15 Best Crime, Mystery, And Thriller Books Of December 2019
Our list of best crime, mystery, and thriller books of December 2019 includes amazing thrillers like Genesis by Robin Cook as well as highly anticipated suspense titles such as A Small Town by Thomas Perry. These mystery and thriller books will surely bring joy to avid crime fiction and mystery readers.
Note: For our coverage of best crime, mystery, and thriller books of October and November 2019, our lists can be viewed here and here.
What follows is our compiled list of latest and greatest for December 2019:
Nine Elms (Kate Marshall, Book 1) by Robert Bryndza. Kate Marshall was a promising young police detective when she caught the notorious Nine Elms serial killer. But her greatest victory suddenly turned into a nightmare. Traumatized, betrayed, and publicly vilified for the shocking circumstances surrounding the cannibal murder case, Kate could only watch as her career ended in scandal.
Fifteen years after those catastrophic events, Kate is still haunted by the unquiet ghosts of her troubled past. Now a lecturer at a small coastal English university, she finally has a chance to face them. A copycat killer has taken up the Nine Elms mantle, continuing the ghastly work of his idol.
Enlisting her brilliant research assistant, Tristan Harper, Kate draws on her prodigious and long-neglected skills as an investigator to catch a new monster. Success promises redemption, but there’s much more on the line: Kate was the original killer’s intended fifth victim…and his successor means to finish the job.
Genesis by Robin Cook. New York Times-bestselling author Robin Cook takes on the ripped-from-the-headlines topic of harnessing DNA from ancestry websites to catch a killer in this timely and explosive new medical thriller coming out this December.
When the body of twenty-eight-year-old social worker Kera Jacobsen shows up on Chief New York City Medical Examiner Laurie Montgomery’s autopsy table, at first it appears she was the victim of a tragic yet routine drug overdose. But for Laurie and her new pathology resident, the brilliant but enigmatic Dr. Aria Nichols, little things aren’t adding up. Kera’s family and friends swear she never touched drugs.
Administrators from the hospital where Kera worked are insisting the case be shrouded in silence. And although Kera was ten weeks pregnant, nobody seems to know who the father was–or whether he holds the key to Kera’s final moments alive.
As a medical emergency temporarily sidelines Laurie, impulsive Aria turns to a controversial new technique: using genealogic DNA databases to track down those who don’t want to be found. Working with experts at a start-up ancestry website, she plans to trace the fetus’s DNA back to likely male relatives in the hopes of identifying the mystery father.
But when Kera’s closest friend and fellow social worker is murdered, the need for answers becomes even more urgent. Because someone out there clearly doesn’t want Kera’s secrets to come to light…and if Aria gets any closer to the truth, she and Laurie might find themselves a killer’s next targets.
Shatter the Night (A Detective Gemma Monroe Mystery) by Emily Littlejohn. It’s Halloween night in Cedar Valley. During the town’s annual festival, Detective Gemma Monroe takes a break from trick or treating with her family to visit an old family friend, retired Judge Caleb Montgomery, at his law office. To Gemma’s surprise, Caleb seems worried―haunted, even―and confides in her that he’s been receiving anonymous threats. Shortly after, as Gemma strolls back to her car, an explosion at Caleb’s office shatters the night.
Reeling from the shock, Gemma and her team begin eliminating suspects and motives, but more keep appearing in their place, and soon another man is killed. Her investigation takes her from a chilling encounter with a convicted murderer at the Belle Vista Penitentiary, to the gilded rooms of the renovated Shotgun Playhouse, where Shakespeare’s cursed play Macbeth is set to open in a few weeks.
Yet most disturbing of all is when Gemma realizes that similar murders have happened before. There is a copycat killer at play, and if Gemma can’t stop him, he’ll carry out his final, deadly act.
The Long Farewell (An Inspector Appleby Mystery) by Michael Innes. After being found shot in his library with a note beside him, the police are satisfied that Lewis Packford’s death was a suicide. But his solicitor isn’t convinced. It seems Packford was in possession of a valuable scholarly discovery, a book annotated by Shakespeare. But, upon his death, the book was nowhere to be found.
When Inspector Appleby arrives at Packford’s home, he finds no shortage of suspects. All the guests present on the fateful night are still lurking in the house: scholars and collectors possibly tempted by the book; not one but two wives perhaps overcome with passion; or, Packford’s own brother looking to inherit the house.
The deeper Appleby dives into this case, the more secrets he uncovers. And as they start to stack up, so too do the bodies. Can Appleby get to the bottom of this before anymore lives are lost?
Filled with Innes’ classic eccentricities and a touch of farce, The Long Farewell was first published in 1958.
Come Homicide or High Water (Welcome Back to Scumble River #3) by Denise Swanson. School psychologist Skye Denison-Boyd is getting ready to return to work from her maternity leave and hoping for a peaceful year in her job as a school psychologist. But when an elderly woman disappears on her first day back and a disgruntled parent threatens to sue the school, Skye realizes that her return will be anything but quiet.
