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10 Books About Ghosts That Will Scare the Shit Out of You—and Make You Smarter

These ghoulish tales ask us to interrogate our past and question our prejudices. They're also really, really scary.

Headshot of Adrienne Westenfeld

To revel in the spooky side of fall, we’ve rounded up ten of our favorite ghost stories, which exemplify all that the modern version of such stories can do and be. These novels make us think; they ask us to interrogate our past and question our prejudices. They’re also really, really scary, so keep the lights on while you read, lest you start looking for ghosts around the dark corners in your own home. (And if you need more terrifying page-turners after, check out our favorite horror books as well. Many of these have been adapted into works for the screen , no less haunting.)

Random House Trade Paperbacks Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders

One night in February 1862, as the Civil War ravaged the United States, Abraham Lincoln snuck into a tomb at Georgetown Cemetery to cradle the body of his 11-year-old son, recently dead of typhoid fever. This historical fact was the catalyst for Saunders’ miraculous imagination, turned loose on a fictive landscape both supernatural and historical. After his death, Willie Lincoln awakens in the bardo, a spiritual limbo between death and rebirth, where he encounters a veritable Greek chorus of spirits. Trapped in the bardo by his father’s grief, a confused and uncertain Willie is counseled by the spirits, who share their stories of love, death, and remembrance. Saunders links the overwhelming grief of one historically important man to the suffering and salvation of all in this polyphonic story of our shared humanity.

Penguin Classics The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson

If you’ve seen the Netflix series of the same name and haven’t read the source material, described by many as the greatest haunted house story ever written, it’s past time to dive into The Haunting of Hill House . In this seminal classic, written by the queen of creep, four seekers arrive at the dilapidated Hill House, where spooky phenomena abound, to participate in a parapsychological study. Jackson’s genius lies in the linkages she makes between haunted houses and haunted minds, which crescendo into an unforgettable ending. Whether you’re a first-time reader or a dyed-in-the-wool Jackson fan, The Haunting of Hill House remains a master class in horror fiction.

Anchor The Shining, by Stephen King

King’s landmark ghost story , published way back in 1977, legendarily cemented his bona fides in the horror space. The novel opens with a fresh start for Jack Torrance, an aspiring writer and recovering alcoholic who’s packed his family off to the Overlook Hotel, an isolated resort in the Colorado Rockies. As the new off-season caretaker, Jack plans to get his life back on track, but the haunted hotel has other ideas. Danny, Jack’s five-year-old son, is blessed (or cursed) with a “shining”—a psychic gift that allows him to see the hotel’s malevolent ghosts, who want to possess him. When Danny proves too tough a mark, they turn to Jack, teeing up a bloodchilling showdown between a snowed-in family and the spooks who want them dead. Through the haunted house trope, King explores Jack’s personal demons—and delivers an unforgettable thrill ride of paranormal activity.

Vintage Beloved, by Toni Morrison

When Beloved was published in 1987, literary critic John Leonard wrote, “I can’t imagine American literature without it.” Decades later, Morrison’s masterpiece remains as essential to the U.S. canon as ever. Set in post-Civil War Ohio, the story centers on Sethe, a woman who escaped slavery eighteen years ago, but still hasn’t found freedom from its horrors. Sethe is haunted by the disturbing apparition of Beloved, the nameless baby daughter she killed long ago to save her from a life in chains. Years later, Beloved has come from “the place over there” to claim retribution for the life that was taken from her. Tormented by grief and love, Sethe wrestles with the impossible choice she made. Written in dense, poetic prose that verges on the sublime, Beloved is a masterwork about remembered trauma, both personal and national.

Quirk Books Horrorstor, by Grady Hendrix

Who says ghosts have to live in creaky Victorian houses? In Hendrix’s wildly inventive Horrorstor , the scene is set at ORSK, an IKEA-esque furniture superstore. When strange acts of vandalism start occurring, three employees form an overnight patrol to investigate, but what they find defies belief: wannabe ghostbusters, an unhoused man living secretly in the store, and yes, real ghosts. As these scrappy patrollers square off against the sinister ghosts who want to imprison them in the showroom forever, Hendrix delivers both a palm-sweating horror story and a laugh-out-loud satire of retail. If you’ve ever wished an eternal curse on IKEA while constructing their furniture (who among us hasn’t?), then Horrorstor is the novel for you.

Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Set in Mexico circa the 1950s, Mexican Gothic opens with an alarming letter: newlywed Catalina writes in desperation to her cousin Noemí, claiming that her husband is poisoning her, and that “fleshless things will not let me go.” Glamorous and tough Noemí travels to High Place, the countryside home of Catalina’s new husband, Virgil Doyle, to investigate. There she encounters the “essentially macabre” Doyle family: English aristocrats who colonized the mining town where High Place is situated, and their frightening patriarch, a dastardly eugenicist. Plagued by frightening visions of ghosts and violence, Noemí plots to make her escape with Catalina, but High Place won’t let them go so easily. In this dreadful and spellbinding novel, Moreno Garcia delivers Gothic horror at its finest, with a brilliant layer about the scourges of racism and colonialism.

Image Comics Infidel, by Pornsak Pichetshote and Aaron Campbell

In a run-down apartment building, Aisha, a Muslim woman living with her white fiancé and his daughter, begins having strange dreams about the building’s past. Not too long ago, a Muslim neighbor hoarding explosives in his apartment caused a catastrophic accident, leading to a rise in Islamophobia among the building’s multiracial residents. The explosion awakened hateful spirits that feed off xenophobia; now, Aisha must turn to her neighbors to defeat the ghosts tormenting her. In this modern reimagining of the haunted house trope, the authors illuminate chilling truths about the monsters that live within and without humanity.

