Books

22 Canadian thrillers and mysteries to read for National Crime Writing Month

Here are some books to check out for Crime Writing Month.

Here are 22 mysteries, thrillers and books about crime to check out for Crime Writing Month.

The Red Chesterfield by Wayne Arthurson

Wayne Arthurson is the author of The Red Chesterfield. (University of Calgary Press, Shawna Lemay)

In The Red Chesterfield, a city bylaw officer finds a chesterfield in a ditch, along with a severed foot. The protagonist gets caught up in the investigation — and turns out to be more interested in what happens to the furniture than the origin of the missing body part. The Red Chesterfield subverts the mystery form with a story that has clues that lead nowhere and motivations that are deliberately ambiguous.

Wayne Arthurson is a writer of Cree and French Canadian descent. He is the author of five novels, including Blood Red Summer and The Traitors of Camp 133.

Edmonton author Wayne Arthurson on subverting the detective genre in his novel The Red Chesterfield. 15:26

Woman on the Edge by Samantha M. Bailey

Samantha M. Bailey is a Toronto-based novelist, journalist and editor. (Simon & Schuster, Dahlia Katz)

In Woman on the EdgeMorgan Kincaid's life changes forever when a woman standing next to her on the subway platform says Morgan's name, hands her a baby and jumps. And since no one else saw what happened, Morgan quickly becomes a murder suspect. Can she clear her name and figure out what is going on before it's too late?

Samantha M. Bailey is a journalist and editor in Toronto.Woman on the Edge is her first book.

Samantha M Bailey on her psychological thriller Woman on the Edge. 2:10

Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay

Elevator Pitch is a thriller by Linwood Barclay. (CBC/Sinisa Jolic)

Elevator Pitch, the latest thriller from Linwood Barclay, begins as four people plummet to their death in a free-falling elevator of a Manhattan office building. The tragedy appears to be a random accident until the same thing happens over and over again, sending shockwaves through America's cultural and economic capital.

Barclay is an internationally bestselling author of novels for adults and children. His most recent books include the adult thriller A Noise Downstairs and the award-winning middle-grade novels Escape and Chase.

Linwood Barclay on his latest thriller, Elevator Pitch. 1:43

How a Woman Becomes a Lake by Marjorie Celona

How a Woman Becomes a Lake is a book by Marjorie Celona. (Hamish Hamilton, Jay Eads)

In the novel How a Woman Becomes a Lake, it's New Year's Day, and in a small fishing town called Whale Bay a woman goes missing. Vera had set out on a walk with her dog, and her husband Leo took their boys on a boat to write their New Year's resolutions. In the weeks that follow, Vera's absence sets off a chain of suspicion within the town. After Leo moves south, the detective investigating the case becomes obsessed with the missing woman. 

Majorie Celona is an American-Canadian writer. She is also the author of the novel Y, which won France's Grand Prix Littéraire de l'Héroïne for best foreign novel. 

Marjorie Celona on the inspiration behind her suspenseful novel How a Woman Becomes a Lake. 12:36

The Missing Millionaire by Katie Daubs

The Missing Millionaire is a book by Katie Daubs. (Penguin Random House, Richard Lautens)

On Dec. 2, 1919, the wealthy theatre impresario Ambrose Small left his home in the Rosedale neighbourhood of Toronto, went to the barber for a shave, met his wife and then went to the bank and deposited a cheque for a million dollars. He had a quick meeting with his lawyer and that was the last anyone ever saw of him. In The Missing Millionaire: The True Story of Ambrose Small and the City Obsessed With Finding Him, Katie Daubs tells a whodunit story rife with accusations and curious coincidences. 

Daubs is a feature writer with the Toronto Star. The Missing Millionaire is her first book.

