17 of the Best Mystery Books and Thrillers

Sonia Akavan
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Mystery books and thrillers have evolved quite a bit from the whodoneit style of mysteries in the 20th century. There has been a definite shift towards more character-driven stories that focus on the psychological and emotional aspects of human nature.

These days, there are plenty of great murder-mysteries and thrillers out there to keep you entertained for hours on end. And that is just what we’ve done here.

We scoured Amazon and Goodreads for the best-rated and most-praised mystery novels and thrillers to identify books that will leave you riveted. Thankfully, we were able to locate 17 fabulous titles that we believe deserve your attention. Let’s jump right in!

NameCategoryProduct
Treasure IslandBest OverallTreasure Island
Murder on the Orient Express: A Hercule Poirot MysteryBudget PickMurder on the Orient Express: A Hercule Poirot Mystery
The Boxcar Children BookshelfUpgrade PickThe Boxcar Children Bookshelf

1. Treasure Island

Our rating: 9 / 10

Treasure Island

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2. The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Our rating: 8 / 10

The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

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Pros:

  • Unique storyline
  • Graphics and overall design look great
  • Captivating hard to put down

The 7 and 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a mystery story set in an isolated estate in the Malvern Hills, a fictional English countryside. It is a who-done-it book that is based on a murder mystery told from the perspective of several characters.

I was certainly drawn to the 7 and 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by it's nostalgic point-and-click adventure game inspired style the moment I saw it. It was a unique combination of classic design with modern touches.

The fact that it is set in an isolated countryside estate makes the story all the more haunting and mysterious. It's a book that I will be reading again for sure!

3. Rebecca Schwartz Complete Set: Five Funny Cozy Mysteries

Our rating: 8 / 10

Rebecca Schwartz Complete Set: Five Funny Cozy Mysteries

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Pros:

  • Very good price
  • Cozy mystery stories
  • Fun read
  • You get all five books in one bundle

The Rebecca Schwartz series by Rebecca Carroll is very entertaining if you are looking for a fun read. Rebecca Schwartz is a small-town blogger struggling to make ends meet.

She gets involved in a murder mystery and finds herself caught up in a deadly plot. The series consists of five mystery books where Rebecca Schwartz and her friends discover the killer with just one clue and one false lead after another.

The used book market offers some amazing deals on this fiction series, and it is a good series to start with for your cozy mystery reading.

4. Nancy Drew 33: The Witch Tree Symbol

Our rating: 7 / 10

Nancy Drew 33: The Witch Tree Symbol

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Pros:

  • Time-tested hero
  • Keeps things interesting
  • The author does a great job of furthering the storyline
  • The book is well written

Cons:

  • Some may argue the lead is a little too perfect
  • It can get a bit braggy at times

For a series that’s been writing for over 80 years, the Nancy Drew series doesn’t get enough credit. Nancy’s been solving mysteries for decades, but she’s still just as fun to read today as she was back in our youth.

In Nancy Drew 33: The Witch Tree Symbol, Nancy travels with her father to stay with her cousin and solve some ghostly happenings. Poor Nancy just can’t catch a break when it comes to creepy, haunted places. There are mysterious goings on at the school and in the woods behind it, forcing Nancy to solve the mystery or face her own fate.

Filled with plenty of clues and red herrings, the Nancy Drew series is a great choice for young mystery fans. It’s also a nice break from the “hot young adult guy” trend that seems to be popular right now.

5. The Secret of the Old Clock

Our rating: 7 / 10

The Secret of the Old Clock

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Pros:

  • Trains the mind
  • Distracts you from pain
  • Helps you sleep
  • Develops and maintains empathetic relationships
  • Good for spicing up your sex life
  • Is suitable for both children and adults
  • Allows you to learn useful and interesting things
  • Improves decision making skills and logical thinking skills
  • Helps you think outside the box
  • Pushes you to achieve your goals by bringing the power of positive thinking into your life

The Secret of the Old Clock is the first book in the Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene and is followed by The Secret of the Staircase.

