Comforting cozy mysteries, traditional hard-boiled crime, mystery classics, and fast-paced thrillers—over on Murder & Mayhem, there’s a story for anyone who loves a clever case to crack. We take pride in bringing the best mysteries and thrillers to our voracious readers, who are always looking for their next favorite detective to root for and intriguing murder mysteries to unravel.
Thanks to your impeccable taste, we've uncovered our most popular mystery, thriller, and crime books of the year. The readers in our community vouch for these addictive plots filled with deceit, scandal, and of course, plenty of murder.
Here is our treasured list of 2023’s bestselling mystery, thriller, and crime books for you to dive into.
What would possess Bob to leave his comfortable job in a pathology lab, abandon his stunning girlfriend (who also happens to be a pro masturbation coach)—all to take a risky plunge into the Los Angeles Mexican mafia? It’s all attributed to a single unexpected event: the unbearably erotic tattoo on a severed arm that literally lands in Bob’s lap.
Bob becomes infatuated with the tattooed woman but finds himself embroiled in a perilous chase. Various parties covet the limb—an obsessed mobster, a mafia boss evading the law, a deceitful cannabis enthusiast with a prestigious education, and a discerning LAPD detective keen on using the arm as critical evidence against the entire Mexican mafia. Amidst the chaos, Bob clings onto the arm, realizing it's a matter of survival.
Following the brutal murder of a wealthy elderly woman in her Venetian home, suspicion falls upon the woman’s maid—who vanished while en route to Romania. However, as it seems implausible for the maid to commit the crime before catching her train, Inspector Guido Brunetti takes it upon himself to investigate unofficially.
While his wife explores the concept of the seven deadly sins, Brunetti contemplates that the motive behind the murder might not stem from greed but could be driven by the allure of lust. Yet, he remains open to the possibility that his line of thinking might be amiss, possibly fixating on the wrong sin altogether…
Hand in Glove
The timing of events raises eyebrows: Mr. Percival Pyke Period is genuinely upset to learn of his neighbor Harry Cartell's death in a ditch. However, the mystery deepens as Mr. Pyke wrote a condolence letter before the body was discovered. The question remains: why would someone resort to violence against Cartell, known for his dullness and stuffiness? Inspector Alleyn ponders the idea that if mere dullness is now a reason for murder, the potential body count sends a shiver down his spine.
Six years earlier, private investigator Jack Till facilitated Wendy Harper's disappearance. But now, her ex-boyfriend is framed for her supposed murder—compelling Till to locate her before assassins Paul and Sylvie Turner track her down.
The Turners, hired for the job, strive for anonymity. However, when their identities are compromised, they escalate their mission. Filled with intricate plotting and gripping psychological depth, Silence promises a riveting, suspenseful journey.
Trouble at the Brownstone
Despite his dislike for Theodore Horstmann—the orchid caretaker at Nero Wolfe's residence—Archie Goodwin sets aside his feelings when Horstmann arrives severely beaten. While Horstmann is comatose, Nero tasks Archie with investigating Horstmann's apartment near the river.
Archie uncovers Horstmann's involvement in a bridge game at a local tavern frequented by dockworkers and immigrants. Attempting to blend in, Archie joins the game to probe into potential illicit activities leading to the assault. However, when one of his fellow players ends up murdered, Archie realizes he's entangled in something far larger and more dangerous than a mere bar confrontation.
2 Bodies for the Price of 1
Carlotta Wren's life is already chaotic due to her fugitive parents, a brother avoiding loan sharks, a persistent cop tracking her outlaw family, a flirtatious body mover, and the sudden reappearance of her ex-fiancé.
Carlotta’s life takes yet another wild turn when her best friend joins the unconventional family business of moving bodies, her runaway parents reach out, her identity gets stolen, and her doppelgänger is discovered dead. Now suspected of murder, Carlotta realizes she might be the intended victim and begins navigating the tangled mess of her eccentric family, friends, and admirers. Maybe jail isn't the worst option amidst the mounting troubles…
Smoke Without Fire
Andrew Basnett's run-ins with eventful Christmases persist, notably during a visit to Australian friends marred by family discord. Now, aiming for a tranquil holiday in an English village, his plans are disrupted when Sir Lucas Dearden—his hosts' neighbor—dies in a fatal explosion.
