22 Thrillers and Mystery Books with a Detective or Private Investigator

Welcome to Romanceopoly, the yearly reading challenge . You’ve landed on Sleuth Street, where your challenge is to read a thriller or mystery book where one of the main characters is a detective of private investigator. Alternatively, if you want to take it easy, read any thriller or mystery book of your choosing.

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Most of my favourite thriller and mystery books feature an intrepid detective or PI on the hunt to find out whodunit. Quite a lot of these are police procedural dramas and I love it. As a big fan of True Crime podcasts and shows like Criminal Minds…I find it all fascinating. So, I’ve put together some of my favourite books as well as books I am considering reading for this challenge that have a detective or PI as a main character.

Genre only challenge

If you’re doing the genre only version of the challenge, pick any thriller or mystery of your choosing!

You can check out our Thriller page on Under the Covers book blog you will find a genre definition and even more recommendations!

Thriller-Naked-in-Death-by-JD-Robb

Naked in Death
by J.D. Robb

Brief synopsis

When a senator’s daughter is killed, the secret life of prostitution she’d been leading is revealed. The high-profile case takes Lieutenant Eve Dallas into the rarefied circles of Washington politics and society. Further complicating matters is Eve’s growing attraction to Roarke, who is one of the wealthiest and most influential men on the planet, devilishly handsome… and the leading suspect in the investigation.


Thriller-City-of-the-Lost-by-Kelley-Armstrong

City of the Lost
by Kelley Armstrong

Brief synopsis

Both police detective Casey Duncan and her best friend Diana need a place to escape. Casey has a past that has just caught up with her and Diana an abusive ex-husband who just won’t quit. Luckily, Diana has heard of place where they can go a place where the lost can stay lost. Only, when they get there, not everything is quite as it seems and their new home could be far more dangerous than the troubles they just left their lives behind to escape.


cross-her-heart-melinda-leigh

Cross Her Heart
by Melinda Leigh

Available on Kindle Unlimited

Brief synopsis

Homicide detective Bree Taggert has kept away from her small home town for decades. Although the brother and sister she loves live there, it holds far too many unpleasant memories for her to return. Until she gets the tragic news that her younger sister Erin has been murdered leaving her two children, Bree’s niece and nephew, all alone. With the lead suspect being Erin’s estranged, and now missing, husband the murder is a mirror of Bree’s horrific childhood. With the help of ex-cop and canine handler Matt Flynn, Bree is determined to discover exactly what secrets Erin was hiding and find the murderer…if he doesn’t get to her first.


Thriller-Vanished-by-Kendra-Elliot

Vanished
by Kendra Elliot

Available on Kindle Unlimited

Brief synopsis

When an eleven-year-old is abducted on her way to school, the FBI doesn’t waste a moment, sending agents to scour the area and embedding Special Agent Ava McLane with the distraught family. In the eye of the storm is local detective Mason Callahan, whose life is crumbling to pieces—he’s related to the victim, and his longtime confidential informant has just been murdered.
Both he and Agent McLane hole up in the victim’s family home. Every second counts in a kidnapping case, and the stakes keep rising the longer the girl is missing. As Ava and Mason struggle to hold the family together in their darkest hour, the two investigators find themselves drawn to each other.


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The Shadows
by Alex North

Brief synopsis

Maggie Sparkes has come to New York to see to her best friend Celine’s affair after her suicide. But the more she looks into Celine’s life, the more the suicide doesn’t make sense. As dark secrets are revealed Maggie is convinced that someone close to her staged her murder to look like a suicide…and it looks like the killer now has Maggie in their sight.


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Before She Disappeared
by Lisa Gardner

Brief synopsis

There are two things you need to know about Frankie Elkins. One, she’s a recovering alcoholic. Two, she looks for the missing that everyone else has stopped searching for; if they even bothered to look in the first place. Her new case brings her to the Haitian community in Boston where teenager Angelique Badeau has gone missing. The more she digs around the more she realises that nothing is quite as it seems and if she isn’t careful she’s likely to be the next victim.


