48 Mystery and Thriller Recommendations by Trope

Posted by Sharon on April 6, 2020


When it comes to mysteries and thrillers, we're all guilty of loving a good trope from time to time. From "The butler did it!" to "They all did it!" or from murderous relatives to amnesiac witnesses, a great twist can sometimes spawn an entire subgenre.

Here are a handful of highly popular tropes, each featuring a classic example or two paired with their contemporary counterparts (and, in a few cases, some up-and-coming releases). So if you're stumped on your next read, try following the clues to your next favorite mystery or thriller.

Don't forget to add any titles that catch your eye to your Want to Read shelf, and be sure to tell us your favorite example of these tropes in the comments below!



The Locked Room

Characteristics of this trope: A body is found! (Usually at someone's swanky country house.) But all the windows and doors were locked. From the inside. Was it suicide? Or something more sinister? *cue dramatic music*
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Oops, We're All Trapped Here Together

Characteristics of this trope: Come visit my remote island/secluded cabin/isolated hotel! What could possibly go wrong? (Variations on this theme: Let's Take a Train Ride; Let's Go on a Cruise; Oh No, Weather Happened.)
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Help! These Kids Are Creepy!

Characteristics of this trope: It was a dream nannying job until it wasn't; children are horrifying; the kids are decidedly not all right.
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Help! I Think My Spouse Is Out to Get Me!

Characteristics of this trope: The person you married is not who you think they are; domesticity is a trap; The Husband Did It (unless he didn't...).
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Surprise! Amnesia!

Characteristics of this trope: A witness has memory loss; the protagonist has memory loss; the victim has memory loss; the detective has memory loss. Everybody has memory loss!
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The Inheritance Plot

Characteristics of this trope: Someone makes a will, everyone else loses their heads; Oh Hey, Isn't It Convenient That My Rich Relative Died So Suddenly; sibling rivalry.
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What are your favorite mystery or thriller tropes, and which books best exemplify them? Let's talk books in the comments below!
 

Comments Showing 1-50 of 58 (58 new)


message 1: by Louie (new)

Louie I love the amnesia trope, creepy kids trope, the inheritance trope, well I love every mystery trope! I'm really looking forward to a new inhertance trope book, The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.


message 2: by Marie (new)

Marie Definitely the Oops!


message 3: by Marie (new)

Marie definitely the Oops!


message 4: by Anissa (last edited Apr 06, 2020 07:47AM) (new)

Anissa "Oops! We're Trapped Here Together" is the trope that gets me every time! I never tire of it and am likely never to accept such an invitation. From anonymous invites to accepting invites with frienemies or worse... Why do they keep going?! I don't know, but I can't stop reading.

Lucy Foley's The Hunting Party was perfect & her follow up, The Guest List is all about a wedding on an island & it was fabulous.


message 5: by Katie (new)

Katie Eley "Oops! We're Trapped Here Together" is definitely my favorite. I LOVED No Exit by Taylor Adams. Hands down one of the best in this trope that I've read in a long time.


message 6: by Holli (new)

Holli I'm surprised "The Escape Room" didn't make the "Oops! We're Trapped Here Together" list but I thought it was a cool concept. Despicable people trapped in an elevator!


message 7: by Vicki (new)

Vicki "Oops!..." is it. I loved both No Exit and The Hunting Party.


message 8: by Aviva (new)

Aviva I do not understand why you chose Murder on the Orient Express as Agatha Christie's best example of Oops, We're Trapped when the pinnacle of the subgenre is so obviously And Then There Were None.


message 9: by Elise Rose (new)

Elise Rose My favorite trope is called Anything By Agatha Christie. And Then There Were None is at the very top of the list.


message 10: by Shannon (new)

Shannon Brake "The Escape Room" would be more the The Locked Room trope. After Anna could go into the Creepy Kids, and The Breakdown into one of them, but mentioning it would be a spoiler. I love this!


message 11: by Rebecca (last edited Apr 07, 2020 12:36AM) (new)

Rebecca I absolutely love the "I think my spouse is out to get me" trope! I'm quickly finding I love most mysteries, but that is my favourite one. Also, I definitely tried "We Have Always Lived in the House", and couldn't figure it out. like, sure, the kids were a bit weird, but I liked them for that, so maybe I'm a creepy kid? I was worried for them with the townspeople, but I only got maybe a chapter in. I'll have to try it again.


message 12: by Brian (new)

Brian Fitzgerald Power read "7 1/2 Deaths". Absolutely fantastic. Have so far gave it to and couple of friends who loved it as well. Highly recommend.


message 13: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn McBride I love the "We're All Trapped Here" together trope, and the best I've read so far is "In The Dark" by Loreth Anne White

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4...


message 14: by Pamela (new)

Pamela Almand Louie wrote: "I love the amnesia trope, creepy kids trope, the inheritance trope, well I love every mystery trope! I'm really looking forward to a new inhertance trope book, The Inheritance Games..."

