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Best mystery books of 2017

You’re probably expecting a list of crime novels by a gifted storyteller about a small east Texas town with a black Texas ranger as the protagonist who battles global terror networks with intricately linked plotlines.

Whether you want an adrenaline fueled thriller or a breezy page turner, we think that we’ve developed a great list of books that take you from a small town to a large metropolis. Some feature protagonists with an uncommon ability to be the perfect spy or catch bad guys. Others feature characters looking for a fresh start in a small town and the solve quaint murder mysteries.

The Cuban Affair

Nelson DeMille (Simon & Schuster)

Daniel MacCormick, a 35-year-old army veteran who was wounded in Afghanistan and is now a charter boat captain in Key West, Fla., ventures into Cuba on a risky covert mission involving a fortune hidden in a cave—and a treacherous, beautiful woman. A line from the novel perfectly describes this page-turner: “Sex, money, and adventure. Does it get any better than that?”

Fierce Kingdom

Gin Phillips (Viking)

A searing exploration of motherhood at its most basic, this all-too-plausible thriller about a mother and her four-year-old son dodging multiple shooters in a zoo over a period of three hours may haunt even readers with steely nerves and strong stomachs.


Christopher Farnsworth (Morrow)

The combination of a telepathic lead and a terrifyingly plausible effort to use the internet for social manipulation produces intelligent and knuckle-biting suspense in Farnsworth’s brilliant second thriller featuring the man known as John Smith.

The Force

Don Winslow (Morrow)

Winslow peers into the soul of modern America through the eyes of a supremely skilled and corrupt police officer, Dennis Malone, a veteran NYPD detective sergeant who leads the Manhattan North Special Task Force, in this epic novel of devastating moral complexity.

Long Black Veil

Jennifer Finney Boylan (Crown)

In this madcap thriller full of hidden identities, a night of goofy postcollege mischief goes fatally amiss in Philadelphia’s shut-down Eastern State Penitentiary in 1980. Embedded in the whodunit is a heartwarming midlife love story, in which hard-won candor, tenacity, and a generous sense of humor are saving graces.

Nine Lessons: A Josephine Tey Mystery

Nicola Upson (Crooked Lane)

In the seventh series entry, set in England in 1937, the moving and complex interpersonal conflicts of Upson’s main characters, Scotland Yard’s Det. Insp. Archie Penrose and real-life novelist Josephine Tey, blend perfectly with an intricate mystery involving a series of murders inspired by the ghost stories of M.R. James.

The Nine-Tailed Fox

Martin Limón (Soho Crime)

Clever plotting and superior characterizations lift the suspenseful, atmospheric seventh entry in Limón’s mystery series set in 1970s Korea and starring U.S. Army CID agents George Sueño and Ernie Bascom; this time, they are looking into the case of three missing American soldiers.

A Rising Man

Abir Mukherjee (Pegasus Crime)

In 1919, Capt. Sam Wyndham, a former Scotland Yard detective, arrives in Calcutta, India, where he investigates a sensitive murder case. British author Mukherjee’s outstanding debut and series launch combines a cleverly constructed plot with a locale drawn in convincing detail.

Vicious Circle: A Joe Pickett Novel

C.J. Box (Putnam)

Edgar-winner Box’s 17th novel featuring Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett pits Joe against erstwhile rodeo star Dallas Cates—whom Joe helped put in prison 18 months earlier—now newly released and bent on revenge. This outing is the most suspenseful yet, setting a new standard for Box.

Wolf’s Revenge: A Leo Maxwell Mystery

Lachlan Smith (Mysterious)

In his fifth outing, San Francisco attorney Leo Maxwell continues to deal with the emotional fallout from his belief that his father murdered his mother. Operating at the top of his game, Smith combines a mystery with the overlay of existential dread that noir fans relish with as much skill as anyone writing today.

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