NOTE: Beneath the end of the list, you will find the covers and details about the selected novels.
"HEAT 2" by Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner (Publication Date: August 9, 2022 by William Morrow)
The publishing event of the year, regardless of genre, Heat 2 signifies Michael Mann's entrance in the literary world with a book that is both a prequel and a sequel to his 1995 classic motion picture starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. This is in part a debut novel as the veteran American director and four-time Academy Award nominee, known for his iconic films such as The Last of the Mohicans, Manhunter, The Insider and a multitude of action-packed thrillers, collaborated with the Edgar-Award winning crime writer Meg Gardiner whose distinguished career provided the crucial experience in the project. With a narrative that is divided into three different timelines (1988, 1995, and 2000), spanning several countries in the globe and brimming with captivating action sequences and suspense, this novel is an epic successor to the emblematic film and a top choice for crime fiction fans. There is a short prologue functioning as a recap of the movie's events, supplying the reader with critical information that will help him relish the rich, dense plot easier. 2022 is a year that is marked with the publication of Heat 2 and you should ignore any qualms that you may have as the book is as thrilling as the film.
"THE MAID" by Nita Prose (Publication Date: January 20, 2022 by HarperCollins)
Nita Prose's debut is one of the most hyped releases of this year as it is a novel aspiring to introduce a fresh spin on the classic cozy mystery novel, something that eventually proves to be true. What deems The Maid a memorable reading experience is its protagonist, Molly the Maid, a young woman working in a luxurious hotel conscientiously and with dignity, being a model employee. Molly is a special kind of girl as she is socially handicapped, unable to acknowledge the nuances in the speech, innuendos, and body language that help people communicate effectively, thus she often finds herself in a difficult position, feeling awkward and inadequate in her quotidian interplays. The story begins when a real estate mogul is found dead in his room and the authorities immediately suspect foul play. Molly is on the epicenter of the investigation as she is the one who found the victim and she becomes the prime suspect after the police unearth incriminating investigation, directly implicating her in the murder. Prose's novel is fun to read, short in length and lacking anything redundant, written in a plain prose style that perfectly fits the story's narration. Characterization is the novel's grand asset and even if you forget parts of the plot, you will definitely remember a lovable protagonist.
"REPTILE MEMOIRS" by Silje Ulstein (Publication Date: March 15, 2022 by Grove Press)
The Nordic contribution in the list, Reptile Memoirs is an innovative crime/thriller written by the Norwegian debutant author Silje Ulstein who has a master’s degree in Literature from the University of Oslo and further studied creative writing in the Bergen Writing Academy. The result is a novel that feels like been written by a seasoned crime writer, expertly handling various narrative technique and brilliantly outlining the main characters, one of whom is a six-meter-long python who is one of the first-person narrators of the story. The plot unravels through two distinct timelines (2003-2005 and 2017) and Ulstein delivers a masterclass in the multiple perspective narrative giving breath and voice to her carefully crafted characters whose words ring true to the reader's ears. The story is gloomy, as one expects from a Scandinavian crime novel, but the blending of different literary devices keeps the readers on their toes throughout the course of this bizarre tale that involves reptiles, murder, well-hidden secrets, and fractured relationships between the main characters. While the plot itself cannot boast innovation, the combination of narrative techniques and tropes makes all the difference in the most particular Nordic debut crime/thriller of 2022.
"CRY WOLF" by Hans Rosenfeldt (Publication Date: December 28, 2021 by Hanover Square Press)
Yes, I can hear your objections telling me that, on one hand, the novel was technically released in 2021 and that Hans Rosenfeldt, the creator of the iconic Swedish/Danish television show Bron/Broen and several others such as Marcella and The Lawyer, has already co-authored 7 novels in the renowned Sebastian Bergman book series along with Michael Hjorth. However, Cry Wolf entered the world of literary debate in 2022 and it is Rosenfeldt's first solo writing project, so it is in fact a debut novel. It is the first book in an intended new series, the "Haparanda" mysteries, set in a small town in northern Sweden near the Finnish border. The plot involves a botched drug deal that results in a massacre, a nefarious female assassin, and a new protagonist, Hannah Wester, a young policewoman who finds herself out of depth when she is called to investigate major crimes and not the usual small-time misdemeanors that she is used to in the quiet town of Haparanda. Rosenfeldt lends Haparanda its own voice and the reader gets the chance to hear the city talk in its own distinctive manner, an innovative idea that pays off as we learn more about Haparanda's inhabitants through the city's narrative intervention in the story. The plot is thick and the author does what he knows best: to weave intriguing police procedural stories with a great sense of place and plausible protagonists. Those who know Rosenfeldt from his screenwriting work in television should definitely check out this first solitary writing attempt of his.
"DON'T KNOW TOUGH" by Eli Cranor (Publication Date: March 22,1985 by Soho Crime)
One of most discussed and reviewed novels of the year, Don't Know Tough is Eli Cranor's first crime novel that marks the beginning of a much-promising career for the American author and ex-professional football player. It should be mentioned that the book won the Peter Lovesey First Crime Novel Contest, an important distinction for a first timer. The author's experience in sports is imprinted in the story as the plot features a protagonist, Billy Lowe, a gifted football player with bad behavior and anger issues that hinder his career development, who becomes the prime suspect of the murder of his mother's abusive boyfriend. Trent Powers, the team coach, is a revived Christian who moves from California, along with his family, to Denton, Arkansas, and feels protective of Billy, trying to save him from his demons in any way he can. After the murder, the plot unravels at a breakneck speed leading to an unanticipated climax which concludes an indelible reading experience. The narrative shifts between third person and Bily's first-person account as the story builds up suspense and offers moments of intrigue to the reader who roots for the two protagonists despite their flaws. Cranor proves with this novel that he is a force of nature when it comes to writing as the prose rhythm is reminiscent of that employed by veteran authors. His second novel, Ozark Dogs, set once again in a small Arkansas town, is due to be published on April 4, 2023 by Soho Crime and it would be interesting to see if the American author can evade the so-called "Curse of the Second Novel", a phenomenon that tarnished the reputation of some of the most successful debutants.