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Best Indie Mystery Books

Top 25 Best Indie Mystery Books

Welcome to our comprehensive list of the best indie mystery books. Indie novels are a real thing now and perhaps the biggest growing segment of the publishing market for all genre fiction.

Indie Mystery Fiction (also called self-published mystery fiction, though most of the authors who self-publish prefer the term 'indie' over self-publish) is wildly popular.

This is in part because the barriers to publishing fiction has been removed by Amazon with the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) which allows pretty much anyone to publish their own book to the Amazon Kindle platform, therefore easily accessing the biggest book marketplace in the world.

Some of the top earning authors have been indie authors who've found a readership (and sales) that would make any traditionally published author jealous.

Is indie fiction (specifically, Indie Mystery Fiction) any good? 

The answer is both yes and no and somewhere in-between. 

For every unpolished indie mystery book gem you'll find, there's a heap of trash you'll have to sort through first. In my experience, most of the self-pub mystery is pretty bad.

But it is possible to find some truly outstanding mystery fiction if you know where to look. And part of the thrill is to sort through the trash heap and find that unpolished gem before the rest of the world has discovered it.

And hence the need for our list of, what we feel, are the best of the best indie mystery books. These books were (or are at this point) indie books, but may be picked up and published by traditional publishers, which is now not unusual.

If you have any of your own suggestions, please leave them in the comments!

Barry Eisler is one of the most popular mainstream authors to decide to go leave the big New York publishers. In 2011, he dropped his traditional publisher to go independent. The deal he left behind was worth $500,000. He was quickly picked up by Amazon book under their Thomas & Mercer imprint, so technically hes not entirely independent, but hes still an avid spokesperson for independent publishing. Of course, he still pursues the additional income involved in films and other media, but hes been a major voice in the independent publishing movement. If youd like to read more, Eislers rather lengthy conversation with another famous indie author Joe Konrath is now available as an eBook itself. It is highly recommended for any author thinking about what path to take in publishing. Why It Made the List  Quite simply Eisler knows his field. Hes worked for some of the agencies that he writes about and he still is involved in politics and civil liberties through his speeches and his writing. His books deal with many of the same topics (like human trafficking) that he investigated prior to becoming an author.

'Read It If You Like'technology mysteries, international terror, conspiracy novels

Books in Ben Treven Series (2)

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Anna Castle writes three mystery series, all of them selling well. This is the first book in her Francis Bacon series, set in Elizabethan England. The series received a Kirkus starred review, which is about as good as it gets in publishing. She also writes a series set in Victorian London with the Professor and Mrs. Moriarty and a contemporary series set in Lost Hat, Texas. She has seven books out in all, but her indie author footprint is far larger than that. Shes frequently quoted in articles about independent publishing and is frequently featured in blogs. Her best advice is to write from the heart and to write several books before attempting to get published. Why It Made the List  Castle had multiple degrees under her belt including some in the classics and linguistics. She has a knack for research and adding details into the books she writes. She knocked around for many years including teaching before becoming an author.

'Read It If You Like'English history, real life characters, Elizabethan London

Books in The Francis Baco... Series (3)

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In a historical set in 1945, Niles tells a gritty story of a police inspector in San Francisco that gets involved in a case far larger than himself. He finds the smoldering corpse of a British diplomat. As he methodically begins to find motives for the murder, the FBI sends an agent in to help. The FBI already has a suspect in mind for the crime, and they vigorously push for the trial of that suspect, even as the police inspector begins to think that the crime was done for other reasons. The book is in the noir fashion of other private eye writers in that era and this was Niles first book as an independent author. Why It Made the List  Niles is the quintessential independent author. Hed only written two non-fiction books before he decided to go it alone for his fiction. Niles has led an adventuresome life that has become the fodder for some of his writings. Hes started a series about Police Inspector Andrew Johnson.

