Barnes & Noble recently released their 2021 Best Book of the Year list and while we’re excited about all the titles, it’s the crime fiction we’re all hands on deck for. Here are all of the mystery & thriller books featured in Barnes & Nobles Best Books alongside our bookish recommendations if you’ve already read them.
"Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked..." To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably priced furniture, making a decent life for himself and his family. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parents on Striver's Row don't approve of him or their cramped apartment across from the subway tracks, it's still home.
Few people know he descends from a line of uptown hoods and crooks, and that his façade of normalcy has more than a few cracks in it. Cracks that are getting bigger all the time.
Cash is tight, especially with all those installment-plan sofas, so if his cousin Freddie occasionally drops off the odd ring or necklace, Ray doesn't ask where it comes from. He knows a discreet jeweler downtown who doesn't ask questions, either.
Then Freddie falls in with a crew who plan to rob the Hotel Theresa—the "Waldorf of Harlem"—and volunteers Ray's services as the fence. The heist doesn't go as planned; they rarely do. Now Ray has a new clientele, one made up of shady cops, vicious local gangsters, two-bit pornographers, and other assorted Harlem lowlifes.
Thus begins the internal tussle between Ray the striver and Ray the crook.
You May Also Enjoy: Bluebird Bluebird by Attica Locke
Chicago, 1944: Twenty-year-old Aki Ito and her parents have just been released from Manzanar, where they have been detained by the US government since the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, together with thousands of other Japanese Americans. The life in California the Itos were forced to leave behind is gone; instead, they are being resettled two thousand miles away in Chicago, where Aki’s older sister, Rose, was sent months earlier and moved to the new Japanese American neighborhood near Clark and Division streets. But on the eve of the Ito family’s reunion, Rose is killed by a subway train.
Aki, who worshipped her sister, is stunned. Officials are ruling Rose’s death a suicide. Aki cannot believe her perfect, polished, and optimistic sister would end her life. Her instinct tells her there is much more to the story, and she knows she is the only person who could ever learn the truth.
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Julian Lawndsley has renounced his high-flying job in the city for a simpler life running a bookshop in a small English seaside town. But only a couple of months into his new career, Julian’s evening is disrupted by a visitor. Edward, a Polish émigré living in Silverview, the big house on the edge of town, seems to know a lot about Julian’s family and is rather too interested in the inner workings of his modest new enterprise.
When a letter turns up at the door of a spy chief in London warning him of a dangerous leak, the investigations lead him to this quiet town by the sea.
You May Also Enjoy: Serpents in the Cold by Thomas O'Malley and Douglas Purdy
Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim—the Thursday Murder Club—are still riding high off their recent real-life murder case and are looking forward to a bit of peace and quiet at Cooper’s Chase, their posh retirement village.
But they are out of luck.
An unexpected visitor—an old pal of Elizabeth’s (or perhaps more than just a pal?)—arrives, desperate for her help. He has been accused of stealing diamonds worth millions from the wrong men and he’s seriously on the lam.
Then, as night follows day, the first body is found. But not the last. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim are up against a ruthless murderer who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can our four friends catch the killer before the killer catches them? And if they find the diamonds, too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus? You should never put anything beyond the Thursday Murder Club.
You May Also Enjoy: Naked Once More by Elizabeth Peters
Leigh Collier has worked hard to build what looks like a normal life. She’s an up-and-coming defense attorney at a prestigious law firm in Atlanta, would do anything for her sixteen-year-old daughter Maddy, and is managing to successfully coparent through a pandemic after an amicable separation from her husband Walter.
But Leigh’s ordinary life masks a childhood no one should have to endure … a childhood tarnished by secrets, broken by betrayal, and ultimately destroyed by a brutal act of violence.
On a Sunday night at her daughter’s school play, she gets a call from one of the firm's partners who wants Leigh to come on board to defend a wealthy man accused of multiple counts of rape. Though wary of the case, it becomes apparent she doesn't have much choice if she wants to keep her job. They're scheduled to go to trial in one week. When she meets the accused face-to-face, she realizes that it’s no coincidence that he’s specifically asked for her to represent him. She knows him. And he knows her. More to the point, he may know what happened over twenty years ago, and why Leigh has spent two decades avoiding her past.
You May Also Enjoy: Never Far Away by Michael Kortya
Rachel and Jack. Paige and Noah. And Will. Five friends who’ve known one another for years. Then along came Ali, Will’s new fiancée.
The three couples travel to Portugal for Ali and Will’s destination wedding. The weekend away at the gorgeous cliff-top villa is a chance to relax and get to know Ali an little better. She seems perfectly nice—and Will seems happy after years of bad choices.
But when Rachel discovers a shocking secret about Ali, everything changes. As the wedding weekend unfolds, the secrets each of them holds begin to spill, and friendships and marriages threaten to unravel.
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While the residents of the Québec village of Three Pines take advantage of the deep snow to ski and toboggan, to drink hot chocolate in the bistro and share meals together, the Chief Inspector finds his holiday with his family interrupted by a simple request.
He’s asked to provide security for what promises to be a non-event. A visiting Professor of Statistics will be giving a lecture at the nearby university.
While he is perplexed as to why the head of homicide for the Sûreté du Québec would be assigned this task, it sounds easy enough. That is until Gamache starts looking into Professor Abigail Robinson and discovers an agenda so repulsive he begs the university to cancel the lecture.
They refuse, citing academic freedom, and accuse Gamache of censorship and intellectual cowardice. Before long, Professor Robinson’s views start seeping into conversations. Spreading and infecting. So that truth and fact, reality and delusion are so confused it’s near impossible to tell them apart.
Discussions become debates, debates become arguments, which turn into fights. As sides are declared, a madness takes hold.
You May Also Enjoy: The Lies You Told by Harriet Tyce
George March’s latest novel is a smash. No one could be prouder than his dutiful wife, Mrs. March, who revels in his accolades. A careful creature of routine and decorum, she lives a precariously controlled existence on the Upper East Side until one morning, when the shopkeeper of her favorite patisserie suggests that her husband’s latest protagonist—a detestable character named Johanna—is based on Mrs. March herself. Clutching her ostrich leather pocketbook and mint-colored gloves, she flees the shop. What could have merited this humiliation?
That one casual remark robs Mrs. March of the belief that she knew everything about her husband—and herself—thus sending her on an increasingly paranoid journey that begins within the pages of a book. While snooping in George’s office, Mrs. March finds a newspaper clipping about a missing woman. Did George have anything to do with her disappearance?
You May Also Enjoy: Death of a Poisoned Pen by M.C. Beaton
Avery Keene, a brilliant young law clerk for the legendary Justice Howard Wynn, is doing her best to hold her life together—excelling in an arduous job with the court while also dealing with a troubled family. When the shocking news breaks that Justice Wynn—the cantankerous swing vote on many current high-profile cases—has slipped into a coma, Avery’s life turns upside down. She is immediately notified that Justice Wynn has left instructions for her to serve as his legal guardian and power of attorney. Plunged into an explosive role she never anticipated, Avery finds that Justice Wynn had been secretly researching one of the most controversial cases before the court—a proposed merger between an American biotech company and an Indian genetics firm, which promises to unleash breathtaking results in the medical field. She also discovers that Wynn suspected a dangerously related conspiracy that infiltrates the highest power corridors of Washington.
As political wrangling ensues in Washington to potentially replace the ailing judge whose life and survival Avery controls, she begins to unravel a carefully constructed, chesslike sequence of clues left behind by Wynn.
You May Also Enjoy: The President's Daughter by James Patterson
Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike—particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.
Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.
Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?
When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything—including her own life.
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