The results are in for the BestThrillers.com Book Awards, the award series that recognizes the year’s top English-language books across 15 major categories: Action Thriller, Crime Thriller, Conspiracy Thriller, Fantasy, Historical Thriller, Horror, Legal Thriller, Medical Thriller, Military Thriller, Mystery, Political Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Romantic Suspense, Sci-Fi and Spy Thriller.
The Book of the Year honor goes to Girl Missing by Kate Gable, a murder mystery about a missing 13-year-old girl who vanishes on her way back from a friend’s home.
Category winners and finalists include authors from all walks of life, ranging from bestselling novelists to newcomers. To mention just a few: decorated soldier-turned journalist and PR executive Gojan Nikolich won Best Psychological Thriller for Ashes in Venice; Theresa Griffin Kennedy won Best Romantic Suspense for Talionic Night in Portland: A Love Story; first-time novelist Davide Tarsitano is a Horror finalist for his debut, The Tooth Fairy; veteran screenwriter Michael Frost Beckner, who created the classic Brad Pitt/Robert Redford film film Spy Game, won in the Spy Thriller category with Muir’s Gambit: A Spy Game Novel.
Once again, winners and finalists hail from all over the world, including India (The 1st Assassin), Belgium (Shadow of the Mole), Japan (Ways to Die in Tokyo), Canada (The Other Side), the U.K. (A Pyrrhic Victory) and elsewhere.
And now, the complete list of the winners and finalists of the 2022 BestThrillers.com Book Awards (bonus: want to talk about these great books with other readers? Join our Book Award Group on GoodReads!).
BOOK OF THE YEAR
Girl Missing by Kate Gable
When her 13-year-old sister vanishes on her way back from a friend’s house, Detective Kaitlyn Carr must confront demons from her own past in order to bring her sister home.
The small mountain town of Big Bear Lake is only three hours away but a world away from her life in Los Angeles.
It’s the place she grew up and the place that’s plagued her with lies, death and secrets.
As Kaitlyn digs deeper into the murder that she is investigating and her sister’s disappearance, she finds out that appearances are misleading and few things are what they seem.
A murderer is lurking in the shadows and the more of the mystery that Kaitlyn unspools the closer she gets to danger herself.
Can Kaitlyn find the killer and solve the mystery of her sister’s disappearance before it’s too late?
What happens when someone else is taken?
BEST ACTION THRILLER
Blaze In, Blaze Out by Joseph Lewis
Working with a joint multi-law enforcement task force, Detective Pat O’Connor infiltrated a Ukrainian crime family headed by Dmitry Andruko. O’Connor and his control, Detective Paul Eiselmann were the linchpins in the guilty verdict.
The two detectives thought it was over.
Eiselmann planned for a quiet weekend with his family at home. O’Connor planned on attending a high school soccer game and then head to Northern Wisconsin for a fishing trip with another cop, Detective Jamie Graff and four teenage, adopted brothers: George Tokay, Brian Evans, Brett McGovern, and Michael Two Feathers.
But Andruko is ruthless and vindictive. From his prison cell, he hires two contract killers to kill both O’Connor and Eiselmann and anyone else in the way. The killers can be anyone. The killers could be anywhere, and the killers could strike at any time.
The quiet weekend and the short vacation turn into a deadly nightmare as O’Connor’s and Eiselmann’s lives and the lives of the four boys are in peril.
Ways to Die in Tokyo by Thomas Ran Garver
Richter’s War: The Case of the Ghostly Seance by Daniel P Douglas
BEST CONSPIRACY THRILLER
KGB Banker by William Burton McCormick and John Christmas
A return trip to the land of his ancestors is about to turn deadly for one whistleblowing Chicago banker.
When financial executive Bob Vanags takes a job at ominous Turaida Bank in Latvia, he hopes to learn of his heritage and to fight economic fraud in Eastern Europe.
Instead, Bob finds himself pulled into a world of political intrigue, blackmail, and murder.
