The Best Literary Mysteries of 2023

Welcome to the fifth annual addendum to my list of The 112 Best Literary Mysteries and Crime Novels. From nearly eighty mystery and crime novels, five* emerged as the best literary mysteries of 2023. These final rankings are 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:

  1. The favorite literary mysteries and crime novels from nine contemporary mystery and crime authors like S.A. Cosby (author of the number two book on the list), Mark Haddon and and Derek B. Miller.
  2. 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 2023!

5. Small Mercies by Dennis Lehane

In 1974 Boston, an Irish-American mother searches for her missing teenage daughter, leading her to question the death of a young Black man and run afoul of the local Irish mob. Amazon named Lehane’s tale of criminality, power and racism one of the best books of the year.

4. Homecoming by Kate Morton

A London journalist discovers a shocking connection between an unsolved Australian murder case and her own family history. A generation-spanning mystery that asks how we protect those we love and the lies we tell, Homecoming was a Goodreads Choice Awards finalist in mystery and thriller.

Cover images of the best literary mysteries of 2023

3. I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai

A professor and true-crime podcaster returns to her New Hampshire boarding school and reopens the murder of her former roommate in this investigation of collective memory and one woman’s reckoning with her past. Publishers Weekly listed I Have Some Questions for You as one of the best fiction books of 2023, and The Guardian named it one of the year’s top crime and thriller novels.

2. All the Sinners Bleed by S.A. Cosby

A Black sheriff chases a serial killer in a small Virginia town while contending with a painful personal secret and a far-right group seeking to hold a Confederate parade. All the Sinners Bleed garnered abundant critical acclaim, with Amazon, The New York Times, The Guardian and Publishers Weekly all listing it among the best books of the year.

Click here to download literary mystery recommendations from S.A. Cosby and several other mystery authors.

1. The Last Devil to Die by Richard Osman

Four septuagenarians try to solve the mystery of an old friend’s murder and the disappearance of the dangerous package he was guarding. The New York Times and The Guardian ranked the latest installment in Osman’s Thursday Murder Club series among the best crime novels of 2023.

*-I have decided to exclude from these annual updates books that are prequels or sequels to novels that appeared on one of my previous lists in this genre. This year, Robert Galbraith’s The Running Grave (the latest installment in the Cormoran Strike series) was a critically and popularly acclaimed novel which fit that description.