Our picks for best crime, mystery and thriller books of January 2021 include the highly anticipated military and espionage thrillers such as American Traitor (A Pike Logan Novel) by Brad Taylor as well as hot new releases like Robert B. Parker’s Someone to Watch Over Me by Ace Atkins and the cozy mystery novel A Tourist’s Guide to Murder by V.M. Burns.
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 in December 2020, please visit here).
High Treason at the Grand Hotel (A Fiona Figg Mystery) by Kelly Oliver (January 5). Paris. 1917. Never underestimate the power of a good hat… or a sharp hatpin. Sent by the War Office to follow the notorious Black Panther, file clerk turned secret agent Fiona Figg is under strict orders not to get too close and not to wear any of her usual “get-ups.”
But what self-respecting British spy can resist a good disguise? Within hours of her arrival in Paris, Fiona is up to her fake eyebrows in missing maids, jewel thieves, double agents, and high treason.
When Fiona is found dressed as a bellboy holding a bloody paperknife over the body of a dead countess, it’s not just her career that’s on the block.
The Push by Ashley Audrain (January 5). Blythe Connor is determined that she will be the warm, comforting mother to her new baby Violet that she herself never had.
But in the thick of motherhood’s exhausting early days, Blythe becomes convinced that something is wrong with her daughter–she doesn’t behave like most children do.
Or is it all in Blythe’s head? Her husband, Fox, says she’s imagining things. The more Fox dismisses her fears, the more Blythe begins to question her own sanity, and the more we begin to question what Blythe is telling us about her life as well.
Then their son Sam is born–and with him, Blythe has the blissful connection she’d always imagined with her child. Even Violet seems to love her little brother. But when life as they know it is changed in an instant, the devastating fall-out forces Blythe to face the truth.
Bone Canyon (Eve Ronin, Book 2) by Lee Goldberg (January 5). A cold case heats up, revealing a deadly conspiracy in a twisty thriller by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Goldberg.
A catastrophic wildfire scorches the Santa Monica Mountains, exposing the charred remains of a woman who disappeared years ago. The investigation is assigned to Eve Ronin, the youngest homicide detective in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, a position that forces her to prove herself again and again. This time, though, she has much more to prove.
Bones don’t lie, and these have a horrific story to tell. Eve tirelessly digs into the past, unearthing dark secrets that reveal nothing about the case is as it seems. With almost no one she can trust, her relentless pursuit of justice for the forgotten dead could put Eve’s own life in peril.
American Traitor (A Pike Logan Novel) by Brad Taylor (January 5). Pike Logan is on the desperate hunt for a man who is about to betray his country—and ignite a horrific new world war—in this pulse-pounding thriller from New York Times bestselling author and former special forces officer Brad Taylor
Pike Logan and Jennifer Cahill are enjoying a sunny vacation down under when they get disturbing news: their friend and colleague Clifford Delmonty is in serious trouble. While working as a contractor at an Australian F-35 facility, the former Taskforce member—callsign Dunkin—saw something he shouldn’t have, and now he’s on the run from Chinese agents.
Pike and Jennifer soon discover that Dunkin’s attackers are a dangerous link to a much larger scheme that could launch a full-on conflict between China and Taiwan. In its quest for dominance, China is determined to reclaim Taiwan—a pivotal ally the United States has sworn to protect. Pike learns that the Chinese have a devious plan to bait the island nation into all-out war by destabilizing the government and manipulating an artificial intelligence defense system.
As the threat reaches a boiling point, Pike alone realizes that what they’re seeing isn’t actually real. A soldier who has always been trained to fight and win, Pike must now track down and neutralize the missing man who holds the key. With the help of Jennifer, the Taskforce team, and a brave Taiwanese intelligence agent, he races to prevent a catastrophic conflict from consuming a whole region of the world.
Deliberate Duplicity by David Rohlfing. Detective Sasha Frank is on the case. When bodies begin to appear along the Constitution Trail in the twin cities of Bloomington and Normal, Illinois, dedicated detective Sasha Frank is on the case.
Deliberate Duplicity follows Sasha’s attempts to track down the culprit—a calculating, methodical killer who glues open his victims’ eyes and poses them along a park trail. A complicated web of clues leaves Sasha and his team with more questions than answers. What’s the killer’s motive?
How are the victims connected to one another? As the story begins to unravel, the ordinarily calm and collected Sasha begins to feel the immense pressure of the case. Will he be able to solve the mystery before time runs out and bring justice to all who were affected
Deliberate Duplicity is an exciting and well-crafted mystery that will keep you enthralled and engaged until the last page.
The Patriot (A Jake Parker Thriller Book 2) by Nick Thacker (January 8). Jake Parker works best alone. Ex-military, ex-detective, he has a specific set of skills that make him invaluable on top-secret operations. And still grieving his wife’s death, he has no personal ties which could compromise a mission.
