The most recommended mystery books

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1,789 authors created a book list connected to mystery, and here are their favorite mystery books.
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Book cover of The Killing Joke

Jim Alexander Author Of GoodCopBadCop

From my list on unreliable narrators.

Who am I?

I am a comic book writer, published by Marvel and DC Comics, turned novelist. I enjoy getting inside the heads of my characters until they become entities of their own, with their own voices and actions. At that point I’m merely the facilitator; an interested spectator with a keyboard. Maybe, one whose prose shows a visual flair. Sometimes, I hear competing voices in my head, rather like the warring personas that feature in my debut novel GoodCopBadCop, but I don’t like to play favourites. 

Jim's book list on unreliable narrators

Jim Alexander Why did Jim love this book?

In the comic books (and films) Batman and Joker are locked together in the eternal battle between good and evil. Except, as The Killing Joke so brilliantly explores, that’s not quite how Joker sees it. For Joker, they are both sides of the same coin. If Joker is seen as evil incarnate, then why, he asks, is Batman considered the opposite? The story has since been disowned by writer Moore, possibly because of the interminable number of nihilistic-styled super-hero stories that followed in its wake. But sometimes I think the writer’s dissonance from the subject matter adds to the sense of unease and chaos at play. And there is undeniable power at the root of the story, taken entirely from Joker’s impeccably flawed point of view. That it only takes ‘one bad day’ to turn an ordinary joe into one or the other, Joker or Batman.

By Alan Moore, Brian Bolland (illustrator), John Higgins (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Critically acclaimed author Alan Moore redefined graphic novel story-telling with Watchmen and V for Vendetta. In Batman: The Killing Joke, he takes on the origin of comics' greatest super-villain, The Joker, and changes Batman's world forever.

ONE BAD DAY.

According to the grinning engine of madness and mayhem known as the Joker, that's all that separates the sane from the psychotic. Freed once again from the confines of Arkham Asylum, he's out to prove his deranged point. And he's going to use Gotham City's top cop, Commissioner Jim Gordon, and his brilliant and beautiful daughter Barbara to do it.

Now…


Book cover of Super-Cannes

Carol Drinkwater Author Of The Olive Farm: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Olive Oil in the South of France

From my list on fiction and non-fiction about the South of France.

Who am I?

Thirty-five years ago, I bought a dilapidated olive farm overlooking the Bay of Cannes. I was well-known as an actress for such roles as Helen Herriot in All Creatures Great and Small. Moving to Provence, living on the Mediterranean, transformed my life. I became passionate about the landscape, history, art, languages, literature of the region. I spent 17 months travelling solo round the Mediterranean basin, searching out the history and cultures of the olive tree, a mythical plant. I was invited to work with UNESCO to create a Mediterranean Olive Route. I make films, TV programmes, and write books. Almost all my work is set in the south of France.

Carol's book list on fiction and non-fiction about the South of France

Carol Drinkwater Why did Carol love this book?

This novel couldn’t be more different from my other choices. It is set on a high-tech park called Eden-Olympia nestling (malevolently!) in the hills behind Cannes. The story is fantastic in a way that is born of Ballard’s brilliant mind. It is a twenty-first century, stylised thriller, and way ahead of its time. Ballard takes the edgy, seamier side of life on this French Riviera coast with its racism and elitism several imaginative steps too far and delivers a shocking tale. I read this novel when it was first published and it haunted me for years. After two more readngs, it remains as powerful as my first introduction to it. Definitely a novel I wish I had written.

By J.G. Ballard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Super-Cannes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A high-tech business park on the Mediterranean is the setting for a most disturbing crime in this reissue featuring a new introduction by Ali Smith.

A disturbing mystery awaits Paul and Jane Sinclair when they arrive in Eden-Olympia, a high-tech business park in the hills above Cannes. Jane is to work as a doctor for those who live in this ultra-modern workers' paradise. But what caused her predecessor to go on a shooting spree that made headlines around the world? As Paul investigates, he begins to uncover a thriving subculture of crime that is spiralling out of control.

Both novel…


Book cover of Going to Beautiful

Sue Jaskula Author Of Tangled Lies

From my list on romantic suspense with real-life characters.

Who am I?

My administrative career covered a mix of legal and hospital work which provided a wealth of real-life scenarios to fuel my own convoluted story ideas. Thrilled to take early retirement and pursue a writing career, I have since published five romantic suspense novels. I strive to produce quality stories on par with the countless amazing romantic suspense authors I have enjoyed since my teen years. Storyline prompts surround us. A dark bunkie, screaming neighbor, or even an oddly shaped bag of garbage can trigger my suspicion. My favorite spot to walk is the peaceful shores of Lake Huron, where my twisted imagination soars, and my best stories come to life.

