BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR --2012


The following is a list of 2012 titles which have garnered excellent reviews from critics, booksellers and library journals.

The purpose of the list is to make available to you, the reader, current information of what books are generally considered to be among the best of the year.  If you are so inclined to vote for fan awards such as the Barry Awards, the Anthonys, the Agathas and the Macavitys, then this list will give you a head start.

If any of the following novels received a glowing review in Deadly Pleasures, or a starred review in Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist or Library Journal, it is indicated at the end of each entry with the abbreviations of the periodicals which gave such reviews.

Looking for good recommendations for paperback purchases or good all-around recommended reading lists?   You may want to look at:

DP List 2011

DP List 2010

DP List 2009

DP List2008

DP List 2007

DP List 2006 

DP List 2005

DP List 2004

DP List 2003

DP List 2002

DP List 2001

DP List 2000

 

DP List 2012

Best Novels

**TRUST YOUR EYES, Barclay, Linwood (NAL, $25.95). Thomas Kilbride is a map-obsessed schizophrenic so affected that he rarely leaves his bedroom. But with a new computer program, he travels the world while never stepping out the door. That is until he sees something sinister in downtown New York City. PW, BL, LJ & DP
**THE ROPE, Barr, Nevada (Minotaur, $26.00). In The Rope, Barr gathers together the many strings of Anna Pigeon's past and finally reveals the story of her first case. In 1995, 35-year-old Anna Pigeon takes a decidedly unglamorous job as a seasonal employee of the Glen Canyon National Recreational Area. On her day off, Anna goes hiking into the park never to return. Her co-workers think she's simply moved on--her cabin is cleaned out and her things gone. But Anna herself wakes up, trapped at the bottom of a dry natural well, naked, without supplies, and no clear memory of how she got herself in this situation. BL & LJ
**WHERE THE BODIES ARE BURIED, Brookmyre, Christopher (Atlantic Monthly, $25.00). When small-time heroin dealer Jai McDiarmid turns up dead one fine Glasgow morning, no one is that surprised - he'd been sleeping with a drug trafficker's girlfriend and had made himself a lot of enemies - so many, in fact, that Detective Superintendent Catherine McLeod doesn't know where to start when she is assigned to the case. Meanwhile, out-of-work actress Jasmine Sharp is doing her best to be a private investigator, but her PI mentor Uncle Jim, who was meant to be showing her the ropes, has just disappeared in mysterious circumstances. She begins looking at the open cases that Jim was investigating - which sends her into trouble, fast. Kirkus & DP
**CREOLE BELLE, Burke, James Lee (Simon & Schuster, $27.99). Languishing in a recovery unit on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans, Dave Robicheaux is fighting an enemy more insidious than the one who put a bullet in his back a month earlier in a shootout on Bayou Teche. The morphine meant to dull his pain is steadily gnawing away at his resolve and luring him back into the addict mentality that once threatened to destroy his life and family. In this state, Dave can’t be sure whether his latest visitor is flesh and blood or a spectral reminder of his Louisiana youth. Tee Jolie Melton, a young woman with a troubled past, glides to his bedside and leaves him with an iPod that plays the old country blues song “My Creole Belle.” What Dave doesn’t know is that Tee Jolie disappeared weeks ago, and no one believes she reappeared to comfort an old man with a bullet wound. BL & PW
**KILL YOU TWICE, Cain, Chelsea (Minotaur, $25.99). Nothing makes Portland detective Archie Sheridan happier than knowing that Gretchen Lowell—the serial killer whose stunning beauty is belied by the gruesome murders she’s committed—is locked away in a psych ward. Archie can finally heal from the near-fatal physical and emotional wounds she’s inflicted on him.
To this end, Archie throws himself into the latest case to come across his desk: A corpse is discovered in Mount Tabor Park on the eastern side of Portland. The man was gagged, skinned, and found hanging by his wrists from a tree. And then Archie gets a message he can’t ignore—Gretchen claims to have inside knowledge about this grisly murder. BL, PW & DP
**THE BLACK BOX, Connelly, Michael (LittleBrown, $27.99). In a case that spans 20 years, Harry Bosch links the bullet from a recent crime to a file from 1992, the killing of a young female photographer during the L.A. riots. Harry originally investigated the murder, but it was then handed off to the Riot Crimes Task Force and never solved. PW, BL & DP
**NO MARK UPON HER, Crombie, Deborah (Morrow, $25.99). When a K9 search-and-rescue team discovers a woman's body tangled up with debris in the river, Scotland Yard superintendent Duncan Kincaid finds himself heading an investigation fraught with complications. The victim, Rebecca Meredith, was a talented but difficult woman with many admirers—and just as many enemies. An Olympic contender on the verge of a controversial comeback, she was also a high-ranking detective with the Met. PW & DP
**XO, Deaver, Jeffrey (Simon & Schuster, $26.99). Kayleigh Towne is gorgeous with a voice that is taking her to the heights of the country pop charts. Her hit single “Your Shadow” puts her happily in the spotlight, until an innocent exchange with one of her fans leads Kayleigh into a dark and terrifying realm. The