Aided by his son David, his beautiful colleague Agnese, and a fearless Latvian journalist named Santa Ezeriņa, Bob begins to unravel his employer’s darkest secrets, discovering their sins and conspiracies beyond his wildest fears.
Secrets that Turaida wants to keep hidden, even at the cost of Bob’s life.
Now framed for murder by Turaida operatives, Bob must go on the run to clear his name, protect his family, and reveal the plot to the world before governments topple and war ignites in Europe.
The Master Mind by Mark Schorr
The 1st Assassin by Mainak Dhar
BEST CRIME THRILLER
Azabu Getaway by Michael Pronko
Money isn’t the only thing. It’s the deadly thing.
After the murder of a high-flying executive in one of Tokyo’s wealth management firms, Detective Hiroshi finds himself investigating the financial schemes that secure the money of Tokyo’s elite investors.
His forensic accounting gets sidetracked, though, by a second murder and the abduction of two girls from the home of a hotshot wealth manager.
The abducted girls are the daughters of an international couple who seemed to have it all—a large apartment in the high-end Azabu district, top schools for the children, and a life of happy affluence. Their life falls apart and they are swept up in threats and pursuits for reasons they cannot fathom.
Tracking the money and tracking the two daughters leads Hiroshi into Tokyo’s murky financial past and outside Japan’s borders as he discovers how overseas investments and tax shelters are really managed.
Hiroshi works with Sakaguchi and Takamatsu and others on the homicide team, including an assertive new detective, as they confront greed and violence in one of the wealthiest cities in the world.
Azabu Getaway is the fifth novel in the award-winning Detective Hiroshi series.
Until Proven Guilty by Debbie Burke
Hero Haters by Ken MacQueen
BEST FANTASY THRILLER
Daemon Blood by Mary Maddox
Lu Darlington is a seer, bound to the daemon Talion through ritual and blood. It’s not a role she enjoys, but she has little choice: daemons take what they want and destroy whoever stands in their way.
So Lu’s surprised when Talion doesn’t punish her for her newfound ability to keep him from possessing her whenever he likes. In fact he’s pleased. The stronger she is, he explains, the more powerful he becomes.
And he needs that power, because a war is brewing in the daemon world, a war that will be fought by—and through—humans.
Lu’s friend Lisa Duncan can’t see daemons but she’s seen what they can do and so has stayed far away from Lu for years. But after a bizarre attack on Lisa leaves a man dead and she learns it’s only the first skirmish in the daemon war, Lisa realizes the safest place to be is with Lu.
Then Talion sends Lu away to teach her skills to another seer and Lisa must stay behind to look after Lu’s son Solly, conceived through a daemon ceremony with Talion. At four years old Solly’s seer abilities are already so strong Lisa is sometimes more afraid of Solly than for him.
As Talion’s enemies grow bolder, Lisa and Lu face attacks from every direction. There seems little hope any of them will survive—until Talion and his allies devise a plan.
The only problem is how much it will cost.
Requiem For A Queen by Kaylin McFarren
Endeavor’s Run by Tobin Marks
BEST HISTORICAL THRILLER
Blood Before Dawn by Daniel V. Meier, Jr.
In April of 1979, Ken Verrier and his wife, Sam, return to Liberia to buy diamonds.
They did not return to get caught up in a rice riot and a coup de’etat. But that’s what happens.
Ken witnesses and unwittingly participates in a period of Liberia’s tumultuous yet poorly documented history—the overthrow of the Tolbert presidency and ultimately the end of the Americo-Liberian one hundred thirty-three years of political and social dominance.
Details of President Tolbert’s assassination are sketchy, but through Ken’s association with his Americo friends from the past, the CIA agents he meets, and the Liberian military he is forced to deal with, a believable scenario emerges.
Shadow of the Mole by Bob Van Laerhoven
Betrayal at the Border by Mark Bello
BEST HORROR & PARANORMAL
River of Ashes by Alexandrea Weis and Lucas Astor
Some truths are better kept secret. Some secrets are better off dead.
