Looking for the best crime fiction of the year? We’ve lined up our favorite award-winning mysteries and thrillers of 2018 just for you! If you haven’t read these yet, we recommend adding them to your 2019 reading lists, too.
2018 Edgar Award for Best Novel and 2018 Anthony Award for Best Novel
Best novel, indeed! Attica Locke is a master of unfolding a mystery that will keep you turning the page, creating characters that immediately come to life, and placing you in her settings where you’ll be fanning yourself from the heat even in the dead of winter. With her latest novel, we follow Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger who is technically on suspension. But his suspension isn’t going to keep him from investigating a small town after a black man from out of town and a local white woman end up dead. An exploration of race and justice in the U.S., set in East Texas, this is a crime novel not to be missed. Don’t believe me? It won Best Novel!
2018 Edgar Award for Best First Novel by an American Author
This excellent thriller reminded me of how much I had loved Natalie Portman in The Professional. Actually, eleven-year-old Polly is definitely one of my favorite child characters: “She had a teddy bear in her arms and murder in her eyes.” The novel begins with Nate being marked to be killed, along with his family, by the Aryan Brotherhood right before being released from prison. To keep his daughter safe, he picks up Polly and hits the road, but Polly doesn’t know her father. Will Nate be able to protect Polly and teach her how to defend herself in time?... You won’t be able to put this one down!
2018 Agatha Award for Best First Novel and 2018 Anthony Award Winner for Best First Novel
Kellye Garrett has created a wonderful amateur sleuth in this cozy mystery. Dayna Anderson isn’t actually planning on being a sleuth. Her plans had been to be a famous actress but after only mild fame with a commercial, she’s given that up. Problem is she needs money quickly to help her parents. Enter a hit-and-run she witnessed that has a reward. That reward is what she needs, so figuring out this murder is now what she’ll do. This is the most realistic sleuthing for me in that instead of actually being the Veronica Mars we all imagine ourselves to be, Dayna and her friends are way more just point-the-finger-at-everyone-until-something-sticks. It’s funny and fun and a great start to a great series.
2018 Lamda Literary Award for Lesbian Mystery
A. E. Radley
Amy Hewitt is a barista in a coffee shop and looks forward to every morning when Cara comes in for her morning order. But then Cara stops showing up, and Amy has to find out what happened to Cara. It’s all fun and games playing sleuth until Amy lands herself in the crosshairs of MI5 and they try to arrest her. Now Amy and her friend are not only trying to find Cara but also trying to evade analyst Claudia McAllister. Read for a zany and funny adventure mystery!
2018 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Crime Novel
I’ve become a bit obsessed with Australian crime novels the last few years, so any list that points me to more titles to read is always good. Especially, an award list. Set in a rural town, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock takes the case of a former high school classmate who has been murdered. Time to unravel all the secrets! Why did Rosalind move back to her small-town? Why was she in a rundown apartment when her father is rich? And is this case going to be what drags Woodstock’s own secrets out into the light? Definitely time for a dun-dun-Dun!