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the-honjin-murders

The Honjin Murders
by Seishi Yokomizo

Brief synopsis

In the winter of 1937, the village of Okamura is abuzz with excitement over the forthcoming wedding of a son of the grand Ichiyanagi family. But amid the gossip over the approaching festivities, there is also a worrying rumour – it seems a sinister masked man has been asking questions around the village. Then, on the night of the wedding, the Ichiyanagi household are woken by a terrible scream, followed by the sound of eerie music. Death has come to Okamura, leaving no trace but a bloody samurai sword, thrust into the pristine snow outside the house. Soon, amateur detective Kosuke Kindaichi is on the scene to investigate what will become a legendary murder case, but can this scruffy sleuth solve a seemingly impossible crime?


Thriller-Unsub-by-Meg-Gardiner

Unsub
by Meg Gardiner

Brief synopsis

Caitlin Hendrix has followed in her father’s footsteps and become a detective. However, unlike her father she doesn’t want her life and her career ruined by a serial killer; the Prophet. Twenty years ago he popped up killing couples and leaving cryptic messages, taunting the police and especially her father. Her father never caught him and it broke him. Now, new bodies have appeared all with the hallmarks of a kill by the Prophet. Caitlin is put on the case and the killers attentions have now switched from father to daughter.


Forgotten-bones-vivian-barz

Forgotten Bones
by Vivian Barz

Available on Kindle Unlimited

Brief synopsis

When bodies of children are discovered on the property of a well known paedophile the culprit seems obvious. But, small town cop Officer Susan Marlan isn’t so sure. The bodies go back for decades and no matter how extensively they search, their suspect seems to have disappeared as well. Professor Eric Evans has moved to this small town to get away from his recent divorce and start afresh. Only he is haunted by grotesque visions of a dead child. Could it be related to the recent news of the children’s bodies that have been discovered, or is his schizophrenia offering up new hallucinations?


Thriller-Hit-The-Road-Jack-by-Willow-Rose

Hit the Road Jack
by Willow Rose

Available on Kindle Unlimited

Brief synopsis

Detective Jack Ryder is chaperoning his kids’ field trip when he gets the call from the head of the Cocoa Beach Police Department. A body has been found and they need his help. Soon, Jack finds himself up against a killer, a predator who ruthlessly chases women and kills them so they can never leave him. The case soon causes serious consequences for him and his family once the truth is revealed.


a-merciful-death-kendra-elliot

A Merciful Death
by Kendra Elliot

Available on Kindle Unlimited

Brief synopsis

FBI special agent Mercy Kilpatrick has been sent to Eagle’s Nest, a small town in Oregon, to investigate a number of murders. Only, Eagle’s Nest isn’t just any small town; it’s where she grew up, and it’s where she left at 18 and hasn’t returned. It’s where her family live, a family that hasn’t spoken to her since she left. Upon investigating the murders with the help of the local sheriff she realises this is connected to a string or murders that happened when she was younger…and was the instigator for her leaving the town and never returning. Until now.


Thriller-The-Devil's-Daughter-by-Katee-Robert

The Devil’s Daughter
by Katee Robert

Available on Kindle Unlimited

Brief synopsis

Eden Collins left her small town a decade ago and hoped never to return. It isn’t easy growing up the daughter of the local cult leader. However, when bodies of young women are found with the mark of her mother’s cult on their body Eden, how an FBI agent specialising in cults, knows she has to return. This time though she has her years of training and unexpected support from Sheriff Zach Owens.