Along the banks of the Bogue Falaya River, sits the abandoned St. Francis Seminary. Beneath a canopy of oaks, blocked from prying eyes, the teens of St. Benedict High gather here on Fridays. The rest of the week belongs to school and family—but weekends belong to the river.
And the river belongs to Beau Devereaux.
The only child of a powerful family, Beau can do no wrong. Star quarterback. Handsome. Charming. The “prince” of St. Benedict is the ultimate catch.
He is also a psychopath.
A dirty family secret buried for years, Beau’s evil grows unchecked. In the shadows of the haunted abbey, he commits unspeakable acts on his victims and ensures their silence with threats and intimidation. Senior year, Beau sets his sights on his girlfriend’s headstrong twin sister, Leslie, who hates him. Everything he wants but cannot have, she will be his ultimate prize.
As the victim toll mounts, it becomes clear that someone must stop Beau Devereaux.
And that someone will pay with their life.
The Tooth Fairy by Davide Tarsitano
The Desecrated by John Gray
BEST LEGAL THRILLER
The Ambulance Chaser by Brian Cuban
After being accused of the murder of a high school classmate thirty years prior, lawyer Jason Feldman becomes a fugitive from justice to find the one person who can prove his innocence and save the life of his son.
Pittsburgh personal injury lawyer and part-time drug dealer Jason Feldman’s life goals are simple: date hot women, earn enough cash to score cocaine on a regular basis, and care for his dementia-ravaged father. That all changes when a long-lost childhood friend contacts him about the discovery of buried remains belonging to a high school classmate who went missing thirty years prior, and the fragile life Jason’s built over his troubled past is about to come crashing down. Soon, he’s on the run across Pittsburgh and beyond to find his old friend, while trying to figure out whom to trust among Ukrainian mobsters, vegan drug dealers, washed-up sports stars, an Israeli James Bond, and an ex-wife who happens to be the district attorney. The only way he’ll survive is if he overcomes his addictions so he can face his childhood demons.
Money for Nothing by Karen S. Gordon
God’s Ponzi by Robert Buschel
BEST MEDICAL THRILLER
Waterborne by J. Luke Bennecke
A thought-provoking thriller about a very real threat to the essence of life: water.
You’ll be forced to consider how you’d react if you were cornered and trapped in a terrifying, life-threatening situation.
Jake Bendel and a cunning team of experts create a five-plant desalination system – all powered by environmentally friendly molten salt reactors – providing clean, healthy drinking water to millions of thirsty Californians.
But the dark side of humanity sees this as a chance for revenge against the United States. A genius weaponizes the system, threatening to kill more Americans than all of World War II.
The clock is ticking. Can Jake and the FBI stop the terrorists before more innocent people are murdered in the name of the Jihad?
Toxic Effects by Joel Shulkin, MD
A Pyrrhic Victory by N.E. Miller
BEST MILITARY THRILLER
Cardinal Virtues by R.G. Roberts
Commander Alex Coleman is no hero. Just ask him.
It’s 2037 and Alex is one more disobeyed order away from kissing his naval career goodbye.
He used to be high speed, the kind of officer on the fast track to submarine command. Then he threw it all away trying to save a few civilian lives from his glory hungry commanding officer. No pain no gain, right? Alex isn’t sorry he did the right thing but being everyone’s favorite scapegoat isn’t fun.
Now, he’s marking time to retirement on Armistice Station, an underwater megastation where you can buy and do anything—except salvage a trashed Navy career. Alex is stuck doling out supplies to visiting Navy ships and chasing unruly sailors, just how he wanted to spend his last years in the good old U.S. Navy.
But things aren’t quiet in Alex’s underwater amusement park. France and India are expanding into the Indian Ocean and want the United States out, and Alex’s eclectic band of castoff sailors are all that’s in their way.