When the parent suing Skye’s school is found dead and with the missing woman’s case is still unsolved, Skye suspects the crimes are somehow linked. With her chief of police husband, Wally, at her side, Skye dives into the investigations. But as tensions rise and Skye and Wally’s suspect list lengthens, they start to wonder whether a member of their own tight-knit community could be behind it all.
Silent Threat by Jeff Gunhus. This is one of our favorite titles coming out this December. A father charged with treason. A daughter sent to kill him. A shocking conspiracy that changes all the rules of the spy game for a new generation.
With more than a dozen kills under her belt, ex-Marine Mara Roberts is one of the Agency’s most reliable assassins. But her latest target—a convicted traitor about to be released from prison—is different than her other marks. He’s a former agent who betrayed his country. He’s responsible for the death of Mara’s mother. And he happens to be Mara’s father.
Scott Roberts knows that his daughter was sent to kill him. He realizes he has only one chance to change her mind, to convince her that he’s been framed for treason—and that every member of their family are pawns to be sacrificed, one by one. Mara isn’t sure she can trust her father. He is a master of manipulation, as ruthless as he is resourceful.
But when her nephew is abducted, she agrees to follow Scott’s lead and expose the global elites who are pulling the strings. But first, they must infiltrate the highest levels of power. Then, they must attempt the unthinkable: Kidnap the President of the United States.
The Playground by Jane Shemilt. Big Little Lies meets Lord of The Flies in this electrifyingly twisty follow-up to Jane Shemilt’s breakout debut The Daughter.
Over the course of a long, hot summer in London, the lives of three very different married couples collide when their children join the same tutoring circle, resulting in illicit relationships, shocking violence, and unimaginable fallout.
There’s Eve, a bougie earth mother with a well-stocked trust fund; she has three little ones, a blue-collar husband and is obsessed with her Instagrammable recipes and lifestyle. And Melissa, a successful interior designer whose casually cruel banker husband is careful not to leave visible bruises; she curates her perfectly thin body so closely she misses everything their teenage daughter is hiding. Then there’s Grace, a young Zimbabwean immigrant, who lives in high-rise housing project with her two children and their English father Martin, an award-winning but chronically broke novelist; she does far more for her family than she should have to.
As the weeks go by, the couples become very close; there are barbecues, garden parties, a holiday at a country villa in Greece. Resentments flare. An affair begins. Unnoticed, the children run wild. The couples are busily watching each other, so distracted and self-absorbed that they forget to watch their children. No one sees the five children at their secret games or realize how much their family dynamics are changing until tragedy strikes.
The story twists and then twists again while the three families desperately search for answers. It’s only as they begin to unravel the truth of what happened over the summer that they realize evil has crept quietly into their world. But has this knowledge come too late?
A Small Town by Thomas Perry. A small-town cop turns vigilante to track down twelve escaped inmates in this thriller by the New York Times–bestselling “master of nail-biting suspense” (Los Angeles Times).
When twelve inmates pull off an audacious prison break, it liberates more than a thousand convicts into the nearby small town. The newly freed prisoners rape, murder, and destroy the quiet community—burning down homes and businesses. An immense search ensues, but the twelve who plotted it all get away.
After two years, the local and federal police agencies have yet to find them. Then the mayor calls in Leah Hawkins, a local cop who lost a loved one that terrible night. She’s placed on sabbatical to travel across the country learning advanced police procedures. But the sabbatical is merely a ruse. Her real job is to track down the infamous twelve. And kill them.
Leah’s mission takes her from Florida to New York and from the beaches of California to an anti-government settlement deep in the Ozarks. But when the surviving fugitives realize what she’s up to, a race to kill or be killed ensues in this non-stop tale of vengeance from the Edgar Award–winning author of The Butcher’s Boy.
Iraq War veteran Sam Blackman with his prosthetic leg and his no-nonsense private eye partner Nakayla Robertson love their investigations which always carry a thread from the past—and they love each other. An interracial couple in the new South, the Asheville, NC, pair has surrounded themselves with a terrific support team including an unorthodox lawyer and a veteran cop. They deploy humor both to bind them together and to deflect insults. Plus, it helps deal with the tragedies their work uncovers.
Such a tragedy interrupts a meeting between the PIs and the neighboring law office when a body is unearthed from the grounds of the nearby Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute. During the Cold War it monitored developing space programs. Today it plays a vital role gathering weather and climate data. The body has been in the ground a long time. Why would its discovery spark off a new murder in Asheville’s mountain music scene, the victim found amid the garbage of dark, dank Rat Alley?
She was the fiancée of the man murdered long ago. But surely this case is more than a domestic drama playing out over time. The Blackman Agency Investigations excel at merging past and present, bringing little-known history to light, and are perfect for fans of James Lee Burke, Stephen Mack Jones, Margaret Maron, and Robert B. Parker.
The Intended Victim by Alexandra Ivy. ONCE, SHE GOT AWAY: The body lying on a cold steel slab bears all the hallmarks of the Chicago Butcher. There’s a cruel slash across her throat, deep enough to sever the carotid artery, and a small crescent carved into her right breast. Her delicate features are painfully familiar to Ash Marcel, once a rising star in the Chicago PD. But though the victim resembles his former fiancée, Remi Walsh, he knows it’s not her.
