Perhaps there is nothing better at grabbing our attention than a good mystery! Mysteries are unique for their interesting story lines, usually revolving around crime. The who-done-it has been around for a while, typically in the form of murder mysteries. From Sherlock Holmes to famous comic-book heroes like Batman, the mystery pervades all genres of entertainment.
We love mysteries because of their suspense. The formula hasn’t changed, and it doesn’t need to. There’s always a sense of danger around the corner and a twist at the end sure to shock us. All we care about is finding out what happens next. That’s why popular mystery novels never seem to go out of style.
What Did These Mystery Books Do To Qualify For This List
Any time you are ranking the best of something the results are usually somewhat subjective but we have did our best to come up with a list the readers of the mystery genre will truly like. To come up with this list we took into account:
- quantity and quality of user reviews
- sales data
- public perception
- opinions of readers of this genres
- commercial success
- and of course personal opinion
Take a look at the best Mystery Books you can read right now:
Table of Contents
Best Mystery Books
Here are the best mystery books by the experts:
1)Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie
- Book Summary:Murder on the Orient Express is a murder-mystery taken place in the 1930s aboard a luxurious passenger train. As with many of Agatha Christie’s novels, this too made it to the big screen in 2017 with an unparalleled cast including Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz, Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe, and Derek Jacobi.Soon into the story, a murder is discovered, onboard the train, however, you have vacationing Hercule Poirot, whom so it happens is a Belgian detective. So whom is the murderer? Could it be any of the breathing passengers on the train, someone that may have snuck onto the train or a conspiracy amongst all on board?
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2)Basic Instinct, by Richard Osborne
- Book Summary:The novel to this film was written after the release of the movie. Some would suggest the novel is more entertaining than the film itself. The story brings a combination of a rather violent detective and manipulative and seductive female crime writer.
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3)The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsso
- Book Summary:The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is the story of Harriet Vanger, the heir of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families who disappeared nearly half a century ago. Now her aging uncle persists to find the truth. He hires journalist Mikael Blomkvist to investigate.
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4)Angels & Demons (Robert Langdon), by Dan Brown
- Book Summary:An ancient secret brotherhood. A devastating new weapon of destruction. An unthinkable target. When world-renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to his first assignment to a Swiss research facility to analyze a mysterious symbol—seared into the chest of a murdered physicist—he discovers evidence of the unimaginable: the resurgence of an ancient secret brotherhood known as the Illuminati…the most powerful underground organization ever to walk the earth. The Illuminati has now surfaced to carry out the final phase of its legendary vendetta against its most hated enemy—the Catholic Church.
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5)Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane
- Book Summary:In the year 1954, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, come to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, to investigate an unexplained disappearance. Multiple murderess Rachel Solando is loose somewhere on this barren island, despite having been kept under constant surveillance in a locked, guarded cell. As a killer hurricane bears relentlessly down on the island, hints of radical experimentation and covert government machinations add darker, more sinister shades to an already bizarre case. Because nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is remotely what it seems.
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6)Mystic River, by Dennis Lehane
- Book Summary:The novel circles around three boys who grow up together. As the story begins, one of the boys is snatched by child molesters while the other two boys are playing nearby.
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7)Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, by Patrick Süskind
- Book Summary:In this story, you have a man with one impeccable skill; a sense of smell. Pursuing the art of being a perfumer isn’t enough for him though. Instead, his passion leads him on a dark path searching for the ultimate scent.
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8)Postmortem, by Patricia Cornwell
- Book Summary:Taking place in Richmond, Virgina, Medical examiner Kay Scarpetta has bad vibes: a serial killer on the loose leaving very few clues. Is this going to be just like any of her cases or is something more sinister at work here?
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9)The Bone Collector, by Jeffery Deaver
- Book Summary:Lincoln Rhyme was a luminous criminologist and accomplished in the field of forensics — until an accident left him physically disabled and emotionally broken.
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10)The Secret Place, by Tana French
- Book Summary:A year ago a boy was found murdered at a girlsʼ boarding school, and the case was never solved. Detective Stephen Moran has been waiting for his chance to join Dublin’s Murder Squad when sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey arrives in his office with a photo of the boy with the caption: “I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM.” Stephen joins with Detective Antoinette Conway to reopen the case—beneath the watchful eye of Holly’s father, fellow detective Frank Mackey. With the clues leading back to Holly’s close-knit group of friends, to their rival clique, and to the tangle of relationships that bound them all to the murdered boy, the private underworld of teenage girls turns out to be more mysterious and more dangerous than the detectives imagined. One of the best mystery books of all time.
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Best Mystery Movies
If you enjoyed the best mystery books, why stop there? Take a look at our list of best mystery movies and witness these marvelous films from the big screen.
Movie Summary:A young African American man visits his Caucasian girlfriend’s cursed family estate.
Hands down the best movie of 2017. The Shape of Water was good but this movie is great. Don’t miss it. For those viewers who think they won’t like it because there is a “horror” component, fear not. I thought the same and was talked into seeing it by the universal nagging from everyone I know who’d seen it. Liked it so much I may watch it again.
