Speaking from experience, if you read too many murder mysteries, you can start to pick up on the plot devices or similar tropes and crack the case way before the sleuthing main character. While sometimes honing in on those detective skills is the entire thrill of the genre, other times you just want a wholly unique experience—a chance to be bamboozled. Check out these ten murder mysteries sure to delight and thrill with their fresh take on the genre.
You know what The Great British Bake Off needs? Murder. In THE GOLDEN SPOON, six lucky contestants head up to the estate of celebrated baker Betsy Martin each year to prove they are the best of the best on TV. In such a stressful situation, it seems inevitable that someone was going to get the axe, literally. After a body is found bleeding all over a cake, the six bakers turn their suspicions on each other, trying to figure out which one of their colleagues is not as sugar-sweet as they seem. A locked-room mystery in the middle of a TV show, THE GOLDEN SPOON has the kind of mayhem and madness everyone with a fine palate can appreciate (and probably would be a lot of fun to read at a cafe!).
“This delicious combination of Clue and The Great British Bakeoff kept me turning the pages all night!” —Janet Evanovich, #1 New York Times bestselling author
Only Murders in the Building meets The Maid in this darkly beguiling locked-room mystery where someone turns up dead on the set of TV’s hottest baking competition—perfect for fans of Nita Prose, Richard Osman, and Anthony Horowitz.
Every summer for the past ten years, six awe-struck bakers have descended on the grounds of Grafton, the leafy and imposing Vermont estate that is not only the filming site for “Bake Week” but also the childhood home of the show’s famous host, celebrated baker Betsy Martin.
The author of numerous bestselling cookbooks and hailed as “America’s Grandmother,” Betsy Martin isn’t as warm off-screen as on, though no one needs to know that but her. She has always demanded perfection, and gotten it with a smile, but this year something is off. As the baking competition commences, things begin to go awry. At first, it’s merely sabotage—sugar replaced with salt, a burner turned to high—but when a body is discovered, everyone is a suspect.
A sharp and suspenseful thriller for mystery buffs and avid bakers alike, The Golden Spoon is a brilliant puzzle filled with shocking twists and turns that will keep you reading late into the night until you turn the very last page of this incredible debut.
Sometimes, you end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, like when Ruby Jones stumbled into a dead body. Now, she’s tied to the dead woman’s case, which really isn’t the kind of attention Ruby is looking for, given that she’s trying to start a new life. Alice Lee, the victim telling her tale as a ghost, isn’t content to just let Ruby go, and urges Ruby to help find the killer before it's too late. But will this homicide ruin Ruby’s chance at a new life, or will figuring out the truth set both Alice and Ruby free? BEFORE YOU KNEW MY NAME is a twisting, brilliant mystery that will pull you into the bright lights of New York City and lead you on a journey of identity, community, and self-reflection.
Winner of Crime Debut and Readers’ Choice Awards—Sisters in Crime
“A brave and timely novel.” —Clare Mackintosh, internationally bestselling author of Hostage
This is not just another novel about a dead girl. Two women—one alive, one dead—are brought together in the dark underbelly of New York City to solve a tragic murder.
When she arrived in New York on her eighteenth birthday carrying nothing but $600 cash and a stolen camera, Alice Lee was looking for a fresh start. Now, just one month later, she is the city’s latest Jane Doe. She may be dead but that doesn’t mean her story is over.
Meanwhile, Ruby Jones is also trying to reinvent herself. After travelling halfway around the world, she’s lonelier than ever in the Big Apple. Until she stumbles upon a woman’s body by the Hudson River, and suddenly finds herself unbreakably tied to the unknown dead woman.
Alice is sure Ruby is the key to solving the mystery of her short life and tragic death. Ruby just wants to forget what she saw…but she can’t seem to stop thinking about the young woman she found. If she keeps looking, can she give this unidentified Jane Doe the ending and closure she deserves?
