Halloween may be ending soon. However, book lovers can read mysteries any time of the year. Readers tend to go towards their books in their comfort zone. Don’t worry, I tend to do that sometimes as well. But I also try to find those hidden book gems, and sometimes they remarkably surprise you. And that is what a good mystery and thriller should do.
So, on the night before Halloween, I thought I would write 20 underrated mysteries and thrillers that I feel should get more attention and are worth a read. If you are looking for that hidden spook read to conclude your spooky season or to read any time of the year, you can’t miss the following:
True Crime Story by Joseph Knox
Riveting and mysterious, True Crime Story is one of the most innovative and thrilling mysteries of 2021 that needs to be on everyone’s reading list. This unforgettable novel will have you guessing from beginning to end, leaving you with a conclusion that will shock you when you reach the end of the page—one of the best books of 2021.
The Guest House by Robin Morgan-Bentley
How far would you go to protect the ones you love?
Jamie and Victoria are off for a last quick vacation before the arrival of their first baby. The remote country guesthouse Victoria chose seems like the perfect retreat–miles away from the distractions of work and their regular life. And the older couple that run the establishment, Barry and Fiona, are more than accommodating.
But when Jamie and Victoria awake on their first morning, they find the house deserted. Barry and Fiona are nowhere to be seen. All the doors are locked. And their cell phones and car keys have disappeared.
They have no way out and no way to call for help and the contractions are getting stronger. (Credit: Poisoned Pen Press)
The Corset by Laura Purcell
US Title: The Poison Thread
A dark historical drama that had me completely memorized and captivated from the very first page! The writing was both exquisite and compelling that really captures the horror behind beauty. The thrills and chills was just woven so beautifully I had a hard time believing what was true. It was more than just about a supernatural power, it is about the mystery of the human mind and something there is no logic explanation behind it. If you are looking for a perfect spooky Halloween read then this is the one for you! It will leave you with chills down your spine!
The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell
Silhouette artist Agnes is struggling to keep her business afloat. Still recovering from a serious illness herself, making enough money to support her elderly mother and her orphaned nephew Cedric has never been easy, but then one of her clients is murdered shortly after sitting for Agnes, and then another, and another…
Desperately seeking an answer, Agnes approaches Pearl, a child spirit medium lodging in Bath with her older half-sister and her ailing father, hoping that if Pearl can make contact with those who died, they might reveal who killed them. But Agnes and Pearl quickly discover that instead they may have opened the door to something that they can never put back…
What secrets lie hidden in the darkness? (Credit: Bloomsbury Publishing)
Northern Spy by Flynn Berry
Both riveting and compelling, this book really surprised at how it came together. Not for the mystery aspect, but the emotional investment and care that the author showed on how far a mother would go to provide their child with a better life. I always find fiction about the Northern Ireland conflict and this book did a great job depicting historical context tied in with an exciting espionage adventure that is hard to put down from beginning to end.
After The Silence by Louise O’Neill
Not only was this mystery thrilling and had me hooked until the very end (trust me, I was shocked at the conclusion), this book touched on issues with a thriller that you don’t really see in other mysteries or done in compelling way that was written so well. Don’t reveal too much but After the Silence takes psychological abuse in a whole new direction but on path that feels realistic and not far fetched. O’Neill has written a captivating tale full of puzzles and complexities of the human mind that dives into the question: how far will you go to protect the ones you love?
The Khan by Saima Mir
I never read a book like this before. After hearing about all the buzz and great blurbs given for this book, I am so glad I picked it up. A crime thriller that is gritty and compelling but also with a sense of family and community, Mir has written a stunning debut that stands out from the rest of the crime thrillers out there. The characters here are full of realism and toughness that you may not sympathize with their actions but understand the meaning behind them.
The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is already a trending hit on TikTok. But after you read the former, you’ll need to go out and read the latter. The Devil and the Dark Water is creepy and mysterious, all tied up in a bow. You think you’ll have it all figured out, but you are entirely wrong! From beginning to end, this will have you on the edge of your seat. It also examines how fear and paranoia can be created so quickly, with a simple use of misdirection and the power of suggestion. Blown away by the storytelling!
The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean
Will Dean has created an atmospheric thriller full of dark themes that will leave readers breathless. It is gripping and highlights the horrors of human trafficking. It was just so well written. You can feel for the main character and what she was going through.
The Things She’s Seen by Ambelin Kwaymullina & Ezekiel Kwaymullina
This was one thrilling and satisfying mystery that leaves not only chills down your spine but also makes you think about the populations that have been both persecuted and marginalized by so-called superior groups due to their wanting to express power and dominance. Catching’s narrative was told in verse, and I don’t think it was possible it could be done more beautifully. It was both haunting and fascinating and managed to capture the essence of the tradition of storytelling. I always knew about the indigenous people of Australia. Still, I don’t think I understood about their tragic history, or the sad history of any indigenous population, until I read this book. Now, I want to read more about them.
The Downstairs Neighbor by Helen Cooper
So many twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat! I didn’t know what secret I would turn up with when a chapter concluded, and I always ended up being shocked and in awe at what I initially thought was incorrect! That’s how a good mystery is supposed to be! The story really kept to all the tropes of the mystery genre but also told a compelling and engaging story that draws you in and keeps you on your toes.
