Many people love murder mystery novels because they are impossible to put down and will take you along for the ride as the detective or protagonists gather clues and information in order to solve the mystery.
Let’s have a little look at what really counts as a murder mystery and what key elements they should have in order to be classified as such.
A murder mystery, by definition, must include a murder. It may seem apparent, but keep in mind that detective novels, crime novels, and noir are frequently used interchangeably with murder mysteries.
A mystery can refer to anything from a murder to stolen/lost objects to a disappearance or kidnapping. It may surprise you to hear that many Sherlock Holmes stories do not feature a murder.
Many murder mysteries now begin with the assumption that the person murdered died unintentionally or by suicide (If you like murder mystery stories, check out The Name Of The Rose).
Part of the plot is the amateur or professional investigator attempting to persuade the police that this belief is incorrect and that a grave wrong has been perpetrated.
This is the intriguing, exciting, and thrilling ride that these novels will take you on, so without further ado lets look at just 10 of the best murder mystery novels that you will love.
1. Gone Girl By Gillian Flynn
The title of the work itself gives away the broad direction the story will take. Amy Dunne, Nick Dunne’s wife, goes missing on their fifth wedding anniversary, and the trek to discover the missing girl is, to say the least, perplexing.
Amy and Nick went from being polar-opposite strangers in New York to being crazily in love and hanging dangerously on the ragged edges of a rocky marriage in small town Missouri.
A horrifying inquiry is told in alternate perspectives, and the skeletons in the closet begin to emerge one by one.
Gone Girl, a very popular novel with the same film title, is full of suspense from beginning to conclusion.
It disturbs the readers with incredibly dark and murky individuals that are shown through their frightening ideas.
2. The Talented Mr. Ripley By Patricia Highsmith
Patricia Highsmith’s 1956 novel The Talented Mr. Ripley introduced Thomas Ripley, the sociopathic anti-hero who went on to be the principal character of four future works.
Tom Ripley desires money, success, and a happy life, and he is ready to kill for it. Ripley, who is struggling to remain one step ahead of his creditors and the authorities, jumps at the chance to start over on a free vacation to Europe.
When his newfound contentment is challenged, his reaction is both immediate and surprising.
This is the first book in Highsmith’s renowned series starring Tom Ripley. The award-winning film starring Jude Law, Matt Damon, and Gwyneth Paltrow, was likewise inspired by The Talented Mr Ripley.
3. The Woman In The Window By A. J. Finn
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn is a 2017 psychological mystery novel set in Harlem that follows the tale of psychologist Anna Fox, who suffers from agoraphobia and fears she is going mad after seeing a horrifying crime that appears to be impossible by all other accounts.
However, Anna has been drinking and using medications all night to cope with her haunted past, so she cannot verify what she witnessed actually happened.
And no one believes her, not the cops or her neighbors.
If you enjoy the story, you may see the film adaptation, which was published in 2021 and stars Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, and Anthony Mackie.
4. A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder By Holly Jackson
In this murder mystery, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh five years ago. The cops are aware that he committed the crime. In town, everyone knows what he did.
Pippa Fitz-Amobi, who grew up in the same little hamlet where the crime occurred, is skeptical.
When she selects the case as the subject of her final year project, she begins to unearth truths that someone in town urgently wants to keep buried.
And, if the true culprit is still at large, how far will they go to keep Pippa from discovering the truth?
Pippa leaves no stone left in her pursuit of the truth, hunting down everyone associated with Andie and Sal and documenting her discoveries in her production log.
She compiles a list of probable suspects with the assistance of Sal’s brother Ravi, but as she gets closer to discovering what really occurred, her life becomes increasingly dangerous.
5. The Hound Of The Baskervilles By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Arthur Conan Doyle wrote The Hound of the Baskervilles, one of the most well-known Sherlock Holmes books, in 1901.
The narrative is set in the moors at Baskerville Hall and the surrounding Grimpen Mire, and the action takes place largely at night, when the frightening dog cries for blood.
It is based on a local legend of a spirit hound that was haunting Devonshire, England.
After Sir Charles Baskerville is discovered dead, his face contorted in anguish, Holmes is sent to safeguard his successor, Sir Henry Baskerville.
