Best Mystery Books in the UK

Review & Comparison, Last Update August 10, 2020
A mystery book is a kind of reading that will keep your attention from the first to the very last page. To help those people who enjoy tricky stories find a perfect one, we have rounded up the 5 best mystery novels. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2020
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
AUTHOR
GENRE
BOOK TYPE
PUBLISHER
NUMBER OF PAGES
 
PROS

The narrative in the book begins with the dairy of the main heroine that describes her marriage. Gillian Flynn was able to make her character really deep and well-developed since she puts out some of her personal character traits into Amy.

CONS

The ending seems a bit too rushed. 

OUR VERDICT

This mystery thriller was a Daily Mail And Sunday Express best-seller, so it definitely will be a worthy read. The novel had a massive success among readers worldwide and was made to a movie directed by David Fincher in 2014.

detailed parameters
AUTHOR

Gillian Flynn

GENRE

Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

BOOK TYPE

Library Binding, Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audiobook (downloadable and Audio CD version)

PUBLISHER

Weidenfeld & Nicolson

NUMBER OF PAGES

412 pages

PROS

Paul Copeland is the county prosecutor for Essex County in New Jersey, and the author provides an in-depth look at all the aspects of his work. The author also tells about the USSR's secret forces and describes their work as well.

CONS

Too many plots and twists may be confusing to those who are new to the genre.

OUR VERDICT

One of the most popular themes in Harlan Coben's books is a mysterious disappearance. Yet, this crime story is especially interesting and plausible, which makes it even more exciting to read.

detailed parameters
AUTHOR

Harlan Coben

GENRE

Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

BOOK TYPE

Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audiobook (downloadable and Audio CD version)

PUBLISHER

Orion

NUMBER OF PAGES

530 pages

PROS

The author tells about the life of each character so we can clearly see their motives. Many of their actions are explained and analysed from a psychological perspective.

CONS

The story is a bit depressing. 

OUR VERDICT

If you love mysteries but you can easily guess the ending of even the most complicated stories, go with this book. Its ending is very unexpected and will leave a strong yet pleasant impression for days.

detailed parameters
AUTHOR

Alex Michaelides

GENRE

Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

BOOK TYPE

Library Binding, Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audiobook (downloadable and Audio CD version)

PUBLISHER

Orion

NUMBER OF PAGES

336 pages

PROS

The plot is well-thought-out and doesn't have major holes in it. Even though the story is pretty long (more than 500 pages), it is easy to read thanks to the author's unique writing style.

CONS

The second half is rather contrived.

OUR VERDICT

Anthony Horowitz wrote a few books about such iconic characters as James Bond and Sherlock Holmes for a request from official estates, which proves the great talent of the writer. This novel is one of his best masterpieces.

detailed parameters
AUTHOR

Anthony Horowitz

GENRE

Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

BOOK TYPE

Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audiobook (downloadable and Audio CD version)

PUBLISHER

Orion

NUMBER OF PAGES

501 pages

PROS

The main characters turn out very realistic, which makes the story even more believable. Since the main hero is so likeable, the author wrote more than 20 novels with him.

CONS

There are several stories/cases intertwined here with somewhat slow development.

OUR VERDICT

The book belongs to a series about Harry Bosch. The famous character is already retired and seems to be over with his detective job, but he gets a thrilling new case about the murder. In this book, you will find out whether he is able to crack it. 

detailed parameters
AUTHOR

Michael Connelly

GENRE

Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

BOOK TYPE

Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audiobook (downloadable and Audio CD version)

PUBLISHER

Orion

NUMBER OF PAGES

343 pages

Gillian Flynn Gone Girl

Who Is the Real Victim?

Gillian Flynn made a real splash with her novel Gone Girl back in 2012. The book was extremely successful and made the writer one of the New York Times best-selling authors. It is a smart mystery novel with elements of thriller and crime story that you won’t be able to put down until you finish it.

In the beginning, you meet two main characters - Amy and Nick Dunne, who seem a happily-married couple getting ready to celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary. But their happiness turns out to be just an illusion. As the plot progresses, we find out that both main characters have skeletons in their closets and each of them has taken part in the destruction of their marriage.

The story starts with Amy's mysterious disappearance on the morning of their anniversary. And even though the crime scene looks like it was a kidnapping, some things just don’t add up to that, which quickly makes Nick one of the main suspects in the case. Since the story takes place in quiet suburbia of Missouri, such an accident has much resonance with the citizens. Now, Nick has to deal with the pressure from police, media, and his wife’s family while trying to investigate and figure out what has actually happened to his wife by following her clues that she left him to find a surprise gift for their celebration.

To understand Amy’s point of view, the readers will be able to check out the notes she made in her personal diary, written from the first person’s perspective. The things she describes and the fact that her husband so cleverly starts manipulating the society makes him look like a real kidnapper, or probably even a murderer. But is Amy a real victim in the story? You will be able to find out that only at the very end.

