Best Mystery Books

Review & Comparison, Last Update August 4, 2020
A mystery book is a kind of reading that will keep your attention from the first to the very last page. To help those people who enjoy tricky stories find a perfect one, we have rounded up the 5 best mystery novels. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2020
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
AUTHOR
GENRE
BOOK TYPE
PUBLISHER
NUMBER OF PAGES
 
PROS

The narrative in the book begins with the dairy of the main heroine that describes her marriage. Gillian Flynn was able to make her character really deep and well-developed since she puts out some of her personal character traits into Amy.

CONS

The ending seems a bit too rushed. 

OUR VERDICT

This mystery thriller is a New Your Times best-seller, so it is definitely a worthy read. The novel had a massive success among readers worldwide and was made to a movie directed by David Fincher in 2014.

detailed parameters
AUTHOR

Gillian Flynn

GENRE

Fiction, mystery, thriller

BOOK TYPE

Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audiobook (downloadable and Audio CD version)

PUBLISHER

Broadway Books

NUMBER OF PAGES

422 pages

PROS

The story has a lengthy description of the North Caroline landscapes, which allows you to imagine those beautiful places in detail. All the characters in the book turn out to be very sincere and lively, which makes them easy to empathize with.

CONS

Unrealistic in some ways.

OUR VERDICT

The story begins back in 1952 and tells about the life of six-year-old Catherine Danielle Clark and her family. You will be able to follow her life up to adulthood and enjoy the memorable ending. 

detailed parameters
AUTHOR

Delia Owens

GENRE

Historical fiction, mystery, romance

BOOK TYPE

Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audiobook (downloadable and Audio CD version)

PUBLISHER

G.P. Putnam's Sons

NUMBER OF PAGES

384 pages

PROS

The flashbacks open up the heroine's past, which makes her behavior and motivation clearer and allows you to see the situation at different perspectives. The protagonist often rides on a train, which makes this book a perfect read for journeys.

CONS

The book is a bit depressing.

OUR VERDICT

Those who love psychological thrillers will definitely enjoy this book by British author Paula Hawkins. The narrators are 3 women and all their stories make up for an intriguing detective mystery.

detailed parameters
AUTHOR

Paula Hawkins

GENRE

Fiction, mystery, thriller

BOOK TYPE

Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audiobook (downloadable and Audio CD version)

PUBLISHER

Riverhead Books

NUMBER OF PAGES

336 pages

PROS

Thanks to a simple language, the book is very easy to read. Even though the setup may seem a bit cliche for some readers, the climax seems original and the resolution is completely unexpected.

CONS

There is a lot of backstory and details that are unrelated to the plot.

OUR VERDICT

This book is a must-read for those who love mystery novels.  Each chapter is narrated by a different character, which makes it hard to foresee some plot twists. That's why the book is hard to put down.

detailed parameters
AUTHOR

Teresa Driscoll

GENRE

Fiction, mystery, thriller

BOOK TYPE

Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audiobook (downloadable and Audio CD version)

PUBLISHER

Thomas & Mercer

NUMBER OF PAGES

299 pages

PROS

This book is a good choice for people of different ages. Adults will be able to get a better understanding of teenagers' psychology, while younger readers may draw certain conclusions for themselves. The line of each character has a logical end with no plot holes.

CONS

Lacks complexity in some characters.

OUR VERDICT

If you think you are good at detecting lies, we recommend reading this book about the lives of 4 school students. It is a complex story that will make you change your attitude towards each of the characters as it progresses.

detailed parameters
AUTHOR

Karen M. McManus

GENRE

Fiction, mystery, thriller, contemporary

BOOK TYPE

Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audiobook (downloadable and Audio CD version)

PUBLISHER

Delacorte Press

NUMBER OF PAGES

416 pages

Gillian Flynn Gone Girl

Who Is the Real Victim?

