The Ultimate Whodunit Books

The Ultimate Whodunit Books

Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie

Internationally famous murder detective Hercule Poirot boards the Orient Express, and you can guess what happens next: by the morning there is one passenger fewer. This is the sort of book that will have you changing your opinion as many times as your turn the page – and each time you are as dead-set as the last. As the story evolves, the characters become more and more connected, the torment continues, and of course it turns out that Poirot is cleverer than us all!

Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn

One of the most famous thriller books in recent years, the surprises and twists in this novel will keep you guessing until – literally – the final page. Gone Girl is written in first-person narrative, shared between the two main characters, allowing the reader to get into the minds of the married couple: Amy – a sadistic, narcissistic sociopath, and Nick – who is certainly evasive and bitter – but is he capable of murder?

The Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith

Galbraith – a pseudonym for JK Rowling – really showed her ability to branch away from Harry Potter and into crime with this novel. In the book, a famous supermodel is discovered dead outside her apartment. While the verdict is that she committed suicide by jumping from her penthouse balcony, private detective and wounded war veteran Cormoron Strike is brought in to prove that it was, in fact, murder. Well-drawn characters and competent writing help to build up the picture and leave us guessing who was guilty. As you can imagine, the pace really picks up towards the end of the book.

Case Histories, Kate Atkinson

Jackson Brodie, a former police inspector turned private investigator, is trying to unravel three case histories. At first, they seem completely unconnected: a three-year-old missing girl; the axe murder of a husband by his wife; and the seemingly motiveless killing of a solicitor’s daughter. To start a novel with three such shocking stories is brave, and made us cry out for closure. And as the investigation continues, it becomes apparent that the cases overlap, making us even more desperate for a conclusion.

The Spellman Files, Lisa Lutz

If humorous crime/mystery isn’t normally your genre-of-choice, The Spellman Files could change your mind. The Spellmans are a dysfunctional family of detectives; ‘Spellman Investigations’ is a private detective agency, and Izzy is the 28-year-old daughter of the family-run business. Privacy is an alien concept to The Spellmans; they investigate everything – including each other. When Izzy’s 14-year-old sister is hired to find out information about Izzy’s private life, and Izzy finds out, she decides it’s time to leave. But before she does, she is asked to take on one more job: a 15-year-old missing person case.

The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins

Published in 1868, The Moonstone is generally considered the first ever detective novel in the English language. The story is based around Rachel, a young English woman who inherits a large Indian diamond on her 18th birthday. On the evening of her party, the diamond is stolen from her bedroom. The complex plot is full of suspense, and told by a series of narratives, tracing the subsequent efforts to find out who stole the diamond, and if they are able to recover it.

Postmortem, Patricia Cornwell

The first in the ‘Dr. Kay Scarpetta’ series, Postmortem received the 1991 Edgar Award for Best First Novel. In this truly terrifying crime fiction novel, Scarpetta must discover who is behind a string of unsolved murders in Richmond, Virginia. The killer has left behind a few clues – which often lead her in the wrong direction. Will Scarpetta be able to track down the murderer, before she becomes the next victim?

Do you have any favourite ‘whodunit’ books that have left you guessing until the very end? We’d love to hear from you in the comments box below.