Pick Your Poison with These Mystery Subgenre Suggestions

Posted by Sharon on April 5, 2021


Comforting cozies, courtroom theatrics, and cold cases that warm back up...mystery and thriller subgenres are bigger and better than ever these days!

We're celebrating the myriad paths that authors can take on the way to revealing the whodunit (or howdunit). Of course, there are hundreds of possible books to recommend for each subgenre, so we focused on recent highly rated mysteries and thrillers that are available to read right now.

Don't forget to add any titles that catch your eye to your Want to Read shelf, and be sure to share your favorite subgenre reads in the comments below!


Domestic Thrillers

Subgenre characteristics: Suddenly suspicious spouses, creepy kids, messed-up moms and dads. Sometimes that whole "till death do us part" thing gets a little nudge...
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Media Mysteries

Subgenre characteristics: True-crime podcast investigations go quite awry, documentary filmmakers sleuthing unexplained happenings get way more than they bargained for.
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Legal Thrillers

Subgenre characteristics: Procedural theatrics, unreliable witnesses, the long arm of the law, and defendants who can't handle the truth. If only studying for the bar exam were this much fun!
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Crime Procedurals

Subgenre characteristics: Professional detectives or police inspectors are on the case! Follow along as they sleuth kidnappings, serial killers, and suspicious deaths.
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Contemporary Cozies

Subgenre characteristics: Modern-day settings featuring Golden Age–style amateur detectives, quirky characters, and small towns. Mysteries with not a lot of blood but maybe a lot of knitting. And tea. Don't forget the tea.
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Cold Cases

Subgenre characteristics: New mysteries kick up all sorts of questions about old mysteries. Sleeping dogs just won't lie. After all, a sordid past is a terrible thing to waste.
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Psychological Thrillers

Subgenre characteristics: Games of cat and mouse, tension you could cut with a knife, manipulation by unknown forces. Sometimes featuring actual psychologists!
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New Noir

Subgenre characteristics: Hard-boiled detectives, dames under duress, urban settings, and unsentimental looks at crime and murder. You might hear the descriptor "gritty" applied to these stories.
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Historicals

Subgenre characteristics: Whodunits and suspenseful page-turners set in bygone days. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
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What are your favorite mystery and thriller subgenres? And which titles would you recommend to fellow fans? Let’s talk books in the comments below!
 

Comments Showing 1-50 of 91 (91 new)


message 1: by Tina (new)

Tina Cold Cases - Dead Cold Mystery series by Blake Banner


message 2: by Maya (new)

Maya McKenzie My absolute favorite subgenre is - remote, isolated house and something goes wrong...
- The Guest List & The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
- Mexican Gothic
- basically every Ruth Ware book
the list goes on


message 3: by Lady Galaxy (new)

Lady Galaxy I like cozies with a hint of the supernatural. Favorite series:

Wishcraft Mysteries by Heather Blake
Magical Bakery by Bailey Cates
Witchcraft Mysteries by Juliet Blackwell
Magical Cats Mysteries by Sofie Kelly
Magical Bookshop Mysteries by Amanda Flowers


message 4: by Christine (new)

Christine Baluk Dark, psychological thrillers. Still looking for my favourite author.


message 5: by Dannii (new)

Dannii Elle Maya wrote: "My absolute favorite subgenre is - remote, isolated house and something goes wrong...
- The Guest List & The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
- Mexican Gothic
- basically every Ruth Ware book
the list g..."


I'm definitely the same!


message 6: by Cemre (new)

Cemre Historicals...


message 7: by Lucine (last edited Apr 06, 2021 04:20AM) (new)

Lucine Thank you for the list! I like it that you added a "subgenre characteristics"-section. Summarizing the most important points sometimes is an art in itself. ;)

I enjoy Historicals and Cozies and discovered the "Her Royal Spyness"-Mysteries (Historical cozy, 1930s England) during Mystery&Thriller-Week two or three years ago.

