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Best Thrillers and Crime Fiction 2018: The Critics' Picks

Thriller Books of the Year 2018

The totals have been tallied, the numbers crunched and now the results are in for the first of Books in the Media's round ups of the best books of the year. Today we are focusing on the critics' picks for the best crime fiction and thriller books of 2018. 

Our team have collated the best of the year selections from the following publications: The Sunday Times, The Observer, The Times, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The New York Times, Evening Standard, The Spectator, Daily Mail, Financial Times and Slate

We counted picks across the fiction, crime fiction and thriller sections to ensure fairness when certain titles burst out of their narrower genre categorisation.

The runaway winner, with 5 best of the year selections, is London Rules - the fifth in the Jackson Lamb series from Mick Herron. Herron's darkly comic tales of MI5 conspiracies and cock-ups have drawn favourable comparisons with John le Carré, Len Deighton and Carl Hiassen. London Rules also achieved a perfect 5 Books in the Media score, too. 

So here is the full list of the best thrillers and crime fiction novels of 2018...

Mick Herron

5.00 out of 5

9 reviews

The fifth Jackson Lamb novel from the 'new king of the spy thriller' (Mail on Sunday)

Number of Picks: 5 – The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Times, Daily Mail, The Guardian, Evening Standard

Typical quote: "...the fifth novel in Mick Herron’s espionage series. London Rules (John Murray) is well up to the high standard of its predecessors, with the usual mixture of jokes and jeopardy at Slough House, the place where MI5 careers go to die under the dubious auspices of the wonderfully repulsive Jackson Lamb."

Laura Wilson, The Guardian

Dominick Donald

4.09 out of 5

6 reviews

A stunning debut crime novel for fans of Robert Harris, Philip Kerr and C.J. Sansom's Dominion.

Number of Picks: 4 The Sunday Times, Daily Mail, Evening Standard, The Observer

Typical quote: "...captures the eerie feel of 1950s London. Predators flit through the choking smog, including the real-life serial killer John Christie and a ghost-like individual whose method of murder leaves no trace. It’s hard to believe this crime novel, which is my book of the year, is Donald’s debut."

Peter Kemp, The Sunday Times

Belinda Bauer

4.09 out of 5

4 reviews

On a stifling summer's day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. Jack's in charge, she'd said. I won't be long.

Number of Picks: 3 – The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Observer

Typical quote: "Thrillers had their moment basking in the spotlight of literary approval this year when Belinda Bauer’s Snap ... made it onto the longlist for the Booker prize. A piercingly insightful glimpse into the mind of a traumatised child, as well as a page-turning hunt for a killer, it was a worthy contender."

Alison Flood, The Observer

Manda Scott

4.71 out of 5

3 reviews

'The most exquisite story of heroism, deception, love and treachery you'll find this year.' Simon Mayo *A Treachery of Spies is an espionage thriller to rival the very best, a high stakes game of cat-and-mouse, played in the shadows, which will keep you guessing every step of the way.

Number of Picks: 3 – The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Times, The Times

Typical quote: "An old woman is found murdered in a car in Orleans. Police inspector Inès Picaut investigates and discovers that, in the Forties, the woman was known as Sophie Destivelle, a Resistance fighter... An engrossing and ingenious thriller that moves between now and wartime France."

Antonia Senior, The Sunday Times

Henry Porter

4.80 out of 5

4 reviews

A superb new international thriller from this acclaimed and prize-winning writer: the boy could lead them straight to a terror threat at the heart of Europe. They just have to find him first - before the other side does

Number of Picks: 3 – Evening Standard, The Sunday Times, The Spectator

Typical quote: "Firefly by Henry Porter is brilliant; the brutal hunt for a terrorist jihadist and the long agonising and heartbreaking journey of a young refugee from Syria. Porter is a veteran journalist who turns out to be one of our best thriller writers."

Simon Sebag Montefiore, Evening Standard

Mick Herron


2 reviews

A Slough House novella from the 'John le Carre of our generation'

Number of Picks: 2 - The Spectator, The Times

Typical quote: "...if you are a fan of Mick Herron’s wonderful Slough House spy novels, there is a Christmas treat available in the form of The Drop. A wry and elegant novella about what happens to redundant spooks."

Andrew Taylor, The Spectator

Amer Anwar


2 reviews

Brothers in Blood is a tough new crime thriller set in the heart of West London's Asian community - the start of an unmissable new series.

Number of Picks: 2 - The Guardian, The Times

Typical quote: "It’s no accident that Amer Anwar has so vividly and passionately described the goings-on, happy and desperate, in Southall, west London. He has lived there all his life, within its large Asian population...Terrific dialogue and much humour."

Marcel Berlins, The Times

Stuart Turton

4.37 out of 5

6 reviews

Somebody's going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won't appear to be a murder and so the murderer won't be caught. Rectify that injustice and I'll show you the way out.'

Number of Picks: 2 - The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian

Typical quote: "...as an intellectual thriller, the book can’t be faulted, and in the end, it’s the story that triumphs, with a series of last-minute revelations as dazzling as the finale of a fireworks show. I’m not sure it entirely makes sense, when all’s said and done – but who cares?"

Carrie O'Grady, The Guardian

Leila Slimani

4.51 out of 5

6 reviews

They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite and devoted woman who sings to their children, cleans the family's chic apartment in Paris's upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late without complaint and is able to host enviable birthday parties. The couple and nanny become more dependent on each other.

Number of Picks: 2 - The Times, The Guardian

Typical quote: "Slimani’s deft, often agonising novel shakes it up with a precision that takes your breath away... Slimani ratchets up the tension by scattering clues, some so distressing that you read on with a genuine and mounting sense of dread... intelligent and unerringly humane piece of work."

Julie Myerson, The Guardian

Megan Abbott

4.00 out of 5

4 reviews

A stunning, unputdownable psychological thriller from acclaimed author Megan Abbott.

Number of Picks: 2 - The Observer, The Guardian

Typical quote: "Female experience – competition, friendship and working in male-dominated spaces – is also at the heart of Give Me Your Hand... a mesmerising psychological thriller about two ambitious young scientists who share an unbreakable bond – until one of them divulges a deadly secret."

Laura Wilson, The Guardian