'CORE' Best Lists
- Top 25 Best Mystery Books
- The Top 100 Mystery Books
- Best Mystery Audiobooks
- Best Mystery Books of 2016
- Best Mystery Books of 2015
- Best Mystery Series
- Best Mystery Stand Alones
- Best Modern Mystery Books
- Best Indie Mystery Books
- Best Classic Mystery Books
- Underrated Mystery Books
'ERA' Best Lists
'GENRE' Best Lists
- Best Legal Mystery Books
- Best Police Procedural Books
- Best Mystery Thriller Books
- Best Mystery Suspense Books
- Best Whodunit Mystery Books
- Best True Crime Books
- Best Mystery Thriller Books
- Best Amateur Detective Books
- Best Private Investigator Books
- Best Hard Boiled Mystery Books
- Best Literary Mystery Books
- Best Cozy Mystery Books
- Best Supernatural Mystery Books
- Best Historical Mystery Books
- Best Fantasy Mystery Books
- Best Science Fiction Mystery Books
- Best Romantic Mystery Books
'AUDIENCE' Best Lists
- Best Mystery Books for Women
- Best Mystery Books by Female Authors
- Best Young Adult Mystery Books
- Best Mystery Books for Children
'FILM' Best Lists
'COMICS' Best Lists
Its hard to believe that this iconic film was actually produced two times before they got it right. This is the version of the Dashiell Hammett novel that everyone remembers. For the ten people who havent seen it, the story is that of various groups of people all searching and double crossing each other in search of the jewel-encrusted bird called the Maltese Falcon. Bogart, as detective Sam Spade, has to sort out the characters and learn who shot his partner. The Cast Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet Why It Made the List The film is perhaps one of the best known examples of detective fiction films around, and the film is on top of many lists of the best film ever. Some viewers want to call it noir, but the film with its moral code and its ending really dont qualify it for that category. Not only is Bogart in top form, each of the minor characters was meticulously cast so that the viewer can only think of that actor in that role. Watch It If You Like'private eyes, classic movies, black and white movies, San Francisco settings
Laura is an intriguing film. The story is somewhat simple. Laura Hunt is the apparent victim of murder. She was greeted at the doorway of her apartment by someone with a shotgun. The killer shot Laura in the face. The policeman in charge begins an investigation, which includes her fianc, who appears to be carrying on with Lauras aunt. Lauras mentor is overly possessive, even though hes only considered a friend. As a result, while Laura is considered a high powered executive, she appears to be trapped in by those who surround her. As the policeman reads her papers and her journal, he begins to fall in love with the dead woman. The Cast Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews and Clifton Webb along with Vincent Price and Judith Anderson.
Why It Made the List AFI made it one of the 10 best mystery films of all time. The book has experienced a resurgence as well; it appeared in the Library of America collection of women suspense authors. The book was a play before it was directed by Otto Preminger. Laura was nominated for five Oscars. Watch It If You Like' domestic suspense, police procedurals
This post-war noir masterpiece was based on a book by Dorothy B. Hughes. Dix Steele, the man with the insanely macho name, has to try to fit into the world he left behind after fighting in World War II. Along with his friends, hes looking for his place in that new society. When women start dying at the hand of a serial killer, the police and Dixs friends start to wonder if he is responsible, searching for excitement and living out the blood lust brought on by the war. Dix finds another tenant in the building, who might be a match for him, but shes scared of him as well as attracted to him. The Cast Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy Why It Made the List The movie caught the angst and despair of the men who were coming back from war, men who had fought and killed, to try to adjust to the post-war world where women worked. They were expected to go back to the 9-to-5 world and had no idea of how to do that.