'Read It If You Like'San Francisco setting, police procedural, conspiracy novels, World War II novels

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Tucker went for an international thriller with his first book. He tells the story of how the British Prime Minister is kidnapped, gone without a trace. The Prime Minister was popular when elected, but obstacles and politics have slowed down his attempts to reform government to the point where hes now been dubbed Dismal Jimmy. The trail to the missing head of state leads to a billionaire who wants to dominate the world. A former Scotland Yard detective with his own personal secrets is asked to find the Prime Minister and finds instead a shadow mystery that could destroy the world. His task is now clear. He has to retrieve the Prime Minister and save the world from a madmans domination. Why It Made the List  Its not surprising that Tucker has lived an international life. Hes lived in London, Hong Kong and Paris, where he was the president of a global advertising agency. He left the firm several years ago to become a full-time writer; he lives in Britain with his family now. 'Read It If You Like' international settings, kidnapping, political thrillers

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John Milton is who the government calls on to clean up its messes. MI5 and the military rely on him to kill swiftly and efficiently to keep their embarrassing stories out of the press, or to kill those who would kill thousands of British citizens. However, being a hired gun has its drawbacks and Milton is tired of the life he leads. Instead he gets involved with an East End woman who wants to save her son from the gang life. Milton now has a different foe, and hes not familiar with the rules in the world of gangs and rap. Miltons woes are doubled when he learns that his former employers are now on the hunt for him as well. He has to move and move fast.

Why It Made the List  Dawson has written 9 books in this series. Writing fast and publishing many books has been a mantra from the start of the indie author movement, and Dawson does it and does it well. The books are also sold in box sets which is another idea generated by indie authors. The boxes sell for less than the sum of the prices of the individual volumes. Be sure to pick up a box or two to read about this character.

'Read It If You Like'Assassination novels, action, thrillers

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Rita Martin becomes a single mother when her husband leaves her with the children. While shes trying to get her life in order, one of her sons friends is becoming a danger to them all. Hes not a part of the area that the Martin family is forced to live in; hes lives in an upscale townhome. Yet Rita can see that hes missing something that keeps him from being evil. She contacts the police, but theres little that they can do or want to do about the situation. She will have to fend for herself again in this dark thriller. Why It Made the List  Spedding is a master of the thriller. She won a major short story competition at the beginning of her career and shes been on an uphill trend ever since. Shes written nine books at last count, and one of them is a how-to guide for thrillers. Her name continues to be listed in best of the thriller lists and she is an author to keep an eye on.

'Read It If You Like'domestic suspense, thriller, teenaged dangers

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Charlie Picket didnt think that his errand was going to be very strenuous. He was sent to Mexico by his boss. He manages to get stuck helping a 13 year old girl, who has some powerful enemies. In no time at all, he is being hunted by the United States government through the FBI and the CIA. The Mexican police believe that the girl is the solution to a multi-billion dollar theft, which is enough money to bring all the scoundrels out of the woodwork. Picket has to save the girl and himself, as it begins to appear that the girl holds a key to toppling the Mexican government. Why It Made the List  Parker started in traditional publishing back in 1980. His first novels were published by the larger publishers in the UK, but then a twenty year gap followed. At the end of that time period, he decided to publish independently. His books have been doing well and he is frequently mentioned as one of the most commercially successful authors in the UK.

'Read It If You Like'caper novel, running from the law, political thrillers

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A womans throat is ripped out by something on the moors near Manchester. The coroner determines that the culprit was a panther, which has begun attacking humans. Case closed. However, a second similar attack occurs in a car park closer to the middle of town. The second victim had been assaulted in a rash of gay-bashing incidents in the area. DI Spicer is expected to come up with a solution to the case where the killer is now given the sobriquet of The Monster of the Moors. Why It Made the List  Sims is an author to keep an eye on, or so says The Guardian. Savage Moon was nominated for the Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and his other books have been selected for magazine and reader awards in the US and UK. There are currently six titles in the DI Spicer series, and we havent seen the last of Simms.

'Read It If You Like' serial killers, lonely moors, British police procedurals

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The Fear Collectors is the 13th novel in the Jessica Coran series by Walker. Walker is an extremely prolific author who has published in a number of genres. Hes is a leader member of the self-publishing push made by Eisler, Konrath and others. He has been a huge proponent of self-publishing and putting works out quickly. In this work, Jessica Coran is the medical examiner in Washington, DC. A member of the Chicago police force uncovers what to looks be a series of snuff films and the police have to find and stop the producers of the films. The Chicago medical examiner worked on a similar case years ago. Why It Made the List  Walker is a tireless author and promoter. He was born in Mississippi, but now lives in Chicago, where many of his books are set. Hes written thirty-six novels, and promotes the idea that an independent author must keep producing to continue selling. Walker maintains a healthy presence on social media and works full-time as a writer now.

