We wanted to choose the best mystery books ever written and it was not an easy task. We have looked into every mystery novel we have read to give you a list that will keep you on the edge of your seat and keep you guessing until the end.
So, prepare to immerse yourself in the best mystery novels ever written as we reveal our top 14 best mystery books of all time, guaranteed to captivate your imagination and leave you craving for more.
*Best Mystery Books Post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through links result in a small commission to us at no cost to you. Some books have been gifted. All opinions are our own.
Best Murder Mystery Books
The first in the series of Chief Inspector Gamache. I fell in LOVE with the Inspector, the town of Three Pines, and its residents. Louise Penny CAN WRITE.
The mystery was great (and I didn’t solve it) but what got me the most was Penny’s writing style and reflections on the human psyche. This first Louise Penny book has the detective searching a piece of art for clues.
This is one of the best detective books and detective series I have ever read. You will fall in love with Three Pines and the people who live there. The wonderful community in this series is the best of what feel-good novels should be. Be sure to check out Louise Penny Books in Order: Complete Guide to Inspector Gamache.
If you love mystery novels and have not read this series, these are some of the best mystery books of all time.
I will admit when I saw the description of this coming-of-age book, I was not sold. A trusted individual, who has never steered me wrong in the past, gave me an advanced copy so, I took the leap. And wow, am I glad I did. I read this book and then recommended it to everyone I knew. It is one of the best mystery novels I have ever read.
This 70s book has that spark, that special something, that makes it extra. The book begins when a body is found in a North Carolina marsh and is identified as Chase Andrews. The story moves between the past and the present to tell the story of Kya Clark, The Marsh Girl, who is a suspect in the murder.
We have an entire post dedicated to this book and how to host a book club around it which makes it a perfect book for book clubs! If you love this book, check out our list of 13 books like Where the Crawdads Sing.
This is one of the first books about secret societies that I ever read. Dan Brown found a way to incorporate symbolism and brilliant riddles into this modern-day mystery.
While visiting Paris, Robert receives a phone call that the curator of the Louvre is dead. The body is covered in strange symbols that lead them on a search for the killer and for answers. This is one of the best murder mystery books I have ever read.
The plot does not slow for a minute from the first page to the last. It is the first in the Robert Langdon series and my favorite as well. I love the mystery, the suspense, and the non-stop action in this amazing novel about art!
Best Mystery Books
This is one of the domestic thriller books that almost everyone had heard of when it became a hit movie. It is the perfect example of what happens when a marriage goes terribly wrong. But we also wanted to include it on our list of best mystery books of all time as well.
On her fifth wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne mysteriously disappears. At the top of the suspect list is her husband Nick who seems perfect to the outside world. But, Nick and Amy are not who they appear to be.
There are so many twists and turns in this book that is the epitome of a domestic thriller and, if you love unreliable narrator books, this one is right up your alley. You may end up hating the characters, but this is one of the most popular thriller books ever made.
This book is Liane Moriarty at her finest. It’s all about a group of mothers in a community who share some big lies. Their friendships take center stage, but there is a fair amount of family drama as well in this domestic noir. This is one of the most popular thriller books around.
This novel was recently turned into a show on HBO starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, and more. If you have not read this pick from books about motherhood, we definitely recommend it. If you are looking for the best mystery books, this is a must-read.
Lisbeth Salander is not technically a detective but she sure is a bada** investigator. She is able to use her unparalleled computer hacking skills to find information on anybody, anywhere.
Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist who has a libel conviction. He is hired to investigate a disappearance from 40 years ago and convinces Lisbeth to help him in his investigation. These two make the most unusual pairing in this list of detective books. If you have not read this book series, they are fantastic.
This is also one of the best movies based on books. It was done twice: an American version and the original version with subtitles. Both are fantastic. If you are looking for books like The Da Vinci Code, or you want to read the best mystery books of all time, this should be on your list. But we had to include this in a list of the best thrillers as well!
Easily one of the most unique books about sisters and books in general, I’ve ever read. This debut was fabulous. Despite the title, this book is more literary fiction than anything else. Korede has to hide the secret that her gorgeous sister, Ayoola, is a serial dater who murders her many boyfriends.