A salacious Canadian mystery sent Katie Daubs down a very deep rabbit hole. Her new book is called The Missing Millionaire -- about Ambrose Small, a Toronto millionaire who disappeared without a trace a century ago, leaving behind a devoutly Catholic wife, a mistress, a disgruntled associate, an unsolved mystery and a cast of characters worthy of rollicking whodunnit. 26:36

Don't Look Down by Hilary Davidson

Don't Look Down is a thriller by Hilary Davidson. (hilarydavidson.com, Thomas & Mercer)

In Don't Look Down, Jo Greaver is an ambitious young woman living n New York who has it all — including a deep secret she'll do anything to keep buried. When evidence from a murder in her hometown points to Jo being the prime suspect, detective Sheryn Sterling decides she needs to get to the bottom of everything.

Davidson is a Canadian writer currently living in New York. Her other books include Blood Always Tells, One Small Sacrifice and The Damage Done.

Bone Black by Carol Rose GoldenEagle

Bone Black is a novel by Carol Rose GoldenEagle. (Nightwood Editions)

Bone Black is about one woman's search for her missing sister, and her need to take the case into her own hands. When her twin sister goes missing, Wren StrongEagle immediately reports it to the local police. Feeling dismissed and worrying the case won't be investigated properly, Wren launches into action and decides to find justice on her own.

Carol Rose GoldenEagle is a Cree and Dene author whose books include the novel Bearskin Diary and the poetry collection Hiraeth.

The Cree/Dene writer and journalist Carol Rose GoldenEagle on her thriller Bone Black, about an Indigenous woman who takes justice into her own hands when the system fails her. 16:14

Murdered Midas by Charlotte Gray

Murdered Midas is a nonfiction book by Charlotte Gray. (Valberg Imaging, HarperCollins Canada)

Historian Charlotte Gray explores the "crime of the century" in her latest book ⁠— the 1943 murder of gold mining tycoon Sir Harry Oakes. No one was ever convicted of the crime. Murdered Midas examines the case and trial while also delving into Oakes's personal history, humble upbringing and rise to wealth. 

Gray is a member of the Order of Canada. Her other books include The Massey Murder and Gold Diggers.

Andrea Gunraj on exploring the complicated relationship between two sets of sisters in her novel The Lost Sister. 3:12

The Lost Sister by Andrea Gunraj

Andrea Gunraj is an essayist and novelist based in Toronto. (Mango Studios2, Vagrant Press)

In The Lost Sistersisters Alisha and Diana are growing up at Jane and Finch in Toronto, a neighbourhood where many immigrants have come to start their lives in Canada. A terrible sadness descends when Diana, Alisha's role model and light of the family, doesn't come home. Her body is found in the woods and Alisha thinks she knows what happened. This novel is partially inspired by the experiences of a former resident of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children.

Andrea Gunraj is also the author of The Sudden Disappearance of Seetha.

Daniel Kalla talks to Shelagh Rogers about his new book, We All Fall Down. 16:09

The Last High by Daniel Kalla

The Last High is a book by Daniel Kalla. (Simon & Schuster Canada, danielkalla.com)

The Last High is a thriller inspired by the opioid crisis. Dr. Julie Rees is shocked when a number of teenagers from the same party arrive at the ER. She suspects the adolescents took fentanyl, but this case is unusual. Teaming up with Detective Anson Chen, Rees is determined to tackle the underground drug world and find out the source of these dangerous drugs. 

Daniel Kalla is an emergency room doctor, as well as an international bestselling author of 10 books, including We All Fall Down.

If you've always aspired to write and these isolated times are making it possible, Sheena Kamal can help. Sheena is a published author with two novels out this spring: a new Young Adult novel called Fight Like a Girl and three Nora Watts crime novels. The latest is called "No Going Back." She talks about the best ways to get writing and keep going. 10:02

No Going Back by Sheena Kamal

No Going Back is a book by Sheena Kamal. (HarperCollins Canada, Malcolm Tweedy)

In No Going Backthe latest Nora Watts crime thriller by Sheena Kamal, Nora finds herself trying to protect Bonnie, the daughter she had given up for adoption. Two years previously, Bonnie had been kidnapped by the ruthless Zhang family. She has made an enemy in Dao, the intimidating triad enforcer for the Zhangs. From Canada to southeast Asia, Nora finds herself pursuing her adversary.