ChiZine Publications Experimental Film, by Gemma Files

Struggling with her son’s autism diagnosis and axed from her teaching job, Lois Cairns’ life takes a turn for the worse when she becomes obsessed with a snippet of silent film that may hold the key to a century-old mystery. Lois believes the film proves that an eccentric socialite, who vanished under mysterious circumstances early in the 20th century, was in fact a pioneering female filmmaker. Lois’ all-consuming investigation into the mystery revitalizes her career, but puts hers and her family’s lives on the line, because the past doesn’t want to stay dead. Suspenseful and thrilling, Experimental Film meshes old world folklore and modern filmmaking to argue that every movie is a ghost story.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux The Third Hotel, by Laura van den Berg

When Clare arrives in Havana to attend a horror film festival, she finds her husband Richard there, dressed in a white linen suit she’s never before seen. There’s one other problem: Richard was killed in a hit-and-run months ago. Grief-stricken and astonished, Clare follows Richard through the bustling streets of Havana, slipping into a dissociative state that sends her spiraling backward into the past. “Maybe a person became even more themselves when away, liberated from their usual present tense,” Clare wonders. In this slippery novel of liminal spaces and second selves, van den Berg weaves a lyric story about tourism, marriage, and grief.

Ecco Press The Removed, by Brandon Hobson

Each year, the Echota family gathers for a bonfire to mark the Cherokee National Holiday and the memory of their son Ray-Ray, a teenager killed in a police shooting. On the fifteenth anniversary of Ray-Ray’s death, the annual bonfire sees the family members’ private grief transform into something elemental and new. As reality and the spirit world blur, Hobson braids the Echotas’ loss with the traumas of their heritage, ceding parts of the story to an ancestor named Tsala. Tsala recounts his own murder for his refusal to be removed from his homeland, while thousands of other Indigenous people forcibly walked the Trail of Tears. Steeped in magical realism and Cherokee lore, Hobson’s mystical story of injustices old and new is a poignant act of reclamation.

Headshot of Adrienne Westenfeld

Adrienne Westenfeld is the Books and Fiction Editor at Esquire, where she oversees books coverage, edits fiction, and curates the Esquire Book Club. 

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Clare Barnett

Clare Barnett lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband and daughter. She delves into all genres but has a soft spot for fantasy, mystery, and memoir. When she’s not working her way through her to-read list, she’s reading and writing about bookish things. Twitter: @clarebar. Inquiries: [email protected].

View All posts by Clare Barnett

Like any devoted armchair sleuth, I love a good mystery novel that will have me combing back through its chapters for missed clues. Weighing witness credibility, zeroing in on suspects, and ruling out red herrings are all part of the fun of reading mysteries. Sometimes, though, the tracking down of who, what, where, when, and why starts to feel a little too routine. That’s when I turn to paranormal mystery books. It is harder to guess the killer when suspects are among the living and the undead.

Paranormal mysteries books combine the thrill of the hunt with the escapism of the supernatural. Sometimes the mystery unfolds like a procedural where supernatural detectives and amateur sleuths pursue leads from ghosts, werewolves, goddesses, and djinn, taking the reader into a magical underworld along the way. Other paranormal mysteries have their protagonists unravel clues about how the paranormal itself works. And often, at least part of the paranormal mystery is understanding how a character fits into a world far stranger than they had imagined.

Here are 15 paranormal mystery books to add some fantastical intrigue to your to- read shelf. There’s a paranormal mystery for every taste, with picks that run the gamut from quippy genre send-ups to chilling suspense.  As a bonus, many of these are first books in a series, so if you find one you like, there are many more paranormal mystery plots to keep you up at night.

Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch

A young London cop, Peter Grant, is trying to make the most of a dull beat when he takes a witness statement from a ghost. The case draws him into a special investigative branch of the Metropolitan Police run by wizards with a penchant for protocol. Part police procedural, part magic, the novel introduces a London filled with ghosts, fairies, wizards, and river goddesses, all delivered with a jolt of snark. Midnight Riot is the first in the Rivers of London series.

Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw

Dr. Greta Helsing (of those Helsings) is trying to have a quiet life, serving as personal physician to the vampires, demons, and other ghouls that inhabit modern London. When someone murders humans and creatures, she teams up with her supernatural friends to stop them. The novel has many classic monsters updated for the modern day. Strange Practice is the first novel in the Greta Helsing series.

Fated by Benedict Jacka

Like Jim Butcher’s  Storm Front , but more British. Alex Versus makes his living running a London magic shop. He also happens to be a mage who can foresee probable futures, a nifty skill that helps in fist fights and hacking enchanted objects. When a shadowy group ropes him and his special sight into a heist, he’s drawn into conflict with warring factions of the wizard world. Fated is the first in the Alex Versus series.

Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older

In Half-Resurrecti on Blues , the undead of New York have their own bureaucracy: the New York Council of the Dead, which oversees the affairs of the city’s less-than-living population. One of the Council’s more unusual agents, Carlos Delacruz, is half-resurrected and able to deal with both the living and the dead. When imp-like beings go after the Council, Delacruz must find their master before they can open the Underworld to destroy the careful balance of power between the living and the undead. This is the first in the Bone Street Rumba series.

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter  by Theodora Goss

The famous monsters of lore are mostly men, even those dreamt up by women (shout out to Mary Shelley).   The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter gives the female perspective on some of literature’s famous creatures .  Cash-strapped Mary Jekyll hopes that finding her father’s friend Edward Hyde will bring her reward money and answers about her father.  She soon meets Hyde’s daughter and other women with monstrous surnames: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein. As the women take on a diabolical secret society, the novel explores both mystery and what it means to be a monstrous female in a gendered society. This novel is the first in The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club series.

