CRIME NOVELS THAT I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO READING IN 2023
2023 has already gotten off to a great start with two impressive early Australian releases by John Byrnes (Headland) and Simon Rowell (Wild Card), and it promises to be another bumper year for crime and thriller readers, with a plethora of good looking titles by established and new authors scheduled for release. I have picked out below a baker’s dozen of the ones scheduled for release in the first half of the year that I am most looking forward to.
Before diving into next year’s titles, I thought I would look back at those books I was most keenly anticipating at the beginning of 2022 and see whether they lived up to expectations!
In January 2022 I nominated 13 books that I was most looking forward to: https://murdermayhemandlongdogs.com/crime-novels-that-i-am-looking-forward-to-reading-in-2022/.
They were a diverse lot and, by and large, they met the mark. Of the thirteen, five found their way onto my best reads of 2022 (Deon Meyer’s The Dark Flood, Emma Viskic’s Those Who Perish, Tom Bradby’s Yesterday’s Spy, Cold Fear by Brandon Webb and John David Mann and Dinuka McKenzie’s outstanding debut, The Torrent), while M W Craven’s The Botanist just missed the list by a whisker. Another four were very good, especially Harlan Coben’s The Match, and one was slightly disappointing. Of the remaining two, I could not get into Lucy Foley’s The Paris Apartment, although others ranked it highly, and I never saw a copy of Giles Kristian’s Blood Runs Cold, so never got to read or review it.
So for 2022, ten of the books I was looking forward to well and truly met the mark, while three lagged somewhere behind. I hope I do as well, or better, this year!
In picking through the upcoming releases, I have tried to cover the spectrum of crime fiction from action thrillers to dark crime to domestic suspense and police detection. I also picked out a couple of promising looking debuts.
In addition to the ones below, I am also anticipating some exciting yet-to-be-announced new releases from favourite authors such as Michael Connelly, Michael Brissenden, Richard Osman and Dervla McTiernan and a late June release by Riley Sager (The Only One Left). I am also very keen to read the new novel by Australian author David Whish- Wilson, I am Already Dead, later in the year and Michael Koryta’s An Honest Man which is due out in July in the United States.
I have included the Australian release dates below, which may vary from the British and American publication dates.
Harlan Coben’s I Will Find You (Century, 14 March 2023) is sure to be one of the big releases of 2023.
Coben is hitting something of a golden patch at the moment with the successful Netflix adaptions of his books and a string of great novels. After two books in his Wilde series, Coben returns to the stand alone novel with I Will Find You.
The story has a classic Coben plot that promises to draw the reader in from the opening lines:
“David and Cheryl Burroughs are living the dream – married, a beautiful house in the suburbs, a three year old son named Matthew – when tragedy strikes one night in the worst possible way.David awakes to find himself covered in blood, but not his own – his son’s. And while he knows he did not murder his son, the overwhelming evidence against him puts him behind bars indefinitely.
Five years into his imprisonment, Cheryl’s sister arrives – and drops a bombshell.
She’s come with a photograph that a friend took on vacation at a theme park. The boy in the background seems familiar – and even though David realizes it can’t be, he knows it is.
It’s Matthew, and he’s still alive.
David plans a harrowing escape from prison, determined to do what seems impossible – save his son, clear his own name, and discover the real story of what happened that devastating night.”
I cannot wait for this one.
Another big March release is The Half Burnt House (Michael Joseph, 21 March 2023) by Alex North, aka Steve Mosby.
It has been over two years since we last had a novel from North and The Half Burnt House certainly seems to be continuing in the dark tradition of his last two novels, The Whisper Man and The Shadow Friend.
The publishers have provided the following detail:
“Katie always prided herself on being a responsible big sister – until she left her brother Chris alone for one selfish afternoon, and everything fell apart. Although he survived the attack, the scars ran deep – physical, and emotional. Now they’re adults, and they haven’t spoken in years.