Gillian Flynn made a real splash with her novel Gone Girl back in 2012. The book was extremely successful and made the writer one of the New York Times best-selling authors. It is a smart mystery novel with elements of thriller and crime story that you won’t be able to put down until you finish it.

In the beginning, you meet two main characters - Amy and Nick Dunne, who seem a happily-married couple getting ready to celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary. But their happiness turns out to be just an illusion. As the plot progresses, we find out that both main characters have skeletons in their closets and each of them has taken part in the destruction of their marriage.

The story starts with Amy's mysterious disappearance on the morning of their anniversary. And even though the crime scene looks like it was a kidnapping, some things just don’t add up to that, which quickly makes Nick one of the main suspects in the case. Since the story takes place in quiet suburbia of Missouri, such an accident has much resonance with the citizens. Now, Nick has to deal with the pressure from police, media, and his wife’s family while trying to investigate and figure out what has actually happened to his wife by following her clues that she left him to find a surprise gift for their celebration.

To understand Amy’s point of view, the readers will be able to check out the notes she made in her personal diary, written from the first person’s perspective. The things she describes and the fact that her husband so cleverly starts manipulating the society makes him look like a real kidnapper, or probably even a murderer. But is Amy a real victim in the story? You will be able to find out that only at the very end.

Review of Gillian Flynn Gone Girl

Outstanding Film Adaptation

Gillian Flynn created a real literary masterpiece with well-thought-out characters and carefully crafted plot twists. To make the central characters so real and alive, she used some of her personal traits and experiences. The main heroes and even side ones have complex life stories that will leave no reader indifferent. To add a bit more thrill to the story, the writer has referred to such a popular topic as sociopathy.

So, if you want to take a look in the story with a clever plot and lots of intense mind games, give this book a go. After reading this story, you can also watch a not less interesting movie directed by David Fincher with Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike portraying the main characters, which was highly praised by critics.

Gillian Flynn Gone Girl in the use

 

Delia Owens Where the Crawdads Sing

Enjoy The Descriptions Of Beautiful Nature

Where the Crawdads Sing is a drama mystery novel written by American author Delia Owens. She brings us to North Carolina and tells a story of loneliness, loss, and horrific crime that takes place against the beautiful nature background.

Back in the year 1952, 6-year-old Catherine Danielle Clark, or simply Kya, witnesses her mom leaving her. Shortly after, her four siblings decide to do the same due to the unbearable life with their alcoholic father. Kya tries extremely hard to bond with him, and she even achieves a little success as he tries to develop a passion for nature in his daughter. Yet, when a sudden letter from mother infuriates her dad, he comes back to drinking and gambling. Eventually, he disappears completely from Kya’s life. Now, a little girl has to learn how to survive while living in the cabin on the marsh.

Kya learns how to trade fish and mussels. Yet, she still doesn’t fit in with the townspeople and children in the local school, so she quickly abandons. But there is still kindness in the world, which Kya finds in the couple that lives nearby - Jumpin’ and Mabel. She also becomes close to Tate, a friend of one of her siblings. As time goes, the girl grows into a strong independent woman that learns how to read and write with Tate’s help and manages to get used to her lonely life. She gains success after publishing a book and manages to find true love.

But contrary to all the good and loving people on Kya’s way, the author also adds not very pleasant people to her life story. Despite the success Kya has achieved, the encounter with one of such characters leaves a big scar on the young woman and pushes her to a horrible crime.

Review of Delia Owens Where the Crawdads Sing

Follow Kya Throughout Her Whole Life

While reading this book, you can clearly track what a huge impact the Delia Owens’ master’s degree in zoology has left on her writing. The author describes the nature, birds, fish, and shells with such warm love and so many details that you can actually feel that you are staying in the swamp of North Carolina. Despite some scary events that occur throughout the Kya’s whole life, this story is still a very pleasant read that will leave no one indifferent. The readers will be able to track her development from a little girl to a young lady to an old woman and really grow to love her.