'Read It If You Like'forensic novels, Chicago settings, police procedurals

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Crispin Guest, a disgraced knight who has become the medieval equivalent of a private eye, stumbles upon a dead body while drinking at his favorite watering hole. The victim turns out to be a Knight Templar, even though this group had been considered disbanded for nearly a century. As Guest starts to investigate, hes kidnapped. He runs across a former entanglement that makes it hard to focus on solving the crime. The Templar was rumored to be guarding a famous relic, and Guest has to solve the murder to find out what has happened to it. Why It Made the List  This is a prime example of an author become a hybrid, part traditionally published and part independent author. Cup of Blood was a prequel novel for Westerson who has written about Crispin Guest for several years decided to go it on her own for this book. Cup of Blood predates the action in most of the series as a prequel to Guests adventures. The novel was shortlisted for a historical mystery award, giving testament that the independently published novel was every bit as good as the rest of her series.

'Read It If You Like'medieval mysteries, knights, Templar mysteries. royal intrigue

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This is the first book in the food truck mystery series by Kendrick. In it, Maeve Kincaid inherits the food truck from a recently deceased aunt. Of course, Maeve gets involved in looking into the death of her aunt and she learns more than she bargained for. Over the course of the next ten books in the series, Maeve gets a love interest or two, manages to expand her fleet of food trucks and gets a team of employees as well. The books are good fun and quick enjoyable reads. Why It Made the List  This is the second of Kendricks three series, all indie published. Interestingly, both of her other series feature sleuths who look into crimes because of missing relatives. Maeve Kincaid has no such family. Kendrick has wide recognition and is typically ranked in the top echelons of Amazons indie books. The series is at 10 books and counting. It appears that new adventures may appear in boxed sets of five short novels, so well have to wait to find out what happens post-marriage to the intrepid heroine. The books are of different lengths from 30,000-50,000 words, but all are quick fun reads.

'Read It If You Like' cozy mysteries, culinary mysteries, potential romance

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Howey had become a self-published author after he had worked with a small press to publish his first novel. However, when he began writing Wool, a dystopian novel set in a post-apocalyptic world, he began to notice that the sales were rapidly increasing. The sales soon eclipsed all of his other books combined. The sales indicated to him that he needed to focus more on this book and others in the same series. The books proved so popular that Howey found an agent. He wanted a contract that left him with the digital rights to his own works. However, this type of contract was unheard of in New York. It took a number of tries to find the right publisher, but Simon and Schuster finally offered him a print-only contract that met his need to remain in control of his digital books. Why It Made the List  Wool was an early break-out hit for eBooks. While many authors were just beginning to look at self-publishing through Amazon, Howey had a hit on his hands. His dedication to finding the right publisher who met his particular needs made him a unique author in the business.

'Read It If You Like' dystopian novels, post-apocalyptic novels, thrillers

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Marks had published an excellent noir hardboiled mystery novel that received a significant amount of acclaim. White Heat told the story of a murder set against the backdrop of the riots that took place after the Rodney King incident in LA. The book received great write-ups from Publishers Weekly and other venues in addition to winning the Shamus from the Private Eye Writers of America. The book has had a phenomenal sales record, and has led to new works by Marks in the same vein. He released a second novel last year.

Why It Made the List  Marks is regularly nominated for his work. A short story in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine was nominated for both the Anthony and Macavity awards. He has written dozens of short stories published in a number of genres, all of which led up to his first novel.

'Read It If You Like' Los Angeles setting, private eye novels, recent past mysteries

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Konrath was already a well-known mystery author before he decided to go the independent route. He had begun a series of hardboiled mysteries featuring police detective Jack Daniels, short for Jacqueline. Not surprisingly, the titles were all drink names. Konrath had traveled the country promoting his works and had become increasingly well-known. He was an early adopter of the Kindle platform, starting to put stories up on Amazon back in 2009. By 2012, hed established himself to the point that he was bringing in six figures a year from the online sales. By 2013, hed sold over one million copies of his works.

Why It Made the List  Konrath has been one of the leading proponents of e-publishing for quite some time. Hes also been very generous with his advice. He has offered information via his website, online chats, and not surprisingly through eBooks available through Amazon. He has helped scores of writers to become indie authors as well, and hes very generous with his time and experience.

'Read It If You Like'police procedurals, female protagonists, Chicago settings

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Heather Webber Blake has been a familiar face in the cozy mystery genre for years. She tells stories about women who stumble into crimes through their various careers. Her later series have featured paranormal sleuths with unique gifts that help them solve crimes. The books have been wildly popular with the fans and she now has three different series that she writes. The Nina Quinn series, of which this title is a part, features a woman who gets into trouble while offering her services for landscaping makeovers. Each of the titles has a pun that relates to landscaping.