Here's a bit of a twist on the Inheritance trope, Louie! Best-selling Amazon #1 author Joseph Badal's Natural Causes leads New Mexico detectives Barbara Lassiter and Susan Martinez to a nursing home after a resident's untimely(?) death. Purchase the audiobook and send proof of purchase to Info@TheCaptainsVoice.com for a free promo code to Borderline , Book #1 in the Lassiter/Martinez Case Files! All 3 books inspired by actual events! Natural Causes


message 15: by Ashwin (new)

Ashwin I love the oops we are trapped genre. Builds so much suspense


message 16: by Fenris (new)

Fenris I'm starting to wonder if I actually like mysteries anymore.


message 17: by Elisa (new)

Elisa I'm down for any "Oops! We're all trapped here together" and "The locked room" story that I can get. Total page-turners!


message 18: by Ms. Colbert (new)

Ms. Colbert I love this site on goodreads. Please keep it up!


message 19: by Samantha (new)

Samantha I love a stylish couple investigating mysteries together, like the Amory Ames series by Ashley Weaver and the Thin Man movie series. Or I like a detective duo who has obvious romantic chemistry, like in the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith and in In the Woods by Tana French.


message 20: by Bob (new)

Bob Colwell I was hoping for Police Procedural under "tropes". Maybe no one reads those anymore (except me!)


message 21: by Ms. Colbert (new)

Ms. Colbert https://crimereads.com/what-is-a-poli...
You'll find a great list of suggestions for police-procedural's books. Although if you are a big fan of those, you might have read many of them. Many of them are the usuals. But maybe something will catch your eye.


message 22: by Samantha (new)

Samantha I LOVE how this is written, this is great. "The kids are decidedly not alright" lollll


message 23: by Shay Lynn (new)

Shay Lynn I'm a long time Agatha Christie fan, having read and re-read every one of her mysteries over a 50 year span. And even I can't recommend "Sleeping Murder". Miss Marple and Mrs. Christie had both gotten long winded and tedious by the time this was written.


message 24: by Bob (new)

Bob Colwell Ms. Colbert wrote: "https://crimereads.com/what-is-a-poli...
You'll find a great list of suggestions for police-procedural's books. Although if you are a big fan of those, you might have read many of them. ..."


Thanks for the list!


message 25: by Karen (new)

Karen Bergman I like historic mysteries, such as Brother Cadfael, Jacqueline Winspear, Phryne Fisher, and Daisy Dalrymple books.


message 26: by Elizabeth (last edited Apr 09, 2020 09:04AM) (new)

Elizabeth I would also mention/recommend The Girl on the Train for "Help! I Think My Spouse is Out to Get Me."


message 27: by Nisanka (new)

Nisanka Aviva wrote: "I do not understand why you chose Murder on the Orient Express as Agatha Christie's best example of Oops, We're Trapped when the pinnacle of the subgenre is so obviously And Then There Were None."

I was thinking the exact same thing. That should have been at the top of the list.


message 28: by Jess (new)

Jess B. THANK YOU for making me LOL on your descriptions of the various tropes. I needed that this morning!


message 29: by Julie (new)

Julie My favorite trope isn't on here: The Troubled Detective. Can be subdivided--Troubled Past (Harry Bosch, many Tana French protagonists, Lisbeth Salander) Addition Issues (Sara Gran) Disabled Detective (Robotham's Joe O'Laughlin), Former Criminal (Steve Hamilton's Nick Mason). Lots more fit into this category, can't think of them right now.


message 30: by Ruth (new)

Ruth Watson I love the "Oops we are all trapped here together" genre. I would recommend Shari Lapena's "An Uninvited Guest"


message 31: by Louie (new)

Louie Pamela wrote: "Louie wrote: "I love the amnesia trope, creepy kids trope, the inheritance trope, well I love every mystery trope! I'm really looking forward to a new inhertance trope book, [book:The Inheritance G..."

