KRL Editor’s Favorite Books of 2023

by Lorie Lewis Ham

We had so many books on our Staff Favorites of 2023 list that I made mine into a separate list which you will find here. To check out everyone else’s favorites just click here! Details at the end of the post on how to enter to win a $5 Amazon gift card!

I know I say this every year, but it’s true LOL. I never manage to read and review as many books as the rest of the gang, but I do manage to read quite a variety of mysteries, including ones that are a mix of mystery and fantasy. This year I also added mystery manga to my list! Since I review less than everyone else, I am going to share with you all of the books I reviewed in 2023, in no particular order, because they were all favorites.

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This was my first year reviewing mystery manga from YenPress. Most of them had a supernatural element to them, and all can be found in our new Manga category! Favorites included Oshi Noko and Associate Professor Akira Takatsuki’s Conjecture. Watch for many more coming in 2024!

I reviewed two books by Keri Arthur last year, both falling into the mystery/fantasy category that I love. First, was the second book in her Relic Hunter Series, Sword of Darkness, and the other was the latest in her Lizzie Grace series Wraith’s Revenge. I love Keri’s blending of mystery and fantasy and already in 2024 reviewed the second to last in her Lizzie Grace series. 

As usual, I also reviewed several LGBTQ+ mysteries this year and had the privilege of reviewing two books that feature trans main characters written by trans authors. Red Market is the latest in Dharma Kelleher’s Jinx Ballou bounty hunter series. This series is a bit edgier than I typically read, but the characters and stories are great and I can’t wait for the next book coming out in 2024. I also reviewed BeatNikki’s Café by Renee James which was more thriller/drama than a mystery, but it had me on the edge of my seat and at the same time broke my heart with what the main character Nikki went through as a transgender woman/mom.

Neil S. Plakcy is another favorite LGBTQ+ author whose books I reviewed last year. I reviewed the latest in his Angus Green FBI agent series Brackish Water, and the most recent books in his Golden Retriever mystery series Dog of Thieves and All Dog’s Children. I love this series and it has been featured more than once on Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast.

Michael Craft released the second book in his Dante and Jazz mystery series, Desert Deadline, which was just as much fun as the first book. I look forward to more in this series as well.

Another thriller that I reviewed last year was Killer Story by Matt Witten. As I said before, I don’t read many thrillers, but I never say no to a book by Matt Witten. He is a wonderful storyteller. This one involved a true crime podcast with plenty of twists and turns, and as you may have guessed I also love podcasts.

The one non-fiction book I reviewed this year was The Art of The Real Tom Sawyer, which shared the comic book art of Tom Sawyer, who many here will know best as one of the writers on Murder She Wrote. It was a fun and interesting walk through his career.

The only police procedural I reviewed this year was one set in Japan. My love of manga and anime has deepened my interest in Japan, so I couldn’t resist a mystery set there. A Death in Tokyo by Keigo Higashino is the third book in a four-book series featuring Tokyo Police detective Kyoichiro Kaga. I will be reviewing the final book next month, and have enjoyed them so much that I plan to go back and read the first two. The cover compares Kaga to Hercule Poirot.

Speaking of Poirot, I had the pleasure of reviewing Sophie Hannah’s latest Poirot book, Hercule Poirot’s Silent Night this year. As a fan of Agatha Christie, I have enjoyed these new stories and Sophie’s personal spin on them. Her portrayal of Poirot is true to the character, and she brings a new character into the series as her narrator.

I am a huge fan of the show Vera, based on the books by Ann Cleeves, and very much enjoyed the latest book in her newer series featuring Detective Matthew Venn, The Raging Storm. I also had the privilege of interviewing Ann.

Two of the handful of cozies I reviewed this year involve coffee! I love coffee in real life and in fiction! Emmeline Duncan’s relatively new series features Sage Caplin who has a coffee cart and a growing coffee business in Portland, Oregon. Last year I read the third book in the series, Flat White Fatality. This is another fun series, and it is set in one of my favorite places. I look forward to reviewing book four this year.

The other coffee-related mystery that I reviewed last year was the latest Coffeehouse Mystery from one of my all-time favorite authors, Cleo Coyle. Bulletproof Barista is the 20th book in this series and is every bit as good as the previous 19! It features barista and coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi, and as I said in my review, whenever I pick up one of Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse Mysteries I feel like I’m hanging out in my favorite coffee shop with old friends! Set in New York, this book had the added fun twist of involving a mystery TV show which is obviously loosely based on Only Murders In The Building! This may be my favorite one of the series so far!

Speaking of mystery TV, I also reviewed the latest Marlow Murder Club book, Death Comes to Marlow, written by Robert Thorogood who is known for creating the extremely popular mystery TV show Death in Paradise which airs on Britbox.

With Kathleen Costa leaving us last year due to an urgent family health crisis, I have taken on some of the mystery TV reviewing and reviewed two wonderfully fun shows on AcornTV, Mrs. Sidhu Investigates and The Chelsea Detective, as well as the second season of Harry Wild.

We really miss Kathleen and her wonderful You’re the Top List at the beginning of each year, but you can find all of her past reviews on KRL by clicking here, and on KRL News and Reviews by clicking here. We brought on a lot of new reviewers over the last few months so next year’s list should be even longer!

If you would like to read about some of the books I have read that I didn’t review, that is something I share with those who support us on Patreon! As we get more patrons we hope to be able to share even more bonus content. Even $1 a month can be a great help in our efforts to continue to bring you even more mystery fun and so much more, I hope you will consider supporting us in 2024!

Please share with us some of your favorite mystery books and TV shows from 2023 in the comments below—each comment will count as an entry for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card! You can also enter by simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "2023 favorites.” A winner will be chosen February 3, 2024. US residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via comment please include your email address so we can contact you. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. 

 Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And check out our new mystery podcast which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors! 

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and a contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds. Explore Lorie's mystery writing including her latest mystery novel One of Us, a Tower District Mystery, at Mysteryrat's Closet.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. What a great collection of books. Many have gone on my TBR. I like to read a variety and in 2023 read fun cozies, scary thrillers, some excellent non-fiction. My two favorites of the year were Hello Stranger by Katherine Center and In the Likely Event by Rebecca Yarros. And of course anything A. W. Hartoin writes is scooped up at once. And what would we do without ACORN TV? And podcasts? Happy 2024!

  2. One book that stands out to me from 2023 is Starter Villain by John Scalzi. Great mix of crime and fantasy plus CATS.

  3. I think my favorites would have to be Won Ton Terror by Vivienn Chien and Steeped in Murder by Vicki Delaney. More hard boiled fiction would be Too Many Bullets by Max Allan Collins.


  4. The Poisoner's Ring by Kelley Armstrong. It a time travel novel where a modern day cop goes back in time a helps solves murders.

  5. Thank you for this wonderful book recommendations! Have added them to my very long TBR!
    I love mystery and suspense thrillers. I loved The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon by Damyanti Biswas which are engrossing and suspenseful! I also enjoyed some cozies like A Parfait Crime by Maya Corrigan and A Sprinkling of Murder by Daryl Wood Gerber.

  6. I am eagerly awaiting Jane Willan's next Sister Agatha book. Abide with Me is terrific!

  7. I am eagerly awaiting Jane Willan's next Sister Agatha book! Abide with Me was lovely.

  8. We have a winner!

  9. I am a big fan of Louise Penny's books, have read al l18 of them, and I am looking forward to her 19th book this autumn!

    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com


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