Agatha Christie may have perfected the classic murder mystery, but that doesn’t mean the genre is dead. Far from it. Thanks to Christie, modern murder mystery books from writers like Patricia Cornwell and Dennis Lehane have kept book lovers reading well into the night. Add to this list the gripping work of Tana French or the twisted fantasy-meets-mystery hybrids of Lauren Beukes, and you're sure to stay obsessed from cover to cover.
The Likeness is the second book in Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series, this one starring detective Cassie Maddox. After the success of the investigation chronicled In the Woods, Maddox finds herself at the center of her next assignment, as the murder victim is her doppelgänger. In hopes of understanding who the woman was and to bring her killer to justice, Cassie masquerades as the victim. But in ingratiating herself into her strange twin’s life, she puts herself in serious danger.
Ashley Cordova, the daughter of a legendary cult horror director Stanislaus Cordova, is found dead in an abandoned warehouse. The police think that it’s suicide, but investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects she may have been murdered. During his investigation it becomes painfully obvious that McGrath will eventually have to speak to Cordova, an infamous recluse. But every time McGrath gets close to a lead, something goes wrong—could it be that Cordova doesn’t want his daughter’s murder to be solved?
The Shining Girls
The serial killer at the heart of this novel has an unusual ability: He can travel through time, thanks to a house with mysterious powers—a house that also compels him to track down and kill the “shining girls” one by one. One of these girls, Kirby, manages to survive his attack. She then dedicates her life to tracking down her killer and stopping him.
And Then There Were None
One of the best-selling books of all time, And Then There Were None is considered to be Christie’s masterpiece. A group of people are lured to an island under the pretense of a summer vacation. But once there they realize they have been summoned because they are all responsible for the death of another person. Like the nursery rhyme, one-by-one they drop like flies in punishment for their misdeeds.
Cornwell’s Dr. Kay Scarpetta, medical examiner and amateur sleuth extraordinaire, was first introduced in this 1990 novel. Scarpetta is called to the scene of an especially gruesome strangling, where the investigators assume the victim’s husband is the killer. But Scarpetta has a different theory: There’s a serial killer at large. Postmortem won the Edgar Award for first novel; Cornwell has gone on to write 24 Scarpetta novels to date.
Published in 1994, the first installment of the Kreizler series tells of a series of murders of young boys at the turn of the century in New York City. Dr. Lazlo Kreizler is brought in to investigate and apply his newfangled methods like fingerprinting and criminal profiling. (At the time, experts who studied people who were “alienated” from society were called “alienists.”) Working with John Moore, the crime reporter for The New York Times, the two men team up to create a profile of the person responsible for these heinous crimes.
Dennis Lehane is a household name when it comes to thrillers, and many of his books have been adapted into wildly successful films. Mystic River is no exception. A particularly brutal and intense psychodrama, three men, Jimmy, Sean, and Dave, who grew up together in Boston are thrown together once more when Jimmy’s daughter is murdered. Sean is the homicide detective assigned to the case, who soon discovers that the night of the murder Dave came home covered in blood. As the three grapple with the truth of what happened to Jimmy’s daughter, their terrifying past comes back to haunt them.
Twenty years ago, Aaron Falk was accused of murder. The only thing that saved him from conviction was the strong word of his best friend Luke, who acted as his alibi. Now, Luke is dead, and Aaron must return home to face the community that still suspects his guilt. As a federal agent, Aaron is asked by local authorities to look into Luke’s death—could he have been murdered? And is it Aaron’s past that’s finally caught up with him? This electrifying debut will keep you up far past your bedtime.
In 1965, a single working mother named Ruth wakes to every parent’s worst nightmare—both her small children are missing. When the children turn up dead, everyone suspects Ruth, pointing to her less-than-savory personal life as evidence. But a rookie tabloid reporter on the case soon discovers there’s more than meets the eye to these deaths. Inspired by a true story, Little Deaths tells of the dangerous power of assumption and judgment.
Featured photo from the PC User's Guide of "And Then There Were None"