Literary mystery is a subgenre of mystery books which includes books or literature in some form. It’s a sort of metafiction, or books about books. Lovers of literature usually love it, and so we’ve made a list of 10 mystery novels where crimes are motivated by books in some way.
List of 10 Mystery Novels Where Crimes Are Motivated By Books:
- Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
- The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz
- The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths
- Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah
- Camino Winds by John Grisham
- Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
- The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner
- The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
This novel follows an editor, Susan who works for a strange author of crime fiction called Alan Conway. Alan writes about detective called Atticus, with whom Susan is familiar. So when Susan begins to get a hunch when she reads between Alan’s lines that there is something dark and sinister brewing even in his fiction, she must solve the bookish mystery.
The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz
This mystery thriller follows Jacob Finch Bonner, once a promising novelist but now a mediocre teacher. When his student Even Parker reveals to him the plot of his novel, he knows it’s a sureshot success. But Even suddenly dies, and Jacob takes to completing his story for him in hopes of success. And indeed success does follow, and Jacob basks in a stolen glory, but only until someone finds out. The crime in this novel is a little off-beat – intellectual theft – but more compelling than most metafiction mysteries.
The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths
The second part of the Harbinder Kaur mysteries, this novel follows the death of a 90 year old woman, Peggy which comes across as unsuspicious but only until a new fact comes to light. Peggy’s caretaker Natalka noticed a large number of crime novels on Peggy’s shelf with each psychological thriller containing a postscript – “PS: for PS”. A gunman who breaks into an old lady’s appointment to steak a book and the lady is dead soon after – certainly suspicious.
Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah
Hannah has taken up Agatha Christie’s mantle and now writes Hercules Poirot mysteries. This newest mystery is narrated by Scotland Yard detective Edward Catchpool, as he arrives at former author Lady Playford’s house. Lady Playford has made an astonishing revelation – she is leaving all her property to her assistant, instead of her son or daughter. As Poirot tries to uncover the perpetrator of a murder that occurs right under his nose despite his best efforts to stop it, Lady Playford’s profession assumes importance.
Camino Winds by John Grisham
Set on the scenic Camino Islands in the wake of a hurricane, an apparent victim is bookshop owner Bruce’s friend and an author of thrillers himself. The victim, Nelson however shows several head wounds that suggest that he was murdered. Bruce now suspects that his friend’s books had some element of reality in them and sets out to find his last manuscript, which could contain clues to his death.
Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
This book follows Clay Jannon, the newest employee at Mr Penumbra’s 24 hour bookstore but there is something fishy going on there. Noone seems to buy anything, clients (who are very few in number) simply check out books. As Clay looks into the matter, astonishing secrets come to light. This book has brilliant characterization and an engaging plot, one that will keep you hooked till you finish reading the book.
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
This book follows Vida Winter, a prolific author of a collection of short stories. Winter has received acclaim for the first twelve complete and last missing story. Now at the cusp of an imminent death, Winter calls the biographer Margaret to pen her life for her. As she does so, secrets come to life and her mysterious past unravels. This boom isn’t a conventional crime mystery, but a softer (but just as dark) mystery about Winter’s individual life. It will keep you glued to your seat.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This book is a world war fiction which breaks through genre barriers and is simultaneously mystery, historical fiction and metafiction. Our protagonist, Liesel is a book thief – she steals books from the mayor’s library. One small part of the narrative follows the repercussions of this innocent crime.
The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner
Jenner’s tribute to Jane Austen is a wonderful book set right after the Second World War in Chawton. Chawton was Austen’s last home and decades after her death, it is decadent. When the final Austen heir dies, there seems to be no candidate to receive the large book library and heirlooms. To save Austen’s legacy, a group of eight unlikely people come together, tied by their love for Austen which helped them sail through the trauma of WW2. Here they uncover mysteries and family secrets.
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
This novel combines the genres of mystery, fantasy, historical fiction and metafiction to craft a masterpiece that everyone ought to read. Set in England of 1985, where time travel is regular and literature is crucial to society, this follows Hades. Hades is a criminal who steals the final manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit, deletes a minor character who then disappears from all books. Now his next target is Jane Eyre, and Thursday the detective must solve this gruesome literary mystery with literary motives.