Every month I will be updating this article with the best mystery books of 2022.
I read a lot of mystery novels, old and new. At the end of each month, I will be looking at the mystery books I read that were released that prior month, and select two of them to list here!
This way you get a good sampling of the best mystery books of 2022 as I will have two per month, for a total of 24 of the best mystery books of the year.
The list is sorted alphabetically by author surname. Last updated: end of October 2022.
The Runaway by Nick Petrie: I must admit I was a bit nervous going into this one. The Peter Ash series is my #1 recommended series in the if you like Jack Reacher article I wrote. It’s one that I recommend to any Reacher fans.
This is the 7th novel but I was a bit concerned as I wasn’t a big fan of the last two. The Wild One was a book set in Iceland that just felt more depressing than anything. The Breaker took me a while to get into and just didn’t seem as inspired as previous novels.
Thankfully, Nick Petrie is back in style with an excellent book! I loved The Runaway and if I do a “Best Peter Ash” book listing, then it’s possible this one will be top 3.
This one is about Peter Ash driving on an isolated road when he stumbles upon a woman in danger. Her car is dead and her ex-cop husband is chasing after her for seeing something she wasn’t meant to.
This was a non-stop action book and Nick really brought out the best in Peter Ash here.
A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham: This is the first novel written by Stacy and WOW – this is one author I will be reading more.
I actually listened to this one. Karissa Vacker is the narrator and I love every mystery/thriller she does so will normally listen to them over reading. She did Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson which made me fall in love with her narrating skills.
20 years ago, six girls went missing in a small town. The person behind it was Chloe Davis’s dad, when she was 21 years old. The book takes place 20 years later. Chloe now works as a psychologist and is busy preparing for her wedding. She’s just feeling happy – when suddenly teenage girls start going missing again, bringing back memories of the past.
A great book and an author well worth reading. Or if you are an audiobook listener – a great one to listen to!
The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley: Lucy Foley is an author that is yet to let me down so I was interested in checking out her newest this month. I’m happy to say that this book did not disappoint and it hooked me rather quickly.
The story sees a woman named Jess who decides to get away from her life in England and head to Paris to stay with her half brother. She arrives in Paris, but when she gets to his apartment he is nowhere to be found. She asks his neighbors where he might be, but they all say that they haven’t seen him.
Jess can tell there is more to this story and she soon finds that all of the other tenants in this building have something to hide. Each of the tenants background and their relationship to Ben is slowly revealed in a clever way that really keeps you interested and questioning things. The characters are all well drawn and even the building itself has its own creepy vibe.
This is another winner from Foley as the pages just fly by and leave you begging for more.
Our American Friend by Anna Pitoniak: I was a bit wary of this one because politics can be so dividing these days, but this is a really smart thriller that really hooked me. It’s filled with scandal and drama, two aspects that absolutely make a political thriller work.
A White House correspondent is tired of the dysfunction in Washington, DC and quits her job with a plan to leave politics behind for good. Then gets a call from the First Lady who wants her to help write her biography. Not much is known about Lara Caine outside of the fact that she was born in Russia, raised in Paris, and worked as a model before making her way to America.
Sofie and Laura begin meeting together to discuss her past and the revelations are numerous to the point that Sofie starts to wonder why she is telling her all of this. Why her? Why now?
Those questions will keep you guessing as well in this page-turner.
What Happened to the Bennetts by Lisa Scottoline: A suburban dad named Jason Bennett sees his life take a horrific turn when driving his family home one night. A truck starts to tailgate them and two men end up pulling guns on Jason, leading to a horrific moment of violence. Jason is visited by the FBI who tell him that these men were apart of a drug-trafficking organization and now the Bennetts have become their targets. The family joins the witness protection program and their life begins to fall apart. When Jason finds out the truth about what’s really going on he decides to take matters into his own hands.
This is one of those books where you read the description and it seems like a pretty straightforward story, but then you read it and find that it is something much different. What happens to this family in this book will blow your mind and really have you feeling for them.
There are plenty of twists and turns in this book that will keep you guessing and holding on until you get to the end.
The Night Shift by Alex Finlay: On New Year’s Eve in 1999, four teens were attacked and only one survived. The police identified a suspect, but they fled and was never seen again. Fifteen years later, more teenagers have been attacked in the same town and, again, only one makes it out alive. The crime will bring the two lone survivors and an FBI agent together to uncover the truth about both murders.
The story is told from multiple character viewpoints at different points in time which makes for an interesting read.
This might not make my top-ten at the end of the year, but it was a quick read and kept me entertained throughout. The action never lets up and will keep you reading until the last page with several twists and turns along the way.
The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth: A heart surgeon named Stephen Aston is set to re-marry, but the only problem is that he is still married. He’ll need to first divorce his current wife who can no longer speak for herself. The couple’s daughters, Tully and Rachel, think of their father’s fiancée as an interloper. She is younger than them and they believes she is just after their father’s money.
