Cover image of November Road," one of the mysteries to keep you up at night

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Over the past 15 years or so, I’ve reviewed more than 800 mysteries and thrillers. Naturally, I’ve got my favorites. Dozens of them. But most of those stand out for me because they illuminate fascinating places or historic events. Of course, they’re all fun to read. But only a handful are truly suspenseful. And that’s what I’ve searched out for this post. Here, then, are 26 mysteries to keep you up at night. I’ve rated every one of them with five stars. 

Authors well known to mystery fans wrote a number of these books. Michael Connelly, for example. Gillian FlynnJohn le Carré, and others. But others are the work of writers you’re unlikely to have come across. There are award-winners among the titles on this list. But others, gems one and all, came to my attention through recommendations online or from friends—and proved right on target in every respect. 

If you like mysteries and thrillers, you’ll enjoy the books on this list.

Here they are: 26 mysteries to keep you up at night

Duet in Beirut by Mishka Ben-David (2002) 300 pages ★★★★★—A failed Mossad operation threatens catastrophe

November Road by Lou Berney (2018) 320 pages ★★★★★—A desperate woman, a passel of gangsters, and JFK’s assassination

Christine Falls (Quirke #1) by Benjamin Black (2006) 389 pages ★★★★★Corruption and mayhem in Dublin and Boston in a superior mystery novel

Three Hours in Paris by Cara Black (2020) 361 pages ★★★★★—A suspenseful World War II espionage thriller set in Paris

Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton (2023) 432 pages ★★★★★—A billionaire survivalist meets environmental activists

Cover image of "The Crossing," one of the mysteries to keep you up at night

The Crossing (Harry Bosch #8) by Michael Connelly (2015) 272 pages ★★★★★—A police procedural and courtroom drama rolled into one excellent novel

All the Sinners Bleed by S. A. Cosby (2023) 352 pages ★★★★★—Southern noir at its eloquent best

The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich (2008) 352 pages ★★★★★—Tragedy, on and off the reservation

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012) 434 pages ★★★★★—Impossible to see more than a few pages ahead

The Quiet American by Graham Greene (1955) 232 pages ★★★★★—The classic Vietnam novel by Graham Greene

"Slough House" book cover

Slough House (Slough House #10) by Mick Herron (2021) 247 pages ★★★★★—British secret intelligence muddles through a crisis of its own making

Siro by David Ignatius (1991) 625 pages ★★★★★—The most intelligent spy novel I’ve read in many years

A Cold Red Sunrise (Inspector Porfiry Rostnikov #5) by Stuart M. Kaminsky (1988) 332 pages ★★★★★—A historical mystery about a murder above the Arctic Circle

Midnight at Malabar House (Malabar House #1) by Vaseem Khan (2020) 415 pages ★★★★★—A compelling murder mystery set in India after Partition

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John le Carré (1963) 228 pages ★★★★★—Is this the best spy novel ever written?

Cover image of "The Galton Case," one of the mysteries to keep you up at night

The Galton Case (Lew Archer #8 of 18) by Ross MacDonald (1959) 255 pages ★★★★★—A classic detective novel that’s hard to put down

The Debba by Avner Mandelman (2010) 368 pages ★★★★★—A superb novel digs for roots in Israel’s modern history

The Leopard (Harry Hole #8) by Jo Nesbø (2011) 626 pages ★★★★★—Is Jo Nesbø the world’s best crime novelist?

The Ghosts of Belfast (Belfast #1) by Stuart Neville (2009) 337 pages ★★★★★—A grim story of war and betrayal in Northern Ireland

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (2015) 351 pages ★★★★★—The Vietnam War through Vietnamese eyes

"Brush Back" book cover

Brush Back (V. I. Warshawski #17) by Sara Paretsky (2015) 475 pages ★★★★★—A fascinating detective novel about big city corruption

The Soul of Viktor Tronko by David Quammen (1987) 403 pages ★★★★★—Digging down deep to find the mole in the CIA

Victory Square (Yalta Boulevard #5) by Olen Steinhauer (2008) 368 pages ★★★★★A powerful tale of life in Eastern Europe during the fall of Communism

The Crow Girl by Erik Axl Sund (2016) 770 pages ★★★★★—Pedophiles, serial murder, and the Holocaust in a Swedish psychological thriller

The Fools in Town Are on Our Side by Ross Thomas (1970) 401 pages ★★★★★—One of the 100 best mysteries of all time

Cover image of "The Matchmaker," one of the mysteries to keep you up at night

The Matchmaker: A Spy in Berlin by Paul Vidich (2022) 250 pages ★★★★★—A dangerous spy game in Berlin before the fall of the Wall

Above are my choices for 26 mysteries to keep you up at night. But there are hundreds more novels of suspense that I’ve reviewed. Check out these articles for more great books in the same categories:

And you can always find my most popular reviews, and the most recent ones, on the Home Page.