In conclusion, if you seek a good mystery novel for adults with a tint of drama and romance, we highly recommend reading this book. It's full of beautiful descriptions, interesting plot twists, and has an unexpected ending.

Delia Owens Where the Crawdads Sing in the use

 

Paula Hawkins The Girl on the Train

3 Unique Storylines

British author, Paula Hawkins, has made a perfect mystery story for those fans of the mystery fiction who often go on long rides. The Girl on the Train will become your perfect companion on the road and will surely make your rides way less boring.

The story introduces the readers to three heroines - Rachel, Anna, and Megan, who narrate the book. Each woman tells her own story, which intertwines in an unexpected way. Rachel Watson, the first one, is an alcoholic. She used to have a perfect life with a job, a loving husband, and a beautiful house. After a few unsuccessful attempts to get pregnant, she develops a destructive addiction, which leads to losing everything she had. Now, living with her friend, she travels on a train to Manhattan every day, unable to confess to her friend she has lost the job. On her way, she rides along wealthy suburbia and looks at a happy couple that leaves in one of the cottages. The woman that lives there is Megan. She is married to a handsome man named Scott and they both seem to have the kind of marriage Rachel describes as "the one you can only dream of". She envies their happiness and their “safe” lives.

Megan, the other main character, is actually not so happy with her life as Rachel thinks. She has depression and complete apathy, that's why she tries to entertain herself by hooking up with several lovers. Yet, nothing makes her feel alive. Megan works as a nanny for her neighbors, Scott and Anna. Scott happens to be Rachel’s ex-husband, who was cheating on her with Anna. Now, they have a child and live in the house that once was Rachel’s.

Anna is the third heroine of the story that lives her life scared for her child since Rachel keeps stocking them. She also becomes very shocked by the news that Megan is leaving her job as a nanny and she will have to look up for her child alone.

Shortly after quitting babysitting and starting a new one in a gallery, Megan disappears. It happens right after Rachel sees her with another man from the train window. Infuriated with her cheating on her husband, Rachel goes off the train to go talk to Megan, but she passes out drunk and doesn’t remember anything. To get her memories back and help to find Megan, she finds herself involved in this mysterious and incredibly dangerous case.

Review of Paula Hawkins The Girl on the Train

Addressing Social Issues

The book addresses such acute social problems as alcoholism and domestic violence. With the help of numerous flashbacks, you will be able to get a closer look at the heroes’ past and get a deeper understanding of their actions. The book also has a big-screen adaptation with an outstanding performance by Golden Globe winner Emily Blunt as Rachel.

Overall, we consider The Girl on the Train one of the best mystery books for adults that will definitely be a worthy one for every fan of this genre.

Paula Hawkins The Girl on the Train in the use

 

Teresa Driscoll I Am Watching You

Smartly Used Cliches

I Am Watching You is a great example of thriller and mystery fiction. Teresa Driscoll has managed to create an interesting detective story by smartly using all the genre cliches. And if you have already read a lot of detective stories, you may be able to quickly recognize them. But all those who want to dive into the mystery genre may enjoy it a lot.

The story starts with Ella Longfield taking a trip on a train. She witnesses two charming men flirting with a couple of young girls. She doesn’t pay attention to that. However, after accidentally overhearing that the guys have just come out of prison, she becomes worried about the girls’ safety. As a mother of a teenager herself, she wants to warn girls but eventually gives up that idea.

Unfortunately, the next morning she sees that one of the young ladies, Anna Ballard, is missing. Feeling guilty for not making any actions to protect the girls, Ella decides to contact the police and family of the missing girl to help find her. The action takes place one year later when Anna is still missing.

There are several narrators in this book - Ella, the witness; Anna’s friend Sarah, who was traveling with her on that fateful day and who seems to be hiding something; the parents of the missing girl who also have some secrets; and later on, the detective also becomes the narrator. Since every chapter is narrated by a different person, you'll be able to look at the story from the perspective of different characters. The other interesting stylistic trick the author uses is the cliffhanger, which makes you want to read new chapters one by one. Thanks to that, this book is so hard to put down.

