10 best detective novels / thrillers of the 2010s
Crime never ends, and neither does the crime genre. Thrillers are just as popular today as they were years ago, with new writers joining the game, mostly contributing to national fictional thrillers. There is also the increasingly prevalent element of the unreliable narrator which adds to the uncertainty of the unfolding events, leaving the reader unsure of exactly who is to blame.
Some of these books would be familiar to you, having been so successful that they have been adapted into movies and TV shows. Others may be completely strangers and out of your comfort zone, but that’s all thriller fun, isn’t it? We can’t keep the suspense going anymore, so here are the 10 best detective novels and thrillers of the past decade.
1. Missing Girl – Gillian Flynn (2012)
Gone Girl is truly the book that elevated the domestic thriller genre. Since its release, there has been a crazy influx of similar books trying to emulate its greatness. Paula Hawkins’ Girl On The Train is one such example, and while usable, it’s nowhere in the league of Gillian Flynn’s masterpiece. Amy Dunn is missing and suspicion falls on her husband Nick, as is usually the case in cases like this. The first part of the tale switches between Nick having to deal with the fallout of his disappearance and the entries in his diary.
These entries explain how their love story began. and shows how Nick has become negligent towards his wife. If you haven’t read it, I won’t say much more; it is a book to be approached without knowing a lot of information about it. It was so popular that it was adapted into a movie, directed by David Fincher and starring Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck. Gillian Flynn also wrote the script for the film, so this woman is just amazing. His other books, Sharp Objects and Dark Places, are also worth reading.
2. The girl in 6E – Alessandra Torres (2013)
This, my dear friends, is an erotic thriller. Now don’t grab your pearls in shock and let yourself go, a list of books must have representation and variety, and if Alessandra Torre’s book is described as comparable to that of Gillian Flynn (which is amazing as we’ve said before), then we know we’re going to have a blast. The protagonist, Deanna, has never had to leave her apartment for 3 years. She has the internet, everything she needs is delivered to her and she asks a Vicodin addict to lock her up every night by feeding her addiction.
“Why does she need to be locked up?” You might ask astutely. Well, Deanna wants to kill, and she will if she gets the chance. If you’re looking for something outside of your comfort zone and you don’t mind the vapor emanating from your readings (you know, all the sexy scenes) then you might want to consider taking The Girl in 6E. take a walk. It’s a series too, just in case you’re not ready to leave Deanna’s world after this book.
3. You – Caroline Kepnes (2014)
Caroline Kepnes’ You gained popularity thanks to the book’s adaptation for a Netflix television series, which has Penn Badgley in the lead role. It brought a lot of joy to Gossip Girl fans, especially as we see Badgley bringing his acting skills to this very complex role. You follow the point of view of Joe Goldberg, who has laid eyes on the alluring Guinevere Beck, and will do anything to make her his.
The scariest thing about the book is how much you find yourself supporting Joe, despite all the horrible things you are aware of doing to him, like stalking Beck and manipulating his way in his life. Oh, and he’s a killer too, so that really takes the cake. You find yourself torn between wanting Beck to see him for who he is, while also hoping he doesn’t get caught. It’s a dangerous book, and there’s a sequel waiting for you if you desire more of the world Kepnes has built.
4. Elizabeth is Gone – Emma Healey (2014)
Emma Healey is an ambitious writer; it is hard enough to contemplate the process of dementia, but reflecting it through its prose is indeed skillful. Her book revolves around the protagonist Maud, who loses memory and control over her current life. Maud is convinced that her best friend Elizabeth is missing, but no one will take her claims seriously.
As she becomes more and more obsessed with her friend’s disappearance, all roads seem to trace back to her sister’s disappearance after WWII. Are the two disappearances linked? Or is Maud’s mind just not a place to trust anymore? Take the book to find out.
5. Magpie Murders – Anthony Horowitz (2016)
You may have heard of Anthony Horowitz, primarily for his contributions to YA with The Power of Five and Alex Rider series. It may surprise you, but the man also ventured into the fictional adult crime / thriller arena. The stellar thing about this book, Magpie Murders, is that there is a mystery within the mystery.
