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12 Coffee Table Books for Mystery Lovers

Books to spark conversations with other avid mystery readers.

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  • Photo Credit: Featured photo: Aga Putra / Unsplash

There’s nothing a mystery lover enjoys more than digging into facts to find the truth. Beyond the skills of an illustrious detective or an unlikely investigator, mystery readers want to know the story behind the story. And we have the perfect gift guide for you.

In each of these 12 coffee table books, you’ll find an element of the mysterious ranging from the history of every fictional detective’s favorite spirit to an inside glimpse into the foggy streets of Victorian London. These books are visually stunning and guaranteed to wow and delight any mystery lover.


The Mysterious World of Sherlock Holmes

By Bruce Wexler

Sherlock Holmes is one of the most iconic figures in the mystery genre. This gorgeous, illustrated book takes you deep into his Victorian London to explore the vivid reality of this fictional world. With the aid of over 150 researched illustrations, readers gain an unprecedented look into Holmes’ methods, cases, and infamous adversaries.


Murder Maps USA: Crime Scenes Revisited; Bloodstains to Ballistics, 1865-1939

By Adam Selzer

A beautifully designed revisiting of the strangest murders committed in the US between 1865-1939. Instead of focusing on the gruesome or the gory, this book utilizes infographics and original documents to visually highlight the intricate details of each case.


House of Fiction: From Pemberley to Brideshead, Great British Houses in Literature and Life

By Phyllis Richardson

While there are illustrations woven throughout the text, this book is meant to be read as a series of essays, allowing the reader to experience the incredible architecture and design of some of the more infamous houses of literature, whether real or imagined, including the many homes of Agatha Christie.


Inside Secret Societies: Behind the Scenes of the Knights Templar, the Order of Assassins, Opus Dei, the Illuminati, Freemasons, & Many More

By Neil Turitz and Barak Zimmerman

One element that is guaranteed to ratchet up any mystery is a secret society. Who are they? What is their purpose? Complete with photographs and illustrations, this book takes you into the world of secrets.


Film Noir Style: The Killer 1940s

By Kimberly Truhler

The noir genre not only has a unique voice in fiction, it has killer style. These looks were solidified in the 1940s and have maintained an influence ever since. From the rumpled trenchcoats of Humphrey Bogart and Alan Ladd to the sensuous femme fatales portrayed by Veronica Lake, Lauren Bacall, and Betty Grable. Their looks are more than simple costumes, they offer a glimpse into who the character is and what their motives might be.


The Master Theorem: A Book of Puzzles, Intrigue and Wit

By M

Intrigue and wit are two characteristics that almost all memorable detectives have. They’re able to look at puzzles and solve them with the barest trace of clues. And now, you can sharpen your own detective skills with this exquisitely illustrated book. Each puzzle is perplexing, and working through them will bring you one step closer to becoming an expert in cracking codes, ciphers, and seeing the world through a slightly different lens.


Of Cats and Men: Profiles of History's Great Cat-Loving Artists, Writers, Thinkers, and Statesmen

By Sam Kalda

Cats are a staple in the cozy mystery genre, largely because their independent but bossy nature makes them the perfect detective companion. They’ve been a prominent part of history dating all the way to the ancient Egyptians. In this charmingly illustrated book, Kalda takes you through some of the most powerful and creative men in history, but he doesn’t talk about their accomplishments. Instead, he focuses on their most important trait: their cats.


Booked: The Last 150 Years Told through Mug Shots

By Giacomo Papi and translated by Jamie Richards

Many mystery novels don’t focus on the criminal after the detective declares who-dun-it. But part of the allure of mysteries isn’t just who committed the crime—but why. Millions of people are arrested every year, and while we may not have Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie to shine a light on their crimes, or even remember who many of these individuals are, their mugshots become a lasting part of history, illuminating who we are based on what crimes we commit. 


The Greatest Unsolved Mysteries of All Time: 50 Baffling Cases from the Files

By Editors of Life

Reality is often stranger than fiction, and even the most outrageous mysteries in many popular mystery novels are tame compared to real life. Complete with photographs, illustrations, and other art, this book takes you through fifty of the world’s most bewildering unsolved mysteries, ranging from who Jack the Ripper may have truly been to if Napoleon was actually murdered to where Agatha Christie really went when she disappeared.


The 10 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time: Decoding History's Unsolved Mysteries

By Brad Meltzer

There’s one thing mystery fans open a book to find: the truth. And real life is often no exception. You crave answers. And Brad Meltzer wants to give them to you. Combined with incredible photographs, Meltzer digs through some of the longest-lasting conspiracies that have been haunting history buffs and conspiracy theorists for decades—even centuries.


Roots of Film Noir: Precursors from the Silent Era to the 1940s

By Kevin Grant

Long before noir took over, the genre was quietly budding behind the scenes. It’s in the silent films before the first Hitchcock thriller; it’s woven into German expressionist masterpieces; it’s in poetic French drama. Grant takes the reader through early film through text and photography, exploring a variety of genres and subgenres and highlighting the way noir was present long before the genre became a predominant staple in the mystery genre.


The Bourbon Bible

By Eric Zandona

Whiskey is a common staple in detective fiction. There’s a lot of information to be gained inside a dive bar, and life in the realm of murder is tough. Not to mention, it plays a role in not just crimes of passion but also catapulted organized crime in spectacular fashion during prohibition. From the history of bourbon to modern-day distilleries, this book is the perfect guide to understanding one of America’s favorite spirits.

Featured photo: Aga Putra / Unsplash