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Top 25 Best Mystery Books

Top 25 Best Mystery Books

Are you looking for the best mystery books?

Well look NO longer! Here's our own curated mystery book picks of the best of the best. We've carefully gone through hundreds and hundreds of mystery books (from classics to brand new works) to select superlative reads.

We are not just content to simply list our selection, but we give you exactly the reasons WHY you should read each book and what makes it stand out as the best of the best in a crowded genre with many great reads.

So sit back, grab a cup of coffee and prepare to find your next best mystery read!

If our list of the Top 25 is not enough, then continue on with our Top 100 Mystery Books list which continues the recommendations from #26 all the way to #100. Or if you are only in the mood for MODERN mysteries with no taste for any of the classics, look at our Best Modern Mystery Books. Or if you love classic mystery, check out our Best Classic Mystery Books.

Not enough? Then check out some of our specific 'best mystery book lists' for specific recommendations by category, theme, or mystery subgenre!

And Then There Were None is one of Agatha Christie's best known titles. This crime queen has written mysteries where everyone has done it, the narrator has done it, and the sleuth has done it. So why would readers be shocked to find out that Christie wrote a book where NO ONE had done it. That's because by the end of the book, there's no one left alive to have killed the last suspect.  The set-up is fairly typical. Ten people, all accused of killing innocent people, are stranded on an island where they begin to die one-by-one in keeping with a nursery rhyme. Did they each actually kill someone? Who is killing them one by one? By the end of this 1939 title, all the suspects are dead, killed by an unnamed Mr. UN Owen (unknown). The solution is delivered afterward in a clever twist.  The book also wins the award for the greatest number of offensive titles. It was originally published in England as Ten Little N-words (you get what I mean), then as Ten Little Indians, and then finally And Then There Were None.

Why It Made the List  If you haven't read And Then There Were None, you need to because, it's like only one of the most famous damn mystery books ever written. It's a book where NO ONE seems to have done it, which makes it a first in mystery fiction. 

Don't bother with the Hollywood versions of the book (though seeing Dion get knocked off early for acting like a hep cat may be worth the rest of the film.) The films leave the last two characters alive, freed from suspicious and rushing off to a happily ever after from the island of corpses 'Read It If You Like' Thrillers, suspense, puzzle plots

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Serial killers to the right of me, cannibals to the left. Stuck in the middle with Clarice. Do I really need to explain this plot to anyone with an Internet connection? The book was a best-seller, and the movie was a blockbuster. It has inspired prequels and sequels, movies and television series. In order to capture a bizarre serial killer, a young, female FBI agent opts to consult with another serial killer, one who cooked and ate his victims. The killer chef agrees to help her on the condition that he can get into her head (brains with eggplant is delicious I've been told.)  This set-up allows the FBI agent to find her killer while having someone else mind fuck her in the process. Not the best way to ensure a long career in law enforcement, but more than adequate for a 300 page book. The movie is a cult classic these days, and it's hard to find a week on cable that doesn't carry it. Haven't read this damn book yet? Stop reading and pick it up already -- you won't be disappointed if you have fraction of liking for mysteries with a serious amount of action and adventure.

Why It Made the List   The movie is a cult classic these days, and it's hard to find a week on cable that doesn't carry it. Haven't read this damn book yet? Stop reading and pick it up already -- you won't be disappointed if you have fraction of liking for mysteries with a serious amount of action and adventure.  'Read It If You Like' Serial killers, thrillers, suspense

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Chandler was a wordsmith, a lyrical writer who put a fresh coat of paint on the dark side of Los Angeles with his descriptions of the city and its residents. The Big Sleep was his first private eye novel and the introduction to Philip Marlowe, the loner private eye with the moral code that kept him apart from the private eyes who had come before him. He was kept apart from the seamy, yet beautifully described city of sin that he operates in. He became the model for every smart-ass, yet lonely private eye for the next 80 years, which makes his entrance into mystery important.  In The Big Sleep, Marlowe is asked by a dying man to stop a case of blackmail. As the corpses start to pile up, Marlowe has to figure out which of the man's two daughters is more involved in the crimes. Of course, all the pretty words don't cover up the few sketchy plot points. When asked about a plot point for the movie version, Chandler said that he didn't know who exactly had killed the chauffeur, but pointed out that it really hadn't mattered much. Given that this was another Bogey and Bacall vehicle, the film was a hit and is still shown on cable today.

