I’ve always dreamed of living in a Victorian mansion with multiple libraries, a secret passageway or two, a gorgeous kitchen, and a creepy attic thrown in just for flair. Maybe it was the steady stream of Nancy Drew mysteries and hours I spent playing Clue, but there is something about grand-estate mystery books that will always hold a special place in my heart. The history and secrets inside the bones of a house can create a fascinating setting or become an enigmatic character, as you’ll see in all of these book picks!
10 Grand-Estate Mysteries That’ll Invite You In
This mystery is packed with lavish descriptions of picturesque Provence and lots of drama. The whole murder thing aside, the cover alone makes me wish I could hop on a plane right now! Darcy and her friends Jade, Vix, and Arabelle studied abroad together in college and would spend their weekends visiting Darcy’s grandmother, Séraphine, at her chateau in Provence. Twenty years later, Séraphine invites them all back for one last party for Jade’s fortieth birthday. Despite their deep bonds, each of the women has her own reason for accepting this invitation, but before Séraphine is able to tell them the truth, she is found brutally murdered. Reeling from her grandmother's death, Darcy and her friends search for answers. But how well do they really know each other? As secrets are revealed and blames are placed, someone beings posting their intimate moments on Instagram. With the killer stalking their every move, they’ll quickly learn that there is more than one secret worth killing for at the chateau.
A dream girls trip to a luxurious French chateau devolves into a deadly nightmare of secrets and murder in this stylish, twisty thriller for fans of Lucy Foley, Ruth Ware, and Lisa Jewell.
Welcome to picturesque Provence, where the Lady of the Chateau, Séraphine Demargelasse, has opened its elegant doors to her granddaughter Darcy and three friends. Twenty years earlier, the four girlfriends studied abroad together in France and visited the old woman on the weekends, creating the group’s deep bond. But why this sudden invitation?
Amid winery tours, market visits, and fancy dinners overlooking olive groves and lavender fields, it becomes clear that each woman has a hidden reason for returning to the estate after all these years. Then, following a wild evening’s celebration, Séraphine is found brutally murdered.
In the midst of this shocking crime, a sinister Instagram account pops up, exposing snapshots from the friends’ intimate moments at the chateau, while threatening to reveal more.
As they race to uncover who murdered Séraphine—and is now stalking them—the friends begin to suspect each other. Because the chateau houses many secrets…several worth killing for.
Tyringham Park may look like a beautiful country estate full of riches and privilege, but its inhabitants know there is darkness. As the story opens in 1917, everyone’s lives at Tyringham Park are thrown into chaos when Victoria, a beautiful and innocent toddler, disappears. Did she fall out of her pram and drown in the river? Or was she really abducted, as Lady Blackshaw believes? As the search continues, lies, secrets, hatred, and betrayal that the family and those who work there have tried to keep hidden for years seep out of the woodwork. At the center of it all is Charlotte Blackshaw, eight years old when her younger sister disappears. Less favored than her sister, she suffers abuse and heartache as life goes on at the estate. Will she ever be able to escape what happened at Tyringham Park? Or will its mysteries follow her long after she’s left the grounds? McLoughlin has crafted a decades-long story about how the Blackshaws and the people surrounding them respond to this horrible tragedy, and how it shapes them throughout their lives until the truth is finally revealed.
The country estate of Tyringham Park is the epitome of wealth and privilege. Home to the Blackshaws, it finds itself the backdrop to tragedy.
The country estate of Tyringham Park is the epitomeof wealth and privilege. Home to the Blackshaws, it finds itself the backdrop to tragedy.
It is a beautiful day in 1917, and Tyringham Park is in an uproar after Victoria Blackshaw, an innocent toddler, disappears without a trace. The feverish search for Victoria soon uncovers jealousies and deceits that both the upstairs and downstairs inhabitants of the grand estate have fought for years to keep hidden.
As time passes, Victoria’s disappearance casts a long shadow over all of their lives. Charlotte, the Blackshaws’ less-favored eight-year-old daughter, finds herself severely impacted by the loss of her sister. Charlotte’s greatest wish is to escape the confines of the estate, but Tyringham Park and its many mysteries may never release their hold on her. Like all those at Tyringham Park, she is caught in a web of passions and secrets, trysts and betrayals that seems to ensnare everyone connected to this once great house.
