For someone who almost exclusively watches procedural crime shows, you’d think I’d read a lot more mystery books! As it turns out, when I started looking back at my shelves to put together this post for the Monthly Recommendations Goodreads group (which you can check out here), I realized that I haven’t read that many mystery books, or at least, not that many I’d particularly recommend.
I actually do really like a good mystery and was obsessed with Nancy Drew growing up, but it’s not a genre that I gravitate towards very often these days. So my recommendations list this month is embarrassingly short. BUT, to make it up to you, I’m going to list some mystery books on my TBR that I’m looking forward to that you might enjoy as well.
Books I’ve Read
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
One of my favorite mystery books is The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. This book follows Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, who has been called in to consult on a cypher that was left near the body of a curator who was murdered at the Louvre. He soon gets sucked into solving a series of clues left behind by Leonardo Da Vinci, who was a member of a secret society, in an adventure that takes Langdon both across Europe and back in time.
My husband insists that Angels and Demons is better, and I know he’s not alone in that opinion, but I always preferred The Da Vinci Code. I really liked the story of the Knights Templar and all of the art and history that was woven into The Da Vinci Code. Plus it was a lot less gruesome than Angels and Demons, from what I can recall. I will admit, though, that I might be biased because I first read The Da Vinci Code in a collector’s edition format that included pictures of a lot of the art that was referenced in the book, which made for a great reading experience and pretty much guaranteed that Angels and Demons could never live up to The Da Vinci Code for me. Regardless, I really like all of Dan Brown’s books, so I don’t think you can go wrong with any of them. And I’m so excited about the latest Robert Langdon novel, Origin!
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
In Gone Girl, Amy Dunne disappears on her fifth wedding anniversary. All signs, including Amy’s diary, seem to point to her husband Nick as the culprit, but Nick knows he isn’t responsible. So what happened to Amy?
I honestly couldn’t tell you anymore why I originally picked up Gone Girl, because the blurb really doesn’t sound like something I would normally like and it hadn’t yet been adapted into a movie and become the pop culture icon it is today. I’m also kind of surprised I made it to the twist…but I’m so glad I did. I had no idea what was coming, and it was shocking and horrifying and oh so fascinating. I know a lot of people have since been spoiled on the major plot twist, but even still, I think you’ll really enjoy watching the story unfold. And if you haven’t, you’re in for a real treat. Just trust me when I say that even if this book isn’t something you think you’ll enjoy, you should really give it a shot.
Books on My TBR
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
I’ve been wanting to read an Agatha Christie novel for years and somehow still haven’t gotten around to it. I finally picked up a copy of And Then There Were None from Book Outlet, but I still haven’t actually read it yet. Soon, though! The story follows ten people who are summoned as weekend guests on a private island. But as the weekend progresses, the guests are murdered one by one. “Before the weekend is out, there will be none,” according to the blurb.
Christie is the queen of mystery, and I suspect for good reason. I’m very excited to read this book. I’m also hoping to read Murder on the Orient Express sooner rather than later. It’s one of her other classics, and the trailer for the upcoming film adaptation is very impressive!
Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
Magpie Murders is a mystery within a mystery. Susan Ryland is an editor for the well-known mystery writer Alan Conway. His latest story involves a murder at a local manor house, and while there are the expected dead bodies and interesting suspects, the more Susan reads, the more she’s convinced there’s a real-life store of ambition, greed, and murder hidden within the novel.
I know Anthony Horowitz better for his Alex Ride series, which I loved when I was in high school. But I’ve been hearing really good things about this book and it sounds fascinating, so I’m excited to read it.
The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
The Cuckoo’s Calling, written with a pen name by J.K. Rowling, follows Detective Cormoran Strike as he investigates a supermodel’s suicide. But everything changes when a man walks into his office with suspicions about the death of his sister, who was also a supermodel before she famously plunged to her death months earlier in what the police ruled to be a suicide. “You may think you know detectives, but you’ve never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you’ve never seen them under an investigation like this,” the blurb promises.
I was a bit turned off by J.K. Rowling’s adult fiction with The Casual Vacancy, which I wasn’t enjoying and eventually put down. To be fair, I probably wasn’t in the right mindset for it and should probably give it another chance, but I still haven’t read any of her post-Harry Potter work. I recently saw one of the trailers for the TV series, though, and thought it sounded really interesting, so I’d like to read this series.
Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen
Her Royal Spyness follows the story of Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, 34th in line for the throne. Flat broke and desperate to escape an unwanted engagement, Georgiana flees her family’s home in Scotland for London, where she finds herself falling for an unsuitable Irish lord, working as a housemaid to support herself, and roped into spying on the playboy prince by the Queen. But when a Frenchman threatening to destroy her family turns up dead in her bathtub, Georgiana must solve his murder in order to clear her family’s name. If you enjoy the first book, there are 10 more books in the series following the exploits of Georgiana.
I read Her Royal Spyness and enjoyed it, but didn’t love it, which is why this isn’t in the “Books I’ve Read Section.” Normally I might not continue this series since it’s not a genre I generally gravitate towards (high praise, I know), but I read it because my sister recommends it and we tend to have similar reading tastes. She’s obsessed with this series, so I’m willing to give it a few more novels before I make up my mind about it. If you’re looking for a cozy mystery, I think this series is a good place to start.
Thoughts on Sherlock Holmes
How can you write about mystery recommendations and not mention Sherlock Holmes? The BBC adaptation of Sherlock might be one of my favorite TV shows ever, and if you haven’t watched it yet, YOU NEED TO!! Seriously, it’s amazing, and while I wish they came out with new seasons all the time, I’m hoping they continue to release them here and there for years to come.
The BBC show is what convinced me to pick up Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original works. I actually thought the first full novel, A Study in Scarlet, was just ok, so I never continued reading about Sherlock Holmes’ exploits. My understanding now, though, is that the short stories are really the way to go. So maybe one of these days I’ll give them another shot.
Even though I didn’t care for what I read of the original stories, I still really enjoy retellings and adaptions of Sherlock Holmes. Two in particular that I’m excited to read are A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro and A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas.
A Study in Charlotte is a contemporary YA adaption in which Sherlock Holmes and James Watson are real and their descendants, Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes, are caught up in solving the murder of a student at their prep school.
A Study in Scarlet Women is a historical adult adaption in which Sherlock Holmes is actually a woman named Charlotte Holmes. When London is struck by a trio of deaths and her father and sister become the prime suspects, Charlotte must work to clear their names under the guise of Sherlock Holmes.
And that’s it for my recommendations and personal mystery TBR.
If you’re an experienced mystery reader who came here looking for something new, I’m sorry for letting you down; mystery seems to be one of those genres where I only read the most buzzed about books. But if I may, I suggest checking out BookRiot’s Read or Dead podcast. I enjoy the YouTube channel for one of the contributors, Rincey Reads, and in fact she’s how I found out about Magpie Murders, so I think the podcast is worth looking into if you’re a more advanced mystery reader.
If, like me, you’re not much of a mystery reader, have you checked out any of these books? Have I convinced you to give any of them a try? Do you have any similar reading recommendations? Let me know in the comments!