fan warns, “I’m coming for you,” and soon accidents happen and people close to Kayleigh die. PW & LJ
**PORT VILLA BLUES, Disher, Garry (Soho, $25.00). When master thief Wyatt does a contract job, an added bonus crops up – a striking and valuable Tiffany brooch. What seems like a windfall at first turns into a curse. A gang of thieves catches wind that Wyatt is trying to sell it to a fence and wonder why part of their ill-gotten gains, which are supposed to be in safe keeping until the heat of police investigation dies down, is suddenly for sale. The gang goes in search of Wyatt to get answers. Kirkus & DP
**DEATH AND TRANSFIGURATION, Elias, Gerald (Minotaur, $26.99). When the acting concertmaster, Scheherazade O’Brien, is summarily dismissed by the despotic Herza for the permanent concertmaster position, an audition she was poised to win, O’Brien slits her wrists and the orchestra becomes convulsed. Now, blind, cantankerous violin teacher Daniel Jacobus, who had shunned O’Brien’s earlier plea for help against Herza’s relentless harassment, investigates Herza’s dark past not only in Prague, but in Tokyo and New York. BL, PW & LJ
**THE STOCKHOLM OCTAVO, Englemann, Karen (Ecco, $25.99). Life is close to perfect for Emil Larsson, a self-satisfied bureaucrat in the Office of Customs and Excise in 1791 Stockholm. He is a true man of the Town—a drinker, card player, and contented bachelor—until one evening when Mrs. Sofia Sparrow, a fortune-teller and proprietor of an exclusive gaming parlor, shares with him a vision she has had: a golden path that will lead him to love and connection. She lays an Octavo for him, a spread of eight cards that augur the eight individuals who can help him realize this vision—if he can find them. PW, LJ & BL
**THE MALICE OF FORTUNE, Ennis, Michael (Doubleday, $27.95). Against a teeming canvas of Borgia politics, Niccolo Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci come together to unmask an enigmatic serial killer, as readers learn the secret history behind one of the most controversial works in the western canon The Prince. PW & Kirkus
**BURNING MIDNIGHT, Estleman, Loren D. (Forge, $24.99). When a friend asks Walker to get his son’s brother-in-law out of one of two feuding gangs, Walker gets in trouble fast. First, dead bodies start to pile up; then come suspicious fires and the bottle bombs. Walker is caught in the middle of a gang war. BL & PW
**NIGHT WATCH, Fairstein, Linda (Dutton, $26.95). Forty-eight hours after Alexandra Cooper arrives in France to visit her boyfriend and famed restaurateur, Luc Rouget, her vacation in paradise is cut short when a young woman from the village is found murdered. The only evidence discovered on the body is one of Luc’s matchboxes promoting his new restaurant in New York. But before the investigation begins, Alex is summoned back to New York to handle a high profile case. BL & LJ
**THE GODS OF GOTHAM, Faye, Lyndsay (Putnam, $25.95). 1845. New York City forms its first police force. The great potato famine hits Ireland. These two seemingly disparate events will change New York City. Forever. Timothy Wilde tends bar near the Exchange, saving every dollar and shilling in hopes of winning the girl of his dreams. But when his dreams literally incinerate in a fire devastating downtown Manhattan, he finds himself disfigured, unemployed, and homeless. His older brother obtains Timothy a job in the newly minted NYPD, but he is highly skeptical of this untested "police force." And he is less than thrilled that his new beat is the notoriously down-and-out Sixth Ward-at the border of Five Points, the world's most notorious slum. LJ & PW
**BROKEN HARBOR, French, Tana (Viking, $27.95). On one of the half-built, half-abandoned "luxury" developments that litter Ireland, Patrick Spain and his two young children are dead. His wife, Jenny, is in intensive care. At first, Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy and his rookie partner, Richie, think it’s going to be an easy solve. But too many small things can’t be explained. The half dozen baby monitors, their cameras pointing at holes smashed in the Spains’ walls. The files erased from the Spains’ computer. The story Jenny told her sister about a shadowy intruder who was slipping past all the locks. BL, PW & Kirkus
**THE BEDLAM DETECTIVE, Gallagher, Stephen (Crown, $25.00). From a basement office in London’s notorious Bethlehem Hospital, Sebastian Becker investigates wealthy eccentrics whose dubious mental health may render them unable to manage their own affairs. His interview with rich landowner Sir Owain Lancaster, whose sanity has been in question since a disastrous scientific adventure in the Amazon killed his family and colleagues, coincides with the disappearance of two young local girls. When the children are found slain, Lancaster claims that the same dark forces that devastated his family have followed him home. PW & Kirkus
**BELUGA, Gavin, Rick (Minotaur, $24.99). PW & BL
**SIMPLE, George, Kathleen (Minotaur, $24.99). Cassie is in love. And she's in trouble. She's a paralegal in the Connolly law firm. Mike Connolly is running for governor, he's married, and his handlers don't like the fact that he's been messing around with Cassie. When Cassie ends up murdered, her handyman Cal is the instant suspect. BL & Kirkus
**THE HOUSE AT SEA’S END, Griffiths, Elly (Houghton,Mifflin, $25.00). Forensic archeologist, Dr. Ruth Galloway is back--this time investigating a gruesome World War II war crime. Kirkus & LJ
**CHILDREN OF WRATH, Grossman, Paul (St. Martin’s, $25.99). Willi