P.S.: Your "subgenre characteristics" for Contemporary Cozies is brilliant! :D


message 8: by Erica (new)

Erica  Skrine Lady Galaxy wrote: "I like cozies with a hint of the supernatural. Favorite series:

Wishcraft Mysteries by Heather Blake
Magical Bakery by Bailey Cates
Witchcraft Mysteries by Juliet Blackwell
Magical Cats Mysteries ..."


Yassss! Me too! Have you read the Vampire Knitting Club books?


message 9: by TMR (new)

TMR Love this collection.


message 10: by Carrie (new)

Carrie Enjoy reading historicals {especially with woman protagonist} and cozies


message 11: by Anissa (last edited Apr 06, 2021 08:05AM) (new)

Anissa I don't know that I've a favourite sub-genre but give me a setting of sequestered guests with secrets & strife where the bodies start stacking up and that would be my favourite. Blame Dame Christie.

Also, I've really been enjoying Contemporary Cozies the last few years. I'm not sure what sub-genre procedurals & detective stories in science fiction settings (space stations, bases and colonies) would be but I enjoy those very much as well (big rec of Kathryn Kristine Rusch's Retrieval Artist series: The Disappeared and Christopher Brookmyre's Places in the Darkness .

Still need to toss in a recommendation for Classic Crime & Golden Age Mysteries. I've been reading my way through the British Library Crime Classics and between novels and themed anthologies, there's always something new and interesting to choose from. There's an ever-growing list of them here:

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/9...


message 12: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Maya wrote: "My absolute favorite subgenre is - remote, isolated house and something goes wrong...
- The Guest List & The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
- Mexican Gothic
- basically every Ruth Ware book
the list g..."


YES! I love those! Was lowkey hoping for a section with those.


message 13: by Zach (new)

Zach Historicals are definitely my favorite of these subgenres. I'd love any other suggestions people have!


message 14: by Sabrina (new)

Sabrina Christine wrote: "Dark, psychological thrillers. Still looking for my favourite author."

May I recommend a few books to you then...
Bloodline - Jess Lourey
What Lies Between US - John Marrs
The Good Sister - Sally Hepworth
The Only Good Indians - Steve Graham Jones
Dear Mom - Margaret Murphy
The Butterfly Garden - Dot Hutchinson


message 15: by Julie (new)

Julie Lady Galaxy wrote: "I like cozies with a hint of the supernatural. Favorite series:

Wishcraft Mysteries by Heather Blake
Magical Bakery by Bailey Cates
Witchcraft Mysteries by Juliet Blackwell
Magical Cats Mysteries ..."


Me too, that's why I love Barbara Michaels (a.k.a. Elizabeth Peters)!


message 16: by Jaylani (new)

Jaylani Adam I am more into police procedurals, legal thrillers and anything that has any crime in it besides murder.


message 17: by JoAnne (new)

JoAnne Loving all these great titles. I'm adding Magical Cats Mysteries #1 to by library queue right NOW :) thank you Lady Galaxy


message 18: by Iris (new)

Iris I enjoy Christian non-fiction, (not romance), Sweet, or funny cozy mysteries, Culinary cozy. mysteries, Some historical non-fiction. Also as an aside, if I can't read the authors name - I probably won't look to buy the book. I do appreciate that you added this comment section. Thank you!


message 19: by Mallorie (new)

Mallorie Kuhl HIGHLY recommend B. A. Paris books, especially "Behind Closed Doors". Couldn't put it down!


message 20: by Katja (new)

Katja Great list! I am only missing the techno thriller category, I got into it quite recently and would've loved some recommendations! (aside from Michael Crichton whose books, naturally, got me into this genre in the first place)


♥︎♥︎Sofia♥︎♥︎ Imma Crime Procedurals with a side of Cold Case.... I can’t wait to read Coben’s Win..Loved his character in the Coben’s Myron Bolitar series..


message 22: by Judie (new)

Judie Hughes I think I have ready almost everything Harlan Coben has written, and of them all - WIN was my favorite one.


message 23: by Candace (new)

Candace Noble My faves are international mysteries and thrillers, preferably historical.


message 24: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Kornelsen Psychological Thrillers is my fave


message 25: by Beth (new)

Beth I love archaeological thrillers like Clive Cussler!


