Ten novels. And, an ideal reading list to get you deep into 2024. As in previous years (see the links at the bottom of this article), we’ve prized the new and interesting over the next-in-the-series books to be released over the coming months. It would be easy to select the annual novels due from the biggest sellers in the genre, but we think it’s more fun to try to identify the one that will actually move things forward, bringing change and fresh development to the shelf in the bookshop we love most.

Sometimes, we’ll draw a dud, but not often. Based on what we know and what people have told us, these are the books you’ll want to check out in 2024 if you’re of a crime fiction loving mindset.

Bird Spotting in a Small Town by Sophie Morton-Thomas

Bird Spotting in a Small Town by Sophie Morton-Thomas front cover

We all need something to take our minds off things. For you and me, that’s reading crime novels, but for Fran, the main character here, the distraction comes from birdwatching. And she needs distraction, it seems, as her life on the caravan park slowly unravels. Her husband is barely ever around, her relationship with her sister is fraught and, when two people go missing from this remote coastal town in Norfolk, things get even more troubling. Eyes turn to old Tad, who seems harmless and is a bit of a loner, but perhaps that’s why the close-knit community turns on him. Out 8 February for Kindle, Sophie Morton-Thomas’s second novel looks quietly creepy with a literary touch to it.
Order now on Amazon or Bookshop.org

The Rumor Game by Thomas Mullen

The Rumor Game by Thomas Mullen front cover

On 27 February, the latest from American author Thomas Mullen will arrive. While his Darktown trilogy was set in 1970s Atlanta, with The Rumor Game the author moves to 1940s Boston where Anne Lemire is the opposite of a gossip columnist. In fact, her aim is to disprove false rumours that might be planted by enemy spies. Meanwhile, FBI agent Devon Mulvey feels he has his pick of the women in Boston while the men are all away fighting in World War II. The two are brought together when a factory worker is killed and links are drawn to fascist organisers in the city. At first glance, it seems The Rumor Game will reflect on many of the things going on in contemporary America, making it very interesting indeed.
Order now on Amazon or Bookshop.org

The Lagos Wife by Vanessa Walters

The Lagos Wife by Vanessa Walters front cover

Vanessa Walters takes us away to Nigeria in her fourth novel, which is her first in the crime genre. When Nicole Oruwari goes missing, the official investigation seems to go nowhere, so her aunt Claudine heads to Lagos to find out what’s going on. What she finds is that Nicole’s glamorous life among the expat wives of the city concealed a dark secret. However, as Claudine digs deeper, it’s her own secrets as much as Nicole’s that seem to emerge. The Lagos Wife is out 29 February and we think crime fiction is more than ready for a trip to Nigeria, don’t you?
Order now on Amazon or Bookshop.org

The Last Murder at the End of the World by Stuart Turton

The Last Murder at the End of the World by Stuart Turton front cover

Stuart Turton, author of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, has taken a few years away from writing high concept mysteries. Once again, with The Last Murder at the End of the World, we’ll start with a big ‘what if?’ What if a strange mist descended on us and reduced humanity to just 125 people living on a small island? And then, what if their peace was broken when one of the scientists among them was murdered? Oh but there’s more, this has triggered the security system protecting the island from the deadly fog to switch off. If they don’t solve the murder in 92 hours, those 123 people plus the murderer will be goners. Every list like this needs something that takes the genre somewhere totally bizarre and unexpected, and it might as well be the future, which begins on 28 March in this case.
Order now on Amazon

A Lesson in Cruelty by Harriet Tyce

A Lesson in Cruelty by Harriet Tyce front cover

A Lesson in Cruelty is the thriller that seems to be attracting all the buzz for 2024, in the UK at least. The fourth novel by this Scottish author, its themes rest around wanting a new and different life, and whether or not we even deserve a new life if things don’t work out the first time around. For example, Anna has just come out of prison and certainly wants a fresh start. Lucy, meanwhile, wants to be with her married professor at Oxford. And Marie, the recluse, has decided it’s time to break the rules. How these three intersect will be revealed on 11 April when A Lesson in Cruelty hits the shelves.
Order now on Amazon or Bookshop.org

