person who has disappeared in a small Irish mountain town. This hushed suspense tale about thwarted dreams of escape may be French’s best yet.

SQUEEZE ME

By Carl Hiaasen

Scabrous and unrelentingly hilarious, Squeeze Me demonstrates that the Trump era is truly Carl Hiaasen’s moment. His narrative – set among the glitzy-rich of Palm Beach – wanders around a bit, but with all the lovingly biting detail, there isn’t a page here that flags. Everybody is nipped, tucked and artificially bronzed – and a crucial you-see-it-coming-and-can’t-wait plot point involves POTUS’ malfunctioning tanning bed. Daffy and gauche, yes, but a delicious on-point send-up.

THREE HOURS IN PARIS

By Cara Black

Three Hours in Paris isn’t just any old formulaic “Get out!” tale. Cara Black’s spy story, set during World War II in occupied Paris, stars an American female sharpshooter who is parachuted into France to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Of course, she fails. Using wits alone, she must evade the Gestapo and make it back across the English Channel. Chances of success? Slim to none. Chances that you’ll be able to put Black’s thriller down once you’ve picked it up? Also slim to none.

TROUBLE IS WHAT I DO

By Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley has produced an absorbing noir beauty of a tale about a Black, 94-year-old Mississippi bluesman, aptly named Philip ‘Catfish’ Worry, bent on a good deed that could get him killed. He hires Mosley’s long-time PI, Leonid McGill, to inform the daughter of a billionaire white racist that the bigot is actually Catfish’s offspring.