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The 5 Best Mystery Novels to Read in 2024 – Thrilling Page-Turners

With mystery novel sales expected to soar by 20% in 2024, it's no surprise that publishers are lining up an impressive array of thrilling page-turners for readers to sink their teeth into. Whether you're captivated by the haunting examination of grief in 'Then She Was Gone' or intrigued by the shocking courtroom drama of 'Those Empty Eyes,' this year's crop of mysteries promises to keep you guessing until the very last page. But what hidden gems might you discover when you peel back the layers of these complex narratives?

Key Takeaways

• Compelling character arcs that drive the story forward are essential for the best mystery novels in 2024.

• Intriguing plot twists that keep readers guessing should be a hallmark of thrilling page-turner mysteries.

• Atmospheric settings that immerse the reader in the narrative are crucial for a captivating mystery experience.

• Pacing and suspense levels that maintain reader interest throughout the novel are key for the best mystery reads.

• Thematic depth that provides thought-provoking insights should be a distinguishing feature of the top mystery novels.

Then She Was Gone: A Novel

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Then She Was Gone: A Novel
  • Then She Was Gone: A Novel Paperback – November 6, 2018
  • Jewell, Lisa (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

For readers who enjoy a fast-paced, compelling mystery with a twisted, sad story, Then She Was Gone: A Novel is a must-read to begin 2024. Lisa Jewell's exquisite storytelling pulls you in from the first page and doesn't let go until the final reveal.

The novel's examination of grief and the impact of a catastrophic personal event on a family is both enthralling and heart-wrenching. Told from multiple perspectives, the mystery takes its time unraveling, allowing readers to piece together the complex plot points before the big twist.

Though some found the character of Poppy too over-the-top, the book's page-turning nature and the author's skilled writing make it a thrilling, highly recommended read. We couldn't put it down, finishing it in just two days.

Best For: Readers who enjoy fast-paced, compelling mysteries with twisted, sad stories and skilled, exquisite storytelling.


  • A page-turning, can't-put-it-down reading experience
  • Examination of grief and the impact of tragedy on families
  • Skilled writing that pulls the reader into the story


  • Some plot points were too predictable
  • The character of Poppy was found to be too over-the-top by some readers
  • Could have delved deeper into the main character's mental health issues

Those Empty Eyes: A Chilling Novel of Suspense with a Shocking Twist

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Those Empty Eyes: A Chilling Novel of Suspense with a Shocking Twist
  • Donlea, Charlie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 432 Pages - 04/23/2024 (Publication Date) - Kensington (Publisher)

Those who crave a chilling mystery with a shocking twist will find what they're looking for in Those Empty Eyes. The excellent writing, superb plot lines, and memorable characters in this novel keep readers engaged until the very end.

We're particularly impressed by the exciting courtroom chapters and the unexpected and shocking ending – it's sure to leave you reeling. While some readers found the ending predictable and felt there was too much repetition, the majority thoroughly enjoyed this thrilling page-turner.

The author's creativity, plot twists, and great writing shine through, making this a solid addition to the mystery genre. If you're seeking a suspenseful read that will keep you up at night, we highly recommend checking out Those Empty Eyes.

Best For: Readers who enjoy suspenseful mysteries with unexpected twists and memorable characters.


  • Excellent writing and superb plot lines
  • Exciting courtroom chapters
  • Shocking and unexpected ending


  • Some repetition of details
  • Ending was predictable for some readers
  • Not exceptional enough to warrant a 5-star rating for some

The Quarry Girls: A Thriller

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The Quarry Girls: A Thriller
54,308 Reviews
The Quarry Girls: A Thriller
  • Lourey, Jess (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 335 Pages - 11/01/2022 (Publication Date) - Thomas & Mercer (Publisher)

Readers seeking a gripping small-town thriller that explores dark themes will find The Quarry Girls a compelling choice.

Jess Lourey's standalone novel transports us to the Pantown area of St. Cloud, Minnesota, in the summer of 1977, where a band of teenage girls confront a series of disappearances and the town's sinister underbelly.

The story's protagonist, Heather, and her friends Maureen and Brenda form the heart of this page-turner, as they grapple with issues of misogyny, sexual abuse, and the vulnerability of young women.

With an eerie backdrop of urban myths and tunnels beneath the town, the novel contrasts the idealistic small-town setting with the grim realities faced by the characters.

