I hope you’ve been enjoying the book list of the month here on the blog. It’s been fun to cover some of my favorite genres and share some of my all time favorite books with you. Since it’s October and Halloween is coming up I thought it would be fitting to share some spine-tingling mysteries with you this month. To be honest, mystery novels tend not to be my favorite (the violent ones can be a bit too bloody for me and the cozy ones a bit too predictable), BUT some of my favorite books happen to contain a FANTASTIC mystery. So today’s list is full of fantastic mystery novels that are perfect for those of you who, like me, don’t necessarily gravitate toward traditional mystery novels. (And even if you do, you’re still going to love these!)
10 Fantastic Mystery Novels (for people who don’t love mysteries)
I’m linking to all these books on Audible, the leading source for audiobooks. Audiobooks are perfect for those of us who like to read but don’t always have time to sit down with a book. I listen to books while I fold laundry, while drive my kids to their activities, and even sometimes while waiting in line at the store. Today’s mystery novels are perfect for listening to while exercising – you won’t want to stop until you figure out who did it! If you’d like to give Audible a try, click here for a free 30 day trial, including the audiobook of your choice, absolutely free!
1. Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
This book is a cozy murder mystery set in a sleepy English village, and it reads a lot like an Agatha Christie novel, at least until about halfway through. Just as our detective Atticus Pünd is about to solve the case the narrative breaks off, and the book switches to present day Britain. Susan Ryeland is an editor reading the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel (the same manuscript that makes up the first half of the book), and as she realizes the last chapter is missing she also finds out Alan has just died under mysterious circumstances. The second half of the book follows Susan’s attempts to solve the twins mysteries of the missing chapter and the suspected murder. An “homage” to Agatha Christie and a pleasant, engaging read. Content note: a few strong profanities in the second half of the novel.
2. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
This book isn’t a classic whodunit; instead it’s one of THE classic novels of psychological suspense with a mystery at it’s core. If you haven’t read it yet you are in for a real treat! Our heroine is a young orphan who’s working as a ladies’ companion when she meets handsome, wealthy, and recently widowed Max de Winter. We’re just as surprised as she is when he falls in love with her and makes her his second wife. When the new Mrs. De Winter joins her new husband at his fantastic mansion home, Manderly, she begins to realize that Rebecca, his first wife, casts a shadow over every part of her marriage. The mystery here is one you absolutely don’t see coming!
3. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King
Fifteen year old Mary Russell has lost both of her parents and is doomed to a life of loneliness and boredom under the care of her detestable aunt. That is, until she meets the aging Sherlock Holmes, who has retired to the English countryside. Sherlock recognizes an intellect that rivals his own, and begins training Mary as an apprentice. Throughout the next six year, during and after World War I, Sherlock and Mary begin solving cases together, starting with the kidnapping of an American senator’s daughter and moving on to a bomber who is out to kill the pair. Fun new take on an old favorite.
4. The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
This book isn’t a mystery in the traditional sense; instead if follows the exploits of Lizzy Spellman, Private Investigator. Lizzy and the rest of her zany family have been in the P.I. business for years, and although Lizzy’s great at her job, she’s ready to try her hand at a more normal line of work–at least until she stumbles on the most important case of her life. This book is quirky, crazy, and laugh out loud funny. The characters are well developed, the dialogue is crisp, and multiple storylines weave together for a totally satisfying read. Content note: some strong language.
5. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
Mix up time travel, suspense, and a literary crime in a modern London that’s quite a bit different from the actual modern London, and you get this engaging tale. Our heroine, Thursday Next, is a Special Operative in literary detection in this alternate reality, where literature is taken very, very seriously. When characters from classic British novels begin disappearing (Jane Eyre is stolen straight from the pages of her book!), Thursday is on the case. This book is a sci-fi-literary-mystery mashup that’s totally original and absolutely enjoyable.
6. Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris
This is one of my favorite books – even though I already know the twist at the end it’s so good I reread it every few years! We know from the outset of the book that a murder is being planned–half of the book is written from the perspective of the person planning the murder–we just don’t know who the prospective murderer is. Set in a boys’ prep school, the novel has a bit of a Dead Poets Society feel to it, mixed with a race to see if anyone will be able to figure out the murder before it actually happens.
7. The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford
With her marriage on the rocks, Agatha Christie needs to get away, and the Orient Express is the perfect way to do it. Unwilling to face public recognition, she boards the train in disguise and quickly realizes she’s not the only one aboard with secrets. Loosely based on real life, this historical novel shows Christie channeling Hercule Poirot to solve the real life mysteries surrounding her new friends on the train. Set in 1928, this book is a fun look at the luxurious Orient Express and the exotic destinations it travels to.
8. In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen
When Lord Westerham’s youngest daughter, Pheobe, discovers the body of a soldier who fell to his death when his parachute failed, things begin to get complicated. One of Lord Westerham’s older daughters ends up working as a code breaker at Bletchley, while another daughter is involved with the French resistence. Meanwhile, their neighbor and and childhood friend Ben is dispatched by MI-5 to investigate the mysterious parachuter and determine if a spy is in their midst. This mystery has a bit of a Downton Abbey feel and is a period piece, spy novel, and love story all wrapped up into one. Really fantastic read!
9. Possession by A. S. Byatt
This book could be described as a literary mystery–perfect for those of us who love reading books about books. It tells the stories of two Victorian poets and their gradual romance as well as the story of the present day academics who are trying to discover the hitherto unknown truth about the poets’ connection. It’s a nice long book (I love long books that keep my attention the whole way through!) with plenty of discoveries, a couple budding romances, and a satisfying twist at the end. It’s not a traditional mystery – not one of the characters get murdered – but there’s plenty of sleuthing involved and the writing is fantastic!
10. The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
Kate Morton writes family history mysteries: books that almost always involve a present day protagonist trying to uncover clues about an event in her family’s past. The stories are told with dual storylines – one in the past and one in the present – which keeps you reading as you want to figure out what’s going to happen next in both timelines. This book centers around the mysterious Blythe family: three sisters who live in an old castle that’s full of love, jealousy, and secrets. Some of the secrets the sisters are keeping from the world, and some they are keeping from each other. Add in a strange story about the “Mud Man”, a young evacuee from London during WWII, and a woman who’s mental state has been fragile since being abandoned by her fiance, and you have a satisfying mystery that will keep you listening until the very end!
I hope you enjoy some of these titles this month! Remember to click over to Audible for your free trial and receive your first audiobook free.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible. The opinions and text are all mine.