Best Crime, Mystery, And Thriller Books Of May 2019
The list of best crime, mystery, and thriller books of May 2019 includes irresistible thrillers from authors such as Jeffrey Deaver and Laird Barron to lighthearted cozy mysteries like Murder with Cucumber Sandwiches by Karen Rose Smith (see Best Crime, Mystery, And Thriller Books Of April 2019 here. The March 2019 list can be viewed here). What follows is our compiled list of latest and greatest of the month:
Fans of occult thrillers will find Inside the Asylum by Mary SanGiovanni (the second in Kathy Ryan series.) a great read. Kathy has been hired to assess the threat of patient Henry Banks, an inmate at the Connecticut-Newlyn Hospital for the Criminally Insane, the same hospital where her brother is housed.
Her employers believe that Henry has the ability to open doors to other dimensions with his mind—making him one of the most dangerous men in modern history. Because unbeknownst to Kathy, her clients are affiliated with certain government organizations that investigate people like Henry—and the potential to weaponize such abilities.
What Kathy comes to understand in interviewing Henry, and in her unavoidable run-ins with her brother, is that Henry can indeed use his mind to create “Tulpas”—worlds, people, and creatures so vivid they come to actual life. But now they want life outside of Henry. And they’ll stop at nothing to complete their emancipation. It’s up to Kathy—with her brother’s help—to stop them, and if possible, to save Henry before the Tulpas take him over—and everything else around him.
The Mad Hatter Mystery by John Dickson Carr. This is a great classic reprint. At the hand of an outrageous prankster, top hats are going missing all over London, snatched from the heads of some of the city’s most powerful people—but is the hat thief the same as the person responsible for stealing a lost story by Edgar Allan Poe, the manuscript of which has just disappeared from the collection of Sir William Bitton?
Unlike the manuscript, the hats don’t stay stolen for long, each one reappearing in unexpected and conspicuous places shortly after being taken: on the top of a Trafalgar Square statue, hanging from a Scotland Yard lamppost, and now, in the foggy depths of the Tower of London, on the head of a corpse with a crossbow bolt through the heart.
Amateur detective and lexicographer Dr. Gideon Fell is on the case, and when the dead man is identified as the nephew of the collector, he discovers that the connections underlying the bizarre and puzzling crimes may be more intimate than initially expected.
Black Mountain by Laird Barron. Ex-mob enforcer Isaiah Coledrige has hung out a shingle as a private eye in New York’s Hudson Valley, and in his newest case, a seemingly simple murder investigation leads him to the most terrifying enemy he has ever faced.
When a small-time criminal named Harold Lee turns up in the Ashokan reservoir–sans a heartbeat, head, or hands–the local Mafia capo hires Isaiah Coleridge to look into the matter. The Mob likes crime, but only the crime it controls…and as it turns out, Lee is the second independent contractor to meet a bad end on the business side of a serrated knife. One such death can be overlooked. Two makes a man wonder.
A guy in Harold Lee’s business would make his fair share of enemies, and it seems a likely case of pure revenge. But as Coledrige turns over more stones, he finds himself dragged into something deeper and more insidious than he could have imagined, in a labyrinthine case spanning decades.
At the center are an heiress moonlighting as a cabaret dancer, a powerful corporation with high-placed connections, and a serial killer who may have been honing his skills since the Vietnam War.
Venice, 1586. William Shakespeare is disguised as a steward to the English Ambassador. He and his actor friends, Oldcastle and Hemming, possess a deadly secret: the names of the Catholic spies in England who seek to destroy Queen Elizabeth. Before long the Pope’s agents begin to close in on them, so fleeing the city is the players’ only option.
In Verona, Aemelia, the daughter of a Duke, is struggling to conceal her passionate affair with her cousin Valentine. But darker times lie ahead with the arrival of the sinister Father Thornhill, who is determined to seek out anyone who doesn’t conform to the Pope’s ruthless agenda . . .
Events will converge in the forests around Verona as a multitude of plots are hatched and discovered, players fall in and out of love, and disguises are adopted and then discarded. Will the brash William Shakespeare and his friends escape with their secrets―and their lives?
The Jean Harlow Bombshell by Mollie Cox Bryan. Justine Turner is a world-famous biographer of Hollywood stars. She’s also Charlotte Donovan’s overbearing boss. So it comes as no surprise to Charlotte when Justine requests an emergency meeting related to her latest in-progress biography. It is a surprise, though, when Justine up and dies before their urgent discussion can begin.