Loved this. Rich with all the right elements: Suspense, sunny new love, jump out of your seat foreshadowing, racial tension with perfect balance of wit and truth/revelation. Nicely paced, packed with quiet double entendre, and just enough special effects to keep it all truly weird and suspenseful. I tuned in after hearing Daniel K say Stepford Wives (70’s) inspired him – as well as muddled racial times we’re living in. Enjoyed the alternate ending, but it was the wrong way to go. The chosen ending was just right for the tone for this movie. So much fun. Why couldn’t the Stepford Wives remake have had such fresh relevance, and great characters and effects. Enjoy this smart, dark, mystery, and some great writing.
Movie Summary:When U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) arrives at the asylum for the criminally insane on Shutter Island, what starts as a routine investigation quickly takes a sinister turn. As the investigation unfolds and Teddy uncovers more shocking and terrifying truths about the island, he learns there are some places that never let you go.
CAPTIVATING! This is a movie that I overlooked several times on Amazon, only because of the title. But to my surprise this movie was the absolute best intensifying movie I have seen in a really long time. The whole movie was very strategically thought out. And I can say this honestly because most movies I can normally tell you the ending before it happens, but this movie wasn’t one of those movies. You have to, no you must watch this movie.
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Fionnula Flanagan, and Christopher Eccleston
Directed by: Alejandro Amenábar
Movie Summary:Screen sensation Nicole Kidman delivers an utterly unforgettable performance in this scary and stylish thriller! While awaiting her husband’s return from war, Grace(Kidman) and her two young children live an unusually isolated existence behind the locked doors and drawn curtains of a secluded island mansion.
A top-notch supernatural thriller with Nicole Kidman chewing up the scenery as a seemingly devoted mother with some kind of personality disorder. The mystery movie gives you just enough clues to realize that something is wrong, and clever enough to not give you enough clues to figure out just what is wrong. A very moving tale of the living and the dead. It reminded me a little bit about the movie: The Sixth Sense with Bruce Willis. You’re just not sure what is going on, and yet the movie does throw clues that you that something is amiss. Something is not right. For fans of the supernatural genre, I highly recommend this now classic excellent movie. You will not be disappointed.
4)The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Movie Summary:A journalist is aided in his search for a woman who has been missing — or dead — for forty years by a young female hacker.
I’ve never reviewed a movie, but let me say that this movie compelled me to do so, it was that good. I found it to be utterly superb. The cast is great, the sets and locations are well chosen and are interesting to my American eye, as is the language unique to my ears. Even though the dialogue is critical to follow, the subtitles are not at all distracting. The story flowed very nicely, and the plot continued to build while maintaining interest, suspense, and, certainly more than once, fear. And the story is, indeed, as revolting as it is captivating. I won’t bother to offer a synopsis as many others have already done so, but yes, it is undeniably a mature movie.
Movie Summary:A man juggles searching for his wife’s murderer and keeping his short-term memory loss from being an obstacle.
What an unusual movie. Special effects at the beginning running the film backwards lets you know you will be seeing the movie in rewind mode. Imagine you have to cope with short term memory loss, that what you experienced will be gone in the next few minutes. Leonard has to take quick notes and snapshots to remember and give him a reference for what and why things are happening in the present. If he wakes up next to a strange woman in bed and doesn’t remember her he has to ask or find a clue as to how she got there. He is vulnerable to not-so-nice people. He can remember his life before the hit to the head but will forget everything that takes place afterwards in a matter of minutes. When things and clues are really important he has them inked in his skin. It is the quest to find a killer that keeps him going. And we are put in his position of looking back at all the clues to see why things are turning out as they do.
Best Mystery Audio Books
Now that you’ve seen our list of the best mystery books and movies, I’m sure you’ll be interested in trying out more of the best mystery books in audio!
1)Confessions by Kanae Minato and Stephen Snyder
After calling off her engagement in the wake of a tragic revelation, Yuko Moriguchi had nothing to live for except her only child, four-year-old child, Manami. Now, following an accident on the grounds of the middle school where she teaches, Yuko has given up and tendered her resignation.
But first she has one last lecture to deliver. She tells a story that upends everything her students ever thought they knew about two of their peers, and sets in motion a diabolical plot for revenge.
2)She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper
Book Summary:Eleven-year-old Polly McClusky is shy, too old for the teddy bear she carries with her everywhere, when she is unexpectedly reunited with her father, Nate, fresh out of jail and driving a stolen car. He takes her from the front of her school into a world of robbery, violence, and the constant threat of death. And he does it to save her life.
Nate made dangerous enemies in prison – a gang called Aryan Steel has put out a bounty on his head, counting on its members on the outside to finish him off. They’ve already murdered his ex-wife, Polly’s mother. And Polly is their next target.