Why It Made the List  Chandler was a wordsmith, a lyrical writer who put a fresh coat of paint on the dark side of Los Angeles with his descriptions of the city and its residents.The Big Sleep was his first private eye novel and the introduction to Philip Marlowe, the loner private eye with the moral code that kept him apart from the private eyes who had come before him. He was kept apart from the seamy, yet beautifully described city of sin that he operates in. He became the model for every smart-ass, yet lonely private eye for the next 80 years, which makes his entrance into mystery important. 'Read It If You Like'private eyes, cities as more than just a setting, twisted family dynamics

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Who knew that a policeman lying in a hospital bed trying to solve a 500 year old crime would be in the top 10 mysteries of all time? It certainly lacks car chases and big explosions, but it remains a critic and reader favorite after all these years. This book always appears on nearly every "best of" lists assembled. So what's the mystery besides how to make dry royal history into a fan favorite? When Inspector Alan Grant is stuck flat on his back, he passes the time by studying the faces of famous portraits brought to him by a friend. He's surprised by his reaction to Richard III, who is often portrayed as a humpbacked devil courtesy of Will Shakespeare.  Of course, the major crime that Richard is supposed to have committed is the murder of the two princes in the Tower of London. His two nephews were sent to the tower for "safety" reasons and never seen again, which calls into question Richard's motives and his safety protocols. However, the crimes against the princes were mentioned for years, bringing into question why the wait? The rumors started after Richard had been paved over in a parking lot and the Tudors, who produced the life affirming Henry VIII, began to trash talk the former king.

Why It Made the List  who knew that a policeman lying in a hospital bed trying to solve a 500 year old crime would be in the top 10 mysteries of all time? It certainly lacks car chases and big explosions, but it remains a critic and reader favorite after all these years. This book always appears on nearly every "best of" lists assembled.  'Read It If You Like'Historical mysteries, British police, investigating actual historical events

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Some novels just tell a good story while others make the reader think, even when they don't want to. John LeCarre's novel brought a light to the espionage field, where readers were used to our spies being good guys who saved the free world and got laid. The Spy who Came in from the Cold tells a very different story, one where the spies are no better than the people they're spying on. The ideals of democracy and freedom are stepped on by the people who are supposed to be defending these ideals.  The title refers to Alec Leamas who is asked to remain "in the cold" which was the British espionage term for an undercover mission. Leamas' goal is to make the East Germans think that he is defecting and giving them false information about another double spy, in hopes of getting the East Germans to kill him, thereby removing one of their own. The plot is even more confusing as it moves along, each person saying whatever they need to accomplish their ends. The men tasked with saving the world for democracy are more cynical than those at a mid-afternoon strip club. This is a must-read for the effect it had on a nation who thought that gadgets and fornication saved Britain from the likes of Blofeld.

Why It Made the List   The Spy who Came in from the Cold tells a very different story, one where the spies are no better than the people they're spying on. The ideals of democracy and freedom are stepped on by the people who are supposed to be defending these ideals. This is a must-read for the effect it had on a nation who thought that gadgets and fornication saved Britain from the likes of Blofeld. 'Read It If You Like' espionage, spies, intrigue