Spellbound by Allie Therin

Spellbound offers paranormal mystery with a heavy dose of romance and historical fantasy. In 1925 New York, Arthur Kenzie devotes himself to protecting the world from powerful supernatural relics. To defeat a powerful amulet, he needs to team up with Rory, a reclusive psychometric. As they fight to save the city, feelings between the two men blossom just as the danger escalates. Spellbound is the first in the Magic in Manhattan series.

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

The Dark Days Club is an entertaining romp for those wishing for more well-dressed demons in their Regency fiction. When Lady Helen Wrexhall’s maid disappears, the search to find her takes Lady Helen to a group of demons infiltrating London high society.  She must decide if she’s willing to risk everything to fight them as she discovers more about herself. The novel kicks off the Lady Helen series.

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Gail Carriger’s Soulless is another must-read for readers who prefer their werewolves with parasols. The heroine, Victorian spinster Alexia Tarabotti, is somewhat inconvenienced by the fact that she lacks a soul. However, she has the good fortune of being able to negate the supernatural powers of vampires and werewolves that overstep etiquette. When vampires go missing, Alexia must find out who’s behind the disappearances. S ouless is the first novel in the Parasol Protectorate series.

T rail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

Set in a near-future post-apocalyptic world where the Navajo reservation has become the Dinetah, Trail of Lightning follows monster slayer Maggie Hoskie as she searches for a missing girl. This supernatural mystery offers gods, monsters,  medicine men, and answers in ancient lore. The novel is the first in the Sixth World Series.

Murd er in G Major by Alexia Gordon

If you’re looking for a cozy mystery with a supernatural twist, Murder in G Major fits the bill. Gethsemane Brown, a violin virtuoso, finds herself stranded in Ireland, having left her life in the United States for a job that fell through. When she’s offered a gig that comes with housing, she discovers it also comes with a ghost. Can she clear his name so he can rest in peace? The novel is the first in the Gethsemane Brown mystery series.

The Rook  by Daniel O’Malley

The Rook is urban fantasy with dry wit and a heroine questing for answers. A woman wakes up in a London park with no idea who she is or how she got there. When she finds out she’s part of a secret organization that fights supernatural forces, she must figure out who in the organization has betrayed her and grapple with her own supernatural abilities. If you enjoy this one, looks for the sequel, Stiletto .

Loose Ends by Terri Reid

There’s a lot of men in the paranormal PI game. Loose Ends offers a tenacious female lead who tracks down a serial killer with the help of ghosts. A former Chicago cop, Mary O’Reilly was shot in the line of duty. When she’s revived, she discovers she has the ability to communicate with ghosts. She takes her skills private to work as an investigator in a small town. When she’s hired to solve a 24-year-old cold case, she uses her new-found talent to uncover connections between other murders. She’ll need more than ghosts’ tales to track the murderer down. This is the first novel in the Mary O’Reilly series of paranormal mystery books.

Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler

How could Octavia Butler’s take on vampires not be intriguing? In Fledgling , a young girl with unsettling abilities comes to the startling realization that she’s a 53-year old, genetically modified vampire. The novel unfolds as she investigates who and what she is. She must discover who wants to destroy her before they can succeed.

Borderline by Mishell Baker

Borderline offers a noir version of Hollywood with fantastic creatures. A failed suicide attempt made aspiring filmmaker Millie a double amputee. As she adjusts to her new physical condition and living with borderline personality disorder, she gets involved with the Arcadia Project, a secret organization that polices that flow of creatures to and from a parallel world. When she is tasked with finding one of those creatures, who also happens to be a Hollywood movie star, she must find him before war breaks out between the two worlds.

The Restorer by Amanda Stevens

If you’re looking for a chillingly ghoulish mystery, a murder in a cemetery is a promising place to start. Set in a haunted Charleston, The Restorer introduces Amelia, a cemetery restorer who repairs headstones and avoids eye contact with ghosts. She’s careful to follow her father’s advice to keep both ghosts and the humans they haunt at a distance. When a young woman is found murdered in a historic cemetery, Amelia becomes part of the murder investigation. To find the woman’s killer, she must draw closer to a haunted detective and the otherworldly spirits she’s been trained to avoid. This novel is the first in the Graveyard Queen series.

For more paranormal mystery books, check out our roundup of paranormal cozies .

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Why Mystery Books Are So Satisfying

By tana french.

'When we fall in love with mysteries,' writes Tana French, 'it’s both those things we’re falling in love with: the hard-won sense of order, and the unanswerable questions.'

The Woman in White

By wilkie collins.

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Crime and Punishment

By fyodor dostoevsky.

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The Leavenworth Case

By anna katharine green.

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The Turn of the Screw

By henry james.

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The Hound of the Baskervilles

By arthur conan doyle.

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The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

By agatha christie.

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The Crime at Black Dudley

By margery allingham.

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The Patient in Room 18

By mignon g. eberhart.

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The Maltese Falcon

By dashiell hammett.

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The Conjure-Man Dies

By rudolph fisher.

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A Man Lay Dead

By ngaio marsh.

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Gaudy Night

By dorothy l. sayers.

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The Three Coffins

By john dickson carr.

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by Daphne du Maurier

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A Coffin for Dimitrios

By eric ambler, the rich, underappreciated history of mystery writers of color, by rachel howzell hall.

'Readers visiting from Mars would assume that only white folks were murdered, solved crimes, righted wrongs,' writes Rachel Howzell Hall

Double Indemnity

By james m. cain.

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If He Hollers Let Him Go

By chester b. himes.

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In a Lonely Place

By dorothy b. hughes.

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The Daughter of Time

By josephine tey.

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Beat Not the Bones

By charlotte jay.

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Casino Royale

By ian fleming.

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A Kiss Before Dying

By ira levin.

