Whodunnit genius Louise Penny knows how to spot a good mystery, so we put our own detective skills to the test to seek out the high-quality books she’s praised. These mystery novel recommendations have both brilliantly intricate plots and hefty emotional weight, making for a read that will thoroughly captivate you.
“The Bone Code is a brilliant entry in a ground-breaking series and does Temperance Brennan proud. The story has all the elements we’ve come to expect—it’s smart, gripping, and builds to a heart-stopping crescendo. More than twenty years ago, these wonderful novels began paving the way for other writers, especially Canadians like me, to be noticed. I owe Kathy and Tempe a debt of gratitude, not just for helping to make my own writing life possible but for hours of white-knuckle reading.” –Louise Penny
#1 New York Times bestselling author Kathy Reichs returns with her twentieth gripping novel featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan, whose examinations of unidentified bodies ignite a terrifying series of events. “This is A-game Reichs, with crisp prose, sharp dialogue, and plenty of suspense” (Booklist).
On the way to hurricane-ravaged Isle of Palms, a barrier island off the South Carolina coast, Tempe receives a call from the Charleston coroner. The storm has tossed ashore a medical waste container. Inside are two decomposed bodies wrapped in plastic sheeting and bound with electrical wire. Tempe recognizes many of the details as identical to those of an unsolved case she handled in Quebec fifteen years earlier. With a growing sense of foreboding, she travels to Montreal to gather evidence.
Meanwhile, health authorities in South Carolina become increasingly alarmed as a human flesh-eating contagion spreads. So focused is Tempe on identifying the container victims that, initially, she doesn’t register how their murders and the pestilence may be related. But she does recognize one unsettling fact. Someone is protecting a dark secret—and willing to do anything to keep it hidden.
An absorbing look at the sinister uses to which genetics can be put and featuring a cascade of ever-more-shocking revelations, The Bone Code is “a murder mystery story that races across America at the speed of fright” (James Patterson).
“A perfect jewel of a book. It's not a murder mystery; indeed, it's not clear any crime has even been committed. A British schoolgirl accuses an older woman and her middle-aged daughter of abducting her. The girl describes the women's home perfectly, though they claim to have never seen her before.” –Louise Penny
Robert Blair was about to knock off from a slow day at his law firm when the phone rang. It was Marion Sharpe on the line, a local woman of quiet disposition who lived with her mother at their decrepit country house, The Franchise. It appeared that she was in some serious trouble: Miss Sharpe and her mother were accused of brutally kidnapping a demure young woman named Betty Kane. Miss Kane's claims seemed highly unlikely, even to Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard, until she described her prison -- the attic room with its cracked window, the kitchen, and the old trunks -- which sounded remarkably like The Franchise. Yet Marion Sharpe claimed the Kane girl had never been there, let alone been held captive for an entire month! Not believing Betty Kane's story, Solicitor Blair takes up the case and, in a dazzling feat of amateur detective work, solves the unbelievable mystery that stumped even Inspector Grant.
"In Farleigh Field is brilliant. The plotting is razor sharp and ingenious, the setting in World War Two Britain is so tangible it's eerie. The depth and breadth of character is astonishing. They're likeable and repulsive and warm and stand-offish. And oh, so human. And so relatable. All this would be enough to propel In Farleigh Field to the top of your favorites list, but what truly distinguishes this book, indeed all her books, is the quality of writing. Rhys Bowen is one of the very best fiction writers of the day. With a deep understanding of the wounded human heart, and an uncanny ability to capture the quiet emotions and the grand scale of war, she rises above her contemporaries. This is magnificently written and a must read." –Louise Penny
“I loved this book! The Last Job is a fabulous read, gripping, at times hilarious, at times terrifying, always astonishing. Using his skills as an investigative reporter, Bilefsky pieces together a study of hubris and idiocy, of greed and camaraderie, and he does it with lyrical, moving, powerful prose. A wonderful book about an almost unbelievable crime.” –Louise Penny
"IRON LAKE is where it all began, when Cork O’Connor walked off the page, tough, vulnerable, hardened and shattered, and into our lives. His creation is a brilliant achievement, and one every crime reader and writer needs to celebrate. With this novel, Kent Krueger elevated the crime fiction genre into something very special." –Louise Penny
The 20th anniversary edition of the first novel in William Kent Krueger’s beloved and bestselling Cork O’Connor mystery series—includes an exclusive bonus short story!