Thriller-Alone-by-Lisa-Gardner

Alone
by Lisa Gardner

Brief synopsis

Alone . . . Massachusetts State Trooper Bobby Dodge watches a tense hostage standoff unfold through the scope of his sniper rifle. Just across the street, in wealthy Back Bay, Boston, an armed man has barricaded himself with his wife and child. The man’s finger tightens on the trigger and Dodge has only a split second to react . . . and forever pay the consequences.
Alone . . . that’s where the nightmare began for cool, beautiful, and dangerously sexy Catherine Rose Gagnon. Twenty-five years ago, she was buried underground during a month-long nightmare of abduction and abuse. Now her husband has just been killed. Her father-in-law, the powerful Judge Gagnon, blames Catherine for his son’s death . . . and for the series of unexplained illnesses that have sent her own young son repeatedly to the hospital.
Alone . . . a madman survived solitary confinement in a maximum security prison where he’d done hard time for the most sadistic of crimes. Now he walks the streets a free man, invisible, anonymous . . . and filled with an unquenchable rage for vengeance. What brings them together is a moment of violence—but what connects them is a passion far deeper and much more dangerous. For a killer is loose who’s woven such an intricate web of evil that no one is above suspicion, no one is beyond harm, and no one will see death coming until it has them cornered, helpless, and alone


Mystery-The-No.1-Ladies'-Detective-Agency-by-Alexander-McCall-Smith

The No.1 Ladie’s Detective Agency
by Alexander McCall Smith

Brief synopsis

Mma  Ramotswe—with help from her loyal associate, Grace Makutsi—navigates her cases and her personal life with wisdom, good humor, and the occasional cup of tea.
This first novel in Alexander McCall Smith’s widely acclaimed The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series tells the story of the delightfully cunning and enormously engaging Precious Ramotswe, who is drawn to her profession to “help people with problems in their lives.” Immediately upon setting up shop in a small storefront in Gaborone, she is hired to track down a missing husband, uncover a con man, and follow a wayward daughter. But the case that tugs at her heart, and lands her in danger, is a missing eleven-year-old boy, who may have been snatched by witchdoctors


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Red Dragon
by Thomas Harris

Brief synopsis

A second family has been massacred by the terrifying serial killer the press has christened “The Tooth Fairy.” Special Agent Jack Crawford turns to the one man who can help restart a failed investigation: Will Graham. Graham is the greatest profiler the FBI ever had, but the physical and mental scars of capturing Hannibal Lecter have caused Graham to go into early retirement. Now, Graham must turn to Lecter for help.


Thriller-The-Surgeon-by-Tess-Gerritsen

The Surgeon
by Tess Gerritsen

Brief synopsis

He slips into homes at night and walks silently into bedrooms where women lie sleeping, about to awaken to a living nightmare. The precision of his methods suggests that he is a deranged man of medicine, prompting the Boston newspapers to dub him “The Surgeon.” Led by Detectives Thomas Moore and Jane Rizzoli, the cops must consult the victim of a nearly identical crime: Two years ago, Dr. Catherine Cordell fought back and filled an attacker before he could complete his assault. Now this new killer is re-creating, with chilling accuracy, the details of Cordell’s ordeal. With every new murder he seems to be taunting her, cutting ever closer, from her hospital to her home. And neither Moore nor Rizzoli can protect Cordell from a ruthless hunter who somehow understands—and savors—the secret fears of every woman he kills..


Mystery-Close-to-the-Bone-by-Kendra-Elliot

Close to the Bone
by Kendra Elliot

Available on Kindle Unlimited

Brief synopsis

FBI Special Agent Cate Wilde has come back home to Widow’s Island after receiving a gun shot would. Cate’s always had mixed feeling about her home, she loves the island, but it has a mix of good and bad memories. Her ending up in law enforcement is no coincidence. Cate, Tessa Black, who is now a local deputy and Samantha were a tight knit trio when they were teenagers. However, Samantha went missing when she was 13 and hasn’t been seen since. Old memories are brought flooding back when the body of a teenage girl is discovered on the Island. Now, Cate and Tessa, as well as the new doctor in town, must investigate the possible crime. Could this be their missing best friend?


