Best Halloween Mystery Books


A time for a lonely walk in the woods, cobwebs clinging to clinging to tree branches as night falls and a full moon crests the horizon behind a creepy abandoned house…

This holiday, with its ancient traditions and rituals honed over the centuries, has inspired many a horror fan over the years – and the mystery and crime thriller genre hasn’t been far behind.

So here we go.

Ready to peek between your fingers?

Welcome to a selection of some of my favourite mystery books that are perfect reads for Halloween…

Dean Koontz, Odd Thomas

(pub date: 2007)

From the publisher:

Odd by name, a hero by nature.

He’s Odd. Odd Thomas, to be precise. Genius fry-cook at the Pico Mundo grill; boyfriend to the gorgeous Stormy Llewellyn – and possibly the only person with a chance of stopping one of the worst crimes in the bloody history of murder…

Something evil has come to the desert town that Odd and Stormy call home. It comes in the form of a mysterious man with a macabre appetite, a filing cabinet full of information on the world’s worst killers, and strange, hyena-like shadows following him wherever he goes. Odd is worried. He knows things, sees things – about the living, the dead and the soon to be dead. Things that he has to act on. Now he’s terrified for Stormy, himself and Pico Mundo. Because he knows that on Wednesday August 15, a savage, blood-soaked whirlwind of violence and murder will devastate the town.

Today is August 14. And Odd is far from sure he can stop the coming storm…

What I like:

I was first introduced to Koontz’s Odd Thomas series by a procurement manager during an engineering meeting of all things back in 2010, and quickly devoured the first three books in the series that were available by then.

There’s a gentleness amongst the horror elements of these stories, permeated throughout Odd’s character and his actions, with his reluctance to be a hero painfully clear. He is vulnerable, trusting in his fate and yet inspiring to all those he tries to help along the way despite his own heartbreak.

The whole seven-book series is a masterclass in storytelling, and perfect way to start your Halloween celebrations.

Jim Butcher, Stormfront

(pub date: 2000)

From the publisher:

As a professional wizard, Harry Dresden knows firsthand that the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things—and most of them don’t play well with humans. And those that do enjoy playing with humans far too much. He also knows he’s the best at what he does. Technically, he’s the only at what he does. But even though Harry is the only game in town, business—to put it mildly—stinks.

So when the Chicago P.D. bring him in to consult on a double homicide committed with black magic, Harry's seeing dollar signs. But where there's black magic, there's a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry's name...

What I like:

Whenever I’m asked which book series I wish I’d created, I always refer to Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series.

A Chicago private investigator who also happens to be a wizard?

Take my money.

With plenty of heart and humour amongst the werewolves, warring vampires and creatures from nether worlds, not to mention the nefarious activities of the humans peppering these stories, Harry usually has his hands full with every case he takes on.

A core cast of characters in supporting roles keeps Harry from facing every enemy on his own, but sometimes those characters bring their own problems – and only this loyal PI can solve the mystery, often at his own peril.

Start with Stormfront, then lose yourself in a series that just keeps going from strength to strength.

Stuart Neville, The Traveller and Other Stories

(pub date: 2020)

From the publisher:

Neville offers readers a collection of his short fiction – twelve chilling stories that traverse and blend the genres of noir, horror, and speculative fiction, and which bring the history and lore of Neville’s native Northern Ireland to life.

What I like:

I do love a short story, and when they’re written as well as the 13 – perfect for Halloween – twisted tales contained in this collection, they’re addictive.

Divided into two sections, “New Monsters” showcases Neville’s ability of capturing his readers within a few sentences, pulling you into the story with an urgency that means you can’t escape until the final shocking lines.

“Old Friends” draws on characters from Neville’s books to date, following them as they negotiate their own demons, for better or for worse.

The Traveller and Other Stories is utterly compelling, and a sure-fire winner for your hallowed eve’s reading.

Stephen King, The Outsider

(pub date: 2018)

From the publisher:

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is discovered in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens – Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon have DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

As the investigation expands and horrifying details begin to emerge, King’s story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense.

Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face?

What I like:

Taking a typical police procedural and turning it completely on its head, Stephen King delivered one of his best horror-tinged thrillers with The Outsider.

While the inhabitants and police officers of Flint City become more and more baffled by the evidence, the rumours start to circulate amongst some of the residents.

Because how can one man be in two places at once?

When the supernatural elements of this story become known, the pace increases even more – The Outsider really is one of those books that you can’t put down until you find out who (or what) is responsible for the gruesome murder.

It’s another must-read from a master of the genre.

Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Last Rituals

(pub date: 2009)

From the publisher:

A young man is found brutally murdered, his eyes gouged out.

A student of Icelandic history in Reykjavik, he came from a wealthy German family who do not share the police's belief that his drug dealer murdered him.

Attorney Thora Gudmundsdóttir is commissioned by his mother to find out the truth, with the help - and hindrance - of boorish ex-policeman Matthew Reich.

Their investigations into his research take them deep into a grisly world of torture and witchcraft both past and present, as they draw ever closer to a killer gripped by a dangerous obsession...

What I like:

In an unlikely pairing, a lawyer and retired police officer team up to re-investigate a murder – even though the Reykjavik police already have the killer in custody.

Because someone is lying.

The victim was known to have more than a passing interest in the occult and black magic, and the grisly remains of his mutilated body leave no doubt that these elements inspired his life – but who killed him, and why?

In this page-turning mystery, Sigurdardottir perfectly weaves together her sense of humour with her uncanny skill as a storyteller.

The result is a page-turner of a book that is both chilling and entertaining while divulging some of Iceland’s history around centuries-old witch hunts.

It’s a compelling read, and perfect for your Halloween TBR pile.