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Top 10 Mysteries of 2021

A new year has arrived with all new potential, but before we step further into 2022, let’s take a look back at the semi-normal year that was 2021. What were the most popular mysteries that readers picked up? Based on circulation figures at the library where I work, these were the most checked out mysteries in 2021.


10. A Song for the Dark Times by Ian Rankin — Inspector John Rebus may be retired, but that doesn’t stop him from dabbling in sleuthing. Rebus’ daughter calls him in “the dead of night.” Her husband has been missing for two days, and Rebus fears his daughter will be the prime suspect in his disappearance. 23rd in the series.

9. Robert B. Parker’s Someone to Watch Over Me by Ace Atkins—A few years ago, Mike Lupica’s take on the late Robert B. Parker’s characters cracked the top ten list, and now it’s Atkins’ turn. In Someone to Watch Over Me, Boston PI Spencer and his protégé take on a “billionaire money manager running a network of underaged girls” for wealthy clients.

8. Dark Sky by C. J. Box—Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett accompanies a Silicon Valley CEO on an elk hunting trip, but they may wind up as the hunted in this 21st entry in the series.

7. A Fatal Lie by Charles Todd— Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge is called in to a Welsh village after a local boy stumbles upon the body of a stranger in the local river. 23rd in the series.

6. The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict—The true story of Agatha Christie’s disappearance for 11 days in 1926 inspired this fictionalized account of what might have happened. Benedict presents a “thrilling reconstruction of one of the most notorious events in literary history.”

5. Missing and Endangered by Judith A. Jance—Sheriff Joanna Brady’s college-age daughter is involved in a missing persons case in this 19th book in the long-running series set in the American Southwest.

4. Transient Desires by Donna Leon—Commissario Guido Brunetti is faced with a heinous crime committed outside his jurisdiction involving two American women badly injured in a presumed boating accident. The 30th book in the long-running series.

3. The Bounty by Janet Evanovich—In the 7th book to feature FBI agent Kate O’Hare and con man Nicholas Fox, a shadowy organization is on hunt for a hidden cache of Nazi gold. Kate and Nick will turn to their respective fathers to find the fortune and thwart the organization.

2. The Searcher by Tana French—Published in October 2020, this intriguing title gained traction in 2021, coming in second place. After 25 years in the Chicago PD, Cal Hooper is looking to build a new life in Ireland. It’s not long before “a local kid whose brother has gone missing arm-twists him into investigating,” uncovering secrets in a small town. This book also placed on last year’s top ten of most read ebook titles.

And the Number One Mystery of the Year is …

  1. Fortune and Glory by Janet EvanovichStephanie Plum is back on top as Evanovich’s 27th entry in the long-running series regains the number one spot as most read mystery of 2021. Interestingly, it’s the first book in the series to ditch numerically numbered titles, relegating “Tantalizing Twenty-Seven” to subtitle status. In this entry, Stephanie and her beloved Grandma are on the search for treasure just as two past enemies and a new adversary enter the hunt.


And there you have it, the most popular reads of 2021. I notice a fair number of them involve themes of missing persons, human trafficking, or treasure hunting. Is that a trend?

I should note that technically Marie Benedict’s The Mystery of Mrs. Christie is more historical novel than traditional mystery, but it’s coded as a mystery at my library. And, come on, it involves the “Queen of Mystery!” I should also mention that Janet Evanovich’s Fortune and Glory placed at #11 of most circulated fiction titles at my library, just missing the top ten!

Honorable mentions: Some other popular mystery reads of the year included: John Banville’s Snow; Jeffrey Deaver’s The Final Twist; J.D. Robb’s Faithless in Death; Patricia Cornwell’s Spin; and Laura Child’s Haunted Hibiscus.

So are you delighted or disappointed by the top reads of 2021? How many have you read? Which books made your 2021 top ten list? What are your speculations for 2022 and mystery reading resolutions for the new year?

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Categorised in: Mystery, Reviews

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