Natural Causes sounds really intriguing! I will look more into it.


message 32: by Lynn (new)

Lynn Johnson I'm surprised more haven't picked the Locked Room trope, which is my favorite. Love the puzzle! Sherlock Holmes has to be mentioned for that one. Love Sherlock! Oops comes next on my list.


message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh yeah, I love it when the characthers start dying one by one, even though most of the time the end doesn't make any sense


message 34: by Zach (new)

Zach Julie wrote: "My favorite trope isn't on here: The Troubled Detective. Can be subdivided--Troubled Past (Harry Bosch, many Tana French protagonists, Lisbeth Salander) Addition Issues (Sara Gran) Disabled Detecti..."

The Cormoran Strike series are a good example of this too.


message 35: by Caitlin (new)

Caitlin I love this! Please keep doing trope recommendations in different genres!


message 36: by Sophie (new)

Sophie Zach wrote: "Julie wrote: "My favorite trope isn't on here: The Troubled Detective. Can be subdivided--Troubled Past (Harry Bosch, many Tana French protagonists, Lisbeth Salander) Addition Issues (Sara Gran) Di..."

Elizabeth George's tomes deserve mention here IMO.


message 37: by Stobin (new)

Stobin Shay Lynn wrote: "I'm a long time Agatha Christie fan, having read and re-read every one of her mysteries over a 50 year span. And even I can't recommend "Sleeping Murder". Miss Marple and Mrs. Christie had both got..."

totally agree. Love AC, but her last few were off.


message 38: by Valerie (new)

Valerie Mellerop Bob wrote: "I was hoping for Police Procedural under "tropes". Maybe no one reads those anymore (except me!)"

And me! It's frustrating that thrillers seem to be the genre of the moment. Thank God Audible is bringing in some old Catherine Aird books.


message 39: by Valerie (new)

Valerie Mellerop 98 percent of John Dickson Carr (or Carter Dickson) books are locked room.


message 40: by Clarissa (new)

Clarissa Julie wrote: "My favorite trope isn't on here: The Troubled Detective. Can be subdivided--Troubled Past (Harry Bosch, many Tana French protagonists, Lisbeth Salander) Addition Issues (Sara Gran) Disabled Detecti..."

Yes! (Not that I can think of any at the moment.) Harry Bosch is my favorite American. Would you count Gamache as a troubled detective? He is often under attack. He has grave qualms and tragic empathy.


Your Local Zannie 𝑂𝑜𝑝𝑠, 𝑤𝑒𝑟’𝑟𝑒 𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑡𝑟𝑎𝑝𝑝𝑒𝑑 ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑡𝑜𝑔𝑒𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟


message 42: by Noreen (new)

Noreen Aviva wrote: "I do not understand why you chose Murder on the Orient Express as Agatha Christie's best example of Oops, We're Trapped when the pinnacle of the subgenre is so obviously And Then There Were None."

Agreed!


message 43: by Stacy (new)

Stacy Tomaszewski Shay Lynn wrote: "I'm a long time Agatha Christie fan, having read and re-read every one of her mysteries over a 50 year span. And even I can't recommend "Sleeping Murder". Miss Marple and Mrs. Christie had both got..."

I love Sleeping Murder :)


message 44: by kell_xavi (new)

kell_xavi I love the idea of this list! It'd be great to see similar recommendations for other genre fiction. There are some tropes that never wear out.


message 45: by CalifCat (new)

CalifCat I adore psychological modern Gothic novels; old mansions, smart houses, creepy houses, and murder of course.


message 46: by Chris (new)

Chris Aviva wrote: "I do not understand why you chose Murder on the Orient Express as Agatha Christie's best example of Oops, We're Trapped when the pinnacle of the subgenre is so obviously And Then There Were None."

Agreed. I was thinking the same thing.


message 47: by David (new)

David Bailey The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham - now that's creepy children!


message 48: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Manoharmayum The "Oops, We're All Trapped Here Together" and the "Help! I Think My Spouse Is Out to Get Me!" are my favourite tropes.


message 49: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl Bradley Aviva wrote: "I do not understand why you chose Murder on the Orient Express as Agatha Christie's best example of Oops, We're Trapped when the pinnacle of the subgenre is so obviously And Then There Were None."
Have to agree. "Murder on the Orient Express" is a good book, but "And Then There Were None" tops my list too.


message 50: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl Bradley Valerie wrote: "Bob wrote: "I was hoping for Police Procedural under "tropes". Maybe no one reads those anymore (except me!)"

And me! It's frustrating that thrillers seem to be the genre of the moment. Thank God ..."

Yes, yes, yes! Me too! Police procedurals are are my favorite mystery/thriller reads!


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