Under-the-Radar 2020 Mystery/Thrillers Not To Miss

This content contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Jamie Canaves

Contributing Editor

Jamie Canavés is the Tailored Book Recommendations coordinator and Unusual Suspects mystery newsletter writer–in case you’re wondering what you do with a Liberal Arts degree. She’s never met a beach she didn’t like, always says yes to dessert, loves ‘80s nostalgia, all forms of entertainment, and can hold a conversation using only gifs. You can definitely talk books with her on Litsy and Goodreads. Depending on social media’s stability maybe also Twitter and Bluesky.

This post was originally published in our mystery/thriller newsletter, Unusual Suspects. Sign up for it here to get mystery news, reviews, deals, and more!

Hello mystery fans! This is the time of year where I would normally do a roundup of my favorite books of the second half of 2020—following the first half of 2020 favorite list I did. But I just can’t. I keep sitting down to do it. Or trying to start a list on my phone. Thinking about it while walking the goat and I keep circling back to the fact that I didn’t read anywhere near as many books as I usually do this year. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have an end of year list for you.

I have some great books that came out this year that don’t have a lot of reviews/ratings, and no, that is not an indication of the quality of the book. Most likely, these books didn’t get a lot of publicity. Just as a book that had the whole marketing train behind it, and everyone read it, and you’re like, “eh,” the same happens in reverse. There are super good books that just haven’t crossed enough radars. So read these books.

Execution in E (Gethsemane Brown Mysteries #5) by Alexia Gordon

If any year were to need a cozy mystery marathon read, it would be this-year-I-refuse-to-name. Anyhoo, this is a fun series with a helpful ghost that will let you armchair travel to Ireland. (Review)

The Boy in the Red Dress by Kristin Lambert

If you’re so absolutely over this year that you’d like to be immediately transported into another, enjoy New Year’s Eve 1929 in a New Orleans speakeasy. Don’t mind the murder. (Review)

What You Don’t See (Cass Raines #3) by Tracy Clark

This is a recent P.I. series with an ex-cop lead who is still friends with her ex-partner, manages the apartment complex she lives in, and has a nun for a friend. Every book has been a satisfying mystery, with a character I enjoy spending time with, that leaves me wanting the next book. And if you want a marathon, three books is totally doable. (Review)

Three by D.A. Mishani, Jessica Cohen (Translation)

I very much recommend getting to know Mishani’s work, and his latest is perfect for fans of suspense who don’t want to know the ride they’re on until it’s too late. (Review)

I Hope You’re Listening by Tom Ryan

This was so intense towards the end that it successfully transported me from an IRL tense world to a fictional one where I was yelling (out loud like anyone could hear me), “Look out!” If you like YA mysteries with true crime podcasts, enjoy! (Review)

A Deadly Inside Scoop cover

A Deadly Inside Scoop (Ice Cream Parlor Mystery #1) by Abby Collette

A cozy with a ton of descriptions of ice cream I needed to get in my pie hole immediately. The bonus for me, this year, was that it had a really nice family and was very low on drama, meanness, etc, even though there was a dead body. (Review)

Vera Kelly Is Not A Mystery (Vera Kelly #2) by Rosalie Knecht

Knecht started the series with a spy novel unlike the rest and now transitioned into a P.I. series, both books focusing on history rarely used in historical fiction. If you like character driven books, the series is great; if you need more speed, start with the sequel. Either way if you need a fresh, new voice, grab these books. (Review)

premeditated myrtle book cover

Premeditated Myrtle (Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries #1) by Elizabeth C. Bunce

And here is an absolutely delightful historical British mystery following a teen detective with a passion for criminal science. Think Enola Holmes and Flavia de Luce levels of enjoyable. (Review)