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The 10 best thrillers and mysteries of 2017

Simone Massoni for The Washington Post (Simone Massoni for The Washington Post)

Bluebird, Bluebird

By Attica Locke (Mulholland)

Locke, a former writer and producer of the Fox series “Empire,” sets this novel in an East Texas town where two people have been murdered. Is it a hate crime? It’s up to Texas Ranger Darren Mathews, nephew of the state’s first black Texas ranger, to sort things out. Locke is a brisk writer with a sharp eye for the racial tensions that continue to simmer in small Southern communities.

Glass Houses

By Louise Penny (Minotaur)

We’re back in Three Pines in the company of detective Armand Gamache. On the first page, Gamache is already in the hot seat, being questioned about a murder. He describes a Halloween party disrupted by the appearance of a masked figure. Later, a body is discovered, along with some disturbing secrets that send a chill through this close-knit community.

A Legacy of Spies

By John le Carré (Viking)

More than 50 years after “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold,” le Carré has written what is essentially a sequel. Agent Peter Guillam is retired and living in France when he’s summoned back to London: The children of operatives who died in “Spy” are seeking answers — and justice. As Guillam searches his memory and pores over old intelligence reports, readers are led once again into the murky world of espionage by the 86-year-old master of the genre.

Little Deaths

By Emma Flint (Hachette)

“Little Deaths” revisits the case that grabbed headlines in the mid-1960s: the story of Alice Crimmins, who was found guilty of murdering her two children and, after a dizzying legal back-and-forth, released. Flint is scrupulous about centering this moody thriller in the facts yet giving them a deeper psychological spin. In a way that feels measured rather than salacious, Flint keeps aloft the crucial question of “Who murdered the children?” until the very last pages.

The Long Drop

By Denise Mina (Little, Brown)

Based on the true story of Scotland’s most infamous serial killer, this chilling novel is set in 1950s Glasgow. Peter Manuel committed seven grisly murders before he was hanged on the gallows of Barlinnie prison in 1958. (That’s the “long drop” of the title.) Here, Mina focuses on the triple murder of a family. She takes readers into the mind of a psychopath, as well as into the shadow lands where the grieving families of the victims find themselves exiled.

Not a Sound

By Heather Gudenkauf (Park Row)

There’s minimal blood and zero sexual depravity in Gudenkauf’s psychological suspense story. In terms of style, think Mary Higgins Clark or Lisa Scottoline, accented with a dash of inspiration from the vintage Audrey Hepburn movie “Wait Until Dark.” Like Hepburn’s character, Gudenkauf’s heroine, Amelia Winn, is physically challenged: A near-fatal accident left her deaf. When Amelia discovers the body of a friend in a nearby river, she becomes both a novice sleuth and a potential victim.

Prussian Blue

By Philip Kerr (Marian Wood/Putnam)

The 12th Bernie Gunther mystery is as brisk and agile as its German police detective protagonist. It moves back and forth between Nazi Germany in 1939 and the French Riviera in 1956, with two suspenseful tales that for a while seem unconnected but aren’t. Gunther is one of crime fiction’s most gratifyingly melancholy creations, and in “Prussian Blue,” we watch him match wits with the officialdom of pre- and postwar Germany.

Six Four

By Hideo Yokoyama (FSG)

This ingenious novel has no serial killers, no femmes fatales, no locked-room murders, no torture, no sexually repressed villains, not even much in the way of forensic evidence. Instead, we have one-sided telephone calls (one party does nothing but listen), bureaucratic infighting, snarled relations between the police department of a Japanese prefecture and the local media, and a strikingly original plot.

Sleep No More

By P.D. James (Knopf)

James, one of the greatest English mystery writers, died in 2014 at 94, but her work lives on. “Sleep No More” offers six previously uncollected, quite wonderful “murderous tales” that will delight her longtime fans and provide for others a fine introduction to her work. The stories collected here are surprising, sardonic and darkly humorous and are always intelligent and beautifully written.

The Switch

By Joseph Finder (Dutton)

It could happen to any of us: accidentally grabbing the wrong laptop off the security conveyor belt at the airport. For Michael Tanner, the hero of Finder’s propulsive novel, this innocent mishap puts him in the middle of a dangerous scenario involving lies, leaks and threats to our liberties. This innocent-man-on-the-run tale may sometimes feel over-the-top crazy, but it hits the mark regarding life under surveillance in the 21st century.

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