58 Best Mystery Books

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The mystery genre has captivated readers for generations with their intriguing plots, enigmatic characters, and suspenseful twists. 

Whether you’re a seasoned detective fiction enthusiast or just looking for a thrilling read, we’ve compiled a list of the some of the best mystery books that are bound to keep you on the edge of your seat. 

From classic whodunits to modern thrillers, this list has something for every mystery lover. 

So, prepare to embark on a thrilling journey through the world of suspense and intrigue as we explore the finest mysteries in literature.

58 Best Mystery Books

“The Hound of the Baskervilles” by Arthur Conan Doyle

This classic Sherlock Holmes mystery is set in the moors of England and involves an ancient family curse, a spectral hound, and a series of eerie events surrounding the Baskerville family. Holmes and Watson investigate the mysterious death of Sir Charles Baskerville and protect his heir, Sir Henry, from a similar fate.

“Murder on the Orient Express” by Agatha Christie

One of Agatha Christie’s most famous works, this novel features the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. Set aboard the luxurious Orient Express, Poirot must solve a murder that occurs during the journey. The book is renowned for its intricate plot and surprising twist ending.

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson

This contemporary thriller, set in Sweden, revolves around journalist Mikael Blomkvist and hacker Lisbeth Salander as they investigate the 40-year-old disappearance of a young woman from a wealthy family. The novel combines elements of murder mystery, love story, and financial intrigue.

“The Maltese Falcon” by Dashiell Hammett

A classic in the noir genre, this novel introduces private detective Sam Spade, who gets entangled in a quest for a priceless statuette – the Maltese Falcon. The story is famous for its complex plot and morally ambiguous characters.

“Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn

This contemporary psychological thriller narrates the story of Nick and Amy Dunne. The plot twists through the disappearance of Amy and the ensuing media frenzy, with alternating perspectives from Nick and Amy, leading to a gripping and unexpected climax.

“The Big Sleep” by Raymond Chandler

Featuring private detective Philip Marlowe, this novel is known for its complex plot involving blackmail, murder, and deceit. Set in Los Angeles, it’s celebrated for its hard-boiled writing style and atmospheric depiction of the city.

“In the Woods” by Tana French

This is the first book in the Dublin Murder Squad series. The story follows detectives Rob Ryan and Cassie Maddox as they investigate the murder of a young girl in a small Irish town, which eerily mirrors a past incident from Ryan’s childhood.

“The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown

A blend of art history, religion, and conspiracy theories, this thriller follows symbologist Robert Langdon and cryptologist Sophie Neveu as they unravel a series of puzzles leading to a secret guarded since the time of Christ. The novel is famous for its fast-paced narrative and controversial portrayal of historical and religious themes.

“Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier

This gothic novel tells the story of a young woman who marries a wealthy widower, Maxim de Winter, and moves to his large country estate, Manderley. There, she confronts the haunting legacy of his first wife, Rebecca, and the mysterious housekeeper Mrs. Danvers.

“The Name of the Rose” by Umberto Eco

Set in a 14th-century Italian monastery, this novel combines elements of a historical mystery with medieval studies and semiotics. The story follows Brother William of Baskerville as he investigates a series of mysterious deaths, with the novel exploring themes of heresy, logic, and the nature of truth.

“The Nine Tailors” by Dorothy L. Sayers

This is one of Dorothy L. Sayers’ most famous books featuring the gentleman detective Lord Peter Wimsey. Set in the small English village of Fenchurch St. Paul, the story revolves around a complex mystery involving a stolen emerald necklace, a corpse found in a grave, and an ancient art of bell ringing known as change ringing. The title refers to the nine tolls of a church bell to announce the death of a man.

“The Woman in White” by Wilkie Collins

Published in 1859, this is considered one of the first mystery novels and is a classic in the genre of sensation fiction. The plot begins with Walter Hartright’s eerie encounter with a solitary, ghostly woman dressed all in white. It unfolds into a tale of intrigue involving identity theft, romance, insanity, and legal machinations.

“I am Watching You” by Teresa Driscoll

This psychological thriller explores the aftermath of a young woman’s disappearance on a London-bound train. The narrative, which unfolds through multiple perspectives, delves into the lives of four characters who are somehow connected to the missing woman, revealing secrets and the unexpected ways their lives intertwine.

