Which were the best mystery books and suspense books I read in 2018? This was not an easy task. Unless you’re really careful about tracking what you read (I’m not) it can be hard to remember the titles long enough to recommend them to anyone.
Still, there are several mystery novels and suspense books that I read in 2018 that really stick out in my mind. And while I hoped to have this post up earlier (say, closer to January 1st) better late then never, right?
Without further ado, let’s get started on the list of best mystery and suspense books from 2018, plus a sneak peek at a few I want to get my grubby little hands on in 2019.
Most Memorable Suspense & Mystery Books for 2018
First up is the book that set me on this whole nature suspense theme that I’ve been obsessing over for months now. I’ve always been a big fan of survival stories. Everything from pioneer books as a kid, to stories of survival like Hatchet, Call of the Wild, Homeward Bound and many others.
I love reading about expeditions to Mount Everest like Into Thin Air, and jaw-dropping hiking stories such as 127 Hours: Between a Rock and a Hard Place. But I haven’t sought out a lot of fictional suspense books set in wild places.
This year I delved in with Jenny Milchman’s book, Wicked River. This is everything that a nature-suspense book should be, in my opinion. You’ve got believable characters, a twisty plot line that keeps you on the edge of your seat, several potential “bad guys” and a hair-raising finish. I also loved how Jenny tied in so many real hiking and nature facts into the story without bogging it down.
The suspense was taut. The action was prevalent. And there was ample opportunity for the reader to wonder, “what ELSE can possibly go wrong?” just before the bottom fell out…again.
Set in the 6 million miles of Adirondack forest in upper New York state the landscape was similar enough to Vermont to make it easy for me to imagine myself there. Still, even if you lived in a completely different climate, it would be easy to get your bearings because of the author’s fantastic job with atmosphere and setting. Highly recommend this book!
Note: There was one scene involving an animal caught by one of the characters which was disturbing. Because I don’t like books with any sort of torture, particularly of animals/kids, I want to give that warning. However, it wasn’t essential to the story, so I quickly flipped past the section.
In addition to suspense set in nature, I also love vintage Gothic tales. My first taste of Mary Roberts Rinehart’s work was The Yellow Room, which I loved. I can’t believe that it’s taken me so long to read one of this legend’s books. Wasn’t she named the “Queen of Suspense,” before Mary Higgins Clark took over the title?
This was a great, Gothic suspense story and had just enough spine-tingles to keep you flipping pages. Also loved the time period it was set in (1940s). Listen to this opening paragraph:
“As she sat in the train that June morning Carol Spencer did not look like a young woman facing anything unusual. She looked merely like an attractive, and highly finished product of New York City, who was about to park her mother with her elder sister in Newport for a week or two, and who after said parking would then proceed to Maine, there to open a house which she never wanted to see again.”The Yellow Room
Already there are questions to be answered. Why doesn’t Carol want to see the house again? If she doesn’t, why is she opening it? What unusual thing is she facing? Love the hook.
The Bullet, is a novel of suspense and intrigue. It was written by a VPR commentator, Mary Louise Kelly. It was eerie and fast-paced. The storyline follows a young college professor who is consistently getting bad headaches. When she goes in for an MRI at the advisement of her doctor, it’s discovered that she has a bullet lodged in the base of her neck. She has no idea how it got there.
From that MRI, the young woman’s perfect life starts to crumble around her. The harder she looks for answers, the more frightening her situation becomes. This was an excellent read and my first of Mary Louise’s books. I look forward to more by this talented author.
All right, I admit it: I’m cheating here a little. This miniseries, And Then There Were None, based on the novel by the same name by Dame Agatha Christie, was a must-watch for me. In fact, it had been on my wish list on Amazon for more than a year!
While the script deviates in some ways from the original book (one of my very favorite of Christie’s novels), it was similar enough in the most important ways. The director did a great job of climax and tension, and the house and setting were completely atmospheric and just creepy enough to be delicious.
I’m not much for cozy mysteries, I tend to like things a little darker and grittier. And while Mister Mottley Gets His Man isn’t entirely cozy, it is a fun read–definitely more on the light-hearted side.
The author, Ellen Seltz, does a brilliant job of keeping everything perfectly balanced. Like a just-right meal, the book has a lot of action, humor, and extremely fun characters with lots of quirks. It was a rollicking “who dunnit” mystery that I couldn’t solve. Plus, since Ellen has a background in the film/theater industry, the book reads like a movie script (in a good way). Thoroughly enjoyed.
Mystery, Suspense and Thriller Books on my #TBR List
So, so many books in my virtual To Be Read pile, it’s hard to know where to start. Hmm, let’s see (mentally sifting through books). Ah! This will have to be one of the first: The Lost Man by Jane Harper.
I know, I know, I’ve been talking about this author quite a bit here on the blog. First I mentioned her book, Force of Nature in this Book Recommendation and then later, The Dry in this Book Recommendation. I’ve been hearing good things about The Lost Man and am looking forward to diving in.
Next up for me will likely be Friends Like These, by Sarah Alderson. I just bought this one for a virtual book group I’m part of. It’s a psychological suspense and has gotten some really great reviews. The tagline, “One wrong click can ruin your life…” is creepy, isn’t it?
What about you? What were some of your favorite reads in 2018? What do you look forward to reading most in 2019? Please let me know in the comments.
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