Murder mysteries have been keeping readers up all night for decades. While you might think of nosy old ladies and gentlemen detectives when it comes to the genre, the truth is that since the days of Agatha Christie, murder mysteries have been setting the bar for violent, engaging, and thrilling storytelling. Whether you’re looking for a true crime drenched killer or a bleak Scandinavian sadist, a locked room mystery or a cooking based crime-solver there’s something for you in our list of the best murder mysteries. So grab your magnifying glass, get your conspiracy board at the ready, and get ready to solve — or fictionally commit — some murders.

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

This unbelievably scary and daring novel centers on two members of a family separated by three decades of time. In 1985 Viv Delaney worked at the eerie Sun Down Motel and went missing without a trace. 35 years later her niece, Carly, decides it’s time to solve the family mystery and heads to the Sun Down Motel to take the very job that her aunt had when she disappeared.

Soon Carly realizes there’s much more to the Sun Down than meets the eye and she’s gotten herself in far deeper than she could have imagined. This searing thriller is a fantastic mix of true-crime influenced storytelling, shocking murder mystery, supernatural tinged shocks, and a pandora’s box full of family secrets that’ll keep you reading deep into the dark nights.

My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Be warned! Don’t pick up this book unless you’re ready to finish the whole thing in a single sitting. Luckily this is a short and sharp novel so you won’t have to commit your whole day once you inevitably get pulled into its delightfully dark and satirical take on the murder mystery.

Korede has a problem, her younger sister Ayoola is everything that she’s not: Beautiful, charming, popular, and now that she’s killed her third boyfriend, technically a serial killer. While Ayoola is reckless and violent leaving a trail of dead men in her wake, Korede is detached and practical, something that has always come in handy when it comes to cleaning up Ayoola’s messes. But when Ayoola sets her eyes and heart on Korede’s long term work crush, the sisters will have to weigh up what’s important to them and how far they’ll go to hide their secrets.

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

If all this gruesome murder and mayhem is getting a little much, try out Mia P. Manansala’s charming murder mystery series out for size. Starting with Arsenic and Adobo, Manansala brought the cozy murder mystery back to the mainstream with her cooking focused crime books.

In her hilarious first outing we meet Lila Macapagal, her life turned upside down by a breakup. Moving back home and helping out at her beloved Tita Rosie’s restaurant make her feel like she’s walked right into a Hallmark movie, but this isn’t a rom-com it’s a murder mystery. When her stuck up food critic ex-boyfriend turns up dead, suddenly Lila has to prove her innocence, solve the case, and find out who the real killer is before it’s too late.

The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji

Taking on the trapped room mystery setup established by Agatha Christie in And Then There Were None, Yukito Ayatsuji’s The Decagon House Murders is one of the most enticing and twisty takes on the classic murder mystery novel that you’ll ever read.

When a high school murder mystery club decides to visit the site of a famed murder they couldn’t be more excited. The Decagon House is infamous not just for its unique architecture but also the shocking crimes that took place there. The young friends can’t help but try to work out what really happened, but soon after arriving they begin dropping like flies. As the body count rises the killer begins to leave strange clues letting them know that they’ve been bought here for a reason, and it’s one they have all tried to forget. Creepy, atmospheric, and tightly paced, you’ll never guess the killer in this horribly readable tale.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

There’s a reason that Stieg Larsson’s best selling Scandinavian crime novels became such an immense global success. The author’s talent for character work, crafting unique and vibrant heroes like hacker Lisbeth Salandar and journalist Mikael Blomkvist, blend seamlessly with his intricate eye for history and deft hand when it comes to corruption and crime, make this novel and the rest of Larsson’s smash hit Millennium Trilogy utterly immersive and compelling.

An unexpected team up between an anti-social hacker and radical journalist leads to an unbelievable mystery that digs into the depths of depravity that lies at the heart of one of Sweden’s richest families. This isn’t a book for the faint hearted as it’s filled with sadistic killers, fights for survival, and a heartbreaking mystery that only Salander and Blomkvist can solve.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Lucy Foley has made a name for herself as the Queen of the contemporary whodunnit and it was this mixed-POV chiller that announced her arrival. As a wealthy wedding party gets ready for the big day on a remote island off the coast of Ireland, someone is planning something far bigger and more permanent. And as the small-batch booze begins to flow, old resentments, feuds, and fights rise to the surface. But things take a turn for the even worse when a body is discovered and suddenly everyone on the isolated island is a suspect.

This accessible and engaging read introduces us to a roster of potential killers and victims who each have their own connection to the not so happy couple. But as Foley invites us into the rarefied world of the rich and successful she riddles the way with believable red herrings, incisive class commentary, and a moving final reveal that’ll have you revisiting every page.

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

The only YA novel to make it onto our list, One of Us is Lying is just as twisty, shocking, and readable as any of our other picks. Imagine the Breakfast Club crossed with Agatha Christie and you’re halfway to why this nail-biting novel has become a modern mystery classic.

When five students Bronwyn, Simon, Nate, Cooper, and Addy are found to have phones in their bags during class time at Bayview high they’re all sentenced to a fate worse than social death: Detention. They all claim the phones aren’t theirs and were planted, nothing more than a strange prank. But when Simon — who runs a notorious gossip blog based on school drama — doesn’t survive detention, the four survivors are suddenly suspects in his murder. But who killed Simon and what were they trying to hide? McManus will keep you guessing ’til the very last page.

If you want to read more enticing thrillers check out our best mystery books list.

Rosie Knight is a contributing freelancer for IGN covering everything from anime to comic books to kaiju to kids movies to horror flicks. She has over half a decade of experience in entertainment journalism with bylines at Nerdist, Den of Geek, Polygon, and more.

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