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The Long Goodbye

By raymond chandler.

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Beast in View

By margaret millar.

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The Quiet American

By graham greene.

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The Talented Mr. Ripley

By patricia highsmith.

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We Have Always Lived in the Castle

By shirley jackson.

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The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

By john le carré.

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The Honjin Murders

By seishi yokomizo.

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Where Are the Children?

By mary higgins clark.

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The Shining

By stephen king.

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The Last Good Kiss

By james crumley.

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The Name of the Rose

By umberto eco.

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The Hunt for Red October

By tom clancy.

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A Dark-Adapted Eye

By barbara vine.

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The Decagon House Murders

By yukito ayatsuji.

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The Silence of the Lambs

By thomas harris.

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Devil in a Blue Dress

By walter mosley.

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Mean Spirit

By linda hogan.

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by Patricia Daniels Cornwell

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Faceless Killers

By henning mankell.

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by Eleanor Taylor Bland

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The Secret History

By donna tartt.

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Smilla’s Sense of Snow

By peter høeg.

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When Death Comes Stealing

By valerie wilson wesley.

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by Harlan Coben

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Killing Floor

By lee child.

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by Kaoru Takamura

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by Yasmina Khadra

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by Natsuo Kirino

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Inner City Blues

By paula l. woods.

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A Place of Execution

By val mcdermid.

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Those Bones Are Not My Child

By toni cade bambara.

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Blanche Passes Go

By barbara neely.

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Death of a Red Heroine

By qiu xiaolong.

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The Redbreast

By jo nesbø.

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Mystic River

By dennis lehane.

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The Shadow of the Wind

By carlos ruiz zafón.

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The Surgeon

By tess gerritsen.

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The Emperor of Ocean Park

By stephen l. carter.

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By sarah waters.

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The Ice Princess

By camilla läckberg.

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by Roberto Bolaño

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Case Histories

By kate atkinson.

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The Devotion of Suspect X

By keigo higashino.

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The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

By stieg larsson.

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The Lincoln Lawyer

By michael connelly.

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Snakeskin Shamisen

By naomi hirahara.

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by Megan Abbott

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What the Dead Know

By laura lippman.

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The Yiddish Policemen's Union

By michael chabon.

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Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

By olga tokarczuk.

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Wife of the Gods

By kwei quartey.

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Bury Your Dead

By louise penny.

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Faithful Place

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The Plotters

By un-su kim.

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The Sound of Things Falling

By juan gabriel vásquez.

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by Gillian Flynn

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The Round House

By louise erdrich.

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by Hideo Yokoyama

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Ordinary Grace

By william kent krueger.

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Big Little Lies

By liane moriarty.

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Everything I Never Told You

By celeste ng.

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Land of Shadows

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The Sympathizer

By viet thanh nguyen.

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Bluebird, Bluebird

By attica locke.

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Hollywood Homicide

By kellye garrett.

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My Sister, the Serial Killer

By oyinkan braithwaite.

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The Widows of Malabar Hill

By sujata massey.

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Miracle Creek

By angie kim.

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by Helen Phillips

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The Other Americans

By laila lalami.

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The Turn of the Key

By ruth ware.

ghost mystery series books

Your House Will Pay

By steph cha.

ghost mystery series books

Blacktop Wasteland

By s.a. cosby.

ghost mystery series books

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line

By deepa anappara.

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Mexican Gothic

By silvia moreno-garcia.

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When No One Is Watching

By alyssa cole.

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Winter Counts

By david heska wanbli weiden.

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Survivor’s Guilt

By robyn gigl.

This project is led by Lucy Feldman, Annabel Gutterman, Megan McCluskey, and Meg Zukin, with writing, reporting, and additional editing by Eliza Berman, Tessa Berenson Rogers, Kelly Conniff, Leslie Dickstein, Eliana Dockterman, Mahita Gajanan, Cady Lang, Lily Rothman, Rachel Sonis, Armani Syed, Karl Vick, Elijah Wolfson, Lucas Wittmann, and Laura Zornosa; photography editing by Whitney Matewe; art direction by Katie Kalupson and Victor Williams; video by Brian Braganza, Andrew Johnson, Jeannie Kopstein, and Sam McPeak; production by  Nadia Suleman ; illustrations by Michelle Urra for TIME.

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21 haunting books to read this Halloween, from ghostly thrillers to paranormal romances

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  • Ghost books are often horror stories or paranormal thrillers, but can also be romantic.
  • Here are 21 of the best ghost books to curl up with this Halloween.
  • Want more books? Check out the best Halloween books and horror books .

Insider Today

I try to read a little bit of everything, from lovey romances to timeless classics , but I'm hopelessly obsessed with a good scare . When autumn comes around and Halloween is right around the corner , I can't resist pulling out the books filled with haunted houses, creepy twists, and — best of all — ghosts. 

When you think of ghost stories, you may think of a classic haunted tale, but ghosts are in all kinds of literary genres, from paranormal romances to creepy true crime tales . 

To make this list of perfect ghost books for Halloween, I looked at bestseller lists on Amazon and Audible , plus readers' favorites from Goodreads . So whether you're looking for a good scare or a fun read with a ghostly twist, here are some of the best ghost stories to read this Halloween. 

The 21 best ghost stories to read this Halloween:

A paranormal horror classic.

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"The Shining" by Stephen King, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $8.27

In what is considered by many to be Stephen King's best work , Jack Torrance is looking for a fresh start when he takes a job as an off-season caretaker at the Overlook Hotel, hoping to focus on reconnecting with his son and work on his writing. When a winter storm traps Jack and his family inside the building, it becomes clear that something sinister is happening — and only his son, Danny, can see the secrets of the hotel's dark past.