Review of Teresa Driscoll I Am Watching You

Enjoy Every Plot Twist

Thanks to different narrative techniques, those readers who are unfamiliar with mystery won’t be able to foresee and realize what has actually happened with Anna, so they will enjoy every plot twist. The author also uses a pretty simple language, which makes this book so easy to read. Although some people point out that there are some descriptions and lines that are not really important, we still think that every part of the book adds up in a pretty good story.

Summing up, if you want to enjoy a decent mystery book with elements of thriller and detective story, we highly suggest checking out this Amazon Charts best-seller from Teresa Driscoll. I Am Watching You has great suspense and unexpected ending that you won’t be able to foresee.

Teresa Driscoll I Am Watching You in the use

 

Karen M. McManus One of Us Is Lying

Guess Who Is Lying

The Breakfast Club became the ultimate classic and a great example of a teenage story that stays popular among the few generations of people. Its premise was widely used for multiple books, films and TV series of different genres. Karen M. McManus also turns to this popular topic in her young-adult mystery One of Us Is Lying.

Five students are left after classes to serve the detention because they carried phones at school, or, as they say, someone planted the phones to them. The clique includes all the basic archetypes you can meet in most teen social groups - Addy, the beauty; Cooper, the jock; Bronwyn, the brain; Nate, the criminal; and Simon, the outcast. The plot thickens when Simon falls dead before the end of the detention after poisoning with peanuts (due to his allergy), and his death is proven to be not an accident. Later, it becomes obvious that he was going to tell the dark secrets about all four other students. Considering that his death is so convenient for each of four survivors, all of them become suspects in the murder case.

Each chapter is narrated by one of four students and the reader will have to detect who is lying. The author really shows off her writing skills by making complicated and realistic heroes, so you change your attitude towards the main characters throughout the whole book. Thus, you won’t be able to get the answer up to the very end.

However, the story doesn’t end there. One of Us Is Lying is the first book in the duology. It is followed by One of Us Is Next, which allows you to solve another mystery in the same school with some old and some new characters.

Review of Karen M. McManus One of Us Is Lying

Great Read For Teenagers And Adults

Even though this book is marked for a teen audience, we actually think it will be a good choice for people of all ages. Adults, especially those who have a teenage child, will be able to get a deeper understanding of their psychology, while teenagers will be able to learn and draw some conclusions from the actions of thу main characters.

The book is not perfect, though. Since it is one of the earliest books written by this author, it still may lack complexity in some characters. Yet, that doesn’t make the story less interesting.

To wrap the whole thing up, we highly recommend this New York Times best-seller to both young adults and their parents. One of Us Is Lying is an interesting mystery with the classical teenage plot.

Karen M. McManus One of Us Is Lying in the use

 

What Is a Mystery Book?

Mystery, also known as mystery fiction, is a relatively new genre. It became very famous in the 19th century with the growing popularity of literary masterpieces written by Edgar Allan Poe and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This genre gained so much love and interest from the audience that it still stays one of the most demanded genres in the literary arena. What is more, a lot of modern pieces of mass entertainment (like comic books, movies, and TV shows) have picked up the genre and keep in the public’s attention, so it probably won’t lose its popularity any time soon.

As the name suggests, the story in mystery novels is built around some sort of a secret or riddle that the main character tries to solve. Authors often use murder or any other crime to move the plot. That’s why you can frequently notice the elements of a thriller and a crime book in mystery novels as well.

Even though lots of masterpieces were written throughout the history of the genre, we recommend checking out the best mystery books that were created within the last 10 years. We also have reviewed the novels in other genres. Thus, you can check out the best historical fiction and horror books from the king of horror himself.

