17 Best Crime, Mystery, And Thriller Books Of April 2020
Our picks for April 2020 include fun traditional mysteries like Watson on the Orient Express by Anna Elliott & Charles Veley, must-read The Talented Mr. Varg by Alexander McCall Smith and commercial thrillers from familiar names such as Anne Perry, John Sandford and Don Winslow. 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 March 2020, please visit here.
What follows is our compiled list of latest and greatest for April 2020:
The Bomb Squad (Clash of The Patriots) by Neil Perry Gordon (April 1). At the stroke of midnight, a devastating explosion at Black Tom Island, an armaments depot, rocks New York City awake; and so begins this story of two patriots in World War I, each willing to put his life on the line in order to achieve a glorious victory for his cause.
Serving the Fatherland is Dr. Harold Schwartz, administrator of the prestigious Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital and a German spy. Along with his father, a dealer in lethal weapons and a lifelong friend of Kaiser Wilhelm, Schwartz is hell-bent on distracting the Americans from entering the war.
Meanwhile, the British Secret Intelligence Service recruits highly regarded New York City police detective Max Rothman to assemble a team of German-speaking specialists, known as the Bomb Squad. Their mission is to investigate the sudden surge of German espionage activity wreaking havoc along the Eastern Seaboard and among steamships attempting to cross the Atlantic.
Mortmain Hall by Martin Edwards (April 2). 1930. A chilling encounter on London’s Necropolis Railway leads to murder. At the Old Bailey, a man accused of a ‘blazing car’ killing escapes the gallows after a surprise witness gives sensational evidence. And journalist Jacob Flint finds himself framed for murder.
To save himself, Jacob needs to discover what links these strange events to a remote estate on a northern coast, Mortmain Hall.
At Mortmain Hall, an eccentric female criminologist hosts a gathering of people who have narrowly escaped the consequences of miscarriages of justice. But the house party culminates in tragedy when a body is found beneath the crumbling cliffs.
Is the death an accident or the result of an ingenious plot to get away with murder? An eclectic mix of suspects and victims includes a radical publisher risen from the grave, a fake medium with a sinister past, and a cricketer mauled to death by an escaped lion.
Watson on the Orient Express (The Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James Mystery Series, Book #17) by Anna Elliott & Charles Veley (April 6). London, 1898. Held captive by a diabolical criminal mastermind and his gang of thugs, Watson overhears an assassination plot that not only endangers the life of Sherlock Holmes, but threatens to ignite a war. If he has any hope of foiling his kidnappers’ nefarious plans, he must escape, and quickly.
Eluding the familiar foe proves challenging, however. Watson is soon caught and awakens in jail, the prime suspect for two murders, dressed in the clothes of a missing man, one Lord Harwell. To save himself and prevent the assassination, Watson embarks on a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse that leads him on a harrowing journey to Constantinople aboard the famed Orient Express.
Meanwhile, Sherlock and Lucy have been called upon to discern the whereabouts of the missing Lord Harwell. The stakes become much higher when Holmes discovers the missing man has ties to an important diplomatic negotiation in Constantinople. Just as he is pulled deeper into the investigation, Holmes receives a distressing telegram from Watson himself. He and Lucy quickly board the next outgoing Orient Express in hopes of rescuing Watson and preventing a gruesome act that could very well lead the nation to war.
Success seems uncertain as the enemy looks to thwart their heroic efforts at every turn, and Watson, Holmes and Lucy become targets in an ever-more-sinister plan. Will three intrepid detectives stop the assassination and put its mastermind away for good? Or will it all be too little, too late?
Masked Prey by John Sandford (April 14). The daughter of a U.S. Senator is monitoring her social media presence when she finds a picture of herself on a strange blog. And there are other pictures…of the children of other influential Washington politicians, walking or standing outside their schools, each identified by name. Surrounding the photos are texts of vicious political rants from a motley variety of radical groups.
It’s obviously alarming–is there an unstable extremist tracking the loved ones of powerful politicians with deadly intent? But when the FBI is called in, there isn’t much the feds can do. The anonymous photographer can’t be pinned down to one location or IP address, and more importantly, at least to the paper-processing bureaucrats, no crime has actually been committed.