In the wake of such a tragedy, all Charlotte wants to do is finish the Jean Harlow biography that Justine had started. Instead, she finds herself in grave danger—stalked both online and in person by a drop-dead Jean Harlow look-alike. Together with police sergeant Den Brophy, Charlotte uncovers shocking revelations. But will these revelations be enough to catch the killer?
The Never Game by Jeffery Deaver. “You have been abandoned.” A young woman has gone missing in Silicon Valley and her father has hired Colter Shaw to find her. The son of a survivalist family, Shaw is an expert tracker. Now he makes a living as a “reward seeker,” traveling the country to help police solve crimes and private citizens locate missing persons.
But what seems a simple investigation quickly thrusts him into the dark heart of America’s tech hub and the cutthroat billion-dollar video-gaming industry.
“Escape if you can.” When another victim is kidnapped, the clues point to one video game with a troubled past–The Whispering Man. In that game, the player has to survive after being abandoned in an inhospitable setting with five random objects. Is a madman bringing the game to life?
“Or die with dignity.” Shaw finds himself caught in a cat-and-mouse game, risking his own life to save the victims even as he pursues the kidnapper across both Silicon Valley and the dark ‘net. Encountering eccentric game designers, trigger-happy gamers and ruthless tech titans, he soon learns that he isn’t the only one on the hunt: someone is on his trail and closing fast.
The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey. India, 1922: It is rainy season in the lush, remote Sahyadri mountains, where the princely state of Satapur is tucked away. A curse seems to have fallen upon Satapur’s royal family, whose maharaja died of a sudden illness shortly before his teenage son was struck down in a tragic hunting accident.
The state is now ruled by an agent of the British Raj on behalf of Satapur’s two maharanis, the dowager queen and her daughter-in-law.
The royal ladies are in a dispute over the education of the young crown prince, and a lawyer’s counsel is required. However, the maharanis live in purdah and do not speak to men. Just one person can help them: Perveen Mistry, Bombay’s only female lawyer. Perveen is determined to bring peace to the royal house and make a sound recommendation for the young prince’s future, but she arrives to find that the Satapur palace is full of cold-blooded power plays and ancient vendettas.
Too late, she realizes she has walked into a trap. But whose? And how can she protect the royal children from the palace’s deadly curse?
Beyond the Gravy (The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency, book 7) by Mandy Morton. Psychic cat Irene Peggledrip is being visited by a band of malevolent spirits who all claim to be murderers. Not only is their message disturbing, but they cause chaos with indoor snowstorms, flying books and the untimely demise of a delicious Victoria sponge. Irene calls in Hettie and Tilly of the No. 2 Feline Detective Agency to help, but they’re not sure how far their skills reach into the spirit realm.
Meanwhile, Lavender Stamp, the town’s bad-tempered postmistress cat, has some good news to deliver to Tilly: she has won a competition to take afternoon tea with renowned mystery writer Agatha Crispy at her Devon home, Furaway House.
Will Hettie and Tilly finally lay the ghosts to rest? Can Molly Bloom’s new café survive the seance? And will the moving claw give up its secrets before the gravy congeals? Find out in this latest adventure of our favourite feline sleuths.
The Dancing Girls (Detective Jo Fournier Book 1) by M.M. Chouinard. When Jeanine Hammond is found dead in a hotel in the picture-perfect town of Oakhust, newly-promoted Detective Jo Fournier is thrown into a disturbing case. Who would murder this shy, loving wife and leave her body posed like a ballerina?
Jo wants to know why Jeanine’s husband is so controlling about money, and where Jeanine’s wedding ring is, but before she and her team can get close to the truth, another woman is found strangled in a hotel, arms placed gracefully above her head like a dancer.
While digging through old case files, Jo makes a terrifying link to a series of cold cases: each victim bears the same strangulation marks. But the FBI won’t take Jo seriously, and if she disobeys direct orders by investigating the killings outside of her jurisdiction, it will mean the end of the career she’s already sacrificed so much for, even her relationship.
Just as Jo is beginning to lose hope, she finds messages on the victims’ computers that make her question whether these small-town women were hiding big lies. Jo thinks this is the missing link between the victims, but she knows the killer is moments away from selecting his next victim. Will it lead her to the most twisted killer of her career in time, or will another innocent life be lost?
Murder with Cucumber Sandwiches by Karen Rose Smith. Restaurant critic Derek Schumaker, notorious for his bitter reviews, is about to visit Daisy’s Tea Garden, and Daisy and Aunt Iris are simmering with anxiety. A bad word from the culinary curmudgeon could really hurt their business, but Daisy tries to stay confident. After all, how can he resist her cucumber sandwiches with pimento spread—not to mention the cheesy cauliflower soup and strawberry walnut salad?
