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Top 10 Mystery Novels You Need To Read

A good book is a great way to unwind after a long day at work and rejuvenate your mind. Whether you are searching for ways to get inspired for your next novel, or planning to take a retreat before getting back to writing, reading a good mystery novel is always a good idea to get your creative juices flowing. Several genres of novels – like humour and adventure – have gained popularity over the years but nothing is as satisfying to the senses as the feeling of completing a good mystery novel.  The multiple twists in the plot and unraveling mysteries are bound to keep you intrigued. Some of the best mystery novels can keep you hooked all throughout your reading journey with clues, murders to solve, and suspicious characters that make your reading experience a whole lot of fun! 

Looking for a mystery read to add to your list? Here is a list of the best mystery novels, from classics to contemporary thrillers. 

  1. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco 

“Books are not made to be believed but to be subjected to inquiry. When we consider a book, we mustn’t ask ourselves what it says, but what it means…” 

Written in the 1990s, The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco is often described as “a book about everything”. This is mainly because it is the perfect combination of medieval history, classic whodunit, and gothic noir. This novel is a traditional work of historical fiction, so take your time to enjoy it. The  story follows Adso and his brother,William, as they embark on a journey to encounter the wicked secrets of an abbey in the heart of Italy. The story begins with the Abbot asking William to look into some mysterious deaths. William, with his investigating abilities, moves closer to unfolding the secrets behind these deaths. As he get closer to the truth, he is asked to stop. Driven by his curiosity, William goes ahead investigating the incidents to find the truth behind the rumours. A key aspect worth noticing in this novel is how the author connects the medieval setups and views with modern thoughts and perceptions and weaves a beautiful work of fiction. As you start reading this novel, you will find yourself embarking on a thrilling, intellectual, and bizarre journey that keeps you motivated to reach the end.

      2. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson 

“I believe that everyone has it in them to kill another person. In desperation, or hatred, or at least to defend themselves.”

This novel is an unquestionable masterpiece. It is the second novel in the Millennium thriller series written by Stieg Larsson. Lisbeth, the captivating main character keeps the spark in this story alive. The protagonist, she is quite a nasty personality who is better off in prison. The book is a fast-paced, cracking read that is filled with suspense and twists. The action sequences, the consistent tension, and the complex characteristics of Lisbeth, provide the reader with a cinematic feel. The book ends on a cliffhanger that would leave most readers unsatisfied, yet reflective.

     3. The Good Widow by Liz Fenton 

“She can kill with a smile. She can wound with her eyes. She can ruin your faith with her casual lies.”

A fun and engrossing read, The Good Widow is a great pick for all mystery lovers. Although initially, it may come across as a drama, the second half of the book has some interesting twists which make it a good thriller. The story is about a school teacher,Jacqueline Morales, who didn’t think that she had a perfect marriage but did consider it be a stable one. Her life is comfortable until the day she is told about her husband Jack’s accident while driving on his way to Hana in Hawaii. While mourning the death of her late husband, the presence of a mystery woman who was in the car with her husband during that accident, is revealed to her. The woman’s ex-fiancée turns up at Jacqueline’s doorstep proposing  that they both travel to Hawaii to investigate the accident. The story starts slowly, but the momentum drastically picks up in the second half. 

    4. The Silent Child by Sarah A. Denzil

“Monsters are men and women just like us, and they have the ability to hide their true face.”

This is definitely not one of those cosy mystery books. For all those who love dark and haunting mystery novels, The Silent Child should be a part of your reading list. The plot  is woven with great care, focusing on unfolding stunning facts to keep you on the edge of your seat.  A woman loses her ten-year-old son in a natural calamity and finds herself alone with no one but her parents to rely on. Soon enough, she loses them as well. However, good times seem to be on the horizon when she falls in love with a man. She gets married to him and is expecting his baby when the story unfolds into a dark torment. Heart-pounding and suspenseful, you will love the little clues that keep popping up throughout the book, making it a hard-to-leave read.    

    5. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

“I knew what Nilsson wanted. He wanted me to forget what I’d heard, the scream, the stealthy slide of the screen door, and that horrible, huge slithering splash.”