Why It Made the List  Heather Webber Blake has had a number of series published for the traditional publishers. Like many others these days whose series are cut after three or six books, she found herself with beloved series characters and no publisher. So she began to write more novels in the three series. Her fans dont even notice the difference between the two publishing models as long as they continue to get new releases in the series.

'Read It If You Like' romantic complications, gardening mysteries, cozy mysteries

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Abby Carpenter is an ad exec with a world of problems. She has an ex-husband who keeps turning up dead. She has a new account whose CEO was a romantic interest from a decade and a half earlier that did not work out well. In fact, it embarrassed her terribly. Now she has to wow him with a new campaign while hiding her true identity from the CEO. In the midst of this, her husband turns up dead fatally dead this time, and now a policeman wants to ask her questions about the murder. A reporter wants the scoop on a number of things, and Abby has to keep juggling all of those balls without dropping a one. Why It Made the List  Paris is probably best known as a romance writer, but some of her works have very strong elements of suspense, including this title. Shes been writing independently for some time, and her works have been nominated for a number of romance awards.

'Read It If You Like'romantic suspense, corporate intrigue, family murders

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A teenaged pair of lovers witness a brutal gang killing. The boy wants to keep quiet, afraid of the repercussions of telling what they witnessed. The girl wants to do the right thing and tell the police. Tom Kagan, a police officer with Santa Rosas gang detectives, has a history of death and pain. His young son was killed in a car accident years earlier and the strain of the loss is destroying his marriage. The gang killing seems to have been ordered from behind bars, and Kagan has to work with the department of corrections in order to find out who wanted the victim murdered. The crimes are tied to a dangerous gang that is experiencing an internal battle for control, and the results are murderous. Kagan and the team have to solve the crimes and stop the violence. Why It Made the List  This first book in the Tom Kagan series racked up a number of awards including Best Mystery by the National Indie Excellence judges and as a semi-finalist for best book of the year by the Kindle Book Review. Young has a background with the Federal Organized Crime Task Force, and he know how to write what he lived for many years.

'Read It If You Like' Federal agents, gang murders, children in jeopardy

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In a remote part of the world, an Ebola-like illness springs up. It soon turns out to be the Chromatium Omri bacteria, one of the oldest known bacteria which has caused extinction before. Soon parts of the world are decimated by the disease. Mark Freedman, a researcher, has to team up with the CDC as well as the police and the military to stop the diseases spread. Each organization has its own agenda and own ends that it wants to see. The general involved is dedicated to stopping the disease before it comes to the United States, no matter what the cost. Freedman finds romance amidst the ruins of civilization as he learns the causes behind this contamination. Why It Made the List  This book was published in 2007, and it became a number one bestseller the following month. When Bohacz second book was published, Immortality saw another bump in sales and it went back up to number one, where it stayed for some time. 

'Read It If You Like'International thriller, disease as the villain, scientist turned adventurer

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Steph Ryder is murdered close to home, and so its no surprise that DS Allie Shenton begins her investigation with those who were nearest and dearest to the victim. However, it seems like every suspect has something to hide from the night of the murder and each has told a number of lies to the police detective to cover their own tracks. Allie begins to look more carefully at the story of Stephs husband, but does she think that hes guilty of murder or is she wanting to become the next Mrs. Ryder? However, as shes looking at the husband, the murders continue and Allie might be next. She has to solve the crime before she too is killed. Why It Made the List  Sherratt tried for twelve years to publish her works traditionally. After releasing this book as a Kindle eBook, she quickly sold 50,000 copies of the book. Since then, shes published more books through Amazons publishing program, but shes also recently signed a contract with Amazons own imprint for future works.

'Read It If You Like'family murders, shared lies, English police procedurals

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Holy Island is actually the island of Lindisfarne in Northumbria, which is often cut off from the mainland by tides. This isolated setting matches the characters who are emotionally isolated in this novel. DCI Maxwell Ryan is on a forced sabbatical while he tries to get his life back together. Ryans sister was the victim of a serial killer, a case that hed worked on. The case had not ended well and Ryan needed time to clear his head. His progress in that matter is impeded when the body of a young girl washes up on the shore of the island. Soon a police consultant, who grew up on the island, is assigned to the case, and together the pair have to heal themselves as they grow romantically involved while solving a particularly confusing murder case. Why It Made the List  Ross has become a fan favorite on Amazon. Holy Island was #1 on the Amazon Bestseller list for a while, and each of the following books in the series have done the same.