6. The Complete Sherlock Holmes

Our rating: 7 / 10

The Complete Sherlock Holmes

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Pros:

  • Interesting stories
  • Nostalgic perspective
  • Provides a guide to the books
  • Best works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Cheap and convenient as Kindle edition

Cons:

  • Text formatting can get annoying
  • Stories can get monotonous
  • Annotations or notes aren’t always accurate

The Complete Sherlock Holmes was originally published in 1917 and has been more known to the literary world as the "Idiot’s Edition" as a serialization of the works collected works. The Sherlock Holmes stories have been published over a period of twenty years, after many false starts which were to be found in various fiction magazines.

In this collection, you will find two volumes of the rare Sherlock Holmes stories at one low price. These books are the perfect gift for those who know all about the legendary Sherlock Holmes and want to further enjoy his presence on their screens and bookshelves. Aristotle described these books as "more than the words of wisdom, the words of a wonderful man".

7. Where the Crawdads Sing

Our rating: 7 / 10

Where the Crawdads Sing

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Pros:

  • A must-read for fans of Drowning Ruth
  • Easy to read and understand
  • Filled with suspense
  • Inspiring
  • Well-written

Cons:

  • The book is full of Appalachian dialect which can be hard to read at times
  • Not for everybody

This book was inspired by the author's own childhood experiences and fills the reader with empathy and hope.

The story follows Kya, a young girl who loves the swamp bordering her family's land. It's there that she finds solace and develops a strong emotional connection with the natural beauty surrounding her as her family struggles to make ends meet.

Technically Kya is an outcast, one that lives in the swamp alone, but she's somehow able to avoid the gossip and cruelty that others subject her to. Her most ardent detractors are her aunt and uncle, whom she lives with, and another family that lives nearby. It's the relationship she has with the other outcast in town that helps bring Kya's spirits back up in time to face the trial of her life.

8. The Boxcar Children Bookshelf

Our rating: 7 / 10

The Boxcar Children Bookshelf

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The Boxcar Children- Bookshelf is a collection of twelve mysteries featuring the Boxcar Children. The stories are a great adventure for the whole family to touch on historical events and different types of settings while also teaching kids good morals and values.

These books are great for early readers and for learning how to read. The illustrations are bright and engaging, and the mysteries are great for those who love conspiracies and history.

Many different online reviewers agree that this is a great series that makes a great addition to a family library. Overall, this is one of the best children’s books of all time.

9. Hardy Boys Starter Set

Our rating: 7 / 10

Hardy Boys Starter Set

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Pros:

  • Classic detective story from your youth
  • Great introduction into the genre
  • Encourages use of imagination

As far as classic detective stories go, you can’t go wrong with the Hardy Boys Starter Set. As you probably know, the Hardy Boys are fictional characters created by Franklin W. Dixon as the protagonists of a mystery series for adolescent readers.

The series is entitled The Hardy Boys, for the first book published in 1927, and its sequels. The Hardy Boys have evolved since their first appearance, and have become sleuths in a more modern context.

The Hardy Boys have also been given the nickname “America’s Sweethearts ” due to their popularity with readers, as well as their attractive appearance, which is unusual in the genre of detective stories aimed at teenagers.

10. The Da Vinci Code

Our rating: 7 / 10

The Da Vinci Code

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Pros:

  • Taut plot development
  • Captivating descriptions
  • Many twists and turns
  • Great for lovers of conspiracy theories

Cons:

  • Not so exciting for those who don’t like conspiracies
  • The length may be critical for some

Dan Brown has come up with yet another great thriller. Robert Langdon is visiting Paris to give a lecture. While he is there, a woman wearing a long sleeve shirt, gloves and a scarf walks into his lecture room and she shoots the professor. Langdon was able to escape.

The next morning, Langdon wakes up in his hotel room, and he finds out that he is a suspect in the murder of the professor. He has no recollection of what happened in the lecture room but finds out that the dead professor’s body has been engineered by the long-sleeve woman. While trying to figure out what happened, he learns of a secret society that believes in the concept of the Holy Grail.

