The Greatest "Contemporary, Mystery" Books of All Time

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 313 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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Contemporary books are a genre that focuses on stories set in the present day, often exploring current social, cultural, and political issues. These books are typically written in a modern style and often feature relatable characters dealing with real-life situations. Contemporary books can cover a wide range of topics, from romance and family drama to coming-of-age stories and thrillers. The genre is constantly evolving to reflect the changing world we live in, making it a popular choice for readers who want to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and issues.


The Mystery genre is a category of books that typically involves a crime, puzzle, or enigma that needs to be solved by the protagonist or a group of characters. These books often feature suspenseful and thrilling plotlines, with unexpected twists and turns that keep readers engaged and guessing until the very end. Mystery novels can range from cozy mysteries, which are lighter and more lighthearted, to hard-boiled detective stories, which are darker and more gritty. Overall, the Mystery genre is a popular and diverse category of books that appeals to readers who enjoy solving puzzles and uncovering secrets.

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  1. 1. 2666 by Roberto Bolaño

    The novel is a sprawling, ambitious work that spans continents and time periods, centering around an elusive, reclusive German author. It intertwines five different narratives: a group of European academics searching for the author, a professor in Mexico dealing with his own personal crises, a New York reporter sent to cover a boxing match in Mexico, an African-American journalist in Detroit, and the horrifying and unsolved murders of hundreds of women in a Mexican border town. The narratives are linked by themes of violence, mystery, and the search for meaning in a chaotic world.

    The 559th Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. London Fields by Martin Amis

    The novel is a darkly comic, murder mystery set in London at the end of the 20th century. The story follows three main characters: a terminally ill American writer, a petty criminal, and a beautiful but doomed woman who predicts her own murder but not the murderer. The narrative is filled with satirical social commentary, exploring themes of love, lust, greed, and deception.

    The 1358th Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. The Round House by Louise Erdrich

    A teenage boy navigates the complexities of life after his mother is brutally attacked on their reservation in North Dakota. As the legal system fails to bring justice due to jurisdictional issues, the boy takes matters into his own hands. The novel explores themes of tribal law, justice, and the transition into adulthood, all set against the backdrop of Native American culture and history.

    The 2003rd Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk

    This novel centers around an eccentric woman living in a remote Polish village, who becomes embroiled in a series of mysterious deaths occurring in her community. As she investigates, she is drawn into a deeper exploration of nature, astrology, and the human psyche, all while navigating the dismissive attitudes of the local law enforcement. The narrative is a blend of dark comedy, philosophical inquiry, and mystery, with a strong underlying commentary on animal rights and environmentalism.

    The 2818th Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. The Crow Road by Iain Banks

    "The Crow Road" is a darkly humorous and complex tale of a Scottish family, told through the eyes of a young man who is trying to make sense of his life and the mysterious disappearance of his uncle. The protagonist's journey takes him through various experiences including love, death, and the discovery of a novel written by his missing uncle. The narrative is a fascinating blend of family saga, coming-of-age story, and mystery thriller, all set against the backdrop of Scotland's landscapes and culture.

    The 3097th Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. All Souls by Javier Marías

    "All Souls" is a novel that follows the experiences of a Spanish professor teaching at Oxford University. His life is filled with eccentric colleagues, a puzzling love affair, and a mysterious sense of intrigue. As the protagonist navigates through the academic world, he becomes entangled in a web of personal relationships and bureaucratic intricacies. The book is a blend of romance, suspense, and satire, with a poignant exploration of memory, longing, and the ephemeral nature of human relationships.

    The 3458th Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. Your Face Tomorrow: Fever and Spear by Javier Marías

    The novel explores the life of a Spanish expatriate in England who is recruited by a secretive organization due to his unique ability to interpret people's behavior. As he becomes entangled in a world of espionage, he grapples with moral and ethical dilemmas, questioning the validity of his work and the consequences of his actions. Through a blend of introspective musings and suspenseful narrative, the protagonist's life unravels, revealing a complex web of deceit, betrayal, and violence.

    The 3955th Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. Crossfire by Miyuki Miyabe

    Crossfire is a suspenseful novel that follows the life of a young woman who possesses pyrokinetic abilities, allowing her to start fires with her mind. She uses her powers to avenge victims of violent crimes, but her actions attract the attention of a determined detective. As she continues her vigilante justice, she becomes embroiled in a conspiracy involving a religious cult and must confront her own past and the consequences of her actions.

    The 6090th Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

    In this darkly comedic novel, a nurse named Korede finds herself repeatedly cleaning up after her sister Ayoola, who has a disturbing habit of killing her boyfriends. As Ayoola's murderous tendencies escalate, Korede is torn between her loyalty to her sister and her growing concern for the next potential victim. As secrets unravel and tensions rise, the sisters' bond is put to the ultimate test, leading to a gripping and unexpected conclusion.

    The 6120th Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

    "Everything I Never Told You" is a gripping and emotionally charged novel that delves into the complexities of a Chinese-American family living in 1970s Ohio. When their daughter Lydia goes missing and is later found dead, the Lee family is shattered by grief and forced to confront their own secrets and insecurities. As they navigate through their individual struggles, the novel explores themes of identity, race, and the pressures of societal expectations, painting a poignant portrait of a family on the brink of collapse.

    The 6879th Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. The Black Book by Orhan Pamuk

    The novel focuses on a man searching for his wife in Istanbul, who disappeared without a trace. In his search, he discovers a secret, surreal world in the city and starts to understand his wife's involvement in political activism. The narrative is interwoven with stories from a column written by his wife's half-brother, which the protagonist believes may hold clues to her disappearance. The book is a complex exploration of identity, storytelling, and the role of literature in society.