Kamal is a Vancouver-based writer of crime novels. Her book The Lost Ones won the 2018 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize. She is also the author of It All Falls Down.

Ausma Zehanat Khan talks to Shelagh Rogers about her latest book, A Deadly Divide. 12:02

A Deadly Divide by Ausma Zehanat Khan

A Deadly Divide is a novel by Ausma Zehanat Khan. (Alan Klehr, Raincoast Books)

In A Deadly Divide, the fifth book in Ausma Zehanat Khan's Getty and Khattak mystery series, Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty are sent to Quebec, where a community is reeling in the aftermath of a mass shooting at a mosque. Fuelling tensions is the arrest of a young Muslim man who was reported to be assisting the wounded, while a priest found holding a weapon was let go. 

Khan is also the author of the fantasy series the Khorasan Archives, which includes the books The Bloodprint and The Black Khan.

In Thomas King's latest book, a true crime reality show comes to Chinook to investigate a death that’s been ruled accidental. 11:24

Obsidian by Thomas King

Obsidian is a novel by Thomas King. (HarperCollins Canada)

Thomas King's sly investigator Thumps DreadfulWater returns in Obsidian. After the famed producer of a true-crime documentary turns up dead, Thumps is forced to look into an old cold case he had tried to forget: the Obsidian murders. When someone starts leaving reminders of the case around Chinook, Thumps is compelled to confront the incident that left his girlfriend and her daughter dead.

King is a Canadian-American writer of Cherokee and Greek ancestry. He delivered the 2003 Massey Lectures, The Truth about Stories. His books include Truth & Bright WaterThe Inconvenient Indian and The Back of the TurtleThe Back of the Turtle won the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction in 2014.

Keith Ross Leckie on his historical novel Cursed! Blood of the Donnellys. 3:46

Hideaway by Nicole Lundrigan

Hideaway is a novel by Nicole Lundrigan. (Viking, AnnaLena Seemann)

In the thriller Hideaway, Rowan runs away from home in the wake of his father's abandonment. He's terrified to be the main target of his mother Gloria's dark side. He bonds with a homeless man named Carl and they make themselves at home in an isolated cottage. Gloria uses everything at her disposal to track Rowan down, playing up her reputation as a loving suburban mom while also viciously manipulating her daughter Maisy.

Nicole Lundrigan, based in Toronto, is also the author of the psychological thriller The Substitute.

Someone We Know by Shari Lapena

Someone We Know is a novel by Shari Lapena. (Doubleday Canada, Tristan Ostler)

In Someone We Know, a quiet well-to-do community in upstate New York is rocked by a series of break-ins. Somebody in their neighbourhood has not just been breaking into their homes, but their computers, and sharing the scandalous secrets they've uncovered. As tension mounts, a woman is found dead.

Shari Lapena has written several thrillers, including The Couple Next DoorA Stranger in the House and An Unwanted Guest.

Cursed! by Keith Ross Leckie

Keith Ross Leckie is a Toronto-based screenwriter and author. (Douglas & McIntyre, Adrian Lyons)

The story of the Black Donnellys has become a fabled piece of Ontario history. The Donnelly family emigrated from Ireland to the township of Lucan Biddulph in the Ontario countryside. They found themselves, after a few years, in conflict with the local people. In February 1880, an armed mob descended on the family, burned their farm and killed the family members. Keith Ross Leckie's novel Cursed! Blood of the Donnellys is a fictional account of the notorious family and that time in Canadian history.

Leckie is a screenwriter and novelist from Toronto. His books include Coppermine, The American Problem and Cursed!

Emily St John Mandel on The Glass Hotel, her follow-up to her breakout novel Station Eleven. 16:03

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

The Glass Hotel is a novel by Emily St. John Mandel. (HarperCollins, Sarah Shatz)

Emily St. John Mandel's new book, The Glass Hotelinterweaves several complex narratives. Vincent is a bartender in a prestigious hotel on Vancouver Island. When the owner — Jonathan Alkaitis — passes Vincent his card, it becomes the beginning of their story together. Meanwhile, a hooded figure scrawls a cryptic note on a wall in the hotel, and a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis — Leon Prevant — sees the note and is shaken. Thirteen years later, Vincent disappears from a Neptune-Avramidis ship. 

