January’s mysteries are as dark, bleak, and beautiful as the month itself. Stories of betrayal, shifting loyalties, and perfect-from-the-outside marriages abound. The days are still short, but once you’ve finished this roundup, trust us, your TBR pile will be longer than ever. Without further ado, we present our favorite mystery picks for the first month of 2018!
Dark in Death (In Death Series #46), by J. D. Robb
A young woman is quietly murdered with an icepick during a screening of Hitchcock’s Psycho (and yes, during that scene) in the 46th novel in Robb’s masterful In Death series. Before long, Detective Eve Dallas is tipped off that there may be a link between this murder and a recent strangulation—both echo scenes written by an author of procedural thrillers. Dallas and her wealthy husband Roarke begin a frantic quest to figure out which mystery novel this terrifying killer is going to crib from next. And although they’re enjoying delving into mystery novels, time is of the essence if they want to stop another fictional copycat’s crime.
Robicheaux: A Novel, by James Lee Burke
Louisiana detective Dave Robicheaux has found himself in a dark place. He’s battling demons including alcoholism, regret, and anger at the loss of his adored wife, Molly. Knee-deep in an investigation into the murder of the man who accidentally killed her, Robicheaux begins to suspect that he himself may have actually committed the murder he is trying to solve. As he and his friend Clete Purcell dig deeper into the mystery, they encounter a colorful cast of characters—a brutal mob boss, an eccentric author, and a pretty-boy with a dark side and deep political aspirations. Burke’s sharply beautiful prose and his timely investigation into themes of corruption, racism, America’s past and its future coalesce into an unforgettable new novel.
The Mitford Murders, by Jessica Fellowes
Impoverished but plucky Louisa Cannon is overjoyed when she lands a plum position as a nursemaid to the wealthy Mitford family, becoming particularly close to their clever sixteen-year-old daughter, Nancy. But the two are drawn into the orbit of a dangerous killer when a famous nurse (and descendent of Florence Nightingale) is brazenly murdered on a train in plain sight. This homage to the classic murder mystery is based on a fascinating real-life murder (and a real family!).
The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place: A Flavia de Luce Novel, by Alan Bradley
As talented as she is precocious, young Flavia de Luce has already endured her share of tragedies (and solved more than her share of mysteries) by the tender age of twelve. While on a boating trip intended to lift her spirits, traveling with her two older sisters and faithful family servant Dogger, Flavia dangles her fingers in the water and encounters a floating object that turns out to be a human head—still attached to a human body. Of course, this discovery does lift Flavia’s spirits—because she is Flavia, and she now has a brand new murder to solve. This delightfully addictive and award-winning series about a brilliant young sleuth will enchant you.
Hellbent (Evan Smoak Series #3), by Gregg Hurwitz
Hellbent is the nail-biting third installment in the Orphan X series featuring trained covert government assassin-turned-friend-of-the-desperate Evan Smoak. This time Smoak, known to the grateful people he assists as Nowhere Man, is called upon to help the only father figure he’s ever had, Jack Johns, on what turns out to be an exceptionally personal mission: Protect Jack’s final protégé from harm, and find new recruits for the Orphan Program. Unfortunately he’s up against both clandestine government forces, who are trying to obliterate all traces of the program, and the new head of the program itself, Van Sciver. Surviving this mission is going to take everything Nowhere Man has.
The Pope of Palm Beach: A Novel, by Tim Dorsey
Author Tim Dorsey is a genius at mining the Sunshine State’s rich vein of wackadoodle characters, and he does so with admirable aplomb (and irreverence) in this novel starring the indomitable, dedicated Florida fan Serge A. Storms. A compelling mystery leads Serge to return to his home turf to investigate the myths behind a man named Darby, a.k.a. the Legend of Riviera Beach, a universally beloved surfer with a heart of gold from Serge’s childhood. As Serge and his quirky sidekick Coleman begin to investigate, the body count grows, and the mystery only deepens.
Two Girls Down, by Louisa Luna
The tension never lets up in this harrowing thriller. Single mother Jamie Brandt leaves her eight and ten year old daughters in the car for just a few minutes while she buys a birthday present, and when she returns, they’re gone. Her sister enlists tough-as-nails bounty hunter Alice Vega to find the girls, and when the police force resists her help, Alice teams up with a disgraced former cop named Max Caplan. Don’t miss this beautifully written, character-driven, and relentlessly suspenseful story by and up and coming master of the genre.
Into the Black Nowhere: An UNSUB Novel, by Meg Gardiner
A charming yet psychopathic serial killer in this disturbing, Ted Bundy-inspired thriller is targeting young women in southern Texas; a different one is murdered every Saturday night. FBI agent Caitlin Hendrix is a rookie who’s just started in the Behavioral Analysis unit, and she’s charged with working against the clock to get inside the depraved mind of a ruthless killer who just might be hiding in plain sight. Her focus narrows to a well-liked, successful professional, but he’s linked to the crimes only by circumstantial evidence, which may not be enough to save this weekend’s next murder victim.
The Wife, by Alafair Burke
Having escaped her tragic past, Angela is enjoying a quiet life in relative obscurity with her son when she meets Jason, who sweeps her off her feet. They marry, and several years later Jason’s writing career takes off and Angela finds herself and her son closer to the spotlight than she would like. When several women make troubling accusations against her husband, Angela is forced to confront the fact that she may not know Jason as well as she thinks, and to decide whether or not she can defend him, if it means losing everything. A twisty psychological thriller about trust, loyalty, and long-buried secrets.
A Map of the Dark, by Karen Ellis
When a teenaged girl named Ruby disappears under mysterious circumstances, FBI agent Elsa Myers takes the case even though she’s already got a lot on her plate—her father is dying in the hospital, and she’s keeping a lot of emotions related to several deeply dysfunctional family relationships and a difficult past at bay by compartmentalizing it all in order to keep herself sane. But as Ruby’s case unfolds it shakes free some long-buried secrets, and Elsa’s painful history begins to rear its ugly head, threatening to derail her investigation—and ruin the life she has built for herself in the process. At the heart of this harrowing race-against-time story is an exploration of the way our family legacies shape us—and the way they can destroy us.
Which mysteries are you excited to pick up this month?