An iconic ghost story

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"The Haunting of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $8.27

First published in 1959 and considered one of the best ghost stories of the 20th century, "The Haunting of Hill House" is a haunted house classic from Shirley Jackson, who also famously wrote "The Lottery." "The Haunting of Hill House" is about four people who volunteer to participate in a paranormal study by staying in a haunted mansion that's more powerful than they ever could have imagined. 

The tale of a young boy growing up in a ghostly graveyard

ghost mystery series books

"The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $8.27

"The Graveyard Book" is the young adult story of Nobody "Bod" Owens, who is a completely normal kid — except for growing up in a graveyard and being raised by ghosts. Bod's only rule is he must not leave the graveyard, as the dangers that lurk beyond the gates include the man who killed his family (and is waiting to finish the job). 

The story of a legendary ghost

ghost mystery series books

"The Girl From the Well" by Rin Chupeco, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $9.99

The girl from the well is dead, hunting child murderers like the man who killed her 300 years ago. When a strange boy moves into the neighborhood bringing something eerie with him, the two set off on a terrifying and wicked journey that takes them to Aomori, Japan in this young adult paranormal horror story.  

A ghostly historical horror story

ghost mystery series books

"The Deep" by Alma Katsu available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $14.99

"The Deep" is a historical fiction horror story set on the Titanic where the passengers believe something sinister is going on from the moment they set sail. Years after the Titanic sinks, Annie Hebbley survived the disaster and is now working as a nurse on the hospital ship Britannic when she comes across an unconscious soldier who she recognizes — but knows did not survive the sinking of the Titanic.

A powerful new ghostly thriller

ghost mystery series books

"Mapping the Interior" by Stephen Graham Jones, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $10.99

When a young boy is wandering his house at night, he sees a strange figure who resembles his father who died mysteriously before his family left the reservation. When he follows the figure through the doorway, he discovers the secrets of their house and their family and finds he must risk everything to save his brother in this powerful and emotional paranormal thriller.

A newly released YA ghost story

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"White Smoke" by Tiffany D. Jackson, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $15.19

In this new young adult thriller, Marigold is running from the metaphorical haunts of her old life when she moves to a Midwestern city with her new, blended family. Though their new house seems picture-perfect, strange things start happening, and when Marigold's younger sister can't stop talking about a friend who wants her gone, Marigold knows she must find out what's really happening in their home. 

The tale of a young girl whose best friend is a ghost

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"City of Ghosts" by V.E. Schwab, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $6.78

After Cassidy Blake nearly drowned as a young girl, she was rescued by a ghost named Jacob and left with the ability to see the spirits around her. When her ghost-hunting parents take her to Scotland for their TV show, Cassidy meets Lara, another girl who can see the dead and believes they have an obligation to send ghosts beyond the Veil — permanently.

A creepy mystery about a haunted hotel

ghost mystery series books

"The Sun Down Motel" by Simone St. James, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $14.40

In 1982, Carly's Aunt Viv was working as a night clerk at the Sun Down Motel when she mysteriously went missing and was never found. Now, Carly has taken the same job her aunt once had, determined to uncover the secrets around her aunt's disappearance before whatever frightening thing that haunts the motel can take her too.  

A spine-tingling ghost story set in Japan

ghost mystery series books

"Nothing But Blackened Teeth" by Cassandra Khaw, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $15.86

When a group of five friends reunite in Japan for a destination wedding and rent a Heian-era mansion, they discover the bones of a long-dead bride. The group soon learns that when the bride's fiance died on the way to the wedding, she had herself buried alive beneath the house, waiting for his ghost to come home. Each year after, another girl was buried in the walls to keep her company. In this horrifying thriller, the five ghost-hunting friends are thrilled by the adventure of uncovering this haunted history — until their fun night quickly devolves into a nightmare.

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15 Best Ghost Books About Things That Go Bump in the Night

Are you ready to get spooked?

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Alvin Schwartz Scary Stories Paperback Box Set: The Complete 3-Book Collection

Scary Stories Paperback Box Set: The Complete 3-Book Collection

I don't know which is scarier in this three-book series: The stories or the creeptacular art that accompanies them. They're not all ghost stories, and they're technically for kids, but every one is a gem regardless.

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Shirley Jackson The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House

If you loved the Netflix series, check out the book by one of the best voices in horror. It follows four people who arrive to decide the fate of Hill House: occult scholar Dr. Montague, his assistant Theodora, the fragile Eleanor and future heir Luke. Soon enough, they realize the house has it out for them and it'll be all they can do to escape.

Henry James The Turn of the Screw and Other Stories

The Turn of the Screw and Other Stories

After losing their parents, a pair of siblings move into a remote mansion with their uncle who hires a governess to care for them. But it soon becomes apparent that the children have a connection with ghosts that inhabit the house. This version pairs the spine-tingling story with other, lesser-known tales for a truly terrifying read.

Stephen King Pet Sematary

Pet Sematary

No list of spooky stories is complete without the King himself, and this one has often been called his scariest ever. Ludlow's a tranquil enough town, except for the pet cemetery where the locals bury their dearly departed. But there's worse lurking under the ground than a few bones.

RELATED:  The 35 Best Psychological Thriller Books to Scare Yourself Silly

Sarah Waters The Little Stranger

The Little Stranger

When a doctor calls on a formerly grand old house in the country, he discovers the family living there is struggling to keep up with society. But there's more going on than meets the eye, something the good doctor soon learns firsthand. 

Mark Z. Danielewski House of Leaves

House of Leaves

This highly unusual book's form is almost as engrossing as its subject matter, and that's saying something. Part love story, part haunted tale, part exploration of mental illness, it attempts to suss out what happens when a family moves into a house that's bigger on the inside than the outside. Then their children disappear, and the plot gets even darker.