A “heartbreaking, beautiful, and hugely important novel” (Rosie Walsh, New York Times bestselling author), Before You Knew My Name doesn’t just wonder whodunnit—it also asks who was she? And what did she leave behind?
With a title like this, you know you’re in for a good time. A BOTANIST’S GUIDE TO PARTIES AND POISONS follows Saffron Everleigh, a young botanist who, in spite of losing her father and being sexually harassed by the head of her department, remains steadfast in her dedication to her work. And that drive is going to serve her well when she has to prove that her boss, Dr. Maxwell, isn’t a murderer. But when there is a mysterious poisoning of one of the professors’ wives at a party, Saffron finds herself embroiled in more than just scandal, partnering up with the mysterious and handsome microbiologist Alexander Ashton. But will Saffron wilt under the pressure or will she finally come into bloom?
Murder mysteries, like any genre, can be an excellent tool to talk about larger societal issues. For A BEAUTIFUL PLACE TO DIE, author Malla Nunn tackles the complicated matter of race in South Africa and Mozambique in the 1950s. When Captain Willem Pretorius, a white police officer, is found murdered, suspicions fall on the communities of color. But as Constable Shabalala, a Zulu officer, discovers Pretorius’s dark secrets, he must work quickly to keep tensions from boiling over and prevent more deaths. Beautifully written and full of compelling characters, this is a must-read for those who love a little history mixed in with their homicide.
Sometimes, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. And in the case of Pony Jones, that means solving your own murder. That’s right, there’s no rest for this wicked rodeo rider when her body is discovered in the woods. She manages to bring together her grieving father, Titus, and psychically inclined, hard-drinking detective Jo Beth Dawson to crack the case. But nothing is as simple as it seems, and Pony’s rush for justice and the truth ends up revealing a whole lot more than she ever intended. THE TENDER MERCY OF ROSES creeps up on you, seeming like a tried-and-true formula when, in reality, it’s got a lot of hidden depth just below the surface.
Now in paperback, the acclaimed debut novel featuring the ghost of a murdered cowgirl who guides her grief-stricken father and a disgraced former detective to her killer—and a long-hidden family secret.
The celebrated novel from a shimmering new voice in Southern fiction, Anna Michaels
At twenty-six, Pony Jones is a record-breaking legend of the rodeo circuit. And when the beloved young star’s body is discovered in the northern Alabama woods, it’s Pony’s spirit—invisible to the eye but not to the sixth sense—that guides the living to clues to her murder. Swept up in a whirlwind mystery of intense emotion are her grief-stricken father, Titus, bent on retribution; and Jo Beth Dawson, a hard-drinking former detective with an otherworldly connection with Pony—and an urgent compulsion to uncover the truth. The Huntsville rodeo leads Jo Beth to Titus, and what the unlikely partners find is more shocking than murder itself: long-buried family secrets that will bring them to search their souls for redemption . . . and tie the three of them closer than they could imagine.
Listen, no one likes unsolicited advice, especially from their mom. But, well, Vera Wong’s not going to let that stop her from doling it out to her son, her customers, and the police who come to investigate the dead body she finds one morning. VERA WONG’S UNSOLICITED ADVICE FOR MURDERERS is as funny as it is sweet, following Vera as she tries to figure out who killed a young man in her neighborhood, all while developing a heartwarming story of love, family, and the ties that bind a community. If you’re looking for a more light-hearted murder mystery, take my advice, this is the one for you.
If your idea of a great night involves cracking a beer and an unsolved murder case with a psychic and detective, then you’re in the right place. Join the inconsistently psychic travel agent Leda Foley along with Seattle PD detective Grady Merritt as they try and put Leda’s powers to good use. The twist? Leda’s powers are really great . . . only when she’s in the middle of performing at bar karaoke. She can hold an object belonging to someone else and sing a song connected to that person. As the two utilize these discoveries to help find a murderer, they embark on a wild, song-filled ride like no other!