With nowhere else to turn, influential Senators decide to call in someone who can operate outside the FBI’s constraints: Lucas Davenport.
Broken by Don Winslow (April 7). In six intense short novels connected by the themes of crime, corruption, vengeance, justice, loss, betrayal, guilt and redemption, Broken is #1 international bestseller Don Winslow at his nerve-shattering, heart-stopping, heartbreaking best.
In Broken, he creates a world of high-level thieves and low-life crooks, obsessed cops struggling with life on and off the job, private detectives, dope dealers, bounty hunters and fugitives, the lost souls driving without headlights through the dark night on the American criminal highway.
With his trademark blend of insight, humanity, humor, action and the highest level of literary craftsmanship, Winslow delivers a collection of tales that will become classics of crime fiction.
One Fatal Flaw (A Daniel Pitt Novel) by Anne Perry (April 7). When a desperate woman comes to Daniel Pitt seeking a lawyer for her boyfriend, Rob Adwell, Daniel is convinced of the young man’s innocence. Adwell has been accused of murder and of setting a fire to conceal the body, but Daniel is sure that science can absolve him—and Miriam fford Croft is the best scientist he knows.
Miriam connects Daniel with her former teacher Sir Barnabas Saltram, an expert in arson, and together, they reveal Adwell’s innocence by proving that an accidental fire caused the victim’s death. But it’s not long before Adwell is killed in the same fiery fashion. If these deaths are, in fact, murders, what essential clue could Daniel and Miriam have missed?
As their investigation deepens, one of Saltram’s former cases comes into question, and Miriam finds herself on the defensive. If the reasoning Saltram used in that case is proved false, several other cases will have to be re-tried, and Saltram’s expert status—not to mention Miriam’s reputation—will be ruined. Haunted by Saltram’s shady tactics in and outside of the classroom, Miriam is desperate to figure out truths both past and present and protect herself in the face of Saltram’s lies.
What started as an accidental fire in Adwell’s case seems to be linked to a larger plot for revenge, with victims accumulating in its wake, and Miriam and Daniel must uncover who or what is stoking these recurring flames—before they, too, find themselves burned.
Both Sides (Stories from the Border) edited by Gabino Iglesias (April 17). A collection of original and riveting stories that tackle one of the most important and controversial issues of time: The Border.
La frontera is full of stories. Real stories, not the ones you see in the news. The border is a powerful place where countries collide. It’s a weird space of dreams, struggles, promises, lies, fear, and redemption. It’s a multicultural and bilingual space where people know that hustling to protect your loved ones or offer them a better life is a drive strong enough to blur ethical codes.
Sadly, the border is also a place where drugs make people a lot of money, corruption stains everything, and violence fills the landscape with danger and ghosts. Now, some of today’s most talented authors will visit this space from their perspective—showing the world what they see on both sides.
In a landmark anthology, acclaimed author Gabino Iglesias presents 15 stories from an incredibly talented and diverse roster of authors that look at all aspects of border crime—immigration, law, trafficking (both human and narcotics), and everyone trying to exploit the divide for their own benefit. Thought-provoking, shocking, violent, raw, emotional, and unforgettable,BOTH SIDES will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about borders, both domestic and international.
Featuring stories by: Isaac Kirkman, Shannon Kirk, Alex Segura, Rob Hart, Nicolás Obregón, J. Todd Scott, Christopher David Rosales, Daniel A. Olivas, Cynthia Pelayo, Johnny Shaw, Rios de la Luz, Sandra Jackson-Opoku, Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason, Nick Mamatas, and David Bowles.
Murder to Music by Margaret Newman (April 16). Detective Superintendent Simon Hudson finds himself in a difficult position. Attending the Metropolitana Choir’s concert was intended to make him a supportive partner… not the head of a murder investigation. But when the conductor drops dead during the performance, Hudson winds up with a shocking list of suspects – including his girlfriend.
Unable to keep his professional and personal lives separate, Hudson finds himself embroiled in the peculiar hatreds and spiteful grudges that dominate the Metro’s managing committee. Desperate to ensure his girlfriend’s innocence, Hudson must work quickly to bring the murderer to light before it’s too late.