Schumaker takes a to-go order when the afternoon tea service is done, which Daisy hopes is a good sign. But when he perishes from a seizure, it looks like his food was dosed with something deadly. Considering a threat that recently appeared on his blog—and whispers of scandal in his past—Daisy has quite an assortment of suspects to sift through.
Murder, She Wrote: Murder in Red by Jessica Fletcher; Jon Land. Jessica Fletcher’s favorite gin rummy partner, Mimi Van Dorn, checks into the brand-new Clifton Care Partners, a private hospital that’s just opened up shop in town, for a simple procedure—one that leads tragically, and inexplicably, to her death. Seeking justice in her inimitable fashion, Jessica decides to pursue her own investigation on the hospital and its shadowy business dealings.
On the trail of what initially appears to be medical malpractice, Jessica digs deeper and learns her friend was actually a victim of something far more sinister. Death is bad for business, but murder is even worse, and Jessica will find plenty of both as she races to bring down Clifton Care Partners before someone else flatlines.
Deception Cove by Owen Laukkanen. Former US Marine Jess Winslow reenters civilian life a new widow, with little more to her name than a falling-down house, a medical discharge for PTSD, and a loyal dog named Lucy. The only thing she actually cares about is that dog, a black-and-white pit bull mix who helps her cope with the devastating memories of her time in Afghanistan.
After fifteen years — nearly half his life — in state prison, Mason Burke owns one set of clothes, a wallet, and a photo of Lucy, the service dog he trained while behind bars. Seeking a fresh start, he sets out for Deception Cove, Washington, where the dog now lives.
As soon as Mason knocks on Jess’s door, he finds himself in the middle of a standoff between the widow and the deputy county sheriff. When Jess’s late husband piloted his final “fishing” expedition, he stole and stashed a valuable package from his drug dealer associates. Now the package is gone, and the sheriff’s department has seized Jess’s dearest possession-her dog. Unless Jess turns over the missing goods, Lucy will be destroyed.
The last thing Mason wants is to be dragged back into the criminal world. The last thing Jess wants is to trust a stranger. But neither of them can leave a friend, the only good thing in either of their lives, in danger. To rescue Lucy, they’ll have to forge an uneasy alliance. And to avoid becoming collateral damage in someone else’s private war, they have to fight back — and find a way to conquer their doubts and fears.
Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Sting of the Wasp by Jeff Rovin. It’s a beautiful day in Manhattan as excited tourists board the floating Air and Space Museum on the USS Intrepid—until a horrible explosion rips across the flight deck, showering the body parts of innocent people everywhere. The perpetrator is none other than Captain Ahmed Salehi, an Iranian mastermind whose last terrorism plot was foiled at the last minute by Op-Center.
Back in Washington, the White House orders Op-Center disbanded—or so it seems. Unbeknownst to America’s enemies, director Chase Williams has been put in charge of a brand-new, top-secret covert attack team known only as BLACK WASP.
Its members, each chosen for their unique set of specialized black-ops skills—martial arts expert Lieutenant Grace Lee, sharpshooter Lance Corporal Jaz Rivette, and JAG attorney and criminologist Major Hamilton Breen—have been assigned to seek out Salehi and finally bring him to justice.
But Salehi is part of an even more frightening conspiracy, led by a renegade Iranian tycoon determined to establish a new Islamic State that will dwarf the horrors of ISIS. From the heart of Manhattan, to the swamps of Trinidad, to the sunbaked mud villages of Yemen, this new Op-Center is America’s only line of defense against a bloody Middle Eastern tyrant.
Dark Site (A Sam Dryden Novel) by Patrick Lee. On an otherwise normal morning, former Special Forces operative Sam Dryden is the target of an unsuccessful attempted abduction. Using his attacker’s cellphone, he learns that another person, a woman named Danica Ellis, is also being targeted.
Dryden arrives just in time to save Danica from the assault team sent after her. But neither of them recognize the other, or have any idea why they are being targeted. The only clue is a heavily redacted, official-looking document given to Danica by her stepfather before he was killed.
Dryden immediately recognizes it as a “scrub file.” A scrub file is a record of what a subject knew before their memories were chemically destroyed. The redacted document refers to witnesses to a secret military site in Ashland, Iowa in 1989. Both Dryden and Danica Ellis lived in Ashland in 1989, when they were both twelve years old, though neither of them has any memory of the other.
Switching back and forth between the present day, when Dryden and Danica try to elude the forces that are after them, and the past in Ashland, Iowa, when both were twelve, making a discovery that forever changed their lives, this latest Sam Dryden novel proves yet again that Patrick Lee is one of the most original, compelling thriller writers today.