Watch It If You Like'noir, post-war dramas, serial killers
Christies iconic novel of 10 travelers who are stranded on an island with a serial killer has been made into films more than one time. Historically, the films have played for laughs, but the 2015 version of the film is far from funny. The extra time allowed by the miniseries allows the reader to see into the secrets of each of the travelers as they are picked off one-by-one. Additionally, this is the only version that uses the ending that Christie wrote for the book. The stage play and previous films used a sunnier ending than the book. Definitely worth finding and viewing. The Cast Aiden Turner, Maeve Dermody, Charles Dance, Toby Stephens, Miranda Richardson Why It Made the List This mini-series catches the suspense and dread that fill the book. The novel can use the various perspectives of the intended victims and lets the reader see into their secrets and their guilt. For those who think that all Christie mysteries are light and fluffy, be sure to read this one.
Watch It If You Like'serial killer, secluded settings, justice being served
Poor Dickie Greenleaf is sent to Europe by Ripleys father to babysit his wild, profligate son. Greenleaf feels an attraction for both the man and his money that culminates in Dickie taking over Ripleys life bit by bit. The plot becomes a caper of such as Greenleaf as Ripley must hide from anyone who knew the two men together. He has to lie, manipulate and hide to keep the dual identities going. The Cast Matt Damon, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Philip Seymour Hoffman Why It Made the List The Ripley series of books and the films that have been made from them have always been polarizing. At one awards ceremony, a judge left the proceedings rather than vote for Highsmith. Making a film that is true to the dark nature of the book came with a certain amount of risk, especially for an actor like Matt Damon, who usually plays the good guys.
Watch It If You Like'assumed identities, serial killers, cat and mouse thrillers
A year after Sheila is killed by a hit and run driver, all of her friends are invited to spend a week on the yacht of the widower, Clinton. While sailing, they are invited to play a mystery game with clues being provided in each port of call. The clues lead to the person of the day along with secrets about that person. Soon the friends begin to suspect that this game as the ultimate goal of unmasking the person who killed Sheila; however, before they can uncover the truth about Sheila, there are more murders. The Cast Richard Benjamin, Dyan Cannon, James Coburn, Joan Hackett, James Mason, Ian McShane, Raquel Welch Why It Made the List Many of the films that are on this list have been made from books, but every once in a while, theres a movie that came straight to the screen without being a novel first. The Last of Sheila, with its tantalizing clues and dark secrets, is one such film. Given that it was the work of Steven Sondheim best known for his musicals, its not surprising that the work is full of twists and turns that youll never see coming.
Watch It If You Like'Crimes in the past, mystery games, small cast of suspects
The story features Nick Charles, a retired private eye, and his lovely wife Nora, who is rich enough so that neither of them have to work. However, Nora is intrigued by the disappearance of a mutual acquaintance and she pushes her husband to look into the matter. The book is peppered with New York sites and enough alcohol to pickle a liver. The characters were loosely based on the author, Dashiell Hammett and his partner Lillian Hellman. The book was the last of Hammetts mystery novels. While it wasnt the most hardboiled of the lot, The Thin Man is probably the most memorable. The Cast William Powell, Myrna Loy, Maureen OSullivan, Cesar Romero Why It Made the List The fantastic reception to this movie led to a number of sequels featuring Nick and Nora. The couple appealed to the country and their antics led a number of sleuthing couples in the coming years. The format was so popular that it became the template for nearly all of the 1930s Hollywood features.
Watch It If You Like' Some liquor with your deductions, witty banter, hardboiled detectives
Philo Vance is a New York bon vivant, who knows everything about everything. Hes brought into a case where the victim is a dog breeder. The man is found brutally murdered in a locked room, no way in or out. The mans Scottish terrier is injured and the dog becomes both clue and protagonist of the film. The police are baffled by the crime and of course, its up to Vance, who knows all about the pedigree of Scottie dogs along with the art of ancient Chinese pottery to solve the crime. The Cast William Powell, Mary Astor, Eugene Pallette, Ralph Morgan
Why It Made the List In the late 1920s, and the early 1930s, the Philo Vance films provided a template for how to make Hollywood films. They had to feature an aesthetic know-it-all who throws out arcane facts that could have only been found in the encyclopedia. The films created a flood of smart detectives who would be the stars of the B-movies until Nick and Nora Charles came along (see above.) Vance was wildly popular in the 1920s and was responsible for the American intelligent detective movement.