The children are determined to get to the truth about their family’s secrets and find out who their father, and his new wife, really is.
This is another family drama from Sally Hepworth who has excelled in this genre before with The Good Sister and The Family Next Door. The characters are all well drawn with their own unique idiosyncrasies. The author has an easy writing style, she delves out family secrets slowly and each one gets you more engaged than the last.
Redemption by Mike Lawson: Jamison Maddox ends up taking a job doing research for small company in Redemption, Illinois after his life is upended by an insider trading conviction. He has no better option so he takes the position. Maddox soon realizes strange things about the town. Everyone is seemingly related in one way or another and the company has some extreme security practices.
He falls in love with a colleague named Gillian who makes him realize that he may be doing illegal work for the company. The two decide to run away together, but the company is not happy about it and pursues them with the goal of silencing them forever.
Lawson took a break from the Joe DeMarco series for this book and it was a great choice. The book is meticulously plotted with the suspense ratcheting up throughout. This is not the book to start reading at night if you want to get any sleep.
Take Your Breath Away by Linwood Barclay: Andrew Mason is on a fishing trip when his wife goes missing without a trace. Everyone assumes that Andy is to blame, but the police aren’t able to build a case against him. Instead, Andy’s life falls apart.
The story picks up six years later as Andy begins to put his life back together. He sold his house and moved away, ready to put the past behind him, and start a new life with Jayne. Then one day a woman who looks a lot like Brie shows up at the old address screaming about her house. Not long after, she disappears again.
Was Brie alive after all this time? Where has she been? It will be up to Andy and those close to him to figure out what is going on.
The Island by Adrian McKinty: Heather marries a widow named Tom who has two children, a son and teenage daughter. To bring a new family together, they take a trip to the Australian outback.
The trip gets off to a rocky start in the Outback and then the family decides to visit Dutch Island. The island is off-limits to outsiders, but they end up talking their way onto a ferry in order to go on a real adventure. That turns out to be a big, big mistake.
The island is run by a tight knit clan of locals and things don’t feel right from the beginning. Heather and kids end up separated from Tom and it’s up to the stepmom to save herself and her stepkids from danger in the Australian Outback.
The Lies I Tell by Julie Clark: Meg is a con-woman with many aliases, she changes her name from town-to-town and job-to-job. She can be whatever she needs to be and tells people whatever they need to hear in order to get what she wants. Kat Roberts has waited ten years to find the woman who screwed up her life to come back. She finally has and now Kat is going to do whatever it takes to expose her. She manages to get close to the woman to get her revenge, but she finds that many things she believed are falling apart and that Meg may have a different target.
This book is packed with twists and turns. I found it really hard to put down and it was just as good, if not better than, Clark’s two previous books. The female con artist is unique and the story keeps you guessing until the last page.
The Omega Factor by Steve Berry: Nick Lee’s job is to protect the world’s cultural artifacts for the United Nations’ Cultural Liaison and Investigative Office. On a trip to Belgium, Nick ends up on the trail of a legendary panel from the Ghent Altarpiece. It was originally stolen in 1934 and has never been seen since. Nick has a chance to get it back, but the search puts him in the middle of a conflict between a secret order of nun and the Vatican itself. The search sends Nick on a modern-day religious crusade that will take him from Ghent to Carcassonne to the French Pyrenees.
Berry has a unique way of blending facts with fiction and there is a ton of historical facts packed into this book. You almost need a history book at your side to keep track of all of it. Berry has had a lot of success in the past with the Cotton Malone series, but he has another winner on his hands with Nick Lee.
The It Girl by Ruth Ware: April was the first person Hannah met when she came to Oxford. April was the ultimate “it girl” and pulled Hannah into her world. The formed a group with Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily; and they were all as close as can be. However, by the end of the year April would be dead.
A decade later, the man convicted of killing her is dead. Then Hannah is visited by a journalist with evidence that man may have been innocent all along. Hannah will look to reconnect with her old friends and look back in to the mystery of her death. What she’ll find is that her old friends have something to hide.
What I love about Ware’s books is that they are a quick read. No matter how many pages they are, they fly by and you don’t stop reading until the last page. This is a fresh twist on the formula and the characters are what really makes it.
Things We Do in the Dark by Jennifer Hillier: Paris Peralta is found in her bathroom covered in blood and holding a razor with her dead husband dead. She is arrested, but it’s not the biggest of her worries. Paris is most worried that someone from her hidden past will recognize her amidst the media attention and come to destroy her life.
Ruby Reyes was arrested for a similar murder twenty five years ago and she knows who Paris really is. When Ruby is released, she looks to expose Paris and her secrets. Now, Paris has no choice but to confront the past.
The story is filled with the types of twists and turns you come to expect from Hillier, but it is the well drawn characters that really make this book. Despite how it reads in the description, the book is very believable and the perfect example of a great thriller.
