One of the strongest and most popular markets in publishing right now is the thriller/mystery market. There is a lot of crossover between mystery and romance readers since women make up the bulk of the consumers of both these genres. AAR has finished our Best of 2019 romance lists and now Maggie and Shannon combine their knowledge to bring you their list of the best of the mystery/thriller market from 2019.

Maggie: For me, this was the year of the suburban/small town thriller. Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson, Someone We Know by Shari Lapena, The Chain by Adrian McKinty, The Stranger Inside by Lisa Unger, Stolen Things by Rachel Heron. Did you get that vibe from this year’s crop of novels or did you find yourself reading a slightly different style of book?

Shannon: I completely agree with your assessment, Maggie. Many of the books I read in 2019 had that small town feel, and I’d be completely fine if 2020 brought me more of the same. You and I read a lot of the same books set in small towns.

Maggie: The Domestic Thriller is still quite popular and several of my favorite books of the year revolved around the theme of family. Fiona Barton’s absolutely excellent The Suspect, Ruth Ware’s The Turn of the Key, Jane Harper’s The Lost Man, Siri Mitchell’s State of Lies, Lesley Kara’s The Rumor, Alice Feeney’s I Know Who You Are and Lisa Jewell’s outstanding The Family Upstairs. Did you feel the domestic thriller was still going strong this year? What were your favorites?

Shannon: Domestic Thrillers are still super popular. Emma Rous’ The Au Pair, Sally Hepworth’s The Mother-In-Law, Gillian McCallister’s The Good Sister, Wendy Herd’s The Kill Club, Christina McDonald’s The Night Olivia Fell, Lizzy Barber’s A Girl Called Anna, and Haylen Beck’s Lost You were the ones that stood out for me. And of course, I agree about Ruth Ware, Alice Feeny, and Lisa Unger as well.

Maggie: Dangerous friends remains a strong theme in the thriller market and for me the outstanding offerings in that arena were Her One Mistake by Heidi Perks, The First Mistake by Sandie Jones, and I Invited Her In by Adele Parks. What were your favorite dangerous friends novels?

Shannon: The First Mistake and Her One Mistake were fantastic! I’m definitely looking forward to reading more by Perks and Jones. Other stellar novels that fall into this category are Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline, Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf, and One More Lie by Amy Lloyd.

Maggie: Thrillers can be expensive to buy, both in print and digital. What is your favorite reasonably priced read? For me it was Loreth Anne White’s In the Dark.

ShannonIn the Dark was a phenomenal read! Until the Day I Die by Emily Carpenter is another compelling mystery that won’t break the bank.

Maggie: The Gothic market remains a steady presence in the thriller market and is still one of my favorites. I loved Ware’s Turn of the Key, Tess Geritsen’s The Shape of Night and Michelle Adams’ Between the Lies.

Shannon: You know, I didn’t read too many gothics this year. The Au Pair by Emma Rous had a gothic feel to it, and, of course, Ruth Ware is the queen of the modern gothic.

Maggie: Police procedurals are not as popular as they once were but there are still some really strong books being published in this market. My favorite in 2019 is easily Cara Hunter’s No Way Out. It is the third book in the DI Fawley series and was absolutely fabulous. Did you read any great police procedurals this year?

Shannon: I certainly did! Readers who love Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad books should definitely check out Dervla McTiernan’s Cormac Reilly series. The Scholar, which is the second book in the series, came out in 2019, and I loved it!

Maggie: Thrillers are known for their startling twists. I don’t know that I can name a biggest twist this year but Alice Feeney’s I Know Who You Are definitely had one of the more stunning ones. Which book would you say had a twist that took you completely by surprise?

Shannon: I was stunned by the twist in Gillian McCallister’s The Good Sister. Other stellar twists can be found in Dear Wife by Kimberly Bell and Never Look Back by Alison Gaylin.

Maggie: I still love romantic suspense and we are not seeing anywhere near enough of it. This year my favorite novel in that genre is Lisa Clark O’Neill’s Undertow. It’s the fifth book in the Sweetwater series but you don’t have to have read the other novels in that series to enjoy this one.

Shannon: Karen Rose is one of today’s strongest voices in romantic suspense, and this column wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the latest book in her Cincinnati series. Into the Dark was everything I was hoping for and then some.



So, there it is. Our favourite mysteries and thrillers of 2019. What were yours?

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Queer romance, romantic suspense and historicals - romance, mysteries, fiction -  are my genres of choice these days, and when I haven't got my nose in a book, I’ve got my ears in one.  I’m a huge fan of audiobooks and am rarely to be found without my earbuds in.