“And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie

Often considered Christie’s masterpiece, this story brings ten strangers to an isolated island, where an unseen host accuses each of them of getting away with murder. One by one, they start dying in ways that eerily match a nursery rhyme displayed in each of their rooms, leading to a tense and claustrophobic race to find the killer among them.

“The Silence of the Lambs” by Thomas Harris

This novel is a thrilling blend of psychological horror and crime investigation, following young FBI trainee Clarice Starling as she seeks the help of the imprisoned Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a brilliant psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer, to catch another serial killer known as “Buffalo Bill.”

“The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” by Alexander McCall Smith

Set in Botswana, this charming novel introduces Precious Ramotswe, who uses the inheritance from her father to set up the first female-owned detective agency. The book is a collection of cases that range from missing husbands to con men, showcasing the culture and landscape of Botswana.

“The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

This novel is a literary thriller set in post-Spanish Civil War Barcelona. It centers around a young boy who discovers a mysterious book by Julián Carax and sets out to find the author’s other works, only to discover that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written.

“The Moonstone” by Wilkie Collins

Another classic by Wilkie Collins, this book is often cited as one of the earliest detective novels. The story revolves around the mysterious disappearance of a large, priceless diamond called the Moonstone, and the subsequent investigation that uncovers family secrets and crimes.

“The Cuckoo’s Calling” by Robert Galbraith

Written by J.K. Rowling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, this contemporary detective novel introduces private investigator Cormoran Strike as he investigates the supposed suicide of a famous model, uncovering a complex web of deceit in the process.

“Presumed Innocent” by Scott Turow

This legal thriller tells the story of Rusty Sabich, a prosecutor in Kindle County, who is accused of murdering a colleague with whom he had an affair. The novel is renowned for its intricate plot, the portrayal of legal and political corruption, and its surprising twist ending.

“The Secret History” by Donna Tartt

This novel is a reverse murder mystery, where the murder is revealed at the beginning, and the story delves into the events leading up to it. Set in a small Vermont college, it follows a group of classics students who, under the influence of their charismatic professor, delve too deeply into ancient rituals, leading to tragic consequences.

“Anatomy of a Murder” by Robert Traver

This legal thriller, based on a true story, centers on a murder case in a small town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The novel is notable for its realistic depiction of courtroom strategy and legal procedure, as it follows defense attorney Paul Biegler who takes on a case where a lieutenant is accused of murdering a bartender.

“The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” by Arthur Conan Doyle

This collection of twelve short stories features the famous detective Sherlock Holmes and his loyal friend Dr. John Watson. Each story is a stand-alone mystery, showcasing Holmes’ extraordinary deductive abilities in solving various intriguing cases.

“Devil in a Blue Dress” by Walter Mosley

Set in 1948, this hard-boiled detective novel introduces African American private investigator Easy Rawlins in post-war Los Angeles. The story begins when Rawlins is hired to find a woman named Daphne Monet, leading him into a web of complex racial politics and a dark side of the city.

“The Thirty-Nine Steps” by John Buchan

This classic adventure novel features Richard Hannay, who finds himself entangled in an international plot involving espionage and murder after a chance encounter with a mysterious stranger. Hannay goes on the run across Scotland, trying to thwart the plot and clear his name.

“A Simple Plan” by Scott Smith

In this psychological thriller, two brothers and a friend find a crashed plane containing a large sum of money. Their decision to keep the money leads them down a dark path of deceit, mistrust, and murder, as their simple plan spirals out of control.

“The Alienist” by Caleb Carr

Set in 1896 New York City, this historical mystery follows newspaper reporter John Schuyler Moore and psychologist (or “alienist”) Dr. Laszlo Kreizler as they investigate a serial killer targeting street children. The novel blends historical detail with a suspenseful narrative.

“The Talented Mr. Ripley” by Patricia Highsmith

This psychological thriller introduces Tom Ripley, a young underachiever who becomes entangled in the lives of wealthy acquaintances and resorts to extreme measures to maintain a lavish lifestyle. The novel explores themes of identity, deception, and the dark side of the American dream.