Kraus, the celebrated World War I veteran and detective, returns in this prequel story about how he became the most famous Jewish Detective in Germany in the days of the Weimar Republic. In Children of Wrath Kraus tackles the case of the Kinderfresser, the vicious Child-Eater of Berlin. PW, LJ & Kirkus
**THE CASE OF THE DEADLY BUTTER CHICKEN, Hall, Tarquin (Simon & Schuster, $24.00). The spectacularly mustachioed sleuth Vish Puri finds himself facing down his greatest fears in an explosive case involving the Indian and Pakistani mafias. BL & PW
**THE FEAR ARTIST, Hallinan, Timothy (Soho, $25.00). An accidental collision on a Bangkok sidewalk goes very wrong when the man who ran into Rafferty dies in his arms, but not before saying three words: Helen Eckersley. Cheyenne. Seconds later, the police arrive, denying that the man was shot. That night, Rafferty is interrogated by Thai secret agents who demand to know what the dead man said, but Rafferty can't remember. When he's finally released, Rafferty arrives home to find that his apartment has been ransacked. In the days that follow, he realizes he's under surveillance. The second time men in uniform show up at his door, he manages to escape the building and begins a new life as a fugitive. PW, BL & LJ
**DIE A STRANGER, Hamilton, Steve (Minotaur, $25.99). Late one night, a plane lands on a deserted airstrip. Five dead bodies are found there the next morning. And now Alex McKnight’s best friend, Vinnie LeBlanc, is missing. PW & DP
**AVAILABLE DARK, Hand, Elizabeth (Minotaur, $23.99). The police already want to talk to Cass about a mysterious death she was involved with previously, but before they can bring her in, Cass accepts a job offer from overseas and hops on a plane. PW & BL
**HANGING HILL, Hayder, Mo (Atlantic Monthly, $25.00). Hanging Hill centers around a pair of estranged sisters, one a policeman, and the gruesome homicide of a teenage beauty which leads them deeper than they ever anticipated into an underground world of sex and violence. BL & PW
**SALVATION OF A SAINT, Higashino, Keigo (Minotaur, $24.99). Detective Galileo returns in a new case of impossible murder, where instincts clash with facts and theory with reality. PW & LJ
**THE SILENT OLIGARCH, Jones, Christopher Morgan (The Penguin Press, $26.00). Drawing on his decade of experience at the world's largest corporate intelligence firm, Jones leads readers down into the unvarnished realities of our time in the grand tradition of John le Carr. In this debut novel, a London intelligence agent pursues a money launderer to expose the dealings of a shadowy Russian oligarch. LJ, PW & BL
**WHAT COMES NEXT, Katzenbach, John (Mysterious Press, $26.00). When a retired academician witnesses a lovely young woman snatched off the street, he is unsatisfied by the police response and vows to find her on his own. She has been kidnapped and held prisoner by a married couple who have started an exclusive website, named “What Comes Next,” on which viewers can watch, in real time, what befalls their victims. PW, LJ & BL
**PRAGUE FATALE, Kerr, Philip (Putnam, $26.95). September 1941: Reinhard Heydrich is hosting a gathering to celebrate his appointment as Reichsprotector of Czechoslovakia. A murder occurs and the victim is a young adjutant on Heydrich’s staff, found dead in his room, the door and windows bolted from the inside. Anticipating foul play, Heydrich had already ordered Bernie Gunther to Prague. After more than a decade in Berlin's Kripo, Bernie had jumped ship as the Nazis came to power, setting himself up as a private detective. But Heydrich, who managed to subsume Kripo into his own SS operations, has forced Bernie back to police work. Now, searching for the killer, Gunther must pick through the lives of some of the Reich’s most odious officials. PW & DP
**THE COLD ROOM, Knightly, Robert (Severn House, £19.99; in U.S., $28.95). When a young woman’s body is found dumped and mutilated on a sweltering New York morning, Corbin jumps at the chance to redeem his career and solve the case – and finds himself on a journey into the dark and secretive world of illegal immigrants. DP
**DEAD ANYWAY, Chris Knopf (Permanent Press, $28.00). You have a nice life. You love your beautiful, successful wife. You're an easygoing guy working out of your comfortable Connecticut home. The world is an interesting, pleasant place. Then in seconds it's all gone. You're still alive, but the world thinks you're dead. And now you have to decide. Make it official, or go after the evil that took it all away from you. PW, Kirkus, BL, LJ & DP
**THE PROPHET, Koryta, Michael (Little,Brown, $25.99). Two brothers in a small Midwestern town: one the high school's beloved football coach, one scraping by as a bail bondsman. Their sister was murdered when they were teenagers, and now a new killing with ties to each of them has forced a painful and adversarial reunion. Kirkus, BL & PW
**THE STONECUTTER, Lackberg, Camilla (Pegaus, $25.95). The remote resort town of Fjallbacka has seen its share of tragedy, though perhaps none worse than that of the little girl found in a fisherman’s net. But this was no accidental drowning . Local detective Patrik Hedstrom has just become a father. It’s his grim task to discover who could be behind the murder of a child both he and his partner Erica knew well. BL & PW
**DEFENDING JACOB, Landay, William (Delacorte, $26.00). Andy Barber has been an ADA in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than 20 years. He is respected in his community and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But