The best “locked room” murder mysteries

Who am I?

I’ve always been a reader of classic crime fiction, but it was only when I became an author that I fell in love with the “locked room” premise. There’s just something so sinister about a closed setting where a small group of suspects and potential victims are bound by the facets of an “impossible murder”. Whether it be a snowed-in cabin, a sinister manor house, a grand hotel, a ship, a train, or in the case of my own book — Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder — an underground labyrinth, I always feel that the atmosphere of claustrophobia adds to the suspense and mystery of these brilliant tales.


I wrote...

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder

By T.A. Willberg,

Book cover of Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder

What is my book about?

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder plunges readers into the heart of London, to the secret tunnels that exist far beneath the city streets. There, a mysterious group of detectives recruited for Miss Brickett’s Investigations & Inquiries use their cunning and gadgets to solve crimes that have stumped Scotland Yard.

Late one night in April 1958, a filing assistant for Miss Brickett’s named Michelle White receives a letter warning her that a heinous act is about to occur. She goes to investigate but finds the room empty. At the stroke of midnight, she is murdered by a killer she can’t see—her death is the only sign she wasn’t alone. It becomes chillingly clear that the person responsible must also work for Miss Brickett’s, making everyone a suspect.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

The Hunting Party

By Lucy Foley,

Book cover of The Hunting Party

Why this book?

Like any good “locked room” murder mystery, the tone of The Hunting Party is insular and claustrophobic. It begins with a group of old friends snowed in at a cabin in the woods in the Scottish Highlands. Not long into the story, one of the friends dies under suspicious circumstances and it’s up to you, the reader, to figure out who among the group is the murderer. I was hooked from beginning to end by this fast-paced, tense tale and, as always, was enthralled by Foley’s sharp prose.


The Maid

By Nita Prose,

Book cover of The Maid

Why this book?

The Maid has all the building blocks of a classic “locked room” mystery: a closed setting (a grand hotel), a small group of suspects, and a tense atmosphere. It is also, however, lighthearted and quirky with a unique protagonist (Molly the maid), who sees the world very differently from everyone else. While The Maid fits neatly into the “cosy mystery” sub-genre, I believe it will appeal to a broad spectrum of crime lovers.


The Woman in Cabin 10

By Ruth Ware,

Book cover of The Woman in Cabin 10

Why this book?

Ruth Ware needs no introduction and The Woman in Cabin 10 is — in my humble opinion — her best book yet. In this story, our protagonist, Lo, is offered a dream assignment aboard a luxury cruise (the “locked room”) on the North Sea. It’s all smooth sailing until Lo sees a body being thrown overboard. But when she reports the incident to officials, they claim that all passengers are accounted for and insist she must be mistaken. The book takes a dark turn rather quickly, and each page is more intense than the next. A true gem!


The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

By Stuart Turton,

Book cover of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Why this book?

All you have to know about Stuart Turton is that he is a genius. This book is a mind-bending, time-travelling masterpiece that I don’t think anyone else could have written. The "locked room” in this case is Blackheath Manor, where the very unfortunate Evelyn Hardcastle is doomed to die every day until our protagonist, Aiden, can break the cycle. If you’re into crime fiction with a touch of something peculiar, then Seven Deaths is definitely for you. Be warned, though, you might need to read it several times before it makes sense.


Murder on the Orient Express

By Agatha Christie,

Book cover of Murder on the Orient Express

Why this book?

Agatha Christie is the undisputed queen of the “locked room mystery” and Murder on the Orient Express is quite frankly one of the best crime novels of all time. As the title suggests, the “locked room” in this novel is a luxurious train filled with a motley crew of suspects and, of course, detective extraordinaire Hercule Poirot. I can’t recommend this book enough.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in murders, private investigators, and the Scottish Highlands?

5,809 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about murders, private investigators, and the Scottish Highlands.

Murders Explore 334 books about murders
Private Investigators Explore 121 books about private investigators
The Scottish Highlands Explore 14 books about the Scottish Highlands

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Hot Zone, The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, and Train I Ride if you like this list.