In 2019, I published a roundup list of The 112 Best Literary Mysteries and Crime Novels that covers all literary mysteries and crime novels published before 2019. In order to keep my list up-to-date, I will release annual rankings of the best literary crime fiction each year. So here is the best literary crime fiction of 2020* based on curated lists from The New York Times, The Guardian, Publishers Weekly and more, suggestions from readers on Goodreads, and ratings on Goodreads and Amazon.
To complement these rankings, I have created two pieces of bonus content:
- The favorite literary mysteries and crime novels from nine contemporary mystery and crime authors like Mark Haddon, Jenny Milchman, Laurie R. King and Derek B. Miller.
- A one-page PDF shopping guide to The Best Literary Mysteries and Crime Novels.
You can access both of these free resources using the form below. And now, on with The Best Literary Crime Fiction of 2020!
5. Black Rain Falling by Jacob Ross
On a remote Caribbean island, a forensic expert seeks to clear a police detective of murder while the two of them investigate another killing and evidence of corruption. The Guardian named this story of family, class and loyalty one of the best crime and thriller novels of 2020.
4. The Forger’s Daughter by Bradford Morrow
When a retired literary forger gets blackmailed into counterfeiting Edgar Allan Poe’s Tamerlane and Other Poems, his twenty-year-old daughter risks her life to help him pull off the job. The New York Times and Publishers Weekly listed The Forger’s Daughter as one of the top crime and mystery novels of the year.
3. Before Familiar Woods by Ian Pisarcik
A group of men disappears from a remote Vermont town three years after their sons were found dead in a tent. When one of the boys’ mothers investigates the incidents, she discovers her town has more well-protected secrets than she could have imagined.
2. When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole
As gentrification overtakes her Brooklyn neighborhood, one woman realizes that her neighbors may not have really moved to the suburbs and that the changes surrounding her hide deadly outcomes. This Goodreads Choice Award finalist for Mystery and Thriller was also named by The Guardian as one of the best crime and thriller novels of the year.
1. The Searcher by Tana French
A retired Chicago police officer investigates a missing child in a small Irish village that is not as picturesque as it seems. The Guardian and Amazon selected The Searcher as one of the best crime, mystery and thriller novels of the year, and it was a Goodreads Choice Award finalist in the Mystery and Thriller genre.
*-I have decided to exclude from these annual updates books that are sequels to novels that appeared on one of my previous lists in this genre. This year, Robert Galbraith’s Troubled Blood (a sequel to The Cuckoo’s Calling) was a critically and popularly acclaimed novel which fit that description.