Lourey's skilled handling of these sensitive topics, along with the engaging narrative, make The Quarry Girls a standout pick for mystery lovers in 2024.

Best For: Readers who enjoy suspenseful small-town thrillers that explore dark themes of misogyny, sexual abuse, and the vulnerability of young women.


  • Engaging and well-written narrative that transports readers to the 1970s setting
  • Skillful handling of sensitive topics by the author
  • Compelling protagonist and supporting characters


  • Subject matter may be disturbing for some readers
  • Urban myths and tunnels beneath the town could be seen as too eerie or unsettling for some
  • Pacing may feel slow or uneven at times for readers expecting a more fast-paced thriller

Midnight Shadows

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Midnight Shadows
  • Roberts, Nora (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 416 Pages - 09/06/2022 (Publication Date) - Silhouette (Publisher)

Midnight Shadows enthralls readers seeking a gripping mystery filled with suspense and intrigue, as reviewers praise its ability to hold one's attention from start to finish.

Described as a 'fantastic read' and a 'very good read,' this book delivers an entertaining and engaging narrative that keeps readers hooked.

Fans of author Nora Roberts rave about her storytelling prowess, with one reader claiming to own over 150 of her books and never finding one they disliked.

The book's gripping nature and the author's renowned talent make Midnight Shadows a must-read for mystery lovers.

Moreover, readers have highlighted the book's excellent value and timely arrival, with the majority reporting that their copies were well-packaged, in good condition, and delivered promptly.

Overall, Midnight Shadows seems to be a captivating and satisfying addition to the mystery genre.

Best For: Readers seeking an engrossing mystery novel filled with suspense and intrigue, as well as fans of the renowned author Nora Roberts.


  • Gripping and entertaining narrative that holds the reader's attention
  • Excellent value and timely delivery of the book
  • Praises for the author's exceptional storytelling ability


  • No significant cons mentioned in the given information
  • Some readers may find the book's length or pacing unsuitable for their preferences
  • The book may not appeal to readers who prefer a more complex or multilayered mystery plot

The Summer House: The Classic Blockbuster from the Author of Lion & Lamb

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The Summer House: The Classic Blockbuster from the Author of Lion & Lamb
  • Patterson, James (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 480 Pages - 06/28/2022 (Publication Date) - Grand Central Publishing (Publisher)

The Summer House offers readers a gripping military-themed murder mystery with unpredictable twists and compelling characters that will keep us on our toes.

Praised as 'one of the best books' and a 'great, fast-paced read,' this classic blockbuster from the author of Lion & Lamb delivers an exciting narrative that adeptly changes points of view to build suspense.

While some may find the plot a bit too unbelievable at times, the short chapters and James Patterson-esque storytelling make for a page-turning experience.

Though the ending may not fully satisfy, the book's strong action and suspense elements make it a worthy addition to any mystery lover's 2024 reading list.

Overall, we highly recommend giving The Summer House a try for its thrilling military angle and unpredictable twists.

Best For: Fans of military-themed murder mysteries with unpredictable twists, compelling characters, and fast-paced suspense.


  • Gripping military-themed plot with unpredictable twists
  • Adept at changing points of view to build suspense
  • Short chapters and James Patterson-esque storytelling make for a page-turning experience


  • Some may find the plot a bit too unbelievable at times
  • Ending may not fully satisfy readers
  • Repeated use of God's name in vain could be off-putting

Factors to Consider When Choosing Mystery Novels

mystery novel selection factors

When selecting mystery novels, you'll want to prioritize compelling character arcs that drive the story forward.

Intriguing plot twists that keep you guessing are also key, as are atmospheric settings that immerse you in the narrative.

Don't forget about pacing and suspense levels that maintain your interest, as well as thematic depth that provides thought-provoking insights.

Compelling Character Arcs

Essential character development that allows readers to empathize with the protagonists and follow their emotional journeys is critical when selecting engrossing mystery novels.

Look for multidimensional characters with complex backstories and motivations that evolve throughout the story. This creates a sense of investment and intrigue, drawing you deeper into the narrative.

Well-crafted character arcs that explore themes of redemption, justice, or personal growth can elevate a mystery beyond just solving the central puzzle. Skillful characterization that reveals characters' flaws, vulnerabilities, and internal conflicts makes them feel authentic and increases the stakes of the narrative.

