Best Debut Crime Novels of the Year: 2022 ‹ CrimeReads

The editors of CrimeReads make their selections for the best first-time crime, crime, and thriller novels.

Katie Gutiérrez, More than you will ever know
(William Morrow)

This book is filled with so much love. Lore Rivera has everything a woman wants: a husband who loves her, two kids who work hard to succeed, and a career that values ​​her. When her husband’s business falls into a recession, she finds herself suppressing her own success to make her husband feel better about her. Meanwhile, she meets another man in Mexico City who finds her success exciting. Soon enough, she has two husbands; soon after, one husband finds out and kills the other. Forty years later, a real-life crime reporter becomes obsessed with the case and convinces Lore to finally agree to an interview that lays everything bare. A fascinating meditation on love, career and family that is also a stunning turntable. –MO

Brendan Slocumb, The Violin Conspiracy
(Yet)

What an absolutely perfect mystery The Violin Conspiracy is, and one that delves into the history of race and inequality in America in its investigation of a seemingly simple crime. A classical violinist-often the only black player included in elite musical ensembles-discovers that his violin, a family heirloom, is a rare Stradivarius once given to his ancestor by a slave owner. After discovering the now astronomical value of the violin, the descendants of the slaver family decide to sue the violinist to recover “their” property. Meanwhile, the violin itself is stolen and it falls to the musician to prove ownership of it and recover the stolen instrument. The ending will shock you. But perhaps the ending shouldn’t be so surprising, given the extremes white supremacy will go to to justify pre-existing inequalities or secure a place at the top. –MO

White Adam, The middle coast
(Hogart)

White’s debut is a taut family drama punctuated by pages and pages of insightful and poignant observations that add up to something bigger than the (always compelling) story. The lush setting doesn’t hurt either. A high school English teacher accepts a weekend visit to see old friends, Ed and Steph Thatch, who have experienced an incredible and somewhat unlikely rise up the ranks of Maine society, to the point where they are hosting an extravagant reception for the ‘Amherst lacrosse team. Wandering the sprawling estate, our protagonist finds some deeply disturbing photographs, looking even more suspicious a short while later, when the state police show up to crash the party, and he’s soon launched into an investigation into exactly how his old friends pool their new fortune and what they were willing to do to keep it. With The middle coastWhite reclaimed himself as a gifted observer of American privilege and corruption, a fine literary tradition that lagged behind his Maine epic. –DM

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Isabel Canas, The Hacienda
(Berkley)

Isabel Canas brings the gothic novel to the haciendas, just like that of Sylvia Moreno-Garcia mexican gothic he took over the history of silver mining and imperialism. In The Hacienda, set just after the Mexican War of Independence, heroine Beatriz is dispossessed of her family fortune after her father’s fall from political grace and subsequent execution. She finds a husband who she believes will elevate her status and protect her mother from persecution, but strange happenings at her new estate and ghost rumors threaten to derail her new life, and a sexy local priest who becomes a witch in the moonlight it is his only hope. survival. Lush, beautiful and completely deserving of comparisons Rebecca, La Hacienda it is essential reading in the Gothic Revival. –MO

Samantha Allen, Patricia wants to cuddle
(Zando)

This is the Sasquatch lesbian novel you’ve always wanted. A group of finalists for a Bachelor-style show travel to a remote island in British Columbia to film the final episodes of the competition. While there, they meet a female Bigfoot and her circle of admirers, and those who don’t (as they should) are ripped apart because this is the baddest book imaginable. By the way, Patricia is the Sasquatch. The editor describes it as “ugly funny”, but I also thought it was a little sweet. I’d give Patricia a cuddle. –MO

Eli Cranor, I do not know hard
(Soho)

Cranor’s debut novel is one of the most powerful noirs of recent years, a finely chiseled slice of upside-down Americana and a deeply felt study of the bonds that bind and divide us. Small-town Arkansas football is the setting, so you know the stakes will be high, but Cranor brings so many moments of quiet, sharp grace to his story. Terror is allowed to build subtly in the background, until suddenly you’re drowning it out. The story is built with sturdy, overlapping fabrics: the outsider coach, the tough player with talent and demons, the city and its desire to win, with all the violence and anguish that implies: all these human moments come together sensationally to produce a story that is truly shocking, told in rich, compelling and finely crafted language. Cranor proves himself a first-rate craftsman and author whose stories we will anticipate for years to come. –DM

Harini Nagendra, Bangalore detective club
(Pegasus)

A truly auspicious start to a new series featuring an amateur sleuth, Kaveri, operating in 1920s Bangalore, aided by her sharp mind, her husband’s medical practice and preconceptions of who she should be and where she should go. Her first case comes from a murder in a distinguished club, which points to a nearby brothel and a wealthy Englishman, an investigation which allows Nagendra to display her skills as a social critic and first-rate mystery novelist. –DM

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Grace D. Li, Portrait of a thief
(Small repairs)

There are a lot of good art thrillers coming out this year, but… Portrait of a thief it’s that rare, perfectly executed heist that reminds us why we love to pair art and crime. When thieves take 23 priceless works of Chinese art from Harvard’s Sackler Gallery (now renamed), a nearby Chinese-American student witnesses the crime and finds himself invited to join a gang dedicated to returning art to his nations of origin or otherwise to free the stolen artifacts of colonialism. Which means this book is going to be very, very, good. –MO

Samantha Jayne Allen Pay dirt road
(Minotaur)

A young woman back home in a small Texas town adrift, working waitressing shifts and waiting for the next chunk of life to come rushing along, joins her supposedly retired grandfather as a private investigator. That’s the intriguing setting for this powerful new novel by Samantha Jayne Allen, a major new talent on the crime fiction scene, whose evocative descriptions of the Texas landscape and menacing atmosphere create a new kind of noir you won’t soon forget. Get a copy of Pay dirt road now and I expect to hear a lot more from Samantha Jayne Allen in the future. –DM

Dwyer Murphy, An honest life
(Viking)

A rain-splashed love letter to a bygone New York, a tongue-in-cheek homage to a genre classic, and a delightful neo-noir meta opus, Dwyer Murphy’s brilliantly confident debut is the story of an unwitting lawyer turned private eye who becomes entangled in a crime of obsession between a reclusive author and her antiquarian bookseller husband. The mystery is beautifully constructed, the writing crackles on every page, and Murphy’s portrayal of early 2000s New York City is nothing short of exquisite. If you’re looking to lose yourself in an intelligent, atmospheric literary crime novel this winter, An honest life will not disappoint. [Murphy is an editor at CrimeReads, a sister site of Lit Hub’s] –Dan Sheehan, Bookmarks Editor at Lit Hub

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