Against the backdrop of 1980s England, amidst casual blame on the IRA, Basnett is unsettled, questioning who might have been aware of Sir Lucas's sudden change in plans. Curious about the meticulous removal of a page from Sir Lucas's mundane memoir, he ponders whether the bomb was intended for someone else entirely.
A cryptic note is the only evidence left behind from 17-year-old Haley Cooke’s disappearance from inside her high school. The note states: “If you're reading this, I'm already dead.” FBI profiler Evelyn Baine is initially stumped. Who would want to hurt the popular cheerleader who seemed to be liked by all? However, as Evelyn gets further in the investigation, she realizes that Haley’s friends and family may have dark secrets worth killing over.
Questionable connections, estranged parents, and an envious best friend—there’s a multitude of suspects and motives. There’s also the possibility that Haley has made herself disappear—a master manipulator who has been pulling the strings all along. The one thing Evelyn knows for sure is that now she has been tangled in this mess of deceit and has become a major target. The fourth book in The Profiler series will not disappoint those interested in reading an intriguing, all-consuming crime thriller.
Death of a Fool
It might be 1957 in the village of south Mardian, but the English village prefers the charms of 18th-century, pre-industrial Britain. A simple age in which there were ancient rituals and village idiots. Frankly, Inspector Alleyn doesn’t get the appeal, especially after he’s called to investigate a sacred ritual gone wrong after someone is beheaded. This is a charming book filled with colorful characters whom you’ll find great pleasure in learning about and deciding who you think became far too overzealous with the traditional ritual.
Since the Layoffs
When Jack Skowran was a young boy and was asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” His response certainly wasn’t—hired killer. But after he is laid off from his factory supervisor role when the factory closes down, he realizes he has bills to pay that keep stacking up. Oh, and to top it all off, his long-time girlfriend has also left him. Suddenly, killing a few people for some quick cash and to let off some steam doesn’t sound too terrible. This dark, satirical comedy is the perfect novel to pick up if you need to vent about the dog-eat-dog economy, we’re forced to participate in to survive. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, right?
Ten Days Gone
Detective team, A.L. McKittridge and Rena Morgan, have never seen a case like this. Four women have been killed in 40 days, 10 days apart—seemingly the only connection that exists between the victims. The duo appears to be solely running into dead ends when they finally have a promising breakthrough leading to a potential next target. The two must work together to find the killer and protect the woman who might be next on the murderer’s killing spree.
This winner of the Best Crime Novel of the Year in Sweden and that inspired the BBC program Wallander, is a mystery thriller that follows Inspector Kurt Wallander’s investigation of two mysterious and equally unsettling, gruesome deaths. The first is a young woman who sets herself on fire and the second is a former minister of justice who was axed to death and scalped. What connection might the two have had? Filled with corruption, secrets, and scandal, this mystery explores the dark sides of humanity while offering compelling prose that will capture the audience’s attention from start to finish.
Private detective Albert Campion is excited to head back home to his wife and lead a more relaxing life after spending years abroad on a secret mission during WWII. But when his servant and an aristocratic woman appear in his flat with a corpse in tow, he knows his dreams of leisure must be put on the back burner. This murder mystery will lead him into a world of treason and art thievery, while these well-crafted characters will stick with readers as much as the clever twist at the end!
Dressed for Death
The Italian detective, Guido Brunetti, will surely become one of your favorite mystery investigators. Kirkus Reviews claims this particular novel in the Commissario Brunetti Book series showcases the detective’s “canniness and his compassion—and shows his creator spreading her wings more powerfully than ever.” This book begins with Brunetti hoping for a nice family holiday in the mountains and instead is greeted in Marghera by a body beaten to an unrecognizable state. No one seems to want to identify the corpse. When, at last, Brunetti might be offered some helpful information, he is confronted with yet another violent death.
Venice detective Guido Brunetti must use his detective expertise to figure out why the curator of the city’s most prestigious museum turns up dead after an American archaeologist, who is a close friend of the detective, is severely beaten. Expensive pieces of Chinese ceramics have been replaced with cheap imitations, and Brunetti believes it might have something to do with the recent violence. Set in the exquisite city of Italy, author Donna Leon transports readers and makes Venice a character all its own—a fantastic backdrop for the story’s captivating plot.
