CBTB’s Most-Anticipated Crime Books of Early 2019
Dear crime readers: we have so much to look forward to in 2019. Whether you’re a reader of psychological thrillers, Nordic Noir, Gothic suspense, police procedurals, or anything (and everything!) in between, 2019 has some amazing reads in store for you. My biggest problem at the moment is just that I have no idea how I’m going to make time to read all of them! But, to that end, and to hopefully help all of us (myself included!) pace ourselves and not overlook any promising books along the way, I’ve decided to keep today’s Most-Anticipated list focused on new crime fiction from January 2019 through March 2019. Now, three months isn’t all that much time—but wait until you see how jam-packed it is with exciting new books. Just sitting here writing this list has got me wanting to cancel all my upcoming plans and read for the next three months straight. (Which may be excessive, I’ll admit… but seriously, these upcoming releases are good.) And not to worry: I will be sharing additional “most anticipated” lists throughout the year, too!
Without further ado, let’s dive on in to my picks for Most-Anticipated Crime Books of Early 2019!
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Most-Anticipated Crime Books of Early 2019
THE DROWNING by J.P. Smith
January 8th, 2019 | Sourcebooks
Why I’m Excited: I had the chance to hear J.P. Smith discuss his newest release at ThrillerFest in NYC this past summer, and I’ve been looking forward to the release of THE DROWNING ever since. At ThrillerFest, J.P. shared a personal experience that inspired the plot of THE DROWNING, and it was incredibly compelling - and chilling. I’ve recently been loving psychological suspense novels that have a touch of urban legend to them, and J.P. Smith’s THE DROWNING promises to deliver exactly that.
Plot Details: Every seven years, a boy disappears from Camp Waukeelo.
Who will be next?
It doesn’t take long for a little boy to disappear. Joey Proctor can’t swim, but that doesn’t stop camp counselor Alex Mason from leaving him out on a raft in the middle of the lake in a fit of rage. Alex only meant to scare the kid, teach him a lesson. He didn’t mean to forget about him. But now Joey is gone… and his body is never found.
More than twenty years later, Alex is a success. The proof is there for anyone to see, in the millions of dollars he makes, his lavish house, his beautiful wife and daughters. And no one knows what happened that summer at camp. At least, no one should know. But it looks like Joey Proctor may be back to take his revenge…
THE SMILING MAN by Joseph Knox
January 22nd, 2019 | Crown
Why I’m Excited: Joseph Knox’s debut crime novel SIRENS absolutely blew me away last year; it was every bit a noir masterpiece, and I have no doubt his second Aidan Waits novel will be just as strong. Knox’s writing is gritty, raw, and sleek all at once - he’s a genuine talent, and a crime writer to watch.The premise of THE SMILING MAN sounds right up my alley, and I can’t wait to fall back in step with Knox’s wayward protagonist. Bonus: THE SMILING MAN has one of my favorite 2019 covers I’ve seen so far!
Plot Details: Aidan Waits is back on the night shift, the Manchester PD dumping ground for those too screwed-up for more glamorous work. But the monotony of petty crimes and lonesome nights is shattered when he and his partner are called to investigate a break-in The Palace, an immense, empty hotel in the center of the city.
There they find the body of a man. He is dead. The tags have been cut from his clothes, his teeth have been filed down, and even his fingertips have been replaced…
And he is smiling.
But as Waits begins to unravel the mystery of the smiling man, he becomes a target. Someone wants very badly to make this case disappear, and as their threats escalate, Aidan realizes that the answers may lie not only with the wealthy families and organized criminals connected to the Palace, but with a far greater evil from his own past.
To discover the smiling man’s identity, he must finally confront his own.