Overkill by Sandra Brown: Zach Bridger hasn’t seen his ex=wife in a long time, but then he gets a call that she has been placed on life support after she was attacked. Zach still has power of attorney and is faced with an impossible choice before giving the power of attorney to her parents. Years later, her attacker, Eban, is released. Kate, the prosecutor, wants to put him back behind bars, but because Rebecca’s parents kept her alive he can’t be charged with murder.
Zach knows this and if he wants him to pay, he knows what he must do. Eban comes from a wealthy family and when he realizes how much jeopardy he may be in will set out to protect his freedom by targeting Zach and Kate.
Sandra Brown has another winner here as she continues to come up with new narratives and new twists. The book does a great job of balancing the themes of duty and guilt throughout the story and the very difficult choice that people can be forced with making.
Girl, Forgotten by Karin Slaughter: In 1982, a young girl named Emily was getting ready for prom and ended up dead. Her murder remains a mystery to this day and the town has since moved on, with nobody wanting to talk. Forty years later, Andrea Oliver’s work as a US Marshal brings her to town to protect a judge. However, that’s not the only reason she’s in town. She also wants to find justice for Emily.
Karin Slaughter wrote this as a sequel to Pieces of Her, but it’s a improvement over the first in a lot of ways. All of the characters are well written and extremely detailed. This is the kind of msytery/thriller that will trick you into thinking you’ve figured it out before it pulls out the rug from you and takes you in another direction.
Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn: This book has a unique premise as it follows four women in their sixties: Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie who have worked as deadly assassins for the past forty years. Now their skills are no longer appreciated as they get older and technology takes over their field.
The four are sent on a paid vacation to mark their retirement, but find themselves being targeted by another assassin. The women realize they’ve been marked for death by the organization that they have worked for. To get out alive they will have to turn against the organization and use their unique skills to to fight back.
This has been described as the Golden Girls meets James Bond and that is right on. The book has the wit and comedy of the latter and the suspense and action of the latter.
The Butcher and The Wren by Alaina Urquhart: The Louisiana bayou is home to a methodical serial killer who does medical experiments on their victims. Forensic pathologist Dr. Wren Muller is brought in to help. She has an encyclopedic knowledge of crimes and years of experience, and has never been unable to solve a case. This one has proven to be the one that could break that streak. Now, Wren finds herself in a cat-and-mouse game against a brutal killer who is becoming more and more brazen.
This is the debut novel from Urquhart who worked as a autopsy tech. She is also the co-host of a true crime podcast called Morbid. That knowledge of true crime and how autopsy work really shines in this book as she her expertise brings a level of reality to this book. While the story is dark and twisty in all the right ways.
The Boys from Biloxi by John Grisham: One of the greatest writers in history returns to two of his biggest strengths: the courtroom and Mississippi.
Biloxi, Mississippi is the home of beautiful beaches, resorts, and thriving business. It also has a dark side with corruption, gambling, drugs, and more evil deeds as the home of the Dixie Mafia.
Keith Rudy and Hugh Malco grew up in the sixties and were Little League All-Stars together. They were friends as kids, but their lives ended up taking them in much different directions. Keith’s father was the legendary prosecutor who tried to clean up the coast by taking on the Dixie Mafia. The son followed in his father’s footsteps by going to law school and returning home. Hugh’s father became the Boss of the criminal underground in Biloxi and now his son is following in his footsteps. The two families have always been headed for a showdown and now it will finally happen in the courtroom.
This story spans decades of crime in Biloxi and mixes in a lot of the real history that plagued the area. At times this book can read almost like a history book. In the hands of a lesser writer that might be considered a bad thing, but for Grisham it’s definitely playing to his strengths.
A Strange Habit of Mind by Andrew Klavan: This is the second book in the Cameron Winter Mysteries series. The first book was Christmas based so this is the first chance to dig into the character in a more normal setting.
Gerald Byrne is the eccentric billionaire owner of Byrner, a social media platform. Byrne is considered by many to be a visionary, a good family man, and philanthropist. However, anyone who gets in the way of his good work seems to end up dead.
Cameron Winter, ex-spy and current English professor, is saddened to hear that a former student named Adam has committed suicide and sets to find out why. The young man was expelled from the university, but reached out to Winter shortly before his death. He had only two words for his former professor: “help me.”
Winter uses his special skill, his “strange habit of mind”, where he can reconstruct a crime scene in his mind and play through it in multiple ways. He does with Adam’s final moments, but something just isn’t right. Then he learns that Adam had been in a tumultuous relationship with Gerald Byrne’s niece and he begins to suspect there is something more to this story.
Cameron Winter is a great protagonist as he’s really troubled by some of the things he’s done in his past and is seeking retribution by helping others. His strange habit of mind is a unique ability and really helps you break down the scene. Putting him up against Byrne, who could be taken right out of our reality, is a nice touch as well.