Mystery Solved: The Thriller Trends of 2018

Posted by Cybil on December 13, 2018

From a boozy Hitchcock-inspired debut to the first standalone novel from Dublin Murder Squad author Tana French to a former U.S. president's White House-themed thriller, 2018 has given readers many reasons to get lost in a good mystery.

As we've read our way through the year's biggest thrills and chills, we have detected a few trends in the genre. Take a look at what we've uncovered. And let us know what 2019 trends you predict in mysteries and thrillers!


All the popular "girls."
Trend #1: Women dominate the genre (as men try to blend in).


It's hard to overstate how much 2012's Gone Girl changed the mystery and thriller landscape. In short: Gone is most of the boys' club that once ruled this genre, and the "girls" are here to stay. In fact, among the 15 most popular mysteries and thrillers on Goodreads this year, only three novels were written by men. And in the 2018 Goodreads Choice Awards, seven of the final ten nominees were written by women.

Meanwhile, new male authors in this space have been adopting gender-neutral bylines and are writing female characters—most notably the debut The Woman in the Window (the most popular book on Goodreads this year), written under Daniel Mallory's pseudonym, A.J. Finn, and The Last Time I Lied, the second book published under the pseudonym Riley Sager.

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Everyone's a thrill seeker.
Trend #2: Mysteries go mainstream.



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Forget about genre. Mysteries and thrillers are mainstream fare now.

This spring The Guardian reported that the sales of crime novels in the U.K. have soared, outselling general fiction for the first time ever.

Meanwhile in the U.S., a study found that mysteries and thrillers were the most represented books on The New York Times' bestseller list, the Pacific Standard wrote.

Which naturally leads to the next love-it-or-hate-it publishing phenomena: the adaptation. This year saw Hollywood remake several high-profile thrillers—a trend that shows no sign of slowing down, as we've noticed that film rights to new mysteries are often sold before the books even hit the shelves!

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The new British invasion.
Trend #3: U.K. mystery writers stake a claim.


From Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle to Ruth Rendell and P.D. James, U.K. writers have always been the who's who of the whodunit.

We're starting to see a new class of British mystery writers emerge, with smash debuts from Catherine Steadman, Alice Feeney, C.J. Tudor, as well as Ruth Ware returning with her fourth book in as many years. In fact, for the opening round of the 2018 Goodreads Choice Awards, eight of the 15 nominated authors hailed from England, including B.A. Paris, Lisa Jewell, and Sujata Massey.



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What are your favorite trends in mysteries and thrillers this year? Tell us in the comments!

Check out more recent articles:
The YA Trends of 2018
Catch Up Now: These Big Series All Have Books Coming Out in 2019
Celebrate Your 2018 Year in Books!


Comments Showing 1-19 of 19 (19 new)

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message 1: by D. (new)

D. Wickles I have definitely been enjoying the female trend this year. I enjoyed The Woman in The Window and The Death of Mrs. Westaway and anticipate enjoying Sharp Objects and The Witch Elm when I get to them :) Good post Cybil!


message 2: by Jess (new)

Jess (EmpireStateofReading) I feel a little bit cheated by the men adopting gender neutral names, as I try to read women authors as much as I can and honestly didn’t know that AJ and Riley were men.. that being said, I love the genre and love that it’s become so mainstream!


message 3: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia Lowik who ever csres eho wrote a book, just care how well written it is. reading id not a political statement


message 4: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia Lowik fyi I am a woman


message 5: by Yv (new)

Yv I loved The Woman in the Window and The Wife between Us!
You is on my TBR, even als any novel of Tana French. Sharp Objects is already in my shelf; really enjoyed the series.


message 6: by Christian (new)

Christian Ekman Sylvia wrote: "who ever csres eho wrote a book, just care how well written it is. reading id not a political statement"

Well put. I don't get this fascination either. I read books both by male and female authors (funnily enough about 50/50). Who cares as long as the book in question is good. It's not like one gender has a monopoly on writing good books.


message 7: by Sophie (new)

Sophie Sharon Bolton should be on this list as she's an excellent writer, Camilla Way's 2nd novel also was very intriguing...


message 8: by Ross (new)

Ross Barnett Thoroughly enjoyed 'Woman in the Window', 'Chalk Man, Red Sparrow, The Girl in the Spiders Web and Force of Nature. Does anyone have any recommendations on the other books that are listed in this article.


message 9: by Donna (new)

Donna Janison Faizy Sheikh—you are a troll. Find another place to try and recruit for your “work from home” scam.


message 10: by Donna (new)

Donna McEachran Jess wrote: "I feel a little bit cheated by the men adopting gender neutral names, as I try to read women authors as much as I can and honestly didn’t know that AJ and Riley were men.. that being said, I love t..."

I suppose it goes both ways with JK Rowling publishing under Robert Galbraith!


message 11: by Donna (new)

Donna McEachran Have read a few of these and have a few more on my TBR pile. Enjoyed The Woman in the Window and Forces of Nature. Not on this list but also liked Jane Harper's most recent release The Lost Man. Think the latest Comorant Strike book will be my next read!


message 12: by Jayna (new)

Jayna I'm not a thriller fan, especially of the 'unreliable narrator' school and prefer more traditional mysteries, though I also prefer those written by women. Is there another Sue Grafton out there? I also like historical mysteries (Anne Perry fan). One of my favorites right now is Charles Todd - who is a mother and son duo.


message 13: by Katherine (new)

Katherine This has been a great year for the mystery/ thrillers genres!


message 14: by Shawn (new)

Shawn I’m not sure what the fascination is with “The Chalk Man.” I read it in March and found it to be absolutely loathesome. By far the worst book I’ve ever read and yet it has appeared on quite a few “Best Books of the Year” lists. To each their own I gusss (but I die a little inside every time I see it listed).


{ U n s o l v e d M y s t e r y } The Woman in the Window was a bit of a letdown.

I loved Sometimes I Lie! I can't wait for the sequel.
I will definitely be pre-ordering it.


message 16: by Carol L Bliss (new)

Carol L Bliss I enjoy mysteries, but have problems finding a good novel while plowing thru all the mysteries and thrillers. Also real tired of sequels. Getting great price on one then using it to hook people to buy much more expensive sequel. Or not being able to find. Although most sites have a preference manager they still send you stuff I have no interest in. Simon and Shuster say you can update your preferences but there is absolutely no way to do it.


message 17: by Bonnie (new)

Bonnie Premo I have been concentrating on women authors esp. english writers for years. Love the genre. But occasionally have been fooled by men writing in neutral or under women names. It’s all good as long as the books are good! Am a huge fan of ruth ware and tana french. Can’t wait for next book to come out. Louise penny should be added to these ranks also. Love her!


message 18: by Christel (new)

Christel 3. Milkman (Ana Burns)
2. Trilogie: Hemel en hel, het verdriet van de engelen, het hart van de mens (Jón Kalman Stefánsson)
1. Boussole (Mathias Énard)


message 19: by Andi (new)

Andi Rosin ✰☽♥✰ Unsolved Mystery ✰♥☾✰ wrote: "The Woman in the Window was a bit of a letdown.

I loved Sometimes I Lie! I can't wait for the sequel.
I will definitely be pre-ordering it."


I did not know there was a sequel, thanks for the tip.


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