Then she gets a call – from a detective. A body has been found in a sprawling mansion – one that remains half-ruined by a decades-old fire. Chris is the prime suspect.
Katie knows this might be her last, best chance to save her brother. But she doesn’t realise that this isn’t the first murder – and so she doesn’t know how much danger she’s in.”
I was a keen admirer of the novels that North did as Steve Mosby, and liked his ability to mix dark, almost supernatural, themes with traditional crime plots. This should be a very a good one.
Very little is known about the new book by Mark Billingham, The Last Dance (Sphere), including the cover!
Due out in May, The Last Dance reportedly sees Billingham moving away from his much loved character, Tom Thorne, and introducing a new detective in the form of eccentric policeman Detective Declan Miller.
The publishers have provided the following information:
“Meet Detective Miller: unique, unconventional, and criminally underestimated…
He’s a detective, a dancer, he has no respect for authority - and he’s the best hope Blackpool has for keeping criminals off the streets. Meet Detective Declan Miller.
A double murder in a seaside hotel sees a grieving Miller return to work to solve what appears to be a case of mistaken identity. Just why were two completely unconnected men taken out?
Despite a somewhat dubious relationship with both reality and his new partner, can the eccentric, offbeat Miller find answers where his colleagues have found only an impossible puzzle?”
There will be a lot of interest in seeing whether Billingham can reproduce the success of the Thorne books with a new series.
Another British author heading in a new direction is M. W. Craven with Fearless (Constable, 27 June 2023).
Craven gained considerable popular and critical acclaim for his Poe and Tilly series over the past few years, including several prestigious awards, and he seemed to be well settled in with the series. With Fearless, however, he heads to America and a new hero in the form of Ben Koenig:
“Ben Koenig is nobody’s hero . . . because he doesn’t exist.
Six years back Ben Koenig headed up the US Marshal’s Special Operations Group. They were the unit who hunted the bad guys. The really bad guys. They did this so no one else had to.
And then one day Ben sold his house, liquidated his assets and disappeared off the face of the earth. He told no one why and left no forwarding address. For six years he became a grey man. Someone you didn’t remember. He drifted from town to town, from state to state, never visiting the same place twice. He was untraceable – officially, he no longer existed.
But now his face is plastered across every television screen in the country. Someone from Ben’s past is going to extraordinary lengths to find him and they don’t care how they do it. They have a job for him, a revenge mission, one Ben won’t be able to refuse.
Because in the hellish heat of the Chihuahuan desert lies a town called Gauntlet. Some people in Gauntlet have a secret and they’ll do anything protect it. And they know Ben is coming.
They’ve killed before and they’ll kill again.
It’s easy to dismiss Ben Koenig as just another drifter, someone you don’t need to concern yourself about. But that would be a mistake. Because Ben has a condition, a unique disorder that means he is incapable of experiencing fear.
And that makes Ben Koenig a different kind of animal.”
There is a strong ‘Reacher’ feel to Fearless and it will be interesting to see if Craven can replicate Lee Child’s success in America. The plot summary certainly sounds interesting, and after his last book, The Botanist, which was a little flat to me, I am keen to see Craven try something different.
Jane Casey’s stand alone novel The Killing Kind was one of my favourite crime novels of 2021 and certainly dazzled with its plot twists, interesting characters and seamlessly woven in legal detail (https://murdermayhemandlongdogs.com/strong-reliable-female-narrators-late-june-reading-by-michael-robotham-catherine-steadman-and-jane-casey/).
The Close (Harper Collins, 8 March 2023) sees Jane returning to her popular police duo of DS Maeve Kerrigan and DI Josh Derwent. Sent in undercover to gather evidence in the upmarket location of Jellicoe Close, Kerrigan and Derwent find their personal and professional relationships tested. Jellicoe Close seems to be a perfect suburban street: well-kept houses with pristine lawns, neighbours chatting over garden fences and children playing together, but beneath this veneer there are dark secrets behind the neat front doors and hidden dangers, including a ruthless criminal who will stop at nothing.