Brown has done it again! I very much enjoyed this book. The plot is very captivating and hard to put down.

11. Death on the Nile: A Hercule Poirot Mystery

Our rating: 7 / 10

Death on the Nile: A Hercule Poirot Mystery

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Pros:

  • Exciting, engaging story
  • Clear, detailed prose

(Volume 13)

The Mystery of the Blue Train: Agatha Christie

Queen of Diamonds: A thriller with international flair

12. Magic Tree House Boxed Set

Our rating: 7 / 10

Magic Tree House Boxed Set

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Pros:

  • Great collections for kids
  • Each mini-series is based on a different history/science subject
  • Suspense, action, romance, and adventure.
  • Characters are relatable
  • Jack and Annie, a brother and sister team, live in the past, the present, and the future

Cons:

  • A bit young for adults
  • Some violence and peril

This famous book series for preschoolers is 70 million copies sold. They have been called “young adult adventure books” because they offer fun adventures that teach science and history. Each of the 30 single titles has a companion book that follows up in the same settings.

I love that Jack and Annie are brother and sister team with parents who are alive. The kids learn a lot from the books because they often have to solve a problem and have a dilemma. They always figure their way out, but it’s not easy.

This boxed set is a great way to introduce your child to the thrill of adventure and it’s a great value because it lasts a while. It’s also a wonderful set for road trips if you want your children entertained.

13. The Yellow House Mystery

Our rating: 6 / 10

The Yellow House Mystery

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Pros:

  • Great for kids
  • Simple to read
  • Read over and over without getting bored

If you are looking for a mystery book for your kids, The Yellow House Mystery is a great option. It is the third book of the Boxcar Children series.

The Boxcar Children stop by a purple house one day but end up spending a few nights. The children begin their search for the owner. The mystery seems difficult, but what really happened? You will have to read the book to know.

The book is good for kids and readability level is 3rd-5th grade. Kids are taught many valuable lessons through this mystery book. It is definitely a good book to get your hands on.

14. Last Time I Lied: The New York Times bestseller perfect

Our rating: 6 / 10

Last Time I Lied: The New York Times bestseller perfect

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A weekend getaway should be fun…

A break from all the funny looks and whispers. But those are the last things on Casey’s mind when she arrives at Hampden’s elite private school. She’s finally joining former classmates for a long-awaited reunion of The Liars Club … the exclusive clique she used to run with.

Because someone’s guaranteed to get hurt.

15. Murder on the Orient Express: A Hercule Poirot Mystery

Our rating: 6 / 10

Murder on the Orient Express: A Hercule Poirot Mystery

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Pros:

  • Inspired by Agatha Christie
  • Very suspenseful
  • Perfect for fans of Murder She Wrote and CSI Miami
  • Perfect for mystery lovers

Cons:

  • Some parts are a little long-winded
  • Only works as a standalone

Have you seen the recent film with Mery Poirot? Murder on the Orient Express is worth reading whether you’ve seen the film or not. It’s a classic mystery and you’ll love it.

The book is set on a famous European train, the Orient Express, during the 1930s. The famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot must solve the murder of a passenger who is killed on the train masquerading as self-defense.

This best-selling mystery is a book that you won’t want to miss out on.

16. The Lighthouse Mystery

Our rating: 6 / 10

The Lighthouse Mystery

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Pros:

  • Memorable and entertaining characters
  • Daily life in New England is vividly recreated
  • Underlying theme of faith

Excellent story with intriguing details about lighthouse. Classic tale about good vs. evil. Children are believable and their problems/issues are chilroric and realistic.

The Lighthouse Mystery (The Boxcar Children Mysteries) is a tale that takes the reader to a lighthouse during a storm. The children from the Boxcar Children series are spending the summer with their grandfather in a house right next to a lighthouse.

The boisterous and childish behavior of the children has been muted, in my opinion, but you still get to hear their practical ideas and thoughts about their problems. There is also a great lesson given by the grandfather about faith, family, and human nature.

