The Best Murder Mystery Books of the 21st Century
Are you a fan of gripping murder mystery novels? The 21st century has seen some of the best and most captivating murder mystery books to date. The genre has evolved from traditional detective stories to modern thrillers and produced some truly outstanding works.
Imagine being on the edge of your seat as you try to solve the crime alongside the main character. This is not an AI writing software creation. These are captivating stories wrapped in a murder mystery book and written by live human beings. The thrill comes from guessing the killer’s identity before the big reveal. Keep reading to discover the top murder mystery books of the 21st century that you won’t be able to put down.
What Makes the Best Murder Mystery Book?
When it comes to crime fiction or the mystery genre, there are certain elements that readers look for in a great murder investigation book. Here are just a few of the factors that make a murder mystery crime fiction truly stand out:
- Intriguing plots: Twists and turns keep the crime fiction story unpredictable and engaging.
- Complex characters: Good crime novels feature well-developed characters with depth, motives, and backstories that add layers to the story.
- Suspense: An excellent murder mystery crime fiction should keep readers on the edge of their seats.
- Authentic setting: A well-researched and authentic setting can add to the atmosphere and tension of murder mystery crime novels.
- Strong writing: Kind of goes without saying to have clear, descriptive language and well-crafted dialogue in your murder mysteries.
- Surprise endings: A good murder mystery should have an end that surprises the reader. It should be unexpected but also make sense in the story’s context. A lot of historical mysteries do this well.
You want to find a compelling murder mystery with a blend of these factors, so your attention never drops away from when one person is found dead and the detective fiction begins. You don’t want to end up turning back to the latest streaming on Netflix or Amazon.
These don’t have to be Agatha Christie-level mysteries, but they shouldn’t read like a boring eulogy at a funeral where you don’t know anyone. There aren’t any self-published books on this list yet, but I’ll probably have to revisit it in the future.
Let’s dive into the top books where a surprising character is found dead on this exciting genre since we tipped into the 2000s.
Best Murder Mystery Books of this Century
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a novel by Steig Larson that tells the story of a journalist and a computer hacker who team up to investigate a wealthy family’s dark past. The book is known for its complex and intriguing plot, well-developed characters, and suspenseful atmosphere, making it a captivating read. Larson has one of the best author platforms around, even though he passed quite a while ago.
This is the first in a series of books, which are known as the Millennium series, and it has become a bestseller and a critically acclaimed story.
This murder mystery is not for the faint of heart. Things get incredibly dark, and there are some SA issues that I should inform you about beforehand. However, this is your joint if you’re looking for a badass female character.
Yup, it’s that book, now available in pretty much every form from eBook to endless language translation. This novel by Dan Brown follows symbologist Robert Langdon as he investigates a murder in the Louvre Museum and uncovers a secret society’s ancient conspiracy. There is no serial killer, but plenty of grisly murders to solve with a secret history that feels too real to our own life.
The book is known for its fast-paced plot, historical fiction, religious elements, and surprising twists and turns, making it a captivating read. While this book is a bestseller and has been adapted into a movie and a stage play, the twist of faith-based intrigue makes it more than worth the read.
The Lovely Bones is a novel by Alice Sebold that tells the story of a young girl who is murdered and watches over her family and friends from the afterlife. The book explores grief, healing, and closure themes and is known for its unique narrative structure and emotional depth. You may also want to check out the film adaptation that won some awards. This was not a quickly written book. You can tell Sebold took her time.
Yes, there are some supernatural elements, but they do not distract from the overarching feel and mystery that fuels the storytelling.
This is one of the stranger plotlines on this list of the best murder mysteries, which is why the book marketing is so good. It tells the story of a young boy who discovers a mysterious book by an obscure author and becomes obsessed with finding the rest of the story. He tries to uncover the dark secrets surrounding the plot and history.
The novel is known for its complex and multi-layered plot, richly drawn characters, and atmospheric setting. While this book is a bestseller and has been translated into many languages, we’re all still patiently waiting for the screen adaptation.
Shutter Island is a novel by Dennis Lehane that follows U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels as he investigates a patient’s disappearance from a hospital for the criminally insane on an island off the coast of Massachusetts and begins questioning his sanity.