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A small article in the corner of a page of The New York Times led to a new genre. When Truman Capote read a piece about how all four members of the Clutter family had been murdered in their home, it piqued his interest. The family was well-respected and the police had no obvious motives for the murders. Capote, in the ultimate act of culture shock, went to Kansas to investigate.  Kansas had its share of culture shock too. They didn't have bon vivants in Kansas. They could barely spell it. To break through and communicate with the natives, Capote recruited Harper Lee (of To Kill a Mockingbird fame) to translate to the foreigners. It worked and Capote was allowed to follow the investigation and interview the two killers. Rumor has it that Capote did more than interview one of the two men arrested for the murders. The genre that he created has been called "non-fiction novel" or "literary non-fiction," but it was new, and America knows that new is always better, dammit. While there's been some speculation in recent years about the level of accuracy in the book, Capote's style created a new genre that still fascinates readers today. It's worth reading as the first of its kind.

Why It Made the List  The genre that Capote created has been called "non-fiction novel" or "literary non-fiction," but it was new, and America knows that new is always better, dammit. While there's been some speculation in recent years about the level of accuracy in the book, Capote's style created a new genre that still fascinates readers today. It's worth reading as the first of its kind. 'Read It If You Like'True crime, unrepentant killers

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A bunch of medieval monks hardly seems like one of the best mysteries of all times. Technically, they're Franciscan friars, but that really doesn't help the argument here. However, this medieval mystery is perhaps one of the premiere historical mysteries of all times. Readers praise historical for their ability to teach and entertain. This one is stuffed to its 512 pages with details about the middle ages. When William of Baskerville, in a tip of the hat to Sherlock, goes to Italy to watch guys argue over the meaning of the Bible, their idea of The Burning Man, he's met with a mystery. One of the friars commits suicide, which puts a damper on things considering that it's a major sin. William begins to investigate, but the suspects start to drop like flies. Our intrepid monk finds numerous dead ends, literally when he discovers an underground library that is hard to navigate. William runs up against the Inquisition before the end of the novel.  While the name of the rose is rather dense, it is a learning experience in terms of understanding the middle ages. For those who love to learn and read, a twofer, this is definitely a must read.

Why It Made the List   While the name of the rose is rather dense, it is a learning experience in terms of understanding the middle ages.  For those who love to learn and read, a twofer, this is definitely a must read. It's a literate mystery with a lot to inform the reader.  'Read It If You Like' historical mysteries, literate mysteries

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So why is a novel with a cute kid and an unrequited love on this list? First, Dickens was one of the earliest writers to popularize the crime novel. Many of his works dealt with crime and with punishment from Fagin and Oliver Twist to Inspector Bucket in Bleak House. Perhaps his most famous mystery was how does The Mystery Of Edwin Drood end? Dickens kicked the bucket before he typed "the end" and left no outline or draft of the ending. That's left more than a few readers guessing for a hundred years or so.  Of course, Great Expectations has its share of criminals and criminal activity as well. Pip is met by Magwitch, a convict who has escaped from a prison ship along with his accomplice Compeyson. He's found it hard to travel with a ball and chain (literally, not a wife) and he terrorizes young Pip into helping him get a bite to eat and a file to remove his chains. Pip does so, but forgets the event until years later, when he discovers that he is the unwitting recipient of the convict's loot. It's so hard to be high-society when your funds have come from a counterfeiter. Just because Great Expectations was written over a century again doesn't mean you shouldn't read it.

Why It Made the List   First, Dickens was one of the earliest writers to popularize the crime novel. Many of his works dealt with crime and with punishment from Fagin and Oliver Twist to Inspector Bucket in Bleak House. Perhaps his most famous mystery was how does The Mystery Of Edwin Drood end? Dickens kicked the bucket before he typed "the end" and left no outline or draft of the ending. That's left more than a few readers guessing for a hundred years or so. 'Read It If You Like' Victorian mysteries, British police

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Poe is called the Father of the Mystery for good reason. He took time out from his crows and dead hearts beating to write stories that would become the first mystery short stories. While he only wrote four short stories in the genre, in that quartet, he manages to squeeze in the basics of what would become the mystery novel. He starts with an odd yet brilliant detective, the type of person to fascinate a reader, but someone you'd never invite to dinner. Throw in admiring sidekick, someone who "oohs" and "aahs" over the deductions of the sleuth and demands an explanation for the reader to understand. The poor assistant isn't even worth a name in the story. In "Murders of the Rue Morgue," Poe writes a story where the murder is committed in a locked room, a crime scene where the killer could not possibly entered or exited, save there's a dead woman in the middle of the room.

