Crime By The Book’s Best Reads: February 2019
By Abby EndlerFebruary 28, 2019
Hey there, reader! I’m thrilled to highlight these five February books that you’ll want to check out. When I’m not reading or writing about crime fiction as Crime by the Book, I can often be found perusing Criminal Element’s fantastic selection of crime book reviews and features.
So here’s how this feature will work: Each month, I’ll be sharing with Criminal Element readers my picks for best books of the month—but this list will have a unique twist. Rather than giving you a general rundown of the new releases I’m recommending each month, I’ll be dividing these lists into specific categories—and these categories will change on a month-to-month basis too. This will mean that no list will be exactly like the others. So make sure to check in at the end of each month to see what categories I’ve created and which books I’m choosing for each!
Without further ado, let’s dive right into my picks for Best Books of February 2019!
Best Book of the Month
The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor
Last month, I told you all that C.J. Tudor’s The Hiding Place was my most anticipated read, and boy did it deliver! Looking for a hair-raising suspense-meets-horror read? Tudor’s sophomore novel The Hiding Place is the book for you. This twisted crime book follows a down-on-his-luck protagonist who returns to his childhood hometown purportedly to accept a teaching position at the school he attended in his youth… but he may have other motivations entirely. Years ago, our protagonist’s sister went missing in this very same town—and he’s back to figure out what really happened. The Hiding Place is steeped in gloom and melancholy and infused with genuinely disturbing horror touches. Tudor’s dark imagination sets this crime novel apart, and her penchant for exploring the dark corners of childhood gives it depth and resonance. I loved Tudor’s debut novel The Chalk Man, but this one is even better.
Best Binge-Worthy Suspense Novel
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Alex Michaelides’ debut suspense novel is taking the world by storm—and it’s easy to see why. In this razor-sharp work of psychological suspense, readers are drawn into an intimate investigation into the mind of a woman convicted of a terrible crime. Alicia was a renowned painter, her husband an equally famous fashion photographer. One day, when her husband returned home from work, Alicia shot him multiple times in the head—and never uttered another word. Now, following a therapist determined to treat Alicia and help her process her hideous act, readers are drawn into the maze of a killer’s life and mind. The Silent Patient is perhaps best understood as a character study: this book is all about bringing into the light the secrets and motives a killer has hidden. It’s more of a “whydunnit” than a “whodunnit”—but no matter what you call it, it’s a hypnotic, immersive reading experience not to be missed.
Best Nordic Procedural
The Reckoning by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Yrsa Sigurdardottir (aka Iceland’s Queen of Crime) has quickly become an “auto-buy” author for me, and her February 2019 release The Reckoning proves exactly why. The second installment in her superb Children’s House series, The Reckoning confronts series protagonists Freyja (a child psychologist) and Huldar (a police officer) with a troubling cold case and its modern-day implications. Years ago, a young girl went missing in Iceland after school when her parents were late to collect her at the end of the day. Her case was never solved. Now, with a series of troubling occurrences harkening back to her disappearance, it’s up to our series protagonists to solve the mystery once and for all. Sigurdardottir’s writing is gritty and methodical; if you love procedurals set in Scandinavia, you’ll love this book. This is book two in a series (book one is The Legacy), but can easily be read on its own—the author does an excellent job providing context for those starting her Children’s House series here.
Best Mystery for Classic Crime Fans
Hunting Game by Helene Tursten
Swedish crime writer Helene Tursten launches a brand-new series this month with Hunting Game, a superb mystery perfect for the reader of classic detective novels. Centering around Detective Inspector Embla Nystrom of the Gothenburg police department, Hunting Game follows a group of friends whose annual moose hunt takes a turn for the worse when two among them go missing. Embla is meant to be on a vacation from work, but she soon finds herself drawn into the heart of the investigation. Tursten has crafted an atmospheric crime novel that will perfectly suit fans of procedurals with measured yet immersive pacing. Hunting Game is a down to earth, realistic story; Tursten writes in spare, concise prose, foregoing frills and in-your-face violence, focusing instead on true-to-life storytelling and character development. Rich with vivid descriptions of the wintry landscape of rural Sweden in which the eponymous trip takes place, Hunting Game is the perfect pick for a chilly weekend’s worth of reading material.
Best Book for Readers of Locked Room Mysteries
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
Fans of Ruth Ware-style suspense, your next book obsession is right here. Lucy Foley’s The Hunting Party delivers a modern-day twist on the locked room mystery. Every year, a group of college friends reunites to ring in the new year together. When we meet the group, they’re just arriving at this year’s destination: a luxury hunting lodge in the Scottish highlands. Unlike Helene Tursten’s Hunting Game, which is all realism and down-to-earth plotting, Foley’s The Hunting Party has a delicious flair of the dramatic. This hunting lodge is all glitz and glam, and our group of friends are slightly larger-than-life individuals—each harboring their own baggage and secrets. When a snowstorm cuts off access to and from the lodge, tensions rise, and long-buried feuds threaten to resurface… and when one of the party is found murdered, it becomes all too clear that the killer is one of their own, hiding in plain sight. The Hunting Party is just plain fun to read: it’s sleek, stylish, and binge-worthy. If you love an atmospheric mystery but want something focused more on interpersonal secrets than on police investigations, The Hunting Party is for you.