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

Zero Days by Ruth Ware
When a routine assignment goes horribly wrong, resulting in her husband’s murder, penetration specialist Jack, now the #1 suspect, goes on the run, deciding who she can trust as she races against time to clear her name and find the real killer.

The Beautiful and the Wild by Peggy Townsend
Held prisoner by the father of her child, a man she once loved, Liv Russo, to protect her young son, escapes into the harsh Alaskan wilderness where, to survive, she must reckon with her past and the choices that brought her to this unforgiving landscape.

The Leftover Woman by Jean Kwok
Arriving in New York City from her rural Chinese village without money or family support, Jasmine Young, on the run from her abusive husband, desperately searches for the daughter taken away from her at birth, which forces her to make increasingly risky decisions.

After That Night by Karin Slaughter
After surviving a brutal attack that changed her life forever, an ER doctor battles to save a young woman who was similarly attacked.

The Locked Door by Freida McFadden
Eleven-year-old Nora Davis had no idea her father was killing women in the basement while she was in her bedroom–until the day the police arrivfed at their door. Decades later, Nora’s father is spending his life behind bars, and Nora is a successful surgeon. Nobody knows her father was a notorious serial killer. Then one of Nora’s young female patients is murdered in the same unique manner that her father used to kill his victims.

Bright Young Women by Jessica Knoll
Brings together two women who have their lives upended by the All-American Sex Killer (based on Ted Bundy) in the 1970s seeking answers.

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 Last Devil to Die by Richard Osman
When a dangerous package goes missing on Boxing Day, the Thursday Murder Club, when one of their own is murdered, take on their most deadly opponents yet.

Mother-Daughter Murder Night by Nina Simon
When her teenage granddaughter Jack happens upon a dead body while kayaking near their bungalow and becomes a suspect in the investigation, high-powered businesswoman Lana Rubicon sets out to find the true murderer, uncovering a dangerous web of lies lurking beneath the surface of their sleepy coastal town.

Happiness Falls by Angie Kim
Mia isn’t initially concerned when her family fails to return from a walk, until her mute brother Eugene, who suffers from a rare genetic condition, returns bloody and alone and is unable to describe what happened to their father.

Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan
Olivia McAfee knows what it feels like to start over. Her life in Boston when her husband revealed a darker side. She never imagined she would end up back in her New Hampshire hometown, taking over her father’s beekeeping business. Lily Campanello is familiar with do-overs, too. When she and her mom relocate to Adams, New Hampshire, for her final year of high school, they both hope it will be a fresh start. And for just a short while, these new beginnings are exactly what Olivia and Lily need.

A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny
As the villagers prepare for a special celebration, Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir find themselves increasingly worried. A young man and woman have reappeared in the Sûreté du Québec investigators’ lives after many years. The two were young children when their troubled mother was murdered, leaving them damaged, shattered. Now they’ve arrived in the village of Three Pines.

Mrs. Plansky’s Revenge by Spencer Quinn
When she is scammed out of her life savings, Mrs. Loretta Plansky, a recent widow in her seventies, refuses to be just another victim, and following her only clue, embarks on a whirlwind adventure to a small village in Romania to get both her money and dignity back..

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: 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 Corner

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)

Proof of the Pudding by Rhys Bowen
While attending the party of Sir Mortimer Mordred, famous author of Gothic horror novels, who has borrowed her new chef to cater the festivities, Lady Georgiana Rannoch, when a guest dies of poisoning, must find the culprit to save her new chef and her own reputation—all before her bundle of joy arrives.
Mrs. Pargeter’s Patio by Simon Brett
When widow Mrs Pargeter finds a human skull with a neat hole in the middle of its forehead under her patio, she starts investigating the curious find. It was definitely a murder, but who is the mysterious victim? And more importantly, who put the body under Mrs Pargeter’s patio? Surely this has nothing to do with her late husband Mr Pargeter
The Sunset Years of Agnes Sharp by Leonie Swann
When Agnes and the other inhabitants of Sunset Hall, a house share for the old and unruly in the sleepy English countryside, investigate the murder of their neighbor while covering up another, they step out of their comfort zone to tangle with inept criminals, the local authorities and their own dark secrets.

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: 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.

Dead Man’s Wake by Paul Doiron

The 14th book in the Mike Bowditch series. Game Warden Mike Bowditch and his fiance Stacey Stevens witness a boat accident on the eve of their engagement party that reveals a mysterious double murder in the fourteenth novel of the series following Hatchet Island.

Updated: November 2023

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