Armed with nothing but creativity and coffee creamer fireballs, Alex must team up with the admiral who hates him most. Together, they must escape the jaws of a closing enemy trap set by the canny French commander who ruined his career in the first place.
Can Alex outsmart her this time, or will he end up as the first POW in the next world war?
Upriver by Martin Roy Hill
In Danger of Judgment by David Rabin
Huron Breeze by Landon Beach
Ten years ago, legendary author Riley Cannon produced three of the best-selling thriller novels of all-time. Then, she vanished, leaving the final three books of the saga unfinished and producing the biggest mystery in the history of publishing.
Now, a decade later, there is word from her mega-agent, the glamorous and powerful Topaz Kennedy, that a new Cannon novel is all-but-finished. But, Topaz knows the truth: Riley Cannon hasn’t even started the book. With the clock counting down to the publication date, desperate measures are needed…
Meanwhile, in the sunrise-side town of Hampstead, Michigan, thirty-five-year-old Kaj Reynard emerges from Lake Huron on a cool June night and falls face down on the beach next to a fading bonfire—with a knife stuck in his back. Who murdered him? And why?
Enter veteran Hampstead P.I. Obadiah Ben-David, a man who has never taken on a case that he couldn’t solve. But this mystery is different. The only piece of evidence is the knife, which has no prints. Not a soul saw or heard a boat that night, and the woman sitting by her bonfire did not see anyone else in the water. It is almost as if the deep blue waters of Lake Huron killed Kaj Reynard, and the Huron breezes blew him to shore.
With Hampstead in jeopardy of losing its summer revenue from vacationers who are chilled to their bones of a murderer on the loose, Ben-David takes on an apprentice—a computer coder, Rachel Roberts, who lives down the beach from where Kaj came ashore. Bored by her solitary existence behind a screen all day, Rachel thinks that becoming a P.I. would be a welcome sea change in her own life. But neither of them can foresee the tangled web of lies, treachery, and danger they will encounter.
For when the summer Huron breezes arrive, the blood boils, the inhibitions disappear, and no one is safe.
Murder in the Tea Leaves by Carter Fielding
The Other Side by A.J. McCarthy
BEST POLITICAL THRILLER
The Doomsday Medallion by Avanti Centrae
Sixteenth-century French prophet Nostradamus predicted the Great Fire of London, Napoleon’s conquest, Hitler’s rule, and the atomic bomb. Can the VanOps team keep the old seer’s secrets out of blood-stained hands?
Aikido black belt Maddy Marshall is celebrating the completion of her black ops training when news of a military takeover in the South China Sea shocks the world because it was predicted by a sixteen-year-old French student. When intel chatter spells danger to Avril, the young seer, VanOps Director Bowman assigns Marshall and her twin brother, Will Argones, to protect the girl.
Emotions between the siblings are running hot due to their aunt’s recent stroke, which has reminded them of the childhood accident that scarred both his chin and her heart. Tensions ratchet higher when they arrive at Avril’s home to find the instant social media star has been kidnapped, leaving them with only clenched fists and cryptic clues that lead to a formula encoded on an etched-bronze medallion.
While Taiwan fears an invasion that will set off an apocalyptic chain of events, Marshall and Argones race through medieval French towns, Italian cathedrals, and ancient Greek temples attempting to find Avril before their enemies use the girl to discover the Holy Grail of military intelligence. If the team fails, they won’t need a crystal ball to know millions of innocent souls will be destined to join Nostradamus in the afterlife.
Counterintelligence by Michele Packard
Girls, Crimes, and the Ruling Body by Barry R. Ziman
BEST PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER
Ashes in Venice by Gojan Nikolich
A heartless psychopath with size 16 shoes, nursing home hookers and an irreverent Las Vegas homicide detective with a gambling habit set the tone for this off-beat tale of revenge and retribution.
Blackjack addict Frank Savic is deeply in debt and facing family problems when he’s asked to delay his retirement to catch a vigilante killer who murders other murderers in a manner the veteran cop has never seen.