Why It Made the List   Poe was the first recognized writer of mystery short stories. In just a few stories, he set up the next 100 years of detective fiction, including the amateur sleuth, the sidekick, locked rooms, codes and more. If you want to see where it all began, this is the place.  'Read It If You Like' Amateur detectives, puzzle plots

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You go into a diner and instead of bad food, they have a hot waitress, but she's not on the menu. She's married to the owner. If you're the main character in Postman, that doesn't matter. Frank Chambers takes a job at the diner, hoping to get a crack at the hot wife. He does. For some reason, the wife, Cora, doesn't like being married to a fat, old Greek man when she's young and hot. She wants him gone, but she doesn't want a divorce. Half of the estate is less than all of the estate. Just to prove that he's well and truly whipped on her, she gets Frank to help her kill her husband. It doesn't take. He just ends up with a headache and no memory of being nearly killed. So they try again, and this time, they kill him in a faked car accident. Of course, since this is a noir classic, you know they don't get away with it. They're screwed over by life in a big way.  The biggest mystery in the book is who the hell is the postman? They don't have any mail deliveries in the book at all, so who knows what that's all about.

Why It Made the List   James M. Cain was the master of noir crime novels. Noir is French for "there is no such thing as a happy ending." If you want to impress your friends by being well-read, this is your book. Not only is it a masterpiece, it's short. Some editions barely crack the 100 page mark. 'Read It If You Like' noir, lower class protagonists

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Sam Spade is a name known throughout mystery, even though he only appeared in one novel. Dashiell Hammett, former Pinkerton agent turned writer, only wrote five novels in the course of career, which was cut short by tuberculosis and McCarthyism, two of the worst diseases of the 20th century. The book was originally serialized in The Black Mask, a pulp magazine that bred some of the best mystery writers in the hardboiled genre. Even though Hammett was not the first to write a private eye novel, he was among the best and was emulated by Chandler who appears on this list. Spade is a rather amoral hero, though he does profess to have a rather unclear moral code. The Maltese Falcon refers to a jeweled bird-shaped statue, worth a fortune, that is being sought by several criminals who stop at nothing to kill, frame, or double-cross the others. Spade steps into the middle of this case, trying to find the bird. The book was made into not one, but three movies, the last of which starred Humphrey Bogart in one of his featured roles.

The Maltese Falcon usually appears on the list of best books (not mysteries, but books) for the 20th century. For a book that's taught a generation of writers how to actually fracking write mysteries, well why not skip to the source and read this book?

Why It Made the List

The Maltese Falcon usually appears on the list of best books (not mysteries, but books) for the 20th century. For a book that's taught a generation of writers how to actually fracking write mysteries, well why not skip to the source and read this book?

'Read It If You Like'

Private eye novels, classics

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I cheated here, not wanting to pick a single story of novel of Sherlock Holmes. After all, there are 56 possible short stories and four novels to choose from, all starring the famed detective. This man has staying power. 130 years after his debut, Holmes is still in demand. Currently he appears on two television shows and a series of movies. Not bad for a detective whose author once planned his demise.

Part of the issue is that many people think Holmes is a real person. They write him letters and visit 221B Baker Street to look for him. His stories are merely Watsons recordings of fact. Granted that a certain segment of the population thinks Elvis is alive and that aliens come to earth to administer probes, but the spine of each book is marked fiction.

Overall, the earlier works are the best. The first batch of short stories, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, is probably the best collection of the bunch. After Doyle bumped Holmes off and had to revive him due to popular opinion, the tales lagged a little and Holmes is less vivid than he is in the early tales. Zombies are never quiet the equal of the original. Even still, he is probably one of the most quoted detectives in Mysterydom and certainly the character with the longest shadows of popularity.