But Jake does have an all-consuming anger towards Mel’s killers, cartel members who evaded justice. When he is recruited for a shady job in Puerto Rico, taking down the linchpin in a planned assassination of a US ambassador, Jake realizes that revenge is within reach as he discovers he’s been led to the person behind Mel’s death. This mission just got personal.
But as he sets his plan in motion, Jake learns something else. This attack is just the start of a much bigger plot against innocent US citizens.
Jake is the only one in place to stop a campaign of terror from tearing his country apart, but it makes the man he wants untouchable, and worse, the cartel are now after him with ruthless and deadly determination. What price will Jake pay trying to save innocent American lives?
The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous (January 12). 1988. Beth Soames is fourteen years old when her aunt takes her to stay at Raven Hall, a rambling manor in the isolated East Anglian fens. The Averells, the family who lives there, are warm and welcoming, and Beth becomes fast friends with their daughter, Nina. At times, Beth even feels like she’s truly part of the family…until they ask her to help them with a harmless game—and nothing is ever the same.
2019. Sadie Langton is an actress struggling to make ends meet when she lands a well-paying gig to pretend to be a guest at a weekend party. She is sent a suitcase of clothing, a dossier outlining the role she is to play, and instructions. It’s strange, but she needs the money, and when she sees the stunning manor she’ll be staying at, she figures she’s got nothing to lose.
In person, Raven Hall is even grander than she’d imagined—even with damage from a fire decades before—but the walls seem to have eyes. As day turns to night, Sadie starts to feel that there’s something off about the glamorous guests who arrive, and as the party begins, it becomes chillingly apparent their unseen host is playing games with everyone…including her.
Robert B. Parker’s Someone to Watch Over Me by Ace Atkins (January 12). In the latest thriller featuring the legendary Boston PI, Spenser and his young protégé Mattie Sullivan take on billionaire money manager running a network of underaged girls for his rich and powerful clients.
Ten years ago, Spenser helped a teenage girl named Mattie Sullivan find her mother’s killer and take down an infamous Southie crime boss. Now Mattie–a college student with a side job working for the tough but tender private eye–dreams of being an investigator herself. Her first big case involves a fifteen-year-old girl assaulted by a much older man at one of Boston’s most prestigious private clubs.
The girl, Chloe Turner, only wants the safe return of her laptop and backpack. But like her mentor and boss, Mattie has a knack for asking the right questions of the wrong people.
Soon Spenser and Mattie find ties between the exploitation of dozens of other girls from working class families to an eccentric billionaire and his sadistic henchwoman with a mansion on Commonwealth Avenue. The mystery man’s wealth, power and connections extend well beyond Massachusetts – maybe even beyond the United States.
Spenser and trusted ally Hawk must again watch out for Mattie as she unravels a massive sex-trafficking ring that will take them from Boston to Boca Raton to the Bahamas, crossing paths with local toughs, a highly-trained security company, and an old enemy of Spenser’s–the Gray Man–for a final epic showdown.
Sleep Well, My Lady by Kwei Quartey (January 12). In the follow-up to the acclaimed series debut The Missing American, PI Emma Djan investigates the death of a Ghanaian fashion icon and social media celebrity, Lady Araba.
Hard-hitting talk show host Augustus Seeza has become a household name in Ghana, though notorious for his lavish overspending, alcoholism, and womanizing. He’s dating the imposing, beautiful Lady Araba, who leads a selfmade fashion empire. Fearing Augustus is only after her money, Araba’s religious family intervenes to break them up.
A few days later, just before a major runway show, Araba is found murdered in her bed. Her driver is arrested after a hasty investigation, but Araba’s favorite aunt, Dele, suspects Augustus Seeza was the real killer.
Almost a year later, Dele approaches Emma Djan, who has finally started to settle in as the only female PI at her agency. To solve Lady Araba’s murder, Emma must not only go on an undercover mission that dredges up trauma from her past, but navigate a long list of suspects with strong motives. Emma quickly discovers that they are all willing to lie for each other—and that one may still be willing to kill.
Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner (January 19). Frankie Elkin is an average middle-aged woman, a recovering alcoholic with more regrets than belongings. But she spends her life doing what no one else will–searching for missing people the world has stopped looking for. When the police have given up, when the public no longer remembers, when the media has never paid attention, Frankie starts looking.
A new case brings her to Mattapan, a Boston neighborhood with a rough reputation. She is searching for Angelique Badeau, a Haitian teenager who vanished from her high school months earlier.
Resistance from the Boston PD and the victim’s wary family tells Frankie she’s on her own–and she soon learns she’s asking questions someone doesn’t want answered. But Frankie will stop at nothing to discover the truth, even if it means the next person to go missing could be her.
