April New Releases: Mystery/Thriller/True Crime

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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.

It’s a new month and that means that a ton of new crime books (mystery, thriller, suspense, and true crime) are being released because our TBR lists are meant to be never ending. I for one would panic if I ever ran out of books to read! Absolutely no one wants that. Which is why I’ve selected a bunch of new April releases that I think you should absolutely have on your radar, snag a copy of, and/or kindly ask your library to get. I’ve kept in mind various mystery, thriller, and true crime reading tastes so there’s a little bit of everything on this list.

You’ll find some YA, historical mysteries (one with a Jane Austen twist, knowledge of classics not necessary), cozies with witches (for fans of Practical Magic), dark academia (not one, but two new releases!), a mystery for word fans (Scrabble is still hot, Wordle be damned), return-home mystery, and even a museum heist. And as a bonus, for paperback lovers, I’ve added some now-in-paperback excitement for some of last year’s excellent hardcover releases. Select your favorite snacks, drink, and pick your place to hunker down to read because here are your April mystery releases to know.

cover of Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf, featuring a painting of a young woman in a hajib, surrounded by Scrabble tiles

Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf (April 19, 2022)

If you ever thought “I need me a mystery set amongst competitive scrabble competitions with a teen solving a friend’s death” then you’re gonna flip your tiles over this title. Trina Low is dead, leaving the Scrabble Queen title open. But now her should-be-inactive Instagram account is posting cryptic messages questioning Low’s death. Now Low’s best friend, Najwa Bakri, needs to figure out what really happened to Low and who is behind the posts…
Bonus: for learning new words, and all the word game play in the book.

cover image for Portrait of a Thief

Portrait of a Thief Grace D. Li

If you’re a fan of heists and books inspired by history then this one is for you. Will Chen is an art history major in his senior year at Harvard who has decided he is going to steal back the spoils of war, conquered through colonialism, that museums proudly exhibit. Why? Because a Chinese corporation has tapped him to help steal back five priceless Chinese sculptures which were previously looted from Beijing. And so he puts together a crew with the dangling carrot of $50 million and righting history. But will they succeed?

book cover for Deceptive Justice

Deceptive Justice (Victoria Justice Mysteries #2) by Andrea J. Johnson

For fans of legal thrillers. Court stenographer Victoria Justice finds herself having to investigate a bombing. After the courthouse is evacuated, due to a suspicious package, a government official is killed in a car explosion. It’s quickly tied to an arsonist but Justice doesn’t believe this theory. She thinks she was the real target all along…
If you want to start at the beginning of the series, pick up Poetic Justice.

Book cover for One-Shot Harry

One-Shot Harry by Gary Phillips (April 12, 2022)

If you’re looking for a historical mystery not set in the 1800s, here you go. Set in 1963 Los Angeles, we follow freelance photographer and sometimes process server Harry Ingram, who is a Korean War vet. He recognizes his friend’s car over a police scanner call of a fatal accident and shows up, taking photos. It’s deemed an accident but Ingram’s photos point in a different direction, sending him into the path of being a detective to figure out what really happened.

book cover for Sense and Second-Degree Murder

Sense and Second-Degree Murder (Jane Austen Murder Mystery #2) by Book Riot Contributing Editor Tirzah Price

If you ever wanted to watch Jane Austen’s characters solve mysteries you should 100% be reading these books. We follow as 18-year-old Elinor Dashwood finds her father dead in his office. Due to an outdated will, Elinor’s sister Marianne, who worked as her father’s partner and protégé, won’t get the business, but rather their half-brother will. Finding evidence of foul play, Elinor and Marianne team up to find their father’s killer…

book cover for Pay Dirt Road

Pay Dirt Road by Samantha Jayne Allen (April 19, 2022)

This is for fans of missing persons and small-town mysteries. Set in Garnett, Texas, we follow Annie McIntyre, who is home from college and waitressing. When a fellow waitress at the cafe goes missing, Annie teams up with her grandfather Leroy, a retired sheriff turned private investigator, to find out what happened. It’s a small-town mystery, though, so you know Annie is gonna have to deal with her past and the town’s secrets…

When the Crow's Away cover

When the Crow’s Away (Evenfall Witches B&B #2) by Auralee Wallace

If you like cozies, small town mysteries, and witches, this recent series is for you. Also, the family dynamic has all the Practical Magic vibes. Brynn Warren is working at her aunts’ bed and breakfast and using her powers again when the ghost of a chocolatier needs her help in uncovering who murdered him. Except it has not been ruled a murder, so Warren is gonna have a lot of work on her hands — while also dealing with her meddling aunts. If you want to start at the beginning, pick up In The Company of Witches.

Very Bad People cover image

Very Bad People by Kit Frick

In need of some dark academia? Look no further.

Boarding school — check!
Mother’s mysterious death — check!
Secret society — check!
Dangerous game of revenge — check!

All the things you want in dark academia!

Why Would I Lie cover image

Why Would I Lie? by Adi Rule

More dark academia, you say? Your wish is my command. This time we have one valedictorian spot and two contenders. But is one a charming sociopath? Guess the other will just have to take him out…

cover image for Junk Science

Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System by M. Chris Fabricant

For fans of true crime books that follow the Innocence Project, or any other organization that works to free wrongly convicted people. This book investigates how forensic scientists have been mythologized in popular culture and follows three cases, focusing on how what they refer to as junk science was used instead of credible forensics.

cover image for I'll Be You

I’ll Be You by Janelle Brown (April 26, 2022)

Identical twins Sam and Elli were child stars and inseparable growing up. Now, as adults, they haven’t spoken in a year. Elli has a seemingly “perfect” life while Sam is still struggling. But Sam gets a call from their father saying it turns out Elli’s life isn’t that perfect and after checking into a mysterious spa, no one has heard from her…

And Now In Paperback

Murder on the Red River cover image

Murder On the Red River by Marcie R. Rendon (April 11, 2017)

If you waited for the paperback release, or this hadn’t been on your radar, absolutely grab this great character-driven mystery series. This is set in the Red River, one side in Minnesota and the other in North Dakota, in the 1970s. We a follow a 19-year-old Chippewa woman, Renee Blackbear, who is known as Cash. After a car accident when she was a toddler, she created a bond with Sheriff Wheaton who has tried to look out for her and who now needs her help in solving cases. Also be sure to pick up the sequel Girl Gone Missing. And I can’t wait for the third book, Sinister Graves, to release this fall!

Book cover of While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams

While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams

If you’ve been craving a political thriller, here’s one by Stacey Abrams that takes you into the supreme court. Justice Howard Wynn is in a coma and, shocking everyone, he left his law clerk Avery Keene power of attorney. It’s up to her to figure out why, and what cases may be connected to his situation…
Not only are we getting more books in the series but we’re also getting a TV adaptation!

Can’t ever get your fill of new mystery reads? Check out the Best Thriller Books to Read in 2022 and The 15 Best New Mystery Books of 2022.