“The Lincoln Lawyer” by Michael Connelly

This legal thriller features Mickey Haller, a defense attorney in Los Angeles who operates out of the back of his Lincoln Town Car. The plot centers on a high-profile case involving a wealthy realtor accused of assault, which quickly turns complicated and dangerous.

“Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn

This novel is a psychological thriller following Camille Preaker, a journalist who returns to her hometown to report on the murders of two preteen girls. As she delves into the investigation, Camille uncovers dark secrets about her own family and confronts her troubled past.

“The Postman Always Rings Twice” by James M. Cain

This is a classic crime novel known for its gritty realism and sexual tension. The story revolves around Frank Chambers, a drifter who stops at a rural California diner and starts an affair with the owner’s wife, Cora. Together, they plot to murder her husband, leading to a series of unexpected consequences.

“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” by John le Carré

A quintessential spy novel set during the Cold War, it follows George Smiley, a forced-retired MI6 officer, who is called back to uncover a Soviet mole in the British intelligence service. The novel is renowned for its complex plot, intricate characterizations, and a detailed portrayal of espionage.

“Mystic River” by Dennis Lehane

This novel is a psychological thriller and a crime drama. It begins with a tragic event involving three boys in Boston and then jumps ahead 25 years to follow the intertwined lives of these individuals, now grown, as they grapple with a murder that brings up past traumas and secrets.

“The Keeper of Lost Causes” by Jussi Adler-Olsen

This is the first book in the Department Q series and introduces Detective Carl Mørck. He’s assigned to run a new department for cold cases and begins with the disappearance of a prominent politician, Merete Lynggaard, uncovering unexpected twists in the process.

“The Dry” by Jane Harper

Set in a drought-stricken Australian town, this mystery follows Federal Agent Aaron Falk who returns to his hometown for the funeral of his childhood friend, who allegedly killed his family and then himself. Falk reluctantly agrees to investigate the case, revealing long-buried secrets and lies.

“Before I Go to Sleep” by S.J. Watson

This psychological thriller narrates the story of Christine, who wakes up every day with no memory as a result of a traumatic accident. The novel is Christine’s journey of trying to piece together her life, but she discovers that she cannot trust the people around her, not even herself.

“Death of a Red Heroine” by Qiu Xiaolong

Set in Shanghai in the 1990s, this novel introduces Chief Inspector Chen Cao. The story revolves around the murder of a National Model Worker, and as Chen investigates the politically sensitive case, he uncovers the dark side of the new China.

“Gaudy Night” by Dorothy L. Sayers

This is a Lord Peter Wimsey mystery, but it primarily features Harriet Vane, a mystery writer and Wimsey’s love interest. Harriet investigates a series of malicious pranks at an all-women’s college at Oxford University. The novel is known for its blend of mystery and a deep exploration of women’s roles in society.

“Magpie Murders” by Anthony Horowitz

This novel is a mystery within a mystery, where editor Susan Ryeland is given an unfinished manuscript of a detective novel. As she tries to find the missing chapters, she realizes that the manuscript may be hiding a real murder. The book pays homage to classic whodunits.

“The Secret Place” by Tana French

Part of the Dublin Murder Squad series, this novel centers on a murder investigation at an all-girls boarding school. Detective Stephen Moran teams up with Detective Antoinette Conway to unravel the case, which delves into the complex world of teenage friendships, rivalries, and secrets.

“The Ice Princess” by Camilla Läckberg

Set in a small Swedish town, this novel introduces writer Erica Falck, who returns to her hometown to find her childhood friend, Alexandra, dead in a bathtub. Teaming up with local detective Patrik Hedström, Erica uncovers secrets from her friend’s past, revealing a darker side of the seemingly peaceful town.

“Still Life” by Louise Penny

This is the first book in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, set in the fictional village of Three Pines in Quebec. The story begins with the death of a beloved local artist, Jane Neal, and as Gamache investigates, he uncovers layers of secrets and lies beneath the idyllic surface of the village.

“The Eighth Detective” by Alex Pavesi

A unique mystery novel that blends storytelling with the analysis of the genre itself. It follows a reclusive author, Grant McAllister, who wrote a collection of detective stories decades ago, based on mathematical principles. Julia Hart, a young editor, visits him to republish his work, only to discover discrepancies that hint at a real-life mystery.