What Features to Compare

Author

When selecting a new book to read, probably the first thing every reader pays attention to is an author. If you are a fan of the genre, you may have a few all-time favorites that keep pleasing their fans with new mysteries once in a while. If you are a newbie to such books and seek a good introduction book to the mystery fiction, you won't go wrong with best-selling authors that have gained the approval of millions of people. However, we also think that it is good to give a chance to newcomers who have just started to write in this genre. Thus, you may be able to discover a hidden gem.

Series

One of the most popular mysteries of all time and an ultimate classic about the detective Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson comprises 4 novels and as much as 56 short stories. Even though there are a few authors that write about one character that much, a format of mystery series is still pretty popular nowadays and allows readers to spend more time with one beloved character. Also, some writers prefer to attach the plot to a particular place rather than to a person. That way, you will be able to follow and learn the behavior of different characters that are put in a similar scenario.

Main Characters

A lot of people would agree that reading becomes way more interesting when you are able to empathize with the main character. This will allow you to understand their actions better. Contrary to a common misconception, the protagonist in mystery literature doesn’t have to be a detective or a policeman. Mystery authors like to depict average people in unusual circumstances to intensify the tension and make the book more realistic. Thus, any reader will be able to imagine themselves in the scenario and become engaged in the story.

Time and Place

Like any kind of fiction, mystery novels may take place in our time or in the past. Some books combine two time periods and feature lots of flashbacks that are important for understanding the characters or the events that are currently happening. As for the place, you can find both very local stories that can occur within one family and global ones that take place in different locations, or even in different cities and countries.

Number of Pages

Last but not least, mystery books vary in the number of pages. You can find the collection of short novels (as the ones by Arthur Conan Doyle we mentioned before). Those who are sure they will be able to keep up with one character or one storyline for longer can go with full-on novels.

Did you know?

If you love mystery stories and you have already read a lot of them, you probably consider yourself an expert on this topic. However, for those fans of crime fiction who want to know more about the genre, we have gathered some interesting facts and statistics so as to educate you even more about this kind of literature.

Literary Records

A little-known fact is that the books written in the mystery genre actually hold a Guinness record for the biggest number of the most sold copies. The books that are written by non-other than the queen of mystery, Agatha Christie, were sold in more than 2 billion samples. Additionally, this author is also considered one of the most translated writers of all times. Her literary works can be read in 103 languages. What is more, this English writer became the first Edgar Awards Grand Master (the prestigious mystery literature award) the year it was established - in 1955. 

Popularity In Cinema

Speaking of Edgar Awards, Alfred Hitchcock was one of the very few non-mystery authors who received the Grand Master title in 1978. In the 20th century, he made a revolution in the cinema industry with his thrillers and suspense films full of crime and mystery stories. And while we're on the topic of cinema, we would like to say that the first film of the mystery genre was called Sherlock Holmes Baffled. As the name suggests, it tells the story about the famous detective and was made between 1900 and 1903 by Arthur Marvin.

Subgenres

When mentioning famous detectives in the mystery literature, surely the first character that comes to mind for most people is Sherlock Holmes, created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. However, he wasn’t the first detective who solved mysteries - 40 years before, another famous mystery master, Edgar Allan Poe, wrote The Murder in the Rue Morgue, where the central character was a professional detective C. Auguste Dupin. The character also makes an appearance in two other Poe’s works (The Mystery of Marie Rogêt and The Purloined Letter). Plus, it was borrowed by some other authors for their novels (The Count of Mote Cristo among them) and became a huge inspiration for Sherlock Holmes and Agatha’s Christie Hercule Poirot. 

However, detective stories are not the only subgenre of mystery novels. According to the Library Journal survey, the elements of police procedurals can be noticed in 29% of all published mystery novels, with cozies on the second place (24%), and amateur detectives (23%) on the third place.

Overall, mystery literature is one of the most popular genres of the century both among authors and readers, and we hope it will further grow and develop to please its fans. 

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Publish Date: 2020-08-04 14:34:11