Review of Gillian Flynn Gone Girl

Outstanding Film Adaptation

Gillian Flynn created a real literary masterpiece with well-thought-out characters and carefully crafted plot twists. To make the central characters so real and alive, she used some of her personal traits and experiences. The main heroes and even side ones have complex life stories that will leave no reader indifferent. To add a bit more thrill to the story, the writer has referred to such a popular topic as sociopathy.

So, if you want to take a look in the story for adults with a clever plot and lots of intense mind games, give this book a go. After reading this story, you can also watch a not less interesting movie directed by David Fincher with Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike portraying the main characters, which was highly praised by critics.

Gillian Flynn Gone Girl in the use

 

Harlan Coben The Woods:

Brilliant Thriller From Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben has made a name by writing intense mystery novels and action thrillers and is a winner of multiple literary awards. Lots of his novels were made into movies and TV adaptations that became very popular among the mystery fans. His novel The Woods (its adaptation you can also check out on Netflix) was written in 2007, but it still hasn’t lost its popularity.

The protagonist of the story is Paul Copeland from Essex, New Jersey. When he was a little boy, his family was shocked by a horrible tragedy - his teenage sister disappeared from a summer camp. She was one of four children that went out that night but she was one of two who has never returned. After that, the relationship within the family went downhill. However, the hero managed to grow up and become a decent person, get an education and family, and build a career. 20 years from the accident, he works as a prosecutor and raises a 6-year-old daughter alone after his wife died of cancer.

The plot thickens when Paul founds the body with leads to the mysterious disappearance of his sister. In that body, he recognizes another person that was lost while in camp. However, the family of the victim doesn’t want to acknowledge that this person is their relative.

To spice things up, the author also adds another plotline - the rape case and its trial. The victim is a stripper while her abusers are a group of rich white men who are positioning themselves as good boys, which makes it hard and tricky for Paul as a prosecutor to get a fair verdict. This line is also very intriguing and has great suspense, so you should be interested in it not less than in the main secret about the missing sister.

As the story goes, the readers will get more and more questions and find out new mysteries (including a few about KGB and Gulag) that have something to do with the Copeland's family.

Review of Harlan Coben The Woods: ORIGINAL SERIES

Filled With Lots Of Mysteries

The combination of a few different intense plot lines gives us a great mystery story with thriller elements. You will get all the answers at the very end. But until then, you will have to keep guessing since it is very hard to foresee the next twist. The book is well-written and easy to read, and you can clearly tell that the author is a master of the genre.

To conclude, The Woods is yet another great story from the master Harlan Coben. We consider this book a good choice for hardcore mystery fans since it combines different plot lines which may be hard to follow for those who are new to this genre. The lines intervene in an interesting way and make it so hard to put this book down.

Harlan Coben The Woods: ORIGINAL SERIES in the use

 

Alex Michaelides The Silent Patient

Amazing Story By A Newcomer

The Silent Patient is a debut novel of Alex Michaelides. Yet, it is so masterfully-written that you won’t be able to tell that the author is a newcomer. Alex, who previously worked as a screenwriter, was heavily influenced by works of the queen of mystery, Agatha Christie, and used an antique story of Alcestis written by Euripides as an inspiration.

The novel has two main characters - Alicia Berenson and Theo Faber. Alicia is an artist with a complicated past. When she was a young girl, she had lost her mother due to suicide, which, being a very traumatic experience on itself, was followed by mental abuse from a drunk father. All that left a strong mark on a woman’s psyche. She manages to deal with the demons of her past, or at least she thinks so, and marries photographer Gabriel. The couple seems to be pretty happy with their life. But for unknown reasons, she kills her husband and goes silent, refusing to reveal what has actually happened. Due to diminished responsibility, she is sent to a psychiatric unit.

Then we meet Theo, a forensic psychiatrist. He gets very interested in Alicia’s case and feels confident that he can help her. Even though the heroine stays silent on their sessions, she gives Theo her diary, where she wrote everything that bothered her in order not to tell and disturb her husband. Theo finds particularly interesting notes that Alicia felt being watched and saw a masked figure outside their house. As the story goes, the reader will have to build their own theories about what actually happened that day in Alicia’s house. However, we find it very unlikely to get the correct answer before you read till the end.

Review of Alex Michaelides The Silent Patient

Detailed and Realistic Descriptions

This mystery novel smartly combines elements of thriller and suspense story. Plus, all of that is sprinkled with some mythology, which makes the story unique and different from its counterparts in this genre.

As for the scientific element, the writer made a good research on forensic science and psychiatry to make the book more believable. And, since he had previous experience working in a similar facility while he was a student, his descriptions are very believable, so you will be able to feel the atmosphere to the fullest.