Lisa Jewell is a master at creating disturbing and horrifying characters. And once this cast moves into your brain, it’s going to be almost impossible to kick them out again. Libby Jones has been waiting for answers for a long time. And now that she’s finally twenty-five, she’s going to get all the answers . . . and a lot more questions. Libby’s past has been sealed in a trust, but on her birthday she receives a letter with the identity of her birth parents and the news that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion in London’s Chelsea neighborhood. But with that information comes another bombshell. Her parents and another man were murdered in that house, and her older siblings and the other children living there were never found. And Libby isn’t the only one who’s been waiting for this information—she’s soon thrown in to a dark past entangling three families full of secrets and betrayal. If you are looking for something truly unsettling, then be sure to add this psychological thriller gem to your TBR.
INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A GOOD MORNING AMERICA COVER TO COVER BOOK CLUB PICK
“Rich, dark, and intricately twisted, this enthralling whodunit mixes family saga with domestic noir to brilliantly chilling effect.” —Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author
“A haunting, atmospheric, stay-up-way-too-late read.” —Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author
From the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone comes another page-turning look inside one family’s past as buried secrets threaten to come to light.
Be careful who you let in.
Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.
She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.
Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.
In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.
BITTERSWEET is an enthralling, slow-burn summer lakeside read with despicable characters and people willing to do whatever it takes to hold on to their money and sense of power. I mean, you can read this one at the beach too, but with the idyllic Vermont estate backdrop it seems like the perfect book to read while floating on a lake surrounded by trees. Who wouldn’t want a summer filled with cocktail parties on the lawn, kids running around with sparklers, late-night skinny-dipping sessions, and days spent cruising around on yachts? Of course, for Mabel and the Winslow family, all that beauty and wealth comes with a hidden layer of rot. Mabel Dagmar is a scholarship student who befriends her wealthy and gorgeous roommate, Ev Winslow. Mabel is ecstatic when Ev invites her to spend the summer at her family estate in Vermont, surrounded by money and friends. It feels like she finally has everything she could want, but the Winslow family is not what they seem. Will Mabel risk paradise to expose them, or is she willing to join in their corruption in order to find a place where she belongs?
Alright, this one should come as no surprise to anyone, because this story has everything I truly love in a thriller. Rogan is a master of her craft, and if you haven’t read many of her books, this is a great place to jump in. A ghost and a mystery writer who doesn’t believe in ghosts, check. A series of strange events that leads our main character to question her sanity, double-check. But really, it’s the house that sold me on this one. A Victorian mansion with an incredible tower library with panoramic views? I would have bought it faster than our protagonist. Emma can’t get the house on the Long Island Sound out of her head. She can picture herself writing her latest novel in the library, and Roger, her husband, loves the way the land, air, and sea come together and change. And of course, their son, Zack, finally has a backyard to play in. Local rumors suggest the house is haunted, but Emma doesn’t put any stock into that. Or at least she doesn’t until her manuscript is tampered with and someone begins using her innermost fears against her. All the occurrences happen only when Emma is alone. Is Roger right that it’s all in her head, or is there truly something malicious in the house? The library and ghost story elements were enough to draw me in, but Rogan’s amazing prose and building suspense kept me turning the pages to the very end.
In the common course of events, people choose houses. Sometimes, though, it doesn't work that way. Sometimes houses choose people: They reach out, they whisper, they entice and enfold.
Novelist Emma Roth was convinced that New York City was the only place to live, until the day she encountered the old Victorian mansion overlooking the Long Island Sound. Her husband, Roger, a chaos physicist, was entranced by the ever-changing convergence of land, water, and air; their son, Zack, by a backyard large enough for a real game of soccer. But for Emma, it was the octagonal tower library, whose panoramic view suggested a sort of omniscience no writer could resist.
