Saturday, April 20, 2024

The 20 Best Mystery Books to Read for Your Inner Sleuth

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You’ve seen the movie, now read the book. When a suburban housewife Amy Dunne (played by Rosamund Pike in the 2014 film adaptation) suddenly goes missing, her shady and evasive husband Nick (Ben Affleck) becomes the first suspect in her suspected murder.

A recent MBA grad named Bronwyn Crewse takes over her family’s ice cream shop in Ohio. As if construction delays and bad weather weren’t enough curveballs, she finds the body of an old family enemy buried in the snow near the store. She then attempts to solve the crime while running the business at the same time. And after reading A Deadly Inside Scoop, check out the other two books in the “Ice Cream Parlor Mystery” trilogy: A Killer Sundae and A Game of Cones.

This one hardly needs an introduction. Big Little Lies follows a group of friends as they deal with abusive husbands, family secrets, school scandals, and tragic murders.

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On a cold winter night in Harlem, Autum’s twin sister Summer disappears. And since law enforcement won’t help, Autumn must search for her sister all by herself (and with the help of a few devoted friends and neighbors).

Forty years after Harriet Vanger’s disappearance, a journalist and computer hacker team up to investigate (what they believe to be) her murder.

From debut author Nekesa Afia, Dead Dead Girls takes us back to Harlem in the 1920s. When a woman named Louise finds a dead girl in front of the café she works in, she decides to investigate. And the story of Louise continues in the subsequent novel Harlem Sunset.

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Referred to as “Get Out meets The Vanishing Half,” Jackal tells the story of Liz, who returns home to Pennsylvania for her best friend’s wedding. But on the day of the ceremony, the bride’s daughter goes missing and it’s up to Liz to find out what happened to her.

For fans of Mexican Gothic‘s Silvia Moreno-Garcia, the author’s most recent book Silver Nitrate is a must-read. And its got all of the key ingredients: ghosts, a cult leader, and an ominous presence.

If you’ve already seen the 1991 film adaptation starring Robin Givens and Forest Whitaker, make sure to check out the book by Chester Himes. Con artists, a whirlwind romance, and shady crimes are front and center in the 1957 mystery novel.

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Four years after the release of her debut Miracle Creek, Angie Kim is back with Happiness Falls. Set in Virginia, this family saga centers around a Korean-American family. The story follows a man who goes missing and his headstrong wife and two children who set out to find him.

In this bestselling novel by Paula Hawkins, a woman named Rachel (played by Emily Blunt in the film) sees something suspicious while on her daily train ride. But when she goes to the police, they suspect that she may be even more unreliable than they originally thought.

If a novel makes it to Reese’s Book Club, then you know it’s good. In Crystal Smith Paul’s debut, a famous white movie star dies and leaves her fortune behind to three young Black women. As you can imagine, chaos ensues.

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Lost Girls investigates the disappearance of several escorts in their early 20s. Award-winning investigative reporter Robert Kolker attempts to solve this mystery by tracking down the serial killer who’s responsible for the lost lives of several young women.

An FBI trainee named Clarice Starling (played by Jodie Foster in the film adaptation) enlists the help of Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) in order to track down an infamous serial killer.

From the Filipino-American author Mia P. Manansala comes the “Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery” series. In the first book, Arsenic and Adobo, Lila’s life transforms from “a Nora Ephron romp to an Agatha Christie case” after her ex-boyfriend (and food critic) drops dead moments after a heated conversation.

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Two couples and their mutual friend plan to spend a relaxing summer on Fire Island, until a body is discovered face down on the boardwalk. Come for the twisted murder mystery and stay for the guaranteed drama amongst the group.

When Ellice discovers the body of her dead boss (who also happens to be her lover) in the executive suite, her entire world is turned upside down. Does she go to law enforcement and risk her own secrets also hitting the spotlight, or walk away from it all?

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

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You can’t talk about mystery books without mentioning Agatha Christie. In Murder on the Orient Express (which was released as a film in 2017), a millionaire is found dead in his room and a detective must search the train to find the killer.

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As the first installment in a five-part book series, Murder in G Major tells the story of Gethsemane, a Black classical musician who temporarily moves into a haunted cottage in the Irish countryside while housesitting.

In this award-winning novel by Mark Haddon, a very intelligent and inquisitive 15-year-old boy named Christopher investigates the suspicious murder of his neighbor’s dog.

Headshot of Juliana Ukiomogbe

Juliana Ukiomogbe

Juliana Ukiomogbe is the Assistant Editor at ELLE. Her work has previously appeared in Interview, i-D, Teen Vogue, Nylon, and more.  

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