The best books of murder mysteries from the perspective of an award-winning thriller author

Who am I?

I’m a mystery writer and I’ve had 16 award-winning novels published. I also love to read mystery and thriller novels, and I read them voraciously. I’m best known for my highly-acclaimed J.T. Ryan mysteries and I was a Finalist for the Author Academy Award. Also, many of my books were Featured Novels of the International Thriller Writers Association. I’m also a multi-year nominee for the Georgia Author of the Year Award. 

I wrote...

The Media Murders

By Lee Gimenez,

Book cover of The Media Murders

What is my book about?

Before breaking an explosive story, a famous New York Times reporter dies under suspicious circumstances. Then a well-known TV reporter commits suicide. Suspecting foul play, the FBI’s John Ryan and Erin Welch investigate. As they probe the mysterious deaths, they uncover a shocking truth: Reporters are being murdered to suppress the news. More shocking is who they suspect is responsible for the killings. Can John Ryan and Erin Welch survive as they try to expose the conspiracy? Or will they be murdered by the assassins sent to keep them from revealing the truth?

The books I picked & why

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The 20th Victim

By James Patterson, Maxine Paetro,

Book cover of The 20th Victim

Why this book?

This book grabs you from the first page and doesn't let go until the very end. I loved the pacing of this murder mystery novel. The book starts out with three murders that have happened at the exact time, one in Chicago, one in L.A., and the third in San Francisco. The main character, SFPD sergeant Lindsey Boxer attempts to solve them with the help of the Women’s Murder Club. The interaction between the women as they go about their investigation is the best I’ve ever read. 

The Hit

By David Baldacci,

Book cover of The Hit

Why this book?

The Hit is my favorite of David Baldacci's many novels. It's a page-turning, pulse-racing action thriller with one of the best plots I've ever read. I found Will Robie, the main character in the book, a riveting personality. He's a U.S. government agent and the man the government calls on to eliminate the worst of the worst. No one can match Robie's talents as a hitman. No one, except Jessica Reel. A fellow assassin, Reel is every bit as lethal as Robie. And now she's gone rogue, turning her gun sights on other members of their agency. I found the captivating characters, the plot line, and the relentless pace of this novel a great read. It kept me on the edge of my seat from the first page to the last.

A Dangerous Man

By Robert Crais,

Book cover of A Dangerous Man

Why this book?

Great plot line and great characters. Although this murder mystery novel is serious, the author also introduces a humorous angle to the reader, which I found to be refreshing. The interplay between Joe Pike and Elvis Cole, the two private investigators in the story, is priceless. Good action scenes and crisp dialogue.  

Killing Floor

By Lee Child,

Book cover of Killing Floor

Why this book?

In my opinion, Killing Floor, has all of the ingredients of a dynamite murder mystery novel. Some novelists can write top-notch action and some can create compelling mysteries, yet it’s rare to find both of those skills displayed in a single book. The hero of the novel, Jack Reacher, is my favorite action character. He's tough and quiet and seeks justice. He's a former military policeman who has just arrived in Margrave, a small Georgia town. In the first chapter we see Reacher arrested for murder. As more murders take place in the town, Reacher attempts to clear his name and ends up helping the local cops solve the murders. In my opinion, this book has it all: non-stop action and suspense throughout, with great pacing and taut dialogue.

Black List: A Thriller

By Brad Thor,

Book cover of Black List: A Thriller

Why this book?

I found Black List to be a murder mystery that captivated me from beginning to end. The plot twists kept me guessing as to the final outcome, and just when I thought I had it figured out, the book took another turn and drew me deeper into the plot. This page-turning thriller pits Scot Harvath, a counterterrorism agent, against a secret government deep-state conspiracy that wants him dead. They’ve placed him on the ‘black list,’ a list of most wanted terrorists. I found this book to be a high-octane thriller, and one of the best mystery novels I’ve ever read.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in private investigators, intelligence officers, and betrayal?

5,810 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about private investigators, intelligence officers, and betrayal.

Private Investigators Explore 121 books about private investigators
Intelligence Officers Explore 29 books about intelligence officers
Betrayal Explore 9 books about betrayal

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Lincoln Lawyer, Deal Breaker, and The Black Echo if you like this list.