Mystery and thrillers are some of the best books to listen to. They grab you and hook you in, making hours fly past, perfect for long drives and daily commutes. A surprising number of these titles have been made into films and TV shows, some of which are critically acclaimed and definitely worth a watch. We recommend starting with the original so here are some of the best mystery audiobooks around.
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1. The Last Widow – Karin Slaughter
An abduction without a trace, biological warfare and far-right terror. The latest thriller by Karin Slaughter brings back Will Trent and Sara Linton into the middle of a deadly conspiracy.
2. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton
A Sunday Times Bestseller, Winner of the Costa First Novel, and a Book of the Year by The Guardian. The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle merges the glamour and intrigue of classic murder mysteries with an innovative, Chinese box narrative.
3. Codename Villanelle – Killing Eve – Luke Jennings
The BBC hit series was phenomenal, Jodie Comer as Villanelle might be one of my favourite characters ever. I was completely entranced by her. Unsurprisingly the series was based from a book series of which the first is called Codename Villanelle. Now, not often but sometimes the screen adaptation is better than the book and I think it would be hard to beat what the BBC produced. The screenplay is excellently written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag creator, potential 007 franchise saver and the robot from Solo) and the cast is great. If you enjoyed it and want more then listen to the audiobooks.
4. I Found You – Lisa Jewell
East Yorkshire: Single mum Alice Lake finds a man on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, no idea what he is doing there. Against her better judgement, she invites him in to her home.
Surrey: 21-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night, she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed….
This is a great story which will keep you guessing with twists and turns every chapter.
5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
An international bestseller, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a sensation in Sweden and across Europe as well as in the USA. The 2011 movie didn’t bomb but did seem to end the hype over the book series. It took 7 years before the next movie instalment was released which seemed to go fairly unnoticed. Never the less the books are fantastic, dark, twisted and exciting. The first book in the series follows journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the pierced and tattooed punk hacker Lisbeth Salander as they uncover a 40-year-old murder mystery family saga.
6. The Outsider – Stephen King
A young boy has been brutally murdered, forensic evidence and multiple witnesses point to Terry Maitland. However, Terry is a happily married family man, youth sports coach and one of the most popular and respected people in town. Something doesn’t add up, least of all his iron-clad alibi.
7. Mystic River – Dennis Lehane
Yet another title that has been adapted for the screen. Mystic River is the unsettling story of three young boys innocently playing in the street when a car pulls up and takes one of the boys away. The incident ends their friendship and changes their lives forever. 25 years later and Jimmy’s (one of the boys) daughter is found murdered, the other boy Sean is now a detective and Dave the boy who was taken comes home the night of the murder to his wife and family covered in blood. If Dave didn’t do it can Sean find out who did?
8. All that’s dead – Stuart MacBride
Inspector Logan McRae is looking forward to a nice simple case – something to ease him back into work after a year off on the sick. But the powers-that-be have other ideas…
The high-profile anti-independence campaigner, Professor Wilson, has gone missing, leaving nothing but bloodstains behind. There’s a war brewing between the factions for and against Scottish Nationalism. Infighting in the police ranks. And it’s all playing out in the merciless glare of the media. Logan’s superiors want results, and they want them now.
Someone out there is trying to make a point, and they’re making it in blood. If Logan can’t stop them, it won’t just be his career that dies.
9. Shutter Island – Dennis Lehane
The second Dennis Lehane novel in the list and yet another that made it to the big screen. Tom Stechschulte delivered an outstanding performance of the psychological thriller Shutter Island. U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, arrive on Shutter Island, the home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Their assignment is to to find an escaped murderer named Rachel Solando. Cryptic codes, mystery and ever-growing questions leave them desperately trying to figure out what is really happening on Ward C. As the twists keep coming, nothing as it seems.
10. The Lady in the Lake – Raymond Chandler
Private Investigator Philip Marlowe is hired to find a missing woman. Derace Kingsley’s wife ran away to Mexico to get a divorce and marry a hunk named Chris Lavery. Or so the note she left her husband says. Trouble is when Philip Marlowe asks Lavery about it he denies everything. But when Marlowe next encounters Lavery, he’s denying nothing – on account of the two bullet holes in his heart. Now Marlowe’s on the trail of a killer, who leads him out of smoggy Los Angeles all the way to a murky mountain lake . . .