“The Snowman” by Jo Nesbø

Part of the Harry Hole series, this thriller is set in Norway and features Detective Hole investigating the disappearance of a woman, with the only clue being a snowman left in her yard. The investigation reveals a serial killer who targets women and leaves a disturbing calling card.

“Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty

This novel is a modern take on the mystery genre, mixing dark humor with suspense. Set in an Australian suburb, the story revolves around three women, each with their own secrets and challenges, and a mysterious death that occurs during a school trivia night.

“Crooked House” by Agatha Christie

This standalone mystery novel involves the death of a wealthy patriarch, Aristide Leonides, in a large, twisted family home. The story is narrated by Charles Hayward, whose fiancée is a member of the household, and delves into family secrets and motives for murder.

“The Long Goodbye” by Raymond Chandler

A classic noir detective novel featuring private investigator Philip Marlowe. The story explores themes of friendship, morality, and corruption as Marlowe becomes involved with a troubled war veteran and a complex web of deceit involving the elite of Los Angeles.

“The Westing Game” by Ellen Raskin

This is a young adult mystery novel with a unique and engaging plot. Sixteen heirs are brought together to solve the puzzle of Sam Westing’s death, with the promise of a large inheritance. The book is known for its clever plot and memorable characters.

“Case Histories” by Kate Atkinson

This is the first book in the Jackson Brodie series. Set in Cambridge, it weaves together three seemingly unconnected family tragedies and a detective’s efforts to unravel the truth behind each case, exploring themes of loss, mystery, and redemption.

“In a Dark, Dark Wood” by Ruth Ware

A psychological thriller, this novel tells the story of Nora, who attends a bachelorette party for a friend she hasn’t seen in years in a remote house in the woods. The party turns sinister, and Nora must confront buried secrets from her past and a present-day murder.

“1Q84” by Haruki Murakami

This novel is a complex and surreal story that intertwines the lives of its two main characters, Aomame and Tengo, in an alternate version of the year 1984. The novel delves into themes of reality, fiction, and history, as the characters navigate a world filled with mysterious religious cults, parallel existences, and intricate plots.

“The Night Manager” by John le Carré

This spy novel follows Jonathan Pine, a former British soldier and night manager of a luxury hotel. Pine is recruited by intelligence operatives to infiltrate the inner circle of a dangerous arms dealer. The novel is a gripping exploration of the grim realities of the international arms trade and the blurred lines in espionage.

“The Likeness” by Tana French

The second book in the Dublin Murder Squad series, this novel centers on Detective Cassie Maddox, who goes undercover to solve a murder. The victim is eerily identical to Cassie and was living under an alias Cassie once used. The story delves into the psychology of identity and the past’s grip on the present.

“The Blue Nowhere” by Jeffery Deaver

This cyber thriller revolves around the hunt for a computer hacker known as Phate, who hacks into the personal lives of his victims to commit murder. The novel combines elements of traditional detective work with the emerging field of cybercrime, creating a high-tech game of cat and mouse.

“The Little Stranger” by Sarah Waters

Set in post-World War II Britain, this novel is a haunting tale of a declining English country house, Hundreds Hall, and its owners, the Ayres family. The story is narrated by Dr. Faraday, who becomes involved with the family and witnesses increasingly strange events, blurring the lines between psychological suspense and supernatural occurrences.

“The Beekeeper’s Apprentice” by Laurie R. King

This is the first book in the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series, where a teenage girl, Mary Russell, becomes the apprentice of the retired Sherlock Holmes. Set in 1915, the novel follows their partnership in solving various mysteries, offering a fresh take on the Holmes universe with a strong female lead.

“The Thirteenth Tale” by Diane Setterfield

A gothic suspense novel, it tells the story of reclusive author Vida Winter, who decides to reveal her life story to a young biographer, Margaret Lea. As Winter recounts her tale, it becomes clear that her life is full of dark secrets and twisted truths, reminiscent of a classic English novel.

“The Secret of the Old Clock” by Carolyn Keene

This is the first book in the iconic Nancy Drew mystery series. The young amateur sleuth, Nancy Drew, sets out to solve a mystery involving a missing will, helping to save the fortunes of a kind family. The novel combines adventure, suspense, and deduction, establishing the character of Nancy Drew as a role model for generations.

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