17. The Woman in the Window: A Novel

Our rating: 6 / 10

The Woman in the Window: A Novel

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Pros:

  • Twisty!
  • Suspenseful!
  • A page-turner!
  • Free

Cons:

  • Inconsistent
  • Shocking moments are too many to count
  • Background too descriptive

Rating: 4.5/5.0

Who doesn’t like a good thriller? Audrey black, the main character seems smart and witty at first, but pretty soon you start to realize that she’s crazy. Her actions throughout the book keep you constantly guessing, and it’s impossible to put down.

Consisting of a diary-like narrative, The Woman in the Window puts you inside the head of black. The plot follows the aftermath of her husband’s death “ after seeing a murder in her neighborhood window from her home.

18. One for the Money

Our rating: 6 / 10

One for the Money

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Pros:

  • Funny
  • Great for a beach read

Cons:

  • Style can be a bit corny
  • Some plot holes

19. The Girl on the Train: A Novel

Our rating: 5 / 10

The Girl on the Train: A Novel

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Pros:

  • Interesting twist on the mystery genre.
  • Great character development.
  • Has a great story line

Cons:

  • The ending was a bit too abrupt.
  • The plot was a little hard to follow.

The girl on the train is also a breathtaking novel which is one of the most popular books of 2016. Paula Hawkins is an English writer. Her previous novels include:

Into the Water, On a Silent Night, Into the Water, The Girl on the Train, Shiver. Her novels have also been published in numerous languages. Her novel "The Girl on the Train" has been awarded Whitney Award from P.E.N. USA. She has been a journalist and writer for more than a decade. She has worked for a number of newspapers, including The Guardian, The Times, the Sunday Times and the Independent. Her work has appeared in the Telegraph, Red magazine, Grazia, the Daily Telegraph and the Sun.

20. Murder with Peacocks

Our rating: 5 / 10

Murder with Peacocks

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Pros:

  • A lovable heroine with a full life
  • It takes place in a picturesque town
  • This mystery is light and funny
  • A quick and easy read

Cons:

  • Some readers complain that the heroine is too perfect
  • A few complain that the mysteries are too easy to guess

Murder with Peacocks is part of the long-running Meg Langslow Mysteries. It’s the perfect read for a lazy weekend morning.

The town of Claremont is hosting the annual antique show at the Claremont Armory and is expecting a crowd of 1,000 enthusiastic visitors. When Meg Langslow walks through the door of the main exhibition hall, a friendly woman from the Gilded Age seems to have a torn piece of antique lace clutched in her hand.

A few moments later a man walks up and stabs the woman at the heart with a letter opener. Meg Langslow, amateur sleuth extraordinaire, rushes over to help, only to discover the woman is already dead.

21. Gone Girl

Our rating: 5 / 10

Gone Girl

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Pros:

  • Engaging
  • Tough to figure out until the end
  • Interesting chapters
  • Sharp dialogue
  • Amazing plot twists
  • Sharp dialogue
  • Couldn't put the book down

Gone Girl is the story of a marriage that has gone horribly wrong, the secrets that lie within and the devastating consequences both the husband and the wife face.

I thought it was the best mystery book I have ever read. Although it is a mystery book, it is definitely not a mystery. The only mysteries in this book are what has happened between Nick and his wife Amy Dunne. The story explores this mystery.

The reader is wondering if Nick has really gone mad or if Amy is really alive. It was really interesting having the chapters switch between the two characters’ view points, and to watch them describe their story and explain why they did what they did.

Conclusion

Mystery has a long history of being a popular genre that has been enjoyed for centuries. Its nature of unpredictability coupled with the certainty of the outcome makes for a fantastic read.

Here, we pull together 17 of the best mystery books and thrillers of all time in order to give you a starting place to begin your journey into the world of mystery.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Treasure IslandBest OverallTreasure Island
Murder on the Orient Express: A Hercule Poirot MysteryBudget PickMurder on the Orient Express: A Hercule Poirot Mystery
The Boxcar Children BookshelfUpgrade PickThe Boxcar Children Bookshelf