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ Some gorgeous covers on these selections!


message 27: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay Sabrina wrote: "Christine wrote: "Dark, psychological thrillers. Still looking for my favourite author."

May I recommend a few books to you then...
Bloodline - Jess Lourey
What Lies Between US - John Marrs
Th..."


Okay so I thought I loved dark psychological thrillers, but I'm not always the best at putting books into the "correct" genre or sub genre. What is a good definition of a dark psy thriller anyone? I ask because I often find recs given to me in this genre I try, they found good, but often end up DNF or barely finishing out of boredom. And two of your recs, The only Good Indians - I DNF, I tried several times to read this, it sounded so good, but just got bored every time and finally gave up. And The Butterfly Garden I did finish, but again was bored with this as well. Obviously these are just two random examples, but because I find this to often be the case when I'm looking for recs in this genre I'm assuming it's my lack of knowledge re genres and sub genres and am hoping maybe someone might help me figure out what genre I'm actually looking for in a book... I won't bore with a long list of books I like, but anyone who might bf wiling to define the genre "dark psychological thriller" would be grateful appreciated!


message 28: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Everard Cemre wrote: "Historicals..."

I have read hardly anything but historical murder mysteries for the last ten years. Sad I know.


message 29: by Claudia (new)

Claudia Katja wrote: "Great list! I am only missing the techno thriller category, I got into it quite recently and would've loved some recommendations! (aside from Michael Crichton whose books, naturally, got me into th..."

Neal Stephenson has several very good books that fit this category. You might try Reamde and perhaps his best-known book to date, Cryptonomicon. Fair warning, though; they're both pretty long—but very worthwhile.

Charlie Stross has a pair of books that might fit the bill, and that aren't as much of a lift, as it were: Halting State and its sequel, Rule 34.


message 30: by Claire (new)

Claire Hennighan My top three are Domestic thrillers, Cozy contemporaries and Cold Case. I'm really excited to hear that there's a new Lisa Jewell novel coming out soon!


message 31: by Jess (new)

Jess My favorites are psychological thrillers and domestic thrillers! I'm a big fan of authors like Lisa Jewell, B.A. Paris, K.L. Slater, Shalini Boland, Megan Miranda, and Lucy Foley (among many more).


Camille24 (camilleisreading) Lady Galaxy wrote: "I like cozies with a hint of the supernatural. Favorite series:

Wishcraft Mysteries by Heather Blake
Magical Bakery by Bailey Cates
Witchcraft Mysteries by Juliet Blackwell
Magical Cats Mysteries ..."


These sound adorable!! <3 Adding to TBR


message 33: by Zach (new)

Zach Jennifer wrote: "Cemre wrote: "Historicals..."

I have read hardly anything but historical murder mysteries for the last ten years. Sad I know."


Any good ones you'd recommend?


message 34: by Katja (new)

Katja Claudia wrote: " ..."

Thank you for the recommendations, I'll check them out!


message 35: by Cemre (new)

Cemre Jennifer wrote: "Cemre wrote: "Historicals..."

I have read hardly anything but historical murder mysteries for the last ten years. Sad I know."


I haven't read mystery until last year. I used to think that they were so cheezy. But now i love historical mystery novels. I think it's all about the author.


message 36: by Cemre (last edited Apr 08, 2021 01:25AM) (new)

Cemre Zach wrote: "Jennifer wrote: "Cemre wrote: "Historicals..."

I have read hardly anything but historical murder mysteries for the last ten years. Sad I know."

Any good ones you'd recommend?"


I don't know if it is included in the historical subgenre, but I can recommend you Ahmet Ümit's books (Turkish writer). I think his books were published in english too.

To Kill a Sultan
Patasana
A Memento for Istanbul
The Flock
Ninatta's Bracelet


message 37: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Daniels I love a gripping supernatural, offbeat thriller like The Man with the Ivory Ear by D.S. McDonough.


message 38: by Chrissi (new)

Chrissi I'm all about those media mysteries!

