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Mystery and Thrillers

What are Thrillers and Suspense stories?

Although thrillers and suspense stories are akin to mysteries, in that both often center on a criminal act, there are distinctions between the two. In mysteries, the crime has already been committed, and it’s all about puzzling out whodunit. In thrillers and suspense stories, the crime is ongoing or may not have yet have occurred; the plot centers on the protagonist’s race to take action or stop it. Plots tend to be fast-paced and action-packed, with both the protagonist and reader suspended between anxiety and hope. (Source: Novelist)

Popular Thrillers Right Now

House in the Pines by Ana Reyes
A captivating psychological suspense debut about a young woman still haunted by her teenage best friend’s death who learns of an eerily similar death and must find her way back to a cabin in the New England woods, armed only with hazy memories, to finally find out the truth that has eluded her.

The Maid by Nita Prose
A charmingly eccentric hotel maid discovers a guest murdered in his bed, turning her once orderly world upside down–and inspiring a motley crew of unexpected allies to band together to solve the mystery–in this utterly original debut.

Verity by Colleen Hoover
Jeremy Crawford has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish. Lowen sorts through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get started, but uncovers an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended to be, with pages of bone-chilling admissions.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister
After witnessing her teenage son kill a man, a mother falls asleep in despair, wakes up and it is yesterday, and wakes up again and it is the day before yesterday, getting chance after chance to stop the murder and save her son.

River Woman River Demon by Jennifer Givhan
Eva Santos Moon is a burgeoning Chicana artist who practices the ancient, spiritual ways of brujería and curanderisma, but she’s at one of her lowest points–suffering from disorienting blackouts, creative stagnation, and a feeling of disconnect from her magickal roots. When her husband, a beloved university professor and the glue that holds their family together, is taken into custody for the shocking murder of their friend, Eva doesn’t know whom to trust–least of all, herself. She soon falls under suspicion as a potential suspect, and her past rises to the surface.

Anywhere You Run by Wanda Morris
Two sisters on the run from Jim Crow justice in 1964 Jackson, Mississippi, flee to separate parts of the country, unaware that they are both being pursued by someone with dark secrets and a disturbing motive for finding them that is unknown to anyone but himself.

What are mysteries?

A mystery is a story in which characters use a series of clues to reveal who committed a crime (usually but not always a murder), with just enough detail for readers to follow along while keeping the solution elusive with red herrings and misdirection. (Source: Novelist)

Is it a mystery or a thriller?

• Focus on stopping a crime before it happens
• Protagonist knows the villain and must catch them
• Emphasis on the action

• Focus on solving the crime before it happens
• Focus on solving the crime after it happens
• Protagonist must find out who the villain is
• Emphasis on the puzzle

Popular Mysteries Right Now

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill
Four strangers who had been sitting in the reading room get to chatting and quickly become friendly. Harriet, Marigold, Whit, and Caine each have their own reasons for being in the Boston Public Library reading room that morning – and it just happens that one of them may turn out to be a murderer.

The Bangalore Detectives Club by Harini Nagendra
The first in a charming, joyful crime series set in 1920s Bangalore, featuring sari-wearing detective Kaveri and her husband Ramu.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley
Lives unravel amid the revelry on an eerie and remote island as family and friends assemble for a glam wedding in an updated Murder on the Orient Express. Each of the principal characters has a reason to want one of their number dead. (Source: Booklist)

We Lie Here by Rachel Howzell Hall
Returning home to host her parents’ 20th-anniversary party, TV writer Yara Gibson is harassed by texts from her mother’s childhood friend Felicia, who desperately needs to talk to her, but when Felicia dies, Yara digs for answers, uncovering a truth that will change her life–or end it.

The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny
When a visiting professor spreads lies so that fact and fiction are so confused it’s near impossible to tell them apart, leading to murder, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache must investigate this case as well as this extraordinary popular delusion — and the madness of crowds.

A Sunlit Weapon by Jacqueline Winspear
Masie Dobbs, a psychologist and investigator in 1942 London, investigates the death of a female ferry pilot and two kidnapped American servicemen.

Popular Mystery & Thriller Authors

Many authors are synonymous with famous, long-running series. Included below are links to our catalog; click on the author’s name to see all items by this author, click on the series name to explore some of the more famous series/characters of the author.

Spotlight: Hank Phillippi Ryan

Widely lauded as both a reporter and a mystery novelist, Hank Phillippi Ryan draws on her journalistic experiences in writing her engagingly conversational novels. She mixes complex plotting and breakneck pacing with warm and pithy portrayal of Boston and people, including her appealing reporter protagonists. (Source: Novelist)

Spotlight: Paul Doiron

Fans of C.J. Box’s Joe Pickett series, take note! The Mike Bowditch series follows Maine Game Warden Mike Bowditch as he solves cases in the deep woods of Maine.

Spotlight: James Patterson

It is hard to find a writer as prolific as James Patterson; his Alex Cross series features Washington, D.C. police detective/psychologist Alex Cross. Other series: Michael Bennett, Maximum Ride, NYPD Red, Private, Women’s Murder Club.

Tip: Trying to read series in order? KDL What’s Next lists series in the order they’re meant to be read. Search by author, book title, series title, and more.

Spotlight: Cozy Mysteries

Often written as a themed series, cozy mysteries offer an amateur or professional sleuth who must solve a puzzle (frequently a dead body or bodies); a closely knit community filled with colorful characters; and a murderer who seems like just another member of the community. (Source: Novelist)

Caramel Pecan Roll Murder by Joanne Fluke
Baker Hannah Swensen agrees to help bake pastries at a local inn during a flashy fishing competition but investigates when the event’s celebrity spokesperson is found dead.
Claws for Alarm by Rita Mae Brown
After a young horse veterinarian is found dead and his unopened clinic is robbed of ketamine, Mary Minor “Harry” Harristeen and her beloved cats investigate in the latest novel of the long-running series following Furmidable Foes.

Beating About the Bush by M.C. Beaton
Discovering evidence of a gruesome murder in a roadside hedge, private detective Agatha Raisin is embroiled in a case involving industrial espionage, a bad-tempered donkey and her own growing fame.

Classic Mysteries & Thrillers to Read Today


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
When beautiful Amy Dunne disappears from her Missouri home, it looks as if her husband Nick is to blame. But though he protests his innocence, it’s clear that he’s not being entirely truthful.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
A journalist and a hacker team up to solve the decades-old disappearance of a Swedish financier’s niece.

The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy
When a Soviet submarine goes rogue, CIA operative Jack Ryan theorizes that its captain intends to defect to the U.S.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre
A man is assigned to uncover a Russian mole planted in the highest ranks of British Intelligence.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelidies
Theo Faber is determined to get an artist who shot her husband and then never spoke another word to talk, which takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations.

In the Woods by Tana French
A detective, sole survivor of a terrible crime in childhood, must delve into long- buried memories to solve a murder.

Spotlight: Stuart Woods (1938-2022)

Black Dog by Stuart Woods (Stone Barrington Series)
The latest in the Stone Barrington series. After returning home from a treacherous adventure, Stone Barrington is all too happy to settle back down in his New York City abode. But when he’s introduced to a glamorous socialite with a staggering inheritance, Stone realizes his days are about to be anything but quiet.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
A journalist and a hacker team up to solve the decades-old disappearance of a Swedish financier’s niece.

Orchid Beach by Stuart Woods
First in the Holly Barker series. Military policewoman Holly Barker lost a harassment case against her superior and quit the army. On arriving for a new job as deputy of a Florida town she finds the chief shot, a case which will lead to an assault by the FBI on a compound of the very rich.

Updated: September 2022

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