My Fave Reads of 2016: Mystery & Suspense

December 29, 2016 Best Books 2016, Christian, mystery/suspense 34

So far this week I’ve been talking about my favorite reads of 2016! Today I’m focusing on the mystery/suspense category.

Monday – Contemporary
Tuesday – Fantasy/YA/Fairy Tales
Wednesday – Historical
TODAY – Mystery/Suspense
Friday – Amish Fiction
Saturday – Nonfiction

For all the genre categories up until today, I’ve had a three-fold criteria to help me narrow down the scores of great books that I read this year. For today’s look at mystery/suspense books, my criteria is a bit different. For a mystery or suspense novel to be a fave, it has to have memorable characters, of course, but it also needs to have at least a couple of the following:

  1. Edge-of-your-seat suspense
  2. Humor and/or romance
  3. A twist (or two or three) that I didn’t see coming

So without further ado, here are my favorite MYSTERY/SUSPENSE reads from 2016!

When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks
PUBLISHER: Thomas Nelson
RELEASE DATE: August 2, 2016
PAGES: 336

 

My Review

High-intensity, edge-of-your-seat thrilling action and psychology. Compelling characters. Moments that make you laugh. Moments that make you look over your shoulder. Moments that make you wonder if it’s ok to pray for a fictional character. All of these elements combine into a fast-paced book that will grip you by the heart AND the mind and refuse to let go until you’ve reached the end.

Seek and Find by Dana Mentink
PUBLISHER: Love Inspired Suspense
RELEASE DATE: June 7, 2016
PAGES: 288

 

My Review

Seek and Find will have you smiling and chuckling, for sure, but it will also find you biting your nails in suspense or swooning at the deliciously sweet romance. A fantastic mystery with unexpected twists and turns, danger around every corner, and a sleepy town full of people you aren’t sure you can trust. Oh, and did I mention the romance? And the humor? Seek and Find is everything I love about Dana Mentink’s writing – funny, cute, swoonworthy, and suspenseful.

The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan
PUBLISHER: Harvest House
RELEASE DATE: March 1, 2016
PAGES: 222

 

My Review

Mystery, romance, friendship, humor, and history – all wrapped up in a meticulous attention to detail both on the page and surrounding it. Merinda and Jem are quite possibly my favorite crime fighting gal pals since Nancy Drew and her chums, and Jasper and Ray make much better love interests than Ned Nickerson ever did. You will laugh and grin and cheer and yes you will probably fan yourself a time or thrice. But you will absolutely be swept away to 1910 Toronto where you of course keep your eyes peeled for Merinda and Jem… or Jasper and Ray. Because wherever they – and Rachel McMillan – are, delightful adventure is sure to follow!

Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey
PUBLISHER: Bethany House
RELEASE DATE: February 2, 2016
PAGES: 352

 

My Review

Hot guy on the cover notwithstanding, this first book in Pettrey’s new Chesapeake Valor series is packed with well-crafted action, high-stakes tension, and keep-you-guessing suspense. Oh yeah – and some pretty heart-clenching romance too 😀 Cold Shot bursts onto the scene with brilliant suspense and compelling characters that make it nearly impossible to put down. In fact, if you are at all prone to biting your nails when tensions are high, you may need to schedule a manicure once you’ve finished reading this novel! If you like romance with your suspense, Griffin and Finley are happy to oblige with some breath-stealing moments that are adorable and full of heat all at the same time.

Always Watching by Lynette Eason
PUBLISHER: Revell
RELEASE DATE: February 2, 2016
PAGES: 336

 

My Review

Lynette Eason’s latest suspense offering is fast-paced, action-packed, and full of grace. Her writing talent is more than evident in the natural dialogue, the tension, the vivid characters. While romance is definitely present in the story, it never overshadows the suspense, making this an ideal choice both for people who do love kissingbooks and those who don’t. The element of faith is there as well – a solid thread that manages to avoid turning “trite” or “preachy”.