Watch It If You Like' Old movies, intelligent detectives, New York City as a setting, Scottish terriers
A potential client, Evelyn Mulwray, comes to visit Jake GIttes at his private eye office. She suspects her husband of infidelity and wants GIttes to follow him; he quickly takes snapshots of the subject with a much younger woman. It seems like a routine case to Gittes until the real Mrs. Mulwray comes to his office and informs Gittes that shes going to sue him. Gittes decides to look into the matter further; however, Mulwray is found drowned in the local fresh water reservoir. Gittes is fascinated by the fact that water is released every night but the ground around the dam is arid. Gittes is confronted by goons and in one of the goriest scenes on the list is persuaded to stop investigating. The Cast Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, John Hillerman, Diane Ladd
Why It Made the List The film was nominated for 11 Oscars and won one. Chinatown is often mentioned as one of the best films of all time. It remains one of the best, more recent examples of noir films.
Watch It If You Like' historical settings, Los Angeles as a setting, private eye mysteries
Based on a work by Robert Bloch, the story is well-known so theres no worries about spoiling this story. Norman Bates runs a seedy motel off the highway. Marian Crane has stolen a clients money and is now on the way to live with her boyfriend. She never makes it there. Then private eyes and concerned family members try to trace her path. The discussions point to Mrs. Bates who is terribly possessive of her son. The story only becomes more deadly and more frightening as it goes on. The final revelations were so shocking that Hitchcock told cinemas not to let anyone in after the film had started. The Cast Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam
Why It Made the List This is the film that convinced young women not to shower for a decade. The scenes of terror were so scary and unexpected that they took the audience by surprise. The recent television series has meticulously built up the backstory of the young man and his mother, adding terror in the knowledge of ending of this story. Watch It If You Like' Thrillers, serial killers, repressed killers
The movie made the most of the serial killer genre that has been spawned in the last two decades. In this case, the characters matched the actors perfectly. Clarisse Starling must meet with and coerce the infamous serial killer Hannibal Lecter to give her information on an ongoing serial killers crimes. He wants to get into her mind and mess with her sanity. The case is a mental chess game played by two worthy opponents. Lecter is secretly communicating with the serial killer, a fan letter relationship, so to speak. As Starling gets closer to the killer, Lecters work begins to play with her mind. The Cast Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn.
Why It Made the List The film was a blockbuster hit, and generating an entire industry of suave serial killer films. The lines in the movies are still quoted by film buff. As mentioned the cast was terrific and matched the mental images many readers had of the books. Sequels, prequels and TV series have been made from this book/film.
Watch It If You Like'serial killers, psycho thriller, strong female leads
The film was based on the best-seller of the same name and the screenplay was written by the books author, Gillian Flynn. The story remained true to the book. Husband Nick comes home on their anniversary to find his wife Amy is gone. Suspicions begin to fall on Nick as the police search the house and find several clues, including signs of a struggle, that have been poorly disguised. He doesnt show the proper emotions for a worried spouse. The viewer gets to see scenes from the marriage before Amys disappearance and its clear that both spouses had lost the passion for the union and were phoning it in. The noose seems to be tightening around Nicks neck even though he proclaims his innocence. The Cast Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry
Why It Made the List The film was at the top of the box-office for two weeks running. Pikes performance was often said to be one of her best performances. In total, the film was nominated for 95 awards and won 29 of those awards. Pike was nominated for Best Actress by the Oscars.
Watch It If You Like'unreliable narrators, dissolving marriages, disappearance stories
After Mikael Blomkist loses a libel case, a billionaire, through his investigator and hacker, offers Blomkist a new role. He wants the journalist to investigate the disapperanace of his grandniece decades before. Blomkist is joined in the investigation by the hacker, who has used her own methods to release her money from a guardian. Together they start to determine the people who had motives to kill the grandniece. The billionaires family is rife with sexual and physical abuse. These revelations lead to the pair putting their own lives in jeopardy. The Cast Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Robin Wright, Joely Richardson
Why It Made the List This is actually the second film made from the book. The first was the Swedish-language version which appeared in 2009. The film was nominated for five Oscars and won for Best Film Editing. The soundtrack won an Emmy. While the director wanted to do the other two books in the trilogy, the projects petered out as actors schedules became an issue. No word has ever come on dates for the sequels.
