The best crime thrillers are the ones that make you question who the real villains are.

A bit of crime, plenty of mystery, a few well placed plot twists and characters that you will both love and hate – this is what the best crime thriller books have in store for you. It makes no difference what your favorite genre is – nothing will make you breath harder than an intense thriller with lots of unsolved mysteries.

Why We Love Crime Thriller Books?

Crime thrillers have a unique hold over readers, offering a captivating combination of suspense, mystery, and psychological insight.

For those who thrive on excitement, the heart-racing chase scenes, danger-filled escapes, and hair-raising confrontations provide an adrenaline rush. Readers are drawn to the challenge of trying to outwit the characters and solve the crime before they do.

The psychological intrigue of the genre delves into the inner workings of both criminals and investigators, providing a glimpse into the dark and twisted motivations behind their actions. This can also include a dose of dark humor, adding a new layer to the story.

Everyone may have different reasons for why they love crime thrillers, but the common thread is their ability to engage, excite, and challenge readers. So, immerse yourself in the world of crime and check out some of the best books the genre has to offer.

What Are The Best Crime Thriller Books?

The Domino Effect, by Royce Wilson (2021)

Detective Riley Scott is in charge to investigate a series of murders. However, the killer has a sinister plan to frame Scott for the murders, which takes his monstrous to another level. As the killer targets Scott and his loved ones, Scott finds himself in a desperate situation where he must clear his name and stop the killer before it's too late.

As the plot unfolds, we see that Scott's bosses in the department also buy into the killer's plan, further complicating his situation. With someone close to him being abducted, Scott is thrown into a high-stakes race against time to catch the real killer and prove his innocence.

The third book of Riley Scott series sets up an intense and suspenseful story that promises to keep readers on the edge of their seats as they follow Scott's journey to uncover the truth and bring the killer to justice.

Age of Vice, by Deepti Kapoor (2023)

Age of Vice is a crime thriller set in contemporary India that follows the lives of three characters intertwined with the corrupt and wealthy Wadia family. The story jumps through time and perspective, showcasing the lavish lifestyle of the family, as well as their greed, violence, and influence. Ajay is a servant who rises through the family's ranks, Sunny is the playboy heir who seeks to outshine his father, and Neda is a journalist caught between morality and desire.

The story is a mix of crime thriller and family saga, exploring themes of loss, pleasure, yearning, violence, and revenge. The narrative takes the reader from the villages of Uttar Pradesh to the city of New Delhi.

The Viper, by John Verdon (2023)

Dave Gurney, a retired NYPD detective, is pushed to the brink and falsely accused of murder. In order to clear his name and solve the mystery that is causing his world to unravel, he must confront his most formidable opponent yet.

Zeko Slade, a tennis player known for his bad boy behavior, is serving a twenty-year sentence for the brutal murder of Lenny Lerman, a small-time criminal. Despite the evidence against Slade and his history of misconduct, Dave Gurney, a retired detective, agrees to look into the case as a favor to his wife's friend. However, as Gurney digs deeper, he uncovers a web of corruption that puts him in the crosshairs of a ruthless district attorney, a lethal killer, and a sensationalist media.

To clear his name and save his own life, Gurney must outmaneuver these powerful enemies and solve the case before it's too late.

The Violin Conspiracy, by Brendan Slocumb (2022)

The experiment of his great-grandfather's violin has taken a prominent place within Ray McMillian's career as an upcoming classical musician. Unfazed by the pressures of a ruthless classical music community, McMillian is determined to recover it from a theft the night before a prestigious competition.

This is a very unique book between new crime thrillers titles. With humor and heart, Brendan Slocumb's love of music and teaching is highlighted in this compelling music thriller that also boldly tackles bigotry and racism.

Shackled To My Pain, by Troy Willis (2020)

Some secrets are bigger than others. Some secrets could destroy the humanity or communities. Trevon comes from a dysfunctional family and his lack of compassion aims to turn him into a monster. However, his persistence and lack of feelings make him a solid businessman.

Despite being estranged from his family and losing connections with his siblings, he manages to start a solid family and instill love into his kids. But his quiet tears tend to explode at some point and when it happens, Trevon becomes a real demon.

He knows that something is wrong, that letting his harsh feelings out could destroy the ones around him. He tries his best to leave the past behind and focus on the future, but past memories keep coming back. Will he manage to stick to his plan?

High Treason At The Grand Hotel, by Kelly Oliver (2021)

The action takes place in Paris, France – the beginning of the 20th century. The action follows Fiona Figg – a former clerk with a new career as a secret agent. She is sent by the war office to chase the so called Black Panther – a dangerous character with a terrible reputation. She is ordered to be natural.

However, she is a spy and she loves in. What spy can actually resist a professional disguise and a bit of action? Exactly. Just hours after arriving in Paris, the spy is caught into all kinds of mysterious stories and cases – from missing jewelry and double agents to missing people and treason.

However, things turn to 180 degrees when Fiona is found in a disturbing situation. She is disguised into a bellboy and holds a knife above the dead body of a countess. At this point, her career is about to end, but her life is also endangered. Will she manage to regain her reputation and get back on track?

Bone Canyon, by Lee Goldberg (2021)

A wildfire targets a quiet place from the Santa Monica Mountains. As investigators looked around, they found the remains of a woman who went missing many years ago. Eve Ronin is responsible for the investigation – young, but ambitious and ready to prove her skills.

