If you were a regular Harriet the Spy as a kid, dust off your trusty notebook, polish up the old magnifying glass, and get back in the game with the best mystery books for adults. We've found you a solid selection of classics, a few you may have seen on the big screen, as well as a few newer books.
Whether you tend toward the Stephen King-esque thriller novel side of the shelf, or prefer your crime books with a little girl power, there's bound to be something on this list to tip off your inner investigator. Let's face it, even the bad mystery books are great fun, but these are well-written and exciting to sleuth out. And if any one of these has you saying, "elementary, my dear Watson," move right on down the list — there's always another case just waiting for the next Miss Marple to crack it wide open.
True crime lovers won't be able to stop reading this detailed account of the brutal 1959 murders of four members of the Herbert Clutter family, from which there were almost no clues as to who did it. Capote, having spent weeks interviewing residents and investigators, reconstructs both the murder and the investigation that led to the arrest, trial, and execution of the killers.
Ten strangers, each with a secret to keep, are invited to the private island home of a mysterious eccentric millionaire, who is nowhere to be found. One by one, the guests fall victim to an unknown murderer, and everyone is a suspect.
From the award-winning author who brought you The Handmaid's Tale, Alias Grace is an amazing work of historical fiction that will leave you guessing at every turn. Inspired by the real-life conviction and imprisonment of Grace Marks for the murder of Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery, the book follows psychiatrist Dr. Simon Jordan as he interviews Grace for her pending pardon. Jordan soon becomes enthralled with the seemingly mild-mannered Grace and the brutal murder of which she has been convicted.
First published in 1923, Whose Body? follows Lord Peter Wimsey, London’s greatest sleuth. When a naked corpse appears in the bathtub of a suburban architect, police suspect that the bathtub’s owner is the murderer, but Wimsey soon finds that the case is much more complicated than anyone could have foreseen.
Before it became a hit HBO series, Sharp Objects was a gripping novel by Gillian Flynn.Reporter Camille Preaker is fresh out her stay in a psychiatric hospital and has to jump into her newest assignment: the murder of two young girls in her hometown. Camille has barely spoken to her neurotic mother in years, but is now back in her childhood bedroom, trying to piece together the mysterious killings. She'll need to face the demons of her own past if she wants to get the story.
Three seemingly separate violent cases spread over 30 years start to have some startling connections as investigator Jackson Brodie begins to look into them.
Rachel takes the same train every morning, and, through the window, always sees the same seemingly perfect couple having breakfast on their deck. That is, until she sees something shocking. Rachel goes to the police and soon becomes entwined in the lives of everyone involved. What happens next has her asking if she done more harm than good.
When a boy turns up murdered at an all-girls boarding school, the only lead is a note found tacked to a bulletin board that reads "I know who killed him." If that's not weird enough, the girl who brings it to detective Stephen Moran is the lead detective's daughter. Clues start leading back to Holly and her group of friends, as the detectives try to untangle the web of relationships that lead back to the mysterious body.
Calling all Harry Potter fans, try this mystery series written by J.K. Rowling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. The first installment introduces struggling private investigator Cormoran Strike, whose life changes completely when he meets John Bristow, the brother of the late Lula Landry, or Cuckoo. She plunged to her death in what the cops ruled a suicide, but John smells a rat. As Strike investigates, he gets sucked into the world of the super-rich, and all of the seduction and delusion that comes with it.
Christine wakes up every morning to find out she has amnesia and has to rely on those around her to help piece her life together. Unable to store new memories, how can Christine know what's real, what isn't, and who she should trust? This psychological thriller will creep into your imagination and stay there.
Now an award-winning HBO series, this arresting story explores the lives of three women each grappling with their own complicated families, and the politics that arise in schoolyards and at PTA meetings. When someone turns up dead after a school trivia event, they're forced to reckon with their own demons, and those that have come to roost in their own backyards. Fiercely funny, bone-chillingly scary, and totally unforgettable, read this before you watch the show's upcoming second season.
When she finds a dead bird with a postage stamp in its beak on the porch of the once-grand Buckshaw mansion, poison enthusiast Flavia de Luce is both appalled and delighted. Hours later, a man takes his dying breaths in Flavia's cucumber patch and it all snowballs from there. You'll love the fresh, captivating voice of Flavia in this first installment of a delightful mystery series.
This imaginative book recasts Jane Eyre as a gutsy serial killer who takes a governess position at Highgate House, her former home. While there, she falls in love with the house's master, Mr. Thornfield. But as she learns more about his darkness, she has to decide: can she possess him — all of him — without revealing her own murderous past? You'll never look at the Bronte masterpiece the same after this one.
When Clare turns up in the small town of Blackmore asking about Shayna, a local girl who's disappeared, it raises some major red flags. But Clare's not the only one who's hiding something. As she digs into the circumstances surrounding Shayna's disappearance, she has to confront her own demons. The rabbit hole goes deep in this one, and it's easy to lose hours in it.
Two couples sit down to a meal together, but there's fire under their idle chit-chat. Their teenage sons are implicated in a horrible crime, one that's shattered the safety of each family. In this novel that's wound as tight as a violin string, you'll feel your own tension rise as dessert approaches, and the knives come out just under the surface of what passes for polite conversation.
When Amy Dunn disappears on her fifth wedding anniversary, her husband Nick quickly becomes suspect number one. And even though he maintains his innocence as pressure from the media and police mounts — not to mention Amy's parents — he also gets more and more evasive. This one's a real head-scratcher, but the payoff is just as great as the journey.
At first, it seems like a dream assignment. Travel writer Lo Blacklock gets sent on a luxury cruise, for a whole week. And at first, it is a dream. The seas are calm, the dinner parties opulent, and everything seems peachy-keen. But one fateful night, a storm whips up and Lo sees a woman go overboard. There's just one problem: All guests are accounted for. This novel will chill you to the bone and keep you guessing about the limits of imagination, long after the last page is turned.
On the night Seraphine and her twin brother, Danny, were born, their mother threw herself off a cliff, their au pair fled, and their small village lit up with gossip about what really happened. Now an adult, Seraphine finds a curious family photograph when sorting her late father's belongings, and it raises all of the old questions. You'll get sucked in as she tries to figure out what really happened that fateful day.
A private plane crashes in the Colorado Rockies, and everyone assumes Allison is dead. Except, that is, her estranged mother Maggie. As Allison fights her way across the treacherous mountains toward survival, Maggie works to uncover the truth behind her daughter's mysterious life since they lost touch. Told from the perspectives of both women, this is a mother-daughter story you won't be able to put down.
When two teenage girls go missing on a trip to Thailand, journalist Kate Waters is all over the case. She always wants to be the first to the story, and the first to solve the mystery. But this time, it's personal. While reporting on the story, she can't help but think of her own son who she hasn't seen since he left home to travel two years ago. Danger comes closer to home than anyone expects, in this thriller that will especially keep parents awake at night.