Watch It If You Like' dark mysteries, noir, disappearances
Twelve passengers and Hercule Poirot are trapped on board the Orient Express on the way back to France. A man is killed on the train, which is also trapped by a blizzard. The victim is a well-known blackguard, so motives abound. That means one of the passengers is a killer, and Poirot is asked as a friend of the director to solve the mysterious case. The clues seem to point everywhere at once, and it takes all of Hercule Poirots deductive reasoning to solve the crime. The Cast Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Martin Balsam, Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Richard Widmark
Why It Made the List After watching the Christie movies devolve into farce during the 1960s (Tony Randall as Poirot! Horrors!), the Christie franchise got a much needed shot in the arm. The cast was star-studded, every role played by a consummate professional who apparently relished the role. The movie was sumptuous and made with a lavish budget.
Watch It If You Like' secluded murders, great detective.
Philip Marlowe, the detective of Raymond Chandler, is first shown in this movie, which was also Chandlers first book. The case is easy. An aging general with two daughters wants to find out about the younger daughters gambling debts. However, the family thinks that the case is just a ruse, so that the general can get Marlow to look into the disappearance of a friend of the older daughter. Marlowe gets drawn into a number of ugly rackets in Los Angeles as he starts his investigation. The stakes grow higher with murders, blackmail and gang activity all getting in the way of the solution of the case. The Cast Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Martha Vickers, Dorothy Malone, Charles Waldron
Why It Made the List The screenplay was written by William Faulkner, one of the leading American authors of the 20th century, and Leigh Brackett, a well-known and phenomenal script writer. Add to that, the burgeoning relationship of Bogart and Bacall who had met during To Have and Have Not, and you get one of the best films of 1946. The film was reshot to add more of the famous couple, which means that the plot can be difficult to follow. However, audiences did not care.
Watch It If You Like' private eyes, Los Angeles as a setting.
A serial murderer, the killer of young girls, haunts Berlin. The movie opens with his latest victim, a young girl and the viewer is taunted as her toys lay quiet after she is gone. The police promise a quick resolution to the case. They begin to scour every corner of the city to find the murderer. Their persistence leads the criminal master minds of the city to complain about the presence of the police in all their dealings. They decide to take the matter into their own hands. The murderers habit of whistling will become his downfall. The Cast Peter Lorre, Otto Wernicke, Gustaf Grundgens
Why It Made the List The movie is the oldest on the list, which makes it unique. Additionally, the movie has been restored and remastered on more than one occasion, so multiple versions of the film exist. The director, Fritz Lange, called the movie his favorite project. The movie was also remade in English and French (from the original German.) Its considered one of the first serial killer movies (disregarding Jack the Ripper films)
Watch It If You Like' serial killers, foreign films, black and white classics
Toons live in Toontown and act out the cartoons that the viewers saw on TV and at the movies. RK Maroon wants to hire Eddie Valiant, a private eye, to find out whats going on with his star Roger Rabbit. Valiant is an odd choice to solve the case, since his private eye operation has not been going well since the death of his brother at the hands of a toon. Valiant soon finds that Jessica Rabbit, Rogers wife, has been seeing the head of the Acme Company. When the lothario is murdered by a safe dropped on his head, the guilt points to Roger. The Cast Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Charles Fleischer Joanna Cassidy, Kathleen Turner.
Why It Made the List The film topped its box office the weekend it was released and made over $156 million in total. It was nominated for three Oscars and won all three awards. The film was mired in controversy with its innuendo and sexual references. Theres even a suggested nude shot of Jessica Rabbit. Despite its success, a sequel was never made.
