The best Halloween mysteries to escape into

Who am I?

My love affair with reading began in kindergarten with The Three Little PigsTrips to the library introduced me to Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, and Agatha Christie. It didn’t take long for me to realize how much I love reading mysteries. I’ve read thousands of them over the years, mainly traditional and cozy. When I decided to try my hand at writing, I knew right away that I’d be creating stories on the cozy end of the mystery spectrum. I particularly like mysteries set around Halloween. I’m not a horror fan. I prefer less gruesome Halloween tales, especially ones involving old legends and ghosts. These gentler Halloween mysteries are the perfect fit for me.


I wrote...

Designed For Haunting

By Sybil Johnson,

Book cover of Designed For Haunting

What is my book about?

Halloween is fast approaching in the quiet Los Angeles County city of Vista Beach, home of computer programmer and decorative painting enthusiast, Aurora (Rory) Anderson. Rory is looking forward to enjoying all of the Halloween activities until she receives an unexpected email from Beyond The Grave, a company that automatically sends out messages when someone dies. “I think I have a stalker,” the message reads. “If you’re reading this I’m either missing or dead. My life may depend on what you do. Please find out what happened to me.”

Haunted by her friend’s disappearance and possible death, Rory heeds the cry for help and begins her search for the truth with the help of best friend and fellow painter, Liz Dexter.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Skeleton Haunts a House

Sybil Johnson Why did I love this book?

Haunted house attractions aren’t supposed to contain dead bodies, not real ones, anyway. Unfortunately, there’s one at the Haunted House at McQuaid University, part of the town’s Halloween Howl. Perry creates a believable world where Sid, a living skeleton, is a sidekick to adjunct professor, Dr. Georgia Thackery, in a murder investigation surrounding the death of a student in the house. This is a fun world to be transported into. The Thackery family is a joy to spend time with. I especially like the relationships between Georgia and Sid and Georgia and her teenage daughter. I love this series so much I named a fake skeleton after Sid in my book.

By Leigh Perry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Skeleton Haunts a House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sid the Skeleton bones up on clues to solve a Haunted House homicide in this mystery from the author of The Skeleton Takes a Bow…

What holiday could bring more warmth to a skeleton’s chest cavity than Halloween? And when you’re a living skeleton who’s not supposed to be seen outside the house, it’s a welcome chance to get some fresh air and rub bony elbows with people. That’s why Sid doesn’t mind wearing a full-body dog suit and going as Scooby-Doo along with Georgia Thackery’s Velma to the Halloween Howl.

Sid can’t wait to go through the Haunted House—but…


Book cover of The Spook in the Stacks

Sybil Johnson Why did I love this book?

I’ve always been fascinated by lighthouses and I love libraries. Put a library in a lighthouse like this book does and it’s a dream come true for me. Every page reminds me of all the happy hours I spent at my local library growing up, minus the murder, of course. All of the characters felt real to me from those who appear in scene after scene to those who only come into the story once or twice. I enjoyed spending time with them all including Charles, the library cat. This book does a great job of weaving Halloween activities, spooky moments and ghost stories into the mystery.

By Eva Gates,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Spook in the Stacks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Halloween in North Carolina’s Outer Banks becomes seriously tricky when librarian Lucy Richardson stumbles across something extra unusual in the rare books section: a dead body.

Wealthy businessman Jay Ruddle is considering donating his extensive collection of North Carolina historical documents to the Bodie Island Lighthouse Library, but the competition for the collection is fierce. Unfortunately, while the library is hosting a lecture on ghostly legends, Jay becomes one of the dearly departed in the rare books section. Now, it’s up to Lucy Richardson and her fellow librarians to bone up on their detective skills and discover who is responsible…


Book cover of The Legend of Sleepy Harlow

Sybil Johnson Why did I love this book?

Paranormal investigators, a ghostly legend, and murder. That, in a nutshell, is what attracted me to this book. While the residents of South Bass Island prepare for Halloween festivities, the Elkhart Ghost Getters arrive in search of footage of the ghost of a prohibition bootlegger named Charlie “Sleepy” Harlow. Harlow was beheaded by rival bootleggers and his ghost is said to appear every Halloween in search of his head. A murder puts a damper on the festivities, causing the League of Literary Ladies to sprint into action. Forced by court order to spend time together in a book club, the three women in the League are now fast friends. I love the ingenuity of the main character as well as how they all work together to solve the murder.

By Anastasia Hastings,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Legend of Sleepy Harlow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It takes more than a lurid legend to scare off the League of Literary Ladies in the third novel in this charming cozy mystery series...
 