Yet no sooner do they move into their dream house than the seemingly impossible occurs. Characters in a computer game address cruel personal remarks to Emma. Her manuscript is tampered with, her home invaded, her family threatened. Before long it is obvious that her tormentor not only has access to her home and her computer's hard drive, but also to her innermost thoughts, secrets, and fears. Hers is an intimate enemy, both vicious and elusive.
Because these things happen only when Emma is alone in the house, she is driven to question her own sanity. Could Roger be right when he hints that it's all in her head? Local rumor has it that the house is haunted, but Emma, a writer of ghost stories herself, no more believes in real ghosts than professional magicians believe in magic. As the trespasses into her life grow more bizarre and more dangerous, suspicion is cast in ever-widening arcs, until Emma is left to question every relationship she has, including her marriage.
Suspicion is an irresistible and addictively compelling tale about a woman who is both haunted and hunted.
I love a good Mary Higgins Clark mystery. She wrote such fun, well-plotted thrillers that are always a treat to read. So of course I’m including the Carrington estate from I HEART THAT SONG BEFORE. Kay knows all the rumors that surround the mysterious death of Peter Carrington’s first wife, Grace, when she marries him. Grace was pregnant when she was found dead in the pool on the estate ten years ago. But surely the rumors are nothing more than petty gossip. That’s what Kay believes until she learns that Peter is a chronic sleepwalker plagued by horrible nightmares and he’s arrested for the murder of another woman from his past. Now, fearing the worst, Kay is determined to find the truth behind both deaths. Kay has her own history with the Carrington estate, and what is with the haunting tune that pops into her head every time she goes near the chapel? Higgins Clark will keep you guessing the suspect and the killer until the very end.
In a riveting psychological thriller, Mary Higgins Clark takes the reader deep into the mysteries of the human mind, where memories may be the most dangerous things of all.
Kay Lansing, who has grown up in Englewood, New Jersey, is the daughter of the landscaper to the wealthy and powerful Carrington family. Their mansion—a historic seventeenth-century manor house transported stone by stone from Wales in 1848—has a hidden chapel. One day, accompanying her father to work, six-year-old Kay succumbs to curiosity and sneaks into the chapel. There, she overhears a quarrel between a man and a woman who is demanding money from him. When she says that this will be the last time, his caustic response is: "I heard that song before."
That same evening, the Carringtons hold a formal dinner dance after which Peter Carrington, a student at Princeton, drives home Susan Althorp, the eighteen-year-old daughter of neighbors. While her parents hear her come in, she is not in her room the next morning and is never seen or heard from again.
Throughout the years, a cloud of suspicion hangs over Peter Carrington. At age forty-two, head of the family business empire, he is still "a person of interest" in the eyes of the police, not only for Susan Althorp's disappearance but also for the subsequent drowning death of his own pregnant wife in their swimming pool.
Kay Lansing, now living in New York and working as a librarian in Englewood, goes to see Peter Carrington to ask for permission to hold a cocktail party on his estate to benefit a literacy program, which he later grants. Kay comes to see Peter as maligned and misunderstood, and when he begins to court her after the cocktail party, she falls in love with him. Over the objections of her beloved grandmother, who raised her after her parents' early deaths, she marries him. To her dismay, she soon finds that he is a sleepwalker whose nocturnal wanderings draw him to the spot at the pool where his wife met her end.
Kay develops gnawing doubts about her husband. She believes that the key to the truth about his guilt or innocence lies in the scene she witnessed as a child in the chapel and knows she must learn the identity of the man and woman who quarreled there that day. What Kay does not even remotely suspect is that uncovering what lies behind these memories may cost her her own life.
I Heard That Song Before once again dramatically reconfirms Mary Higgins Clark's worldwide reputation as a master storyteller.
With an amazing cover and a title that gives off major Clue (the board game and the beloved movie of the same name) vibes, I was instantly intrigued. Daisy Waugh takes the estate murder mystery and turns it into something wholly different in IN THE CRYPT WITH A CANDLESTICK. With witty prose and a ridiculous cast of characters, this read is a unique delight. Emma Tode did not expect her older husband, Sir Ecgbert Tode to live to the ripe old age of ninety-three, nor did she expect to manage the estate for so long. When he finally passes, Emma is free to spend the rest of her days in Capri, but when none of her children are able or willing to care for the estate, it goes to a distant nephew and his wife. But Emma never gets to live out her life in Capri because shortly after the new owners move in, she’s found dead in the family mausoleum. Was it an accident, or is there something more sinister lurking in the passageways of Tode Hall? What follows next is truly unexpected.
