Genre guide – Mystery fiction

This page links to recommended reading lists for a range of mystery fiction sub-genres as well as other mystery resources. It also lists mystery fiction authors whose work you may like to try - including familiar names and some that may be new to you.

Heroes and villains. Puzzles and tests. Thrillers and killers. Settings either grand or gritty. Who doesn't love a good mystery?

Mystery is a broad term that covers stories in a lot of different styles and settings. From historical whodunnits, to the golden age of crime writing, cosy and quirky amateur sleuths like Poirot and Father Brown, to the war-torn and world-weary Jack Reacher. We’ve got detectives and psychopaths, accidental heroes, unwitting victims, and vigilante justice –  there’s something for everyone in this popular genre, and this page is your doorway into a world of intrigue! Happy sleuthing…

Authors of mystery fiction:

Recommended reading

20th century detective fiction

Miss Marple, George Gentley, Inspector Morse, Clarice Starling - these 20th century sleuths and detectives have captivated many, and stood the test of time.

Contemporary mystery

Realistic plot-lines, characters, and experiences - these stories are real page-turners full of intrigue and suspense.

Cosy crime

Soft, easy-read crime stories that are great to curl up and relax with. No gore and violence, but lighter, sometimes funny mysteries.

Golden Age mysteries

Classic 20s and 30s whodunnits for fans of lighter mysteries who are after something a bit more serious, and who appreciate great stories and characters.

Hardboiled detectives

The Hardboiled novel is a mystery sub-genre classic. There'll be a cynical private eye, there'll be a client - usually telling half-truths - and they'll take the case regardless. Gritty, depressing, violent, cynical and seedy - in the style pioneered by Dalshiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. 

Historical Mysteries (of the ancient world)

Tales of murder and intrigue, set in the Ancient eras of Rome, Greece, and Egypt. These stories are lavish in detail and have a strong sense of place, breathing life into the ancient world and the intriguing characters residing there. Many are firsts in their series, part of a wider body of work by their authors. 

If you like Lee Child

An ex-military cop, Reacher is tough, resourceful and with a highly developed sense of justice. This list of suggested readalikes introduces some similarly driven, independent characters.

Legal and political thrillers

Characters embroiled in a tightly woven mesh of intrigue, thinking their way out of tight spots, trying to see all angles and set things right. Stories with intricate plotting, suspense, and with many moving parts. One thing is for sure however; don't trust anyone!

Locked room mysteries

A crime has been committed, the room locked from the inside, all the suspects have alibis - who could've done it? But it does not necessarily need to be a room; maybe it's a snowed-in lodge, a lighthouse on a barren island, or even a spaceship or distant planet.

Modern detective fiction

Follow a police detective, licensed private eye, or just a citizen with a personal reason to get to the bottom of ‘whodunnit’. Twisting turns, red-herrings to throw you off the trail, and shock surprises all feature to keep you guessing till the end.

Mystery graphic novels

Stories with an hardboiled, iconic, independent private eye who is guided by their own moral compass that often goes against the law, and with atmospheric artwork that sets the scene.

Police procedural and forensic thriller

Detectives getting out on the streets, tracking down leads and interrogating suspects, using gut instinct and deduction or scientists using cold, hard evidence and empirical data. Give these a go if you like piecing together puzzles and mysteries, as well as a bit of action and danger.

Psychological thrillers

All the elements of mystery, drama, and horror are present in this sub-genre, as authors delve into the fallibility of the human psyche.

Short stories - Mystery/Thriller/Adventure

The skill required to set up and execute a perfectly balanced murder mystery in limited pages is not to be underestimated. All of your favourite investigators are here and have each had the short story treatment, so enjoy the twists and turns in the short format.

Victorian mysteries

Setting-heavy crime stories set around the mid to late 19th century. Often a bit more of a slow burn, the genre is quite broad, ranging from gory serial killer mysteries, to police procedural-style. For readers who like historical fiction, as well as a gripping crime story. 

Mystery by country

American crime

Great for readers who want some action and to see the mystery solved by an investigator getting in the thick of it - following emotions and gut feelings rather than careful, systematic investigation.

Australian crime

From the modern day misadventures of Jack Irish in Fitzroy to the roaring high life of Phryne Fisher, you'll find these titles layered with Australian larrikin culture, dark humour, and some seriously ingenious twists and reveals.

British crime

British mystery fiction tends to be comparatively slow and methodical, with investigators following clues to build the bigger picture. Historical settings, insights into character, mysterious documents hidden to conceal truths, and the logical following of clues are staples in this sub-genre.

Irish crime

A rugged landscape, a troubled detective, authors expertly weaving puzzling plots full of dead ends and false leads - these elements and more come together in Irish crime writing. Ingredients for brilliant, sometimes bleak, and always high quality mystery fiction.

New Zealand crime

Blood-soaked, intricately plotted, grisly stories from Kiwi writers. With detectives (clean or corrupt) and amateur sleuths, seedy urban settings, and often with an underlying sense of self-deprecating humour and wit, there's plenty of quality amongst these titles to explore the darker side of New Zealand fiction. 

Scandinavian crime noir

Police procedurals and detective thrillers full of bleak, uncompromising landscapes, morally complex social and political issues, troubled characters struggling with dark pasts and tough decisions, grisly cold cases and gruesome killing sprees.

Scottish crime

Whether it's a book that makes you feel cosy, one that forces you to sleep with one eye open, or one that uses all your own powers of detection trying to work out whodunnit and why, we have just the book for you...

For more mystery fiction try:

Award winners

In the catalogue

Print