Aaron Campbell, Jose Villarrubia and Jeff Powellage Comics Infidel


This graphic novel about a Muslim woman and her diverse cast of neighbors who move into a haunted house is scary on two levels. The spirits that live in the house feed off xenophobia and hatred and the creepy renderings will stamp themselves on your brain.

Emma Files Experimental Film

Experimental Film

Film buffs will love this feminist horror story about a struggling critic who discovers lost film by Iris Dunlopp Whitcomb, who she believes was the first female filmmaker in Canada. But as she embarks on a project to prove it, the echoes of the past become more and more real.

Richard Matheson Hell House

Hell House

Stephen King once called this one "the scariest haunted house novel ever written," and he's not wrong. Physicist Dr. Lionel Barrett travels with two mediums to the Belasco House in Maine to figure out exactly why the locals call it the Hell House. The house quickly lives up to its name.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia Mexican Gothic

Mexican Gothic

Glamorous Noemí Taboada may seem like an unlikely rescuer, but when her cousin begs her to rescue her from an unnamed menace, she heads off to the isolated High Place in the Mexican countryside. Noemí's tough, smart and determined but the house's enigmatic residents, not to mention the secrets it harbors within its walls, soon get under her skin. 

Tananarive Due Ghost Summer: Stories

Ghost Summer: Stories

From one of the masters of horror comes a hair-raising short story collection perfect for sharing around the campfire. There's a tale for every taste in this book. Just pray you don't have to leave your sleeping bag in the dark afterward. 

Peter Straub Ghost Story

Ghost Story

Four old men pass the time in their sleepy town the way they do in towns all across America: telling each other stories. But one of those is coming back to haunt them and remind us all that nothing wicked ever stays buried forever.

Laura van den Berg The Third Hotel: A Novel

The Third Hotel: A Novel

Clare arrives in Cuba to find her husband Richard. There's just one problem: He's dead. As she follows him around the city, the lines between reality and fantasy start to blur. We learn more and more about their marriage, his death and reappearance in this novel that's as eerie as it is beautifully written. 

Jesmyn Ward Sing, Unburied, Sing

Sing, Unburied, Sing

A young boy named Jojo is finding his way in the world, his mother Leonie tormented by the ghost of her dead brother when she's high (which is often). When they travel to pick up Jojo's father from prison, another spirit surfaces who has a lot to teach the boy about what it means to survive. It's more engrossing than scary, but absolutely worth a read. 

Brandon Hobson The Removed: A Novel

The Removed: A Novel

Not all stories that stray into the spirit realm are scary. This sad, lyrical book about loss, addiction, family and how they can all tear us apart draws on Cherokee legend to bring us a haunting meditation on trauma. 

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Lizz (she/her) is a senior editor at Good Housekeeping , where she runs the GH Book Club, edits essays and long-form features and writes about pets, books and lifestyle topics. A journalist for almost two decades, she is the author of Biography of a Body and Buffalo Steel. She also teaches journalism as an adjunct professor at New York University's School of Professional Studies and creative nonfiction at the Muse Writing Center, and coaches with the New York Writing Room. 

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20 of the Best Classic Murder Mystery Books of All Time

Fall is the perfect time of year to dive into a good mystery novel.

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We can't explain it, but as the weather gets chillier, it becomes the perfect season for murder mysteries.

"There's an element of comfort," Johnson told T&C earlier this year about murder mysteries . "The form itself is an inherently conservative form. Not politically conservative, but fundamentally conservative: The simplest form of chaos is created by a crime. The paternal detective comes in, finds the truth, and sets everything back right at the end of it by punishing the guilty. In a way, it's the most basic kind of 'break a thing and then restore it,' and everything's okay at the end of the day. There's something comforting about that."

All that being said, it's always time to pick up a classic murder mystery book. Here, 20 of the best classics to read now:

Murder on the Orient Express: A Hercule Poirot Mystery

Murder on the Orient Express: A Hercule Poirot Mystery

No classic murder mystery book list is complete without the queen herself, Agatha Christie. While there's much debate over the best Agatha Christie book (here's what Christie herself has to say on the matter ), Murder on the Orient Express is a classic—and one of her best known—for a reason. A murder takes place on a train one snowy night, and detective Hercule Poirot has to solve the mystery.

Whose Body?

Whose Body?

Dorothy L. Sayers's debut novel, Whose Body? , was published in 1923, and introduced readers to Lord Peter Wimsey, a nobleman who investigates crimes on the side. Sayers is a deeply influential crime writer, and her books with Wimsey as a main character all feature him solving crimes during the interwar period.

The Honjin Murders (Detective Kindaichi Mysteries)

The Honjin Murders (Detective Kindaichi Mysteries)

Classic murder mysteries aren't just by British writers! First serialized in Japanese in 1948, but not translated into English until 2019, this classic Japanese crime novel is the first in a series that follows detective Kosuke Kindaichi, who solves locked-room mysteries. The first takes place at a rural village in Okamura, where newlyweds are killed with a samurai sword.

The Conjure-Man Dies: A Harlem Mystery (Detective Club Crime Classics)

The Conjure-Man Dies: A Harlem Mystery (Detective Club Crime Classics)

This 1932 novel is believed to be the first-ever detective novel published by a Black author. In The Conjure-Man Dies , the body of N'Gana Frimbo is discovered, and one of Harlem's ten Black detectives, Perry Dart, is called to investigate. Rudolph Fisher, a Harlem Renaissance writer, would tragically die just two years later, but as the publisher notes, "Fisher’s witty novel is a genuine crime classic from one of the most exciting eras in the history of Black fiction.."