Prodigal Son (An Orphan X Novel) by Gregg Hurwitz (January 26). As a boy, Evan Smoak was pulled out of a foster home and trained in an off-the-books operation known as the Orphan Program. He was a government assassin, perhaps the best, known to a few insiders as Orphan X. He eventually broke with the Program and adopted a new name—The Nowhere Man—and a new mission, helping the most desperate in their times of trouble.
But the highest power in the country has made him a tempting offer—in exchange for an unofficial pardon, he must stop his clandestine activities as The Nowhere Man. Now Evan has to do the one thing he’s least equipped to do—live a normal life.
But then he gets a call for help from the one person he never expected. A woman claiming to have given him up for adoption, a woman he never knew—his mother. Her unlikely request: help Andrew Duran—a man whose life has gone off the rails, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, bringing him to the deadly attention of very powerful figures.
Now a brutal brother & sister assassination team are after him and with no one to turn to, and no safe place to hide, Evan is Duran’s only option. But when the hidden cabal catches on to what Evan is doing, everything he’s fought for is on the line—including his own life.
Tropic of Stupid by Tim Dorsey (January 26). Devoted Floridaphile Serge Storms is a lover of history, so he’s decided to investigate his own using one of those DNA services from late-night TV. Excited to construct a family tree, he and Coleman hit the road to meet his kin. Along the way, he plans to introduce Coleman to the Sunshine State’s beautiful parks where he can brush up on his flora, fauna, and wildlife, and more importantly, collect the missing stamps for his park passport book.
But as the old saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far . . . Serge is thrilled to discover he may be related to a notorious serial killer who’s terrorized the state for twenty years and never been caught. Which one of his newfound relatives will be the one to help him hunt down this deranged maniac? Serge doesn’t know that a dogged investigator from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is also hot on the trail.
Then Serge meets a park ranger who’s also longing to make a family re-connection. But all is not as it appears on the surface, and Serge’s newfound friendship in the mysterious swamps of Florida may lead to deadly results.
Finding his own relatives has made Serge understand the importance of family. Of course he’ll do anything to help.
Irish Parade Murder by Leslie Meier (January 26). After returning from her father-in-law’s funeral in Florida, Lucy can almost hear the death knell of her part-time reporter job the instant she meets new hire Rob Callahan. He’s young, ambitious, and positioning himself to become the Pennysaver’s next star reporter. Adding insult to injury, Lucy only gets assigned the local St. Patrick’s Day parade once Rob passes on the story. But before beer flows and bagpipes sound, Rob becomes suspected of destroying more than other people’s careers . . .
It’s a shock when Rob is suddenly charged with sending a corrections officer from town to a fiery death. Contrary to the evidence, Lucy seriously doubts her office rival committed murder, and she’s willing to follow that nagging hunch into the darkest corners of the community if it means shedding light on the truth . . .
As an unnerving mystery unfolds, a strange woman reveals news that could change everything for Lucy and her family.
Troubles in her personal and professional life are colliding, and Lucy comes to realize that she’ll sooner discover a four-leaf clover than confront a killer with the gift of the gab and live to tell about it.
A Tourist’s Guide to Murder by V.M. Burns (January 26). Sam joins Nana Jo and her Shady Acres Retirement Village friends Irma, Dorothy, and Ruby Mae on a weeklong trip to London, England, to experience the Peabody Mystery Lovers Tour.
The chance to see the sights and walk the streets that inspired Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle is a dream come true for Sam—and a perfect way to celebrate her new publishing contract as a mystery author.
But between visits to Jack the Ripper’s Whitechapel district and 221B Baker Street, Major Horace Peabody is found dead, supposedly of natural causes.
Despite his employer’s unfortunate demise, the tour guide insists on keeping calm and carrying on—until another tourist on their trip also dies under mysterious circumstances.
Every Waking Hour by Joanna Schaffhausen (January 26). The fourth book in Joanna Schaffhausen’s heartpounding Ellery Hathaway mystery series.
After surviving a serial killer’s abduction as a young teenager, Ellery Hathaway is finally attempting a normal life. She has a new job as a rookie Boston detective and a fledgling relationship with Reed Markham, the FBI agent who rescued her years ago. But when a twelve-year-old girl disappears on Ellery’s watch, the troubling case opens deep wounds that never fully healed.
Chloe Lockhart walked away from a busy street fair and vanished into the crowd. Maybe she was fleeing the suffocating surveillance her parents put on her from the time she was born, or maybe the evil from her parents’ past finally caught up to her. For Chloe, as Ellery learns, is not the first child Teresa Lockhart has lost.
Ellery knows what it’s like to have the past stalk you, to hold your breath around every corner. Sending one kidnapped girl to find another could be Chloe’s only hope or an unmitigated disaster that dooms them both. Ellery must untangle the labyrinth of secrets inside the Lockhart household — secrets that have already murdered one child. Each second that ticks by reminds her of her own lost hours, how close she came to death, and how near it still remains.