11. The Woman in the Window – AJ Finn
For 10 months Anna has been trapped inside her home suffering from agoraphobia. She can’t go outside. Her life outside her home is only viewed through her camera, where she watches her neighbours’ daily routines until one day she witnesses an attack. But the police don’t believe her, with all her anxiety medication and frequent bottles of wine Anna questions if it happened at all or if there is another reason they don’t believe her. If you enjoyed The Girl on the Train, The Woman in Cabin 10 and Gone Girl, this is for you.
12. Dark Sacred Night – Michael Connelly
Detective Renee Ballard partners with legendary LAPD Harry Bosch on an unsolved case close to Bosch’s heart. The cold case is the death of fifteen-year-old Daisy Clayton who was brutally murdered and her body left in a dumpster years ago. Ballard works with Bosch whilst also dealing with her own cases in this expertly told crime novel from a master of the genre Michael Connelly.
13. The Witch Elm – Tana French
Toby has always led a charmed life – until a brutal attack leaves him damaged and traumatised, unsure even of the person he used to be. He seeks refuge at his family’s ancestral home, the Ivy House, filled with memories of wild-strawberry summers and teenage parties with his cousins. Soon after his arrival, a skull is uncovered inside the old wych elm in the garden. As detectives investigate, Toby is forced to examine everything he thought he knew about his family, his past, and himself.
14. A Time to Kill – John Grisham
John Grisham’s first novel A Time to Kill initially only had 5000 copies printed but it started his transition from Southaven Lawyer to full-time writer and into the master of legal thrillers. Set in small-town Clanton, Mississippi a father kills the two racists who raped his young daughter. The town sees it as justice done but extremists invade Clanton outraged that a black man has killed two white men. A media circus begins, tensions mount and for the young defence lawyer, it is a case that could break him or hill him.
15. And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie
Ten people dead on an island and not a living soul on it. It doesn’t make sense. We don’t know who did it, or why, or how. Regarded as Agatha Christie’s masterpiece, this is the classic murder mystery in all its glory. For fans of the book, there is an excellent 2015 tv adaptation with Charles Dance, Miranda Richardson, Aidan Turner, and Sam Neill.
16. Since We Fell – Dennis Lehane
Since We Fell follows Rachel Childs, a former journalist who, after an on-air mental breakdown, now lives as a virtual shut-in. In all other respects, however, she enjoys an ideal life with an ideal husband. Until a chance encounter on a rainy afternoon causes that ideal life to fray. As does Rachel’s marriage. As does Rachel herself. Sucked into a conspiracy thick with deception, violence, and possibly madness, Rachel must find the strength within herself to conquer unimaginable fears and mind-altering truths. By turns heart- breaking, suspenseful, romantic, and sophisticated, Since We Fell is a novel of profound psychological insight and tension. It is Dennis Lehane at his very best.
17. The Lying Game – Ruth Ware
The author of “In a Dark, Dark Wood” and “The Woman in Cabin 10”, The Lying Game is twisting thriller from Ruth Ware. Isa and her three best friends used to play the Lying Game, competing to convince people of outrageous stories. Now, after seventeen years of hiding the truth, something terrible has been found on the beach. The friends’ darkest secret is about to come to light…
18. The Secret Place – Tana French
Detective Stephen Moran hasn’t seen Holly Mackey since she was a nine-year-old witness to the events of Faithful Place. Now she’s sixteen and she’s shown up outside his squad room, with a photograph of Christopher Harper, a boy who was found murdered on school grounds last year. On the photo is a caption that reads “I Know Who Killed Him”.
19. The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling)
When a troubled model falls to her death from a snow-covered Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts, and calls in private investigator Cormoran Strike to look into the case. A brilliant mystery set in the atmosphere of London, The Cuckoo’s Calling is the number one bestseller from J.K.Rowling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.