A Study in Scarlet

A Study in Scarlet

In A Study in Scarlet , Arthur Conan Doyle introduces Sherlock Holmes and John Watson—and changes detective fiction forever. The first crime they solve is when an American tourist to London is killed in an empty house.

The Daughter of Time

The Daughter of Time

Josephine Tey's 1951 novel features Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant, who decides to investigate King Richard III and his alleged crimes. It's an interesting, unique take on a murder mystery as it features a modern protagonist looking into historic crimes.

The Moonstone (Collector's Library Classics)

The Moonstone (Collector's Library Classics)

Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone was one of the first detective novels ever written, and considered a precursor to the modern mystery novel. The plot begins when Lady Rachel Verinder's uncle gives her the Moonstone, a diamond as large as an egg, for her 18th birthday . However, it's not a generous gift—it was acquired by nefarious means, and the Moonstone disappears the night of her birthday party.

A Man Lay Dead: Inspector Roderick Alleyn #1

A Man Lay Dead: Inspector Roderick Alleyn #1

Another Golden Age classic author is Ngaio Marsh, and this is the first of her novels to feature gentleman detective Roderick Alleyn. (She wrote 32 Alleyn novels!) A Man Lay Dead is the tale of a murder committed during a detective game of murder during a weekend party.

The Red House Mystery

The Red House Mystery

A.A. Milne, best known for his Winnie the Pooh books, authored this whodunnit set at an English country house. The Red House Mystery was his only detective novel, and had a twisty plot surrounding the murder of the host's brother.

Devil in a Blue Dress (30th Anniversary Edition): An Easy Rawlins Novel

Devil in a Blue Dress (30th Anniversary Edition): An Easy Rawlins Novel

Classics don't need to be centuries old: Walter Mosley, an American novelist best known for his crime work, began his Easy Rawlins series in 1990 with Devil in a Blue Dress , a mystery set in 1948 Los Angeles. Easy is a Black war veteran, and takes a job to find a missing woman, not knowing it'll change his life forever.

The Maltese Falcon

The Maltese Falcon

Sam Spade, a private detective, takes on a case where he inadvertently ends up with three criminals. No more spoilers, as this detective novel is better the less you know about the plot. And, after you read: turn on the 1941 film stars Humphrey Bogard and Mary Astor.

The Decagon House Murders

The Decagon House Murders

This classic Japanese murder mystery by Yukito Ayatsuji—who was a founding member of the Honkaku Mystery Writers Club of Japan—is a play on Christie's And Then There Were None . In it, seven university students travel to a remote island, and events soon turn deadly.

Malice Aforethought: The Story of a Commonplace Crime

Malice Aforethought: The Story of a Commonplace Crime

The titular malice aforethought is a legal term that describes having the intent to kill or harm; this 1931 novel by Anthony Berkeley Cox (under the penname Francis Illes), reveals the murderer on page one—making this more of a "howcatchem" or an inverted detective story.

The Tiger in the Smoke

The Tiger in the Smoke

Margery Allingham's The Tiger in the Smoke follows Meg Elginbrodde, a young war widow. Meg's husband was presumed dead in D-Day, but she starts receiving photographs that he may be alive. Her cousin, detective Albert Campion, helps her figure out the truth. (It's the 14th novel in Allingham's Campion series.)

The Murder at the Vicarage: A Miss Marple Mystery

The Murder at the Vicarage: A Miss Marple Mystery

Hercule Poirot isn't Christie's only famous detective: the elderly Miss Marple featured in many of her stories, beginning with The Murder at the Vicarage , where a local magistrate is found dead in the small village of St. Mary Mead.

The Big Sleep (A Philip Marlowe Novel)

The Big Sleep (A Philip Marlowe Novel)

Raymond Chandler's 1939 detective novel features a dying millionaire, who hires Philip Marlowe to deal with a blackmailer who is threatening one of his daughters. As the publisher writes, "Marlowe finds himself involved with more than extortion. Kidnapping, pornography, seduction, and murder are just a few of the complications he gets caught up in..."

Last Seen Wearing: The First-Ever Police Procedural (Library of Congress Crime Classics)

Last Seen Wearing: The First-Ever Police Procedural (Library of Congress Crime Classics)

Lowell Mitchell is having a normal day as a student at a Massachusetts university, until she disappears out of thin air. Police Chief Frank Ford, a small town cop, is on the case—and Hillary Waugh's Last Seen Wearing is considered one of the first-ever police procedurals.

The Name Of The Rose

The Name Of The Rose

This historical murder mystery is set at an Italian monastery in 1327. When Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate heresy at the abbey, he soon finds himself investigating murder. It was Umberto Eco's debut novel.

The Crime at Black Dudley (Albert Campion)

The Crime at Black Dudley (Albert Campion)

Margarey Allingham—another Golden Age mystery writer—introduced her gentlemen sleuth Albert Campion in The Crime at Black Dudley , where he solves a crime during a weekend party. It's a classic whodunit, and Allingham would go on to write 18 Campion novels.

The Penguin Book of Murder Mysteries

The Penguin Book of Murder Mysteries

Coming this November is this anthology of classic murder mysteries, a must-read for any classic murder mystery fan. As the publisher explains: "For The Penguin Book of Murder Mysteries , writer and anthologist Michael Sims did not summon the usual suspects. He sought the unfamiliar, the unjustly forgotten, and little-known gems by writers from outside the genre." We can't wait!

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Emily Burack (she/her) is the news writer for Town & Country, where she covers entertainment, culture, the royals, and a range of other subjects. Before joining T&C, she was the deputy managing editor at Hey Alma , a Jewish culture site. Follow her @emburack on Twitter and Instagram . 