In the end, The Silent Patient is a very captivating story for all the mystery lovers who usually can easily know where the story goes - this one has a very unexpected ending that won’t leave your thoughts for days. It was highly praised by many respectable sources such as The Independent, The Guardian, and The Washington Post.

Alex Michaelides The Silent Patient in the use

 

Anthony Horowitz Magpie Murders

A Story Within a Story

If you love Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, we are quite sure you will enjoy Magpie Murders by British author Anthony Horowitz. The author has a huge bibliography and has written multiple screenplays. But what sets him apart from the other mystery writers is that he has not only come up with original characters but also written a few books about such iconic heroes as Sherlock Holmes and James Bond, which were commissioned by the legal estates. Thus, the writer has proven his talent multiple times, so you can’t go wrong with his works.

The book in question tells us about Susan Rayland, an editor, who has been long working with Alan Conway, a popular author who wrote a series of novels about the detective Atticus Pünd. Atticus was investigating cases in small English villages, bringing back peace to their people. However, he died from cancer, so the book allegedly describes his last case. The story takes place in Saxby on Avon in 1950s. Atticus with his assistant, James Fraser, and a local inspector, Raymond Chubb, is investigating the case that involves a double homicide - the murder of a cleaning woman Mary Blakiston and Sir Magnus who was beheaded at Pye Hall. The detective has a huge number of suspects form all the groups of society who all had their own motives, which makes it impossible to guess who the killer is. When the denouement is so close, Susan realizes that the last three chapters are missing.

On top of that, Alan, the author of the story, is found dead due to apparent suicide. This is extremely unfortunate for the publishing house since the author was their cash cow. But no one seems to really care or feel grief for the deceased. Convinced that it was a murder, and there is a killer on the loose, Susan starts her own investigation. She thinks that the missing chapters are not a coincidence and they may contain leads to the murderer. So we see her drawn into a dangerous case full of greed and jealousy.

Review of Anthony Horowitz Magpie Murders

Series With Exciting Heroine

Anthony Horowitz took the best elements from classical mystery stories (such as a novel within a novel) and added his own innovative ideas that make this book so unique and interesting to read.

The book is first in the series about Susan Rayland. It is followed by Moonflower Murders, so you will be able to enjoy even more detective adventures of this heroine.

Overall, those who love classic mysteries may want to check out this book. Magpie Murders is an exciting story with two interesting plot lines that won’t leave you indifferent.

Anthony Horowitz Magpie Murders in the use

 

Michael Connelly The Night Fire

Brilliant Story With Beloved Characters

Michael Connelly has a long writing career, during which he was able to create a few memorable characters and write a number of novels that are considered to be a great example of true mystery. One of the most beloved characters, created by Connelly, is Heironimus “Harry” Bosch - an LAPD homicide detective. The first novel featuring this character was created back in 1992. Since then, the author has written 21 more novels about Bosch. One of the latest books was released in 2019 and is called The Night Fire.

The novel features not only Bosch as the protagonist but also another character from Connelly’s series - Renne Ballard. She first appeared in the author’s works in 2017, but she was warmly received by the audience and has already become a pretty popular character.

The plot centres around these two people. Harry Bosch, who is already retired, comes to the funeral of his old friend and mentor, John Jack Thompson, who was a detective as well. There, the widow handles Harry a very old cold case that was found among the stuff of the deceased. Bosch finds it very intriguing that his friend kept the case in his house, and he decides to renew the investigation. It's full of the photos and reports about the death of a 24-year-old junky who was shot by one of the LA gangs.

Bosch goes for help to his old acquaintance, Detective Renee Ballard. She is currently working on a case of a homeless person who, allegedly, put himself on fire. To make things even more interesting, the author adds the third plotline with the other case. Harry’s stepbrother and another famous character from Connelly’s books, Mickey Haller, are working on a complicated case of a man who allegedly killed a judge.

Review of Michael Connelly The Night Fire

Combines Different Subgenres

The book features three plot lines that look very different yet smartly intervene in the finale. As a result, we get a compelling and fascinating story. The author skilfully juggles the cases and keeps the readers wrack their brains over multiple mysteries.

This novel combines a few subgenres, such as a detective and a crime story. But the most prominent one is probably a police thriller. Thus, if you love mysteries with such elements, this book should fit the bill.

To wrap the whole thing up, Micheal Connelly again proves that he is a master of mystery. Combining three famous characters in one book and showing how they interact with each other makes this book so unique and interesting. Hence, if you want to enjoy a good police mystery, try reading The Night Fire.

Michael Connelly The Night Fire in the use

 

What Is a Mystery Book?