after a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His 14-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student. LJ, BL, PW & DP
**THE EDGE OF DARK WATER, Lansdale, Joe (Little, Brown, $25.99). May Lynn once dreamed of becoming a Hollywood star. Now she's dead, her body dredged up from the Sabine River. Sue Ellen, May Lynn's strong-willed teenage friend, sets out to dig up May Lynn's body, burn it to ash, and take those ashes to Hollywood to spread around. Only problem is, Sue Ellen has some stolen money that her enemies will do anything to get back. PW & DP
**LIVE BY NIGHT, Lehane, Dennis (Morrow, $27.99). Boston, 1926. Prohibition in full swing. Joe Coughlin, the youngest son of a prominent Boston police captain, is now in the pay of the city's most fearsome mobsters. PW, Kirdus & BL
**AND WHEN SHE WAS GOOD, Lippman, Laura $25.99). A suburban madam, a convicted murderer whose sentence is about to be overturned, and the child who they will both do anything to keep. BL, PW, Kirkus & LJ
**COP TO CORPSE, Lovesey, Peter (Soho Crime, $25.00). PC Harry Trasker is the third policeman in the Bath area to be shot dead in less than twelve weeks. THe assassinations are the work of a sniper no one has been able to pin down. The younger detectives are no match for this murderer and his merciless agenda. This is a job for Chief Superintendent Peter Diamond. PW, LJ & DP
**AFTERWARDS, Lupton, Rosamund (Crown, $25.00). The school is on fire. Her children are inside. Grace runs toward the burning building, desperate to reach them. In the aftermath of the devastating fire which tears her family apart, Grace embarks on a mission to find the person responsible and protect her children from further harm. This fire was not an accident, and her daughter Jenny may still be in grave danger. PW & BL
**A FATAL WINTER, Malliet, G. M. (Minotaur, $24.99). Max Tudor --Anglican priest, former MI5 agent, and village heartthrob--investigates two deaths at Chedrow Castle. But his growing attraction to Awena Owen complicates his case, as does the recent arrival at Chedrow Castle of a raucous group of long-lost, greedy relatives, any one of whom has a motive for murder. PW & LJ
**THE BLACK HOUSE, May, Peter (Silver Oak, $24.96). When a grisly murder occurs on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland's Outer Hebrides, Edinburgh detective and native islander Fin Macleod is dispatched to investigate. As he unravels the murder, Fin is forced to confront the tragic events of the past that shaped--and nearly destroyed--his life. First in a trilogy. PW, BL, LJ & DP
**ALL I DID WAS SHOOT A MAN, Mosley, Walter (Riverhead, $27.00). Seven years ago, Zella Grisham came home to find her man, Harry Tangelo, in bed with her friend. The weekend before, $6.8 million had been stolen from Rutgers Assurance Corp., whose offices are across the street from where Zella worked. Zella didn't remember shooting Harry, but she didn't deny it either. The district attorney was inclined to call it temporary insanity-until the police found $80,000 from the Rutgers heist hidden in her storage space. For reasons of his own, Leonid McGill is convinced of Zella's innocence. Leonid McGill finds himself caught between his sins of the past and an all-too-vivid present, in this gripping story of murder, greed, and retribution. PW & BL
**PHANTOM, Nesbo, Jo ( Knopf, $25.95). When Harry left Oslo again for Hong Kong—fleeing the traumas of life as a cop—he thought he was there for good. But then the unthinkable happened. The son of the woman he loved, lost, and still loves is arrested for murder: Oleg, the boy Harry helped raise but couldn't help deserting when he fled. Harry has come back to prove that Oleg is not a killer. PW, Kirkus & BL
**START SHOOTING, Newton, Charlie (Doubleday, $26.00). Twenty-five years earlier, a gruesome murder rocked the unforgiving streets of Four Corners. Now, sud-denly, a dying Chicago paper is running a serial expose on new evidence in that old case, threatening to implicate Bobby and his older brother, Ruben--a decorated, high-ranking detective and cop- prince of the streets. BL & Kirkus
**THE CHALK GIRL, O’Connell, Carol (Putnam, $25.95). The discovery of a body in a tree in Central Park leads Mallory to a story of extraordinary crimes: murders stretching back 15 years, blackmail and complicity, and a particular cruelty that only someone with Mallory's history could fully recognize. PW & LJ
**BREAKDOWN, Paretsky, Sara (Putnam, $26.95). Carmilla, Queen of the Night, is a shape-shifting raven whose fictional exploits thrill girls all over the world. When tweens in Chicago's Carmilla Club hold an initiation ritual in an abandoned cemetery, they stumble on an actual corpse, a man stabbed through the heart in a vampire-style slaying. For V.I. Warshawski, the questions multiply faster than the answers. As V.I. struggles for answers, she finds herself fighting enemies who are all too human. BL, PW & Kirkus
**THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY, Penny, Louise (Minotaur, $25.99). No outsiders are ever admitted to the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, hidden deep in the wilderness of Quebec, where two dozen cloistered monks live in peace and prayer. They grow vegetables, they tend chickens, they make chocolate. When a monk is murdered in the secluded monastery, Chief Inspector Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir enter Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, the only outsiders to do so in hundreds of years. BL, LJ & PW
**HELL