What is Dueling Detectives you may ask?
Dueling Detectives is a monthly library program I co-host with my co-worker and fellow mystery lover, Adena. We join virtually as we pit two fictional literary detectives together and ask our audience members who would solve the case first. We have been doing this for close to two years, and we have a lot of fun doing them!
But last year, we decided to list our favorite mysteries of the year, and we did again this year! We decided to share our favorites on social media and in a blog post, so here we are!
Between both of us, Adena and I have read about 52 books in 2023, so we had a lot of mysteries and thrillers to choose from. However, the following books are the best of what 2023 offers. So here are the Dueling Detectives duo’s top 10 mysteries of 2023 so far:
The Trap by Catherine Ryan Howard
Adena: A unique twist of a missing woman thriller. Based on the real-life disappearance of multiple women in Ireland, this book is readable and twisty.
Me: A heart-stopping thriller that is exciting from beginning to end. Based on the real-life disappearances of women in Ireland in the 90s, this latest book by Howard gives her readers the thrills and chills that she always brings to her readers but also combines it with a relevant commentary on how the media handles women’s disappearances.
The Last Word by Taylor Adams
Adena: A fast-paced slasher thriller following a woman who writes a negative review on a book only to be terrorized by the author. I loved the premise of this book and thought it had a great plot that was meta and original.
Perfectly Nice Neighbors by Kia Abdullah
Me: This domestic thriller is about the dynamic and ongoing
battle between neighbors, giving readers a suspenseful and exciting conclusion they won’t see coming. The commentary about race and social media is relatable to the world we live in. The battle between these neighbors may make readers think twice about moving to the suburbs.
The Nigerwife by Vanessa Walters
Adena: What could be a generic domestic thriller is elevated by a vibrant setting that becomes its character and an examination of a unique social world. When Nicole moved to Lagos with her wealthy husband, she joined the Nigerwives, an exclusive club of foreign women married to rich Nigerian men. Her perfect life is shattered when she disappears, and it is up to her estranged aunt to investigate.
Me: I loved the family dynamic and the realism presented here. Not only does it provide a twist towards the end, but it leaves open-ended questions that the reader can interpret on their own terms. Claudine is an amateur sleuth in finding out what happened to her niece. Still, it is not how amateur sleuths are usually depicted in fiction but represented uniquely and realistically.
Murder In The Family by Cara Hunter
Me: This is an excellent read for readers and fans of the true crime genre. It is not only an epistolary novel that is fast-paced and engaging but is full of twists and turns that invite the reader on to chase of who the real culprit is. I also like the social commentary on how far true crime voyeurism can be exploited for monetary and popularity reasons.
Adena: With epistolary crime novels quickly becoming played out, I am happy to say I enjoyed this one. Told mainly through transcripts or a true crime series that details a 20-year-old cold case, this book avoided many of the pitfalls of its contemporaries. I found it easy to follow and liked the newspaper articles that summarized the chapters, and I especially enjoyed the internet threads discussing the series.
Red Queen by Juan Gómez Jurado
Adena: A modern Sherlock & Watson take on Spanish crime. Despite being a thriller that at times get gorey, this book has a good sense of humor that sets it apart from other thrillers.
Me: Antonia Scott is a mixture of Temperance Brennan and Sherlock Holmes. Readers will love this fast-paced thriller/espionage that makes for one exciting page-turner. You are left with a thrilling conclusion that gives a setup for the next book in the series.
A Half-Baked Murder by Emily George
After a scathing food review and a messy breakup, a formally trained pastry chef returns home to California to launch a cannabis bakery with her quirky Aunt Dawn, in the first novel of a new series.
Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice For Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto
Adena: A medium cozy following a ragtag group brought together by the inimitable Vera Wong, tea shop owner and amateur sleuth. While the mystery took a back seat to the characters personal lives I still found this book to be readable and engaging.
Broadway Butterfly by Sara Divello
Me: I found this to be one exciting and intense historical mystery. You can tell that the author did her research because you, as the reader, feel that you are being transported straight to the 1920s New York City. You also find how history has a knack of repeating itself because you constantly see murder cases, mainly with female victims, are not provided justice, and this detailed and descriptive mystery tries to give the infamous “Broadway Butterfly” the justice she didn’t get in the past. Perfect for readers who love historical mysteries jampacked with details and accuracy.
Silver Nitrate by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
I am obsessed with this book! A horror movie buff and her best friend get tangled up with a Nazi occultist ghost in Mexico City when they try to finish a lost film. This book is undoubtedly part ghost story, but, as it goes on and people get murdered, it is also a solid mystery. Please read!
- The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett
- The Drift by C.J. Tudor
- Someone Else’s Life by Lyn Liao Butler
- Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson