50 Hidden Gems for the Well-Read Mystery Fan

Posted by Hayley on April 2, 2018
Goodreads Mystery & Thriller Week 2018

Mystery & Thriller Week is sponsored by Penguin Random House Audio. Enjoy the suspense on audio.

You know your high-functioning sociopaths from your "cool girls," your Poirots from your Marples. For a deductive genius like yourself, we skipped the classics and the bestsellers to help you discover a hidden gem.

To create our list, we chose books with fewer than 200,000 adds—for context, members have added Gone Girl to their Goodreads shelves more than 2 million times—and selected only ones with at least a four-star rating. Then we broke down the results into recommendations for fans of Arthur Conan Doyle, Gillian Flynn, Dan Brown, Agatha Christie, and Liane Moriarty.

As Sherlock would say to his dear Dr. Watson, "The game is afoot!" Dive into our recommendations below and add what catches your eye to your Want to Read shelf.


If you love Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet
(or historical mysteries full of wit, astounding leaps of logic, and murder)

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If you love Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl
(or twisty psychological thrillers with potentially unreliable narrators)

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If you love Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code
(or thrill rides full of riddles, baffling clues, and menacing bad guys)

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If you love Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express
(or crime fiction with quirky sleuths, dashing suspects, and dead bodies)

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If you love Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies
(or intriguing mysteries that blend scandal, humor, and drama)

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What's your favorite underrated mystery novel? Share it with us in the comments!


Comments Showing 1-50 of 179 (179 new)


message 1: by A.J. (new)

A.J. I'm shocked that The Eight by Katherine Neville isn't listed - it's the historical conspiracy thriller that The Da Vinci Code wishes it could be as good as, and by a female author to boot! (Delighted to see the oft-forgotten Sarah Caudwell on this list though!)


message 2: by Suhasini (new)

Suhasini Anything by Sidney Sheldon.


message 3: by wonderwomand (new)

wonderwomand Anything by Alexander McCall Smith. Among my favorites are mysteries by Rhys Bowen, Alexander McCall Smith and Jacqueline Winspear.

There are many many wonderful mystery books not included in this list.


message 4: by Judy (new)

Judy Agreed! Rhys Bowen is delightful and Jacqueline Winspear requires getting your head into it.


message 5: by Ginny (new)

Ginny A.J. wrote: "I'm shocked that The Eight by Katherine Neville isn't listed - it's the historical conspiracy thriller that The Da Vinci Code wishes it could be as good as, and by a fem..."

I adored The Eight! Absolutely agree with everthing you said! DaVinci Code really doesn't compare...


message 6: by Brenda (new)

Brenda If you like Sherlock Holmes, I strongly recommend the Barker and Llewelyn series by Will Thomas. The series is best read in order and starts with Some Danger Involved.


message 7: by Elaine (new)

Elaine A.J. wrote: "I'm shocked that The Eight by Katherine Neville isn't listed - it's the historical conspiracy thriller that The Da Vinci Code wishes it could be as good as, and by a fem..."

Couldn't agree more. One of my all-time favorite novels.


message 8: by Jess (new)

Jess The Borrowed is really good. I was surprised by this very well written Hong Kong based police investigation / whodunnit mystery.


message 9: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer I love Laurie R. King's Russell series. Thank you for listing the first book.


message 10: by Angelina (new)

Angelina One Corpse Too Many by Ellis Peters--it's the 2nd Brother Cadfael mystery, but it's a great place to start reading and one of her best mysteries.


message 11: by Jon (new)

Jon I would not link a Lawrence Block 'Scudder' novel with 'Murder on the Orient Express'. The Scudder series is some of the bleakest, bloodiest crime writing I've ever read. Anyone expecting a Christie-esque mystery is going to be surprised.


message 12: by Lauri (last edited Apr 03, 2018 01:12AM) (new)

Lauri Saplad One of my very favorites is The Flaming Luau of Death. It's twisty AND hilarious! I'm also a huge fan of all of Anne George's a Southern Sisters series. Unexpected and funny.


message 13: by Mkotch (new)

Mkotch I love Ann Cleeves' "Vera" series as well as Elly Griffiths' "Ruth Galloway" series - smart women and interesting plots


message 14: by Marilee (last edited Apr 03, 2018 06:09AM) (new)

Marilee Mkotch wrote: "I love Ann Cleeves' "Vera" series as well as Elly Griffiths' "Ruth Galloway" series - smart women and interesting plots"
Yes, I just discovered the Vera series with a midpoint in the series book but will be starting the first and progressing from there. I like Vera's no nonsense approach to criminal investigation and love that she's a real woman, not a honey. In a similar vein, I enjoy reading Amy Stewart's Kopp sisters series. Constance Kopp reminds me of Vera. It's not that I disdain romantic involvements in mysteries, but they're not necessary and often just muddy up a good plot. "Lady" detectives don't need a romantic interest to be complete and fully realized characters. Jane Tennyson, cheers.


message 15: by Marilee (new)

Marilee I love Ruth Downey's historical Roman detective series featuring Russo and his lady, Tilla. Medicus (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #1) by Ruth Downie Downey deftly mixes her impeccable research with a bit of humor and intrigue. I suggest reading the books in order if possible, as ongoing characters are introduced and developed in the ongoing series. I particularly enjoy the Audio recordings, read by the always excellent Simon Vance.


message 16: by John (new)

John The Bryant & May / Peculiar Crimes Unit by Christopher Fowler is my favorite mystery series by far. The Bruno, Chief of Police series by Martin Walker is great too.


message 17: by Laura (new)

Laura A.J. wrote: "I'm shocked that The Eight by Katherine Neville isn't listed - it's the historical conspiracy thriller that The Da Vinci Code wishes it could be as good as, and by a fem..."

I see I am not the only one to enthusiastically agree with you about The Eight! I may have to re-read this; it's been quite a while.


message 18: by Marguerite (new)

Marguerite Any of Barbara Hambly's Benjamin January series, start with the first one A Free Man of Color. So good.


message 19: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth I'll just leave Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier right here.


message 20: by H (new)

H Mendez A Coffin for Demetrius published in 1939 by Eric Ambler. Still an excellent thriller in 2018. The writing and pace keep your turning the pages. What happens next?


message 21: by Carol (new)

Carol The titles are the overlooked books or authors. Or overlooked titles of well known authors. Is that right?


message 22: by Ivana (new)

Ivana Richards Why isn't Dorothy L Sayers listed under Agatha Christie? Or Simon Brett?


message 23: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen A.J. wrote: "I'm shocked that The Eight by Katherine Neville isn't listed - it's the historical conspiracy thriller that The Da Vinci Code wishes it could be as good as, and by a fem..."

I completely agree. I consider it to be my favorite book ever.


message 24: by Stacy (new)

Stacy Patti wrote: "Plum Island by Nelson DeMille and where is 11/22/63 by Stephen King?"

I agree! Charm School by DeMille is a great one, also.


message 25: by Bobby (new)

Bobby "Gillespie and I" by Jane Harris!!


message 26: by Eden (new)

Eden Hagelman Murder at the Gardner

Jane Langton is a wonderful, under-read author, in my opinion.


message 27: by Janelle (new)

Janelle The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson and You by Caroline Kepnes.


message 28: by Carol (new)

Carol Preece No Elizabeth George?


message 29: by Kia (new)

Kia Carol wrote: "No Elizabeth George?"

