Crime mystery books have long captivated readers with their intricate plots, unforgettable characters, and thrilling conclusions. This diverse genre offers something for everyone, from classic whodunits to modern psychological thrillers. In this article, we will explore 10 of the best crime mystery books you should read right now, organized into four categories: the classics, modern masterpieces, psychological thrillers, and cozy mysteries.
The Classics: Timeless Crime Mystery Novels
These novels have stood the test of time and continue to influence and inspire readers and writers alike. Their impact on the crime mystery genre can be felt to this day, and they offer a gateway to a world of literary intrigue.
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
Arguably the most famous of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, “The Hound of the Baskervilles” blends supernatural elements with traditional detective fiction. When the mysterious death of Sir Charles Baskerville leads to rumors of a demonic hound haunting the moors, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are called to investigate the truth behind the legend. This atmospheric and suspenseful novel showcases Doyle’s masterful storytelling and remains a must-read for fans of detective fiction.
The Hound of the Baskervilles is not only a classic of the crime mystery genre, but it also has a fascinating history. Doyle was inspired to write the novel after hearing a legend about a spectral hound that haunted the Dartmoor region of England. The novel’s setting, the bleak and misty moors of Devonshire, is a character in itself, adding to the sense of foreboding and danger. The Hound of the Baskervilles has been adapted into numerous films, television shows, and radio dramas, cementing its place in popular culture.
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
Known for its snappy dialogue and memorable characters, “The Maltese Falcon” introduced readers to hard-boiled detective Sam Spade. This novel follows Spade as he investigates the murder of his partner while becoming entangled in a ruthless quest for a priceless, jewel-encrusted statuette. Hammett’s gritty prose not only defined the hard-boiled subgenre but also inspired countless novels, films, and television shows.
The Maltese Falcon is a classic example of the hard-boiled detective genre, which emerged in the 1920s and 1930s. This genre featured tough, cynical, and often violent detectives who operated outside the law to solve crimes. Hammett’s novel set the standard for the genre, with its fast-paced plot, snappy dialogue, and morally ambiguous characters. The Maltese Falcon has been adapted into several films, including the iconic 1941 version starring Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade.
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
Featuring the iconic private detective Philip Marlowe, “The Big Sleep” is the first of Raymond Chandler’s many noir masterpieces. Marlowe is hired to resolve a blackmail case, which quickly spirals into a web of murder, treachery, and deceit. Known for its vivid descriptions of 1930s Los Angeles and morally ambiguous characters, this classic crime mystery is a riveting and influential read.
The Big Sleep is not only a classic of the crime mystery genre but also a landmark of American literature. Chandler’s vivid descriptions of Los Angeles, with its seedy underbelly and corrupt power structures, captured the essence of the city and influenced countless writers and filmmakers. The novel’s protagonist, Philip Marlowe, became an archetype of the hard-boiled detective, with his code of honor and his willingness to confront corruption and evil. The Big Sleep has been adapted into several films, including a 1946 version starring Humphrey Bogart as Marlowe.
Modern Masterpieces: Contemporary Crime Mystery Books
These modern novels showcase the incredible talent and innovation present in the crime mystery genre today. Each book features a unique blend of suspenseful storytelling and captivating prose that makes them impossible to put down. In this article, we will explore three of the most popular contemporary crime mystery books that have taken the literary world by storm.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Blending elements of mystery, suspense, and political intrigue, Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” became an instant international bestseller. The novel is set in Sweden and follows the story of a disgraced journalist named Mikael Blomkvist, who is hired to investigate a decades-old disappearance. As he delves deeper into the case, he crosses paths with the enigmatic hacker Lisbeth Salander, who helps him uncover a web of corruption, misogyny, and family secrets. Larsson’s sharp social commentary and complex characters make this novel a modern classic. The book has been adapted into a successful movie and TV series, cementing its place in pop culture history.
One of the most fascinating aspects of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is the character of Lisbeth Salander. She is a complex and intriguing figure, with a troubled past and a fierce determination to seek justice. Her unconventional appearance and behavior make her stand out from other characters in the genre, and her intelligence and resourcefulness are truly inspiring.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
When Amy Dunne vanishes on her fifth wedding anniversary, her husband Nick becomes the prime suspect. But Amy’s disappearance is far from a simple missing-persons case, and as the narrative unfolds, Flynn masterfully peels back the layers of deception and secrets that exist within this seemingly perfect marriage. “Gone Girl” is a gripping exploration of the facades people create, expertly merging elements of suspense, psychological thriller, and crime mystery.
One of the most impressive aspects of “Gone Girl” is the way Flynn subverts the expectations of the reader. The plot twists and turns in unexpected ways, and the characters are far from the stereotypes typically found in crime mystery novels. Flynn’s writing style is sharp and incisive, and her ability to create tension and suspense is unparalleled.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Set in a seemingly idyllic Australian suburb, “Big Little Lies” delves into the lives of three women whose children attend the same kindergarten. As their friendships develop, the novel exposes secrets, lies, and violence lurking beneath the surface of their community. Balancing wit and suspense, Moriarty crafts a complex narrative exploring the intersecting lives of a diverse cast, creating a captivating and humanizing crime mystery.
