Meike’s Top 10 Mystery Reads of 2019

2019 was a fantastic year for crime fiction and I constantly found myself rearranging my TBR pile in an attempt to read as many books as possible. Below are a few I particularly enjoyed—I hope you’ll check them out!


  1. The Swallows by Lisa Lutz

I’ve been a huge fan of Lutz’s work since The Spellman Files series so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one. New teacher Alex Witt arrives at a second tier boarding school and uncovers secrets that have the potential to destroy the school, but Alex has secrets of her own and an unknown enemy who may know a little too much about them. This is a twisted and timely female revenge fantasy, and a must-read for fans of MysteryPeople darling Megan Abbott.

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  1. Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha

Cha brings a unique perspective to racial conflicts in L.A. while spinning a propulsive noir mystery. In the wake of yet another policy shooting involving a black teenager, a shocking crime brings together two families—one African-America, the other Korean-American immigrants—who are forced to deal with a long-buried secret. An explosive and dark thriller that you’re going to see on just about every top 10 list this year!

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  1. Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

Pampered Jewish housewife Maddie Schwartz walks out on her family, determined to create a life with meaning. She helps the police solve a murder which leads to a job with the afternoon newspaper. When the body of a young black woman is found floating in a park, Maddie seizes the opportunity to make a name for herself by reporting on the investigation. What I loved most about this one is the unique structure—the story is told from the shifting viewpoints of a variety of characters which only someone as gifted as Lippman can weave so seamlessly.

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  1. The Book Artist by Mark Pryor

The first book in Pryor’s Paris-based Hugo Marston series, The Bookseller, is perhaps the single title I find myself recommending more than any other—I love this series and want everyone to discover it! It features the straight-laced Texan Hugo—a former FBI profiler who now works as head of security for the US embassy in Paris—and his free-wheeling, hard-drinking, womanizing best fried Tom (who steps in to help out when less reputable crime-solving methods are necessary). In The Book Artist, bibliophile Hugo attends an art installation of sculptures created solely from rare books. When a museum guest is brutally murdered, Hugo steps in to help the police solve the murder—a task that gains urgency when they arrest someone whom Hugo feels quite certain is innocent. Meanwhile Tom has gotten himself into a difficult situation in Amsterdam, one that only Hugo can help resolve.

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  1. Never Look Back by Alison Gaylin

In the 1970’s, a teenage couple go on a 13-day crime spree which leaves a dozen victims dead before the killers die in a fire. But modern day true crime podcaster Quentin—whose own life was affected by the killings–has reason to believe that the female killer may have survived and sets out to find her. Meanwhile NYC film columnist Robin Diamond is dealing with her own issues—but when she gets a phone call from Quentin and then her home is broken into, she has to confront the fact that she may not know her mother as well as she thought. Gaylin weaves the various storylines, some of which are told in flashbacks and letters, brilliantly—we’re huge fans of hers over here at MysteryPeople and love getting her books into our customers’ hands.

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  1. My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

The lovely Millicent and her husband seem to have it all—a beautiful home in a prestigious gated community, successful careers, 2 great kids, and a marriage of over 15 years–but things have gotten a little stale in the bedroom. Most couples take a vacation or buy some “toys”—but this couple finds murder to be the best aphrodisiac. Any book that combines sex and murder is not to be missed!

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  1. Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Ware is a master of suspense and this latest is her thoroughly modern take on Henry James Turn of the Screw. London nanny Rowan Caine is looking for something completely different online when she stumbles across a dream job—private nanny to a family living in a luxurious Scottish Highlands manse. But the dream dissolves into a nightmare when one of the children dies and Rowan is arrested and charged with murder. Told in the form of letters Rowan writes to an attorney from prison, explaining the events leading up to the tragedy, Ware builds the suspense slowly and then ends with some gut-wrenching twists.

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  1. Last Woman Standing by Amy Gentry

Gentry wowed us with her debut, Good as Gone, and her sophomore effort is every bit as thrilling. Latina stand-up comic Dana Diaz is struggling to make it in a comedy scene dominated by men and rife with sexual harassment. One night she fends off a particularly vulgar heckler, and audience member Amanda offers to buy her a congratulatory drink. One drink leads to many as the women bond over shared stories of injustice and misogyny—and the evening ends with the women striking a kind of Strangers on a Train deal that has a distinct #MeToo flavor. Gentry shines a harsh light on the myriad inequalities women face every day while spinning a well-plotted tale that will have you ripping through the pages.

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  1. Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

We’re always so excited when our local Austin authors garner national attention and were thrilled when Baker’s adult debut (she’s published 5 YA novels) was chosen as the July pick for Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine book club (side note—the September pick was The Secrets We Kept by Austin author Lara Prescott!) A group of female coworkers sue an executive in their Dallas athleisure firm for sexual harassment, but when he falls to his death from the 18th floor it isn’t immediately clear whether he jumped or was helped over the edge. This one is a timely examination of the many facets of workplace inequality explored in the context of a keep-you-up-past-your-bedtime thriller.