The novel is known for its twisted plot, unreliable narrator, and psychological themes, making it a captivating read. The story has been adapted into a movie directed by Martin Scorsese, which is one of my favorite to have playing in the background when managing my home business.
This sometimes overly dramatic story follows the story of a detective named Rob Ryan, who returns to his childhood home and investigates a murder case that resembles the unsolved murder of his best friends from when he was a child, although – this is not a children’s book!
The novel is known for its complex and nuanced characters, intense psychological themes, and evocative descriptions of the Irish countryside. This is the first in the Dublin Murder Squad series and has been widely praised by critics and readers alike.
Readers get to follow the story of Precious Ramotswe, the founder, and owner of the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency in Botswana, as she helps her clients with their personal and professional problems. It is known for its light-hearted tone, gentle humor, and portrayal of a strong and independent female protagonist, as well as its depiction of the people and culture of Botswana.
The novel is the first in the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series, and it has been widely praised by critics and readers alike for its charm and warmth.
If you have watched the series Three Pines on Amazon Prime, you’ll love this book. Still Life is a novel by Louise Penny that follows Chief Inspector Armand Gamache as he investigates the murder of a beloved member of the tiny Quebec village of Three Pines.
The story is known for its complex and well-crafted plot, richly drawn characters, and evocative descriptions of Quebec’s countryside. This is the first in the Chief Inspector Gamache series. It has been widely praised by critics and readers alike for its well-crafted mystery, and the series has won multiple awards. I personally love the portrayal of the author with the duck!
When I say this is witty, I mean it! Seriously, Evanovich must have gone through so many writing tools, drafts, and tossed pens to make this work.
We follow the story of Stephanie Plum, a down-on-her-luck New Jersey bond enforcement agent, as she tries to track down her ex-boyfriend and former vice cop who has gone missing.
Evanovich is known for her comedic tone, witty dialogue, and fast-paced action. The characters are quirky, funny, and relatable, and the story is full of unexpected twists and turns.
The novel is the seventh in the Stephanie Plum series, and it has been widely praised by critics and readers alike for its humor, charm, and for being a thrilling and entertaining read.
Burke sticks to the typical mystery mold, but goes way more in-depth with plotline development than most others. Here we get the story of Dave Robicheaux, a New Iberia, Louisiana detective, as he investigates the murder of a young woman and the suspicious activities of a powerful oil tycoon.
The novel is known for its evocative descriptions of the Louisiana Bayou and its richly drawn characters. Burke loves a complex and well-crafted plot, richly drawn characters, and evocative descriptions of the Louisiana Bayou. This is the eleventh in the Dave Robicheaux series. It has been widely praised by critics and readers alike for its well-crafted mystery and evocative local area descriptions.
Many places featured in this murder mystery have grown in popularity due to the massive readership.
The Book of Lost Things is a novel by John Connolly that follows the story of David, a young boy who escapes into a world of stories in search of his mother, who has died.
You get a ton of imaginative and fantastical elements, as well as its exploration of painful grief and loss. The characters are well-developed, and the story is full of unexpected twists and turns. The novel has been widely praised by critics and readers alike for its originality, emotional depth, and is a captivating read.
Many books in this genre try to dip into the emotional side of character development, but Connolly goes a bit further and stretches the feelings you’ll catch a bit more.
This is a novel by Max Barry that follows the story of Madison May, a detective who is assigned to investigate a series of murders that seem to be copycat killings of a famous unsolved case from the 1920s.
The novel is known for its fast-paced plot, unexpected twists, and exploration of the theme of obsession and the blurred lines between good and evil. However, what I like the most is the relative period-based themes and exploration of the local geography that adds depth to the plot.
Wrapping it Up
From the psychological thrillers of Stieg Larson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to the fast-paced action of Janet Evanovich’s Seven Up, these books have something to offer every reader.
Whether you are looking for a classic whodunit or something more unconventional, there is a book on this list that will appeal to you. These books are entertaining and thought-provoking, making them great choices for readers who want to be challenged and engage with different themes.
If you’re a fan of the genre or just looking to start your journey into the world of murder mysteries, these books are a great place to begin. But don’t worry, if you don’t want to drop the dime on the Amazon links I’ve provided, then pop over to your local library and get a card to read for free!