A wonderfully comedic mystery full of sharp drama, sly wit—and a smidgeon of murder—in the vein P. G. Wodehouse, Julian Fellowes, and Agatha Christie.
Sir Ecgbert Tode of Tode Hall has survived to a grand old age—much to the despair of his younger wife, Emma. But at age ninety-three he has, at last, shuffled off the mortal coil.
Lady Emma Tode, thoroughly fed up with being a dutiful Lady of the Manor, wants to leave the country to spend her remaining years in Capri. Unfortunately her three tiresome children are either unwilling or unable (too mad, too lefty or too happy in Australia) to take on management of their large and important home, so the mantle passes to a distant relative and his glamorous wife.
Not long after the new owners take over, Lady Tode is found dead in the mausoleum. Accident? Or is there more going on behind the scenes of Tode Hall than an outsider would ever guess?
In the traditions of two great but very different British authors, Agatha Christie and P. G. Wodehouse, Waugh's hilarious and entirely original twist on the country house murder mystery comes complete with stiff upper lips, even stiffer drinks, and any stiffs that might embarrass the family getting smartly brushed under the carpet.
The Crooked House is a bizarre home in a bizarre location. Situated atop a snowy cliff in a remote part of Japan, the house is a maze of hallways and staircases with sloped floors and creepy decor. So of course, when guests find themselves snowed in at the estate, the unthinkable happens. A strange death leaves the inhabitants and the police scrambling to catch the killer. But as more bodies pile up, they’re unable to solve this one on their own. Before diving into MURDER IN THE CROOKED HOUSE, it’s important to understand that this is not just a mystery or a thriller but a translated Japanese honkaku mystery. While books in this genre are incredible novels, they are also interactive puzzles that are best enjoyed when the reader plays along with the game. Typically “locked room”–style mysteries, the writer must give the reader all of the clues to solve the case on their own, so what say you? Are you up for the challenge alongside famed sleuth Kiyoshi Mitarai?
Ruth Ware is a mystery master, and this grand estate is haunted in a completely different way. Heatherbrae House has a dark history, but the Elincourt family has turned it into a picturesque smart home with modern amenities. Rowan isn’t looking for the nanny position, but when she stumbles across the ad with a more than generous salary, she’s determined to take the post. But Heatherbrae House and its children are not what she expected. Rowan finds herself in a nightmarish situation that leads to the death of one of her charges and her in prison. Rowan made mistakes, but she’s not a murderer. She’ll do whatever it takes to prove that to her lawyer. She explains the horrors of the constant surveillance cameras throughout the house, the less-than-ideal behavior from the children, and constantly being left alone with them for weeks on end. I loved this psychological thriller and its freaky modern take on a haunted house!
INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
“A superb suspense writer…Brava, Ruth Ware. I daresay even Henry James would be impressed.” —Maureen Corrigan, author of So We Read On
“This appropriately twisty Turn of the Screw update finds the Woman in Cabin 10 author in her most menacing mode, unfurling a shocking saga of murder and deception.” —Entertainment Weekly
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Lying Game and The Death of Mrs. Westaway comes this thrilling novel that explores the dark side of technology.
When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.
What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.
Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the home’s cameras, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman.
It was everything.
She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder—but somebody is.
Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, The Turn of the Key is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.
Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered over and over again until her killer is revealed. Aiden Bishop will inhabit eight different witnesses in order to put the pieces together and solve this mystery. But some of the hosts are more helpful than others, and he’s not the only one trying to earn his freedom. Set in a 1920s country house, Aiden will have to navigate the grounds and the rest of the houseguests if he has any hope of catching the killer before the cycle starts again. This is such an engaging mystery with a wonderfully unique concept. The science fiction/fantasy element added an extra layer that I absolutely loved!
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