Last updated: September 7, 2021

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Do you enjoy reading stories such as an unexplained bank robbery or a corpse found without a trace or supernatural events that defy all reason? Whatever the exact plot may be, reading a good mystery book that is filled with suspense, intrigue, and surprise can be very enjoyable. If it has been a while since your last mystery book, then you've come to the right place to find out what's hot on the market these days.

We are sure that you have heard of famous detectives like Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie or Auguste Dupin, from the many mystery books of the past. They are just some of the famous characters that have been created by mystery book authors to capture the imagination of readers. Mystery books are a unique genre of literature that have the ability to take you into another world and become immersed in the story until the bitter end. If you have ever wanted to learn everything there is to know about mystery books, the following guide will explain it all to you.

Key Facts

  • Mystery books are a literary genre that often revolves around the investigation of a case that has no easy or apparent resolution. Often these books focus on an unsolved crime, by which the detective works out through new evidence or information. The plot may also include supernatural, magical or paranormal elements.
  • Mystery books appeal to most people thanks to the suspenseful nature and the "cliff-hanger" endings that leave the reader on the edge of their seat right up until the final page. The attraction in these novels also lies in the characterization of the main characters, who are usually intelligent detectives or investigators with great determination.
  • When selecting a new mystery book to purchase, we recommend looking at the length of the story, the type of subgenres that are intertwined in the story, the past work of the author, and the reviews from other readers or book critics.

Our Selection: The Best Mystery Books

Finding the time to sit down in a quiet place to read is increasingly difficult to achieve, due to the hectic and digital world that we live in. Finding the right book can make all the difference and persuade you to read in the evening as opposed to watching Netflix. In the following selection, we have created a list of the best mystery books that are currently available on the market, so that you can find your next good read.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Mystery Books

There is nothing like a good mystery book to read and relax during your free time or, better still, when you are on holiday. It doesn't matter if you prefer mystery books with crime or horror themes, the fact is that the mystery genre covers a wide range and adapts to many interests. To learn more about this fantastic literature genre, keep reading on.

Menina e menino lendo livros em uma cabana infantil

Mystery books keep readers engaged in the story from start to finish. (Photo: Yaroslav Shuraev/Pexels)

What is a mystery book exactly?

Mystery books are those types of stories that generate uncertainty, intrigue, and shock in the reader as they revolve around a plot or narrative that seems to have no solution or the outcome is significantly different from what the reader was expecting. The mystery genre, in general, presents readers with a situation with many facts or circumstances and the reader must slowly unravel the clues to solve the mystery.

What are mystery books usually about?

One of the most common themes used in mystery books is unsolved crimes. In short, the story consists of investigating some type of crime (robbery, murder or kidnapping) that is unexplained or is surrounded by strange circumstances. The mystery books in this realm aim to analyze the clues and put the reader in the shoes of the detective or main character that is trying to solve the mystery.

This, however, is not the only theme, merely the most common. Mystery books often include plots with supernatural elements or events that make no sense with common reasoning. This genre is almost always a gripping journey that the reader must navigate until the very end, where they learn the outcome of the story.

Who are the typical characters of mystery books?

Focusing on the mystery books related to crime, the most common characters are the detectives and the villains. The characters that play the role of detective in the story often have varied profiles with interesting backgrounds. All the detectives in a mystery book story, at some point, display incredible investigative skills and the ability to unravel cases or mysteries that seem impossible.

Some of the most famous fictional detectives from mystery books include Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle novels) and Robert Langdon (Dan Brown novels), both of whom possess interesting personality traits that make them intriguing characters for the reader. However, there are other famous mystery novels with very different main characters who play the role of a crime detective. This is the case in the fantastic and world-famous crime novels by Agatha Christie, who created the character Miss Marple, an elderly spinster with the ability to solve mysteries through perseverance and wit.

Is a mystery book the same as a crime, thriller or another type of novel?

The mystery genre is difficult to classify as an isolated category, as other genres are almost always intertwined within it, to a certain extent. Crime novels, thrillers, and suspense books share many of the same elements as mystery books, but they are not exactly the same. Below, in the following table, we explain the difference between several of the genres that are very similar to mystery books.

Genre Common Themes Characters Reader Style
Mystery book Creates uncertainty and generates expectation.

Solving a seemingly impossible case or investigation.

There may be supernatural elements.

In crime mystery books, a villain is always pursued by a detective or investigator. The reader discovers the clues of the case as the main characters solve the mystery. Lots of action, fast-paced with periods of suspense.

Crime novel Societies in crisis where there is an atmosphere of violence and fear.

Stories that show the social and human impacts of a crime.