One of the most impressive aspects of “Big Little Lies” is the way Moriarty tackles issues of domestic violence and the impact it has on families and communities. The novel is a powerful commentary on the way society deals with these issues, and the consequences of ignoring warning signs. Moriarty’s writing is witty and insightful, and her characters are complex and relatable.
In conclusion, these three contemporary crime mystery books are must-reads for anyone who loves the genre. Each novel offers a unique perspective on the genre, and showcases the incredible talent and innovation present in the literary world today. Whether you’re a fan of suspense, political intrigue, or psychological thriller, there’s something for everyone in these modern masterpieces.
Psychological Thrillers: Crime Mysteries That Mess with Your Mind
Do you enjoy reading books that keep you on the edge of your seat, constantly second-guessing yourself? Look no further than psychological thrillers! These crime mysteries use unreliable narrators, twisting timelines, and mind-bending plots to keep you guessing until the very end.
One of the most popular psychological thrillers in recent years is “The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides. This wildly successful debut novel tells the story of Alicia Berenson, a famous artist who inexplicably shoots her husband and then refuses to speak. As psychotherapist Theo Faber becomes obsessed with uncovering the truth behind Alicia’s silence, the narrative skillfully weaves between the present and past, creating a tense and taut psychological thriller with a shocking twist.
If you’re looking for a crime mystery with an unreliable narrator, “The Woman in the Window” by A.J. Finn is a must-read. Agoraphobic Anna Fox spends her days observing her neighbors from her window, trapped within her own home. When she witnesses a crime she can’t explain, her credibility crumbles, and the reader is left guessing what truly occurred. Finn’s exploration of Anna’s internal struggles and unreliable narrative voice creates a haunting and suspenseful crime mystery.
“Before I Go to Sleep” by S.J. Watson is another psychological thriller that will keep you up at night. Every morning, Christine wakes up with no memories of her past due to a traumatic accident. As she pieces together her life with help from her husband and a journal she keeps hidden, the truth starts to unravel, hinting at dark secrets and leaving the reader questioning who can actually be trusted. “Before I Go to Sleep” is a harrowing and unsettling crime mystery that relentlessly challenges the reader’s perceptions.
Psychological thrillers are a great way to escape reality and immerse yourself in a world of suspense and intrigue. So why not pick up one of these crime mysteries and see how long you can hold out before the plot twists and turns leave you reeling?
Cozy Mysteries: Light-Hearted Crime Fiction
If you’re looking for a break from the dark and gritty world of crime fiction, cozy mysteries might be just what you need. These light-hearted novels offer the perfect escape while still delivering an engaging whodunit. With uplifting resolutions and quirky characters, you’ll be sure to find a cozy mystery that warms your heart and tickles your funny bone.
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Precious Ramotswe, the intuitive and compassionate owner of Botswana’s first female-run detective agency, is a force to be reckoned with. With her sharp mind and kind heart, she navigates a series of mysteries with wisdom and humor. McCall Smith’s beautiful prose and sense of place create a charming backdrop for this delightful and heartwarming series.
As you follow Precious on her adventures, you’ll be transported to the vibrant and colorful world of Botswana. You’ll meet a host of quirky characters, from the bumbling apprentice detective to the stoic butler. And through it all, you’ll be rooting for Precious to solve the case and bring justice to her community.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
Set in the 1950s, this cozy mystery introduces amateur sleuth Flavia de Luce, an endearingly clever 11-year-old chemist with a penchant for poisons. When she stumbles upon a dead body on her family’s estate, Flavia takes it upon herself to solve the mystery. Bradley’s enchanting narrative voice and whimsical prose create a captivating tale that will delight readers of all ages.
As you follow Flavia on her investigation, you’ll be drawn into the world of her eccentric family and the quaint English village they call home. You’ll marvel at Flavia’s intelligence and resourcefulness, and you’ll be charmed by her quirky personality. And when the mystery is finally solved, you’ll feel a sense of satisfaction and closure, knowing that justice has been served.
These two cozy mystery series are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this delightful subgenre of crime fiction. From culinary mysteries to knitting mysteries, there’s a cozy mystery out there for every reader. So why not curl up with a cup of tea and a cozy mystery today?
And if you’re looking for more crime mystery books to add to your reading list, be sure to check out the works of Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Louise Penny. These authors are masters of the genre, and their books are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.
What is the difference between crime fiction and true crime?
As the names may suggest, true crime stories are based on real crimes, and crime fiction, although sometimes inspired by truth, is mostly made up.
Erik Larson, Susan Orlean, Dave Cullen, Michelle McNamara, Gillian Flynn, Tana French, Lee Child, Stieg Larsson, and Dennis Lehane are all good examples.
What is the best crime thriller?
What is the best crime thriller?
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is known as one of the most suspenseful crime thriller books out there. There is also a brilliant film adaptation starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike to go with it.