It may be hard to believe, but detective stories as we know them have only existed for a couple of hundred years. Detectives, both professionals like Hercule Poirot and amateurs like Nancy Drew, are now among the most celebrated and enduring figures in Western literature. Today, there are mystery novels to suit everyone’s tastes, and each one features its own unique, unforgettable investigator.
The detective novels on this list star snoops (licensed and unlicensed) from both sides of the Atlantic and from all walks of life. Many are dealing with unresolved personal issues that make it even more difficult to keep their head in the game. And yet, their devotion to truth is resolute. It just goes to show that, in the world of fictional detectives as well as in real life, your age, race, and gender are secondary to how you respond to injustice.
Isaiah Quintabe’s first love, Grace, has been kidnapped by his sworn enemy, the professional hitman Skip Hanson. Skip is savage and psychotic, determined to punish Isaiah for sending him to prison and destroying his life. Isaiah and his sometimes partner, ex-hustler Juanell Dodson, together again, must track scant clues through L.A.’s perilous landscape as Grace’s predicament grows more uncertain.
A complication arises in the form of Winnie Hando, a homicide detective with something to prove. Stubborn and effective, Winnie sees Isaiah’s efforts as an obstruction to the investigation and a possible embarrassment: an unlicensed PI can’t be seen doing the department’s job better than the department. Winnie tries to stop Isaiah while pursuing the case herself, each hindering the other’s progress. As the desperate hunt winds on, Isaiah fears that even if he can bring Grace home alive, things between them will never be the same. This latest series installment is an explosive collision of larger-than-life characters, shotguns, vicious dogs, stampeding horses, and Ide’s signature energy, grit, and profundity.
Astoundingly, Constance has found a way back to the place of her origins, New York City in the late 1800s, leaping at the chance, although it means leaving the present forever.
Constance sets off on a quest to prevent the events that lead to the deaths of her sister and brother. But along the road to redemption, Manhattan’s most infamous serial killer, Dr. Enoch Leng, lies in wait, ready to strike at the slightest provocation.
Meanwhile, in contemporary New York, Pendergast feverishly searches for a way to reunite with Constance—but will he discover a way back to her before it’s too late?
When friend of the family and multi-billionaire Roger Ferris comes to Joe with an assignment, he’s got no choice but to accept, even if the case is a tough one to stomach. White nationalist Alfred Xavier Quiller has been accused of murder and the sale of sensitive information to the Russians. Ferris has reason to believe Quiller’s been set up and he needs King to see if the charges hold.
This linear assignment becomes a winding quest to uncover the extent of Quiller’s dealings, to understand Ferris’ skin in the game, and to get to the bottom of who is working for whom. Even with the help of bodyguard and mercenary Oliya Ruez—no regular girl Friday—the machine King’s up against proves relentless and unsparing. As King gets closer to exposing the truth, he and his loved ones barrel toward grave danger.
It is 1990 when Melvina Donleavy arrives in Soviet Belarus on her first undercover mission with the CIA, alongside three fellow agents—none of whom know she is playing two roles. To the prying eyes of the KGB, she is merely a secretary; to her CIA minders, she is the only one who can stop the flow of nuclear weapons from the crumbling Soviet Union into the Middle East.
For Mel has a secret; she is a “super recognizer,” someone who never forgets a face. But no training could prepare her for the reality of life undercover, and for the streets of Minsk, where women have been disappearing. Soviet law enforcement is firm: murder is a capitalist disease. But could a serial killer be at work? Especially if he knew no one was watching? As Mel searches for answers, she catches the eye of an entirely different kind of threat: the elusive and petrifying “Black Wolf,” head of the KGB.
Detective Lindsay Boxer put serial killer Evan Burke in jail.
Reporter Cindy Thomas wrote a book that put him on the bestseller list.
An obsessed maniac has turned Burke’s true-crime story into a playbook. And is embellishing it with gruesome touches all his own.
Now Lindsay’s tracking an elusive suspect, and the entire Murder Club is facing destruction.
Mickey Gibson, single mother and former detective, leads a hectic life similar to that of many moms: juggling the demands of her two small children with the tasks of her job working remotely for ProEye, a global investigation company that hunts down wealthy tax and credit cheats.
When Mickey gets a call from a colleague named Arlene Robinson, she thinks nothing of Arlene’s unusual request for her to go inventory the vacant home of an arms dealer who cheated ProEye’s clients and fled. That is, until she arrives at the mansion to discover a dead body in a secret room—and that nothing is as it seems.
Not only does the arms dealer not exist but the murder victim turns out to be Harry Langhorne, a man with mob ties who used to be in Witness Protection. What’s more, no one named Arlene Robinson works at ProEye.
In the blink of an eye, Gibson has become a prime suspect in a murder investigation—and now her job is also on the line until she proves that she was set up. Before long, Gibson is locked in a battle of wits with a brilliant woman with no name, a hidden past, and unknown motives—whose end game is as mysterious as it is deadly.
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