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10 Amazing Books of Intrigue and Mystery Everyone Should Read

Updated on May 23, 2012
JenPaxton profile image

Coffee Goddess by day, renegade writer by night. Jen lives in the Midwest and holds a BA in Creative Writing. She blogs in her spare time.

Worried you might get bored lounging in that pool chair all summer? Worry not, my friend! Here's a list of 10 absolutely GREAT mystery and intrigue books to keep you cool, whether it's lounging poolside or staying in when that hot summer storm starts up. Whether it's a quick-read or a series you're looking for, read on, and get inspired to pick up a book this summer.


10. The Romanov Prophecy by Steve Berry

Generally speaking, I'm not all that into Steve Berry's style. I picked this one up first and liked it, but his Cotton Malone series left me wanting a lot more after reading this one. And I don't even usually enjoy Russian history.

This one combines Russian history and Russian 'present' in a daring attempt to find the last of a royal bloodline - Miles Lord, a Lawyer from the 'States who has a thing for Russian history (conveniently), is brought in to do a little legal research when Russia votes to bring back the Monarchy. In order to do so, the leading candidate for the throne wants to rule out (and possibly eliminate) any possible competition, which, of course...leads to the search for former Czar Nicholas II's missing relatives. And gets Miles in a heap of trouble, because he's supposed to be helping, not actually finding anyone who'd be better suited for the throne, and ESPECIALLY not finding out what actually happened to the Czar and his family that fateful day.

Overall, good story, decent writing, and a good, quick read.

9. Guilt By Degrees by Marcia Clark

Written by the former prosecuting D.A. of the O.J. Simpson case, you can imagine - she knows what she's talking about when she hears a good story! She can apparently write them, too.

Rachel Knight is a member of the "special trials unit" in the D.A.'s office. Taking on a case nobody expects to ever solve, Rachel and her best friend (a detective), find out that a murdered homeless man is connected to a brutal ax murder years prior.

Fairly down-to-earth writing, Marcia Clark gives her readers the clues one-at-a-time (as a detective would find them) and with a daily dose of humor as she puts her characters through the case of a lifetime.

8. The Jungle by Clive Cussler

I never thought I'd actually like a book written by someone who writes so many - usually all those series people typically seem rushed to me, and they rush their plots, or they run out of ideas, or they have some formula and you don't have to read more than one book to figure it out.

The Jungle was a pleasant exception to my preconcieved notion. One of the latest books of the Oregon Files, Juan Cabrillo and the Company are on their own, without CIA help for the time being, and boy do they know how to get into a mess. Hired to find a missing Indian diplomat's son who's been kidnapped and dragged off to Afghanistan in the midst of an anti-terror war, they pick up a new member of the team who seems almost too good to be true. And they don't get a break between that and their next job. Hired next by a French-Swiss mogul to find his missing thrill-seeking daughter, they all dive right into the Burmese jungle, and stumble upon a plot to ressurect part of an ancient 13th-century Chinese weapon for the downfall of all mankind.

Betrayal, mess-ups, kidnapping, ransom, murder, blackmailing the U.S. government, mosquitoes... This book has plenty of everything, and a durn good writing style, in my humble opinion. Now if only I could stop picturing Matthew McConaughey as Juan Cabrillo accidentally....

7. Live Wire by Harlen Coben

Is Harlen Coben getting better with experience? Probably. He was good before, but his new one seemed to raise the bar.

Myron Bolitar, and his amusing sidekick (and muscle) Win, must find the missing husband of a very pregnant former tennis star and client of Myron's, who ran off after someone posted on their facebook page questioning the paternity of their unborn child. Mixed in with finding his own lost brother, Myron eventually figures out where Lex went, but there's more to this story than meets the eye...


6. The Likeness by Tana French

Don't mind a serious one? Irish author Tana French is really good at REALLY depressing. As Brad Pitt's character said in "The Devil's Own", "It's not an American tale, it's an Irish one," meaning there are no fairy tales here, and usually no happy endings.