St. John Mandel is a New York-based Canadian writer. Her fourth novel, Station Eleven, was a finalist for a National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award and won the 2015 Toronto Book Award. 

Martin Michaud on Never Forget, the first of his novels featuring Montreal cop Victor Lessard to be published in English translation. 3:34

Never Forget by Martin Michaud

Never Forget is a book by Martin Michaud. (Dundurn Press)

The latest in Martin Michaud's ongoing Victor Lessard detective series finds Lessard and his partner, Jacinthe Taillon, on the trail of a deadly killer in Old Montreal. Never Forget begins with a homeless man jumping to his death, an incident that leaves behind baffling evidence — two wallets. One belonged to a dead psychiatrist, who was murdered in a bizarre ritual, the other to a missing corporate lawyer. As the bodies begin to pile up, can Lessard and Taillon crack the case before the next murder? 

Michaud is a Montreal-based writer, musician and former lawyer. His Victor Lessard series has won the Arthur Ellis award and the Prix Saint-Pacôme for Crime Fiction. The book series is also the basis for the critically acclaimed French TV show Victor Lessard

Louise Penny interviewed about her latest Inspector Gamache mystery, onstage at Calgary's Wordfest. 18:08

A Better Man by Louise Penny

Louise Penny is the author of A Better Man. (Jean-François Bérubé, Raincoast Books)

In Louise Penny's Armand Gamache mystey novel, A Better ManGamache has been reinstated as head of the homicide department in Quebec. But when the province is hit with a flooding crisis, a father begs Gamache to help find his missing daughter, a case that draws intense public scrutiny. 

Penny is a former CBC broadcaster and journalist. Her other books include Still LifeBury Your DeadA Trick of the Light and Glass Houses. In 2013, she was named to the Order of Canada.

Our books columnist, Jael Richardson, fills us in on a new book to check out: Your Life Is Mine by Nathan Ripley. 6:13

Your Life Is Mine by Nathan Ripley

Your Life is Mine is a novel by Nathan Ripley. (Simon & Schuster)

Your Life Is Mine is a page-turning thriller about Blanche, the daughter of a notorious murderer and cult leader. Her father killed himself after a shooting spree more than 20 years ago, but when Blanche learns her mother was murdered, she must return home and learns there's more to her family's story than she could have ever imagined — and that the cult her father founded might be making a comeback.

Your Life Is Mine is the second thriller from Nathan Ripley, who is also the author of Find You in the Dark.

Peter Robinson, who has been called "the master of police procedurals" on his latest Inspector Banks mystery, Many Rivers to Cross. 14:47

Many Rivers to Cross by Peter Robinson

Many Rivers to Cross is a mystery novel by Peter Robinson. (Georges Seguin, McClelland & Stewart)

Many Rivers to Cross is the latest Alan Banks mystery by Peter Robinson. In Many Rivers to Cross, the body of a mysterious young boy is found in a dumpster. Banks needs to solve the case ⁠— who is he, where did he come from, who killed him and why? ⁠— before things go too far. And when more bodies pile up, Banks must figure how it's all connected.

Robinson is a crime writer living in Toronto. He has published more than 30 books, including more than 25 Inspector Banks novels.

The Last Resort by Marissa Stapley

The Last Resort is a novel by Marissa Stapley. (Eugene Choi, Simon & Schuster)

The Last Resort is a thriller about a resort in the Caribbean where couples go to save their marriage. When the charismatic but complicated owner, Miles Markell, goes missing, everyone is a suspect. And a hurricane is coming. As the storm approaches, the guests must face their deepest secrets all while learning the resort has deep secrets of its own, and paradise isn't what it seems.

Marissa Stapley is a writer living in Toronto. Her other novels include Mating for Life and Things to Do When It's Raining.

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