The Maeve Kerrigan books are very well regarded and it will be good to return to this popular series.
Louise Candlish’s The Other Passenger was another of my favourite crime novels of 2021 and I am keen to read her new book, The Only Suspect (Simon & Schuster, 2 February 2023).
Louise is expert at the twisty crime thriller with a slightly unreliable narrator, an abundance of new and old secrets, the usual messy relationships and a murder or two, and it sounds like there is plenty of all of that in The Only Suspect.
The publishers provide the following information:
“Alex lives a comfortable life with his wife Beth in the leafy suburb of Silver Vale. Fine, so he’s not the most outgoing guy on the street, he prefers to keep himself to himself, but he’s a good husband and an easy-going neighbour.
That’s until Beth announces the creation of a nature trail on a local site that’s been disused for decades and suddenly Alex is a changed man. Now he’s always watching. Questioning. Struggling to hide his dread . . .
As the landscapers get to work, a secret threatens to surface from years ago, back in Alex’s twenties when he got entangled with a seductive young woman called Marina, who threw both their lives into turmoil.
And who sparked a police hunt for a murder suspect that was never quite what it seemed.
And it still isn’t.“
Sounds like another good novel of psychological suspense from the usually reliable Louise Candlish.
Peter Swanson’s recent novels have enjoyably played with many of the popular crime fiction tropes and displayed a great love for the genre, as well as the ability to entertain with their plots.
His The Kind Worth Killing from 2015 wittily played around with the classic plot of Strangers On A Train and produced a stylish and gripping thriller. Now with The Kind Worth Saving (Faber, 28 February 2023) he has delivered a sequel to that book. I won’t go into the details, in case you haven’t read The Kind Worth Killing, but it sounds like another clever and well plotted novel by Swanson.
The big spy novel release of 2023 will undoubtedly be the new novel by Mick Herron, The Secret Hours, which is due out in September. Before then, however, we have John Lawton’s long awaited Moscow Exile (Grove, 4 May 2023).
Lawton’s last Joe Wilderness novel, Hammer To Fall, left the roguish British spy in a difficult situation on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain in 1969. Now we finally get to find out how Joe has been faring in Moscow Exile. Lawton’s Wilderness novels are a notch above most spy fiction being produced and this is probably the book I am most keen on reading this year.
In my view Dinuka McKenzie’s The Torrent was the stand out debut of 2022. A well crafted, credible and suspenseful novel, it also sported a good cast of characters and an engaging detective in the form of pregnant policewoman Kate Miles.
In Taken (Harper Collins, 1 February 2023), Dinuka returns to Kate and leads her down some dark paths in rural New South Wales:
“Detective Sergeant Kate Miles is back from maternity leave and struggling on multiple fronts – the pressures of a second child, financial strain from her husband losing his job, and a corruption scandal that may involve her father.
When an infant goes missing, Kate finds herself fronting a high-profile and emotionally fraught case. Was baby Sienna removed from her bassinet by an unknown abductor or is the answer much closer to home?
Amidst a frenzied media demanding answers, and a station chief looking for any reason to remove her from the investigation, Kate is pushed to her limits, pulled between the competing demands of the family at the centre of the case and her own spiralling personal life.”
I anticipate that this will be another outstanding novel by Dinuka.
Dinuka McKenzie, Matthew Spencer, Shelly Burr and Hayley Scrivenor set a high standard for debut Australian crime novels in 2022 and it will be interesting to see if the 2023 debut class can match that standard.
One of the early Australian debuts to check out in 2023 will be Mali Waugh’s Judgement Day (Macmillan, 28 February 2023).
Mali works as a lawyer in Melbourne and her first novel takes a sharp look at the local legal system, as well as providing a good mystery plot:
“Family law judge Kaye Bailey is found murdered in her chambers. Is this the work of a disgruntled complainant? Or an inside job by a jealous colleague? Or is there something even more insidious at the heart of this brutal act?
