The Best Mystery, Thriller, and True Crime Books Out In May

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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.

Spring has sprung, and what better pairing to the beauty of nature than the ugly side of humans and crime? Or something. Listen, mystery readers stick with the genre all year ’round, in every weather — because someone has got to solve all these mysteries and puzzles, weather be damned. So whether you’ve taken your armchair reading outside or are still staying inside because spring just means allergy season for you, I’ve got a bunch of options for crime readers. This isn’t comprehensive: obviously publishing puts out a lot of crime books constantly (yay!), and it would be impossible to list it all. But I did aim for books to be excited for that cover various different reading moods and tastes — from cozy to heart pounding. 

This month I have for you a legal thriller (a real legal thriller that follows a full case from the point of view of the lawyers and jurors), a procedural with a little accidental time travel, a true crime memoir that takes a look at our National Parks, a cozy mystery with home renovation, a gothic mystery, historicals, and a thriller. Plus, for readers who wait until the paperback edition is out, I’ve got two excellent mysteries now out in paperback.

cover of The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas, with a photo of a woman with dark hair in a red dress standing in tall grass in front of a crumbling estate under ominous skies

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

For fans of the classic Rebecca and Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic, here’s a new gothic suspense novel. If your father had just been executed as your government was overthrown, would you ignore rumors about a man and his ex-wife’s demise because you need security he can offer you? That’s what Beatriz does, and clearly it’s not going to go great for her…

cover image for With Prejudice

With Prejudice by Robin Peguero

If you’re always looking for a new legal thriller to get sucked into, today’s your lucky day. And you don’t even have to wait long for the legal setting to start because the book opens with the jury. From there, it is solely focused on everyone involved in trying a case of a man accused of murdering a woman. You follow lawyers and jurors getting to know their past and present and how their experiences shape the way they view cases — plus, plenty of reveals to keep everyone on their toes!

cover image for The Bangalore Detectives Club

The Bangalore Detectives Club by Harini Nagendra

For historical mystery and cozy mystery fans, armchair travel to 1920s Bangalore, where newly married Kaveri ends up at a party that instead turns into a murder mystery. Soon she’s investigating the case herself using her logical brain, talent for mathematics, and the medical expertise of her husband.

cover image for Murder is Revealing

Murder Is Revealing (Write Club Mysteries #1) by Michelle Corbier

If you’re looking to start a new amateur sleuth series, here you go. Myaisha Douglas is a doctor who has joined a writing group only to have a fellow member, who is her friend, end up dead. Douglas, of course, puts herself on solving the case with her years of experience as an armchair detective who has read all the mystery books. But when secrets are revealed and the group is under investigation, will Douglas regret putting on her detective cap?

cover of Renovated to Death by Anthony Polito

Renovated to Death (Domestic Partners In Crime #1) by Frank Anthony Polito

Love cozy mysteries and home renovation shows? Here’s the start to a new series starring Peter and JP renovating a local Tudor Revival that has been inherited by identical twin brothers Terry and Tom Cash. But things definitely don’t go as planned when Tom is found dead, and the list of suspects only grows…

cover image for A Rip Through Time

A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong

Want a fictional serial killer, mixed with a police procedural, with a “how’d that time travel happen” twist? Great, because Kelley Armstrong, who writes the awesome Rockton series, has started a new series. Homicide detective, Mallory Atkinson, is in Edinburgh to be beside her dying grandmother. But after a strange night, she suddenly finds herself in Victorian Scotland, which is weird enough, but she’s also in the body of a housemaid named Catriona Mitchell. She’ll soon have a case, being that her employer is a medical examiner and has a murdered woman’s body on his hands.

cover image for Trailed

Trailed: One Woman’s Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders by Kathryn Miles

This is for readers of the new True Crime subgenre that blends memoir with crime. In the mid-nineties, Julie Williams and Lollie Winans were murdered in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park while backpacking. The case, which was handled by the FBI, remains a cold case despite having had an accused suspect. Kathryn Miles, who was a teacher years later at the college Winana attended, not only looks into the case and the women’s lives, but also takes a dive into the safety of National Parks.

cover image for Take Your Breath Away

Take Your Breath Away by Linwood Barclay

I look forward to new releases from Barclay, who has become a consistent popcorn thriller writer for me — i.e. fun, page-turners I inhale. And there’s always an interesting premise: Brie disappeared one day while her husband Andrew was on a fishing trip. So he became suspect number one. Six years later, after Andrew has finally tried to move on from the hell that his life became, Brie reappears screaming where their old home used to be, before promptly disappearing again. What happened to Brie then and now?

cover of Magic Lies and Deadly Pies by Misha Popp

Magic, Lies, and Deadly Pies by Misha Popp

A mystery for fans of Pushing Daisies? Yes, please, with a slice of pie on the side! And apparently murder too. There are a few routes one can take after accidentally killing a man with a pie. Daisy Ellery chose to make it a profession. As in, you can hire her to use her pies to kill bad men. Delicious murder anyone?

cover image for The Murder Rule

The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan

Fans of past and present storylines and legal thrillers should pick this one up. In the present, Hannah Rokeby lies her way into being a student working on an innocence project at the University of Virginia. She has a plan and needs to be on one of their cases. The past chapters comprise of us getting to read Hannah’s mother’s diary from the ’90s, when she was a cleaning woman in Maine. What has Hannah’s mother told her about her past that has her hellbent on revenge?

Now In Paperback

Cover of Ophie's Ghosts by Justina Ireland

Ophie’s Ghosts by Justina Ireland

This was one of 2021’s best mystery releases and it’s one of my all time favorite child characters in literature. After Ophie’s father is murdered and her mother moves them away, forcing Ophie to work instead of go to school, she discovers she can see ghosts. With the help of a relative, she’ll have to learn to use this gift when a new friend at the home she’s working at clearly needs to solve how she came to no longer be of the living. Come for the mystery, stay to fall in love with Ophie.

cover image for The Bombay Prince

The Bombay Prince (Perveen Mistry #3) by Sujata Massey

This is the third release in this great historical mystery series which follows Perveen Mistry, one of the first female solicitors in India. If you want to start at the beginning, pick up The Widows of Malabar Hill for all the character’s personal life bits, but you won’t be lost starting with the third book. There is unrest before Edward VIII, Prince of Wales’s visit to Bombay to start a four-month tour. A young Parsi college student had sought guidance on a school matter questioning what they could force students to do and not do regarding protests. Now she’s dead. Perveen questions the timing, having just spoken with her on legal matters, so when the coroner rules her death a murder, Perveen offers her legal services to the family.

Happy mystery reading! And if your TBR is still not satisfied, check out April’s Mystery/Thriller/True Crime new releases, and here are even more crime reads.