BOX, Pronzini, Bill (Forge, $24.99). Bill, the "Nameless Detective," and his wife Kerry were in the Sierra foothills falling in love with a cabin. It was all perfect, until Kerry went missing. In a small town with limited resources, Bill begins his own desperate search in this long-running series. BL & DP
**ANATOMY OF MURDER, Robertson, Imogen (Viking, $26.95). London, 1781. Harriet Westerman anxiously awaits news of her husband, a ship's captain who has been gravely injured in the king's naval battles with France. As London's streets seethe with rumor, a body is dragged from the murky waters of the Thames. Having gained a measure of fame as amateur detectives for unraveling the mysteries of Thornleigh Hall, the indomitable Mrs. Westerman and her reclusive sidekick, anatomist Gabriel Crowther, are once again called on to investigate. DP
**BLEED FOR ME, Robotham, Michael (Mulholland, $25.99). A teenage girl--Sienna, a troubled friend of his daughter--comes to Joe O'Laughlin's door one night, covered in blood. The police find Sienna's father, a celebrated former cop, murdered. Tests confirm that it's his blood on Sienna. She says she remembers nothing. Investigators take aim at Sienna. O'Laughlin senses something different is happening. BL & DP
**SAY YOU’RE SORRY, Robotham, Michael (Mulholland, $24.99). When pretty and popular teenagers Piper Hadley and Tash McBain disappear one Sunday morning, the investigation captivates a nation but the girls are never found. Three years later, during the worst blizzard in a century, a husband and wife are brutally killed in the farmhouse where Tash McBain once lived. A suspect is in custody, a troubled young man who can hear voices and claims that he saw a girl that night being chased by a snowman. Kirkus & DP
**CELL 8, Roslund & Hellstrom (Silver Oak, $24.95). John Meyer Frey rots on Death Row in Utah for murdering a girl when he was 17. Following his suspicions, Detective Inspector Ewert Grens finds himself drawn into an investigation that shocks him to the core and blows open the death penalty debate--and the wider conflict between public justice and private revenge. BL & PW
**THE OTHER WOMAN, Ryan, Hank Phillippi (Forge, $24.99). Jane Ryland was a rising star in television news . . . until she refused to reveal a source and lost everything. Now a disgraced newspaper reporter, she finds herself tracking down a candidate's secret mistress just days before a pivotal Senate election. LJ, BL & DP
**CRIMINAL, Slaughter, Karin (Bantam, $27.00). Will Trent is a brilliant agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Newly in love, he is beginning to put a difficult past behind him. Then a local college student goes missing, and Will is inexplicably kept off the case by his supervisor and mentor, deputy director Amanda Wagner. Will cannot fathom Amanda’s motivation until the two of them literally collide in an abandoned orphanage they have both been drawn to for different reasons. BL
**AGENT 6, Smith, Tom Rob (Grand Central, $25.99). Former secret police agent Leo Demidov is thrown into a foreign conflict and is forced to question and confront everything he ever thought he knew about his country, his family, and himself. BL & PW
**AN AMERICAN SPY, Steinhauer, Olen (Minotaur, $25.99). Milo Weaver, reluctant spy, is unwillingly drawn into his bosses' plans for revenge against the Chinese agent who orchestrated the deaths of 33 tourists. PW & BL
**THE CONFESSION, Todd, Charles (Morrow, $25.99). Troubled Scotland Yard inspector Ian Rutledge wrestles with a startling and dangerous case that reaches far into the past when a false confession from a man who is not who he claims to be leads to a brutal murder. PW & DP
**NIGHT ROUNDS, Tursten, Helene (Soho Crime $25.00). One nurse lies dead and another vanishes after their hospital is hit by a blackout. The only witness claims to have seen Nurse Tekla doing her rounds, but Nurse Tekla died 60 years ago. Detective Inspector Irene Huss has the challenge of disentangling wandering ghosts and complex human relationships to get to the bottom of this intriguing case. PW & LJ
**HEARTBROKEN, Unger, Lisa (Crown, $24.00). The childhood murder of Lydia Strong’s mother has turned her into a woman obsessed with bringing brutal killers to justice. The reclusive, bestselling true-crime writer and investigative consultant has made a life out of chasing monsters. When three adults—loners, drifters—go missing, no one seems to notice except for Lydia. Enlisting the help of her friend, former FBI agent Jeffrey Mark, Lydia starts an investigation of her own. PW & BL
**HARBOR NOCTURNE, Wambaugh, Joseph (Mysterious Press, $27.00). In the southernmost Los Angeles district of San Pedro, one of the world’s busiest harbors, an unlikely pair of lovers are unwittingly caught between the two warring sides of the law. When Dinko Babich, a young longshoreman, delivers Lita Medina, a young Mexican dancer, from the harbor to a Hollywood nightclub, theirs lives are forever changed, as their love develops among the myriad cops and criminals who occupy the harbor. BL & PW
**THE KINGS OF COOL, Winslow, Don (Simon & Schuster, $25.00). A prequel to SAVAGES. As the trio of Ben, Chon and O do battle with a cabal of drug dealers and crooked cops, they come to learn that their future is inextricably linked with their parents’ history. A series of breakneck twists and turns puts the two generations on a collision course, culminating in a stunning showdown that will force Ben, Chon, and O to choose between their real families and their loyalty to one another. BL & LJ