Wicked Little Deeds by Kat Ellis
US Title: Burden Falls
Such good fun to read! This enticing thriller had me at the edge of it from beginning to end. It reminded me of many good teen horror flicks, but it didn’t rely on cliches or generic stereotypes. It added something different to the horror/mystery genre!
The Last Witness by Claire McFall
UK Title: Black Cairn Point
I was a little surprised by this one, particularly with the twist towards the end. It started off slow but I expected it needed to do that to lead to the momentum towards the end. I thought I had it all figured it out but then it completely thrown me a curve ball at the end. Adult readers may expect more from this but I believe that teen readers would enjoy this one, particularly enjoy the ride the story takes them on. It is a good starter for thrillers for other YA readers.
Our Fathers by Rebecca Wait
Both haunting and depressing, Our Fathers is an excellent work of literary fiction that provides thought-provoking insight into an issue that I feel does not get discussed widely enough. This book was both engaging and beautifully written. I cannot wait to read more books by this author. This novel is profoundly moving and thought-provoking on such an important issue. This may be a short novel, but Wait didn’t waste any time writing a gripping novel in such a beautiful way. Wait writes a story about domestic violence, both physical and psychological. But instead of writing the graphic details, she shows the effects of these tragic events from a different point of view. It shows the trickle-down results of domestic violence, from the family to the neighbors. It also examines how the mystery of the human mind is still an enigma, and communities, who claim they are close to one another, do not know what is going on (or don’t want to know) behind closed doors. In a haunting way, Our Fathers offers insight into how a family can wound one another.
You’re Invited by Amanda Jayatissa
Mind blown after reading this one! The twists and turns had me on the edge of my seat. I really didn’t know where this was going and I loved the ride that I was put on with this thrilling mystery. Fans of Lucy Foley and Gillian Flynn will love to read this one by Jayatissa!
Shiver by Allie Reynolds
It will be a joy for Agatha Christie fans since it goes like “And Then There Were None.” Not only is it atmospheric, especially with its snowboarding references, but you can feel tense and the dark emotions of what is truly going on in what looks like an abandoned snow lodge. The twists and turns left until the very end, but it’s not done in a way that you are tired and bored of reading, but you are excited to see how it turns out! It’s such a superb debut that leaves with a chilling ending.
The Blackhouse by Carole Johnstone
Maggie Mackay has been haunted her entire life. No matter what she does, she can’t shake the sense that something is wrong with her. And maybe something is…When she was five years old, Maggie announced that a man on the remote island of Kilmeray in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides–a place she’d never visited–was murdered. Her unfounded claim drew media attention and turned the locals against each other, creating rifts that never mended.
Now, nearly twenty years later, Maggie is determined to discover what really happened, and what the villagers are hiding. But everyone has secrets, and some are deadly. As she gets closer to the horrifying truth, the island’s legendary and violent storms begin to rage again and Maggie’s own life is in danger…(Credit: Scribner Book Company)
Madam by Phoebe Wynne
I surprisingly found this to be enjoyable! Albeit a slow pace, if you are a fan of classic literature (like I am) then the pacing is something that won’t throw you off. The fact that it took place in the 90s, during the Thatcher years, but still presented that Gothic presence and atmosphere really threw me a curve ball but in a good way! It was such an innovative way of writing a story. A creepy school running values from Victorian times? I found it be relatable to how the current climate is now. The Greek/Latin history may have turned some readers off but I found it delightful and intriguing to read. How these women were marred and belittled for being women in history is something that is still being done today. Perfect for readers who enjoy Gothic literature with a feminist theme intertwined in it.
The Stranded by Sarah Daniels
This was such a fantastic ride. I never read a dystopian like this one! I was turned off from the genre after reading The Hunger Games. But after reading The Stranded, if they turn out to be like this, I will be reading more of the genre. It was well written and filled with everything that will have a reader on the edge of your seat: action, fantastic world-building, and excellent character development. All significant aspects that make it one of my favorites of 2023.
A Peculiar Combination by Ashley Weaver
FIRST RULE: DON’T LOSE YOUR CONCENTRATION.
Electra McDonnell and her family earn their living outside the law. Breaking into the homes of the rich and picking the locks on their safes may not be condoned by British law enforcement, but with World War II in full swing, Uncle Mick’s locksmith business just can’t pay the bills anymore.
SECOND RULE: DON’T MAKE MISTAKES.
So when Uncle Mick receives a tip about a safe full of jewels in an empty house, he and Ellie can’t resist. All is going as planned–until the pair is caught red-handed. But instead of arresting them, government official Major Ramsey has an offer: either Ellie agrees to help him break into a safe and retrieve blueprints crucial to the British war effort, or he turns her over to the police.
THIRD RULE: DON’T GET CAUGHT.
Ellie doesn’t care for the major’s imperious manner, but she has no choice. However, when they break into the house, they find the safe open and empty, and a German spy dead on the floor. Soon, Ellie and Major Ramsey are forced to put aside their differences to unmask the double agent, and stop Allied plans from falling into enemy hands.(Credit: Minotaur Books)
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