This melodic murder mystery, brimming with charm and wit, was first published in 1959 and was Margaret Newman’s first novel.
The Riddle of the Fractal Monks (A Mathematical Mystery, Book 3) by Jonathan Pinnock (April 16). A mystery lands – literally – at Tom Winscombe’s feet, and another riotous mathematical adventure begins.
Tom Winscombe and Dorothy Chan haven’t managed to go on a date for some time, so it’s a shame that their outing to a Promenade Concert is cut short when a mysterious cowled figure plummets from the gallery to the floor of the arena close to where they are standing. But when they find out who he was, all thoughts of romance fly out of the window.
Just who are the Fractal Monks, and what does Isaac, last of the Vavasors and custodian of the papers of famed dead mathematical geniuses Archie and Pye, want with them? How will other figures from the past also demand a slice of the action? And what other mysteries are there lurking at the bottom of the sea and at the top of mountains? The answers lie in The Riddle of Fractal Monks.
The Coyotes of Carthage by Steven Wright (April 14). Dre Ross has one more shot. Despite being a successful political consultant, his aggressive tactics have put him on thin ice with his boss, Mrs. Fitz, who plucked him from juvenile incarceration and mentored his career. She exiles him to the backwoods of South Carolina with $250,000 of dark money to introduce a ballot initiative on behalf of a mining company. The goal: to manipulate the locals into voting to sell their pristine public land to the highest bidder.
Dre arrives in God-fearing, flag-waving Carthage County, with only Mrs. Fitz’s well-meaning yet naïve grandson Brendan as his team. Dre, an African-American outsider, can’t be the one to collect the signatures needed to get on the ballot. So he hires a blue-collar couple, Tyler Lee and his pious wife, Chalene, to act as the initiative’s public face.
Under Dre’s cynical direction, a land grab is disguised as a righteous fight for faith and liberty. As lines are crossed and lives ruined, Dre’s increasingly cutthroat campaign threatens the very soul of Carthage County and perhaps the last remnants of his own humanity.
Missions by Marc McGuire (April 16). An explosion in the heart of Paris launches a French-American investigation that propels Doyle O’Gara, a computer scientist at a technology supplier to the CIA, from the periphery of the new war into its moral nerve center. As the suspense-filled investigation leaps from one surprising clue to the next, Doyle O’Gara hurtles toward a disastrous miscalculation and a dilemma of conscience that define him and the country he serves.
Dead Land by Sara Paretsky (April 21). Chicago may be the city of broad shoulders, but its political law is “Pay to Play.” Money changes hands in the middle of the night, and by morning, buildings and parks are replaced by billion-dollar projects.
Chicago PI V.I. Warshawski gets pulled into one of these clandestine deals through her impetuous goddaughter, Bernie Fouchard. Bernie tries to rescue Lydia Zamir, a famed singer-songwriter now living on the streets; Zamir’s life fell apart when her lover was murdered next to her in a mass shooting at an outdoor concert.
Not only does Bernie plunge her and V.I. headlong into the path of some ruthless developers, they lead to the murder of the young man Bernie is dating. He’s a computer geek working for a community group called SLICK.
V.I. is desperate to find a mysterious man named Coop, who roams the lakefront in the middle of the night with his dog. She’s sure he holds the key to the mounting body count within SLICK. Coop may even know why an international law firm is representing the mass murderer responsible for Lydia’s lover’s death.
Instead, the detective finds a terrifying conspiracy stretching from Chicago’s parks to a cover-up of the dark chapters in America’s meddling in South American politics. Before she finds answers, this electrifying novel pushes V.I. close to the breaking point: People who pay to play take no prisoners.
Shredding the Evidence (A Cookbook Nook Mystery #9) by Daryl Wood Gerber (April 21). The denizens of Crystal Cove are salivating over the upcoming Food Bowl Week, when local chefs offer some of their best and most imaginative creations in bite-size portions all over town.
Bookstore proprietor Jenna Hart is hungry to sample as many of the delicacies as she can, but when she stumbles onto the dead body of a local food reporter and learns that her best friend’s husband is the primary suspect, she’ll have to summon the appetite for a side dish of sleuthing to prove his innocence.
