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Lost, or somewhere else, what do you do when a mystery takes you on a journey that you don’t quite know how to end? Do you want it to end? Or do you want to keep exploring the world?

The best mystery books are those that keep you guessing and entertained until the very end. The best ones are those where a surprise twist or clue is just around the corner. The best mystery books are those that you never want to end. Why? Because you want to know what happens next, and you can never prepare yourself for the answer wholly(unless you read ahead and find out ahead of time, of course).

Here are the best mystery books to read.

1. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie:

A train, a murder, a detective, and multiple suspects? 

Orient Express(a train from Istanbul to London) is strangely full at the time of the year with heavy snowfall. The train is stopped on tracks due to snowbank, and Ratchett, an American tycoon – is found dead in his cabin with no weapon, and the murderer is still aboard the train. 

Hercule Poirot – a private detective and a retired Belgian police officer is onboard, takes up the case, and starts his investigation among the 12 suspects in the train car.

It is a classic mystery story, yet the reader can be intrigued by the crime, suspect interviews, and pieces of evidence with no side plot or back story.

The fascinating part is that all the characters have face time, so we acquaintance with them personally. And Christie has an unusual way of detailing that tows you into the book and leaves you pondering the events. 

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Movie Adaption

Murder on the Orient Express is a mystery thriller film directed by Kenneth Branagh in 2017.
20th century Fox released the project that starred Branagh himself as a detective – Hercule Poirot.
Though the movie got nominated for several awards, it could not achieve any of it.
Hopefully, the sequel Death on the Nile – based on Agatha Christie’s novel, soon to be released, hit the jackpot.

2. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson:

When it comes to mystery novels, the plot will be thick with – innocent murder victims, teenage runaways, wives with secrets, disappearances, affliction, or vengeance.

However, Case Histories is a book that has all the variations that weave three different decades-old mysteries tossed into the hands of a private investigator, Jackson Brodie.

First Story is about the disappearance of a three-year-old girl on one summer night.

Next is a murder of an eighteen-year-old lady by a lunatic in the presence of her father.

Last is a story of a woman who raises an ax against her husband due to despair and rage.

Long after the occurrence of these tragedies, their families step into the doorway of Brodie to seek the truth. 

Are the stories connected?

Do they get the same conclusion? 

Do they lead to a different path?

Read this psychological mystery novel to know how Atkinson exposes the power of emotions that can alter the lives of families and crafted a compulsive page-turner with a gripping plotline.

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Series Adaption

It is a British crime series starring Jason Isaacs as Jackson Brodie.
BBC One premiered its first and second series in 2011 and 2013 -respectively, with three episodes each.
Though the television adaption did not reach up to mark, the book is worth reading.

3. Angels and Demons by Dan Brown:

Like most mystery novels, the plot of this book begins with a murder.

Robert Langdon, a renowned symbologist, is called upon by a CERN scientist to investigate the murder of a physicist at the lab.

They discover the body with an intricate symbol – “Illuminati” branded on his chest. An ancient secret brotherhood – Illuminati resurfaces to seek its age-old vendetta against its enemy – the Catholic church.

Vittoria, a physicist in tow, Langdon sets on a quest to apprehend the situation and gets entangled with codes, religion, science, and war in Vatican city.

There is always a thin line between good and evil, truth and lies, and likewise with matter and antimatter. Brown penned the book with a combination of mystery, action, thriller, history, and science elements.

The novel enlightens the secret societies, cults, associations, and shadow cabinets that originated before the modern era. It gives you an adrenaline rush with cliffhangers in every chapter, and the plot twists are mind-blowing.

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Movie Adaption

Angels and Demons is a mystery thriller directed by Ron Howard and released in 2009. It is the sequel by Sony pictures to the first installment of Langdon’s – The Da Vinci Code.
You can find that there are many differences between the novel and the film. But as a reader, I would suggest reading the book version first.

4. The girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins:

The book plays the voice-over of three women: Rachel Watson, Megan Hipwell, and Anna Boyd. The story revolves around an alcoholic, a liar, and a cheater where one gets murdered.

Have you ever wondered what happens in other lives? Have you ever traveled on a train and made up stories about strangers?

If not, let us meet Rachel, an alcoholic and a divorcee who commutes through the subway every day to and fro London that overlooks the cozy suburban. She is obsessed with the couple and fantasizes about their perfect life, which can be seen from the train on a building rooftop during their breakfast activity.

One day she witnesses something shocking that completely shatters her imagination. Soon she gets entangled in an investigation, and the only way to get her answer is to recall the events the day before when she had a blackout.