'Read It If You Like' isolated settings, wounded main characters, serial killers

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This is the first book in the Donovan Creed series. Creed is a former CIA agent who now metes out justice when he stumbles across problems. Creed finds a girl who is badly burned, the survivor of a house fire that was likely caused by a drug lord. Quickly the situation pits the two men against each other, and Creed has a plan to obtain justice for the girl and to ensure that he is not the drug lords next victim. Creed employs characters from a circus including a midget and clowns to pull off his scheme. Why It Made the List  Locke was the very first indie author (and the eighth overall) to sell one million copies of his works on Amazon. Offered a lucrative deal to traditionally publish his works, Locke instead made a deal with Simon and Schuster to sell the physical copies of his books while he continued to sell the eBooks. He currently has sold over two million copies of his books and over one and a half million of those books feature Donovan Creed.

'Read It If You Like'CIA protagonists, vigilante justice, drug lords

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Life meets art meets life. In Natalie Barellis first novel, she writes about a writer who is tired of her works being judges by her past works. So she talks a friend into publishing this new manuscript under the friends name. No worries about expectations or reviews that compare this work to her other (more successful) works. Theres one catch. The new book becomes a smash hit, and the friend suddenly becomes very wealthy. Now that the book is critically acclaimed, the author wants it back, but the friend is too busy enjoying her notoriety that she doesnt care about the authors demands, but she should.   Why It Made the List  Books about writers have always been popular, and this one is no exception. The book takes a look at the idea of pseudonyms, especially in the time of indie publishing, where many authors are merely the pen name of someone else or in some cases multiple authors. This was Barellis first crime novel, and it sold very well - -just like its fictional counterpart.

'Read It If You Like'Bibliomysteries, authors as main characters, domestic suspense

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Like most of Richards heroines, Rachel Howard is a scientist, a neuroscientist in this case. She is working on the science behind learning so that in the future people can learn difficult materials in a matter of moments. So a person could learn to speak another language or get a degree in medicine or science. However, she crosses paths with a rogue Secret Service agent who wants to take down the president, she is suddenly thrust into a situation that she is unable to handle. Now she has to protect herself and the results of her own research, which fall into the wrong hands. Rachel learns the hard way that her breakthrough can be used for evil and might well be. Why It Made the List  Richards is a microbiologist with two masters degrees, including a MBA. His books, which deal with his areas of study tangentially, have hit the New York Times bestsellers list as well as the USA Today bestsellers list. He owned two of the Amazon categories for a year, being at the top spot for ages.

'Read It If You Like'science mysteries, political thrillers, forensics

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Jeffrey Marks started out with traditional publishers. His early mystery novels were released by small presses, but sadly the presses stopped releasing mysteries, which meant that the existing books had no means of getting out of the warehouse. Marks picked up these books and began publisher other titles in the same series. What Fresh Smell is the latest in his Marissa Scott series, which is set in a department store cosmetics area. Each of the titles is a pun revolving around scent or smell. Marks continues to write and publish novels in this series.

Why It Made the List  Marks has a long history of book promotion which has paid off for him. He wrote the genre promotion book, Intent to Sell, and moderates an online discussion group about book promotions called MurderMustAdvertise. The group has been going for nearly 15 years and has seen the discussion change from strictly traditional publishing to all of the many varieties of todays publishing models. He continues to write and talk about book promotions when he is not promoting his own works.

'Read It If You Like'Regional mysteries, retail setting for a murder 

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In the first book in the Damon series, Jesse Damon is putting his life back together after being paroled. He works nights at a local factory, and hes enjoying the side of life that allows him to be like everyone else after all these years. However, when a man is murdered at the warehouse, the police make Jesse for the crime. Theyre not concerned about his alibi or motive; they just want a quick bust. So its then up to Jesse to solve the murder to keep his new found freedom. Why It Made the List  Rockwood has made Jesse Damon into a series. He was locked up for almost 20 years for a murder he didnt commit. He still has all the restrictions of the parole system to deal with as he tries to readjust to society after two decades of being away from it. Rockwood worked in a medium security prison, so she knows people like Damon and the difficulties they have. The books are crime stories, but definitely not cozy mysteries. They have a strong element of noir in them with the resigned nature of the main character.

'Read It If You Like'prison mysteries, innocent convicts, framed for murder

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