BUT THIS TIME: Though Remi escaped a serial killer five years ago, her father died trying to save her. Grief and guilt caused her to pull away from the man she loved. Now Ash is back in her life, insisting that Remi is still in danger.
IT’S A DEAD END: Someone is targeting women who look just like Remi. With or without a badge, Ash intends to unmask the Butcher. But the killer isn’t playing games any longer. He’s moving in, ready to finish what he started, and prove there’s nothing more terrifying than a killer’s obsession.
Dead in Dublin by Catie Murphy. Ferrying tourists around Dublin for the Leprechaun Limo Service makes quite a change after years in the military. Still, Megan Malone is enjoying her life in Ireland. She likes the scenery, the easy pace, the quirky, quick-witted locals. Everything—except having one of her clients drop dead at the statue of fabled fishmonger, Molly Malone.
Most restaurant critics notch up their share of enemies. Elizabeth Darr, however, was a well-loved international star. She and her husband, Simon, had just had dinner when Elizabeth collapsed, and spoiled seafood is the first suspect. The restaurant’s owner, worried her business is doomed, begs Megan to look into it.
Between her irate boss and a handsome Garda who’s both amused and annoyed by her persistence, Megan has her hands full even before she’s cajoled into taking care of two adorable Jack Russell puppies (which she is almost definitely not keeping). But if cockles and mussels aren’t to blame, can Megan find the real culprit before another fishy death occurs?
The Wives by Tarryn Fisher. Thursday’s husband, Seth, has two other wives. She’s never met them, and she doesn’t know anything about them. She agreed to this unusual arrangement because she’s so crazy about him.
But one day, she finds something. Something that tells a very different—and horrifying—story about the man she married. What follows is one of the most twisted, shocking thrillers you’ll ever read. You’ll have to grab a copy to find out why.
All That’s Bright and Gone by Eliza Nellums. Fans of Jodi Picoult and Fredrik Backman will fall for this tenderhearted debut mystery following a young girl on a quest to save her family. I know my brother is dead. But sometimes Mama gets confused.
There’s plenty about the grownup world that six-year-old Aoife doesn’t understand. Like what happened to her big brother Theo and why her mama is in the hospital instead of home where she belongs. Uncle Donny says she just needs to be patient, but Aoife’s sure her mama won’t be able to come home until Aoife learns what really happened to her brother. The trouble is no one wants to talk about Theo because he was murdered. But by whom?
With her imaginary friend Teddy by her side and the detecting skills of her nosy next door neighbor, Aoife sets out to uncover the truth about her family. But as her search takes her from the banks of Theo’s secret hideout by the river to the rooftops overlooking Detroit, Aoife will learn that some secrets can’t stay hidden forever and sometimes the pain we bury is the biggest secret of them all.
Driven by Aoife’s childlike sincerity and colored by her vivid imagination, All That’s Bright and Gone illuminates the unshakeable bond between families–and the lengths we’ll go to bring our loved ones home.
The Hunt by Jack Cashill and Mike McMullen. A father takes his two teenage sons elk hunting in Colorado, only to discover they are the ones being hunted.
Tony Acero, a Mexican-American veteran of four combat tours, has a problem on his hands. His undersized thirteen-year-old son Luke is floundering at his new Kansas prep school. To save the young teen from his downward spiral, and to cheer up older brother Matt, Tony proposes to take both sons on a confidence-building elk hunt in Colorado.
Meanwhile in Boston, rootless young brothers, Pel and Moom Adams, are plotting a Colorado expedition of their own. Radical anarchists, the brothers have contracted with a trio of hardened Chechen terrorists to carry out a plot that will shake America to the core. They plan to shoot the plane carrying the president out of the sky as it descends into Aspen for a G-8 Summit.
The two parties collide in a remote Colorado valley. The terrorists are determined that Tony and his sons will not leave the valley alive.
And Dangerous to Know by Darcie Wilde. For fans of cozy mysteries, this late December release is highly recommended.
Trust is a delicate thing, and no one knows that better than Rosalind Thorne. Lady Melbourne has entrusted her with recovering a packet of highly sensitive private letters stolen from her desk. The contents of these letters hold great interest for the famous poet Lord Byron, who had carried on a notorious public affair with Lady Melbourne’s daughter-in-law, the inconveniently unstable Lady Caroline Lamb.
Rosalind is to take up residence in Melbourne House, posing as Lady Melbourne’s confidential secretary. There, she must discover the thief and regain possession of the letters before any further scandal erupts.
However, Lady Melbourne omits a crucial detail. Rosalind learns from the Bow Street runner, Adam Harkness, that an unidentified woman was found dead in the courtyard of Melbourne House. The coroner has determined she was poisoned. Adam urges Rosalind to use her new position in the household to help solve the murder. As she begins to untangle a web of secrets and blackmail, Rosalind finds she must risk her own life to bring the desperate business to an end.