Literary Mystery Novels

These novels tell a mystery crime story and are generally considered to have more literary merit than genre mysteries.

See also Crime | Murder

Literary Crime Mystery

The Moonstone | Wilkie Collins

It is Rachel Verinder’s eighteenth birthday. Franklin Blake returns for the party. He delivers the Moonstone, a yellow diamond taken from a Hindu shrine about fifty years ago, to Rachel. Rachel puts the diamond in a cabinet in her room, but the next morning it is gone. There are many suspects including Blake and some Indian people who were seen near the house.

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Intruder in the Dust | William Faulkner

Lucas Beauchamp, a black man in Yoknapatawpha County, is accused of murdering a white man, Vinson Gowrie. Beauchamp was found near the corpse with a gun. He speaks to a lawyer, Gavin Stevens, who agrees to help save his life with a legal maneuver, but isn’t interested in proving Beauchamp’s innocence. Gavin’s nephew, Chick, speaks to Beauchamp and agrees to carry out a task for him.

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The Name of the Rose | Umberto Eco

Adso of Melk recounts the intriguing events of a week’s time in 1327. William, a Franciscan monk, accompanied by his novice, Adso, goes to an abbey for a religious debate. The abbot asks William to look into the recent death of a young man at the abbey. Shortly after, a monk is found dead.

Smilla’s Sense of Snow | Peter Hoeg

A funeral is being held for Isaiah, an Inuit boy. Smilla remembers the scene of his death, and believes it wasn’t an accident. She starts an investigation into Isaiah’s death, using her keen mind and training as a glaciologist, an expert reader of ice and snow.

A Very Long Engagement | Sebatien Japrisot

On January 1917, during World War I, five French soldiers, including a man named Manech, have been condemned to death and are being taken to the front. Over two years later, Manech’s fiancée, Matilde, is investigating the circumstances of that day. She believes Manech may still be alive. She speaks to former soldiers and scours the available documents looking for clues.

Ruined Map | Kobo Abe

After the disappearance of her husband six months ago, a beautiful alcoholic hires an unnamed detective to find him. He comes into possession of a damaged map that he thinks will help him solve the case. He begins with two clues–a matchbook and a picture.