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Best Book Club Books: Mystery and Suspense

Crack the case in these thrilling reads.

Mystery and suspense books make exciting book club picks. They’re packed with compelling characters, vivid settings, and shocking twists and turns — and it’s always fun to discuss that big reveal at the end with fellow readers. If you and your book club friends are on the hunt for your next thrilling case, then we’ve got you covered. Here are the best mystery and suspense books for your mystery book club.

Brandon Miller

The Kingdoms of Savannah

By George Dawes Green

The South is a beguiling setting for a mystery, and The Kingdoms of Savannah by George Dawes Green epitomizes why. You’ll find a wealth of suspense, surprise, and Southern Gothic atmosphere in the acclaimed new novel, as well as a deep sense of history and the traumas of the past. The novel centers on Morgana Musgrove, a Savannah socialite who is hired to investigate the circumstances behind the death of one person and the disappearance of another. She enlists the help of her four adult children, all of whom have grown weary of their mother’s domineering ways, which adds a twist of family drama to the unfolding mystery. As the Musgroves search for answers, traveling from the homeless encampments on the city’s outskirts to Savannah’s resplendent manors, they uncover dark truths about the past that will shake the fabled city to its core. A finely crafted literary mystery rich with historical detail, The Kingdoms of Savannah is a “provocative page-turner [that’s] sure to enthrall a broad spectrum of readers” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).

The Silent Patient

By Alex Michaelides

In Alex Michaelides’ internationally bestselling The Silent Patient, you’ll find a book club pick with everything you need: a head-scratching mystery, nerve-jangling suspense, a cast of compelling characters, and a labyrinthine plot threaded with dark tragedy and Greek myth. The novel centers on Alicia Berenson, a famous painter in London who seems to lead a life of luxury with her fashion photographer husband. Then one night, Berenson inexplicably murders her husband by shooting him five times in the face. Afterward, she refuses to speak another word. The slaying sends shockwaves through the art world and beyond. What could have motivated Berenson to commit such an act of violence? Criminal psychotherapist Dr. Theo Faber is determined to break through to his silent patient and unravel the truth about the murder, sending him down his own dark and twisted path that could very well consume him.

Magpie Murders

By Anthony Horowitz

Magpie Murders, the New York Times bestselling novel by Anthony Horowitz, is a brilliantly crafted murder mystery that’s perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and the classic whodunits of detective fiction’s golden age. The novel focuses on an editor, Susan Ryeland, who works with accomplished mystery writer Alan Conway. As she reads Conway’s latest manuscript about a murder at a local manor house, Ryeland realizes that a second story of greed, jealousy, and murder is “hidden” within its pages. Horowitz’s mystery-within-a-mystery is spellbinding and provides a tantalizing trail of clues to unpack at your next book club gathering.

The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

By Stuart Turton

Stuart Turton’s celebrated The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle will be unlike any other mystery book that you and your book club tackle. As its title suggests, the mystery centers on the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle, who dies every night at 11 p.m. sharp until her killer is identified. The investigator, Aiden Bishop, wakes up on the morning of the murder again and again until he cracks the case, each time inhabiting the body of a different guest at Blackheath Manor, where the murder will occur. Think of it as a classic English mystery blended with the time-bending comedy of Groundhog Day and Quantum Leap. Indeed, the novel’s inventive plot is as compelling as its central mystery, making for a highly entertaining whodunit that your book club is sure to love.

The Lost Man

By Jane Harper

In The Lost Man, Jane Harper delivers a captivating thriller that doubles as a poignant family drama. It’s also richly atmospheric, with its blazing Australian Outback setting so beautifully depicted that you and your mystery book club crew will swear that you’re there. In the novel, estranged brothers Nathan and Bub meet at the stretch of livestock fencing that separates their sprawling cattle ranches. The brothers are the only living souls around; their respective homes are hours apart. At their feet lies the body of Cameron, the third brother of the family. Something compelled Cameron to set out alone into this unforgiving landscape — but what? As Nathan and Bub grieve their brother’s death, they also reckon with his mysterious demise, unearthing long-buried family secrets that some would prefer stayed buried.