If I Run by Terri Blackstock
PUBLISHER: Zondervan
RELEASE DATE: February 16, 2016
PAGES: 305

 

My Review

This book is perhaps the best suspense novel I’ve ever read. And I don’t say that lightly. I’ve read a lot of suspense novels. I’ve loved a lot of suspense novels. I will love a lot of suspense novels in the future. But If I Run… there’s just something really special about this one. Part The Fugitive, part its own identity, it is a masterfully-crafted book that will leave you breathless… and frantically stalking the Googles for any word on a sequel. To quote Dylan Roberts himself, “Casey Cox is smarter than the average fugitive.” And you’re invited to tag along.

Mermaid Moon by Colleen Coble
PUBLISHER: Thomas Nelson
RELEASE DATE: January 12, 2016
PAGES: 352

 

My Review

The action started almost immediately and barely allowed me to catch my breath until the end. A doozy of a plot twist (or two… or three) kept me guessing in Mermaid Moon even more than in Ocean’s Edge, and I could not put it down. Even when the suspense part of things calmed for a moment or two, the kisses (one in particular) stole my breath all over again … so it might be wise for you to make sure you have an alternate supply of oxygen close at hand before you begin reading 🙂

Thin Ice by Irene Hannon
PUBLISHER: Revell
RELEASE DATE: December 29, 2015
PAGES: 402

 

My Review

Thin Ice may very well be my favorite yet of Irene Hannon’s romantic suspense offerings. The romance, the suspense, the action, the characters – and their interactions with each other – are all just top-notch. You always sorta know whodunit in that you read his/her perspective as well as those of the hero and heroine. But it’s the WHYdunit and the WATCHOUTHEISRIGHTBEHINDYOU moments that remind us why Irene Hannon’s name is at the top of so many romantic suspense recommendations.

Christmas Conspiracy by Susan Sleeman
PUBLISHER: Love Inspired Suspense
RELEASE DATE: December 6, 2016
PAGES: 288

 

My Review

One of my favorite things about Susan’s books is that she starts you off with some high-stakes suspense right from the beginning, in many cases from the very first sentence. This latest book is no exception. We open the book with a masked gunman, a baby, and a brave woman trying to thwart a kidnapping. That’s seriously the first page! And, true to form, you cannot relax AT ALL until the bad guy (or gal … or group) is safely (really, truly) in custody. I love it!

Abducted by Dana Mentink
PUBLISHER: Love Inspired Suspense
RELEASE DATE: November 8, 2016
PAGES: 288

 

My Review

Fast-paced, high-stakes action combines with stellar suspense, sweet romance, and “real” rubber-meets-the-road faith in Dana Mentink’s Abducted. Wow. Don’t plan to sleep once you’ve started reading this one. In fact, just go ahead and scooch to the edge of your fave reading chair because that’s where you’ll end up from word one until nearly the end of Abducted. The suspense is riveting, and the action scenes could transfer easily to the big screen. There is NO RELAXING… so don’t.

Cat Got Your Diamonds by Julie Chase
PUBLISHER: Crooked Lane Books
RELEASE DATE: November 8, 2016
PAGES: 330

 

My Review

This novel is a great example of what I look for in a cozy mystery – a great case that keeps me guessing, a dash of romance, and splashes of humor. Both Lacy and Jack are well-developed and very likable characters with fantastic chemistry between them. The supporting characters are equally well-defined, and I’m looking forward to reuniting with them in the next book.

When I Found You by Kate James
PUBLISHER: Harlequin Heartwarming
RELEASE DATE: July 1, 2016
PAGES: 365

 

My Review

Fast-paced, high-tension suspense shares the page with a tender romance and compelling character development. Being able to see the story from both Logan and Ariana’s perspectives adds to the romance as well as the character dimension. The usual culprits of miscommunication and misunderstanding do pull up a bar stool at Buster’s, but you’re tempted to forget all about those when Logan grabs Ariana for a passionate kiss that he just couldn’t hold back any longer.

Christmas in the Cove by Carol Ross
PUBLISHER: Harlequin Heartwarming
RELEASE DATE: December 1, 2016
PAGES: 384

 

My Review

Swoonworthy romance (keep a fan handy) and gasp-inducing suspense (you may need a manicure when it’s over, too) join up with fabulously well-developed characters and a quaint small town setting on the Pacific NW coast to give us a story that is hard to put down. I would happily revisit the Cove several more times if Carol Ross is so inclined. Christmas in the Cove is an excellent read on every level!