THE HIDING PLACE by C.J. Tudor
February 5th, 2019 | Crown
Why I’m Excited: I mean… this book really needs no introduction. C.J. Tudor broke onto the crime fiction scene with her debut novel THE CHALK MAN, a story exploring the darkness of childhood and the secrets that can follow us into our adult lives. I’ve been counting down the days to her next release ever since. I’ve already read THE HIDING PLACE, and can fully confirm it lived up to - and exceeded! - every one of my very high hopes for it. Gritty, atmospheric, and laced with a touch of supernatural horror, THE HIDING PLACE is a stellar crime read guaranteed to keep you up all night. You can catch my full review here!
Plot Details: Joe never wanted to come back to Arnhill. After the way things ended with his old gang--the betrayal, the suicide, the murder--and after what happened when his sister went missing, the last thing he wanted to do was return to his hometown. But Joe doesn't have a choice. Because judging by what was done to that poor Morton kid, what happened all those years ago to Joe's sister is happening again. And only Joe knows who is really at fault.
Lying his way into a teaching job at his former high school is the easy part. Facing off with former friends who are none too happy to have him back in town--while avoiding the enemies he's made in the years since--is tougher. But the hardest part of all will be returning to that abandoned mine where it all went wrong and his life changed forever, and finally confronting the shocking, horrifying truth about Arnhill, his sister, and himself. Because for Joe, the worst moment of his life wasn't the day his sister went missing.
It was the day she came back.
STALKER by Lars Kepler
February 5th, 2019 | Knopf
Why I’m Excited: It’s not every day you get to work on the newest book by one of your favorite authors - but thanks to the job I started just about one year ago, that’s exactly what’s happening now! (I wouldn’t normally post about books I’m working with on CBTB - but I’m making an exception for Kepler, as I’ve been talking about them here since well before starting my new job!) I’m such a fan of Lars Kepler’s work (as CBTB readers will well know by now!), and STALKER is my favorite Kepler book yet. It’s addictive, dark, and completely binge-worthy - a serial killer thriller of the highest order, set against the backdrop of Stockholm, Sweden. Catch my Buzzworthy 2019 Books post here!
Plot Details: The Swedish National Crime Unit receives a video of a young woman in her home, clearly unaware that she's being watched. Soon after the tape is received, the woman's body is found horrifically mutilated. With the arrival of the next, similar video, the police understand that the killer is toying with them, warning of a new victim, knowing there's nothing they can do. Detective Margot Silverman is put in charge of the investigation, and soon asks Detective Joona Linna for help. Linna, in turn, recruits Erik Maria Bark, the hypnotist and expert in trauma, with whom Linna's worked before. Bark is leery of forcing people to give up their secrets. But this time, Bark is the one hiding things.
Years before, he had put a man away for an eerily similar crime, and now he's beginning to think that an innocent man may be behind bars--and a serial killer still on the loose. . .
THE SILENT PATIENT by Alex Michaelides
February 5th, 2019 | Celadon Books
Why I’m Excited: Give me a crime novel with rich character development and a focus on psychology and I will be the happiest reader out there—and that’s exactly what debut author Alex Michaelides delivers in his outstanding debut. This is one heck of a read, and it’s not likely to be similar to anything you’ve read lately. In my opinion, it’s not so much a psychological thriller as it is a dark, psychological character study—but no matter what you call it or how you categorize it, THE SILENT PATIENT is a 2019 standout and a genuinely excellent debut. Read my review here!
Plot Details: Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.
Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.
Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations―a search for the truth that threatens to consume him....
THE HUNTING PARTY by Lucy Foley
February 12th, 2019 | William Morrow
Why I’m Excited: A classic locked-room mystery plot meets the chilly atmosphere of the Scottish highlands in the wintertime in Lucy Foley’s deliciously binge-worthy story of suspense. If you’re a fan of Ruth Ware (which I absolutely am!), you will find THE HUNTING PARTY right up your alley. Filled with interpersonal secrets and tensions, rich atmosphere, and just a touch of juicy drama, THE HUNTING PARTY is one of those irresistible suspense reads that you’ll want to devour whole. This one is just plain fun to read. Read my Buzzworthy 2019 Books post here!