I agree, Elizabeth George is amazing.


message 30: by Marion (new)

Marion Leigh A Carrion Death by Michael Stanley introduces Botswana's lovable Detective Kubu. I found it a most enjoyable read with plenty of local coulour.


message 31: by Jim (new)

Jim could GR maybe post a better cover for the Preston & Child book? really? the $5.99 specially priced paperback edition?
:)


message 32: by Judith (new)

Judith Rosenbaum The Rebus series by Ian Rankin is so good: great character development and plots but also a wonderful sense of place (modern Edinburgh)


message 33: by Nur (new)

Nur Reed Anything by Ann Cleeves. Vera, The Shetland Series etc. Great British mysteries.


message 34: by Kat (new)

Kat Faitour A.J. wrote: "I'm shocked that The Eight by Katherine Neville isn't listed - it's the historical conspiracy thriller that The Da Vinci Code wishes it could be as good as, and by a fem..."

That is one of the best books I have ever read. Agreed!


message 35: by David (new)

David Kross I see Steig Larsson's books made the 100 Best list but nothing by Jo Nesbo and the inimitable Harry Hole?


message 36: by Deb (new)

Deb My recent most favorites are the two Li Du novels by Elsa Hart. I’ve preordered & am eagerly awaiting the 3rd coming out later this year.


message 37: by Tom (new)

Tom Heitzman Love Ken Follett books. Read Eye of the Needle many many years ago and seeing it listed in Goodreads makes me want to read it again.


message 38: by Sophie (last edited Apr 03, 2018 07:48PM) (new)

Sophie What about M J Carter's, The Strangler Vine.....Louise Penny's, The Beautiful Mystery...Sharon Bolton's, Sacrifice...Martine Bailey's, An Appetite for Violets.
So many well crafted tales of intrigue & suspense.


message 39: by JJ (new)

JJ Patti wrote: "Plum Island by Nelson DeMille and where is 11/22/63 by Stephen King?"

I love Plum Island by DeMille. Re-read it every few years.


message 40: by Claire (new)

Claire Wisker No Maggie Hope?!


message 41: by Michael (new)

Michael Bafford I miss Craig Johnson who writes the series about sheriff Longmire in Wyoming. Good mysteries, interesting characters, great dialogue, twists, thrills, chills, sadness and lots of laughs.


message 42: by Mishanthini (new)

Mishanthini Sivasamy His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet and Stalker by Lars Kepler are both amazing books.


message 43: by Barbara (new)

Barbara I don't why these are considered "hidden" gems. Almost all are pretty well known and a number of them have been over-hyped. This is such a huge genre that it's really hard to do it justice.


message 44: by David (new)

David Hesson I agree with A. J. As well. The Eight by Neville is a wonderful read.


message 45: by CatBookMom (new)

CatBookMom Angelina wrote: "One Corpse Too Many by Ellis Peters--it's the 2nd Brother Cadfael mystery, but it's a great place to start reading and one of her best mysteries."

I agree that "One Corpse..." is the place to start, rather than A Morbid Taste for Bones. I've read and re-read this series several times, and "One Corpse..." is a much better introduction to the setting and the characters. Then you can double back to read "Morbid Taste..."


message 46: by Tony (new)

Tony Padilla It looks like “The Eight” didn’t meet the criteria of having a 4 star rating. I just looked and it was 3.92.

Doesn’t mean I’m not going to give it a look though.


message 47: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl Turoczy Hart I really wish you would provide a "printer-friendly" version of lists like this so I could save it for future use. Thank you


message 48: by Steven (new)

Steven Sterling A.J. wrote: "I'm shocked that The Eight by Katherine Neville isn't listed - it's the historical conspiracy thriller that The Da Vinci Code wishes it could be as good as, and by a fem..."

Her sequel to THE EIGHT called THE FIRE was well worthy itself!


message 49: by Dottie (new)

Dottie The series by Janet Flanders that begins with The Magpie Murders - set in a British publishing house, it's a delight.


message 50: by Travis (new)

Travis Anything written by Preston & Child is fantastic. Please, when you read "Relic", don't forget to read "Reliquary" (the next in the Special Agent Pendergast series). All of the Pendergast books have been especially satisfying for me.....To Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child: Please keep them coming for years to come.....Thanks so much!


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