Why It Made the List

This man has staying power. 130 years after his debut, Holmes is still in demand. Currently he appears on two television shows and a series of movies. Not bad for a detective whose author once planned his demise.

Read It If You Like

classics,

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If you want to have a best of list, then you have to put the first real example on the list. For mystery, thats The Moonstone, the first English mystery novel which was published in 1868. The story revolves around a diamond that was stolen by an English soldier who stole it from a statue of Vishnu. Since its being hunted by dangerous men who will stop at nothing to get it back, the soldier, like the good uncle he is, decides to give it to his niece for her birthday. Of course, the diamond is taken the night of her birthday and the hunt begins. Since crimes only occur in country homes in England, the story revolves around that house, the guests and the neighbors.

Some of the familiar elements of the mystery are included in the book, including Rachel thinking that she saw a suitor steal the jewel and keeping quiet for the sake of love. She and the suitor realize that he was slipped laudanum and moved the jewel while in a trance. Collins also took laudanum and was fairly far gone on the stuff, including seeing a double of himself everywhere he went. Yeah, I wish I was making that up as a joke. Collins included opium addiction in the book, which got these Victorians knickers in a bunch. Despite its age, The Moonstone is a good read, rather addictive if you pardon the pun.

Why It Made the List

Despite its age, The Moonstone is a good read, rather addictive if you pardon the pun. It was an early example of the adventure story in search of a treasure, which still has a place in the genre.

Read It If You Like

adventure, jewels

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Lyrical though it may sound, the Poet is actually a serial killer who gets a thrill by making his police officer victims appear to have committed suicide while leaving a note which quotes Edgar Allan Poe. Jack McEvoy, a reporter, decides to look into his brothers apparent suicide. His brother typical grew depressed after a difficult case, and he has killed himself at the site of a gruesome case hed worked.

Of course, since this is a novel McEvoys investigation leads to something more than ulcers and years in therapy. He finds other cases with a very similar MO. The FBI hears about this and gets involved. McEvoy is watched by a beautiful FBI agent, who quickly misunderstands the meaning of undercover. The reporter begins to suspect that the beautiful agent is not all she seems and wonders if she might be the Poet, which puts a damper on the fun times.

The FBI locates a suspect. However, the suspect single-handedly wins a gun battle with the FBI and kills the agents former husband, but not before he takes McEvoy prisoner and hinting that he didnt kill the reporters brother. After the suspect is finally killed, McEvoy has to continue his fight against the bureaucracy of the FBI. One of the better FBI tales, shown from the outside through the eyes of a reporter.

Why It Made the List

One of the better FBI tales, shown from the outside through the eyes of a reporter. Connelly is one of the better police and law enforcement writers around today. Connelly writes a number of series, including the Harry Bosch series, which is now showing on Amazon. He uses the characters in this novel in his other works, which ties his works together.

Read It If You Like

serial killer, FBI work, journalism in mysteries

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How often do you root for the psychotic serial killer to have his happy ending? Highsmith, whose novels tended to be extremely dark and sometimes homoerotic in tone, created an anti-hero so compelling that the reader doesnt want to see Ripley apprehended by the police. Critics and some readers in the 1950s found the concept of siding with a serial killer so repugnant that they refused to review Highsmiths work or include her book in consideration for awards. Others refused her Facebook friend requests.

In this book, you take a wild ride with Tom Ripley who decides to do away with his wealthy friend. Tom Ripley is living in New York, when hes approached by the father of Dickie Greenleaf, who wants Ripley to go to Europe and befriend the rich young man. Ripley does, and becomes somewhat obsessed with Greenleaf and his money. In the days before digital identity theft, you had to kill the other person to take their place, and Tom commits his crime with an oar. Ripley and Greenleaf share a similar appearance, enough for Ripley to pass for the other. No friend would be fooled by the impersonation. Ripley has to move away in order minimize his chances of running into people know to Greenleaf, or worse yet, both men.

