Crime thrillers revolve around the act of a gruesome crime and the pursuit of justice for the victims. These stories emphasize the eventual triumph of good over evil.
They bank on the frustration of witnessing a crime and the satisfaction of justice being dispensed to create the heart-racing plots the genre is known for.
Best Crime Thriller Books of the Decade
If you love stories that feature long-buried secrets and cat-and-mouse games, then look no further than crime thrillers. Here is a list of some of the best crime thrillers that were published between 2010 and 2020!
1. Faithful Place by Tana French
In the past, 19-year-old Frank dreamed of running away from his family with his sweetheart Rosie. But the night they were supposed to escape, Rosie never showed. Frank has never been home since.
More than two decades later, Rosie’s luggage is found behind a fireplace in a derelict house in Frank’s old neighborhood. Now a detective, he’s left with no choice but to go back home if he ever wants to solve this mystery.
2. A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny
Clara Morrow has just finished celebrating her art show when she finds the body of a childhood friend, someone she hasn’t seen in years, in her garden.
A detective is called to investigate the murder but the community he finds himself in is brimming with lies and secrets where competition can easily turn lethal. He must rely on his instincts to discover the truth and survive.
3. Standing in Another Man’s Grave by Ian Rankin
Over the course of a decade, three women disappear from the same stretch of road. With nothing to go by, police investigations have long been ground to a halt.
Former detective John Rebus is the newest member of the cold case department. Unlike the others, he senses a connection between all three disappearances. But to solve the case, he must pit himself against opponents old and new.
4. Ghostman by Roger Hobbs
Jack is the Ghostman, a professional robber and master of disguise. Few know he exists and no one knows who he truly is.
After a casino robbery goes awry, he is called in to fix the mess. With only 48 hours to do so, he finds himself increasingly becoming visible not only to the FBI, but other interested parties. He must rely on every ounce of his skills to escape with the money and his life.
5. Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary
Detective Inspector Marnie Rome and her partner arrive at a women’s shelter to interview a woman who is witness to her brother’s attacking another man. There they find a man lying stabbed in the floor and his wife apparently in shock.
Both women soon disappear, one kidnapped by her brothers, the other taken by another victim of domestic abuse. As Rome investigates both cases, she must also deal with the ongoing effects of her parents’ violent murder five years ago.
6. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Rachel Watson, recovering alcoholic, likes to ride the train to clear her mind. From the train she frequently sees a couple — “Jason” and “Jess” — and occupies her time imagining how perfect their relation must be.
One day she sees Jess kissing another man, and Jess disappears shortly after that. In Rachel’s alcohol-addled mind is the key to Jess’s disappearance. But the clue she found may be more personal than she expects.
7. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Lo Blacklock, a travel journalist, is given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of classy guests. The sky is clear, the waters peaceful, and her fellow guests a joy to socialize with.
Halfway through the cruise, Lo witnesses a woman being thrown overboard; but every passenger is accounted for. The cruise continues on, but Lo can’t shake the feeling that something’s gone terribly wrong.
8. Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane
Former journalist Rachel Childs now lives as a virtual shut-in after her mental breakdown on live television. Good thing she’s married to Brian, the ideal husband every woman would die for.
Struggling to put down her inner demons, her journalistic instincts hone in on a possible mystery. As she tries to make the puzzle pieces fit, she begins to realize that Brian may not be who she thinks he is.
9. The Infinite Blacktop by Sara Gran
Claire DeWitt wakes up in an ambulance with the realization that someone’s just tried to kill her. As the world’s best detective, that’s something she can’t afford to let go, much less leave to the police.
To find the person who wants her dead, she needs to revisit her past, which is full of unsolved mysteries, rivalries, unrealized dreams, in addition to lost friends.
10. Conviction by Denise Mina
When Sophie Bukaran is raped by members of a beloved football team, her accusations threaten the team’s reputation. But that was long ago. Now she’s living under a different name, with a husband and two kids.
Complications leave her all alone again and she turns to creating a podcast as a way to cope. Her reappearance, and a new witness to her rape case, threatens a financial empire—one that’s not afraid of using violence to protect its reputation.
11. One Good Deed by David Baldacci
Aloysius Archer wants to start a new life after serving time. He settles in Poca City and starts work as a debt collector to business tycoon Hank.
Collecting a debt is harder than he thought. The indebted man has a grudge, Hank’s mistress has her own ideas about Archer, and a murder threatens to put him back in prison.
12. Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Corby
Bug has successfully left his dark past behind. Now he’s a loving family man with an honest business to look after.
But in the deep South, lingering racial prejudices means he’ll need to work much harder than others. As money gets tighter, a former associate invites him back into the world he left. To give his family a future, he must re-embrace his reputation as the best getaway driver there is.
What Is a Crime Thriller?
A crime thriller is a narrative where the central characters are involved in a crime. They are either part of the investigation, the victim, or the perpetrator.
This genre circles on the idea that wrongdoings must be avenged. Diabolical antagonists need to be caught and brought to justice.
Crime thrillers often open with a crime that must be solved, creating the outrage that motivates the characters. Fear and suspense are then generated by the possibility of future crime.
Why Is the Crime Genre So Popular?
Crime fiction is popular because it juxtaposes raw emotion and cold logic. We’re given a glimpse of three essential viewpoints: the investigator’s rational deductions; the culprit’s twisted justification of their crime, and the victim’s terror.
More importantly, crime thrillers are a study of human behavior. What makes serial killers and mass murderers commit such evil? How do investigators cope with having to think like their suspects to catch them? And how do the victim’s loved ones move on?
Cole is a blog writer and aspiring novelist. He has a degree in Communications and is an advocate of media and information literacy and responsible media practices. Aside from his interest in technology, crafts, and food, he’s also your typical science fiction and fantasy junkie, spending most of his free time reading through an ever-growing to-be-read list. It’s either that or procrastinating over actually writing his book. Wish him luck!