Memorable protagonists whose actions and decisions drive the plot forward and shape the resolution of the mystery are essential for an engaging reading experience. When you find a mystery novel that offers these compelling character arcs, you're in for a thrilling and immersive journey that will keep you turning the pages.

Intricate Plot Twists

Intricately-woven plot twists enthrall mystery readers, keeping them guessing until the very end. The best mystery novels challenge readers to continuously re-evaluate their assumptions, subverting expectations with unpredictable turns of events.

Skillfully executed plot twists heighten the suspense, creating an engaging, unpredictable reading experience that leaves you unable to put the book down.

When choosing your next mystery novel, look for stories that masterfully incorporate multiple, interconnected plot twists. These intricate narratives will deliver a satisfying and intellectually stimulating journey, as you unravel the clues and try to stay one step ahead of the characters.

The most compelling mystery fiction leverages plot twists to push the story in unexpected directions, leaving you breathless and impatient to discover what happens next.

Immerse yourself in mysteries with the most enthralling plot twists, and you'll be sure to find a thrilling page-turner that keeps you hooked until the final reveal. These are the kinds of stories that will have you raving about them long after you've turned the last page.

Atmospheric Settings Portrayed

Atmospheric settings can transport mystery readers to a world of intrigue and suspense, immersing them in the story's eerie ambiance. Whether it's a gloomy small town, an abandoned building, or a remote forest, the setting can play a pivotal role in heightening the tension and unease within the narrative. Vivid descriptions of weather conditions, such as storms, fog, or persistent rain, can further intensify the ominous mood, making the reader feel as if they're right there in the thick of the mystery.

Historical locations with dark histories, like old mansions or long-forgotten prisons, can provide an eerie backdrop that adds depth and authenticity to the story. The unique culture and customs of a particular region or community can also be woven into the setting, creating a more immersive and realistic experience for the reader.

Contrasting the tranquility of an idyllic setting with the sinister events unfolding within it's a common technique used to amplify the tension and keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Pacing and Suspense Levels

When selecting mystery novels, the pacing and level of suspense are key factors to consider. A well-paced story will keep you hooked, with strategic moments of tension and release to maintain your curiosity throughout the narrative. Effective pacing in mystery novels involves alternating between high-stakes action and slower, character-driven scenes, creating a compelling reading experience. You'll find that the most enthralling mysteries strike a balance between fast-paced developments and thoughtful character exploration, immersing you in the unfolding investigation.

Skilled authors utilize pacing and suspense to guide you through complex plots, building towards a satisfying and unexpected conclusion. Suspenseful mysteries often incorporate cliffhangers, red herrings, and a gradual revealing of information to sustain your anticipation. A steady flow of suspense, with strategic disclosures and twists, will keep you engaged and turning the pages.

Ultimately, the best mystery novels harness the power of pacing and suspense to create a thrilling reading experience that you won't want to put down.

Thematic Depth Explored

Beyond mere plot devices, the most compelling mystery novels often explore deeper thematic depths that challenge readers' perspectives and leave a lasting impact.

Look for works that probe into complex issues like grief, mental health, or societal inequities. These thematically rich tales not only entertain with page-turning suspense but also prompt thoughtful reflection on the human condition.

Novels that grapple with moral ambiguities or shine a light on systemic injustices tend to earn critical acclaim, as they provide a more rewarding and thought-provoking reading experience.

When the mystery plot serves as a vehicle to examine gender dynamics, class divides, or other pressing social topics, the result can be an engrossing story that lingers long after the last page.

Readers seeking more than just a straightforward whodunit will be drawn to mysteries that balance suspense with substantive character development and meaningful social commentary. These are the kinds of books that will truly stay with you, expanding your mindset and offering deeper insights into the world around you.

Writing Style Analysis

Examining an author's use of pacing, point of view changes, and narrative structures can reveal whether their writing style creates an engaging and suspenseful reading experience for mystery enthusiasts.

Pay close attention to how the author builds tension and reveals clues, as these elements are central in driving the mystery forward. Moreover, an author's command of language, attention to sensory details, and ability to evoke a strong sense of setting can greatly enhance the mystery atmosphere.

Look for instances where the author skillfully withholds information, plants red herrings, and delivers unexpected twists to keep readers guessing and invested in the unfolding story.

Assess the author's overall storytelling prowess, including their ability to balance the mystery elements with other themes, such as character growth or social commentary. These factors will ultimately determine whether the mystery novel is a thrilling page-turner that leaves you keenly anticipating the next twist or revelation.