The Woman in Cabin 10 is sure to keep you engrossed, making you jump at every chance you get to read this book! Mostly described as a mystery, this book will keep you guessing until the final revelation  The plot revolves around a travel journalist who gets an opportunity to take her boss’s place on a luxury cruise ship. Her journey is straight out of a dream until the moment she hears the scream of a woman in the neighbouring cabin. The author has adopted a beautiful balance in the pacing of this book. Not too slow and not too fast, the story moves forward with little snippets of clues that make it a mystery worth the resolve. The twists in this book are sure to make your head spin!

    6. Safe With Me by L. Slater

“It always amazes me how it is so easy to appear one way to the people around you but to live inside as someone else entirely.”

Most commonly identified as a gripping psychological thriller, Safe With Me is a novel with multiple points of view. Once you start reading this one, you are sure to spend most of your time devouring this brilliant piece of work. The plot is that of a revenge story that slowly changes direction and becomes more of a self-created mystery. The beauty of this book lies with the characters, each of whom is flawed in different ways. Anna, the main character of the book is quite an intense woman. The intensity of her character is explained as the plot moves forwards and backwards from the past to the present. Anna’s ordinary life changes when she witnesses an accident caused by an old nemesis. She begins a revenge mission after coming in contact with Liam, the victim of the accident. As her obsession with revenge heightens, it leads to the revelation of her own secrets. This book comes to you from so many different angles that you will find it hard to let go of until you read the ending.

    7. The Girl From The Sea by Shalini Boland

“I feel as though I’m trapped inside my head, unable to look outside. Like I’m covered in a membrane. Sealed in.”

A must read for fans of The Girl on the Train.  A book filled with astonishment, uncertainty, and suspense, The Girl from the Sea is a trap you would love to be caught in. This book keeps you gripped from the first page and leaves you wanting more.  The plot follows a girl named Mia who is found unconscious on the beach and has no recollection of anything. She fails to recognise herself or those around her. A man claiming to be her boyfriend fills in the blanks that Mia struggles to fill. However, the truth is too hard to believe.  

    8.The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison

“Some people stay broken. Some pick up the pieces and put them back together with all the sharp edges showing.”

A disturbing and heart thumping novel that will leave you dumbfounded. The Butterfly Garden  gives you a closer insight into the different types of human beings that exist on earth. The plot is about a mad sociopath and his son who kidnap young women and tattoo their backs with butterfly wings. Not only this, but these men rape the women repeatedly and leave them alive for a couple of years before they kill them. A shocking and nerve-wrenching novel that will disturb you as you read it, The Butterfly Garden is sure to give you butterflies as the mystery unravels.

    9. Fallen by Karin Slaughter

“She leaves me a lot. That’s what she does. She leaves, and then she comes back. And then she stays some and then she leaves again.”

Fallen is the third book in Slaughter’s Georgia series, and so it would be a good idea to read the previous two novels before you get started on this one. The story unfolds when Faith Mitchell – the protagonist of the series – visits her mother, Evelyn, to pick up her infant daughter when she is confronted with a shocking situation. When the dust settles, the house is a major crime scene and Evelyn is missing. The Fallen is an explosive mystery with a great story and character development. This New York Times Bestseller is bound to have you hooked.

    10. Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie

“Words are such uncertain things; they so often sound well but mean the opposite of what one thinks they do.”

After a list of creepy, disturbing, and mind-boggling yet engrossing mysteries, here is a cosy mystery novel that lets you breathe a little! Partners in Crime is a short story by Agatha Christie. The entire novel is like a series of short stories. Agatha’s Tommy and Tuppence duo stories are a fun ride, and this one sticks to the fun mystery flavour. Every story has action and mystery that keeps you engrossed in a light-hearted manner. In short, it is an entertaining read that gives you the best of both the comedy and mystery worlds.

Mystery novels have changed over the years, each varying over generations, and yet are enthralling enough to keep your interest until the very last minute. It is indeed true to say that a good mystery is a key ingredient for an ideal novel. If you are planning to write a book, head to Notion Press and discover the joys of self-publishing as you effectively turn your first draft into a complete manuscript.

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Aishwarya Mukundarajan

Aishwarya is an MBA graduate from Symbiosis International University, Pune. When asked what her hobbies are she points to an overflowing bookcase.

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