Best mysteries 2021
Hello again my lovely little Internet friends! Here is another wrap-up, end-of-year list for you today as we continue the countdown to the best books of 2021 all told: today I am giving you my favourite mysteries of the year. Most of these are detective mysteries, since I love a good traditional classic murder mystery puzzle; but hopefully some of these will appeal to you for when you want to armchair sleuth.
So, without any further waffling, please read on for my seven favourite mystery reads of 2021.
The Guest List, by Lucy Foley: A locked-room puzzle on a remote island during a very elite wedding. Can't talk much about this without giving the game away, but it's very well-written, very dark, and suitably compelling. I was intrigued enough by this book to want to read more of Foley's other locked-room mysteries, but I think this one might be her best (it's certainly her most critically well-received) and I highly recommend it.
The Murder at the Vicarage, by Agatha Christie: The first in the Miss Marple series, and potentially the best one as well (although 4.50 from Paddington is, in my opinion, a close second). This is Agatha Christie at her best - witty, wry, observational, and a searingly clever murder with an equivalently clever amateur detective; with an unforgettable cast of secondary and tertiary characters. I highly, highly recommend.
The Man Who Died Twice, by Richard Osman: The second book in the Thursday Murder Club series was a vast improvement on the first (I think Osman has significantly matured as a writer since, or maybe he got a better editor). Featuring a ragtag group of unlikely septuagenarian who take on international gangs and solve crimes. Fluffy, wonderful, good fun - while still being a compelling mystery. Reviewed here.
The Silver Pigs, by Lindsey Davis: A fun historical mystery! A private eye perambulates in Ancient Rome! With an actually good, interesting puzzle as the central plot point! Forbidden love! Political corruption! What more does anybody want? Reviewed in full here.
L'été tous les chats s'ennuient, by Phillippe Georget: A good, contemporary detective novel in the more 'traditionalist classic' vein - and the central character was psychologically complex and nuanced enough that I've bought the other three books in the tetralogy while in France (sidenote: I have 22 books that I need to bring back to London with me; RIP my wallet after that overweight luggage charge) and am quite looking forward to reading them. Reviewed in full here. English translation available here.
The Echo Wife, by Sarah Gailey: A science-fiction-y thriller that was both thought-provoking and so incredibly gripping I read it in one sitting, unable to put it down. It was, in fact, so good that I considered it in my list of best books of 2021. As it is, I think you should go read this book immediately and if you haven't yet, why the fuck not? Reviewed here.
The Montalbano mysteries, by Andrea Camilleri: I've written enough recently about these that I don't feel like I need to go into more detail. Basically, this is a wonderful series of detective novels that are as much about food, friendship, how to age gracefully and critiques of Italy's politics and society in the 1990s and early 2000s as they are good, clever mysteries with interesting psychological twists and original motives and dénouements. The first one, The Shape of Water, isn't the strongest in my opinion of the eleven I've gotten through so far - so I would highly recommend that you stick with them beyond the first, as they get better and better and I'm so pleased I've rediscovered Inspector Montalbano this year and his gang of ragtag, melodramatic, slightly ridiculous Sicilian fellow detectives.
There you have it, folks. That's all she wrote (murder, that is). Hopefully some of these strike your fancy and we can continue armchair sleuthing together in the new year!