Ripley has to change his identity repeatedly and lie to the police, their friends, and the family of Greenleaf. Every time that the reader feels that Ripley is captured, some twist allows him time to escape and remount his defense. Its no spoiler that Ripley escapes at the end of this novel. He appears as the main character in four more novels after this.

Why It Made the List

While the anti-hero has always been around in fiction, Highsmith went and made him a charming individual. The idea that the reader could like a serial killer was hard to stomach, and the fact that readers wanted Ripley to get away with his crimes was even more amazing. Definitely a first of its kind.

Read It If You Like

Anti-heroes, serial killers, books set in Europe

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I thought about just writing about All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy for this entire entry, but seeing how that doesnt even appear in the novel, I think it wouldnt go over well with my editor. The Shining is an iconic movie, which means everyone thinks they know what happens in the book. They dont. The book is more the sons story than the fathers tale.

In the book, Jack, a recovering alcoholic and a writer (which always seems to go together) takes his family to a remote hotel, so he can write for the winter. Danny, the son, starts having visits from ghosts and freaks out. When the spirits cant take over the son, they go after the father who is very receptive. He loses it and then begins to attack both his son and his wife. When the garden sculptures come to life, mom and Danny get out while they can. This was only Kings third novel, but it was his first best-seller. While its more horror than mystery, there are some mysterious elements including the snowed-in winter home where no one can leave. Atmospheric settings remind the reader of some of Poes non-mystery works as well.

Why It Made the List

Because it's such an iconic movie, there are literary references to this book everywhere. You don't want to stare blankly at the person who makes a reference to the movie or book. They'll make even more fun of you then.

Read It If You Like

thriller, snowed-in country home

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For some reason, readers seem to like the standalones better. Maybe its the old saying that familiarity breeds no movie deals. The book tells the story of three kids who are playing on the street in Boston, when one is abducted. The boy, Dave, escapes several days later, but only after hes been sexually molested by the men. Fast forward 25 years which is something you can only do in a book, and the three men are still living in the same area. One has become a cop, another is an ex-con who owns a local store, and Dave has been deadened inside by what happened to him.

All three men are brought together again one night when the ex-cons daughter is murdered. Suspicions fall on Dave who is considered odd and out-of-sorts by the others. Everyone from Daves wife to Scooby-Doo think he might have done it. The book follows the two investigations, the official police investigation and the unofficial investigation by the ex-con father. One of the investigations follows the rule of beat first and ask questions later, which seems to get to the answers. The book takes a few twists and turns before its conclusion. Of course, this was made into a movie with Sean Penn and no Madonna, so it did well at the box office.

Why It Made the List

Lehane is one of the best writers out there today. He's written a series of mysteries as well as a number of standalones, which have been made into movies. Of course, this was made into a movie with Sean Penn and no Madonna, so it did well at the box office.

Read It If You Like

Police procedurals, crime novels, deep backstories, Boston settings

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I would not want to be Lucas Davenports friend. Id rather shack up with Jessica Fletcher at least in Murder She Wrote, one or two people die per episode. In the Prey series of books, Davenport runs up against more serial killers than probably exist in real life.

The series is written by John Camp, who writes under a pen name; Camp is a Pulitzer winning journalist who decided that hed rather kill hundreds of innocent characters than write about news. Go figure. He sets each of the books in a different city around the United States, so you get to see a tour of locations to die in.

Winter Prey is the fifth book in the series, which now has about 17 million titles in it. Each title has the word Prey in it to distinguish it from his other series. In this book, the crimes are set in Wisconsin and a family is murdered and their home torched. Its hard to keep warm in a Wisconsin winter. Davenport reluctantly agrees to come in and solve the crime, like there was ever any doubt. One of the few top 25 books not to be filmed, so you need to pick this up either digitally or on paper and read it.

