Best crime novel of 2022 shortlist

4 Mins read

We had no idea how popular the Crime Fiction Lover Awards would be when we launched them last year, but they’re back for 2022 and nominations have closed. Now it’s down to the final six in our Best Crime Novel category and as a crime fiction lover we welcome you to vote for your top pick. Simply click this link and complete the form.

This is the first of six categories in this year’s awards and you can see all the shortlists here. Below, we’re including more detail about each novel on the list – and what a list it is. This is like choosing your favourite child…

The Accomplice by Steve Cavanagh

The Accomplice by Steve Cavanagh front cover

New York Defence Attorney Eddie Flynn is now a firm favourite with legal thriller fans. The Accomplice is seventh in the series and the notorious serial killer, the Sandman, evades an FBI raid that ensnares his wife. Eddie and his team wind up defending her as Carrie is assumed to be the Sandman’s partner in crime. What they don’t realise is that the Sandman will stop at nothing to keep Carrie out of prison including murder and kidnap, after all that’s what he does. The stakes couldn’t be higher for Eddie – it’s all getting very personal. Cavanagh throws in a good measure of black humour to spice the pot but there are plenty of intriguing twists in this tense, utterly gripping and enjoyable thriller. Read our review here.
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The Locked Room by Elly Griffiths

The Locked Room by Elly Griffiths front cover

Last year’s winner in this category was Elly Griffiths and she’s back in the running with her 14th mystery featuring forensic archeologist Dr Ruth Galloway. It opens with an unnamed woman locked in a dark room, not knowing where she is or who put her there. We don’t know when this is, either. In February 2020, Ruth sorts through her late mother’s belongings to discover a black and white photo of a row of three cottages. ‘Dawn, 1963’”’ is written on the back in her mother’s hand. The middle cottage is Ruth’s house so this is a mystery for her to investigate. Meanwhile, DCI Harry Nelson is looking into the death of two local women, Samantha Wilson and Avril Flowers. The latter was discovered in a Locked Room. Griffiths generates a chilling atmosphere, using the pandemic to great effect, which also grounds the novel. Brilliant characters, a great sense of the Norfolk countryside and a clever, involving plot. Griffiths on top form. Read our review here.
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The Twist of a Knife by Anthony Horowitz

The Twist of a Knife by Anthony Horowitz front cover

Book four of Anthony Horowitz’s clever Hawthorne series begins with Horowitz, an active participant in the story, telling Daniel Hawthorne that he’s not interested in writing another book about the former Metropolitan police detective. He’s more focused on his play, Mindgame, which is about to open in the West End of London after successfully touring the UK. The opening night at the Vaudeville goes well but smarmy Sunday Times critic Harriet Throsby pans the play. When Throsby is stabbed to death, Horowitz is the prime suspect and suddenly he needs Hawthorn. Desperately. It’s a beautiful set-up for an immersive thriller. This is a complex case, but you’re unlikely to forget any particular detail because Horowitz writes in such a convincing, knowledgeable and downright interesting way. A Twist of the Knife is genius, just genius.
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City on Fire by Don Winslow

City on Fire by Don Winslow front cover

Organised crime and corruption are constants in Don Winslow. City on Fire is set in Providence, Rhode Island in 1986. Danny Ryan serves as tier two muscle for the Murphy clan. Then war between this Irish crew and the Italian competition breaks out during a beach party, a beautiful woman called Pam and bucket loads of wounded pride, greed and long held enmity erupt. Eventually, a Trojan Horse arrives in the form of a huge drugs heist with a whole lot of double-crossing attached. Don Winslow’s fluid storytelling, unforgettable characters and classical allusions make this a tantalising read. Danny is the hero of the tale and this is the opener for a trilogy that will roam across the United States. Winslow takes us inside the families involved with a depth few manage. He is a consummate storyteller, broad brush, fine detail, action, tension, raw emotion, tragedy – it’s all here to revel in. Read our review here.
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The Shadows of Men by Abir Mukherjee

Shadows of Men by Abir Mukherjee front cover

The fifth Wyndham and Banerjee by Abir Mukherjee mystery provides simply wonderful storytelling. The 1920s colonial India setting is rich and colourful but also ripe with all the best ingredients for a crime novel – injustice, intrigue, conflict and murder. As well as a feel for the streets of Calcutta, now Kolkata, we also get a sense of the religious and political tensions at play at the time. This reimagining of India, her people, troubles and burgeoning independence struggle, is about so much more than British colonialism, though the latter does cast a shadow over everything. The Shadows of Men is Surendranath Banerjee’s story although Sam Wyndham is apt to muscle in. This time Banerjee faces the hangman, accused of murder, after an undercover operation goes wrong. These two are a great pairing and the story fizzes with humour, intrigue and authenticity while the plot is intricate and twisting. Even if you read very little historical crime fiction, this is one of the best and highly recommended. Read our review for more.
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The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett

The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett front cover

After her bestselling debut novel The Appeal, Janice Hallett turns her attention to the sinister side of classic children’s literature in The Twyford Code. This is a compelling mystery with a tone strangely reminiscent of Golden Age crime novels yet principally using transcriptions of 200 audio files recorded on an old iPhone by ex-con Steven Smith. Around 40 years ago, Steven found a copy of Six on Goldtop Hill by Edith Twyford. According to his teacher, Miss Isles, Twyford’s books had been banned as a “nasty, sadistic, moral little tales full of pompous superiority at best and blatant racism at worst”. Steven and the other four students in miss Isles remedial class studied the banned book, even taking a trip to Twyford’s house in Bournemouth to tackle the Twyford code. Miss Isles was never seen again. In the present day, Steven investigates the mystery. He is an original and big-hearted character. His musings are insightful, sometimes heartrending and often amusing. The Twyford Code is a fiendishly clever puzzle mystery packed with plenty of twists and turns and a healthy dollop of red herrings. See our review here.
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Vote now for your crime novel of the year here.

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