Who wants to solve a murder? Probably all of you thriller fans. There’s just something satisfying about catching a killer after spending so much time looking for them.
Murder mystery books provide you that opportunity, but from a safe distance, so you don’t have to worry about running into the killer yourself.
Best Murder Mystery Books to Read
Murder mysteries are narratives that thrive on tightly-wrapped tension. High stakes and unreliable characters create challenging puzzles that offer a satisfying pay-off if you manage to solve them (and an equally satisfying thrill if the answer leaves you shocked).
These are the perfect read for when you want stories that keep you guessing.
1. The Secret Place by Tana French
A boy is found dead on the grounds of an all-girls school. All Detective Moran has is a picture on an online board with the caption “I know who killed him.” To solve the mystery, the detective must dive into the students’ warring cliques, which could be more dangerous than he ever imagined.
2. The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey
Detective Gemma Woodstock is shaken when a former classmate is found dead in a lake. The deeper she dives into her classmate’s death, the more puzzle pieces she uncovers. Soon she finds that the victim may not have been who everyone thought she was.
3. One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Five students walk into detention, but only four walk out alive. The victim, Simon, was the creator of the school’s gossip app. According to police, his death wasn’t an accident, and all four suspects have a motive.
4. Holding by Graham Norton
The remote village of Duneen has little cause for drama. So, when human remains are discovered on an old farm, the community is upset. And when a detective throws himself into the case, he finds deeply buried resentments within.
5. Broken Things by Lauren Oliver
It’s been five years since their best friend’s murder, and everyone thinks Mia and Brynn did it. When they discover a clue that could change everything, they find themselves going back to what happened all those years ago. To prove their innocence, they must confront the truth, even though it may cost them.
6. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
For her senior project, Pippa chooses to investigate her town’s darkest crime: the murder of Andie Bell. But the deeper she digs, the more secrets she finds. Pippa suspects a cover-up, and if the killer’s still free, will they try to silence her?
7. I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan
After a party, four teens accidentally kill a young man. They make a pact to keep the accident a secret, but one of them receives a note that threatens to reveal their guilt. So when the mysterious sender actively tries to kill them, they must either stay ahead or finally confess.
8. Keep This to Yourself by Tom Ryan
It’s been a year since the Catalog Killer’s rampage on his small town, but Mac Bell just can’t let it go. After all, his best friend was the last victim before the killer vanished. He finds a cryptic message that suggests the killer may still be among them. No one is above suspicion, and Mac suspects someone’s following his every move.
9. The Woman In The Window by A. J. Finn
Anna Fox is a recluse who spends most of her time spying on her neighbors. Then the perfect family moves in across her building and Anna finds her world shaken. While spying on the family, she witnesses a stabbing and calls the police—only, the victim seems fine and the police think her crazy. But she knows what she saw and takes it upon herself to investigate.
10. Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
Two decades ago, Claire and Lydia’s eldest sister Julia disappeared without any trace. It tore their family apart and led to the once-close sisters drifting away from each other. Now the death of Claire’s husband brings them together again and with it, an opportunity to solve the mystery that destroyed their family.
11. Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse. Though ruled a suicide, an investigative journalist thinks differently. As he probes the case, he finds himself exploring the world of Ashley’s reclusive father, a renowned horror director. But his last encounter with elder Cordova lost him his job… what might he lose now?
12. The Silence of Bones by June Hur
Set in the 1600s, Seol is a 16-year-old girl indentured to the police. When a noblewoman is murdered, she is assigned to assist a well-respected inspector. But when the inspector becomes the prime suspect, Seol’s loyalty is tested. Now she may be the only one who can clear his name.
13. Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
Ten years ago, Ellie disappeared in the blink of an eye and her mother, Laurel, has barely functioned since. Then Laurel meets Floyd, who quickly catches her attention. But what really shocks her is how Floyd’s daughter is the spitting image of Ellie. Now every unanswered question Laurel has is threatening to upend her hard-won balance.
14. A Child’s Garden of Death By Richard Forrest
Three rotting skeletons are dug up in a remote field. When Lyon and Bea learn that one of the bodies is a little girl, they can’t help but think about their own dead daughter. They both vow to bring down the killer, following clues that may lead to someone in town who will stop at nothing to keep his identity a secret.
15. The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
Harper Curtis, a time-jumping serial killer, spends his life hunting down women with a specific trait. But one of his victims miraculously survives, and soon she’s on Harper’s trail, determined to know why he tried to kill her.
Who Writes the Best Murder Mystery Books?
Despite her passing nearly half a decade ago, Agatha Christie remains the undisputed queen of mystery murder books. Not only that, but she’s also recognized by the Guinness World Records as the best-selling fiction author of all time.
Her 78 crime novels are a constant inspiration for many contemporary thriller writers. For example, Hercule Poirot, her most famous character, is regularly referenced in modern writings.
If you plan on reading some of her works, perhaps the best novel to start yourself with is And Then There Were None. This is her most successful book, being the world’s best-selling mystery novel and one of the best-selling books of all time.
In the book, ten people are invited to an isolated mansion. When their host fails to show up, they discover themselves cut off from everything. As they die one by one, the survivors must uncover who the killer is and learn why they’re being punished.
Check out more of the best Agatha Christie books.
Reading Murder Mysteries
Murder mystery books are so enjoyable largely because you are challenged to solve the mystery as you pick up clues. This, along with the anticipation of finally learning who the killer is, makes for an absorbing and ultimately enjoyable read.
It’s probably why Sherlock Holmes and his offshoots never seem to go extinct. You can follow these fictional detectives and test your skills against them as you work towards the case’s end.
Whether you’re the cozy-in-bed or at-the-edge-of-your-seat type of reader, murder mystery books are always great reading choices. They create suspense, challenge your mind, and give you a satisfying payoff. Happy solving!
Cole is a blog writer and aspiring novelist. He has a degree in Communications and is an advocate of media and information literacy and responsible media practices. Aside from his interest in technology, crafts, and food, he’s also your typical science fiction and fantasy junkie, spending most of his free time reading through an ever-growing to-be-read list. It’s either that or procrastinating over actually writing his book. Wish him luck!