Best First Novels
**A DARK ANATOMY, Blake, Robin (Minotaur, $24.99). The year is 1740. George II is on the throne, but England’s remoter provinces remain largely a law unto themselves. In Lancashire a grim discovery has been made: a squire’s wife, Dolores Brockletower, lies in the woods above her home at Garlick Hall, her throat brutally slashed. Called to the scene, Coroner Titus Cragg finds the Brockletower household awash with rumor and suspicion. He enlists the help of his astute young friend, doctor Luke Fidelis, to throw light on the case. PW & BL
**DON’T EVER GET OLD, Friedman, Daniel (Minotaur, $24.99). When Buck Schatz, senior citizen and retired Memphis cop, learns that an old adversary may have escaped Germany with a fortune in stolen gold, Buck decides to hunt down the fugitive and claim the loot. But a lot of people want a piece of the stolen treasure, and Buck’s investigation quickly attracts unfriendly attention from a very motley (and murderous) crew. PW & BL
**HUSH MONEY, Greaves, Chuck (Minotaur, $24.99). When Hush Puppy, Pasadena’s socialite Sydney Everett’s champion show horse, dies under suspicious circumstances, junior lawyer Jack MacTaggart is assigned to handle the insurance claim against the insurance company. But the case soon takes an unexpected turn, thrusting Jack into a spiraling web of blackmail and murder in which he finds himself both the prime suspect and the next likely victim. PW, LJ & DP
**THE YARD, Grecian, Alex (Putnam, $26.95). Victorian-era London. When Walter Day, the recently formed Murder Squad’s newest hire, is assigned the case of the murdered detective, he finds a strange ally in the Yard’s first forensic pathologist, Dr. Bernard Kingsley. Together they track the killer, who clearly is not finished with The Murder Squad . . . but why?
**CITY OF SAINTS, Hunt, Andrew (Minotaur, $24.99). Salt Lake City, 1930. When a beautiful socialite turns up dead, Art Oveson, a twenty-something husband, father, and devout Mormon just getting his start as a sheriff’s deputy, finds himself thrust into the role of detective. With his partner, a foul-mouthed former strikebreaker, he begins to pursue the murderer—or murderers. PW
**THE ORPHAN MASTER’S SON, Johnson, Adam (Random House, $26.00). An epic novel and a thrilling literary discovery, The Orphan Master's Son follows a young man's journey through the icy waters, dark tunnels, and eerie spy chambers of the world's most mysterious dictatorship, North Korea. LJ, PW & BL
**THE THREE DAY AFFAIR, Kardos, Michael (Mysterious Press, $24.00). One night on a drive, three young men make a routine stop at a convenience store. Moments after entering the store, a manic Jeffrey emerges, dragging a young woman with him. He shoves her into Will's car and shouts a single word: "Drive!" Shaken and confused, Will obeys. PW & LJ
**A KILLING IN THE HILLS, Keller, Julia (Minotaur, $24.99). What's happening in Acker's Gap, West Virginia? Three elderly men are gunned down over their coffee at a local diner, and seemingly half the town is there to witness the act. Still, it happened so fast, and no one seems to have gotten a good look at the shooter. Was it random? Was it connected to the spate of drug violence plaguing poor areas of the country just like Acker's Gap? PW, LJ & BL
**UNWANTED, Ohlsson, Kristina (Atria, $25.00). I n the middle of a rainy Swedish summer, a little girl is abducted from a crowded train. Despite hundreds of potential witnesses, no one noticed when the girl was taken. Her distraught mother was left behind at the previous station in what seemed to be a coincidence. The train crew was alerted and kept a watchful eye on the sleeping child. But when the train pulled into Stockholm Central Station, the little girl had vanished. Inspector Alex Recht and his special team of federal investigators, assisted by the investigative analyst Fredrika Bergman, are assigned to what at first appears to be a classic custody fight. PW & BL
**THE EXPATS, Pavone, Chris (Crown, $26.00). Can We Ever Escape Our Secrets? Kate Moore is a working mother, struggling to make ends meet, to raise children, to keep a spark in her marriage . . . and to maintain an increasingly unbearable life-defining secret. So when her husband is offered a lucrative job in Luxembourg, she jumps at the chance to leave behind her double-life, to start anew. She begins to reinvent herself as an expat, finding her way in a language she doesn't speak, doing the housewifely things she's never before done--playdates and coffee mornings, daily cooking and never-ending laundry. Meanwhile, her husband works incessantly, at a job Kate has never understood, for a banking client she's not allowed to know. He's becoming distant and evasive; she's getting lonely and bored. Then another American couple arrives. Kate soon becomes suspicious that these people are not who they say they are, and she's terrified that her own past is catching up to her. LJ, PW, BL, Kirkus & DP
**BLACK FRIDAYS, Sears, Michael (Putnam, $25.95). Jason Stafford is a former Wall Street hotshot who made some bad moves, paid the price with two years in prison, and is now trying to put his life back together. He's unemployable, until an investment firm asks him to look into possible problems left by a junior trader who died recently. PW & BL
**THE TRUTH OF ALL THINGS, Shields, Kieran (Crown, $25.00). When newly appointed Deputy Marshal Archie Lean is called in to investigate a prostitute's murder in Portland, Maine, he's surprised to find the body laid out like a pentagram and pinned to the earth with a pitchfork. He's even more surprised to learn that this death by "sticking" is a traditional method of killing a witch. PW & Kirkus
**THE INQUISITOR, Smith, Mark Allen (Holt, $27.00). Geiger has a gift: he knows a lie the instant he hears it. And in his business—called "information retrieval" by its practitioners—that gift is invaluable, because truth is the hottest thing on the market. Geiger's clients count on him to extract the truth from even the most reluctant subjects. Unlike most of his competitors, Geiger rarely sheds blood, but he does use a variety of techniques—some physical, many psychological—to push his subjects to a point where pain takes a backseat to fear. Because only then will they finally stop lying. LJ, PW & Kirkus