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The Cozy Mystery List Blog

Cozy Mystery (and Other Favorite) Books, Movies, and TV

November 2023 Mystery Book New Releases

October 5, 2023

ghost mystery series books

The following Mystery Books will be released in November 2023:

Rhys Bowen :  The Proof of the Pudding  (17th in the Royal Spyness Mysteries)

V.M. Burns :  Murder on Tour  (9th in the Mystery Bookshop Mysteries)

Cleo Coyle  (aka  Alice Kimberly ):  Bulletproof Barista  (20th in the Coffeehouse Mysteries)

Jeffery Deaver :  The Watchmaker’s Hand  (Non-Cozy, 18th in the Lincoln Rhyme Mysteries)

Peggy Ehrhart :  Knitmare on Beech Street  (10th in the Knit & Nibble Mysteries)

Victoria Gilbert :  Murder Checks Out  (8th in the Blue Ridge Library Mysteries)

Sally Goldenbaum :  A Twisted Skein  (6th in the Seaside Knitters Society Mysteries)

Victoria Laurie :  Coaching Fire  (5th in the Cat & Gilley Life Coach Mysteries)

Anne Perry :  A Christmas Vanishing  (20th in the Christmas Mysteries)

Karen Rose Smith :  Murder with Chocolate Tea  (10th in the Daisy’s Tea Garden Mysteries)

Mrs. Ainee C. Beland says

October 5, 2023 at 3:57 pm

Hello, thank you for the list; I did jot down this one in particular as a possible purchase but no guarantees: Karen Rose Smith: Murder with Chocolate Tea (10th in the Daisy’s Tea Garden Mysteries). Thank you for sharing.

Danna - cozy mystery list says

October 6, 2023 at 5:04 pm

Ainee, if you do end up picking it up, I hope you enjoy it!

Elizabeth Jones says

October 6, 2023 at 4:50 pm

I have read books of a number of these authors. I particularly like Jeffrey Deaver, Anne Perry and Cleo Coyle. Most of them just follow the same outline of a cozy mystery but are well written with tidbits thrown in to make them interesting – and different from the current story.

October 6, 2023 at 5:05 pm

Elizabeth, a well-written story is usually worth reading, even if it does follow a familiar pattern!

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    Steve Griffin shares the 5 best books on ghost mystery stories. Have you read Carfax House? Browse by topic or book 🧞☘️🎱🙈 Browse The Best Books ... From the bestselling author of the bestselling Psychic Surveys and This Haunted World series, comes a Christmas ghost story to chill your bones! A renovation. In the countryside. Just ...

  16. These Paranormal Cozy Mysteries Will Cast a Spell on You

    Book #1: Spell Booked Ghost Hunter Mysteries by Victoria Laurie M.J. and Gilley are partners in their ghost-hunting business, and their newest client wants them to solve his grandfather's murder. But that isn't the only ghost that lurks in the house, and M.J. and Gilley find themselves caught in between too many rivalries to count.

  17. 15 Paranormal Mystery Books to Read Right Now

    Sometimes the mystery unfolds like a procedural where supernatural detectives and amateur sleuths pursue leads from ghosts, werewolves, goddesses, and djinn, taking the reader into a magical underworld along the way. Other paranormal mysteries have their protagonists unravel clues about how the paranormal itself works.

  18. Mystery Ghost Books

    avg rating 3.69 — 2,957 ratings — published 1937. Want to Read. Rate this book. 1 of 5 stars 2 of 5 stars 3 of 5 stars 4 of 5 stars 5 of 5 stars. The Breaking Point: Stories (ebook) by. Daphne du Maurier. (shelved 1 time as mystery-ghost) avg rating 3.76 — 1,739 ratings — published 1922.

  19. The 100 Best Mystery and Thriller Books of All Time

    The 100 Best Mystery and Thriller Books of All Time. With a panel of celebrated authors—Megan Abbott, Harlan Coben, S.A. Cosby, Gillian Flynn, Tana French, Rachel Howzell Hall, and Sujata Massey ...

  20. Amazon.com: Free Kindle Ghost Books

    Dance With the Dead: A Paranormal Women's Fiction Novel (Gwen's Ghosts Book 1) Book 1 of 6: Gwen's Ghosts 340 Kindle $000 Free with Kindle Unlimited membership Join Now Available instantly Or $2.99 to buy Other formats: Audible Audiobook , Paperback Sarah's Ghost (Part One: Heaven is Waiting): A Supernatural Thriller by Ben Kavaliro 173 Kindle $000

  21. The 21 Best Ghost Books to Read for Halloween 2021

    An iconic ghost story. Amazon. "The Haunting of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $8.27. First published in 1959 and considered one of the best ghost stories ...

  22. Best Cozy Mystery Series (2087 books)

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  23. Humorous Paranormal Books (1388 books)

    A list of paranormal books that made you laugh or have lots of humor. flag. All Votes Add Books To This List. 1. Undead and Unwed (Undead, #1) by. MaryJanice Davidson (Goodreads Author) 3.81 avg rating — 56,215 ratings. score: 28,066 , and 285 people voted.

  24. 15 Best Ghost Books

    Alvin Schwartz Scary Stories Paperback Box Set: The Complete 3-Book Collection. Now 42% Off. $14 at Amazon. Credit: HarperCollins. I don't know which is scarier in this three-book series: The ...

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  26. November 2023 Mystery Book New Releases

    The following Mystery Books will be released in November 2023: Rhys Bowen: The Proof of the Pudding (17th in the Royal Spyness Mysteries). V.M. Burns: Murder on Tour (9th in the Mystery Bookshop Mysteries). Cleo Coyle (aka Alice Kimberly): Bulletproof Barista (20th in the Coffeehouse Mysteries). Jeffery Deaver: The Watchmaker's Hand (Non-Cozy, 18th in the Lincoln Rhyme Mysteries)