Why It Made the List

The book was a smash hit for Rice. It was made into a cute film in 1946, just before Rice spiraled into depression and alcohol, a lot less funny than her own mysteries. This book pops up on practically every "best of" list.

Read It If You Like

Family mysteries, suburban mysteries, humorous mysteries

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There have been so many parodies of this book that I cant even think of a fresh one to put here. I could threaten you with a horsehead in the bed or make you an offer you cant refuse, but this book has so permeated pop culture that its almost clich. Yet most of what America knows is from the movies and not the book. The book gives a better view into the minds of Don Vito Corleone than the movies, though the scope of the movies is far wider in terms of time than the book.

The story is the rather classic tale of a son who wants his own life, but is brought back into the family business. Except in this case the family business is cement shoes and money laundering. Michael Corleone like so many heroes before him wants a normal life, but his father Vito has a life of crime in mind for him.

This is, by far, the best of the mafia novels ever published and two of the three movies (which Puzo actually added material for) are considered among the best of American film. You owe it to yourself and the Don to read this book.

Why It Made the List

Winter Prey is the fifth book in the series, which now has about 17 million titles in it. Each title has the word Prey in it to distinguish it from his other series. Millions of fans love these books, so you should definitely try one of them.

Read It If You Like

Serial killers

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Presumed Innocent is a wonderful example of the legal, or courtroom, thriller. Prosecutor Rusty Sabich is assigned to investigate the murder of a colleague, Carolyn Polhemus. Not only did Rusty and Carolyn write briefs together, Rusty was often in her briefs as well. Rusty becomes a suspect in the murder of his former lover.

Given that Carolyn was killed in what looks like a sexual bondage situation gone wrong, which gave new meaning to tied up at the office, Rusty decides to hide his relationship with Carolyn. As it always goes, the truth comes out and Rusty is arrested and put on trial for the murder of his ex-lover. We see the action through Rustys eyes and his realizations of what was happening to him. Suddenly hes on the other side of the bench from his colleagues and friends who now eye him suspiciously.

The twist at the end of the book is stunning and worth a read, even if it wasnt one of the best legal thrillers in the past 50 years. It was even more amazing given that it was Scott Turows first novel The movie rights were purchased even before the book was published and was a Harrison Ford vehicle.

Why It Made the List

This is, by far, the best of the mafia novels ever published and two of the three movies (which Puzo actually added material for) are considered among the best of American film. You owe it to yourself and the Don to read this book.

Read It If You Like

gangster movies, the mob

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Jack Reacher is a mountain of a man, standing 65 and weighing about 250 pounds. This series has more testosterone than some of those products advertised on late-night TV. In the first Reacher tale, hes come to a small Georgia town looking for a long-forgotten jazzman. Apparently small town Georgia doesnt like strangers, because they treat Reacher poorly. Even though Reacher wasnt even in the state at the time, the small town police arrest him for murder and scrounge up a few witnesses to lie about his presence at the murder. The twist is that the victim is actually Reachers brother, giving the police a stronger case.

After hes locked up, Reacher decides to issue some payback of his own. He aligns himself with two people in town, one of course who happens to be beautiful, female and quickly horizontal. Together they set out to find the truth. As they start to investigate, many of the brothers contacts show up dead.

Ironically, when changed to the big screen they went with a little actor, one of the original Oz munchkins the one who calls himself Tom Cruise. The movie did not do well, which is why Id suggest sticking with the books in this series.

Why It Made the List

The twist at the end of the book is stunning and worth a read, even if it wasn't one of the best legal thrillers in the past 50 years. It was even more amazing given that it was Scott Turow's first novel. The movie rights were purchased even before the book was published and was a Harrison Ford vehicle.

Read It If You Like

legal thrillers, twists at the end

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Dispelling the notion that a mystery has to have a body, Sayers wrote Gaudy Night without a single murder, though there are various crimes of vandalism, assault, and jaywalking. Yet the book reads like the best of the murder mysteries where the bodies come in such numbers that they have to be stacked out for the trash collector.