For Halloween, the Literary Ladies have chosen to read Washington Irving’s spooky classic, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, with its infamous headless horseman. But South Bass Island has its own headless legend—of a Prohibition bootlegger named Charlie “Sleepy” Harlow. Decapitated by rival rumrunners, Harlow appears once a year in spectral form to search for his noggin.
 
This October, the Elkhart Ghost Getters (EGG) have returned to the island. The group claims that they have film…


Book cover of Hallowe'en Party

Sybil Johnson Why did I love this book?

Agatha Christie is one of my favorite authors. I’ve read all of her books, some of them multiple times. I particularly like this pairing of Hercule Poirot and Ariadne Oliver, two very different characters you wouldn’t expect to be friends. They work together to distinguish the truth from lies and figure out what’s really going on when a teen at a Halloween party is killed after bragging about witnessing a murder years before. I love the twists and turns and the “aha” moment near the end when I realized whodunit.

By Agatha Christie,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Hallowe'en Party as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When a Halloween Party turns deadly, it falls to Hercule Poirots to unmask a murderer in Agatha Christie’s classic murder mystery, Hallowe’en Party.

At a Halloween party, Joyce—a hostile thirteen-year-old—boasts that she once witnessed a murder. When no one believes her, she storms off home. But within hours her body is found, still in the house, drowned in an apple-bobbing tub.

That night, Hercule Poirot is called in to find the `evil presence'. But first he must establish whether he is looking for a murderer or a double-murderer...

Book cover of The Spirit in Question

Sybil Johnson Why did I love this book?

In The Spirit in Question, Lila Maclean, English professor at Stonedale University, agrees to consult on a university production of a new musical being staged in a historic opera house with a resident ghost. University politics, a historical society on the warpath, and a crumbling theater are hard enough for Lila to deal with. Then a murder occurs, threatening to derail the production. Bit by bit, the theater and the people Lila encounters give up their secrets. Every new revelation urged me to keep on reading. All of the characters and their conflicts felt real to me. I especially liked spending time with the main character, Lila.

By Cynthia Kuhn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Spirit in Question as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

English professor Lila Maclean knew drama would be involved when she agreed to consult on Stonedale University’s production of Puzzled: The Musical.

But she didn’t expect to find herself cast into such chaos: the incomprehensible play is a disaster, the crumbling theater appears to be haunted, and, before long, murder takes center stage.

The show must go on—yet as they speed toward opening night, it becomes clear that other members of the company may be targeted as well. Lila searches for answers while contending with a tenacious historical society, an eccentric playwright, an unsettling psychic, an enigmatic apparition, and a…


You might also like...

Radio Free Olympia

By Jeffrey Dunn,

Book cover of Radio Free Olympia

Jeffrey Dunn Author Of Radio Free Olympia

New book alert!

Who am I?

I’ve always been a child of the woods. I preferred to leave my home and wade a creek or explore a hillside. Nothing compared to the sight of a black snake or the feel of a mud puppy. School was a torture until an English teacher introduced me to Richard Brautigan and then read my first serious story to the class. Since then, this dyslexic nature lover has become a dream fisher and history miner with a Ph.D. in English Literature and Cultural Studies. Retired from forty-one years of teaching, I now write and publish cultural fiction.

Jeffrey's book list on where imagination and nature run free

What is my book about?

Embark on a riveting journey into Washington State’s untamed Olympic Peninsula, where the threads of folklore legends and historical icons are woven into a complex ecological tapestry.

Follow the enigmatic Petr as he fearlessly employs his pirate radio transmitter to broadcast the forgotten and untamed voices that echo through the wilderness. Venture deeper and encounter Baie, the founder of Wildsisters, a cranberry-infused roadhouse that offers solace to lost and wayward women. When a newborn is kidnapped, Baie and her community must unite to recover what has been stolen. Yet, their quest for justice extends beyond the realm of human characters—it must also be served for the fragile flora, the diverse fauna, and the very essence of the natural world.

Radio Free Olympia

By Jeffrey Dunn,

What is this book about?

Unleash the Power of the Wilderness in Radio Free Olympia


Discover the captivating allure of Washington's untamed Olympic Peninsula in Radio Free Olympia, an extraordinary literary masterpiece that immerses readers in a mesmerizing realm of visionaries, folklore legends, and historical icons. With an enchanting blend of magical realism and cultural fiction, the brilliant wordsmith Jeffrey Dunn artfully intertwines multiple narratives, crafting an intricate ecological tapestry that resonates deeply within the soul.


Embark on a riveting journey alongside the enigmatic Petr, a foundling whose path leads him deep into the heart of the majestic mountain rainforest. Armed with nothing but a…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Halloween, murder, and murder mystery?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Halloween, murder, and murder mystery.

Halloween Explore 87 books about Halloween
Murder Explore 893 books about murder
Murder Mystery Explore 470 books about murder mystery