The best crime fiction books to give you hope for humanity

Who am I?

I’m a mystery, thriller, and suspense author who’s written dozens of books across five series. In addition to writing crime fiction, I’ve always loved reading in the genre. I’ll take a fast-paced thriller any day. I’ve noticed, over time, that my reading tastes have changed. I gravitate toward crime fiction that features flawed but ethical protagonists who believe, as I do, that light drives out darkness, love is a demonstration of courage, and kindness is a weapon. These five books share this theme in common—all against the backdrop of gripping, high-stakes plots with twists and turns aplenty. These are books that will get your heart racing and give you hope for humanity.


I wrote...

Chosen Path

By Melissa F. Miller,

Book cover of Chosen Path

What is my book about?

Forensic pathologist Bodhi King has an international reputation as the expert to consult when there’s an unexplained death cluster. So he’s not surprised when the call comes in about a troubling spate of deaths in a remote town on the U.S.—Canadian border.

He is surprised when he arrives in the tiny community tucked away in the mountains and every door slams shut in his face. The people there don’t want his help, even as the body count rises. It would be the easiest thing in the world to walk away, but that’s not the path Bodhi’s chosen to walk. So he digs into the town’s dark crevices in search of the truth. But what he finds will force him to confront his own beliefs about courage, compassion, and the sanctity of life and of death.

The books I picked & why

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How the Light Gets in

By Louise Penny,

Book cover of How the Light Gets in

Why this book?

Louise Penny’s entire Inspector Armand Gamache series is a treat. I’ve yet to read an entry that hasn’t touched me. Once you visit the fictional hamlet of Three Pines, you won’t want to leave. But this ninth book in particular highlights the way Penny’s broken characters strive to let the light in. In this book, the ever-insightful Chief Inspector Gamache maintains his integrity, kindness, and conviction while investigating a baffling murder and dealing with personal and professional betrayals that seem to grow ever larger. His unflagging courage is an inspiration.


How Lucky

By Will Leitch,

Book cover of How Lucky

Why this book?

Daniel, the unforgettable protagonist of this mystery, is resilient, resourceful, and realistic. Clear-eyed about the world and how it views him, Daniel—who has a debilitating, degenerative condition called spinal muscular atrophy—witnesses an abduction from his wheelchair. The amateur sleuth enters into a risky game of cat and mouse to draw out the kidnapper and save the victim. What I love most about this book is Daniel’s belief that “the world is a place that can welcome everyone.” Driven by his personal philosophy, and with some help from his goofy best friend, Travis, and his outstanding health aide, Marjani, he risks his life to prove it. 


The First Rule of Ten

By Gay Hendricks, Tinker Lindsay,

Book cover of The First Rule of Ten

Why this book?

At first blush, Ten “Tenzing” Norbu seems to be just another jaded ex-cop turned cynical private investigator with a string of broken promises and a bitter ex. But Ten’s not your average ex-cop. For one thing, he’s also an ex-Buddhist monk. For another, his sidekick is a Persian cat named Tank. A chance encounter with a woman on the run from a cult leads to his first private case when the woman turns up dead. Ten’s reliance on his religious beliefs as he investigates her murder adds depth and meaning to this fast-paced mystery. Imperfect, but trying, Ten wormed his way into my heart over the course of the book.


The Maid

By Nita Prose,

Book cover of The Maid

Why this book?

The Maid offers a fresh amateur sleuth with a unique outlook on life. Molly Gray loves and excels at her job as a hotel maid in a grand, upscale hotel. She struggles, however, with social cues and interpersonal relationships. When Molly finds a dead body in the penthouse suite, her awkward personality lands her at the top of the suspect list. To clear her name, she has to rely on a delightful cast of true friends she never knew she had. At times, I grew frustrated with Molly and her naivete, but I always appreciated her honest, refreshing worldview and the fact that she remained true to herself throughout.


The Last Thing He Told Me

By Laura Dave,

Book cover of The Last Thing He Told Me

Why this book?

The night Hannah’s husband vanishes, a young girl hands Hannah a note that reads “protect her.” The “her” in question is Hannah’s teenage stepdaughter Bailey. But from whom or what she needs protection is a mystery. So Hannah and Bailey set off to solve that mystery and, they hope, reunite their family. The mystery proceeds at a cracking pace, and the amateur sleuths make rookie mistakes that any crime fiction could have told them were bad ideas. But along the way, Hannah and Bailey’s rocky, arm’s-length relationship deepens into something real. I don’t want to spoil the ending for you, so I’ll just say that Hannah’s personal code and her strength of character lingered with me long after I finished this book.


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