The Best Mystery Books Of 2022

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There's something soothing about a good mystery. Hear us out: when you sink into a mystery, there's an unwritten contract between author and reader that, no matter how long it takes us to finish the book, there will be a satisfying conclusion (via Washington Post). There's a general plot structure readers can count on, MasterClass explains, that starts with a character trying to solve a mystery and ends when they've discovered the truth.

For some, that truth comes in the form of a satisfying conclusion — a neatly-wrapped plot with the bad guy caught and the investigator relaxing until the next book in the series comes out, like Mick Herron's "Slough House" series that started back in 2010 with "Slow Horses." For others, the satisfaction comes from the twist and turns that come from an unreliable narrator (see: everyone's obsession with "Gone Girl"). Either way, we go into mysteries expecting to be surprised.

According to The British Psychological Society, the genre is also engaging on a cognitive and emotional level, giving a scientific reason we're so hooked on puzzles. Mysteries offer an absorbing escape from our own problems that also make us feel like we're doing something productive with our downtime.

So if you're looking to do something that feels productive over the holidays — or want to give someone the gift of a good story — don't worry because we're already pulled a list together of the best mystery books of 2022 just for you.

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb is topping all of the best of 2022 lists

If you do a quick Google search for the best mystery books of 2022, Brendan Slocumb's "The Violin Conspiracy" will be on the majority of those lists. Slocumb's debut follows Rayqyan — he prefers Ray — McMillian, a senior in high school in North Carolina and has bigger dreams than working at his local Popeyes. In his mother's opinion, Popeye's is where he could've been making good money if he could quit his obsession with "that fiddle" (via Washington Post).

But "that fiddle" turns out to be a priceless Stradivarius that had been given to Ray's great-great-grandfather by a slave owner. When the true origins of the violin are learned, both Ray's family and the slave owner's ancestors want the instrument because of what it's worth. Ray, who Crime Reads explains is too often the only Black musican in elite ensembles, just wants his prized violin to get him through a prestigious competition.

For NPR, Bethanne Patrick – "Missing Pages" podcast host and creator of the #FridayReads hashtag — writes that one of the things that makes "The Violin Conspiracy" such a compelling read is the way Slocumb "employs polemic about racism to great efforts" to remind the readers "that the high-toned world of classical music suffers from, and because of, racism." This includes the amount of money it can take to make it to compete in the classical music world.

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley should be your next book club pick

Lucy Foley's 2018 bestseller "The Guest List" has been popular on book club lists for the last few years. According to bookshop app Tertulia's 2022 Gift Guide, Foley's latest, "The Paris Apartment," should be on everyone's holiday wishlist, especially if you're looking for a darker twist on "The Only Murders in the Building." 

As Marie Claire explains, "The Paris Apartment," has the same elements that make Foley's other books so devourable: settings that satisfy (or intensify) wanderlust and plot twists readers don't see coming. Set (if it's not obvious by the title) in Paris, "The Paris Apartment" follows Jen, who arrives at her brother's Instagram-worthy apartment only to find that he's disappeared (via Popsugar). The more Jen gets to know her brother's neighbors, the longer the suspect list grows. 

But if you're coming into Foley's latest book looking for a cozy mystery, Paste Magazine warns you're going to find more elements of Alfred Hitchcock's style of storytelling than Agatha Christie. Rather than being set in one specific location like Foley's previous books, "The Paris Apartment" spreads out through the city, giving the pacing of the story more of a gripping slow-burn than breakneck page-turner (via Crime By The Book). 

Don't misunderstand us; reviewers are saying "The Paris Apartment" is still one of those books that you'll promise yourself "just one more chapter" but still end up staying all night reading. You can't say we didn't warn you.

Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka is not your 'typical serial killer novel'

When Netflix launched it's new serial killer-focused series, "Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story," the network received backlash for seeming to exploit the horrific story for profit, per Buzzfeed News. In "Notes on an Execution," the New York Times writes that Danya Kukafka examines society's fixation on serial killer stories in the twelve hours leading up to an execution.

Instead of seeing the killer's story through his eyes, however, Popsugar explains that this literary mystery's focus is on the people affected by the crime; the (male) serial killer at the heart of "Notes on an Execution" is what happens to be the thing that ties three women –- the killer's mother, the killer's wife's twin-sister, and the detective who caught him -– together in surprising ways.

Flashing back through the four decades that led up to the moment of the killer's own death, Library Journal calls "Notes on an Execution" a "contemporary masterpiece that sits alongside 'The Execution's Song' and 'Victim: The Other Side of Murder'" that explores the way "acts of violence [can] echo through the generations."

In their review, USA Today adds Kukafka's "Notes on an Execution" is a "career-defining novel" that, while burns slow, gives voice to the people rarely heard from in serial killer lore: the victims still alive and struggling with the events that bond them together.

Need a new mystery series to get hooked on? Pick up The Bangalore Detectives Club by Harini Nagendra

Named one of the "Notable Books of 2022," Harini Nagendra's fiction debut, "The Bangalore Detectives Club" is a must-read for all lovers of cozy mysteries. The first in a planned series, this mystery takes your garden-party style murder and places it in Bangalore, India, in 1921 –- when the British still held control of the country.

Kaveri is the Nancy Drew-meets-Sherlock Holmes heroine at the heart of "The Bangalore Detectives Club" who wants to be more than a wife and mother. Only 19, she's three years into her arranged marriage with a wealthy doctor when man's body is found at a party she and her husband were attending at the prominent Century Club. As Booklist explains, Kaveri's love of math and science – along with a surprisingly supportive and adoring husband -– gives her a unique edge in helping to solve a murder.

In their starred review, Publisher's Weekly adds that part of what makes "The Bangalore Detectives Club" so compelling is how Nagendra explores the complexities of colonial India with "a rich, edifying, and authentic feel" as Kaveri and her husband navigate the elegance and opulence of British wealth to the mud-floored shacks of India's slums.

Even if you figure out the book's main twist, crime writer Sarah Weinman promises "The Bangalore Detectives Club" is an "effervescent mystery" whose "danger level [feels] palpable and authentic" (via New York Times).

The Maid by Nita Prosecutor is this 2022's best locked-room mystery

Locked rooms mysteries are still big best sellers and "The Maid" by Nita Prose is no exception. If you haven't picked up this book club favorite yet, you're going to want to because according to "Missing Pages" podcast host Bethanne Patrick, this book "satisfies on every level – from place to plot to protagonist" (via NPR).

As Popsugar explains, "The Maid' follows Molly Gray, a maid at a five-star hotel, who is the main suspect when the hotel's most prestigious guest is murdered. Naturally, it's up to Molly and her friends to solve the case so she doesn't get put away for a crime she didn't commit. Her friends, according to the Washington Independent Review of Books, channel "the quirky cast of "Clue" and gentle, wry humor of Douglas Adams" that are "interesting and memorable."

Patrick adds in her review that one of the reasons "The Maid" is so gripping is because of how "realistically different" Molly's character is. While she may be on the Autistic Spectrum, Molly adjusts, keeping things the way she likes them – simple and neat – in the twenty-something rooms of the Regency Grand. According to Bookreporter, this is why "The Maid" not only flips "the butler did it" trope on its head, but it also breaks stigmas attached to neurodivergency.