The detective starts analyzing the bones and she makes some incredible discoveries. She knows that bones can tell a story, even years after someone passed away. Eve starts digging and the more she finds out, the farther she goes from the case – apparently.

However, things slowly come together. The young detective realizes that she cannot trust anyone as a deadly conspiracy kicks in. Midway through the investigation, Eve realizes that her life may also be in danger if she goes on with the investigation.

American Traitor, by Brad Taylor (2021)

Pike and his partner Jennifer are chilling on a sunny vacation. However, they get some bad news – their friend and work colleague, Clifford has some problems. He saw something he should not have seen, so he ended up running from Chinese secret agents.

As they start investigating, Pike and Jennifer discover a much larger plot – it looks like the Chinese agents are linked to a higher conspiracy circle and the issue could start a war between Taiwan and China. One thing leads to another and a third world war is just one step away.

But then, Pike uses his army training to identify the real problem. A new hunt begins and the couple – helped by a bunch of professionals – must find the man who can prevent this potential catastrophe from igniting.

American Traitor is a great crime thriller story showing the darker side of life.

The Perfect Guests, by Emma Rous (2021)

Emma Rous takes readers to 1988. Beth is only 14 and her aunt takes her to live at the Raven Hall. The family living there is friendly and lovely, so Beth befriends a girl almost her age – Nina. She feels like she belongs to the family, until one day, when she asks for a bit of help with an apparently innocent game.

Things take an unusual turn and will never be the same again. The action moves 31 years later, in 2019. Sadie is a wannabe actress trying to get the role of a lifetime, when she lands a nice job at a local gig. She is only supposed to pretend to be a guest. She gets the instructions, some clothes and lots of money.

The weekend party takes place at the Raven Hall – a house that looks even more majestic than Sadie imagined. Despite facing a fire a few decades ago, the hall still holds some mysteries and the walls seem to have some thrilling stories. The party begins and Sadie ends up trapped in a game that could endanger her life.

Robert B. Parker's Someone To Watch Over Me, by Ace Atkins (2021)

Mattie's life was far from perfect – her mother was killed, but she found revenge with Spenser's help. These days, she is a college student while doing a side job as well. She hopes to become an investigator and one of the first cases involves a 15 year old girl abused by an older man.

The girl – Chloe – only wants her backpack and laptop back. The investigation goes deeper and Mattie gets help from her mentor Spenser. The two discover an incredible chain of sex trafficking involving your girls. More importantly, all the links lead to a local billionaire.

However, as the plot unveils and the investigation moves on, Spenser realizes that the billionaire's connections are way too big – even beyond the local government. It looks like young girls are sent to the Bahamas eventually, so the story covers multiple locations and some unimaginable connections.

Sleep Well, My Lady, by Kwei Quartey (2021)

Augustus Seeza is a talk show host known all over Ghana, despite being eccentric and often associated with a lavish lifestyle. He dates the stunning Lady Araba, who runs a fashion empire. Thinking Augustus is only interested in Araba's money, her religious family steps in to break the couple.

Just days later, Araba is found dead. A quick investigation reveals the driver was the author, but Araba's aunt Dele thinks the poor man is innocent. Instead, she believes Augustus is the man behind the aggressive murder.

A year from the murder, Dele and her new friend Emma continue the investigation, with Emma going undercover in the attempt to reveal more from Araba's past. As the two wannabe investigators navigate suspects, new clues come out to help them solve the case.

Before She Disappeared, by Lisa Gardner (2021)

Frankie is recovering from alcoholism as she tries to change her life. However, she has a passion that does not seem to bring in any great rewards – she tries finding missing people when everyone else stops doing it. When the police gives up, she steps in.

The wannabe investigator moves on to a new case from Boston – a local community with a bad reputation. She ends up searching for Angelique, a Haitian teenager who disappeared from high school without anyone to notice anything unusual.

The police are against Frankie's investigation, while Angelique's family does not want to get involved. She soon realizes that she is discovering a clue that everyone wants to leave behind. She is willing to find the truth, even if her investigation endangers her too.

The Search, by Tana French (2020)

The Search comes from one of the best crime novelists in the industry these days. This crime thriller book features an atmospheric story boosting mysteries, suspense, justice and heart pounding adventures. Moreover, it also underlines the necessity of knowing the truth.

All in all, the story follows Cal Hooper. After spending most of his life as a police officer and going through a devastating divorce, he wants to start a new life. He moves to a beautiful Irish village, hoping to find a good pub, some new friends and little to no action.

However, the community is outraged when a kid disappears. His brother talks to Cal and the two end up pursuing the truth. Cal discovers that the idyllic village has some dangerous secrets that no one wants to reveal. Is he sticking his nose into someone else's business?

Final Thoughts on the Top Crime Thriller Books

In the end, these are by far some of the best crime thriller books and the list could easily go on. It makes no difference if you want a bit of action and missing people or conspiracy theories and incredible plot twists. This list has something for everyone out there and no matter what you are into, chances are these crime mysteries will satisfy your hunger for suspense.

If you are into crime fictions, you may also like our true crime book selection and check also the best thriller books.

Featured on Joelbooks