It is important to stay warm during winter, and since we can’t just gorge ourselves on food and sleep through it à la bears–lucky bears–we do the next best thing and curl up with a book on long winter nights. And I personally always reach for crime because there’s nothing like an absorbing mystery or heart-pumping thriller to take my mind off the cold. Here are some of my favorite mysteries to distract you on a long winter night.
The mystery and characters will keep you very engaged in Locke’s series, but the sweltering Texas heat will have you wondering if you’re sweating in winter. A Black Texas Ranger, Darren Mathews, finds himself technically suspended thanks to someone else but stumbles onto a case in a small town. A local white woman and a Black man from Chicago have been murdered, and the more Mathews investigates, the more his problems at home seem nonexistent compared to the trouble brewing before him… And when you’re done with this one you can pick up the sequel, which is also super good: Heaven, My Home. This is one of the best crime series currently being written.
You’ll not only be totally entertained by this book BUT if you’re anything like me, you’ll be too busy demanding to know why you have yet to inherit a baby elephant to notice the temperature. Seriously, Inspector Ashwin Chopra just inherits a baby elephant! I mean, he has other things going on in his life too: he’s retiring because of health issues, he has a restaurant, and he starts finding himself solving cases on his own. Or shall I say with his baby elephant partner! Also, India is pretty hot, so there’s plenty of distraction from the cold weather here and there are 5 books to marathon–take that winter!
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If you like to get sucked into procedurals, this is a great British series–if you’re a completist, start with The Bird Watcher. This is one of those books that has a fantastic lead character, great mystery, and is just so satisfying from beginning to end that you won’t notice the time passing. D.S. Alexandra Cupidi has a lot on her plate, from her work-assigned cases of a Jane Doe and then a John Doe, plus dealing with a new partner, a struggling teen daughter, and a visiting mom who may take the passive-aggressive award. Cupidi’s need to fight her temper, check her big mouth, and actually follow procedure may also be her own undoing. If you want to root for a character in a great mystery, this is your series.
For a book you can stay up reading in one night, I give you this crime novel with one of the greatest titles. And it’s quite literal. Korede has spent her life coming to her sister’s defense. But how many dead boyfriends do you help clean up after before you say enough is enough? Is it when the man you’ve been in love with suddenly sets his eye on your sister… This is a wickedly fun title that also very smartly tackles women’s issues.
If revenge is what gets your blood pumping, have I got a fantastic Japanese crime novel for you! I won’t say a lot though, because the way it all unfolds is really part of the ride. You start in a teacher's seventh-grade class, on her last day, as she addresses the class. But this isn’t an ordinary goodbye speech. Oh no, she has a story to tell. A story about her daughter’s death… This exploration of grief and revenge will have you rapidly turning the pages.
And I’ll leave you with sweltering heat. Literally, it’s what killed Cameron. But the question is: did he go out into the heat on purpose, or did someone set it up that way to murder him via nature? This is what brings the entire family–including the two brothers who live hours away while sharing property–together. But who really knew Cameron best? And is everyone ready for their own secrets to see the light of day while trying to solve the mystery of Cameron’s death? This one gave me anxiety because the setting is so remote and the heat literally deadly, which obviously makes it perfect for winter night reading!
May these books—and a lot of blankets—keep you toasty through long winter nights!