Plot Details: All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.
During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.
They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.
Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.
The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.
Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.
Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?
THE SECRETARY by Renee Knight
February 12th, 2019 | Harper
Why I’m Excited: I thoroughly enjoyed Renee Knight’s debut novel Disclaimer when I read it a couple of years ago, and am intrigued by the premise of her newest psychological suspense offering. As CBTB readers know, I always love a psychological thriller that examines an unexpected relationship; in THE SECRETARY, the relationship at its core is the relationship between a personal assistant and her boss. Knight’s debut novel was clever and fresh, and I’m looking forward to seeing where she takes her newest psychological thriller!
Plot Details: She could be the most dangerous person in the room...
From her first day as Personal Assistant to the celebrated Mina Appleton, Christine Butcher understands what is expected of her. Absolute loyalty. Absolute discretion. For twenty years, Christine has been a most devoted servant, a silent witness to everything in Mina’s life. So quiet, you would hardly know she is there.
Day after day, year after year, Christine has been there, invisible—watching, listening, absorbing all the secrets floating around her. Keeping them safe.
Christine is trusted. But those years of loyalty and discretion come with a high price. And eventually Christine will pay.
But it would be a mistake to underestimate such a steadfast woman as Christine. Because as everyone is about to discover, there’s a dangerous line between obedience and obsession.
THE RECKONING by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
February 12th, 2019 | Minotaur Books
Why I’m Excited: Speaking of books that need no introduction—Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s THE RECKONING has been on my radar for ages now, and I am just so excited to see it finally released into the world! This is Book 2 in Yrsa’s superb Children’s House series, and it’s every bit a must-read for fans of Scandinavian crime fiction and police procedurals. Yrsa is a fierce talent, and her Children’s House books are stellar examples of why she is considered “Iceland’s Queen of Crime.” THE RECKONING tackles dark themes with intelligence; this gripping story explores what happens when people in positions of power don’t protect society’s most vulnerable individuals - children. Read my full review here!
Plot Details: Vaka sits, regretting her choice of coat, on the cold steps of her new school. Her father appears to have forgotten to pick her up, her mother has forgotten to give her this week’s pocket money, and the school is already locked for the day. Grownups, she decides, are useless.
With no way to call home, she resigns herself to waiting on the steps until her father remembers her. When a girl approaches, Vaka recognizes her immediately from class, and from her unusual appearance: two of her fingers are missing. The girl lives at the back of the school, on the other side of a high fence, and Vaka asks to call her father from the girl's house. That afternoon is the last time anyone sees Vaka.
Detective Huldar and child psychologist Freyja are called in. Soon, they find themselves at the heart of another shocking case.
AFTER SHE’S GONE by Camilla Grebe
February 26th, 2019 | Ballantine Books
Why I’m Excited: Listen carefully… do you hear that sound? That’s me shouting for joy because Camilla Grebe has a new crime novel coming out! If you’ve been around CBTB for a while, you’ve no doubt come across my obsession with Grebe’s stellar crime novel THE ICE BENEATH HER, which combined elements of traditional Scandinavian crime fiction with the twists and unreliable characters of a superb psychological thriller. It’s hard to overstate my excitement for Grebe’s newest release! This one sounds, if it’s possible, even better than THE ICE BENEATH HER.
Plot Details: Out of the frozen depths of a forest in Ormberg, Sweden, a woman stumbles onto the road. Her arms are covered with scratches, her feet are bare, and she has no memory of who she is. Local police identify her as psychological profiler Hanne Lagerlind-Schön, who, with her partner, had been helping investigate the cold case of a young woman’s murder. Hanne begins to recover but cannot recall anything about where her partner is, or what their investigation had uncovered before her disappearance. Police have only one lead: a young woman in a sequined dress who was spotted nearby the night Hanne was found.