Bluebird, Bluebird

By Attica Locke

Some of the best book club picks are mysteries that integrate larger societal issues, and Attica Locke’s Bluebird, Bluebird is a magnificent example of one such narrative. The novel is set in East Texas and follows Darren Matthews, a Black Texas ranger, as he investigates two murders in the small town of Lark. The identities of the victims — a Black lawyer from the Midwest and a local white woman — turn up the heat in this out-of-the-way Texas community, and as Matthews’ investigation unfolds, simmering racial tensions threaten to boil over. This gripping rural noir has an especially compelling lead character, and Locke’s brilliant handling of the novel’s central mystery will inspire a spirited discussion among your book club group.

The Mother-in-Law

By Sally Hepworth

Connecting with your in-laws is rarely easy, but chances are that your own in-law relationships aren’t bundled with a shocking murder mystery. In Sally Hepworth’s The Mother-in-Law, Lucy strives in vain to win over her husband’s mother, Diana, but it’s clear that Diana has no interest in returning the affection. Lucy is heartbroken by the rejection, and the fact that Diana is an otherwise happily married woman who gives back to her community and advocates for female refugees makes their distressed relationship all the more upsetting. Then Diana turns up dead, opening up a dark well of questions. For one, why did Diana leave a suicide note referencing cancer when an autopsy found no such disease? For another, why did she change her will at the last moment to disinherit her children and their spouses? Wicked family secrets abound in this “deliciously entertaining” (People) domestic mystery thriller, making for a highly engaging (and perhaps all-too-relatable) next pick for your book club.

Razorblade Tears

By S.A. Crosby

A New York Times bestseller that made just about every best-of list in 2021, S.A. Crosby’s acclaimed Razorblade Tears is a fantastic mystery that touches on hot-button issues like racism, homophobia, and toxic masculinity. In the novel, two fathers — one Black, the other white — come together to avenge their sons’ murders. Ike Randolph and Buddy Lee are ex-cons with little in common beyond their criminal records and strained relationships with their respective sons, Isiah and Derek. Though Isiah and Derek were happily married, neither Ike nor Buddy fully accepted the relationship. But when Isiah and Derek are murdered, the slayings launch Ike and Buddy back into the criminal underworld, where they must reckon with their deep-rooted bigotries as they hunt down the people who hurt their sons. “Poignant, action-packed, and profound” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel), Razorblade Tears is about so much more than just revenge and is sure to get your mystery book club talking.

The Last Thing He Told Me

By Laura Dave

Reese Witherspoon chose Laura Dave’s The Last Thing He Told Me as one of her book club picks in 2021 — and if it’s good enough for one of the world’s most famous book clubs, chances are that your group will enjoy it as well. The bestselling mystery centers on the sudden disappearance of Owen Michaels, who leaves a note to Hannah, his beloved wife of one year, imploring her to protect his teenage daughter. Hannah has never had a particularly good relationship with her stepdaughter, Bailey, and establishing a connection now will be tough. But when Owen’s boss is arrested and federal agents surround their home, Hannah and Bailey must come together to solve the mystery of Owen’s disappearance and the truth about his identity.

The Other Black Girl

By Zakiya Dalila Harris

In her bestselling debut, The Other Black Girl, Zakiya Dalila Harris delivers a razor-sharp workplace mystery that dives deep into complex issues of race, class, and gender. The novel follows publishing assistant Nella Rogers, who’s initially thrilled when another Black woman, Hazel, begins working alongside her at Wagner Books. But as Hazel becomes the cool girl in the office, Nella falls behind. Then Nella receives a threatening note demanding that she leave the company. All clues point to Hazel as the instigator — but why? As Hazel’s search spirals into obsession, it becomes clear that a work–life balance is the least of her concerns. “Filled with twists both unsettling and unexpected” (TIME), this edgy literary thrill ride will give your book club plenty to discuss.

I Found You

By Lisa Jewell

Lisa Jewell is a modern-day queen of suspense, and I Found You is one of her best offerings. In this psychological thriller, multiple storylines intersect in ways that will keep you and your book club group guessing until the last page is turned. One narrative thread follows an enigmatic stranger who turns up in a seaside town with no memory of who he is or how he got there; another focuses on newlywed Lily Monrose, whose husband vanishes from their suburban London home and — as she’s about to discover — was living under a false name and identity. The third storyline flashes back into the past, where a shadowy figure begins paying close attention to two teenage friends on holiday on England’s Yorkshire coast. How do these mysterious threads connect? There’s just one way to find out....

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