I may have read more thrillers & mysteries than any other genre in 2021. Without counting by hand, it is difficult to tell. I love the escapism of this genre and its generally fast-paced nature.
I narrowed down all of the thrillers and mysteries I read to a top 10. Some of these I loved more than others, but they all earned high ratings for me.
Note: These are the best of the books I read in 2021. Two of the books that are in my top 10 were published prior to 2021.
We Begin at the End
We Begin at the End is a brilliant, intense, and beautifully written book with unforgettable characters. It is an epic story of murder, family, friendship, perseverance, and retribution in small town America. We Begin at the End is a novel with an amazing, multi-layered, and intricate plot that is perfectly paced. Whitaker’s hard-hitting storytelling will leave an indelible mark on you.
Publication date: March 2, 2021
Jean Hanff Korelitz
The Plot is a very readable and deeply satisfying thriller. I will warn that it is a bit of a slow burn but is also 110 percent worth it. I was quickly gripped by Jean Hanff Korelitz’s storytelling and immersed in the book. It felt like the sole purpose of the book was not simply to take me on a wild ride but to The Plot was addicting and unexpected.
Publication date: May 11, 2021
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Best Contemporary and Literary Fiction of 2021
Best Historical Fiction of 2021
State of Terror
Hillary Rodham Clinton & Louise Penny
State of Terror is an edge-of-your-seat, action-packed political thriller that follows the new Secretary of State as she tries to stop a terrorist plot. It is a story that kept me up much too late and left me thinking about it for days afterward. State of Terror is bursting with plot. It is filled with twists and turns you will not see coming. I will note that the plot is complex and multifaceted – you know, like foreign policy.
Publication date: October 12, 2021
The Lost Village
The Lost Village is a book full of suspense and mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The premise immediately pulled me in, and the writing and my curiosity kept me reading until the last page. I found the story to be unique and unpredictable. Sten does a fantastic job creating and maintaining a creepy atmosphere. The conclusion was satisfying and unexpected. The Lost Village had me gasping out loud.
Publication date: March 23, 2021
Daphne du Maurier
Rebecca turned out to be nothing like I was anticipating. For some reason, I thought this classic book this was a ghost story. I found Rebecca to be slow to initially pull me in. But once it did, I was hooked. Did I yell out loud when I was reading? Yes. This book definitely has some twists. There was also a villain that was so easy to passionately hate.
Publication date: August 1938
The Lion’s Den
Katherine St. John
The Lion’s Den is a fast-paced, juicy story about a group of friends invited to spend a week on a luxurious yacht in the Mediterranean. I had heard great things about this book but still was surprised by this fun, suspenseful thriller I quickly binge read. The Lion’s Den is the adult version of Means Girls we all deserve – on a luxurious yacht, in a foreign country, with real danger.
Publication date: June 30, 2020
𝘍𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨 is an incredible debut novel by T.J. Newman about a pilot given the choice between crashing a commercial flight or saving his family. But it is also about so much more – the decisions people make and our responsibility to one another. Falling was also refreshing to read a thriller where characters do not anger you for making dumb mistakes or choices. Instead, I was cheering for the characters and ended up crying over the goodness of people. Skip watching Manifest and read this book instead!
Publication date: July 6, 2021
The Last Thing He Told Me
The Last Thing He Told Me is a thriller that has both suspense and depth. This is my first Laura Dave book, and she immediately hooked me with her writing style, characters, and plot. It is a well written novel that is engaging due to both its plot and its characters. The pacing was also on point making this an addicting book that I read in one sitting.
Publication date: May 4, 2021
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Girl A is a gripping psychological family story and an unflinching book that examines trauma, healing, and forgiveness. I have seen this book billed as a thriller, and it is most definitely not. What it is a well-written, multilayered debut that will surprise you and stay in your memory.
Publication date: February 2, 2021
Rock Paper Scissors
Rock Paper Scissors is a wintery, atmospheric domestic thriller that will surprise you. Alice Feeney crafts a strong, suspenseful plot where snow keeps the couple in one location and adds to the story’s atmosphere. While Rock Paper Scissors is not a thriller that it will give you whiplash due its breakneck speed, it will keep you immersed even with a slower unfurling of the story and twists.
Publication date: September 7, 2021