The young woman doesn’t come forward because she doesn’t exist: Jake Birgersson, a local teenager, had been out walking in his mother’s dress and sister’s makeup, his secret shame and thrill. Terrified of discovery, Jake hid and watched Hanne get into a car, leaving behind her diary.
Reading Hanne’s notebook, Jake realizes that it contains the key to a major breakthrough in the case—but turning it in would mean admitting the truth about who he is. When another murder victim is found in the woods, Jake realizes that Hanne herself is in danger, and his only choice is to find and warn her so that together, they can stop the killer before he strikes again.
THE STRANGER DIARIES by Elly Griffiths
March 5th, 2019 | Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Why I’m Excited: While at Bouchercon this past fall, I had the opportunity to listen to Elly Griffiths speak on a panel—and what she said about THE STRANGER DIARIES absolutely captivated me. I’ve been eagerly anticipating this book’s release ever since! A modern take on Gothic suspense with a literary twist, THE STRANGER DIARIES has everything going for it. Sometimes you read about a book and just know it’s going to be right up your alley… THE STRANGER DIARIES feels that way for me.
Plot Details: Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. A high school English teacher specializing in the Gothic writer R. M. Holland, she teaches a course on it every year. But when one of Clare’s colleagues and closest friends is found dead, with a line from R. M. Holland’s most famous story, “The Stranger,” left by her body, Clare is horrified to see her life collide with the storylines of her favorite literature.
To make matters worse, the police suspect the killer is someone Clare knows. Unsure whom to trust, she turns to her closest confidant, her diary, the only outlet she has for her darkest suspicions and fears about the case. Then one day she notices something odd. Writing that isn't hers, left on the page of an old diary:
Hallo Clare. You don’t know me.
Clare becomes more certain than ever: “The Stranger” has come to terrifying life. But can the ending be rewritten in time?
HER FATHER’S SECRET by Sara Blaedel
March 5th, 2019 | Grand Central
Why I’m Excited: Sara Blaedel’s books are a CBTB staple. While my heart will always belong first and foremost to Blaedel’s longstanding series involving Copenhagen detective Louise Rick, I’m so looking forward to seeing where she takes her Family Secrets trilogy in this new installment! Rumor has it that HER FATHER’S SECRET is the trilogy installment in which she turns up the tempo and intensity on the series; if The Undertaker’s Daughter was the “scene setting” book in the trilogy, think of HER FATHER’S SECRET as the book in which things take a darker, more urgent turn. Sign me up!
Plot Details: After suddenly inheriting a funeral home from her father--who she hadn't heard from in decades--Ilka Jensen has impulsively abandoned her quiet life in Denmark to visit the small town in rural Wisconsin where her father lived. There, she's devastated to discover her father's second family: a stepmother and two half sisters she never knew existed. And who aren't the least bit welcoming, despite Ilka's efforts to reach out.
Then a local woman is killed, seemingly the unfortunate victim of a home invasion turned violent. But when Ilka learns that the woman knew her father, it becomes increasingly clear that she may not have been a completely random victim after all.
The more Ilka digs into her father's past, the more deeply entangled she becomes in a family drama that has spanned decades and claimed more than one life--and she may be the next victim...
MY LOVELY WIFE by Samantha Downing
March 26th, 2019 | Berkley
Why I’m Excited: Dexter meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith? Sold. I’ve been not-so-patiently waiting for us to get just a bit closer to publication day for this buzzy thriller before sharing it with you guys… but today’s officially the day when I publicly declare that I cannot wait to read this book. The plot of MY LOVELY WIFE sounds just plain wild, in the best possible way, and I’m so, so excited to dig in! My hopes are high that MY LOVELY WIFE will be every bit as addictive and entertaining as it sounds.
Plot Details: Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. We had kids. We moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams, and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored.
We look like a normal couple. We're your neighbors, the parents of your kid's friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with.
We all have our secrets to keeping a marriage alive.
Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.