10 Most Underrated Mystery Novels | TheReviewGeek Recommends

While the world of mystery novels is dominated by celebrated names and popular titles, there exists a collection of hidden gems that often go unnoticed. These underrated mysteries have the power to captivate readers with their intriguing plots, clever plot twists, and compelling characters.

In this article, we shine a light on 10 of the most underrated mystery novels that deserve recognition. Prepare to discover lesser-known works that will keep you enthralled from beginning to end, as we enter the realms of suspense and unravel the secrets that lie within these hidden treasures. As usual, you can let us know your thoughts in the comments below:

Best Mystery Novels
“The Last Detective” by Peter Lovesey

“The Last Detective” introduces readers to Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond, a refreshingly unconventional protagonist. Lovesey’s intricate plot weaves together a missing person case with a series of seemingly unrelated murders, creating a suspenseful and absorbing read.

The author’s attention to detail and well-crafted characters make this novel a standout within the genre. As Diamond navigates the twists and turns of the investigation, readers are treated to a masterclass in crime-solving, accompanied by a healthy dose of wit and charm.

Best Mystery Novels
“Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter” by Tom Franklin

Set in rural Mississippi, “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter” explores the complex dynamics between two childhood friends and a long-buried secret. Franklin skillfully weaves together themes of friendship, race, and redemption, crafting a richly atmospheric and thought-provoking mystery.

The novel’s evocative setting, vivid character building, and taut suspense keep readers guessing until the final pages. With its layered narrative and powerful storytelling, “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter” stands as a testament to the genre’s ability to explore profound human connections amidst the backdrop of a gripping mystery.

Best Mystery Novels
“The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie” by Alan Bradley

Alan Bradley’s “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie” introduces readers to Flavia de Luce, an eleven-year-old chemistry prodigy with a knack for solving crimes. Set in a 1950s English village, this delightful novel combines a classic whodunit with Flavia’s quirky and endearing personality.

Bradley’s witty prose and immersive storytelling bring the story to life, making it a standout among cosy mysteries. As Flavia unravels a murder mystery involving her own family, readers are treated to a charming and entertaining tale filled with surprising twists and turns.

Best Mystery Novels
“The Informationist” by Taylor Stevens

In “The Informationist,” Taylor Stevens introduces Vanessa Michael Munroe, an enigmatic protagonist with a unique set of skills. Munroe specializes in finding missing persons and becomes embroiled in a dangerous game of international intrigue set against the backdrop of Africa.

Stevens’ meticulous research and fast-paced writing style create a thrilling and immersive experience for readers. As Munroe navigates a web of secrets and betrayals, the novel explores themes of identity, redemption, and the power of knowledge. “The Informationist” is a standout mystery that offers a fresh perspective within the genre.

Best Mystery Novels
“The Various Haunts of Men” by Susan Hill

Known for her gothic ghost stories, Susan Hill takes a different direction with “The Various Haunts of Men,” a psychological crime novel that introduces Detective Chief Inspector Simon Serrailler. Set in a small English town, the story follows the hunt for a serial killer, delving into the complexities of human nature and the toll that darkness takes on those who pursue it.

Hill’s atmospheric writing style and keen insight into the human psyche create a haunting and thought-provoking read. “The Various Haunts of Men” is a compelling blend of character-driven narrative and suspenseful storytelling that deserves recognition among the genre’s best.

Best Mystery Novels
“The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” by Michael Chabon

“The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” by Michael Chabon offers a unique blend of alternative history and detective fiction. Set in a fictional Jewish settlement in Alaska, the novel follows Detective Meyer Landsman as he investigates a murder with far-reaching political implications.

Chabon’s evocative prose, combined with the richly imagined setting, creates a noir-style detective story that is as immersive as it is compelling. “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” is a testament to Chabon’s mastery of blending genres and his ability to craft an intricate and engrossing mystery.

Best Mystery Novels
“Black Water Rising” by Attica Locke

“Black Water Rising” by Attica Locke is a gripping thriller set in Houston during the 1980s. The novel explores the aftermath of a botched robbery and its impact on Jay Porter, a young black lawyer.

As Porter becomes entangled in a conspiracy involving corporate corruption and political intrigue, Locke skillfully weaves together themes of race, justice, and personal redemption. “Black Water Rising” is a thought-provoking mystery that tackles social issues while delivering a page-turning plot and complex characters that resonate long after the final page.

Best Mystery Novels
“The Anatomy of Ghosts” by Andrew Taylor

“The Anatomy of Ghosts” takes readers to eighteenth-century Cambridge, where a young widow embarks on a quest to uncover the truth behind her husband’s apparent suicide. Andrew Taylor’s meticulously researched historical mystery immerses readers in a world of academia, twistedly dark secrets, and haunted pasts.

With its richly detailed prose, atmospheric setting, and intricate plotting, “The Anatomy of Ghosts” offers a compelling and haunting exploration of loss, deceit, and the horrifying power of the human mind.

Best Mystery Novels
“The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” by Alexander McCall Smith

“The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” introduces readers to Mma Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s first female detective. Alexander McCall Smith’s charming series opener combines mystery with a deep appreciation for African culture and a gentle exploration of human nature.

With its endearing characters, evocative descriptions of the Botswana landscape, and McCall Smith’s signature warmth and humour, “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” offers a delightful and uplifting reading experience that stands out in the genre.

Best Mystery Novels

“The Alienist” by Caleb Carr

Set in late 19th-century New York City, “The Alienist” by Caleb Carr explores the mind of a serial killer and the groundbreaking methods used to catch him. Carr’s meticulously researched historical thriller offers a vivid portrayal of the period and delves into the field of forensic psychology.

With its intricate plot, richly drawn characters, and atmospheric setting, “The Alienist” presents a compelling and immersive reading experience that sheds light on the dark underbelly of a rapidly changing society.

There we have it, our list of 10 most underrated mystery novels. What do you think about our picks? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below:

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