009, My Favourite Mystery and Thriller Novels of 2021

by | Behind the Scenes, Mystery Novel Nerd Podcast, Thriller Novel Nerd

Hello, Book Lovers!


In this episode of the Book Nerd Podcast, I’m going to discuss my favourite mystery and thriller novels that I read in 2021. I what you’re thinking, “it’s been a while since the end of 2021,” but hear me out. I wanted to put a bit of distance between the end of 2021 and my reading because I wanted to discuss the books that stood out to me the most. From memory, I read close to fifty books in 2021. Actually, I’ve checked and it was 49 books read.


So without further ado, let’s get on with the episode.


How I Rate Books

Most of the books in this list I have rated four or five stars. On rare occasions, I will rate a book three stars. Usually, this means the book is okay but I probably won’t read any others in the series. And, on one occasion I did three-star a book because the story had so much potential and fell short, but I still went on to read other books in the series. As an author, I don’t feel comfortable panning another author’s book because I realise that if I feel a certain way doesn’t mean other people will have the same experience.


A Quick Disclaimer

All of the books in this haul were purchased with my own money and not gifted to me by publishers, publicists, or agents. And, all opinions are my own. The book descriptions read in this haul were sourced from Amazon by my virtual assistant.

Book #1 – A Dying Shame by Elizabeth Spann Craig


As you can probably tell, I’m going through a bit of a cozy mystery phase. And, I must confess, I adore Myrtle Clover. She’s one part amateur sleuth and one part pain-in-the-neck, the loveable kind. Along with the crime-solving adventures is her reluctant sidekick, Miles. This book, A Dying Shame* and the rest of the series is light-hearted, witty, and intriguing—everything you want in a cozy mystery. 


Book #2 – Just One Piece by Katie Grayowski


This novel was an excellent read. Just One Piece* is the third book in the PTO Murder Club Mystery series, and it had me laughing out loud on a number of occasions. At one point, while reading, I received a few concerned glances from my husband. Even though I started the series at the third instalment, I could still follow the story. Now, I’m tempted to go back and read the previous two novels. And I’ve done exactly that since I’ve finished this instalment. 


Book #3 – The Lost Library by A. M. Dean


From the second, I read the blurb for The Lost Library by A. M. Dean*, I fell in love with the intriguing quest to find the lost library of Alexandria. The quest was full of action, fact-finding, fascinating locations, and history. However, the ending I had imagined was not the ending I received. After careful consideration. I still found this book enjoyable, despite its divergence from my expectations. Quite tragically, this series is technically a two-book series. But, I still recommend this book to lovers of Dan Brown and history-inspired thrillers.


Book #4 – Relic by Preston and Child


Up next is, Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child*. What kept me turning the page was the creepy creature stalking the halls of the Natural History Museum late at night, picking off its victims one by one. Months have passed since I read this novel, and that’s the thing I remember the most. This novel is a unique blend of mystery, suspense, horror and a touch of Sci-Fi. I particularly loved the museum setting and the science and anthropology thrown in with the non-stop action. At this stage of the series, I wasn’t invested in Special Agent Pendergast as I turned the pages of the novel, but this sentiment changed as I read more books in the series.


Book #5 – The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury


Up next is The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury*. A common complaint in the reviews is the switching to the earlier time period of the Templar knights; I loved this, and I found these parts of the story intriguing. As you might have guessed based on the title this novel is a conspiracy thriller with elements of archaeology, mythology, and religious themes. It wonderfully blends history and mythology together. But it’s not perfect, much like other books in this archaeological thriller genre you need to be willing to suspend disbelief and be okay with the bending of history to suit the plot. Honestly, that’s what I suspect from the genre. I enjoyed Tess as a character and her ability to keep going despite the obstacles she faced. 


Book #6 – Along Came a Spider by James Patterson


Along Came A Spider* left me speechless as I closed the novel. The story’s villain is chilling, creepy, but nonetheless fascinating. Its central plot follows a cat and mouse game with twists I never saw coming. Yet, despite the crime and suspense, there were small moments that managed to make me laugh.


The characters seemed very real, and they shared a few jokes with each other. And I felt like these moments made the characters a little more. I do believe there was a movie starring called Along Came of Spider. But I can’t remember it was when it was released. I haven’t watched it, but I’ve got it on. It’s either Netflix or Amazon prime video to watch. I just haven’t got around to it yet.


Book #7 – The Secret of Excalibur by Andy McDermott


Next is The Secret of Excalibur by Andy McDermott*. I must admit, after reading the previous two books in the series, I’ve become a fan of Nina Wilde, not so much Eddie, because he’s the stereotypical action-adventure character. And he’s a bit whiny, especially in this book. Nina and the association with Arthurian legend is the reason I picked up this book. Like the other books in the series, you need to suspend disbelief because it is unbelievable at times, especially when they start discussing harnessing earth energy for dubious means. If you like action-packed books with a dose of mythology, then you’ll love this instalment in the wild/chase series.