Sue's book list on romantic suspense with real-life characters

Sue Jaskula Why did Sue love this book?

Diverse characters who feel like friends; a picturesque town that will have you checking Google maps for your next road trip; a murder; an unexpected love story; what is not to love about this book?

This is my favorite read of the year. I still envision the characters months after reading, as if I visited “Beautiful” on a wild adventure to solve a mystery and met an eclectic bunch of new travel mates along the way. The ending will surprise you in more ways than one. An easy, solid 5+ stars for this one.

By Anthony Bidulka,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Going to Beautiful as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

International chef Jake Hardy has it all. Celebrity, thriving career, plenty of friends, a happy family and faithful dog. Until one day when a tragic accident tears it all apart. Struggling to recover, Hardy finds himself in a strange new world—a snow-swept prairie town that time forgot—a place where nothing makes sense. Cold is beautiful. Simple is complex. And doubts begin to surface about whether Jake’s tragedy was truly an accident after all. As the sun sets in the Land of Living Skies, Hardy and his glamourous, seventy-eight-year-old transgender neighbour find themselves ensnared in multiple murders separated by decades. In…


The Secret Order of the Scepter & Gavel

By Nicholas Ponticello,

Book cover of The Secret Order of the Scepter & Gavel

Nicholas Ponticello Author Of The Secret Order of the Scepter & Gavel

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Writer Teacher Reader Lego builder Musical connoisseur

Nicholas' 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Vanderough University prepares its graduates for life on Mars. Herbert Hoover Palminteri enrolls at VU with the hope of joining the Martian colony in 2044 as a member of its esteemed engineer corps. But then Herbert is tapped to join a notorious secret society: the Order of the Scepter and Gavel. As a new pledge, Herbert has to prove himself in a series of dangerous initiation rites, even if it means risking his life and the lives of his friends.

Many years later, when Herbert thinks the scandals of his youth are finally dead and buried, a murder occurs in the Martian colony, and Herbert starts to suspect it is linked to the secret Order of the Scepter and Gavel of his past.

Book cover of The Jonah

Richard Ayre Author Of Point of Contact

From my list on mixing horror with other genres.

Who am I?

After picking up a copy of James Herbert’s Lair (the second in his Rats trilogy) back in the early 80s, I decided I wanted to write something myself one day. That day came in about 1990, when I finished my first manuscript, Minstrel’s Bargain. I also wrote another MS around that time called Point of Contact, but nothing happened with these stories and I gave up on my writing dreams to concentrate on bringing up a family. Fast forward to 2015, and I sent the MS for Minstrel’s Bargain to an indie publisher. To my surprise, they took it on, and that book has spawned two sequels, entitled the Prophecy Trilogy. 

Richard's book list on mixing horror with other genres

Richard Ayre Why did Richard love this book?

James Herbert was, for me, the king, and The Jonah is brilliant. Jim Kelso, undercover cop, is a man with dark secrets. Shunned by others in the Police, he is seen as the eponymous Jonah as everything he touches seems to go wrong. Sent off to investigate a suspected drug factory on the coast, Kelso finds himself not only fighting the drug dealers he has been sent to bring to justice, but also with his own horrifying past. Part police procedural, part terrifying horror. Brilliant stuff.

By James Herbert,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The shadow of the past was always with him. But he never knew what it was, or when it would strike next. In James Herbert's The Jonah, detective Jim Kelso is sent to a small coastal town to investigate drug smuggling and stumbles on a dangerous organization. Suddenly more than just his life is at stake. It's his past, his future, his sanity. Through torture and drugs he discovers the terrifying secret of The Jonah. And learns, in the most horrifying way that it can destroy him as well as others . . .


Book cover of Miss Pym Disposes

Kristin Cashore Author Of Winterkeep

From my list on mysteries—and solutions—you never saw coming.

Who am I?

As a reader and writer, I work with a pretty broad definition of “mystery.” You’ll find my own novels in the fantasy section of the bookstore, but my books are mysteries too — and romances, and tales of adventure, and intimate character studies, and reflections on our reality, no matter how fantastical the worlds in which they take place. I love melding genres! So when I think of my favorite mysteries, I try not to limit myself to the mystery section of the bookstore. Few things make me happier than discovering partway through a book that a mystery has been building that I didn’t even notice.

Kristin's book list on mysteries—and solutions—you never saw coming

Kristin Cashore Why did Kristin love this book?

This is my favorite novel by the mystery master Josephine Tey, because it quietly breaks the mold. Miss Pym, bestselling writer of a book about psychology, makes an author visit to an English “college of physical culture,” where young women are training in various athletic arts. As the students of this school charm Miss Pym and occupy her ruminations, she continues to delay her departure. But where is the mystery? It isn’t until the final third of the book that the mystery appears, and it was only on rereading that I realized it had been coming all along. I love this kind of unexpected unfolding. I also adored the resolution.

