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Must-Have Mystery Books

Dec/16/2021 / by Melanie Fourie
mystery books
Image credits: Shutterstock

Mystery books have an array of elements that make for interesting reads. This includes suspense, unsolved phenomena, unsolved crimes, and unraveled secrets. The genre has been around for about two centuries, and also provides a sense of escapism as you go into the world of older authors like Wilkie Collins and contemporary thriller novelists like Graham Masterton. These writers have a knack for weaving a story that leaves you on the edge of your seat. If you’re a discerning book-lover, and are always making a beeline for the mystery book wing of your library, this is just the right fare for you.

The Best Crime Books

  • One of the best crime books of this decade has to be “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn. One of the top mystery books of 2012, the novel focuses on the feminine rage in a patriarchal society. The book was also a New York Times bestseller.
  • “The Heron’s Cry” by Ann Cleeves is another of those murder mystery books. The scene is set in North Devon where a detective is called to investigate a crime at a residence belonging to a bunch of artists. The detective soon hears about another murder, where the same technique was used, and sets about unraveling who the killer is.
  • When thinking about the best mystery thriller books, you can add “The Cook of the Halcyon” by Andrea Camilleri to your must-read list. It pulls you fastidiously into suspense, as you learn how an inspector called Montalbano has to investigate a mysterious ship linked to a suicide and murder.
  • “The Hiding Place” is a tension-packed mystery by Jenny Quintana. It is the story of Marina, who was a mere baby when discovered wrapped in a shawl. Her entire life, she has longed to know the truth about her identity. A few years after her discovery, she comes across a flat belonging to the shared house she was found in.  The mystery surrounding her birth is somewhat linked to this house, which is evidently in London.
  • “The Secret Life of Mr. Roos” by Hakan Nesser is another way to get your pulse racing with mounting suspense. It portrays the life of Valdemar Roos. He resigned from a job he despised and has taken to the Swedish countryside after winning the lottery. The quiet life he envisioned there takes a turn for the worse. He comes across a shelter seeker who is on the run from an abusive ex, and the plot thickens from there.
  • If you love Inspector Morse fictional crime, you simply must read “Last Bus to Woodstock” by Colin Dexter. Here Inspector Morse takes on an investigation that involves the murder of Sylvia Kaye. As the first suspects fall by the wayside, Morse discovers that the murder may have been a crime of passion.

Top Contemporary Mystery Books

Some of the best mystery novels according to CBR include the following.

  • “Never Look Back” by New York Times bestselling author Mary Burton. The book was released in 2020, and comprises elements like an investigation, traces of romance, as well as several adversaries.
  • “Find Me” by Anne Frasier is a mystery novel with some family drama and forensics, It is also a bit of a psychological thriller, too. It also features a main character who is going through an inner struggle. This story leaves you spoiled for choice when it comes to surprises.
  • New York Times bestselling author Rhys Bowen takes you on a mysterious journey with “Above the Bay of Angels.” The genre here is historical fiction, and takes the reader back to the Victorian era. The story is woven around Bella, who has been hired to work as a cook in the royal household. Things go awry when someone is poisoned, and she becomes one of the suspects, due to her position.

Best Old Fashioned Mystery Books

If you love the more traditional products of this genre, add the following bestsellers to your list.

  • “The Torso in the Town” by Simon Brett focuses on the bad discovery made in the cellar of an ancient house. The mystery is unraveled by Carole and Jude, who take on the case. This book is a typical example of the whodunit literature type.
  • “The Moonstone” by Wilkie Collins was published in 1868. It’s also revered as the first detective book ever to be written in English. The story revolved around a diamond heiress and how her diamond is stolen. The mystery as to who stole the gems keeps the novel going.
  • “The Maltese Falcon” by Dashiell Hammett was published in 1930. It’s centered on the theft of a falcon statue. Hammett is renowned as an expert in hard-core detective novels.
  • “The Deep Blue Good-By” is a great mystery novel by esteemed novelist by John D. McDonald. It was published in 1964, and forms part of the author’s Travis McGee series of novels. In the series, this character made it possible for victims of crime to salvage what they could not otherwise salvage via other justice systems.
  • No private library of mystery books is complete without Sherlock Holmes novels. If you’re an avid reader of the works of Arthur Conan Doyle, be sure to get the four Holmes mystery novels he wrote. These novels are so renowned, they were adapted into film. The names of the novels are ”The Valley of Fear,” “The Sign of the Four,” “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” and “A Study in Scarlet.” The author also penned a series of short Sherlock Holmes stories; “The Canon of Sherlock Holmes.” It comprises a wealth of 56 titles. So if you’re a mystery bookworm and are pressed for time and need a short break as you dig your way through a busy schedule, reading one of these brief, yet fascinating stories can be great.


What is the most popular mystery book right now?

According to Goodreads, the most popular or top-rated mystery book currently is “Arsenic and Adobo” by Mia P. Manansala. This is a kitchen mystery centered on Lila Macapagal, who is firmly resolved to save her aunt’s restaurant. One of the meanest food critics also happens to be Lila’s ex-beau.  He is apparently murdered, and this is where fingers start pointing at Lila.

What are the top 10 thriller books?

Penguin Random House has listed the following top thrillers of all time.

  1. “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” “Ripley Under Ground,| and “Ripley’s Game” by Patricia Highsmith
  2. “Enduring Love” by Ian McEwan
  3. “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn
  4. “The Shining” by Stephen King
  5. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by Ken Kesey
  6. “Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier
  7. “Strangers” by Dean Koontz
  8. “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins
  9. “In the Woods” by Tana French
  10. “Orient Express” by Graham Greene

Why are mystery books so good?

Mystery books are great to read, as they help expand your imagination, and help improve your puzzle-solving abilities. You can also gain a wealth of knowledge, as you embark on journeys authors take you on. Reading mystery novels can also serve as a form of entertainment.

Who is the best mystery thriller writer?

According to Book Riot, some of the best mystery thriller writers are Dennis Lehane, who wrote the bestselling thriller “Shutter Island.” The book was later adapted into a movie, starring A-list actors like Leonardo DiCaprio. Agatha Christie is also listed as one of the top writers here. She needs no introduction, given that this legend has penned mystery books like “And Then There Were None.”