Harriett Vane, mystery author, sometimes love interest of detective Lord Peter Wimsey and one-time accused murderer, decides to go back to her Alma Mater for a Gaudy, which is something of an English Homecoming weekend without the tailgating. Shes sent some hate mail while shes there but she chalks it up to being a freed accused murderer. After her return home, shes summons back to the college, where they ask her to quietly investigate the pranks. She agrees to help to be cool to her school and to escape Lord Peter, who has been proposing to her on a regular basis.

While shes there, she gets caught up in college politics and makes nice with Peters nephew. Shes attacked once and then begins to wear a dog collar for protection. I wish I was joking, but you cant make this shit up. Peter comes to the rescue, solving the mystery and getting the girl in the end.

Why It Made the List

This was the next to the last novel of the Lord Peter Wimsey series, and the one where the boy gets the girl. Added to that, the book is one of the earliest of the literate mysteries (Peter proposed in Latin, if that gives you a hint.) It's probably the fan favorite of the series and is not to be missed.

Read It If You Like

literate mysteries, mysteries set against a university background, pranksters at work.

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If you love a convoluted mystery layered with clues that seem to go nowhere, then this is your book. Ellery Queen is the name of the author of this book as well as the name of the intrepid sleuth, which makes remembering the author easier. Over the course of the investigation, Ellery proposed not one, not two, but four solutions to the crimes. Its enough to make your head hurt. When a coffin is opened to look for the corpses will, investigators dont find the missing document, but they find a second body in the coffin.

This is the perfect example of what used to be called a puzzle plot mystery one of those puzzles with a bazillion pieces where youre sure that at least one piece is missing. If you put the pieces together just so, youve got the solution. If not, you have to cheat and look at the box to figure out what the hell youre doing. In this book, youre going to need the box and then some. Even the chapter titles spell out the name of the book. Its been planned and plotted that carefully. Some of Queens other books depend on puzzles as well, but none comes close to matching the sheer complexity of this book.

Why It Made the List

This is the perfect example of what used to be called a puzzle plot mystery one of those puzzles with a bazillion pieces where you're sure that at least one piece is missing. If you put the pieces together just so, you've got the solution. If not, you have to cheat and look at the box to figure out what the hell you're doing. In this book, you're going to need the box and then some. Even the chapter titles spell out the name of the book. It's been planned and plotted that carefully. Some of Queen's other books depend on puzzles as well, but none comes close to matching the sheer complexity of this book.

Read It If You Like

Intelligent amateur sleuths, puzzle plots, multiple solutions

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While many of the other books on this list deal with different methods of murder, Picoults book deals with the different type of protagonist. A young man with Aspergers syndrome, a type of high-functioning autism, Jacob Hunt likes routine and structure in his life. He also like forensics science to the point where hes made it his lifes work, studying it continuously in a manner that would make Sherlock Holmes proud. For kicks, he sets up crime scenes for his family to study and deduce what happened. Hes comfortable in the routine of visiting his counselor and playing with corpses. That goes out the window when his counselor is found dead.

The police in this book rival the Keystones. A detective asks to speak to Jacob, but forgets the basics of reading him his rights. Theyve found his thumb imprint on the some of the material at the scene of the crime and a report regarding the scene in his journal. At first it looks like this may be a part of his obsession, but Jacob freely admits that he moved the body of the counselor. However, none of it can be admitted since he hadnt been Mirandized. Jacob is still put on trial for the murder until finally someone asks him why he moved the body. Definitely worth the read, mostly to see how the justice system treats those who dont fit the label of normal.

Why It Made the List

Definitely worth the read, mostly to see how the justice system treats those who don't fit the label of "normal." It's a topic that isn't covered often in mystery fiction, so the work stands out.

Read It If You Like

books about Asperger's syndrome, unusual legal thrillers

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