By Josephine Tey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Miss Pym Disposes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A classic murder mystery from the Golden Age of detective fiction, written by genre legend Josephine Tey.

Leys Physical Training College is famous for its excellent discipline and its spectacularly athletic students. Miss Lucy Pym, expert psychologist, is pleased and flattered to be invited to lecture there - even if the Olympian splendour of the students leaves her feeling just a little inadequate.

But a nasty accident spoils the occasion, and suddenly Miss Pym must turn her intellect to the unpleasant suspicion that, among all these healthy young students, there lurks an incurably sick mind...


Book cover of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

Dwain Worrell Author Of Androne

From my list on suspenseful science fiction.

Who am I?

To be honest, and this will sound strange, but suspense is the air I breathe. I’m a pretty calm, boring human being, and the only thing that gets my heart pumping are films, TV, books, and video games in this genre. Suspense and thrillers are genres that make up ninety percent of the entertainment that I consume, and one hundred percent of the entertainment that I write.

Dwain's book list on suspenseful science fiction

Dwain Worrell Why did Dwain love this book?

I can only speak from my experience and, wow, this book hooked me right at the end of that first chapter, “but it’s happening faster.” Now to go into what that means, I will remain spoiler-free, but my jaw dropped. And the story only ramped up after that.

I love stories where the protagonist finds themselves in genuine peril, and Claire puts Harry August in a particular type of peril that truly had me terrified for his well-being in every chapter. The best type of suspense escalates in every chapter and it escalates here in this book in the best possible ways.

By Claire North,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'ONE OF THE FICTION HIGHLIGHTS OF THE DECADE' Judy Finnigan, Richard and Judy Book Club

Featured in the Richard and Judy Book Club, the BBC Radio 2 Book Club and the Waterstones Book Club
Winner of the John W. Campbell Award
Shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award

SOME STORIES CANNOT BE TOLD IN JUST ONE LIFETIME

No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before.

Nothing ever changes - until now.…


Book cover of The Last Camel Died at Noon

Rosemary Poole-Carter Author Of Only Charlotte

From Rosemary's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Novelist Reader Bluestocking Nature lover Arts enthusiast

Rosemary's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Rosemary Poole-Carter Why did Rosemary love this book?

My son Nick and I began reading Amelia Peabody's Egyptology mysteries when he was a precocious seven-year-old, discovering his calling as an archaeologist. I'd last read our copy of The Last Camel Died at Noon aloud to him when he was eleven and laid up in hospital with a leg injury—the result of his curiosity being closely akin to that of Peabody's son Ramses.

The inimitable voice of Peabody relating her rollicking adventures sped Nick's recovery and gave us both courage. I wrote my thanks to Elizabeth Peters and still treasure her warm, handwritten reply.

Nick, now a professor of Mayan archaeology, recently spoke on ancient languages and glyphs at a conference in Cairo. I celebrated by re-reading a beloved book that started him on his journey.

By Elizabeth Peters,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Last Camel Died at Noon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Join our plucky Victorian Egyptologist, together with her devastatingly handsome and brilliant husband Radcliffe, in another exciting escapade

This time Amelia and her dashing husband Emerson set off for a promising archaeological site in the Sudan, only to be unwillingly drawn into the search for an African explorer and his young bride who went missing twelve years back.

They survive the rigours of the desert, the death of their camels, and the perfidy of their guides, only to find themselves taken prisoner in a lost city and civilisation. Amelia and Emerson must bravely continue making archaeological finds while doing their…


Book cover of Gods Go Begging

Doug Bradley Author Of We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War

From my list on the Vietnam War that strike a different note.

Who am I?

Until today’s multiple catastrophes, the Vietnam War was the most harrowing moment in the lives of my fellow baby boomers and me. Drafted into the U.S. Army in early 1970, I spent 365 days in Vietnam as a combat correspondent. That experience changed my life, because as the Argentinian writer Jose Narosky has pointed out, “in war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” I have spent the past five decades trying to heal those wounds, writing three books grounded in my Vietnam experience, and have devoted my life to listening to the voices of our veterans, distilling their memories (often music-based), and sharing their words. 

Doug's book list on the Vietnam War that strike a different note

Doug Bradley Why did Doug love this book?

Vea’s novel is as ambitious, complex, and surreal a story about the horrors of Vietnam (and post-Vietnam) ever written. A Vietnam vet himself, Vea traces the efforts of several men and women who try to purge their Vietnam ghosts while finding a way to curtail the violence convulsing contemporary America. Jesse Pasadoble, the protagonist, is a defense attorney in San Francisco, hardened and embittered by his Vietnam experience. While his journey toward redemption, as well as that of an Army chaplain who goes AWOL in Vietnam, may require a “willing suspension of disbelief,” Vea skillfully pulls it off, helped in no small way by the many allusions to jazz, specifically the inimitable works of John Coltrane and Charles Mingus. 