Mystery, also known as mystery fiction, is a relatively new genre. It became very famous in the 19th century with the growing popularity of literary masterpieces written by Edgar Allan Poe and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This genre gained so much love and interest from the audience that it still stays one of the most demanded genres in the literary arena. What is more, a lot of modern pieces of mass entertainment (like comic books, movies, and TV shows) have picked up the genre and keep in the public’s attention, so it probably won’t lose its popularity any time soon.

As the name suggests, the story in mystery novels is built around some sort of a secret or riddle that the main character tries to solve. Authors often use murder or any other crime to move the plot. That’s why you can frequently notice the elements of a thriller and a crime book in mystery novels as well.

Even though lots of masterpieces were written throughout the history of the genre, we recommend checking out the best mystery books that were created within the last 10 years. We also have reviewed the novels in other genres. Thus, you can check out the best thriller books and horror books from the king of horror himself.

What Features to Compare

Author

When selecting a new book to read, probably the first thing every reader pays attention to is an author. If you are a fan of the genre, you may have a few all-time favourites that keep pleasing their fans with new mysteries once in a while. If you are a newbie to such books and seek a good introduction book to the mystery fiction, you won't go wrong with best-selling authors that have gained the approval of millions of people. However, we also think that it is good to give a chance to newcomers who have just started to write in this genre. Thus, you may be able to discover a hidden gem.

Series

One of the most popular mysteries of all time and an ultimate classic about the detective Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson comprises 4 novels and as much as 56 short stories. Even though there are a few authors that write about one character that much, a format of mystery series is still pretty popular nowadays and allows readers to spend more time with one beloved character. Also, some writers prefer to attach the plot to a particular place rather than to a person. That way, you will be able to follow and learn the behaviour of different characters that are put in a similar scenario.

Main Characters

A lot of people would agree that reading becomes way more interesting when you are able to empathize with the main character. This will allow you to understand their actions better. Contrary to a common misconception, the protagonist in mystery literature doesn’t have to be a detective or a policeman. Mystery authors like to depict average people in unusual circumstances to intensify the tension and make the book more realistic. Thus, any reader will be able to imagine themselves in the scenario and become engaged in the story.

Time and Place

Like any kind of fiction, mystery novels may take place in our time or in the past. Some books combine two time periods and feature lots of flashbacks that are important for understanding the characters or the events that are currently happening. As for the place, you can find both very local stories that can occur within one family and global ones that take place in different locations, or even in different cities and countries.

Number of Pages

Last but not least, mystery books vary in the number of pages. You can find the collection of short novels (as the ones by Arthur Conan Doyle we mentioned before). Those who are sure they will be able to keep up with one character or one storyline for longer can go with full-on novels.

Did you know?

If you love mystery stories and you have already read a lot of them, you probably consider yourself an expert on this topic. However, for those fans of crime fiction who want to know more about the genre, we have gathered some interesting facts and statistics so as to educate you even more about this kind of literature.

Literary Records

A little-known fact is that the books written in the mystery genre actually hold a Guinness record for the biggest number of the most sold copies. The books that are written by non-other than the queen of mystery, Agatha Christie, were sold in more than 2 billion samples. Additionally, this author is also considered one of the most translated writers of all times. Her literary works can be read in 103 languages. What is more, this English writer became the first Edgar Awards Grand Master (the prestigious mystery literature award) the year it was established - in 1955.

Popularity In Cinema

Speaking of Edgar Awards, Alfred Hitchcock was one of the very few non-mystery authors who received the Grand Master title in 1978. In the 20th century, he made a revolution in the cinema industry with his thrillers and suspense films full of crime and mystery stories. And while we're on the topic of cinema, we would like to say that the first film of the mystery genre was called Sherlock Holmes Baffled. As the name suggests, it tells the story about the famous detective and was made between 1900 and 1903 by Arthur Marvin.

Subgenres

When mentioning famous detectives in the mystery literature, surely the first character that comes to mind for most people is Sherlock Holmes, created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. However, he wasn’t the first detective who solved mysteries - 40 years before, another famous mystery master, Edgar Allan Poe, wrote The Murder in the Rue Morgue, where the central character was a professional detective C. Auguste Dupin. The character also makes an appearance in two other Poe’s works (The Mystery of Marie Rogêt and The Purloined Letter). Plus, it was borrowed by some other authors for their novels (The Count of Mote Cristo among them) and became a huge inspiration for Sherlock Holmes and Agatha’s Christie Hercule Poirot.

However, detective stories are not the only subgenre of mystery novels. According to the Library Journal survey, the elements of police procedurals can be noticed in 29% of all published mystery novels, with cozies on the second place (24%), and amateur detectives (23%) on the third place.

Overall, mystery literature is one of the most popular genres of the century both among authors and readers, and we hope it will further grow and develop to please its fans.

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Publish Date: 2020-08-10 12:19:30