“A brilliant achievement, and one every crime reader and writer needs to celebrate.” —Louise Penny, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Glass Houses
“A master craftsman [and] a series of books written with a grace and precision so stunning that you’d swear the stories were your own.” —Craig Johnson, author of the Walt Longmire series
“Among thoughtful readers, William Kent Krueger holds a very special place in the pantheon.” —C.J. Box, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Disappeared
In eighteen novels over twenty years, William Kent Krueger has enthralled readers with the adventures of P.I. Cork O’Connor, former sheriff of Aurora, Minnesota—selling more than 1.5 million copies of his books and winning the Edgar Award, Minnesota Book Award, Northeastern Minnesota Book Award, Dilys Award, Lovey Award, and Anthony Award along the way. Now, in this special anniversary edition, longtime fans and new readers alike can read the novel that first introduced Corcoran “Cork” O’Connor to the world.
Part Irish, part Anishinaabe Indian, Cork is having difficulty dealing with the marital meltdown that has separated him from his children, getting by on heavy doses of caffeine, nicotine, and guilt. Once a cop on Chicago’s South Side, there’s not much that can shock him. But when the town’s judge is brutally murdered, and a young Eagle Scout is reported missing, Cork takes on this complicated and perplexing case of conspiracy, corruption, and a small-town secret that hits painfully close to home.
Get Louise Penny's latest, STATE OF TERROR, out now in paperback!
After a tumultuous period in American politics, a new administration has just been sworn in, and to everyone’s surprise the president chooses a political enemy for the vital position of secretary of state. There is no love lost between the president of the United States and Ellen Adams, his new secretary of state. As the new president addresses Congress for the first time, with Secretary Adams in attendance, Anahita Dahir, a young foreign service officer (FSO) on the Pakistan desk at the State Department, receives a baffling text from an anonymous source. Too late, she realizes the message was a hastily coded warning.
What begins as a series of apparent terrorist attacks is revealed to be the beginning of an international chess game. And, as the horrifying scale of the threat becomes clear, Secretary Adams and her team realize it has been carefully planned to take advantage of four years of an American government out of touch with international affairs, out of practice with diplomacy, and out of power in the places where it counts the most.
AN INSTANT #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Named one of the most anticipated novels of the season by People, Associated Press, Time, Los Angeles Times, Parade, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Guardian, Publishers Weekly, and more.
From the #1 bestselling authors Hillary Clinton and Louise Penny comes a novel of unsurpassed thrills and incomparable insider expertise—State of Terror.
After a tumultuous period in American politics, a new administration has just been sworn in, and to everyone’s surprise the president chooses a political enemy for the vital position of secretary of state.
There is no love lost between the president of the United States and Ellen Adams, his new secretary of state. But it’s a canny move on the part of the president. With this appointment, he silences one of his harshest critics, since taking the job means Adams must step down as head of her multinational media conglomerate.
As the new president addresses Congress for the first time, with Secretary Adams in attendance, Anahita Dahir, a young foreign service officer (FSO) on the Pakistan desk at the State Department, receives a baffling text from an anonymous source.
Too late, she realizes the message was a hastily coded warning.
What begins as a series of apparent terrorist attacks is revealed to be the beginning of an international chess game involving the volatile and Byzantine politics of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran; the race to develop nuclear weapons in the region; the Russian mob; a burgeoning rogue terrorist organization; and an American government set back on its heels in the international arena.
As the horrifying scale of the threat becomes clear, Secretary Adams and her team realize it has been carefully planned to take advantage of four years of an American government out of touch with international affairs, out of practice with diplomacy, and out of power in the places where it counts the most.
To defeat such an intricate, carefully constructed conspiracy, it will take the skills of a unique team: a passionate young FSO; a dedicated journalist; and a smart, determined, but as yet untested new secretary of state.
State of Terror is a unique and utterly compelling international thriller cowritten by Hillary Rodham Clinton, the 67th secretary of state, and Louise Penny, a multiple award-winning #1 New York Times bestselling novelist.
Photo credit: iStock / bee32