Do you remember the last mystery novel you read—when you just could’t wait to find out what happened next? The best mystery writers will keep you dangling on a string to ensure you don’t ever put the book down.
Mysteries are a great way to spend your time, since you aren’t just doing mindless reading, but instead your brain will be busy trying to fit pieces of the puzzle together to find the answers before the protagonist does!
Best Mystery Books
Here are some mystery novels you may want to check out, in no particular order:
1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012)
This New York Times bestseller investigates the disappearance of Amy Dunne on her fifth wedding anniversary. The primary suspect is her doting husband, but things are much more complicated than they seem.
2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (2005)
Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist who, along with hacker Lisbeth Salander, tries to find the person accused of killing a relative of one of Sweden’s richest men. He is invited to the family’s island, and as he meets the family members, he starts to wonder about their possible involvement in the murder.
3. Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle (1902)
This classic mystery features the detective Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson. Discover the mystery behind the legend of the supernatural hound roaming around the moors of England.
4. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (1868)
When a rare diamond called the Moonstone mysteriously disappears, several investigators try to uncover the truth. The story is told through several different perspectives, beginning with the family’s trusted servant, and even including the point of view of one of the chief suspects. Originally written as a serial, the book will surely keep you wondering until the end—and the ending will not be what you expect!
5. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (1938)
A classic gothic mystery, this story revolves around a young woman who marries a rich widower and ends up having a nagging feeling that she’ll never be able to live up to his first wife. But… what really happened to her, anyway?
6. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (1859)
Another gothic mystery, this novel follows a young art teacher who meets a mysterious woman clad in white. When he arrives at a wealthy estate to become the tutor, he’s puzzled to find that his two students have some strange connection to the woman he met. What skeletons are hidden in this family’s closet?
7. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (1939)
One of Agatha Christie’s most popular novels, this book revolves around eight people who get invited to stay on an island—but they end up getting killed one after another. How do they find out who’s the murderer and why they’re getting killed? Is the murderer one of them, or is it someone else?
8. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (1978)
A young adult mystery, the story revolves around a group of tenants in an apartment whose landlord leaves them a complicated mystery to solve in order to claim an inheritance he left them in his will.
9. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett (1929)
In this novel, Sam Spade accepts an assignment to find Miss Wonderley’s sister who has run off and eloped. Instead, he finds himself caught up in a search for the gem-laden Maltese Falcon, a treasure considered worth killing for. Will he find it before he gets hunted down himself?
10. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (2003)
The main character is a very logical man named Christopher John Francis Boone: he loves finding patterns and logic behind everything, while having little patience for understanding how people feel. But when a neighbor’s dog is killed, he doe everything he can to find the murderer, being inspired by Sherlock Holmes.
11. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (2013)
J.K. Rowling wites this mystery under a pen name, and tells the story of a private detective who is a war veteran who is assigned to find out what really happened to the supermodel believed to have committed suicide.
12. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (2001)
The main character is a waitress named Sookie Stackhouse, who has the ability to hear what people are thinking. This throws her into detective mode when girls begin to disappear in Bon Temps.
13. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John LeCarré (1963)
Alec Leamas has had enough of British intelligence and intends to end his career in international espionage. Instead, his master send him right into East German intelligence to play the role of a dishonored spy in order to lure their enemy to their downfall.
14. The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain (1934)
The main character is a drifter named Frank Chambers, who starts off finding a job at a local diner, then gets into an adulterous affair with the owner, and then finds himself entangled in her plans to murder her husband.
15. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (2006)
Vida Winters is an author committed to keeping her violent past secret by creating fake dramatic life histories. But in her old age, she decides to tell the truth, calling a biographer named Margaret Lea to help her come clean. Margaret, meanwhile, has kept her own past secret, and they both challenge each other to face the ghosts of their past.
16. Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett (1978)
The Needle is the code name of a brilliant but ruthless assassin who has the key to the ultimate victory for the Nazis. But what happens when he meets a woman on a lonely island, who starts to love him and ends up standing in his way?
17. Tell Me Your Dreams by Sidney Sheldon (1998)
Master storyteller Sidney Sheldon weaves an excellent tale of Ashley Patterson, who worries about someone stalking her because of unsettling signs in her home, including a threatening “You Will Die” written with a lipstick on her mirror. After a series of murders, Ashley is arrested—and found to have multiple personality disorder in which her alter Toni committed the murders.
18. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)
This classic mystery novel revolves around the kind and gentle Dr. Jekyll, who concocts a potion that turns him into the hideous and horrifying Mr. Hyde. Dr. Jekyll knows he must keep Mr. Hyde under wraps, but it quickly gets out of his control.
19. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (1939)
Philip Marlowe is a private eye hired to look into the blackmailing of a wealthy general’s second daughter, Carmen Sternwood. But a series of unexpected relations continues to blackmail Carmen, making Marlowe’s work more complicated the more he digs.
20. Anatomy of a Murder by Robert Traver (1958)
Robert Traver, the pen name of a Supreme Court Justice, writes about a lawyer named Paul Biegler who is defending Frederick Manion, accused of killing an innkeeper. An entrancing courtroom drama, the book will keep you turning the pages to find out how the lawyer can defend what seems to be an impossible case.
21. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John LeCarré (1974)
George Smiley is an ex-spy who is called out of retirement to hunt down someone in the British Intelligence Service. Among his old partners, Smiley needs to find the double-agent. The book is full of hints that will let you guess the whodunit alongside Smiley.
22. In the Woods by Tana French (2007)
Rob and Cassie are tasked to investigate the murder of a 12-year-old girl in the woods outside Ireland. Strangely, the case reminds Rob of a similar incident in his childhood, which forces him to deal with his questionsf rom the past.
23. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey (1951)
Alan Grant, an inspector taking time off due to an injury, is bored and looking for puzzles to pass the time. He comes upon the mystery of monarch Richard III, accused of murder but whom Grant believes was innocent.
24. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (2014)
Jane is a single mother who becomes friends with two other mothers at her son’s kindergarten. They form their friendship against the backdrop of family dramas, including abusive husbands and ex-husbands—without revealing every detail of their domestic problems, keeping you at the edge of your seat to find out.
25. Killing Floor by Lee Child (1997)
This first book of a detective series follows Jack Reacher, a former policeman who gets arrested for murder as soon as he arrives in Margrave. In his quest to prove his innocence, he stumbles upon a hint that shows his own brother as being involved in the murder.
Best Mystery Novels
Reading mystery novels not only satisfies your need for relaxation: it also challenges your thinking and increases your perception of the human mind.
What’s your favorite mystery novel? Share them in the comments below.
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Yen Cabag is the Blog Writer of TCK Publishing. She is also a homeschooling mom, family coach, and speaker for the Charlotte Mason method, an educational philosophy that places great emphasis on classic literature and the masterpieces in art and music. She has also written several books, both fiction and nonfiction. Her passion is to see the next generation of children become lovers of reading and learning in the midst of short attention spans.