girl reading under covers

With the increasing threat of the coronavirus, many of us are hunkering down in our homes and isolating ourselves from potential contamination. What better time to open up a book, whether print or ebook. Certainly a LOT LESS STRESSFUL than seeing all of the craziness on social media or the news. 

To help you with that, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite mysteries, thrillers, and suspense novels that I’ve read and enjoyed over the past year. 

And a quick apology, the links I’ve provided below are to the amazon.com site. I have yet to figure out a simple way to provide links that connect to various booksellers and their numerous stores in various countries. But believe me, if you look up these books at your favorite bookseller, they are worth the extra time.

Remember by Patricia Shanae Smith

Patricia Shanae Smith’s debut novel Remember was by far my favorite novel last year. I was gripped right from the first page, wondering why was Portia Willows being interrogated, by whom, and why was she covered in blood? Whose blood was it?

Remember is a deep dive into the effects of trauma and mental illness. One of the best psychological thrillers in a long time. You won’t be disappointed. 

I couldn’t help falling in love with Portia and the creative means she uses to deal with the challenges that life has thrown her way. 

Zero Saints by Gabino Iglesias

For people who like their crime fiction raw and gritty, Gabino Iglesias’s Zero Saints is a must-read. But I will warn you that a significant amount of the text is written in Spanish. Not that that is a bad thing at all. In fact, it lends to the authenticity of the story and characters. 

If your Spanish fluency is somewhat lacking (which I’m embarrassed to admit mine is, despite having lived half my life in Phoenix, Arizona), don’t despair. Reading this book in electronic format and using your device’s translation tools can help fill the gap. This story is well worth the extra effort. 

Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett

If you prefer your mysteries on the cozier side, with less violence and swearing, check out Kellye Garrett’s multi-award-winning debut novel, Hollywood Homicide. Her characters are fun and zany, and determined to get to the truth. Just what you need when the real world has you stressed out. 

Semifamous, mega-broke actress Dayna Anderson is determined to solve a murder, in part for the reward, but mostly to get justice for the victim. 

And if you prefer listening to stories, the audiobook for Hollywood Homicide just dropped. 

My Darkest Prayer by S.A. Cosby

cover art for my darkest prayer

Nathan Waymaker is working at a funeral parlor when he gets called up to help look into the death of a local minister. But what he finds will unleash holy hell!

My Darkest Prayer is exciting and suspenseful with great action scenes that really keep you turning the pages. 

Shawn Cosby is a masterful storyteller and I can’t wait to read his next book, Blacktop Wasteland. So read this one now and go ahead and order the next. You’ll thank me later. 

Seven Crows by Kate Kessler

When I recently read Kate Kessler’s Seven Crows, I wondered if Kate was a sister from another mister. This novel seems cut from the same cloth as my own Iron Goddess.

I am NOT suggesting anyone borrowed ideas from anyone else. Rather, two great minds were definitely thinking alike.

Seven Crows tells the story of Killian Delany, an ex-con with ties to outlaw biker gangs who risks her freedom and her life to save a niece who has been kidnapped. It’s gritty and action-packed and full of vigilante justice. Just the way I like it.

The Ninja Daughter by Tori Eldridge

The Ninja Daughter is another great thriller about a kickass woman. In fact, Lily Wong is a modern-day ninja, as is the author, Tori Eldridge. So you know the fight scenes are down and dirty, as well as accurate.

But this multicultural novel also has a lot of heart as Lily tries to keep her secret ninja lifestyle from her overbearing mother.

You just can’t help falling in love with the wonderfully crafted characters.

Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha

cover art for Your House Will Pay

Your House Will Pay is a wonderful exploration of anger, forgiveness, and family secrets. Set years after the L.A. riots nearly tore the City of Angels apart, two families–one black, the other Korean–are still dealing with aftermath of a tragic event.

Steph Cha really digs deep and delivers characters that are complex, as well as situations that will tear at your heart.

Not only was I thoroughly entertained, but I learned a lot from this gripping story.

A Body In A Bathhouse by Brad Shreve

cover art for a body in a bathhouse

If you’re more in the mood for a classic private investigator murder mystery, check out Brad Shreve’s debut novel, A Body in a Bathhouse.

When a dead body turns up in an L.A. bathhouse, down-on-his-luck PI Mitch O’Reilly is hired to clear the name of the wrongly accused. Needless to say there are a lot of exciting twists and plenty of red herrings.

I don’t read a lot of gay male mysteries, but this one was a lot of fun.

Three-Fifths by John Vercher

Three-Fifths is another fantastic novel that will get you thinking.

The story follows Bobby Saraceno, a biracial man who passes for white. But when his childhood friend, newly released from prison, involves him in a hate crime, Bobby struggles not only to escape the fallout, but also to confront the realities of who he is and the complex feelings he has about hiding an essential part of his identity.

The story pulls no punches as it takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride of violence and conflict that ends in tragedy.

Bad Boy Boogie by Thomas Pluck

cover art for bad boy boogie

In the mood for a good revenge story? Then Thomas Pluck’s Bad Boy Boogie is right up your dark alley.

Jay Desmarteaux, fresh out of prison, returns to his home town looking for answers and possibly some payback. But what he finds is more questions and a lot more trouble than he bargained for.

But don’t mistake this book for a cheap action thriller. It has a lot of heart, too. I can’t wait to read the second book in this series.

Broken Places by Tracy Clark

cover art for broken places

Tracy Clark’s Cassandra Raines series is filled with mind-bending twists and red herrings that will keep you guessing.

In Broken Places, ex-cop-turned-private-investigator Cass Raines is tracking down whoever murdered Father Ray, the only father figure she’s ever known.

But in the course of her investigation, she repeatedly butts heads with her former colleagues in Chicago PD.

City of Saviors by Rachel Howzell Hall

Maybe police procedurals are more your thing. If so, check out Rachel Howzell Hall’s City of Saviors.

Something smells rotten in L.A.’s Leimert Park, and it’s not just the decaying corpse of hoarder Eugene Washington or his home filled with garbage and piles of newspapers.

LAPD homicide detective Elouise Norton has a gut feeling that his death was not the result of accidental food poisoning, but a case of murder with ties to the goings-on at his church.

This is the fourth book in this series, but you can start anywhere. Rachel Howzell Hall is a master storyteller.

The Jinx Ballou Box Set (Books 1-3) by Dharma Kelleher

cover art for the jinx ballou box set

Okay, I would be remiss if I didn’t plug my Jinx Ballou series. And with the recently released box set, you get all three books for less than the cost of two. How awesome is that?

If you’re not familiar with the series, Jinx Ballou is a bounty hunter chasing fugitives across the sun-scorched streets of Phoenix, Arizona. She’s fearless and smart, willing to track down anyone who refuses to show up to their court date.

Of course, she also has her lighter side. For example, she likes to go to comic book conventions and cosplay as Wonder Woman.

Stay Home, Wash Your Hands & Read

I hope this list provides you with something to enjoy while we all wait out this pandemic. I wish you health and safety. Please don’t horde essentials. Leave some for others in need. And look out for people who could use some help.

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