Detective Jillian Basset is just back from maternity leave, trying to juggle new motherhood as she tackles the biggest case of her career. As her work and home lives get messier and messier, though, something’s going to give.”
I enjoy legal thrillers and I am looking forward to reading this promising looking debut.
Another interesting sounding debut with a sound locational focus is provided by Sara Ochs, The Dive (Bantam, 9 May 2023):
“Escape to paradise.
Scuba diving instructor Cass leads her students out for their first dive off the beautiful coast of Koh Sang, Thailand’s world-famous party island. It’s supposed to be a life-changing experience, but things quickly spiral out of control…
Leave your secrets behind.
By the time she gets back to the shore, one of her students is dead, another badly injured, and she knows that her idyllic life is about to be smashed to pieces on the rocks.
But don’t get lost for ever…
Someone has discovered Cass’s secret, and on an island as remote as this, accidents happen. Plenty of backpackers choose to stay here for ever – but some are never heard from again.”
Every year there are interesting sounding concept thrillers, and this year the pick of them seems to be City Under One Roof, (Berkley, 28 February 2023), by well respected screenwriter Iris Yamashita.
“A stranded detective tries to solve a murder in a tiny Alaskan town where everyone lives in a single high-rise building, in this gripping debut by an Academy Award–nominated screenwriter.
When a local teenager discovers a severed hand and foot washed up on the shore of the small town of Point Mettier, Alaska, Cara Kennedy is on the case. A detective from Anchorage, she has her own motives for investigating the possible murder in this isolated place, which can be accessed only by a tunnel.
After a blizzard causes the tunnel to close indefinitely, Cara is stuck among the odd and suspicious residents of the town—all 205 of whom live in the same high-rise building and are as icy as the weather. Cara teams up with Point Mettier police officer Joe Barkowski, but before long the investigation is upended by fearsome gang members from a nearby native village.
Haunted by her past, Cara soon discovers that everyone in this town has something to hide. Will she be able to unravel their secrets before she unravels?”
Sounds very interesting and I would like to thank my fellow blogger Michael Popple at Unseenlibrary.com for alerting me to it.
Finally, another high-concept thriller is provided by New Zealand screenwriter and film maker Anthony McCarten, Going Zero (Macmillan, 11 April 2023).
Invoking early comparisons to Michael Crichton, Going Zero sounds like a fascinating read that tackles some very contemporary issues around privacy and surveillance:
“TWO HOURS TO VANISH
Ten people have been carefully selected to Beta test a ground-breaking piece of spyware. Pioneered by tech-wunderkind Cy Baxter, FUSION can track anyone wherever they are on earth. But does it work?
ONE CHANCE TO ESCAPE
Each participant is given two hours to ‘Go Zero’ – to go off-grid and disappear – and then thirty days to elude the highly sophisticated Capture Teams sent to find them. Any Zero that beats FUSION will receive $3million in cash. If Cy’s system prevails, he wins a $90 billion-dollar contract with the CIA to develop FUSION and revolutionize surveillance forever.
For contestant Kaitlyn Day, the stakes are far higher than money, and her reasons for entering the test more personal than Cy could have ever imagined. Kaitlyn needs to win to get what she wants, and Cy will stop at nothing to realize his ambitions. They have no choice but to finish the game and when the timer hits zero, there will only be one winner.”
I have already started this one and it reads very smoothly.
So plenty of good reads to start the year with, and these are only the tip of the iceberg! I am looking forward to reading and reviewing them, and many others, over the next few months.
I also liked the mix of covers. Only the Harlan Coben book had the now over-used silhouette man walking away, and only Judgement Day resorted to the familiar image of a woman in a yellow coat running, albeit only her legs this time. Hopefully we will get to see more variety in covers in 2023!