When Holmes and Watson agree to take the case, they swiftly learn that Sir Henry Baskerville is being pursued in London by a mystery bearded stranger, and they ponder whether the ghost is a friend or adversary.
The Hound of the Baskervilles is a work of terrifying detective fiction. Rationalism is challenged against the supernatural, good vs evil, as Sherlock Holmes attempts to vanquish an opponent on par with him.
It has been widely adapted for radio, cinema, and television across the world.
6. You Were Never Here By Kathleen Peacock
This book is a thrilling read that is ideal for curling up with before going to bed on a chilly winter night. You won’t know what happened until the very end.
For a first author, Kathleen Peacock is a natural in the thriller subgenre (If you like thriller stories, also check out The Last Thing He Told Me).
In this novel, Mary Catherine, sometimes known as Cat, is compelled to spend the summer with her aunt because of a horrible incident that occurred to her in New York.
Cat’s ancestors built the town of Montgomery Falls. Since she first realized she could perform tasks that most 12-year-olds are unable to, she hasn’t been there since she was twelve.
She gave Riley her first kiss that year, which ultimately ended their friendship. She returns to Montgomery Falls five years later, but Riley has vanished. Riley has not been heard from in three months.
When Riley’s brother, Noah, requests for assistance in figuring out what occurred, Cat is divided between wanting to know the truth and keeping the secret she’s been keeping since that summer when she and Riley ceased communication.
She only has one option that will put a murderer on her trail.
7. Murder On The Orient Express By Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express is a piece of detective fiction featuring the Belgian investigator Hercule Poirot.
On January 1, 1934, the Collins Crime Club released it for the first time in the United Kingdom.
This is one of his most renowned Agatha Christie novels, and it is unquestionably a classic.
A murder occurs on the Orient Express, and the train becomes stalled in snow, providing Poirot with the ideal backdrop to investigate the crime, as all suspects are trapped aboard the train.
Murder on the Orient Express is a fantastic whodunit from start to finish, with all the components for a fast-paced and plot-driven read: evocative, with an isolated setting and an over-the-top cast of colorful people.
8. And Then There Were None By Agatha Christie
Most Christie fans regard the novel as her masterpiece, and critics at the time praised it as brilliant and spine-chilling.
The novel has been adapted into several plays, films, radio serials, video games, and television productions throughout the years. The novel is still considered as a great piece of literature today.
It depicts the story of 10 strangers who are all led to Indian Island by an unknown host. When his guests arrive, the host accuses them all of murder.
Because they are unable to leave the island, the visitors begin to reveal their deepest secrets—until they begin to die.
9. In the Woods By Tana French
A detective in suburban Dublin, tormented by an unremembered childhood trauma (If you want to read stories with themes like this, also check out What Happened To You?), is called in to investigate the death of a little girl.
Detective Rob Ryan and Cassie Maddox are called in to investigate the death of a little girl, Katy Devlin, whose body is discovered in the Knocknaree woods.
Despite the length of the novel, it avoids the obvious solution of supplying more bodies to assist the police in solving the murder and maintains a high degree of unrelenting suspense throughout.
In truth, the villain is simple to recognize for the seasoned reader, but that doesn’t matter because the manner the case is handled is chillingly suspenseful, and the writing style is excellent.
10. The Magpie Murders By Anthony Horowitz
If you like Agatha Christie, you’ll like this book since it’s a Christie-esque mystery combined with another mystery regarding the manuscript’s publishing.
It’s an especially interesting concept for a mystery novel, because two mysteries equals double the intrigue, and the possibility of discovering how the two stories intersect heightens the excitement.
The internal mystery in this nested narrative is a classical mystery based after classic Agatha Christie books.
A famous investigator, Atticus Pund, is sent to a tiny English hamlet at the request of a lady whose fiance is a suspect in a murder.
And, as is common in these scenarios, Pund swiftly realizes that practically everyone in the little community is a suspect.
He begins to solve the mystery with the assistance of his assistant and the detective assigned to the case.
There is nothing like getting stuck into a new book that you just cannot put down, and murder mysteries are the perfect books for this.
With a nice mix of mental gymnastics with joining the dots between clues and thrilling action, these murder mysteries are bound to keep you invested.