While dead bodies stack up in quick succession, the motorcycle-riding policeman also finds himself reluctantly involved with a desperate mother who will do anything to get justice for her dead son.
Savic, his investigation complicated by a suspected FBI coverup and a prison bribery scandal, is unaware that the murderer might be the solution to his own financial and domestic dilemma.
Add a vengeful killer who seeks justice for his own unbearable loss and you have a teasing psychological thriller that blurs the line between good and evil and where surgical bone saws and spiders are just tools of the trade.
Yes, there are spiders.
Gag Me by Susan Wingate
If She Wakes by Erik Therme
BEST ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
Talionic Night in Portland: A Love Story by Theresa Griffin Kennedy
Talionic Night in Portland: A Love Story is a dark, sexually riveting and comical account of how some people come to grips with long repressed rage that can present itself later in life.
Daisy Rose Butterfield has a name, a job and a life she seems to hate, and a trove of long-held secrets.
Then one typical overcast Portland day a Prince Charming arrives to fix the toilet.
Tab Hunter Blaine is everything Daisy has avoided all her life – he’s older, he never attended college, and he works as a grade school custodian, a job he hates. He’s also gorgeous and accommodating and acts as dynamite to Daisy’s slow burning sexuality.
But Tab brings his own baggage in the form of an estranged wife, Ruby and his girlfriend “on the side,” Verona. This doesn’t cause Daisy much concern, until Ruby and Verona get wind that Tab might be cheating on them.
That’s when the fun starts.
Can sex heal you, even when it’s all wrong? Can sexual obsession morph into love? Can you survive the sexual abuse you experienced as a child? And can you survive when your past, present and future collide one chilly, Talionic night in Portland?
The Child Riddler by Angela Greenman
Destiny Lives on Fairhaven Street by CJ Hudson
BEST SCI-FI THRILLER
The Mirror Man by J.B. Manas
He could see everyone’s past but his own.
Julian Black avoids people.
Tormented by the ability to experience their most intimate, painful memories with a single touch, he reluctantly begins using his skill to assist tenacious Philadelphia police detective Lela Mars.
But his life is soon upended when he’s captured by an equally gifted man claiming to be from his past—a suave master thief who can make people forget.
Now this mysterious stranger is ordering Julian to obtain a vital government secret that could shift the balance of world power.
With Lela Mars as his only ally, Julian faces an impossible choice: Comply or pit his wits against the world’s most secretive and deadly crime organization.
BioMass: Rewind by Terry Persun
The Devil’s Calling by Michael Kelly
BEST SPY THRILLER
Muir’s Gambit: A Spy Game Novel By Michael Frost Beckner
A prequel novel to his #1 hit motion picture, the Robert Redford/Brad Pitt thriller Spy Game, Michael Frost Beckner’s Muir’s Gambit opens with the assassination of retired CIA hero Charlie March.
Mentor to Redford’s Nathan Muir, by his murder, Charlie March presents Langley the perfect opportunity to rid themselves of Cold War dinosaur Muir.
Set 48-hours before the events of Spy Game, Muir’s Gambit introduces hard-luck CIA lawyer Russell Aiken dispatched to force Muir’s confession.
For Aiken, it’s as much an escape as an assignment. Running from a crime of passion, he’s the protégé Muir cast aside in favor of Tom Bishop. Tormented by Muir’s denial of his ambitions, Aiken thirsts for payback unaware that Muir launched a different game for him long ago, and he has 24-hours to learn its rules, plays, and stakes.
As the two spies play at a dangerous cat-and-mouse interrogation over the dark underbelly of forty years of CIA operations, conspiracies, assassinations, and deadly secrets, Muir’s Gambit works as a dual confession by two unreliable narrators.
A scathing indictment of Cold War spy games, Muir’s Gambit is also an examination of the human condition, the cost to the soul when moral men sanctioned to do the immoral, have one night to regain some shred of decency before the dawn, and come to terms over the one moral spy, Tom Bishop, who stands between them.