20. Before I Go to Sleep – S. J. Watson
Ever since a vicious attack, Christine Lucas has suffered from anterograde amnesia and is unable to form new memories. Every morning, she becomes reacquainted with her husband, Ben, who must explain who he is and that she had a terrible accident. Christine starts to uncover terrifying truths about her past, she begins to question everything and everyone around her. There is also a 2014 movie with Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong.
21. Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty
A murder. A tragic accident. Or just parents behaving badly? What’s indisputable is that someone is dead. Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the little lies that can turn lethal.
22. Still Mine – Amy Stuart
The excellent first novel by Amy Stuart, which was followed up by Still Water. Still Mine is a dark, atmospheric story that will keep you guessing. Clare is on the run from her ex-husband, she arrives in an old mining town looking for a missing girl, Shayna Fowles. As Clare uncovers the mysteries around Shayna’s disappearance, she must confront her own demons, moving us deeper and deeper into the labyrinth of lies and making us question what it is she’s really running from.
23. The Dinner – Herman Koch
The Dinner is a really interesting concept for a book. Set in a fancy upmarket restaurant in Amsterdam, the story unfolds over dinner between two couples, starting with the predictable topics of work, holidays, and the mundanes of life, each couple forces the politeness knowing they must eventually discuss the elephant in the room. Each couple has a 15-year-old son. Together, the boys have committed a horrifying act and that the police are looking for them. As the conversation finally turns to the children, we see just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.
24. Silent Patient – Alex Michaelides
Successful painter and seemingly happy Alicia Berenson shoots husband Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word. Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought. A totally original psychological mystery The Silent Patient is a gripping must-read debut from Alex Michaelides.
25. Past Presence – Nicole Bross
After a near-death experience in her teens, Audrey can see people’s past lives whenever her skin touches theirs, and afraid of being labelled delusional, she’s never stayed in one place too long or made any deep connections. Her estranged aunt dies and leaves her the historic Soberly Inn on the Oregon coast, reluctant at first she begins to feel that maybe she’s finally found a place of her own. When locals start dying Audrey vows to use her gift to find the murderer.
26. The Night Olivia Fell – Christina McDonald
Gut-wrenching and heartbreaking. Single mother Abi is on a mission to find out the truth of what happened to her daughter after she was found pregnant and fighting for her life on a riverbank. This story flicks between past and present, with flashbacks of Olivia’s own to uncover family secrets. But was this all an accident?
27. Before She Knew Him – Peter Swanson
The first Peter Swanson I read was “A kind worth killing” and I’ve been a fan of his twists and suspense ever since. “Before she knew him” is the story of Hen and Lloyd who move into their new house in West Dartford. Relieved to meet the only other seemingly childless couple in their neighbourhood, they befriend Matthew and Mira Dolamore. During a dinner, Hen thinks she sees something suspicious in Matthew’s study and starts to form a bond with him to unravel the dark secret. But with Hens past, who is the one really in danger?
28. Call Me Evie – J. P. Pomare
In this propulsive, twist-filled, and haunting psychological suspense debut perfect for fans of Sharp Objects and Room, a seventeen-year-old girl struggles to remember the role she played on the night her life changed forever.
29. Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn
You have probably read “Gone Girl”, the book that shot Gillian Flynn to fame. Sharp Objects is just as gripping. Two Girls Aged Nine And Ten Are Abducted And Killed In Wind Gap Missouri. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker returns to her hometown to cover the story. Back in her family’s Victorian mansion, a victim of her own demons, she must unravel her past to find the answers of the murdered girls.
30. Bluebird, Bluebird – Attica Locke
31. Two Girls Down – Luisa Luna
When two sisters disappear from a parking lot while their mother is in Kmart, the devastated family hires bounty hunter Alice Vega to help find the girls. Immediately shut out by a local police department already stretched too thin by budget cuts and the growing meth epidemic, Vega enlists the help of a disgraced former cop, Max Caplan. Cap is a man trying to put the scandal of his past behind him and move on, but Vega needs his help, and she will not be denied.
With little to go on, Vega and Cap will go to extraordinary lengths to untangle a dangerous web of lies, false leads, and complex relationships to find the girls before time runs out and they are gone forever.