The Greatest "Investigation" 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 273 '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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The "Investigation" category of books typically involves stories that revolve around solving a mystery or crime. These books often feature detectives, private investigators, or other types of sleuths who use their skills and expertise to uncover clues, interview suspects, and ultimately solve the case. The investigation genre can include a wide range of sub-genres, such as police procedurals, cozy mysteries, and psychological thrillers, but all share a common focus on the process of uncovering the truth.

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  1. 1. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

    This true crime novel tells the story of the brutal 1959 murder of a wealthy farmer, his wife and two of their children in Holcomb, Kansas. The narrative follows the investigation led by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation that ultimately leads to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers. The book explores the circumstances surrounding this horrific crime and the effects it had on the community and the people involved.

  2. 2. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

    In a small English village, a wealthy man named Roger Ackroyd is found dead, stabbed with a dagger. The victim's friend, a retired detective, comes out of retirement to solve the murder. The detective uncovers a web of deceit, blackmail, and hidden relationships among the victim's family and employees. The shocking twist ending reveals the unlikely murderer and the ingenious method used to commit the crime.

  3. 3. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

    A renowned Belgian detective finds himself embroiled in a complex murder case aboard the luxurious Orient Express train. The victim is a wealthy American businessman with numerous enemies, and the train's diverse passenger list includes individuals of varying nationalities and backgrounds, each with their own secrets. As the train is halted due to a snowdrift, the detective must race against time to solve the murder before the train reaches its destination and the murderer has a chance to escape.

  4. 4. The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L Sayers

    In this mystery novel, a car accident strands a detective in a small English village during New Year's Eve. He is roped into participating in a nine-hour bell-ringing marathon at the local church. Weeks later, a disfigured body is discovered in a grave, leading to a complex investigation involving stolen emeralds, a decades-old robbery, and a lethal "curse" tied to the tolling of the church bells. The detective must unravel the intricate puzzle to reveal the killer's identity.

  5. 5. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

    This novel tells the story of the Blackwood sisters, Merricat and Constance, who live in isolation in their family mansion, following the mysterious death of their parents due to arsenic poisoning. The sisters' lives are disrupted when their estranged cousin, Charles, arrives with intentions of stealing their fortune. The story is a chilling exploration of family secrets, mental illness, and the destructive power of mob mentality.

  6. 6. Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd

    "Hawksmoor" is a novel that alternates between the 18th century and the 1980s, focusing on two characters both named Nicholas Dyer and Nicholas Hawksmoor. Dyer, an architect in the 18th century, constructs seven churches in London, each with a dark and sinister secret. In the 1980s, Hawksmoor, a detective, investigates a series of murders that occur in the same churches. The narrative explores themes of history, time, architecture, and supernatural elements, creating an eerie and atmospheric tale.

  7. 7. The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

    In this novel, a wealthy woman is found poisoned in her country home in England during World War I. A family friend who is visiting the house at the time of the murder calls upon his friend, a brilliant detective, to help solve the case. The detective uses his unique methods to investigate the crime, revealing a complex web of family secrets and betrayal. Throughout the investigation, the detective uncovers that the victim's husband, the housekeeper, and the victim's stepsons all had motives to kill her. The detective eventually solves the crime, revealing the unexpected murderer and their ingenious method of committing the crime.

  8. 8. The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy

    This noir crime novel is set in 1940s Los Angeles and follows two LAPD officers, Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard, as they investigate the brutal murder of a young woman, dubbed the Black Dahlia by the press. As they delve deeper into the gruesome crime, they are drawn into a dark world of corruption, obsession, and madness. The case becomes personal for both men, testing their friendship and sanity, and leading them down a path of self-destruction.

  9. 9. Our Bodies, Ourselves by Unknown

    This book is a comprehensive guide to women's health and sexuality, covering a wide range of topics from puberty to menopause. It emphasizes the importance of self-care and provides practical information on topics such as reproductive health, sexual orientation, body image, mental health, and domestic violence. The book is designed to empower women to make informed decisions about their health and well-being, and it encourages them to take control of their own bodies. It also includes personal stories and experiences from diverse women, reflecting a wide range of perspectives and experiences.

  10. 10. The Leavenworth Case by Anna Katharine Green

    "The Leavenworth Case" is a gripping detective novel that follows the investigation of a wealthy man's murder. When the head of the Leavenworth family is found dead in his locked study, suspicion falls on his niece, who stands to inherit his fortune. As the evidence against her mounts, a brilliant young lawyer is determined to uncover the truth and prove her innocence. With twists and turns at every corner, this thrilling mystery keeps readers guessing until the final page.

  11. 11. Southern Seas by Manuel Vázquez Montalbán

    "Southern Seas" is a detective novel set in post-Franco Barcelona. The story revolves around a private detective who is hired to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a wealthy man. As he delves deeper into the case, he finds himself entangled in a web of corruption, violence, and deceit, revealing a dark underbelly of the city's elite society. The narrative is deeply political and social, exploring themes of power, class, and the legacy of Franco's dictatorship in Spain.

  12. 12. Death Of A Red Heroine by Qiu Xiaolong

    "Death Of A Red Heroine" is a crime novel set in 1990s Shanghai, China. The story follows Inspector Chen Cao as he investigates the murder of a young woman, whose body is found in a canal. As Chen delves deeper into the case, he uncovers a web of corruption, political intrigue, and personal secrets that challenge his loyalty to the Communist Party and force him to confront the complexities of modern Chinese society. Through vivid descriptions of Shanghai's changing landscape and insightful commentary on social issues, the novel offers a captivating portrayal of a country in transition.

