Our 7 Favorite Page-Turner Crime Novels

Sinister deeds, unsolved murders, long-hidden secrets….

….already feel the goosebumps? So do we. 

At Literati, we believe a good crime novel is the perfect dark escape—and we’ve got a batch of fresh cases for you to crack. Spanning countries and subgenres, these page-turners will keep your mind racing and your hair raised. Put on your sleuth-iest pair of reading glasses and inspect one of our favorite crime novels.

#1 The Searcher – Tana French

Image Source: https://tanafrench.com/books/the-searcher-hc

Leaving behind his Chicago police beat, Cal Hooper heads to Ireland for a life of peaceful solitude. But ominous, buried secrets lie under these knolls—and they’re waiting for Cal. 

After a young local begs Cal to investigate his missing brother, further mysteries begin to appear. Now, Cal must decide whether to face the darkness lurking underneath this small Irish town—and within himself. 

With six acclaimed mystery novels under her belt, Tana French is no stranger to the genre. And in The Searcher, she deftly weaves themes of masculinity, morality, and otherness into her vivid prose. As one of the best books of 2020, this novel is a slow-burning thrill.

#2 One By One Ruth Ware

Image Source: https://ruthware.com/books/one-by-one/

Snowy mountains, luxury ski resorts, boiling tensions, and sudden disappearances—it’s the perfect wintertime scene for a crime novel. 

High in the French Alps, a tech company retreat is all board meetings and slideshows. But as tensions and snow levels mound, team-building exercises are replaced with mysterious disappearances… will petty rivalries keep these coworkers from discovering their true enemy?

With a tense and ruthless story, Ruth Ware delivers an Agatha Christie-esque punch of psychological crime. Pick up One By One if you’re seeking not only a whodunit, but a who’s-doing-it.

#3 When No One is Watching – Alyssa Cole

Image Source: https://www.harpercollins.com/products/when-no-one-is-watching-alyssa-cole?variant=32129854701602

Yoga studios replacing delis. Colleges students pushing out residents. Over the years, Sydney has watched her Brooklyn neighborhood transform into an unfamiliar land. And she’s sick of it.

To fight back, she begins a walking tour company with Theo, a white newcomer. But as they dive into local politics, they discover sinister forces at play—and now, the duo must work together to expose them. 

When No One is Watching turns the magnifying glass on gentrification and institutional racism. Prepare for a non-stop ride that’ll rattle your fear sensors and cultural norms.

#4 Eight Perfect Murders – Peter Swanson

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At Literati, we believe books can be inspirational guides. Unfortunately, so does the killer in Eight Perfect Murders.

Malcolm, a mystery-loving bookseller, has created the ultimate list of crime novels too hard to solve. But when a serial killer begins using his list as a murder how-to, Malcolm must grab this plot by the horns—or else end up like one of the victims in his beloved books. 

With loads of action and meta material, Peter Swanson proves that mystery can be grisly and fun. Consider Eight Perfect Murders the crime novel lover’s crime novel, an excellent modern take on the classics.

#5 The Guest List – Lucy Foley

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Ah, weddings! A day for celebration, happiness… and occasionally, displaying our messiest selves. And in The Guest List, wedding messiness escalates to criminal levels.

Set in a lush Irish village, this picturesque wedding should go off without a hitch. But with whiskey lubricating the guests, unrequited feelings and secrets emerge—only to be upstaged by a dead body.

Was it the bridal party? A groomsman? A rogue caterer? Lucy Foley keeps you guessing in baited anticipation, mixing modern family dynamics with a Clue-like murder case. Put your name on this guest list for one of the year’s best mystery books.

#6 Mala Vida – Marc Fernandez

Image Source: 

https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Mala-Vida/Marc-Fernandez/9781950691753

Stone-cold killer? Check.

Femme fatale? Check.

Unknown motives? Corrupt officials?  An obsessive detective? Check, check, and check.

In Mala Vida, noir tropes run aplenty—only this time, we see them in modern-day Spain. 

As a right-wing government overtakes the country, several unconnected (or so it seems) murders have occured. Our detective/hero/crime radiocaster, Diego, takes it upon himself to investigate—only to stumble onto a grand ploy more sinister than imagined.

Sophisticated and sharp, author Marc Fernandez successfully translates noir into a new culture with Mala Vida. Fans of classic mystery and modern legal thrillers will love this updated twist on both subgenres.

#7 Blacktop Wasteland—S.A. Cosby

Image Source: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250252678

In rural Virginia, Bug leads a humble life as a family man. But back in the day, he was the south’s best getaway driver, a true “wheelman”. Now a mechanic, his criminal days are long behind him—or so he thought. 

When an old friend appears with a fresh opportunity, Bug feels a familiar tingle to jump behind the wheel. Can he reconcile his past persona with his present life? And can he pull off one last great heist?

Author S.A. Cosby explores an undermarked territory in Blacktop Wasteland—that of a Black man contemplating the American Dream. Take a ride on the criminal’s side in this introspective whirlwind tale.

Come for the Thrills, Stay for a Literary Fill

Gone are the days of fluffy crime novels set in the glitzy city or hollow mansion. Our Literati mystery picks aren’t afraid to mix social commentary with biting and poetic prose. Who said enriching reads couldn’t be entertaining?

And for more can’t-put-it-down novels, check out Literati’s Luminary Books! Our digital book club offers books chosen by world figures, from Malala Yousafzai to Richard Branson. Catch up on the latest top books, and share your literary love with readers just as passionate as you.

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