This novel is an explicitly devised psychological thriller having full of secrets, and the climax is a real surprise. The book is fast-paced, and the story’s jump from one narrator to another is plausible.

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Movie Adaption

Released in Jan 2016 as a part of the Dreamworks distribution deal with Walt Disney Studios. Directed by Tate Taylor and the movie was nominated for seven awards in which it won two.
The Hindi remake of this movie has been released in Feb 2021, starring Parineeti Chopra as an alcoholic & troubled divorcee. Directed by Ribhu Dasgupta and released under the Reliance Entertainments banner.

5. In the Woods by Tana French:

In the Woods is the first installation in the Dublin Murder Squad series. The plot begins with a boy who gets lost in the woods with his friends and comes back alone, covered with blood and no memory. Fast forward twenty-two years, the boy Rob Ryan becomes a detective in the Dublin Murder Squad with a name change and living his past life behind.

One day an unfortunate event occurs when they find the body of a twelve-year-old girl in the same place Rob’s friends went missing.

Rob and his partner Cassie catches on to multiple possibilities of the murder and end up frustratingly empty-handed.

The theme of the book is trauma and the inability to confront the past. French’s penmanship is mesmerizing as you feel drawn into the events and makes you sit on the edge.

The following books in the series feature second-character of the previous novels having different protagonists, crime, and philosophies.

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Series Adaption

In the woods has made it into a crime series named “Dublin Murders” by Sarah Phelps. BBC One broadcasted the series in October 2019 with eight episodes. The second series may be around the corner by Starz.

6. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote:

It is a non-fiction, true-crime novel that sends shivers down your spine.

Capote travels to Kansa after learning about a spree murder of four members of a small farming family and conducts his own investigation till the trail of the killers.

The book is intertwined together by different perspectives of neighbors, investigators, and killers themselves. 

Mystery novels mainly center on victims, but Capote’s interest is on psychological issues and the lives of the killers. Though we know how the story ends, Capote’s penmanship with extensive details makes the story gripping.

Movie Adaption

It is a crime film directed by Richard Brooks in 1967. The location of the shoot took place in real sites where the crime transpired.
It was noted as “Hollywood new realism” and got nominated for four Academy Awards.

7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson:

The book is a translation of the original Swedish book – Men who hate women and is the first part of the Millenium trilogy.

The central theme of the book is akin to sexism, abuse, rape, and murder. And it is backed by journalism and economic crime in Sweden.

Henrik Vanger has set his mind to unravel the forty-year-old mysterious disappearance of his niece Harriet Vanger from her family’s private island with no trace. 

Mikael Blomkvist, a publisher of Sweden magazine, loses a libel case about allegations of a billionaire industrialist, leaving his career standstill.

Lisbeth Salander – a journalist and an exceptional hacker, is a strong woman that stands against injustice by hiding her scars of traumatic past.

How do these three stories intertwine? Do they connect from the past?

Will they find the culprit? Who is the culprit?

Read the novel to traverse through the story of the tattooed girl, and it is a great page-turner for psychological thriller lovers.

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Movie adaption

The screening of this film took place in November 2011. It hit the box office with a gross amount of $232.6 million, starring Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander under Sony Pictures Entertainment.
The movie got nominated by 20 awards and won nine(one of which for Best Horror of Thriller Film).

8. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane:

The story is set during the cold war. The mystery starts when a murderess named Rachel Solando goes missing from Shutter Island, home to criminally insane people. 

The U.S. marshalls Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule arrive on the island to disclose her unexpected disappearance from a locked room that was under constant surveillance. 

They both try to decipher the cryptic message left in her room.

Meanwhile, Teddy carries his own baggage to the island. He is looking for an arsonist to avenge his wife’s death in the asylum.

Soon they learn, the hospital is using the inmates for their experiments with psychotropic drugs.

Everything seems real, or is it? Will they find the missing patient? Will they walk out of the island unscathed? What is the real deal of this island?

It is an intensive psychological thriller with an impressive mystery.

The twist at the end is mind-rattling which changes the dynamic plot of the story completely. Don’t miss the subtle hints and red herrings presented throughout the book to intensify the read.

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Movie Adaption

It is released in 2010 under the direction of Martin Scorsese and stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Deputy U.S. marshall Teddy Daniels.
The film hit the box office in the #1 position and became the second highest-grossing film worldwide. Further, a video game was released based on the movie.
If you have already watched this thriller, read the book as it has extensive details.


Mystery books are not just about the adventures or the plot, but relative to the human connection, mental stimulation, and value boost.

Thanks to the digital era, mass-market mystery novels are readily available and quite often well-written.
Let us learn and differentiate well from evil, light from dark, and peace from war.

Have a good read!

For more recommendations, visit TWR.