The Appeal, by Janice Hallett

The year’s most original mystery is told in the form of e-mails and text messages primarily from a group of English villagers feverishly raising funds for a child’s cancer treatment. Hallett lets just enough doubt emerge from the burble of voices to make you wonder which ones to trust. A skeptic’s delight.


The Ink Black Heart, by Robert Galbraith

Like its titular fictional cartoon, J. K. Rowling’s latest Cormoran Strike novel is so immersive it can swallow you whole. The evils of online trolling are all too familiar to Rowling, and she leans into its shocking cruelty by showing how the master manipulator who murdered the cartoon’s co-creator confounds the efforts of Strike and his partner, Robin Ellacott, to drag them out from behind the screen.


City on Fire, by Don Winslow

Irish and Italian gangs in Providence, Rhode Island, battle it out in this inspired retelling of the Iliad, circa 1986. Winslow guides us through the violent escalation of their enmity and elevates the rough mobster vernacular to poetry in part one of a planned trilogy.


The Goldenacre, by Philip Miller

Ostensibly about a Scottish art fraud involving a Charles Rennie Mackintosh painting, this is also a moving meditation on beauty, loss, and the bonds of family. John le Carré would have sympathized with its doomed hero, art expert Thomas Tallis, and the noble futility of his effort.


The Lindbergh Nanny, by Mariah Fredericks

A fascinating look at the Crime of the 20th Century, through the eyes of little Charlie Lindbergh’s Scottish nanny. Working within the outlines of what’s known about the child’s kidnapping and murder, Fredericks creates a psychologically meticulous portrait of a young woman forced to navigate a waking nightmare.


The Last Party, by Clare Mackintosh

When a fading Welsh singing star and property developer is murdered at his own New Year’s Eve party, the list of suspects includes just about everyone who was there. Giving back wasn’t his forte, as a local detective is well aware, and her investigation bends the rules to the breaking point in this smart and spirited procedural.


The Violin Conspiracy, by Brendan Slocumb

A young Black violinist overcomes formidable obstacles to compete in classical music’s most prestigious competition. But can he win without the Stradivarius he inherited from his grandmother? Slocumb brings a bracing new perspective to an elite world in this insightful debut.


Do No Harm, by Robert Pobi

Someone is systematically murdering the doctors of New York City, but not until disabled astrophysicist and occasional F.B.I. collaborator Lucas Page parses the data does the pattern emerge. His hunt for the killer delivers more excitement per page than anything I’ve read this year, along with some very sharp and opinionated wit.

Lisa Henricksson writes a column about mystery books for AIR MAIL