Here is a look back at the books that left the strongest impression on me this year.
At the beginning of the year I added a Goodreads reading challenge to read 100 books in 2016. It is now the end of the year, and lo and behold, the number of books I’ve read so far is 145.
Granted, around 30% of those are non-fiction books or books published in previous years, but that still leaves me with around 100 crime, mystery and thriller novels published in 2016 that I read from cover to cover.
So here are Mystery Sequel’s 10 best mysteries of 2016. The list is in no particular order, because I loved each book equally. So the first book is not necessarily the best book, and the last one listed is not necessarily the worst.
Blood Lines by Angela Marsons (Bookouture)
The fifth D.I. Kim Stone novel, Blood Lines brings back Kim’s old nemesis, doctor Alexandra Thorne, the evil psychopath psychiatrist who destroyed more lives in her career than many serial killers put together.
It took Kim great deal of strength to not fall prey to Alex’s manipulations, and now when she thought she is finally free from Alex, look who’s back.
This, however, can not come between her working to solve several puzzling murders that might just be the work of yet another serial killer on the loose.
The whole Kim Stone series is well worth reading. The British author did the characters justice and even more. There is action, tension, great character development and some truly evil adversaries to deal with.
Dark Water by Robert Bryndza (Bookouture)
Bookouture has recently become one of my favorite book publishing houses. I find myself enjoying books by almost every author they work with.
Robert Bryndza is yet another great example. His DCI Erika Foster series has really took off ever since The Girl In The Ice was published.
With Dark Water, the author has come up with yet another suspenseful, dark and extremely gripping serial killer novel. Erika is quick-witted and direct, and seems to miss a particular filter in her brain.
She always says what she thinks, even to the point of being rude. Yet I am strangely drawn to her. She is extremely invested in doing justice to the victims of heinous crimes and she is honest to a fault.
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (Crown)
Dark Matter is, well, wow! Written by the author who created the fantastic Wayward Pines trilogy, it is a book that crosses genres with ease.
A dark thriller, mystery, romance and science fiction, it makes you feel like just a tiny speck in the Universe.
Quantum mechanics is at home here. And crossing dimensions is something that one can get better at with each new attempt.
If you think you can squeeze Dark Matter in a tiny label box, think again. I found it quite difficult to review and it made me think about it long after I’ve finished reading the last page. What one doesn’t do in the name of eternal love …
The One Man by Andrew Gross (Minotaur Books)
The One Man is a book that took me by surprise. It is a throwback to a dark time in our history, WWII with its concentration camps, gas chambers, Nazis and everything else evil associated with it.
It is also one man’s journey to do the unthinkable: enter Auschwitz and smuggle out someone important, someone who could potentially turn the tide of history in this ugly war.
Above all, it is a story of hope, faith in humanity and redemption. Even in the worst of times when all seems lost, a tiny beacon of light shines from above, giving us hope.
You then realize that humanity can survive pretty much everything as long as there are people like The One Man among us.
A Time To Die by Tom Wood (Signet)
The sixth book in the Victor the Assassin spy thriller series, A Time To Die takes us to Serbia, where Victor gets his new assignment: take out Milan Rados, a war criminal who has escaped justice until now.
Victor is an odd person. He is an assassin and kills for money, but he also has his own moral compass. Seemingly nothing moves him and he does his job in cold blood, but you do get to see glimpses of the man behind the mask. He feels, and feels deeply when innocent people have to die (mostly not by his hands).
A solid fast-paced story with an intriguing and odly likable character, it can easily stand out in the myriad of similar stories that have popped up in the last few years. Victor is one of my favorite bad guys, along with The Gray Man, Bob Swagger, The Nowhere Man and Mitch Rapp.
Killfile by Christopher Farnsworth (William Morrow)
Killfire is quite an unusual book. John Smith has a strange gift. He can read people’s minds and moreover, he can influence their decisions.
Such a gift is rare and very valuable and powerful in the right (or wrong) hands.
John is hired by a billionaire software genius called Everett Sloan to investigate a former employee who might have stolen intellectual property from his company. Too late John realizes that this latest job could easily cost him his life.
Adrenaline fueled action with a bit of paranormal included (who wouldn’t want to be a psychic?), the story is a great beach read to keep you entertained for hours.
King Peso by Carmen Amato (Amazon Digital Services)
The Emilia Cruz mystery series has just gotten a fourth books earlier this year in King Peso.
I’ve been following the series from the very beginning, and Emilia has really grown on me.
But what really stayed with me long after I’ve finished each book was Acapulco in Mexico. The author has a knack for bringing this place to life. A place where corruption is at center stage and crime rate is higher than ever.
Emilia represents a rare breed of police officers who truly care for their city even when they could end up deeply hurt, or worse, while trying to uphold the law and do right by their citizens.
The Dollmaker by Mary Burton (Montlake Romance)
Mary Burton is one of my favorite romantic suspense authors. I grab pretty much everything she writes as soon as it is published.
The Dollmaker is the second book in The Forgotten Files series. Each book features different main characters and stories, so they can be read on their own.
Tessa McGowan, a forensic pathologist, gets a very strange case on her examination table. A serial killer is on the loose and he seems to take extreme pleasure from not only killing, but also posing his victims as real life dolls, with make-up and all.
I would classify this novel more as a thriller than suspense because gruesome gore and heart stopping action is plenty. Romance, while present, is not a major focus on the book, but this suits me just fine. I usually read each of Mary Burton’s books in one sitting, and The Dollmaker is no exception. It sucked me in right from the start.
The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards (Thomas & Mercer)
As far as psychological thrillers go, The Devil’s Work is an excellent example of what an author can create with some disturbed characters, a surprising plot and a smooth writing style.
The notion “be careful what you wish for” might just get you to Hell. This is pretty much what Sophie experiences soon after getting her dream job with a company which she’s fawned over for year.
And when you have some very deep and dark secrets you want to keep hidden from the world, Murphy’s Law comes to rescue as usual. Not.
Sophie is in real trouble, but when that trouble starts to affect her family and friends, she knows that the secrets have to come out if she wants to keep herself and the people she loves alive.
The story had plenty of nail biting moments and for the longest time you really wonder what is going on. I was on the edge of my seat through the entire book and I have to admit, I felt at times quite uncomfortable, yet I couldn’t stop reading.
The Obsidian Chamber by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Grand Central Publishing)
How can I not add the latest Pendergast novel by my all time favorite author duo Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child? I’ve been hooked on the series from the first book I’ve read many years ago, Relic.
While at some point I felt that the series was weakening for a bit, the last few novels brought it back to its glorious early days.
Also a warning: even if you don’t read all the books in the series (which is a shame, really), you need to read at least Crimson Shore prior to starting The Obsidian Chamber. It won’t make much sense otherwise and you’ll find yourself scratching your head in confusion.
But do me the favor and start with Relic, then pick up Reliquary and The Cabinet of Curiosities. If you are not hooked after these three, there is no hope for you at all.