Watch It If You Like' cartoons, private eyes with a past, comedy in the mystery
One of the sillier entries on this list, Clue is a murder mystery based on the Parker Brothers board game of the same name. In this whodunit, each of the characters is given a backstory as to why they might have killed the victim. They all live in DC and they are all the victims of blackmail. As the plot unfolds, the links between each of the characters is exposed, making it nearly impossible to keep track of the relationships and the clues. And of course, since it is the board game the rooms and the weapons are all on display. The movie is a comedic wonder with all of the characters having a chance to have killed Mr. Boddy, the hapless corpse. The Cast Madeline Kahn, Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, Lesley Ann Warren, Eileen Brennan
Why It Made the List The movie is pure fun. The cast of comedians all play their roles with gusto, and the final scenes were multiple solutions are proposed, explained, and shown to the audience is one long laugh. The movie showed other board games how they should be filmed. The end of the movie shown the games playing cards with the actors featured in the characters card.
Watch It If You Like' Humorous mysteries, board games made into movies
Two men are on a train together. Theyve just met for the first time, and one of the men, after conversation, suggests that they kill the others problem person. Guy will kill Brunos father and Bruno will kill Guys wife who wont give him a divorce. Guy thinks nothing of the conversation, until Bruno shows up to say that hes done the deed. Brunos emotional instability begins to show through at this point. Now hes waiting for Guy to return the favor, and the tension mounts as he stalks the other man. The Cast Farley Granger, Ruth Roman, Robert Walker, Leo G. Carroll, Patricia Hitchcock
Why It Made the List This was Patricia Highsmiths first novel, and it was quickly picked up by Alfred Hitchcock for filming. The result was one of the best of the Hitchcock films with memorable scenes throughout, like the reflection of the crime in a pair of eyeglasses and the two pairs of shoes walking towards each other at the train station. The cast included Hitchcocks own daughter and did well at the box office. The concept has been used in a variety of forms since including Throw Momma from the Train and an episode of Law & Order.
Watch It If You Like' dark suspense, divorce, tennis, Hitchcock films
Well, there needed to be one Jack the Ripper story in the list of course. Everyone has a favorite theory on who Jack the Ripper was and why he committed his heinous acts. From Hell is a hodge-podge of Ripper theories from the past century. Johnny Depp plays Inspector Abberline who has to get to the bottom of the series of gruesome murders during the Victorian era. Abberline deduces that someone is stalking and killing Whitechapel prostitutes. He meets and falls in love with Mary Kelly, who in real life is the last confirmed Ripper victim. The plot becomes clear that it involves the Freemasons and the upper levels of the royal family. The entire thing comes to a head when the Ripper tries to kill Mary Kelly and Abberline uncovers the truth about the killings. The Cast Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Ian Holm, Robbie Coltrane, Ian Richardson
Why It Made the List The film was adapted from a graphic novel by the same name, though Depp was not the same type of character as portrayed in the graphic novel. The film hit the #1 at the box office in 2001 when it was released.
Watch It If You Like' Jack the Ripper, Victorian London, the royal family, conspiracy theories
One of only two hilarious murder mysteries on the list, Clue parodied the deductive processes. Murder by Death satirized the great detectives. The movie begins with the appearance of five great detectives (Dick and Dora Charleston, Milo Perrier, Sam Diamond, Jessica Marbles, and Sidney Wang) They are all there to solve the murder of Lionel Twain, who is killed their first night together. The detectives play their parts with relish and the deductions and affectations fly. Its a wonderful ensemble cast who plays their roles to the hilt. The Cast Eileen Brennan, Truman Capote, James Coco, Peter Falk, Alec Guiness, Elsa Lanchester, David Niven, Peter Sellers, Maggie Smith.
Why It Made the List Its a rare performance of author Truman Capote. The film was presented at the Venice International Film Festival in 1976. The fun of the movie is for the detective fan to determine who each of the characters represent and catch the inside jokes they make about their fictional counterparts.
Watch It If You Like' humor with your mystery, great detectives, ensemble cast.