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  1. The Right Sort of Man by Alison Montclair

In post WWII London, 2 very different women—one an aristocratic war widow with a young son to support, the other a tough and impetuous young woman with considerable street smarts—start The Right Sort Marriage Bureau in an effort to establish some independence while also bringing joy to a town still suffering the ravages of war. But when their newest client is found murdered—and the man they matched her with is arrested and charged with her death—their new livelihood is threatened and the women launch their own investigation to clear their client and restore the reputation of their flegling enterprise. Each brings a unique set of skills to the task, but what I loved most about this book is the snappy dialogue—both smart and funny, it kept me tearing through the pages and now I’m completely in love with the characters and hope there’s more to come in what promises to be a fantastic series.

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Meike is a part-time bookseller and full-time mystery reader at BookPeople. You can find her top 10 titles in-store and online now.

And be sure to let us know what you thought of this list! Is there anything you’d like to add to add? Did you discover something new?

What Meike Read Over the Summer

The outside temps have made it clear that summer is seemingly going to stay FOREVER, and what’s the best way to chill in the summer heat? You know it: flop down under the nearest ceiling fan and grab a book—one so riveting that you simply cannot leave that lovely breeze. Below are a few I’ve enjoyed recently—you have plenty of time to check them out before sweater weather!


The Swallows by Lisa Lutz:  I’ve been a huge fan of Lutz’s work since The Spellman Files series so I was thrilled that she had a new book out and couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one. It’s set in a second-tier boarding school and begins when new teacher9781984818232_b9eeb Alex Witt arrives and starts to uncover secrets that have the potential to destroy the school. But Alex has secrets of her own, and an unknown enemy who may know a little too much about them. I can’t say much more without revealing spoilers—suffice to say that this completely original thriller is almost impossible to summarize and not to be missed. It’s definitely going to be in my top 10 for 2019!

The Whisper Network by Chandler Baker: Austin author Chandler Baker’s adult debut (she’s published 5 YA novels) was chosen as the July pick for Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine book club. It’s a thriller about a group of female coworkers who sue a male executive in their Dallas firm for sexual harassment.  When he falls to his death from the 18th floor it’s not clear whether he’s committed suicide—or perhaps been helped on his way.  A timely examination of the myriad facets of workplace inequality explored in the context of a thriller.

9780062390011_29ce7Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman: After last year’s Sunburn, I felt like my summer wouldn’t be complete without a Lippman thriller—and this one didn’t disappoint. In 1966 Baltimore, pampered Jewish housewife “Maddie” Schwartz walks out on her husband, determined to carve out a life with meaning. She helps the police solve a murder, which leads to a job at the afternoon newspaper. When the body of a young black woman is found floating in a park, Maddie sees an opportunity to make a name for herself by reporting on the investigation. What I loved most about this one was the unique structure—the story is told from the shifting viewpoints of a number of characters but the narrative is seamlessly woven

Never Look Back by Alison Gaylin:  Any true crime podcast addicts out there? This is one you’ll love! True crime podcaster Quentin Garrison examines a killing spree that took place more than 40 years ago—one to which he has a personal connection. The teenage killers were believed to have died in a fire, but Quentin has reason to believe that April Cooper may be alive. Shortly after he contacts the woman he believes may be April, she is almost killed in a brutal home invasion. While she lies in a coma, her daughter is forced to confront how little she really knows about her mother’s past—a realization that makes her question who her mother really is. Could she have been that teenage girl who was at least partially responsible for the murders of a dozen victims?

Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware: Ware is a master of suspense, and this is her modern9781501188770_a23de take on Henry James’ Turn of the Screw. London nanny Rowan Caine is looking for something completely different online when she stumbles across the job of her dreams—private nanny to a family living in a luxurious Scottish Highlands manse. But the dream quickly becomes a nightmare when one of the children dies and Rowan is arrested for murder. The story is told in the form of letters Rowan writes to an attorney as she explains the events leading up to the tragedy. The suspense builds slowly and then ends with some gut-wrenching twists.

Someone We Know by Shari Lapena: This book starts with a bang when a brutal murder takes place in the first chapter. The story then shifts pace when we learn about the idyllic suburb in upstate New York where the victim lived.  All is not quite as it seems and the tension builds slowly as Lapena gradually uncovers hidden secrets—it appears any number of people may have had a reason to kill the victim. The slow burn builds to a satisfyingly explosive conclusion.

9780451491725_8d9cbMy Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing: The lovely Millicent and her husband seem to have it all—a beautiful home in a prestigious gated community; successful careers (he’s the country club tennis pro and she’s a realtor); 2 great kids; a marriage of over 15 years. But things have gotten a little stale in the bedroom. Normal people take a vacation or buy sex toys—this couple finds that getting away with murder is the best aphrodisiac. Any book that combines sex and murder is not to be missed!

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager: This was one of the most anticipated books of the summer and it certainly lives up to the hype! New Yorker Jules Larsen is desperate for money and a place to live, and she thinks she’s found the perfect solution—an apartment-sitting gig at the exclusive Bartholomew. All she has to do is live in a vacant apartment for 3 months and pick up a $12,000 paycheck. Sound too good to be true? I think you know it is. The plot is super twisty and you won’t see the end coming in a million years.’


Meike is a part-time bookseller and event staffer at BookPeople with a penchant for thrilling reads. Her picks and many more like them can be found at BookPeople in-store and online now!