Best British Novels

**A FOREIGN COUNTRY, Cumming, Charles (HarperCollins, £12.99). Amelia Levene, the first female Chief of MI6, has disappeared without a trace, six weeks before she is due to take over as the most influential spy in Europe. It is the gravest crisis MI6 has faced in more than a decade. Desperate not only to find her, but to keep her disappearance a secret, Britain’s top intelligence agents turn to one of their own: disgraced MI6 officer Thomas Kell.
**THE DARK WINTER, Mark David (Quercus, £12.99). Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy is witness to the murder of a young girl who was attending her Church in Hull, England. He tries to stop her machete-wielding attacker, but is knocked down in the process. While working actively on the case, he is asked by a superior to look into the suspicious death of a local man who was found dead in a lifeboat near Iceland. Against all odds, he finds a connection between these two disparate cases (and others). PW & BL
**INSTINCT, Oldham, Nick (Severn House, £19.99; in U.S., $28.95). Grieving after a huge personal tragedy, Detective Superintendent Henry Christie is trying to pull his life back together and thinking seriously about retirement – after all, he’s got the time in and he’d have a good life and decent pension. But all thoughts of a peaceful dotage are shattered when the phone rings in the early hours, and he is called out to investigate the brutal rape and murder of a teenage girl.

Best Thrillers
**FORCE OF NATURE, Box, C. J. (Putnam, $25.95). He never wanted to tell Joe Pickett about it, but Nate Romanowski always knew trouble was coming out of his past. Now it's here, and it may not only be the battle of his life-but of Joe's. In 1995, Nate was in a secret Special Forces unit abroad when a colleague did something terrible. Now high up in the government, the man is determined to eliminate anyone who knows about it, and Nate knows exactly how he'll do it-by striking at Nate's friends to draw him out. PW, BL, LJ & DP
**RED STAR BURNING, Freemantle, Brian (Minotaur, $26.99). Britain’s MI5 tolerates Charlie because he’s their best field agent. What none of his colleagues knows, though, is that he is married to Natalia Fedova, a colonel in the FSB, the Russian intelligence successor to the KGB. It’s a secret that could land her in front of a firing squad, and him in jail for life. Worst of all, their daughter would then end up in a Russian state orphanage. But a frantic call from Natalia has brought their secret out, and Charlie must lead a combined MI5/MI6 mission to rescue her. BL & DP
**BLACK SITE, Fury, Dalton (St. Martin’s, $25.99). Meet Kolt Raynor. A Delta Force operator and one-time American hero, he is still trying to make sense of his life--and duty--after a secret mission gone bad. Now he's been given a second chance to do right by his country, his men, and himself. PW & DP
**THE RIGHT HAND, Haas, Derek (Mulholland, $25.99). Clay is sent to track down a missing American operative, a man who was captured outside of Moscow, in the Russian countryside. Soon he discovers the missing officer is only the beginning of the mission, and finds himself protecting a desperate woman who believes a mole has penetrated the top levels of the U.S. government, throwing the international balance of power into jeopardy. DP
**THE FEAR INDEX, Harris, Robert (Knopf, $25.95). Set at the nexus of high finance and sophisticated computer programming--a searing glimpse into an all-too-recognizable world of greed and fear, a novel that forces readers to confront the deepest questions about what it means to be human. BL & LJ
**THE SURVIVOR, Hurwitz, Greg (St. Martin’s, $24.99). The story of a former soldier suffering from PTSD who takes on a group of bank robbers. BL & Kirkus
**MOVING TARGET, Kemp, Ross (Arrow, £6.99). When an old comrade is leaned on by gangsters, Nick's only too happy to help. But Nick quickly finds himself cast headlong into a spiral of violence that will take him all the way to Mexico, searching for justice on the mean streets of Juarez -- the most violent city on Earth. DP
**HOUSE BLOOD, Lawson, Mike (Atlantic Monthly, $25.00). DeMarco is asked to look into the murder conviction of a lobbyist. But he has other worries on his mind: his boss is no longer Speaker,his girlfriend has left him, andhis friend Emma may be dying. DeMarco doesn’t expect to free the lobbyist – much less to become the target of two of the most callous killers he and Emma have ever encountered. BL & DP
**HELPLESS, Palmer, Daniel (Kensington,$25.00). An award-winning high school girls soccer coach and former Navy Seal is accused by anonymous social media of an affair with one of his high school students. He feels helpless in defending himself. LJ, PW & DP
**RESURRECTION EXPRESS, Romano, Stephen (Gallery, $25.00). There is no code Elroy Coffin can’t break, nothing he can’t hack, no safe he can’t get into. But for the past two years, he’s been incarcerated in a maximum-security hellhole after a job gone bad, driven to near-madness by the revelation of his beloved wife’s murder. Now a powerful and mysterious visitor who calls herself a “concerned citizen” offers Elroy his freedom if he’ll do another job, and sweetens the deal with proof that his wife might still be alive.