When Ayoola sets her sights on the only man Korede fancies, Korede has to decide where her loyalties lie. More about the emotional bonds of sisters, the murder is just an undercurrent of the story forcing emotions to the surface of this book. This is one of the best murder mystery books of all time and an African novel that is not to be missed.
This popular thriller book has been a best seller on all the major book charts recently, so I was really excited to dive in when my library hold came through.
The premise sucked me in immediately – a woman murders her husband and then doesn’t say a word for 10 years.
Convinced he can help, a psychologist transfers to the facility where she is staying to try to get the real story behind the fateful night of the murder. When it comes to unreliable narrator books, this one is not to be missed and is one of the best mystery books of all time. But we also had to include this one in our list of best thriller books, it is heart-thumping.
Best Mystery Novels: Classics
I was so hooked by this British murder mystery/thriller. A mysterious person is trying to right the wrongs of the past by luring unsuspecting criminals to a deserted island…and then murdering them one by one.
But who is the killer? Why are they killing? And just how long have they been stalking their prey? You have to figure out whodunit in this unreliable narrator book that is one of the best mystery books of all time. This is one of the historical mystery books you will not want to miss.
The OG psychological thriller, Rebecca is a book set in Cornwall that will leave you checking behind you when you walk down a dark hallway. As unreliable narrator books go, this one is a must-read.
The new Mrs. de Winter is haunted by her husband’s first wife, Rebecca. The deceit will have you second-guessing everything you read while you yell at the pages.
One of the most acclaimed psychological thriller authors, this novel is Daphne Du Maurier at her best. It is a chilling novel about a naive second wife discovering the truth behind the wife who came before her.
The Netflix book adaptation stars Lily James – and it reignited this popular thriller book’s success. If you have not read this book, it is a perfect book for fall. We also needed to include it in our list of best mystery novels.
I am a HUGE detective story lover and no one does detective stories better than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Sherlock Holmes’ ability to solve the crime is fascinating. His observations are astute and I can never, ever guess who committed the crime. If you are looking for the best mystery books of all time, Sherlock Holmes cannot be missed.
Again, love all the various adaptions of this series, but Sherlock on the BBC is my absolute favorite. (Narrated by Stephen Fry – the British narrator of the Harry Potter series and Mycroft Holmes in one of the adaptations.)
I adored this gothic story when I read it on vacation a few years back. A young biographer is called to help a reclusive author of 12 books tell the story of her life.
In the process, she learns there is a thirteenth tale after all. It’s a gothic romance, a mystery, and a story about family ties all in one. Although it is a long one from the best mystery books, I absolutely adore this book for fall. It’s the perfect book to snuggle up with on a chilly autumn day. If you love historical mystery books, this one is a must-read.
Best YA Mystery Books
This is the first book in the Flavia De Luce series. This 11-year-old aspiring chemist is a wonderful heroine. I love her- she is smart and precocious. This is one of the best historical mystery books for YA readers and does not have violence.
It is 1950 and Flavia has a love of poisons. When she finds a man taking his last breath in a cucumber patch, she is not scared at all, rather, she delights in solving the mystery. The rest of this detective series is on my list of books to read. We also included this British mystery book on our list of Books for 13-year-olds and in our favorite books by Canadian Authors.
This YA locked room mystery is one of my favorites on the list. It is the breakfast club meets murder and I am obsessed. The Brain, the Beauty, the Criminal, The Athlete, and the Outcast are all in detention together. Only, Simon, the outcast is dead before he can leave the room.
With everyone holding onto secrets and everyone with a motive, can you figure out who did it? if you are looking for the best mystery books, this YA pick is one where you will not guess the ending.
I knew I had to read this YA mystery series after it was compared to one of my favorite middle-grade mystery books, The Westing Game.
In this story, Avery, a poor orphan is told she’s just inherited a billionaire’s fortune. His family is determined to get to the money, but Avery has bigger fish to fry – the riddles and puzzles the deceased Tobias Hawthorne left behind for her to solve. As she teams up with unlikely allies, she’s forced to figure out who is a friend or foe.
I flew through this story and can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of the trilogy! This is one of my favorite books for 13-year-olds and one of the best mystery books for teens.
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Love our list of the best mystery books? We’ve got more mysteries carefully divided by sub-genre for anyone who lives a good mystery as much as we do.