Genre Conventions Honored

What makes a truly exceptional mystery novel? Consider how well the author adheres to the genre's core conventions. Successful mystery writers deftly balance the need for surprises and twists with a logical, coherent plot that satisfies reader expectations. They craft intricate puzzles, develop compelling protagonists, and immerse you in a tangible, atmospheric setting. Truly gripping mysteries also explore deeper themes beyond just whodunit, probing into the human condition, moral ambiguity, or social commentary.

When selecting your next mystery read, look for these hallmarks of a genre-defining story. A classic mystery should keep you guessing until the very end, but the reveal must make sense in retrospect. The best authors masterfully lay out clues and red herrings, steadily building tension as you try to unravel the case. Memorable protagonists, whether brilliant detectives or flawed anti-heroes, drive the investigation forward with their unique investigative methods and personal motivations.

And the setting, whether a quaint village or bustling metropolis, should feel like a character itself, shaping the mystery's atmosphere and heightening the stakes. Seek out mysteries that transport you and leave you pondering long after the final page.

Personal Reading Preferences

When selecting your next mystery novel, you'll want to evaluate your personal reading preferences, such as the pacing, protagonists, tone, level of complexity, and preferred settings that appeal to you most.

If you're a fan of fast-moving, page-turning stories, seek out mysteries with a breakneck pace that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Alternatively, if you prefer character-driven narratives, look for mysteries that explore the personal challenges and motivations of the protagonists.

The tone of the novel is also an important consideration – do you gravitate towards gritty, dark stories or do you prefer a more lighthearted, humorous approach? Furthermore, consider the level of complexity that you enjoy, ranging from straightforward whodunits to intricate plots with multiple twists and reveals.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Ideal Reading Time for Mystery Novels?

The ideal reading time for mystery novels can vary, but as a rule of thumb, you'll want to set aside 2-3 hours to fully immerse yourself in the story and solve the intriguing puzzle.

These fast-paced thrillers are designed to keep you on the edge of your seat, so you'll need enough uninterrupted time to get lost in the twists and turns.

Don't be surprised if you end up reading well into the night – these page-turners are hard to put down!

How Can I Avoid Spoilers When Reading Mystery Books?

To avoid spoilers when reading mystery books, you should steer clear of reviews, discussions, and online content about the books until you've finished reading them.

Resist the temptation to peek at the ending or search for spoilers online. Instead, immerse yourself in the story and let the mystery unfold naturally.

Avoid talking about the book with others who've read it, too, until you've completed it. With discipline, you can enjoy the thrill of discovering the twists and turns for yourself.

What Are the Common Tropes in Contemporary Mystery Fiction?

As you flip through the pages of contemporary mystery fiction, you'll find a familiar cast of characters – the brilliant yet eccentric detective, the unreliable narrator, and the unexpected twist that leaves you gasping.

From the locked-room conundrum to the small-town scandal, these tropes are the bread and butter of the genre, each one a tantalizing puzzle waiting to be solved.

But beware, for in the world of mystery, nothing is quite as it seems.

Do Mystery Novels Require a Certain Level of Intelligence to Enjoy?

You don't need to be a genius to enjoy mystery novels.

While they often involve intricate plots and clever clues, the true pleasure comes from the thrill of the chase and the satisfaction of solving the puzzle.

Mystery stories appeal to a wide range of readers, from casual fans to dedicated enthusiasts.

The key is to approach them with an open mind and a sense of curiosity, letting the story sweep you along for the ride.

How Can I Find New and Undiscovered Mystery Authors to Read?

Uncovering hidden gems in the mystery genre is akin to plucking a rare blossom from a verdant field.

Scour online book forums, immerse yourself in independent bookstore shelves, and befriend fellow bookworms. Their recommendations will lead you down paths less traveled, introducing you to unsung authors whose spellbinding tales will leave you enthralled.

Embrace the thrill of the hunt, for the reward lies in discovering your next literary obsession.

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Matt Zimmerman, creator of ZimmWriter, applies his multidisciplinary skills to deliver results-oriented AI solutions. His background in SEO, law (J.D.), and engineering (B.S.M.E.) helped create one of the best AI writers in the world. Matt prioritizes continuous improvement by balancing his passion for coding with part-time work at the United States Patent and Trademark Office and his family responsibilities.