By Alfredo Vea,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gods Go Begging as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Luminous... a beautiful book." - Carolyn See

For Vietnam veteran Jesse Pasadoble, now a defense attorney living in San Francisco, the battle still rages: in his memories, in the gang wars erupting on Potrero Hill, and in the recent slaying of two women: one black, one Vietnamese. While seeking justice for the young man accused of this brutal double murder, Jesse must walk with the ghosts of men who died on another hill... men who were his comrades and friends in a war that crossed racial divides.

Gods Go Begging is a new classic of Latino literature, a literary detective…


Book cover of The Madness of Crowds

Linda Howe-Steiger Author Of Terroir: A Morgan Kendall Wine Country Mystery

From my list on cozy mysteries that have a secondary ethical theme.

Who am I?

Born in Ohio, transplanted to Northern California, I’ve played many roles in life, including college teacher, environmental writer, urban planner, political activist, and mom. In the evening, when my body aches with tiredness, but my brain won’t stop churning on whatever subject I wrestled with that day, I love a good but “meaty” little cozy—one with a clever puzzle, something to make me smile, and a secondary theme that goes a bit into an important, really engaging topic. Then I snuggle down and enjoy my kind of decompression reading. After retirement, I started to write my own “cozies plus.” I hope you enjoy my picks.  

Linda's book list on cozy mysteries that have a secondary ethical theme

Linda Howe-Steiger Why did Linda love this book?

I have liked all the Gamache books, but this one blew me away.

Not just another clever puzzle-solving entertainment (which it is). It’s also a compelling meditation on the ethics of free speech in our world today as we struggle with a pandemic and elect autocrats into seats of power.

And this isn’t just any free speech, but speech coolly advocating for euthanizing the elderly and disabled, because caring for them is too expensive, and a waste—they’ll die anyway and leave society with much-reduced ability to care for those with a real chance to survive.

This speaker is a reputable academic, popular, and with hard data to support her position. Which is why someone wants to kill her. Which is why Gamache is brought in.

By Louise Penny,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The incredible new book in Louise Penny's #1 bestselling Chief Inspector Gamache series.

When Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is asked to provide crowd control at a statistics lecture given at the Universite de l'Estrie in Quebec, he is dubious. Why ask the head of homicide to provide security for what sounds like a minor, even mundane lecture?

But dangerous ideas about who deserves to live in order for society to thrive are rapidly gaining popularity, fuelled by the research of the eminent Professor Abigail Robinson. Yet for every person seduced by her theories there is another who is horrified by…


Book cover of The Sign of Four

Jonathan Whitelaw Author Of The Bingo Hall Detectives

From my list on sleuths who aren't cops.

Who am I?

I’ve always been besotted with crime fiction. As a journalist in Scotland, I got to experience real-life crime on a daily basis. And the world of cozy crime fiction became a very valuable, indispensable escape for me. So, when it came to coming up with my characters for The Bingo Hall Detectives, I knew that I had to create a cast, a setting, a mystery even, that would take me out of the relentlessness of the real world and into the confines of a bloody good read. And I’m so glad I did. The Bingo Hall Detectives series is very dear to me and I’m very lucky to be able to bring it to readers. 

Jonathan's book list on sleuths who aren't cops

Jonathan Whitelaw Why did Jonathan love this book?

I know it’s a bit of a cheat to have Sherlock Holmes here as he’s one of, if not the most famous detective in all of fiction.

However, he’s not an official cop so I’m claiming him for my list.

I remember being gifted a complete works of ACD when I was around 14 for a birthday. And I absolutely adored it from the off.

Like so many other crime and mystery writers, the Sherlock Holmes stories have been a constant, a mainstay throughout my career.

The Sign of Four is the second adventure with Holmes and Watson. And I recently re-read it for the Bloody Scotland Book Club.

It’s remarkable how well it’s aged, despite being over 100 years old. The tropes, style, and attention to forensic detail that ACD shows off are still used in crime fiction today. A truly wonderful masterpiece. 

By Arthur Conan Doyle,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Sign of Four as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As a dense yellow fog swirls through the streets of London, a deep melancholy has descended on Sherlock Holmes, who sits in a cocaine-induced haze at 221B Baker Street. His mood is only lifted by a visit from a beautiful but distressed young woman - Mary Morstan, whose father vanished ten years before. Four years later she began to receive an exquisite gift every year: a large, lustrous pearl. Now she has had an intriguing invitation to meet her unknown benefactor and urges Holmes and Watson to accompany her. And in the ensuing investigation - which involves a wronged woman,…