Missing White Woman by Kellye Garrett

Missing White Woman by Kellye Garrett front cover

Meanwhile, in the United States, the buzz is building around Missing White Woman – the latest from an author whose reputation is growing worldwide. Just imagine being on holiday in a beautiful waterfront Airbnb in Jersey City and waking up to find a dead woman the police are looking for inside the front door. That’s what happens to Breanna, and the boyfriend who took her to New York is nowhere to be seen. A black woman, alone in a city where everyone’s focused on finding the missing woman, who can she turn to? Well, she does have a lawyer friend who could help, but that person brings another set of complications… Missing White Woman is Kellye Garrett’s fourth novel and it’s out 30 April in America.
Order now on Amazon or Bookshop.org

Broiler by Eli Cranor

Broiler by Eli Cranor front cover

Looking at the title, the cover image and the blurb for Eli Cranor’s next book, I’m already getting tense. The broiler chickens are bred for one thing down at the Detmer Foods chicken processing plant, in Arkansas, where this story is set. Their lives aren’t good. That fluffy feather tells a sad story. Eli Cranor’s third Southern gothic novel is out on 2 July and is a tale of two families. Gabriela Menchaca and Edwin Saucedo are undocumented immigrants in the state, who live in a trailer and toil in the factory. Luke and Mimi Jackson – well, he runs the plant and she looks after their baby son. When Luke fires Edwin just to show how powerful he is, the latter impulsively takes revenge and you know that ain’t never gonna go right in a noir novel like this. We think 2024 will be a breakout year for Eli Cranor with a book that might just show the American class system for what it is.
Order now on Amazon

The Night of Baba Yaga by Akira Otani

The Night of Baba Yaga by Akira Otani front cover

While many Japanese crime novels feel quite formal and often present a Japanese take on the classic Golden Age format, more and more left field alternatives are gradually appearing in translation. The Night of Baba Yaga might reference Russian folklore via its title, but this is a story set among the yakuza – Japan’s notorious organised crime gangs. It begins with the abduction of Yoriko Shindo, who manages to fend off her Naiki-kai attackers and is permitted to live among them as bodyguard and driver to Shoko Naiki, the daughter of the gang’s boss. Action-packed and sizzling with the queer attraction between the bodyguard and yakuza princess, The Night of Baba Yaga is out 2 July. It feels like its influences are more manga than Marple, and we can’t wait to find out how Baba Yaga comes into it.
Order now on Amazon

The House of Bone and Rain by Gabino Iglesias

House of Bone and Rain by Gabino Iglesias temporary cover

Like The Lagos Wife above, the latest from Gabino Iglesias takes us to a setting little seen in crime fiction. The House of Bone and Rain is set in Puerto Rico and is released on 6 August in the US. It centres on Bimbo, a young man whose mother has been killed. He and four friends go on a vendetta to avenge her and as a hurricane swirls into being over the sea – a certain portent of evil spirits at work – Bimbo’s frenzy grows equally tumultuous. Mayhem, myth and murder are all promised in the latest by this leading Latino crime author.
Order now on Amazon

The Examiner by Janice Hallett

Due out 5 September – subject to change of course – this book doesn’t yet have a front cover. We have covered Janice Hallett a fair amount in recent years but there’s plenty of reason to look forward to this novel. The author is innovating with the form in a way that others aren’t. ‘Active reading’ is a thing and its best place is in the crime genre, where you, as a reader, have the chance to solve the mystery with or even ahead of the detective. Hallett puts the clues before you in the form of everything from emails and articles to podcast transcripts and old letters. Her latest is something new again, as she presents a mystery set among art students busy building an interactive installation at Royal Hastings University. The students have been at each other all year, and when the external examiner arrives, he is convinced a murder has occurred in the execution of the art project.
Order now on Amazon

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