Love in Amsterdam
Elsa was brutally slain in her apartment in Amsterdam, and Martin, her ex-lover, was spotted in the area at the time the crime took place. The witness who saw him is pretty reliable considering it was a policeman. Though it appears to be an open and shut case, police inspector Van der Valk is compelled to take a closer look. Instead of charging Martin for murder, Van der Valk enlists his help in solving the crime. Together they investigate not only the evidence, but Martin’s past—as well as the obsessive and dark past of Elsa herself.
Blood from a Stone
In Venice just before Christmas, a street vendor is murdered in the midst of an altercation in Campo San Stefano. Tourists browsing his knock-off handbags were the only witnesses. The victim was just one of many African immigrants peddling goods without a permit, but Commissario Guido Brunetti soon finds that fake bags or not, something very valuable is at stake in this secret Venetian underworld.
Bringing a touch of surrealism to the Golden Age mystery, this tale follows Oxford English professor Gervase Fen as he takes a vacation to the town of Tolnbridge. His time away is interrupted, however, by the news that the cathedral organist has been murdered. As Scotland Yard scratches their heads, Fen jumps into the fray, as competent at catching criminals as he is at chasing butterflies. But why would a church musician have ties to a coven of witches—or worse, a spy ring of Nazi sympathizers?
Under a Silent Moon
It’s early one autumn morning when the police are brought in to investigate two deaths. The first victim is a beautiful young woman thought to be murdered in her small farm cottage. The second is believed to be a suicide, with a woman inside of a car at the bottom of the quarry. But as DI Lousia Smith and her team take a closer look, they uncover a surprising connection between the two dead women.
This delightful and dastardly collection of short stories is centered on Christmas crimes. From a politician’s explosive gift to a snow-draped graveyard plot, these stories may not embody the holiday spirit, but they certainly bring the thrills. Find 13 gripping tales from authors like Charlotte MacLeod, Reginald Hill, Elizabeth Peters, and more!
More than Meets the Eye
A curator for the historic Westbourne Park, Dennis Cooper has the great honor of spending his days overseeing the national site’s flowering grounds, bustling restaurant, and throngs of tourists. Until, of course, he’s found dead in a pond in the beautiful garden. Superintendent John Lambert and Detective Sergeant Bert Hook have a hefty list of suspects, including Dennis’s wife (and her lover), the harried restaurant staff, a Glaswegian intern, and a violent gardener. Dennis’s own shady past only complicates the investigation further…
Ex-cop Jack Taylor has his hands full with navigating mental scars, physical wounds, and a variety of addictions. Things aren’t made any easier for him when a vigilante with the peculiar moniker C33 begins ridding Galway of its more troubled characters. This killer tries to drag Jack into the fray, penning letters encouraging him to join this deadly spree.
As Jack tries to get to the bottom of this twisted case, he’s also pulled into the orbit of a tech billionaire trying to secure a brighter future for Galway by buying up property. Jack knows, however, that most people claiming righteousness are hiding the worst intentions of all.
Murder at Swann's Lake
Swann’s Lake, 1960. Former criminal and current club owner Robbie Peterson has been murdered in his office, a six-inch nail driven through his skull. Chief Inspector Charlie Woodend and Sergeant Bob Rutter come up from London to take a look around, but find only more curiosities. On the day of Robbie’s funeral, his office was broken into—twice. On the night of Robbie’s murder, his son-in-law attacked his own brother. And the more Woodend and Rutter investigate, the more crimes they seem to uncover. But the answers may not lie in Robbie’s shady past, but rather in his domestic present.
Master thief Parker has been sent to prison, and his only hope is to pull off a brilliant escape with a team of convicts at his side. But new dangers arise with a new heist, and suddenly he has to juggle con artists, snitches, busybodies, eccentrics, and cops as they flee into the big city. And it doesn’t take long for him to realize that you don’t have to be behind bars to be trapped.
Featured photo: Rene Böhmer / Unsplash