Last updated: August 19, 2021

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Have you ever thought of travelling without a plane ticket, without having to move? That's what books do, the wonder of experiencing through the pages is indescribable, transporting you to worlds you never thought you would know.

There are a variety of genres, and this time mystery will be the protagonist. Do you know how exciting these books can be? If you choose well, you can easily fall in love with this kind of novels, and they can even be the ones that develop in you the love for reading.

We are your best solution when you don't know what to choose, and this time, we are in charge of developing this buying guide, so that your choice in mystery novels is the right one, and you can start a great journey in this literary world.

The most important things

  • Mystery novels are plots with endings. They focus on keeping you guessing as to what might happen, and will even make you imagine many possibilities before you find out the reality.
  • Confusing horror with mystery is more common than you think, there are even sales pages where they are placed in the same category; however, you should keep in mind that they are similar, but not the same, and generate different experiences.
  • Mystery novels can have different themes, such as detective or psychological, and depending on these, a new level of complexity is developed in terms of understanding the story.

The Best Mystery Novels: Our Picks

Buying Guide: What you need to know about mystery novels

While the above ranking may give you an idea about mystery novels, there are many things you need to know before purchasing this product. There are different details that you should take into account to be sure of your purchase.

It is very likely that you do not know how to make the perfect purchase, and for this reason we decided to make this buying guide, where you can clarify all your doubts about mystery novels, and also learn how to select the best ones.

A good mystery story will hold your attention until the end. (Photo: Thought Catalog / Unsplash)

What are mystery novels and what are their advantages?

Mystery novels are a genre of literature. It focuses on uncertainty, investigation, and surprise endings. The best mystery reads keep the viewer on edge until the very end, as they aim to be unpredictable.

As we could see, there are several authors and works within this genre, so choosing the right one can be difficult, as we will not know what we will really find. Although it is an excellent branch of literature, it does not mean that all works are good, so you have to know how to choose.

Certain details such as the synopsis, the narrative or the reviews themselves are important elements that help to determine which are the best works. Like everything else, there are advantages and disadvantages to mystery novels:

  • They are entertaining and absorbing
  • They develop the ability to inquire
  • They are realistic and thought-provoking
  • There is a diversity of stories
  • The prices are varied
  • They have adult content
  • Certain works can be complex to understand
  • They can be very graphic in their descriptions
  • They can contain strong themes such as violence, sex, drugs, etc

Mystery or horror novels - what should you look out for?

There is a fine line between horror and mystery. This is often the most common mistake when purchasing the product, as although they may be similar in some ways, they are not the same.

This confusion can lead to a bad experience, because you have bought a novel of the wrong genre. This could even cause you to lose your love of reading, all because you are unaware of this subtle, but important, difference.

Mystery novels. These novels have some important characteristics to remember, such as the fact that they don't seek to scare you, but rather to stress and surprise you. The key to this type of literature is to reveal a hidden truth, which encourages you to create your own theories until you reach the end.

This kind of novels are usually crime novels, but not all of them have this approach. So pay attention to the synopsis on the back of the book, and reviews from buyers who have already read the story, to make sure you are buying the right novel.

Horror novels. The key to this type of novel is to scare you, to recreate your greatest fears in a scary story from beginning to end. While mystery novels have adult content, horror novels tend to be more explicit.

It is of utmost importance that you understand this difference, as it will help you not to make a mistake in your purchase, because, although mystery and horror can go hand in hand, they are not the same, and do not have the same focus.

Mystery novels Horror novels
Story development tend to be more elaborate and dense one action after another is usually executed
Violence violence is optional, as it is not the focus of the plot high and graphic violence content
Speed of reading slower reading due to details usually fast, as there is constant action

What are crime and psychological mystery novels?

Mystery novels have quite popular "subcategories", which are crime/detective and psychological plots. While it is very common for mysteries to be about solving a crime, they are not always experienced from the point of view of a policeman or with a mind game.

Police mysteries. These types of plots tend to be very popular, and some even stand out in general literature, as in the case of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes or most of the works of Agatha Christie, who specialised in this subcategory of mystery.

What is fascinating about these types of stories is that, in addition to the obvious mystery to be revealed, they give you the opportunity to put yourself in the shoes of a detective, which often creates a greater connection with the reader.

Psychological mystery. These types of stories tend to be very analytical, containing fairly dense issues, usually involving mental health. Beyond having a violent action (explicit or not), they develop a mental war.

The protagonists in this type of novels are usually quite complex, with dense and even murky pasts, which should be seen as the justification of their personality during the story. They are written full of details, which are taken into account one by one. Therefore, you should pay close attention while reading to avoid getting lost.

A great mystery story can be a good start or end to your day. (Photo: Nicole Honeywill/

Buying criteria

The most important thing will always be the needs you are looking to satisfy. While it is true that you can't read the book before you buy it, that doesn't mean you should risk making a bad purchase.

If you're looking for something simple to read, inexpensive and entertaining, you probably shouldn't put so much effort into looking at the details; however, if you're looking for a story that will stay with you then you should look at certain factors:


The opening at the back of the novel is of paramount importance, remember that what you read should hook you from the very first moment. It will let you know what the story is about, without telling you everything.

The point of mystery novels is not to reveal the truth until the end, if a synopsis reveals everything, it's not worth the purchase. By analysing it well, you can intuit the level of complexity of the story and whether the mystery to be solved is interesting. If the synopsis doesn't grab you, the novel probably won't either.

You shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but you should judge it by its synopsis. (Photo: Christin Hume/ Unsplash)


Before you buy, it's a good idea to check what people who have already read the novel have to say about it. The mystery should generate surprise reviews, with the audience saying that the plot twist was unexpected. If this doesn't happen, it's probably not as good as it looks.

Reviews will not always be accurate, as it is a matter of personal taste; however, those who review books are usually impartial in order to help others.

You can find them in forums, on websites dedicated to literature or even on Youtube, where there are channels dedicated to literary criticism. This kind of information will give you a clearer picture of what to expect when you read the novel.

To know if an opinion is objective, it is enough to analyse the arguments used by the person. For example, if the analysis is focused on the writing and plot development, it is most likely a good review. But if it is based on phrases such as "I don't like this kind of story", it is speaking from a subjective point of view.

Level of sales

A best-selling novel, as mentioned above, is usually a good buy. Keep in mind that this label represents its popularity, i.e. that it was liked by a large majority of readers. While it is true that this does not absolve them from criticism, being part of the "best sellers" is undoubtedly a merit that signals quality.

For a mystery novel to reach this category is remarkable, as they have certain restrictions, such as the target audience (mostly adults), so having this level of sales shows that, even if its audience is limited, the story was captivating enough.


A fundamental element when choosing an author is the author. Some tend to have incredible works, and a way of writing that suits what you are looking for. Others can be predictable, as the mysteries to be revealed maintain a structure or 'formula'; however, that doesn't mean they aren't good.

Authors have their own style, which is why you should take them into account as a factor in choosing your mystery novel. There are authors with such a good reputation that their very name becomes an indication of narrative quality.

(Featured Image Source: Congerdesign / Pixabay)

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