A psychic travel agent and a Seattle PD detective try to solve a murder in this “ebullient tap dance of a mystery” (Christopher Moore, New York Times bestselling author)—perfect for fans of Lisa Lutz’s The Spellman Files and Elle Cosimano’s Finlay Donovan series.
Meet Leda Foley: devoted friend, struggling travel agent, and inconsistent psychic. Impulsively re-booking Seattle PD detective Grady Merritt’s flight, she has no idea that her life is about to change in ways she could have never foretold.
When his original plane blows up on the runway, Grady begins to suspect that Leda’s special abilities could help him with a cold case he just can’t crack. Despite her scattershot premonitions, she agrees to join the investigation for a secret reason: her fiancé’s murder remains unsolved.
Leda’s psychic abilities couldn’t help that sad case, but she’s been honing her skills and drawing a crowd at her favorite bar’s open-mic nights, where she performs her klairvoyant karaoke—singing whatever song comes to mind when she holds people’s personal effects. Now joined by a ragtag group of bar patrons and pals, Leda and Grady set out to catch a killer—and learn how the two cases that haunt them have more in common than they ever suspected.
Witch-hunt narratives are not rare in the mystery genre, but rarely are they as heart-wrenching as BURIAL RITES. The book follows Agnes Magnúsdóttir, an Icelandic servant living in 1828, who is found guilty of the gruesome murder of two men. As she awaits her terrible fate, a beheading which would infamously make her the last woman killed as capital punishment in Iceland, Assistant Reverend Thorvardur is sent to help Agnes repent for her terrible crime. But instead he learns of all that transpired in her poor, wretched life, including her seduction at the hands of a healer that ruined her chances at normalcy. Filled with gorgeous descriptions and soulful dialogue, this may be a mystery the reader doesn’t want solved, just so it doesn’t have to end.
Parties are prime places for murder. Loud noises, a mass of people, all sorts of chaos — a homicide is bound to slip through the cracks. Which is exactly what happens during Nadine Walsh’s intricately planned summer garden party. But nothing ruins a get-together like a corpse in the basement, so Nadine must pull herself together and figure out who has done this, all while dealing with the numerous personal problems and secrets of her friends and family. As much a whodunit as a who died, A DEATH AT THE PARTY is proof-positive that introverts have the right idea when it comes to going out to these kinds of affairs.
In this tense, spellbinding thriller set over the course of a single day, a woman prepares for a party that goes dreadfully wrong—for fans of Ashley Audrain and Lisa Jewell.
Nadine Walsh’s summer garden party is in full swing. The neighbors all have cocktails, the catered food is exquisite—everything’s going according to plan.
But Nadine—devoted wife, loving mother, and doting daughter—finds herself standing over a dead body in her basement while her guests clink glasses upstairs. What happened? How did it come to this?
Rewind to that morning, when Nadine is in her kitchen, making last-minute preparations before she welcomes more than a hundred guests to her home to celebrate her mother’s birthday. But her husband is of little help to her, her two grown children are consumed with their own concerns, and her mother—only her mother knows that today isn’t just a birthday party. It marks another anniversary as well.
Still, Nadine will focus just on tonight. Everyone deserves a celebration after the year they’ve had. A chance for fun. A chance to forget. But it’s hard to forget when Nadine’s head is swirling with secrets, haunting memories, and concerns about what might happen when her guests unite.
On the surface, THE WOMAN IN THE LIBRARY might sound like a simple locked-room mystery: Four strangers meet at the library, where they hear a scream and later find out a woman has been murdered, and it’s likely one of the four is the murderer. But for those who choose to crack open this tantalizing mystery, you’ll discover an even more disturbing storyline. See, this is a novel-within-a-novel, where the events of the story are a fiction work being written by an author. We discover this through emailed exchanges with another writer, who slowly but surely becomes more unhinged as the narrative goes on and he perceives his suggestions are being ignored. Mystery meta at its finest, this is a must read for someone looking for a fresh, page-turning take.