A Fool and His Monet by Sandra Orchard
PUBLISHER: Revell
RELEASE DATE: February 23, 2016
PAGES: 336

 

My Review

From the very first chapter, Sandra Orchard immerses her readers into the action, and the atmosphere of suspense remains high throughout A Fool and His Monet. So does the humor. The first person POV allows readers not only to see the action solely from Serena’s perspective but also to peek inside the wry hilarity of her thoughts. The possible secrets surrounding both Great Aunt Martha & Nate – as well as the continuing arc of the cold case murder of Serena’s grandfather add to the suspense – and insure that readers will be waiting impatiently for book 2’s arrival.

Conspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig
PUBLISHER: Bethany House
RELEASE DATE: December 1, 2016
PAGES: 416

 

My Review

Kendig is the queen of fast-paced, nail-biting, authentic-feeling military/tactical action novels with fight scenes that leave you breathless and checking your own body for injuries after the dust settles. She also does a truly fantastic job of writing military characters – with realistic camaraderie, banter, stress, and reactions – while also keeping the language appropriate for a Christian-fiction-going audience. Her ability to convey team dynamics is quite simply superb. The romance is always deliciously lovely and full of great tension but it never strays into sappy.

What about you? What were some of your fave Mystery/Suspense reads from 2016?

Carrie

34 Responses to “My Fave Reads of 2016: Mystery & Suspense”

  1. Janet Ferguson

    These look great! I just purchased If I Run on your recommendation. Terri Blackstock is from my home state. I’ve heard her speak at a local church and very much enjoyed her talk.

    • Carrie

      oh yay!!! And the best part is that you don’t have to wait eons for the sequel like I had to LOL. Since it will be out soon 🙂

  2. Suzie Waltner

    I’ve got 4 of these on my favorites of 2016 too. I’d add Christy Barritt’s “Thrill Squeaker” (I haven’t read her latest in the Squeaky Clean series but I love the Gabby St. Clair!). And I too am looking forward to reading “If I’m Found”!!

  3. Kav

    Somehow I missed a few days in the week. Suddenly it’s Thursday! What happened? I missed two of your lists that’s what! Must backtrack. Suspense is one of my favourite genres and I’ve read nearly all of these. Not any of Carrie Stuart Park’s so I guess I better get on that. And I didn’t know Heart Warming did suspense!

    Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flower is top on my cozy mystery list for 2016. Not only does it have a talking crow and an opinionated cat — but it has a magical bookstore where the books organize themselves into cryptic clues. How can you resist something like that?

    • Carrie

      I absolutely must read that series by Amanda! And Carrie’s books are so fascinating with a delightful MC

  4. Kate James

    Carrie, I am honored that you picked WHEN I FOUND YOU as one of your fave reads of 2016 in the mystery and suspense category. It’s a thrill to received this honor and to be included with such fabulous authors.

    Thank you very much, and best wishes to you for a wonderful new year!

    Kate

  5. Winnie Thomas

    My TBR pile is in trouble again. I’ve only read 4 of these. My Amazon gift card isn’t going to last very long at this rate! 🙁 And I know you’re not even sorry, Carrie! *sigh*

  6. carylkane

    YAY! My favorite genre! I LOVE Colleen Coble. Rachel McMillan’s series is on my MUST read list! 😉

  7. Terrill Rosado

    I can’t say that I don’t care for suspense, I just don’t seek it out. If some suspense sneaks in a book unbeknownst to me (like Carol Ross’s book) I end up loving it. Although, to be honest, I did know beforehand that Carol’s book had some suspense, but I will read anything that she writes. 🙂 I really do need to read more suspense since I own 8 of the books on your list, but have only read one, so far. I just won’t read anything with serial killers. That’s where I draw the line. haha

  8. Michelle Connell

    One of my favorite genres, and now I have even more titles to add to my TBR. Thanks….I think:)

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