A rainy night, an open fire, a cozy lounge chair and a glass of good wine — these are almost the perfect mix of ingredients for a fantastic night in. The only thing missing is a good mystery book to curl up with, one so gripping that each time you finish a page you say the next one will be the last before you sleep, only to find yourself still reading when dawn breaks many hours later.
There is something about this genre that captures us. Perhaps it is the escape into a safe thrill, or the allure of the inherently good detective fighting for justice…or the moral ambiguity of the same as they fight against themselves as much as the bad guy. Whatever the reason, the twist and turns of these four mystery books will be sure to have you captivated, long after your eyes are heavy and you know you should have slept hours ago. You’d better warn your boss that you’re going to be coming in late tomorrow.
Obviously, no list of captivating mystery books could possibly be complete without Sherlock Holmes. The brilliant detective has deduced his way into pop culture, with many incarnations of the famous Sherlock and Watson still captivating film and TV audiences today. You could just as well have any of the Sherlock Holmes novels on the list, but Hound of the Baskervilles is the book that revived Holmes after Doyle killed him off in the 1893 novel The Final Problem. Written as a prequel to the events in The Final Problem, the novel was such a success that Doyle brought Holmes back permanently, revealing his previous death to be merely a fake. A favorite amongst Sherlock fans, this book was voted number 128 on a BBC list of the UK’s best-loved novels.
This is where the undisputed first lady of mystery brought us Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, the only fictional character ever to have an obituary in the New York Times. Murder on the Orient Express has spawned TV, radio and movie adaptations and has been republished over 11 times since its original release in 1934. Having said all of this, any of Christie’s novels deserve a spot on a list of great mystery reads. Choosing which one is just semantics!
Written in 1929, this novel brings us protagonist Sam Spade, a figure who is widely considered to be the inspiration for many later characters in the “hardboiled detective” genre. Characterized by their cynical attitudes to horror, awe and terror, hardboiled detectives have a keen eye for detail, a cold detachment and a stubborn determination for justice to be served, attitudes they convey to the audience via self-talk.
A mystery book about a mystery writer, this novel brings us a thrilling adventure on international espionage. When James Bond needed a book to read in From Russia, With Love, it was Ambler’s A Coffin for Dimitrios that did the job. The book does lightly mock the mystery genre and its obsession with bloodshed as entertainment, and offers political commentary regarding the state of the world alliances leading up to WWII. So, it offers the reader much more than just a simple ‘who did it?’.
Who is Holly Lewitas?
Holly Lewitas is the author of the Spunky Murder Mystery Series — cozy mysteries for dog and cat lovers. Books include: The Nose Knows, The Nose Sees All and An Army of Noses. You are invited to connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.
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