Editor-in-chief Susan Ryeland receives the latest manuscript from their best-selling detective author Alan Conway, a writer whose work she knows intimately over the years. However, as Susan delves into this new manuscript and the mystery at hand, she is convinced that there is another story behind it. Horowitz both pays homage to the golden age of detective novels and offers his own modern contribution to the genre.
6. The Last Place You Look – Kristen Lepionka (2017)
Listen, if you love tortured detectives and their crime-solving methods, then this book is for you. Our main protagonist, PI Roxane Weary, is called in to solve the case of a girl who went missing 15 years ago, the same night her parents were brutally murdered in their home. Her boyfriend is on death row for these murders, but has always claimed his innocence.
Her sister brings in Tired to investigate to clear her brother’s name, insisting that she saw the girl at a gas station. Did she really see Sarah Cook missing, or is she lying to protect her brother? Kristen Lepionka’s novel was a hidden gem I stumbled upon in 2017. The characterization is well done, the romances are compelling and far from those random love scenes you get in some thrillers, and the mystery has held me back. until the last page.
7. The Woman at the Window – AJ Finn (2017)
Thrillers always seem to have a window element – there was the back window and the girl in the window. I guess standing by a window is how you scent out criminal activity. As with the other thrillers on this list, The Woman In The Window features unreliable narrator, elusive memories, and writer AJ Finn teasing us as we try to figure out what’s real and what’s imagined. The main character Anna Fox lives alone, spends her days watching old movies and drinking way too much wine (this adds to the unreliability).
A new family moves in next door, and they seem like a perfect family unit. Everything changes when one day, as she looks out her window, as one would sipping wine, she sees something that shatters her world. The woman at the window will make you addicted and read all night long, and you’ll be so invested that you won’t even realize the 2010s are over. In other words, read it on New Year’s Eve, while you get drunk on bubbles and gaze out the window – the book practically commands this necessity.
8. The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton (2018)
Depending on where you get the book from, this title may appear differently to you. There was a clash in the US and the title had to be changed to 7½ instead of 7. Apparently it’s the same number of killings so I wouldn’t quibble too much about that. Stuart Turton’s Sunday Times bestseller is Groundhog’s Killing Day (or Happy Day of the Dead for modern audiences), where Evelyn Hardcastle loses her life over and over again, until Aiden, the one of the guests at the party where she is murdered, can solve her murder.
Things are far from easy for Aiden, as with every reboot of the day he finds himself in the body of another guest. It is described as a page that turns and a book that will make you want to leave town and watch the waterways in spectacular fashion, while ruminating on how awesome it was.
9. An Unwanted Guest – Shari Lapena (2018)
This book is proof that if you ever plan to go to a secluded lodge during the winter season, you should just slap yourself on the side of your head and forget about it. Yes, it is remarkably comfortable and delicious, until a killer shows up. Then you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere playing a misguided cat and mouse game. This is precisely what happens in Shari Lapena’s An Unwanted Guest, where the guests are stranded due to the weather.
The power goes out, there is no cell service, and the bodies continue to fall. Lapena is a pretty skilled player in the genre, as her other book The Couple Next Door is quite an entertaining thriller as well. An unwanted guest is reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s detective style, which is the biggest compliment one can give to a modern day thriller.
10. The Last – Hanna Jameson (2019)
Hanna Jameson’s The Last is a dystopian psychological thriller, so the stakes are even higher and grim in this world. Academic Jon Keller finds himself stranded with twenty other survivors in a hotel after the world descends into nuclear war. All you can do is make do in the hotel or try your luck in the outside world. When the water pressure subsides, Jon and a group of other people investigate the water tanks, only to find the body of a young girl inside.
Jon takes it upon himself to investigate his death in order to retain his humanity, but how long can he stay in the hotel before losing his sanity? The world that is being built in this book is amazing, which is essential for creating a dystopian world. It also hits terribly close to home, as it is an experience that could be poised to become ours given all the volatility in our current environment.
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