Last year was a poor mystery and thriller reading year and I thought it couldn’t possibly be worse. Well, it wasn’t, but neither was it better. This past year I reviewed 11 books I’d called mystery and thriller, just like last year. There are a few that blend genres, so I decided to go with the genre that it mostly was. That left 11 I would definitely call mystery and thriller. Perhaps, as much as I love cozies, my time of enjoying this genre might be coming to a close. I am, though, always up for cozies that involve food and cats.
Anyways, since my absolute favorite series had the next book come out, which mystery and thriller read was my favorite is kind of a no brainer, but there were still some very interesting books I read in this genre, so I’m interested to see which one ends up being my runner up.
I love a good cozy, meaning the cozy has something I like. Food is my favorite thing to read in a cozy. Murder at the Vineyard by Denise Jaden is number four in the Mallory Beck Cozy Culinary Caper series. They’re more on the religious side, but there’s so much I love about this series: food, a cat for a nose for clues, friendship, timid romance. I’m not reading this series as fast as I should, but I hope to change that next year. Six Feet Deep Dish by Mindy Quigley is the first in the Deep Dish Mystery series, and also has food, a cat, friendship, and a hint of romance. This was fun, but I frowned a bit for the first half as it felt like it was taking inspiration from my favorite cozy series, so I was glad when it diverted at some point and took on a life of it’s own. Honey Roasted by Cleo Coyle is number 19 in the Coffeehouse Mystery series, my absolute favorite cozy series. It also has food, cats, friendship, and serious romance. Of course I loved this one, and even found a new favorite cookie recipe at the back because almost every book in this series comes with plenty of recipes. I’m started to detect a theme here.
Ahem. There’s one cozy mystery that didn’t have much to do with food. It involved alcohol. Now, I don’t drink, but I do have a fascination with the 1920s, which is the time period Last Call at the Nightingale by Katharine Schellman takes place during. With a very accepting speakeasy comes a murder mystery and a young woman who ends up investigating against her will. This one has alcohol, friendship, and romance that just felt frustrating, but I’m interested to see what happens next.
After cozies, I do enjoy a good thriller. Unfortunately…I didn’t read many thrillers. A Mother Would Know by Amber Garza would be my favorite of the bunch. I love how her thrillers involve mother-child relationships, and this one was no exception. I liked feeling like I was losing my mind alongside the narrator, but things were definitely not what they seemed. The Wrong Victim by Allison Brennan is the third in the Quinn and Costa Thriller series. After the first two failed to really capture me, I’m glad I’ve stuck with it because this one was my favorite so far. The character interactions were really great in this one. The Other Guest by Helen Cooper, sadly, failed to grip me. I found the two parallel story lines interesting on their own, but they didn’t mesh well.
I have no idea how to classify All Dressed Up by Jilly Gagnon. This is a strange murder mystery that involved one fake murder and one real murder and the reader, much less the main character, doesn’t have any idea of what’s going on. I liked that it was inspired by Clue and involves a themed murder mystery weekend, but not everything is solved and the reason the couple is even at the murder mystery weekend just never reaches a resolution so I feel like I only got half a story.
Fortunately, there are three more mystery/thriller reads that made up for all the disappointing ones. For the Love of Alison by Sahlan Diver falls neatly between mystery and thriller with strong elements of both. There are things that seemed too slow and other things that felt irrelevant, but, in the end, everything tied so well together it was near perfection. I loved just about everything about this book, and I loved that it managed to surprise me. Billy Bean’s Ghost by John York both managed to amuse and scare me. I loved Billy Bean. He’s the safe and timid sort of man, very unassuming. But he gets himself wrapped up in a mystery that involves a ghost. That part managed to terrify me, but I scare really easily, so take that with a grain of salt. Overall, it was a really fun and surprisingly sweet story. Lastly was the book that just showed up one day after I requested a physical copy from the publisher and never heard anything: Fan Fiction by Brent Spiner. I have fond memories of watching Star Trek: The Next Generation with my mom, so couldn’t miss this one since it fictionalizes Spiner’s time shooting the show, post-Lal episode. In it, the fictional Spiner has a crazy stalker. The storytelling was a bit awkward, especially at the beginning, but I found myself thoroughly amused.
And, well, that’s the 11 mystery/thriller books I read. Which one is my favorite?
Why, Honey Roasted by Cleo Coyle, of course. I just love this series. Then again, I have been reading this series for my entire adult life, so they’ve been woven into the fabric of me for almost 20 years.
I suppose the real question should be, outside of Honey Roasted (because that’s really not fair to the other 10 books), which was my favorite?
That’s such a tough one! There were a couple that just failed, but most of them were really very good. I’m torn between Six Feet Deep Dish and For the Love of Alison, but I think I’ll have to go with For the Love of Alison. Six Feet Deep Dish just echoed the Coffeehouse Mystery series too much, so that might be why I recall it with fondness. It’s For the Love of Alison that still delights me whenever I think of it. It was unexpected, but a lot of fun.
What was your favorite mystery/thriller read of 2022?
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