In this particular case, Detective Cassie Maddox finds herself in an interesting predicament to start out with - someone who looks just like her is found murdered in a rural area barn. Needless to say, her colleagues start calling her cell phone and freaking out...until they (i.e. she and one other crazy person on the force) decide to use this to their advantage. Figuring out the girl wasn't all she said she was either, but using an old alias of Cassie herself for a dangerous undercover mission years before, only complicates things. But it's not too far-fetched to wonder if they killed her trying to get to Cassie herself...

Dark and honest, Tana French is an amazing writer of our day.

5. The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer

Don't let the last name fool you - I thought he was another guy trying to be Steig Larsson, turnes out he's just from West Virginia and lives in Europe. But he still knows a thing or two about good mystery writing! This is the one I'm currently reading, and seriously enjoying...

Milo Weaver (or is that really his name...?) is a former CIA "Tourist" - a man with no set identity, able to travel to different countries and become a ghost for the company. Only he's been retired for six years after being shot and badly wounded by the man who would later become his arch-nemesis, The Tiger. When he and the Tiger finally catch up to each other, it's nothing like he expected - the man gives him information just before dying...leaving Milo with a whole new set of problems and questions, some that might extend deep into the Company itself. Worse still, his best friend Angela, stationed behind a desk in France, was also stalking the Tiger, and now she's being accused of leaking classified documents to the Chinese government ... but Milo's Tourist sensibilities know it couldn't possibly be true. Will he clear his friend's name, figure out what the Tiger sent him to learn, and make it home in time for the family vacation before his wife castrates him? I don't know yet, but I sure wanna keep reading and find out.

4. The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie

Undoubtedly one of the funniest men in the world, Hugh Laurie (a fellow anthropologist, thank you very much) brings his wonderfully dry, dark, british humor into the world of books and mystery. By page three I was laughing so hard I had tears running out of my eyes.

Thomas Lang is a nice guy ... for a suspected murderer. A former Scots Guard turned Freelance muscle, he gets hired to assassinate a very wealthy man - but chooses to warn him instead, because murder is SO uncouth. But you know what they say - the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

I think Barnes and Noble's online review says it best about this one:

"Cold-blooded murder just isn't Thomas Lang's cup of tea. Offered a bundle to assassinate an American industrialist, he opts to warn the intended victim instead — a good deed that soon takes a bad turn. Quicker than he can down a shot of his favorite whiskey, Lang is bashing heads with a Buddha statue, matching wits with evil billionaires, and putting his life (among other things) in the hands of a bevy of femmes fatales. Up against rogue CIA agents, wannabe terrorists, and an arms dealer looking to make a high-tech killing, Lang's out to save the leggy lady he has come to love...and prevent an international bloodbath to boot."

It will keep you surprised, and laughing your you-know-what off, all the way to the end. And did I mention that Hugh Laurie is an amazingly FUNNY man?

3-1. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series, by Steig Larsson

Of course. The master of mystery of this generation of novels, Larsson's got It...whatever It is.

Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist get into amazing trouble, both together and on their own, and it makes for really great reading. And they get out of it just as amazingly. I won't go into great detail about each one, because to give away any part of it (if you haven't already read them or at least seen some version of the movies) would be a crime, and I don't want Lisbeth to come to my house and do mean things to me, so... I'm gonna let you find out about these on your own.

I think the only thing I possibly regret about reading this series is knowing that Larsson died in 2004 and there won't be another one!

And Finally, a Question

What are some of your favorite thriller, mystery, suspense, and detective novels? How many of them made my list?


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    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great list of books. I've read Live Wire last year and hope to read the Jungle later this year or next year. I'll keep your other top picks in mind for next year's TBR pile.

    • JenPaxton profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen Paxton 

      6 years ago from Missouri

      Why thank you, ma'am :) Glad to have some input from another suspens-y! We should compare notes on others, hehe :)

    • Mrs. Rapson profile image

      Mrs. Rapson 

      6 years ago

      Thanks Jenn for the definite "adds" to my bookshelf! I'm a mystery, suspense freak! I like Steven King, but not as a solid fave! As you stated, rushed is a great term for some of his longer books! It just seems he gets tired of them at the end and everything falls together like a bad trainwreck in the last chapter or two! "The Talisman" is a perfect example of this! On a 'dark & stormy night' hand me Dean Koontz every time! Voted up and awesome for you & you have a new follower!!


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