In the early 1990s, Who Killed Laura Palmer became the question of the year. Twin Peaks was an instant hit with film director David Lynch involved with the project. However, the series only lasted one season and the ending felt rushed. So a film was made to answer questions and tie up loose ends. Since it was David Lynch, the film actually became a sequel and prequel simultaneously. Most of the original cast returned for the movie, but the two lead women chose not to participate. Fans had hoped for a continuation of the show, but the film has a very different feel to it. The Cast Sheryl Lee, Moira Kelly, David Bowie, Chris Isaak, Harry Dean Stanton, Ray Wise, Kyle MacLachlan, Miguel Ferrer.
Why It Made the List The film was actually booed and mocked when it was released in time for the Cannes Film Festival, feeling that a TV prequel/sequel wasnt worth of recognition. However, over the years, the attitude towards the film has changed, making it a top 25 pick for best mystery.
Watch It If You Like' David Lynch, convoluted plots, twists and turns
While Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson have graced the TV for decades, there are only a handful of Holmes movies. This rendition of Holmes by one of the favorite actors to play him, Basil Rathbone, features Nigel Bruce as the hapless Watson. In this story, Holmes is called into a case where women are murdered and their fingers are chopped off. Everyone thinks that the killer is crazy, but Holmes starts to see a more sinister plan. Of course, since Moriarty is in the list of characters, it is soon very obvious that hes behind the crimes, but Holmes has to deduce why fingers would be cut off of women. The Cast Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Hillary Brooke, Henry Daniell.
Why It Made the List The storyline is very loosely based on The Final Problem and The Adventure of the Empty House, two of the most exciting and dramatic stories with their focus on the evil genius Moriarty. This was the 11th of the 14 Holmes films starring Rathbone and one of the best. Its also one of the few movies on this list that is available on Youtube.
Watch It If You Like' short films, Sherlock Holmes, Victorian London
This murder mystery is about as British as it can be. The story takes place at an English country home, where the guests are gathered for a hunting weekend. However, small game will not be the only thing hunted that weekend. The owner of the house, Sir William, seems to have an impact on most of his guests through his business, and its no surprise that hes nearly struck by a gunshot during the hunting. Later that same evening, he is stabbed by an unknown person. The film meticulously shows the social classes with detailed scenes of the house staff and others who work for Sir William at the house. The Cast Alan Bates, Charles Dance, Stephen Fry, Michael Gambon, Derek Jacobi, Helen Mirren, Jeremy Northam, Clive Owen, Ryan Phillipe, Maggie Smith, Kristin Scott Thomas.
Why It Made the List Robert Altman was the director, which means that the show will be interesting and character driven. The film was nominated for seven Oscars, and originally Downton Abbey was proposed to be a spin-off of Godford Park.
Watch It If You Like' historical films, murder at a country house, servants shown in the caste system
Our Version of the List
At a Glance
- 1 The Maltese Falcon (John Huston)
- 2 Laura (Otto Preminger)
- 3 In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray)
- 4 And Then There Were None (Agatha Christie)
- 5 The Talented Mr. Ripley (Anthony Minghella)
- 6 Last Writes (Herbert Ross)
- 7 The Thin Man (W.S. Van Dyke)
- 8 The Kennel Murder Case: A Philo Vance Mystery...
- 9 Chinatown (Roman Polanski)
- 10 Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock)
- 11 The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme)
- 12 Gone Girl (David Fincher)
- 13 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Finch...
- 14 Murder on the Orient Express (Sidney Lumet)
- 15 The Big Sleep (Howard Hawks)
- 16 M (Fritz Lang)
- 17 Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (Robert Zemeckis)
- 18 The Clue (Jonathan Lynn)
- 19 DOA (Cory Yuen)
- 20 Strangers on a Train (Alfred Hitchcock)
- 21 From Hell (Albert Hughes)
- 22 Murder by Death (Robert Moore)
- 23 Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (David Lynch)
- 24 The Woman in Green (Roy William Neill)
- 25 Gosford Park (Robert Altman)
Publicly Ranked Version of the List0 items >>