Just over two years ago, I published a definitive list of The 112 Best Literary Mysteries and Crime Novels that covers all literary mysteries published before 2019. Since more great titles in this genre are published every year, I release annual supplemental to my original list. So here are the best literary mysteries of 2021 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.
This year’s list is especially acclaimed, with all five books reaching the semifinalists of the Goodreads Choice Awards and making Amazon’s best of 2021 lists, in addition to other critical praise.
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 S.A. Cosby (author of the number five novel of 2021), Jean Hanff Korelitz (author of the number one novel of 2021), Mark Haddon 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 Mysteries of 2021!
5. Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby
A white and black father—both ex-cons—seek vengeance for the murder of their married gay sons in this novel that both Amazon and The New York Times named one of the best books of 2021.Click here to download mystery recommendations from S.A. Cosby and several other mystery authors.
4. We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker
When Star’s former best friend is released from prison thirty years after Star’s testimony got him locked up, Star and his daughter Duchess must deal with the consequences while protecting their family. We Begin at the End won the Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel from the British Crime Writers’ Association.
3. The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth
When Rose discovers she cannot bear children, her autistic twin sister Fern offers to get pregnant and have the baby for Rose. Fern’s plan breaks her out of her carefully structured routine and stirs up dark family secrets and betrayals.
2. Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead
An upstanding furniture salesman becomes embroiled in his cousin’s robberies in this novel The Guardian, The New York Times and Publishers Weekly all named one of the best fiction titles of the year.
1. The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz
In this favorite of The New York Times and Publishers Weekly, a promising student dies before he can finish his certain literary masterpiece. When his former rising star author-turned-professor takes his student’s plot and publishes it as his own book, an anonymous stranger hounds the professor for his act of literary thievery.Click here to download mystery recommendations from Jean Hanff Korelitz and several other mystery authors.