I loved Sadie, The Remaking, and Are You Sleeping, and also enjoyed Night Film too.

I'm currently reading I Know You Know and really enjoying it so far!


message 39: by Kristin (new)

Kristin I love cozy mysteries. They are, by far, my favorite genre. I love VM Burns but also Heather Blake, Libby Klein, Krista Davis, Sherry Harris, Ellen Byron, Eva Gates, Lucy Burdette and lots others.


message 40: by Susy (new)

Susy Lady Galaxy wrote: "I like cozies with a hint of the supernatural. Favorite series:

Wishcraft Mysteries by Heather Blake
Magical Bakery by Bailey Cates
Witchcraft Mysteries by Juliet Blackwell
Magical Cats Mysteries ..."

I really like all of these series as well.


Rev. Diana L. Beach I am on a jag about mysteries set in India, often historical. I like Vaseem Khan's Baby Ganesh series and others, Abir Mukherjee's Wyndham and Bannerjee series set in Calcutta, Murder in Old Bombay by Nev March, The Widows of Malabar Hill and others about a Parsee woman lawyer set in Bombay. I would welcome other suggestions.


message 42: by Jill (new)

Jill Blouch If you like psychological mysteries, you should try Minette Walters, she's an oldie, but a goodie! I especially enjoyed:

The Ice House
The Scold's Bridle
The Sculptress


message 43: by Jamie (new)

Jamie "I like cozies with a hint of the supernatural."

All of Heather Blake / Webber's series are excellent for fans of cozies.

Victoria Laurie's Psychic Private Eye series

Jenn McKinlay - Anything and everything, I will read anything she publishes. Sorry, not sorry =D


message 44: by Linda (new)

Linda Scott A Private Cathedral - James Lee Burke has a supernatural flavor


message 45: by Carol (new)

Carol Stahl To Msg 42, Jill: Did you know that The Ice House was made into a movie with a minor character named Daniel Craig in it? To Msg 43, Jamie: you might also enjoy Madelaine Alt's Bewitching series w/ Maggie O'Neill, a reluctant-to-discover-she's-a-witch witch.


message 46: by Julie (new)

Julie Jess wrote: "My favorites are psychological thrillers and domestic thrillers! I'm a big fan of authors like Lisa Jewell, B.A. Paris, K.L. Slater, Shalini Boland, Megan Miranda, and Lucy Foley (among many more)."


message 47: by Janeen (new)

Janeen I'm disappointed to never see John Sandford listed among your mysteries. His "Prey" series (and Virgil Flowers spin-off series) are among the best cop-led murder mysteries around. Equal parts detection and funny, police banter make his books my absolute favorites.


message 48: by Alex (new)

Alex For a great historical mystery set in penal-colony, 19th-century Australia, check out Andrei Baltakmens' wonderful A Hangman for Ghosts. I may be biased, as I am his editor. (Also highly recommend his first historical mystery, The Raven's Seal.)


message 49: by Eric (new)

Eric Avera Anissa wrote: "I'm not sure what sub-genre procedurals & detective stories in science fiction settings (space stations, bases and colonies) would be but I enjoy those very much as well (big rec of Kathryn Kristine Rusch's Retrieval Artist series: The Disappeared and Christopher Brookmyre's Places in the Darkness ."

I have almost finished reading the second book in Ben H. Winters Last Policeman Trilogy: The Last Policeman, Countdown City, World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters, and both volumes so far have been page-turners: more of a mashup of dystopian fiction with crime procedural, but still "science fiction" because the impending apocalypse is due to an asteroid hurtling toward Earth. Winters does a great job of imagining what the disintegration of society might look like without turning it into a complete downer (sorry Cormac McCarthy, but that's what The Road was for me).

I would like to know of any other solid detective novels leaning toward sci fi. There are plenty of sci fi novels with detective elements -- Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (yes!) and Altered Carbon (no!) being two prominent ones. But I'd love to get some mystery recommendations with a little bit of a sci-fi twist.


message 50: by Fran (new)

Fran Nordic noir - the cold, the ice, the frozen. LOVE these books


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