Book #8 – Death and Croissants by Ian Moore


Next up is Death and Croissants by Ian Moore*. Firstly, I love the cover. The cover looks similar to a prepaid envelope. So Death and Croissants is a humorous cozy mystery that had me laughing out loud several times. However, a moment in the novel reminded me of a storyline from the Benidorm TV series, but I still enjoyed the book. It felt like a direct take from that TV show. Death and Croissants was super funny, but you must be prepared to suspend disbelief.


One of the things I found annoying was a lot of readers hated the book in the reviews. The review average on Goodreads for the book has been brought down to 3.93 stars. But I think it was a solid four-star. It should have gotten a slightly higher rating than that because it does deliver on the cozy mystery and solve the whodunnit. There is a bit of outlandish craziness going on, but it is pretty funny. But it’s British humour, and you must be aware of that before reading the book. Some people were really harsh on the storyline, and I feel like the book delivered on its premise, but that’s just me.


Book #9 – The Midnight Line by Lee Child


Next up is The Midnight Line by Lee Child*. The opening of the 22nd instalment of the Jack Reacher series was smart and funny, but it evolved into something better. What grabbed my attention was the three strong and intelligent female characters. Tragically, this isn’t something you always see in this genre. But back to the story, I’m not going to dwell on that any more than I should. It opens in true Reacher style, Jack strolling through a small town. He stops after spotting a small Westpoint Ring in a shop window and then sets out to reunite it with its owner. In the way of his mission are a series of twists and turns, which kept me turning the pages. The ending came as a surprise, but that’s to be expected.


There’s a new TV series with Jack Reacher, and the casting is brilliant because this is how I imagined Jack to be. And I think he’s better for the role than Tom Cruise. I think they chose Tom cruise because he’s Tom Cruise, and they thought he would draw a bigger audience. But the TV series, I believe, is on Prime Video, and it’s excellent. I loved the adaptation for the killing floor—it was good.


Book #10 – The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

The last book in this episode is the Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman*. And this is another book that receives a few harsh criticisms. I think what happens is Tall Poppy Syndrome. You’ll see, a comedian or something else branching out in a way that’s seemingly different. Although, I would argue that a comedian is a writer, because they write their own jokes. They’re not like an actor branching out into writing fiction or screenwriting. But once someone jumps out of their lane, there’s a bit of Tall Poppy Syndrome where people will come along and try to slice them down back in their pigeonhole where they want them to be. And I feel as if there’s a little bit of this in the reviews. People are just incredibly harsh, considering this is Osman’s debut fiction novel. It’s a really good debut–I would be super thrilled with this if this was my debut novel.


About the Story

But anyway, back to the review. A bunch of loveable and quirky characters meet up every Thursday at a retirement village to solve crimes that occurred long ago. After discovering that a murder has taken place within the border community, they decide to investigate the crimes and solve the whodunnit. The story is filled with British humour and an understated charm. The story’s world is filled with numerous characters, but the team of amateur sleuths are the ones that stand out the most. However, it was the characters that ultimately had me turning the page. And I think it is because they’re old and they’re living in a retirement village and they’ve all lived interesting lives. They’ve all got, secrets. You, get a sense that they have secrets. I’m trying to differentiate between this book and the second book, which I’ve also read now. And, I think I might be blending the stories together. But the characters are really interesting and you definitely do find out more about them in the next book, but you get a sense of there’s more to them than the first impression you get.


Concluding Thoughts

Thank you for watching or listening to this list of my favourite mystery and thriller novels of 2021.


As always I have a few important questions to ask you. Have you read any of the books on my list, and if so, what did you think of the story? What was your favourite read from the previous year?


Let me know by sharing your thoughts in the comments section below or under the post over in the The Book Nerd Reader Club Facebook Group.


Thank you for listening and happy reading, everybody.


Amelia xx


* DISCLAIMER: This blog post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission. The commission helps support the blog and allows us to continue to make content like this. Thank you for your support. 🙂

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Amelia D. Hay

Amelia D. Hay

I’m Amelia. I write amateur sleuth mystery novels under the pen name A. D. Hay and I’m the author of The Candidate, The Locked Room, The Lawn, Suspicion and Duplicity. I’m also the host of the Mystery Novel Nerd Podcast and The Authorpreneur Podcast™️. Right now, I’m writing the first novella in a cozy mystery series, and writing the third book in the James Lalonde Mystery Series. When I’m not writing, hosting my podcasts or coaching aspiring authors, I love to travel around Europe with my Husband, drink tea, and eat pizza.

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