HomeCultureBooksBook Reviews

10 Top crime thriller and mystery novels

BY Farhana Gani

1st Jan 2015 Book Reviews

10 Top crime thriller and mystery novels

If you’re gripped by the BBC’s reworking of John Le Carré’s The Night Manager, be prepared for further surprises when you pick up the original novel. Here’s our choice of suspenseful titles to read this spring.

The 3rd Woman

by Jonathan Freedland

The 3rd Woman cover

The Guardian columnist emerges from behind his Sam Bourne nom de plume with an arresting thriller set in a dystopian near-future in which the United States is in thrall to the economic and political whims of China.

As journalist Madison Webb investigates her sister’s murder in LA’s now-sprawling Chinatown, she uncovers a network of lies and conspiracy that goes right to the heart of government.


The Night Manager

by John Le Carré

The Night Manager cover

Recently reimagined by BBC One for a ratings-grabbing Sunday drama series, this post-Cold War thriller by Britain’s greatest living spy novelist is a richly wrought, deliciously ambiguous tale of an undercover agent’s rule-bending operation to bring down an international arms/drug dealer.

Soldier-turned-spook Jonathan Pine will go to any lengths to root out ‘the worst man in the world’, even if it means uncovering unholy alliances between intelligence services and the arms trade.


Friday On My Mind

by Nicci French

Friday on My Mind cover

In the latest instalment of the bestselling Frieda Klein series, the trouble-seeking psychotherapist investigates the discovery of a bloated corpse found floating in the Thames.

The body is that of her ex-lover Sandy, and our heroine is incriminated by the words ‘Dr F. Klein’ inscribed on the man’s hospital wristband.

Another gripping suspense from husband-and-wife team Nicci Gerard and Sean French.


Montalbano’s First Case and Other Stories

by Andrea Camilleri

Montalbano's First Case and Other Stories cover

Alongside 19 popular novels featuring the eponymous Sicilian detective, Camilleri has published 59 short stories in which Salvo Montalbano pits his wits against Sicily’s relentless band of criminals.

Here Camilleri’s picked 21 of his best, translated into English for the first time. Readers might recall these stories as diverting sub-plots in the long-running Italian TV series that has become a staple of BBC Four’s Saturday nights.


A Fever of the Blood

by Oscar de Muriel

A Fever of the Blood cover

This second slice of atmospheric Victoriana (a sequel to The Strings of Murder) falls somewhere between Sherlock Holmes and Jonathan Creek.

As a nurse lies dying, Edinburgh detective Adolphus ‘Nine Nails’ McGray and his London-exile colleague Inspector Ian Frey investigate the case of a missing patient from a local lunatic asylum.

The duo ventures beyond the comfort of their jurisdiction and into a treacherous blizzard on Lancashire’s Pendle Hill, where witchcraft and other creepy dangers await.


The Drowned Detective

by Neil Jordan

The Drowned Detective cover

The film director and novelist’s latest standalone thriller is an inventive and endlessly surprising tale of jealousy, chance and betrayal. The narrator, Jonathan, is a private investigator somewhere in eastern Europe whose city and marriage are crumbling.

As he takes on an unresolved case of a missing child, he plunges into a dizzying underworld in which everything he thought he knew is cast into doubt. Complex and satisfying, this is Jordan at his potent best.


The House at Baker Street

by Michelle Birkby

The House at Baker Street cover

When Sherlock Holmes turns away the case of a persecuted woman, Arthur Conan Doyle’s curiously neglected ladies—the detective’s landlady, Mrs Hudson, and her friend Mary Watson (wife of the good doctor)—step beyond the threshold of 221b to do some investigating of their own.

Laura Shirley is one of many young girls at risk on the streets of Whitechapel where the Ripper still prowls, and the fearless duo are determined to stop him.

Pacy and provocative fun.


The Girl in the Ice

by Lotte Hammer & Soren Hammer

The Girl in the Ice cover

This twisty piece of Nordic noir is the second outing for Danish detective Konrad Simonsen, brainchild of the Hammer siblings, who remodelled themselves as a crime-writing duo in their mid-50s.

Simonsen treks to Greenland to investigate a case in which the German Chancellor, on a fact-finding trip to the polar ice-cap, stumbles upon a frozen corpse.

The murder turns out to have been committed a quarter of a century ago, and the discovery rekindles uncomfortable memories.


The Ninth Life of Louis Drax

by Liz Jensen

The Ninth Life of Louis Drax cover

Louis, a nine-year-old boy trapped in a coma after a near-fatal fall, narrates this taut psychological thriller as doctors try to bring him back to consciousness. His young life has been peppered with mysterious accidents and dark coincidences that appear to have been predestined.

His father has disappeared, and his mother is in uncommunicative shock. It falls to Dr Pascal Dannachet to unlock Louis’ secrets as the boy continues to defy medical science. Soon to be a major film starring Jamie Dornan.


The Man Without a Shadow

by Joyce Carol Oates

The Man Without a Shadow cover

A chilling story about young neuroscientist Margot Sharpe, whose life takes a lurching turn when she’s introduced to a patient with extreme amnesia. Elihu ‘E.H.’ Hoopes is unable to hold a thought in his head for much longer than a minute, but Margot is convinced they have a special bond.

For three decades, she studies and nurtures him, reaching the pinnacle of her profession. But privately, Sharpe is paralysed by loneliness, unrequited passion and psychosis.


*This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.