Jenna knows the ambitious and aggressive reporter, who was strangled at a fitness center with her shredded restaurant reviews scattered around her, left behind a long list of potential suspects.
As she begins piecing together the scant clues, she uncovers illicit ties between the victim and a local newspaper owner, a spurned would-be lover, and a host of disgruntled restaurant owners not a bit torn up by the critical reporter’s demise. And with a solution so close she can almost taste it, Jenna turns up the heat on the culprit, realizing too late that she’s the next course on the murderer’s menu.
Death Of A Painter by Matthew Ross (April 27). When Mark Poynter discovers a murder on his worksite, all of his financial problems suddenly seem a lot closer to home: was this a warning his debts are overdue?
Suspected of being the killer, but more worried about being the intended victim, the murder only makes Mark’s money problems worse, leading him to turn to the local villain, Hamlet, who has his own unique repayment plan in mind for Mark.
When two more deaths plunge him even further into debt, Mark finds himself faced with a choice – help the Police and clear his name or help the villain and clear his debt.
Death Of A Painter is the first in a new series of darkly comic crime fiction novels featuring the beleaguered builder Mark Poynter, aided and hindered in equal measure by his trusted crew of slackers, idlers and gossips, and the lengths they will go to just to earn a living, because in the cash-in-hand shadows of the economy there’s no job too big, no dodge too small.
The Talented Mr. Varg (A Detective Varg Novel #2) by Alexander McCall Smith (April 28). In the second installment in the best-selling Detective Varg series, Ulf and his team investigate a notorious philanderer—a wolf of a man whose bad reputation may be all bark and no bite.
The Department of Sensitive Crimes, renowned for taking on the most obscure and irrelevant cases is always prepared to dive into an investigation, no matter how complex. So when the girlfriend of an infamous author who insists her bad-boy beau is being blackmailed approaches Ulf Varg, the department’s lead detective, Ulf is determined to help. It’s rather difficult to determine what skeletons hide in the hard-living lothario’s closet, though. And while Swedes are notoriously tolerant . . . well, there are limits. Even for the Swedish.
The case requires Ulf’s total concentration, but he finds himself distracted by his ongoing attraction to his co-worker, Anna, whose own fears about her husband’s fidelity are causing a strain on her marriage. When Ulf is also tasked with looking into a group of dealers exporting wolves that seem more canis familiaris than canis lupus, it will require all of his team’s investigative instincts and dogged persistence to put these matters to bed.
The Split by Sharon Bolton (April 28). The remote Antarctic island of South Georgia is about to send off its last boat of the summer – which signifies safety to resident glaciologist Felicity Lloyd.
Felicity lives in fear – fear that her ex-husband Freddie will find her, even out here. She took a job on this isolated island to hide from him, but now that he’s out of prison, having served a term for murder, she knows he won’t give up until he finds her.
But a doctor delving into the background of Felicity and Freddie’s relationship, back in Cambridge, learns that Felicity has been on the edge for a long time. Heading to South Georgia himself to try and get to her first is the only way he can think of to help her.
The Perfect Daughter by Joseph Souza (April 28). Shepherd’s Bay has been home to generations of lobstermen and their families. Lately, affluent newcomers have been buying up waterfront property and mingling uneasily with the locals. Tensions are high, especially since Dakota James, a teenage boy from the wealthier side of town, disappeared weeks ago. But another disturbing incident soon follows.
When high school junior Katie Eaves and her friend, Willow Briggs, fail to come home after a night out, Katie’s mother, Isla, is frantic. Two agonizing days go by before Katie is found, bruised and bloodied, yet alive. Isla is grateful. But Willow, a wealthy newcomer from Los Angeles, is still missing. And Katie can’t remember anything about the night of their disappearance.
Isla tries to help her daughter sort through her hazy recollections, and to recall the truth of her tangled friendship with privileged, beautiful Willow. At the hair salon she owns, Isla hears dark whispers about wild parties, drug deals, and love triangles gone wrong. How much truth is in the gossip? Is Dakota’s disappearance linked to the others? And what other shocking secrets lie at the heart of Shepherd’s Bay—and of the family Isla is struggling to hold together?