The main character is often a likable person who confronts criminals with unconventional methods. The reader accompanies the main character through the issues, difficulties, and events of the case. Impactful with explicit and violent scenes.

Thriller Novels that keep the reader engaged and on the edge of their seat.

The main character is usually a normal or 'everyday' person who fights a powerful villain or a desperate situation.

The reader is told all sides of the story. Action with detailed descriptions of extreme situations.

Suspense Keep the reader guessing and in a state of tension or anxiety.

Suspense novels often describe the victims more than the other characters.

Similar characters to mystery books, often there is a crime with villain and detective. The reader has more information than the main character and does not accompany them in solving the case. Novels with descriptive emotions and danger scenes.

Hard-boiled A tough, unsentimental style of American crime writing.

These books present scenarios with extreme violence, explicit sex, and heinous crimes.

The main character is usually a tough detective who faces difficult situations. The reader is exposed to explicit violence and follows the main character through each scene. Fast-paced and slangy dialogue.

Terror There are usually supernatural or paranormal elements. The characters are varied and may range from children in a haunted house to ghosts that terrorize a village. Readers are taken through many twists and turns throughout the plot. Suspense and psychological terror.

Are there mystery books for children?

Absolutely! There are many mystery books available that are suitable for children. Many mystery novels for children define the suitable age range of the child, which is often determined by the level of violence and adult themes within the book. There are also mystery series for children that grow in complexity and can accompany a child as they mature. One fantastic example is the Harry Potter series, whose first installments are more childish to the last books being more oriented towards teenagers or adults.

What is the general length of a mystery book?

It is difficult to generalize about the length of mystery books as it is such a broad genre with many different types. The classic titles from the past, which come from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, are often shorter books (maximum 250 pages). This is the case of British writer Agatha Christie's novels (20th century) and American novelist Edgar Allan Poe (19th century).

Recently, over the last few decades, there has been a number of longer mystery books that have been very successful. Some examples are long mystery books that come from famous authors such as Stephen King or Joël Dicker, who have produced books with more than 800 pages. It is important to note that a long story doesn't necessarily mean an excessive amount of reading time since the style often lends towards fast reading.

Agatha ChristieBritish Author
"It is ridiculous to set a detective story in New York City. New York City is itself a detective story."

Buyer’s Guide

A good book, in particular, a good mystery book, is a great way to relax during free time or whilst enjoying a vacation. The opportunity to completely disconnect from your daily life and become immersed in an exciting and clever story is a great change from television and social media. In order to choose an excellent mystery book, we recommend reviewing the following criteria prior to making a purchase.

  • Author
  • Publisher
  • Length
  • Theme
  • Recommendations and Critics


Knowing a little bit about who the author is behind a mystery book is a guaranteed way of picking a good title. We are not saying that you shouldn't experiment with new authors or should ignore up and coming writers, it is just that a recognized author is always a safe bet. If you don't have much time to choose, mystery books by Agatha Christie or Dan Brown will assure you of a quality read.

Pessoa colocando livros na caixa de papelão

There are many great mystery book titles. (Photo: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels)


The role of the publisher is fundamental when it comes to mystery books. Firstly, because they take great care of the layout, design, and spacing, but also because they ensure the story flows well and entertains the reader. Some of the best American publishers include Random House and HarperCollins. However, that is not to say that foreign titles should be ignored.


As we have already mentioned, the length of a mystery book is difficult to define and is not a defining factor of quality. However, depending on your tastes and the time you have available to read, you should take the length of the book into account. If you are looking for a book to read on a one week vacation, anything under 500 pages will likely be too short.


You've now learned that mystery books can intertwine many different themes within their stories. With this in mind, it is worthwhile thinking about what other genres you enjoy and if you would like them as part of the mystery book you purchase. Perhaps you really enjoy terror novels, if so, look for a mystery book with aspects of terror throughout the narrative.

Recommendations and Critics

Last but not least is an aspect that is very easy to satisfy when it comes to selecting a mystery book to purchase. Taking into account the recommendations of friends and book critics is a simple way of finding a well-written book. Recommendations that come from people who have actually read the book and can provide an honest opinion on the quality of the story are extremely valuable.


Mystery books are stories that aim to generate uncertainty and tension in the reader, as they uncover an unexplained event or crime scene. In a mystery book, the reader follows the main character step by step as they investigate different clues to solve the puzzle. These books keep readers engaged as they play with your expectations and emotions.

The most recurring theme amongst mystery books is crime, where the main character, often a detective, investigates many clues and uncovers evidence to reveal the identity of the villain at the end of the story. There are so many good mystery books available that are suitable for adults and children, that there should be no issue in finding your next book.

(Source of featured image: Olegdudko: 43200205/