Nate and Polly’s lives soon become a series of narrow misses, of evading the bad guys and the police, of sleepless nights in motels. Out on the lam, Polly is forced to grow up early: With barely any time to mourn her mother, she must learn how to take a punch and pull off a drug-house heist. She finds herself transforming from a shy little girl into a true fighter. Nate, in turn, learns what it’s like to love fiercely and unconditionally – a love he’s never quite felt before. But can their powerful bond transcend the dangerous existence he’s carved out for them? Will they ever be able to live an honest life, free of fear?
I generally don’t write reviews of books, as I’m a much better reader than writer, but felt compelled to after finishing this one. It hooked me pretty much from the first page and I found it hard to put down, finishing it in just a few hours. The characters are broken and flawed, just as real humans are, and I found myself caring deeply about them almost immediately. Polly is a quiet, shy little girl, on the run with her newly out of jail father, later learning her mother has been killed by a gang intent on also killing not only her father, but her as well. The plot is well written, compelling, and I can’t recommend it enough. Warning, there is a lot of graphic violence, but I never felt it was gratuitous. Surprisingly, I also found myself laughing out loud in parts, completely infatuated with Polly. I’ll definitely be looking for more books by this author, hard to believe this was his first novel.
Harper’s debut is a fast-paced, white-knuckled 0-60 in a Mustang 5.0 ride you’ll be hoping doesn’t end. I bought it due to the hype and it didn’t let me down. His style is subtle, ruthless, and with emphatic characters Polly and Nate leading the story there is skilled delivery from both points of view, and the secondary characters who come and go. She Rides Shotgun plays out in the mind like a movie, with images tattooed on the brain in a Freddy Negrete styled black-and-grey piece — which fits the atmosphere well. This is one novel I’ve been looking for without knowing it. Props, Mr. Harper.
3)Trouble Never Sleeps by Stephanie Tromly
Book Summary:Digby and Zoe have been skirting around each other for so long that you might think they’d lose their magic if they ever actually hooked up. But never fear – there’s all the acerbic wit, steamy chemistry, and sarcastic banter you could possibly hope for.
Now that Digby’s back in town, he’s plunged Zoe (and their Scooby Gang of wealthy frenemy Sloane, nerd-tastic genius Felix, and aw-shucks-handsome Henry) back into the deep end on the hunt for his kidnapped sister. He’s got a lead, but it involves breaking into a secret government research facility, paying a drug dealer off with a Bentley, and possibly committing treason. The schemes might be over-the-top, but this Breakfast Club cast is irresistibly real as they cope with regular high school stuff from social media shaming to dating your best friend, all with a twist no one will see coming.
love Digby and it was great to see him back. I only wish that there were more adventures forthcoming.
This book series is just the best.
4)The Good Son: A Novel by Jeong Jeong
Early one morning, 26-year-old Yu-jin wakes up to a strange metallic smell and a phone call from his brother asking if everything’s all right at home – he missed a call from their mother in the middle of the night. Yu-jin soon discovers her murdered body, lying in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs of their stylish Seoul duplex. He can’t remember much about the night before; having suffered from seizures for most of his life, Yu-jin often has trouble with his memory. All he has to go on is a faint impression of his mother calling his name. But was she calling for help? Or begging for her life?
Thus begins Yu-jin’s frantic three-day search to uncover what happened that night and to finally learn the truth about himself and his family. A shocking and addictive psychological thriller, The Good Son explores the mysteries of mind and memory, and the twisted relationship between a mother and son, with incredible urgency. One of the best mystery books available in audio.
I couldn’t put this book down. I don’t want to give any spoilers, because I want you to be surprised like I was, and maybe scream like I did. I liked it very much, and I recommend reading it.
Amazing, suspense story that kept me reading and rereading all the way to the end. I highly recommend.
5)Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: a white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary, and the jury made it official. But did she do it?
There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted – and their unborn child – to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary’s fate now lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her momma. No one knows the real Momma. But does anyone know the real Mary?
I read this book in less than two days, so tangled up in the story that I had to find out what happens to Mary, the girl in the group home serving time for a murder of a baby – allegedly. Jackson is a master at manipulating the reader’s feelings, turning everything topsy-turvy on you when you least expect it. She rips you through all the feels, all the exclamations and leaves you shattered at the end of it all. When I reached the end, it was a huge WOW moment for me. And I’m still thinking that, WOW. This is a book that I’ll be thinking about for a long time to come. Tiffany Jackson has a long career ahead of her and I can’t wait to read her next book!
Couldn’t put this book down! It’s twisty, shocking, dark, and fabulous. And thrilling. Highly recommend! I read Tiffany’s book in two days, feeling the whole time like I couldn’t walk away. The narrator is so complex. She’s smart as hell, strong in so many ways, and yet completely mysterious. The book is finished, but I simply can’t stop thinking about this girl. She surprises you and keeps you guessing right up to the last page.
What do you think about our list of best mystery books? If you have another genre that you prefer to read we have probably compiled a list of our favorites for that genre too. So if you are looking for something other than the best mystery books you can find other genres here.