Best Paperback Originals
**NO RETURN, Battles, Brett (Dell, $7.99). An F-18 Navy fighter careens out of the blue sky above the Mojave desert. A TV cameraman who grew up in a small town just miles away can see what is going to happen next. Frantically, Wes Stewart races to the downed jet and tries to save the pilot’s life. When the plane explodes, Wes escapes without harm—and plunges into a murderous conspiracy. It’s been fifteen years since Wes has been back to the desolate land of his childhood. Now he finds himself up against the U.S. military, the local police, and someone who is tracking his every move. In the moments he spent with the dying pilot, Wes discovered something that could get him killed. But while he tries to untangle a web of lies and secrets surrounding the crash. DP
**WHIPLASH RIVER, Berney, Lou (Morrow, $14.99). Having left his life of crime behind, former getaway driver Charles "Shake" Bouchon has finally realized the dream of owning his own restaurant in Belize. Unfortunately, to do so he's had to go deep in debt to a murderous local drug lord named Baby Jesus. And when Shake thwarts an attempted hit on an elderly customer named Quinn, things go from bad to worse. PW
**PAGO PAGO TANGO, Enright, John (Thomas & Mercer, $14.95). Back home in American Samoa, Detective Sergeant Apelu Soifua must walk the line between two cultures: Samoan versus American, native versus new. And that gulf never yawns wider than when a white family’s home in Pago Pago is burglarized. And what appears to be a simple, open-and-shut case turns out to anything but. DP
**BLOODLAND, Glynn, Alan (Picador, $16.00). A helicopter crash off the coast of Ireland sends unexpected ripples through the international community in this intricate new thriller from the author of Winterland and Limitless. BL & DP
**THE OTHER WOMAN’S HOUSE, Hannah, Sophie (Penguin, $15.00). It's past midnight, but Connie Bowskill can't sleep. To pass the time, she logs on to a real estate website in search of a particular house, one she is obsessed with for reasons she's too scared to even admit to herself. As she clicks through the virtual tour, she comes across a scene from a nightmare: a woman lying facedown on the living room floor in a pool of blood. But when she returns to show her husband, there is no body, no blood—just a perfectly ordinary room. BL
**THE HOLLOW MAN, Harris, Oliver (Boubon Street Books, $14.99). Waking up on Hampstead Heath not far from a crashed squad car, Detective Nick Belsey wants out—out of London and out of the endless complications of his life. When Alexei Devereux, a wealthy hermit, vanishes, leaving behind a suicide note and his Porsche, Belsey discovers an opportunity—a new identity and a fortune—waiting for the taking. PW
**SCORPION BETRAYAL, Kaplan, Andrew (Harper, $9.99). The head of Egypt's State Internal Security is brutally murdered in a Cairo cafÉ—his assailant a faceless killer known only as "the Palestinian." It is the opening move in a chilling game of terror that has caught the international intelligence community completely off-guard, and the CIA turns to the one man they believe can get to the twisted roots of a looming nightmare shrouded in mystery: a former Company operative code-named Scorpion. DP
**MR. CHURCHILL’S SECRETARY, MacNeal, Susan Ella (Bantam, $15.00). London, 1940. Winston Churchill has just been sworn in, war rages across the Channel, and the threat of a Blitz looms larger by the day. But none of this deters Maggie Hope. She graduated at the top of her college class and possesses all the skills of the finest minds in British intelligence, but her gender qualifies her only to be the newest typist at No. 10 Downing Street. Her indefatigable spirit and remarkable gifts for codebreaking, though, rival those of even the highest men in government, and Maggie finds that working for the prime minister affords her a level of clearance she could never have imagined—and opportunities she will not let pass. LJ
**THE BUBBLE GUM THIEF, Miller, Jeff (Thomas & Mercer, $14.95 Special Agent Dagny Gray is smart, athletic, and fearless. She’s also fragile, depressed, and anorexic. If she doesn’t get healthy soon, the FBI will drop her—and she’ll never have a chance to end the crime spree of the so-called “bubble gum thief.” It all started with the theft of a pack of gum, and the ominous note he left behind: this is my first crime. My next will be bigger. BL & DP
**BLESSED ARE THE DEAD, Nunn, Malla (Atria, $14.00). The body of a beautiful seventeen-year-old Zulu girl, Amahle, is found covered in wildflowers on a hillside in the Drakensberg Mountains, halfway between her father’s compound and the enormous white-owned farm where she worked. Detective Sergeant Cooper and Detective Constable Samuel Shabalala are sent to the desolate landscape to investigate. PW
**A PLAGUE OF LIES, Rock, Judity (Berkley, $15.00). Versailles, 1687. Madame de Maintenon is King Louis XIV’s second wife. The daughter of a minor noble of ill-repute, she has not forgiven the king's Jesuit confessor for encouraging him to withhold the title of Queen from her. To placate her, the prestigious Louis le Grand Jesuit school has sent a delegation with a gift of reliquary. However, death follows the delegation.
**BENEATH THE ABBEY WALL, Scott, A.D. (Atria, $15.00). In the Highlands in the late 1950s, much of the local newspaper’s success was due to Mrs. Smart, the no-nonsense office manager who kept everything and everyone in line. Her murder leaves her colleagues in shock and the Highland Gazette office in chaos. BL
**BOSTON CREAM, Shrier, Howard (Vintage Canada, $17.95). Canada's top private eye is back as Jonah Geller resumes his vagabond ways in Boston Cream, the Vintage World of Crime trade paperback original and sequel to the Arthur Ellis-winning novels Buffalo Jump and High Chicago. David Fine is not the kind of guy to go missing. Or so his father tells PI Jonah Geller. A brilliant young surgeon-in-training, devout, devoted to his parents--last seen 2 weeks ago leaving the Boston hospital where he worked. Still recovering from a concussion, Jonah and partner Jenn Raudsepp soon find out that David fled for his life after a vicious Irish crime boss tried to abduct him. And that he's more likely dead than alive. Then Jenn joins the ranks of the missing, and Jonah needs help from former hit man Dante Ryan and two local wise guys as he races the clock to save her life, one step ahead of the Boston law. LJ & PW
**THE LAST POLICEMAN, Winters, Ben (Quirk, $14.95). Most people have stopped doing whatever it is they did before an asteroid hovered into view. But as the time for it to hit grows closer, Hank is still working the case of an insurance man who committed suicide and he's the only one who cares. Kirkus