Thriller-The-Last-Move-by-Mary-Burton

The Last Move
Mary Burton

Available on Kindle Unlimited

Brief synopsis

Catching monsters helps FBI agent Kate Hayden keep her nightmares at bay. Now an urgent call brings her back to San Antonio, the scene of her violent past. A brutal new murder shows hallmarks of a serial killer nicknamed the Samaritan. Tricky part is, Kate already caught him.
Either Kate made a deadly error, or she’s got a copycat on her hands. Paired with homicide detective Theo Mazur, she quickly realizes this murder is more twisted than it first appeared. Then a second body is found, the mode of death identical to a different case that Kate thought she’d put behind her.
Now Kate and Detective Mazur aren’t just working a homicide; the investigative pair is facing a formidable enemy who knows Kate intimately. While Mazur is personally trying to protect Kate, the closer they are drawn to the killer, the clearer it becomes that in this terrifying game, there is only one rule: don’t believe everything you see…


a-madness-of-sunshine-nalini-singh

A Madness of Sunshine
by Nalini Singh

Brief synopsis

Anahera, had left behind the small town where she grew up in New Zealand and went on to be a successful concert pianist and married to one of London’s elite.  After the death of her husband and a discovery that left her rattled, she comes back to her small town.  Some things have changed and others have stayed the same.  And amidst her reconnecting with old friends a young local girl goes missing.  A disappearance that seems to have some resemblance to some hikers that had gone missing back when she was a teenager.  Could the two be connected?  And will they be fast enough to find the young girl still alive?


Thriller-Along-Came-a-Spider-by-James-Patterson

Along Came A Spider
by James Patterson

Available on Kindle Unlimited

Brief synopsis

Gary Soneji wants to commit the crime of the century. Alex Cross is the brilliant homicide detective pitted against him. Jezzie Flanagan is the first female supervisor of the Secret Service. They complete one of the most unusual suspense triangles in any thriller you have ever read.
Alex and Jezzie are about to have a forbidden love affair—at the worst possible time for both of them. Because Gary Soneji is playing at the top of his game. The latest of the unspeakable crimes happens in Alex Cross’s precinct and it happens under the nose of Jezzie and her men.
Alex faces the ultimate test: how do you outmaneuver a brilliant psychopath?


Thriller-Say-You’re-Sorry-by-Karen-Rose

Say You’re Sorry
by Karen Rose

Brief synopsis

There is a serial killer on the loose, preying on vulnerable women. The only identifiable mark the killer leaves are letters—sometimes one, sometimes two—all carved into the torsos of his victims. Together they spell “Sydney.”
When he grabs Daisy Dawson, he believes he has found his next victim. But despite her small stature, she fights back with an expertise that quickly frees her. Before fleeing the scene, Daisy also manages to grab what proves to be crucial evidence: a necklace from around the killer’s neck.
The necklace is more than a trivial item—it is a link to a cold case that Special Agent Gideon Reynolds has been tracking for seventeen years. With Daisy’s help, Gideon finally has the opportunity to get closer to the truth than ever before.
But they might not get the chance, as the serial killer has a new target: Gideon and Daisy.


the-last-sister-kendra-elliot

The Last Sister
by Kendra Elliot

Available on Kindle Unlimited

Brief synopsis

When Emily Mills finds a man lynched in his home with his wife viciously stabbed in her bed she realises it has eerie echoes of a another murder she discovered 20 years before. Her father’s. Emily’s family has not been the same since. Her mother committed suicide not long after, and her eldest sister took off and hasn’t been seen since. Now the new murder is bringing ghosts back from her past and things she would rather forget. But with a killer on the loose Emily may have to face some of the secrets she’s been hiding from. The murder has also brought FBI Special Agent Zander Wells to the small town, determined to solve the case. He never expected the mutual attraction to Emily Wells. But, as he delves deeper in to the secrets of the small town, he realises that Emily has some secrets of her own.


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