  13. 13. Mystic River by Dennis Lehane

    "Mystic River" is a gripping tale set in a close-knit neighborhood in Boston, revolving around three childhood friends - Jimmy, Sean, and Dave. Their lives are irrevocably altered when one of them, Dave, is abducted and sexually abused. Years later, they are brought back together by a horrifying event - the murder of Jimmy's daughter. As Sean, now a detective, investigates the murder, suspicion falls on Dave, leading to a tense and tragic conclusion.

  14. 14. The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon

    In an alternate reality where Jewish refugees found sanctuary in Alaska during World War II, the book follows a homicide detective in the Yiddish-speaking metropolis of Sitka as he investigates the murder of a former chess prodigy. The detective's quest takes him from the city's seedy underbelly to the highest echelons of power, and he uncovers a vast conspiracy that threatens the very existence of the Jewish homeland in Alaska. The novel is a blend of detective fiction, alternate history, and Jewish humor.

  15. 15. The Remorseful Day by Colin Dexter

    In this final installment of a popular detective series, the protagonist, a Chief Inspector, is facing health issues but is determined to solve his last case. The case involves the mysterious death of a nurse, initially thought to be due to natural causes. However, as the inspector delves deeper into the investigation, he uncovers a web of deceit, betrayal, and murder, leading to a surprising and dramatic conclusion.

  16. 16. The Second Shot by Anthony Berkeley

    "The Second Shot" by Anthony Berkeley is a gripping mystery novel that follows the story of a renowned detective who is called upon to investigate a seemingly impossible crime. When a man is shot dead in a locked room with no apparent escape or entry, the detective must unravel a web of deceit and hidden motives to uncover the truth. As the investigation unfolds, secrets are revealed, and the detective finds himself caught in a dangerous game of cat and mouse with the cunning killer. With twists and turns at every corner, "The Second Shot" keeps readers on the edge of their seats until the final, shocking revelation.

  17. 17. Morituri by Yasmina Khadra

    "Morituri" by Yasmina Khadra is a gripping and thought-provoking novel that delves into the complexities of terrorism and its impact on individuals and society. Set in the backdrop of Algeria's civil war, the story follows a young police inspector as he investigates a series of brutal murders committed by an unknown terrorist group. As he delves deeper into the case, he confronts his own beliefs and struggles with the blurred lines between good and evil. Through vivid storytelling and compelling characters, the novel explores the consequences of violence and the eternal struggle for justice in a world plagued by extremism.

  18. 18. Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama

    In this gripping crime thriller, a former detective turned press officer is haunted by a cold case from 14 years ago, the unsolved abduction of a young girl. As he navigates the complex world of police bureaucracy and media pressure, he becomes entangled in a web of secrets and corruption that threatens to unravel his career and personal life. With meticulous attention to detail and a deep exploration of the human psyche, this novel delves into the complexities of crime, guilt, and the lengths one will go to protect their reputation.

  19. 19. Those Bones Are Not My Child by Toni Cade Bambara

    Set in Atlanta during the early 1980s, this novel explores the devastating impact of the Atlanta Child Murders on the African American community. Focusing on the lives of various characters, including parents, activists, and law enforcement, the story delves into the complex web of fear, grief, and resilience that arises in the face of a serial killer targeting black children. As the investigation unfolds, secrets are revealed, relationships tested, and the community's determination to find justice is put to the ultimate test.

  20. 20. The Redbreast by Jo Nesbø

    "The Redbreast" is a gripping thriller that follows the life of Detective Harry Hole as he investigates a series of mysterious murders that seem to be connected to events from World War II. As he delves deeper into the case, Hole uncovers a web of conspiracy, betrayal, and political intrigue that spans decades and threatens to shake the foundations of his own life. With its complex characters, intricate plot, and atmospheric setting, "The Redbreast" keeps readers on the edge of their seats until the final page.

  21. 21. The Ice Princess by Camilla Läckberg

    In a small Swedish town, the body of a young woman is discovered in a bathtub, her wrists slashed. Local detective Patrik Hedstrom is assigned to the case, and as he delves into the investigation, he uncovers a web of secrets and hidden motives among the town's residents. With the help of crime writer Erica Falck, Patrik must navigate through personal and professional challenges to unravel the truth behind the tragic death of the ice princess.

  22. 22. Snakeskin Shamisen by Naomi Hirahara

    "Snakeskin Shamisen" is a captivating mystery novel set in Los Angeles, following the life of Mas Arai, a Japanese-American gardener and Hiroshima survivor. When a fellow musician is found dead, Mas becomes entangled in a web of secrets and cultural tensions as he navigates the worlds of traditional Japanese music and the dark underbelly of the city. With vivid descriptions, complex characters, and a thought-provoking exploration of identity and heritage, this book takes readers on a thrilling journey through the hidden corners of LA.

  23. 23. Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

    "Bury Your Dead" is a gripping mystery novel that intertwines three separate storylines. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is haunted by a previous case gone wrong while he investigates a murder in Quebec City. Simultaneously, a historian delves into the history of the city, unearthing secrets that could change its perception forever. As the two narratives unfold, the past and present collide, revealing shocking truths and forcing Gamache to confront his own demons.

  24. 24. 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.

  25. 25. Zoo City by Lauren Beukes, Philibert-Caillat Laurent Beukes Lauren

    "Zoo City" by Lauren Beukes is a gripping urban fantasy novel set in a gritty Johannesburg where people who have committed a crime are magically bonded with an animal familiar. The story follows Zinzi December, a former journalist with a sloth on her back, as she becomes embroiled in a dangerous mystery involving a missing pop star and a dark conspiracy that threatens her newfound stability. With its unique blend of crime, magic, and social commentary, "Zoo City" explores themes of redemption, identity, and the consequences of our actions in a captivating and thought-provoking way.

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.