    The 6880th Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. The Infatuations by Javier Marías

    A young woman becomes obsessed with a seemingly perfect couple she often sees at a café. When the husband is brutally murdered, she gets entangled with the widow and a mysterious man who knew the couple, leading her to question everything she thought she knew about love, death, and fate. As she delves deeper into the circumstances surrounding the husband's death, she is forced to confront unsettling truths about the nature of human relationships.

    The 7525th Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha

    "Your House Will Pay" is a gripping and thought-provoking novel that explores themes of race, family, and forgiveness. Set in Los Angeles, the story follows two families, one African American and one Korean American, whose lives become intertwined after a shocking act of violence. As tensions rise and secrets are revealed, the characters are forced to confront their past and grapple with the consequences of their actions. Through its powerful storytelling and complex characters, the book offers a profound examination of the lingering effects of historical injustices and the potential for redemption.

    The 8326th Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

    The book centers on a teenage girl with a traumatic past, who was convicted of a heinous crime at a very young age—the murder of a baby. Now living in a group home and dealing with the complex dynamics within, she struggles with the weight of her past and the challenges of her present. As she contends with a society quick to label her as irredeemable, she seeks to uncover the truth and fight for a future that seems increasingly out of reach. Her journey is one of resilience and the quest for redemption, as she navigates a system that is often more interested in judgment than justice.

    The 8569th Greatest Book of All Time
  15. 15. Djinn Patrol On The Purple Line by Deepa Anappara

    Set in a sprawling slum in India, this novel follows nine-year-old Jai and his friends as they embark on a quest to find a missing classmate. As children in their community continue to disappear, Jai takes it upon himself to become a detective, determined to uncover the truth. Faced with poverty, corruption, and a society that disregards their plight, Jai and his friends navigate the complexities of their surroundings while grappling with their own fears and dreams. Through their eyes, the book explores themes of innocence, resilience, and the harsh realities of life in a marginalized community.

    The 8612th Greatest Book of All Time
  16. 16. Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

    "Winter Counts" is a gripping and thought-provoking novel set on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The story follows Virgil Wounded Horse, a local enforcer who takes justice into his own hands when the legal system fails his community. When his nephew becomes entangled in the dangerous world of drug trafficking, Virgil embarks on a mission to protect his family and seek retribution. Through its powerful narrative and exploration of Native American culture, the book sheds light on the complexities of modern-day reservation life and the struggle for justice in an unjust world.

    The 8612th Greatest Book of All Time
  17. 17. Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips

    "Disappearing Earth" is a novel by Julia Phillips that explores the interconnected lives of the residents of a remote Russian peninsula after the disappearance of two young girls. Each chapter follows a different character as they grapple with their own personal struggles and the impact of the girls' disappearance on their community. Through vivid descriptions of the harsh landscape and the characters' complex relationships, Phillips weaves a gripping tale of loss, grief, and the enduring power of human connection.

    The 9593rd Greatest Book of All Time
  18. 18. Reading In The Dark by Seamus Deane

    "Reading In The Dark" is a captivating novel that delves into the complex history of Northern Ireland through the eyes of an unnamed protagonist. Set against the backdrop of political turmoil and sectarian violence, the story follows the protagonist's journey of self-discovery as he unravels family secrets and confronts the ghosts of the past. Seamlessly blending personal and political narratives, the book explores themes of memory, identity, and the power of storytelling, ultimately offering a poignant reflection on the lasting impact of history on individuals and communities.

    The 9730th Greatest Book of All Time
  19. 19. The Destroyers by Christopher Bollen

    "The Destroyers" is a suspenseful novel set on the idyllic Greek island of Patmos. The story revolves around two childhood friends, one a wealthy inheritor of a construction empire and the other a struggling playboy, who reunite under mysterious circumstances. As the narrative unfolds, it delves into themes of wealth, friendship, betrayal, and identity, all against a backdrop of escalating danger and suspense. The protagonist finds himself embroiled in a web of deception and murder, as the seemingly paradise island reveals its darker underbelly.

    The 10089th Greatest Book of All Time
  20. 20. Samedi The Deafness by Jesse Ball

    The novel revolves around a man who, after witnessing a murder, is drawn into a surreal conspiracy at a mysterious institution where the residents are engaged in a bizarre form of psychological warfare. The protagonist must navigate through a labyrinth of lies and cryptic rules, trying to uncover the truth while grappling with the concept of "samedi" — a sort of collective madness or deception. As he delves deeper into this enigmatic world, he confronts the challenges of communication, the nature of truth, and the power of societal constructs, all while the boundaries between reality and delusion blur.

    The 10208th Greatest Book of All Time
  21. 21. Love And Longing In Bombay by Vikram Chandra

    "Love And Longing In Bombay" is a collection of five interconnected stories set in the bustling city of Bombay. Each story explores themes of love, loss, and longing, as characters navigate their way through the complexities of relationships and the challenges of modern life. From a detective investigating a mysterious disappearance to a struggling actor caught in a web of deceit, these stories offer a glimpse into the diverse lives and emotions of Bombay's inhabitants. With richly drawn characters and evocative descriptions of the city, the book captures the essence of Bombay and delves into the universal experiences of love and longing.

    The 10507th Greatest Book of All Time
  22. 22. The Parts by Keith Ridgway

    "The Parts" is a thought-provoking novel that delves into the interconnected lives of various characters in a small Irish town. Through a series of fragmented narratives, the book explores themes of love, loss, and the complexities of human relationships. With its lyrical prose and intricate storytelling, "The Parts" offers a profound reflection on the human condition and the ways in which our lives intersect and shape one another.

    The 10601st Greatest Book of All Time

Reading Statistics

Click the button below to see how many of these books you've read!


If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.