March 19, 2019

Where should I start with crime, mysteries, and thrillers?

In case you haven’t heard, NoveList and LibraryReads are partnering together on a series of webinars to bring you up-to-speed on genres like science fiction, romance, mysteries, and more.  Lynn Lobash and I are your hosts for Crash Course in Crime, Mysteries, and Thrillers.  Lynn is the Associate Director of Readers Services at New York Public Library and a big fan of thrillers. If you’re new to this genre, we want to help you get started, so we’ve put together a starter pack — these titles are all well-reviewed, will appeal to most readers, are either a stand-alone title or the first in a series. And all of them are also available on audio. 

Start with…

Rural Noir

The Death of Sweet Mister is one of my favorite titles in this genre.  It is a slightly older title, published in 2001, so if your library doesn’t have it (you should!), you could look for another title by Daniel Woodrell or Ron Rash — both acclaimed authors of Rural Noir. The audiobook for this title is exceptional and was one of the 2013 RUSA Listen List titles which recognize outstanding audiobooks by a council of librarians.  Although this novel deals with some very difficult themes like violence and drug abuse, Woodrell’s novel resonates with spare and gritty depictions of poor Ozark mountain life and authentically flawed characters.

Scandinavian Crime Fiction

The Darkness is the first title in a new series by Ragnar Jonasson, the author of the Dark Iceland thrillers. So if your patron enjoys this title, you have a ready source of other recommendations while they wait for the next volume to be published. This series opener features a curmudgeonly female Detective Inspector who reopens a cold case to fill the last two weeks before her retirement. It deals with timely issues such as mental illness and immigrant exploitation and has a starred review from both Booklist and Publishers Weekly.

Police Procedurals

Two Days Gone by Randall Silvis is another series starter and finds police sergeant Ryan DeMarco investigating the murder of a friend’s family while dealing with the recent loss of his own son. The intricate plot, literary references, and alternating narratives create a suspenseful and compelling read. The third title in the series, A Long Way Down, is being published in June so your patrons will have a couple of months to get caught up before that one is released.

Cozy Mysteries

Murder at the Mill by M.B. Shaw is the first entry in a new cozy mystery series. This one begins with an artist seeking solace from a bitter divorce by moving to the country and striking up a friendship with her neighbors, one of whom, of course, promptly dies. Although this is a Cozy Mystery, it isn’t all chintz slipcovers, and tea sandwiches so would be a good “gateway” Cozy recommendation.

Psychological Suspense

The Dinner by Herman Koch was on both the ALA Notable Books and the New York Times Notable Books lists. The audiobook, narrated by Clive Mantle, is an absolute must-listen! His melodious voice mesmerizes as he draws the listener deeper and deeper into the narrator’s brooding cogitations. The story itself takes place over dinner, attended by two brothers and their wives.  The families are meeting to discuss what their children have been up to,i.e., nothing good. Please give this a listen on audio and see if you can turn it off!

Political Thrillers

The Switch is a standalone novel by the acclaimed thriller author Joseph Finder. His stories are always action-packed, suspenseful, and intricately plotted. The Switch finds a man returning from a business trip accidentally picking up a US Senator’s laptop from the airport security scanner instead of his own.  The laptop, of course, contains highly classified and illegal information, so it must be retrieved at all costs. The story is told from the perspective of the hunter and the hunted and so provides multiple points of view of the same events, keeping the reader highly engaged in the story.

For more information, title suggestions, and trends, please watch the Crash Course in Crime, Mysteries, and Thrillers.


Renee Young is a Metadata Librarian III for NoveList.





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