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Best 2013 crime fiction

29crime credit Miguel Porlan

“Help for the Haunted” by John Searles (William Morrow)

Fourteen-year-old Sylvie Mason is the good sister. Her mother, an evangelist with the power to calm troubled souls, thinks Sylvie has “the gift,” too. Older sister Rose has a twisted soul that no prayers can return to righteousness. Their parents get murdered. For readers with a taste for haunted basements, creepy smiling dolls, and weird families.

“How the Light Gets In” by Louise Penny (Minotaur)

Christmas in Québec is an unhappy time for Chief Inspector Gamache. His department has been gutted, his detectives replaced with lazy, insolent, incompetent thugs. Why, he wonders, are they really there? He flees to an isolated hamlet to investigate the disappearance of an elderly woman with a secret past.


“The Silent Wife” by A.S.A. Harrison (Penguin)

This summer’s sleeper hit tells of psychotherapist Jodi Brett, who lives in a lovely house making delicious meals for a husband who makes her perfect martinis. She listens to self-deluding patients while she puts up with a husband who’s not good at monogamy. As dark and wicked, but not nearly as nasty as “Gone Girl.”

“Rage Against the Dying” by Becky Masterman (Minotaur)

Brigid Quinn, a retired FBI agent who burned out after years of working undercover, is haunted by thesexual killer who got away. She’s lured out of retirement by the disappearance of the young protegée whom she trained, perhaps too well, to decoy a killer.

“Red Sparrow” by Jason Matthews (Scribner)

A heart-pounding spy vs. spy story. He’s an up-and-coming CIA officer; she’s a former ballerina trained to seduce. Matthews’s 30-plus years in the CIA show in the vivid details. A stunning debut novel Ian Fleming without the rose-tinted glasses.

“The Tenth Witness” by Leonard Rosen ( Permanent)


Justice and true love are at loggerheads as a deeply ethical man falls in love with the daughter of a former Nazi who stoked his steel foundries with laborers from a nearby concentration camp. A fascinating exploration of what happens when good and evil reside under the same roof.

“Shoot the Woman First” by Wallace Stroby (Minotaur)

Crissa Stone plans every detail of a heist. The setup for robbing a drug dealer feels sketchy, but she ignores her misgivings. Soon she’s on the run from a ruthlessly efficient hit man. With propulsive prose and smart dialogue, this is a must-read for fans of noir.

“A Tap on the Window” by Linwood Barclay (NAL)

A dismal, rainy night outside a bar, a pretty girl taps on a guy’s car window. she says the one thing that gets the driver, a former cop/private investigator, to give her a lift. one bad decision leads to the next for a man whose life is already mired in grief and guilt.

Hallie Ephron is the author of the “There Was an Old Woman” and “Never Tell a Lie.” Contact her through www.hallieephron.com.