11 Private Eye Mysteries That Will Keep You Hooked From Start to Finish

Police officers may act as rogue agents on occasion, but they still have to answer to their superiors and are expected to follow a pretty strict set of rules. Private detectives, on the other hand, have more leeway to use their own methods and do whatever it takes to solve the case. If you love reading about crafty private eyes facing off against criminals, check out the eleven mysteries listed here. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

Mysteries About Private Detectives: Our 11 Picks

Title Author
1. Gone to Dust Matt Goldman
2. Lucky Stuff Sharon Fiffer
3. Shell Game Sara Paretsky
4. Edge of the Knife A.D. Miller
5. Monica's Sister Earl Emerson
6. Deadly Spirits E. Michael Helms
7. Murder on the Left Bank Cara Black
8. The Ishtar Cup Murray Lee Eiland Jr.
9. Pandora's Boy Lindsey Davis
10. The Man in the Crooked Hat Harry Dolan
11. Blue Blooded Emma Jameson

8 Great Movies About Private Investigators

  1. Chinatown (1974)
  2. Devil in a Blue Dress (1995)
  3. Night Moves (1975)
  4. The Big Sleep (1946)
  5. Exposed (1947)
  6. The Nice Guys (2016)
  7. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
  8. The Long Goodbye (1973)

The History of the Mystery Genre

Some of the world's oldest known stories used the same elements that make modern mysteries so enticing. Homer's famous epic poem The Odyssey is something of a prototype of the genre. The hero's life is in constant danger as he uses his cunning to solve problems and overcome his enemies. But the genre isn't exclusive to Western culture. One of the stories in One Thousand and One Nights (commonly known as Arabian Nights) is considered to be the oldest known murder mystery. This tale, The Three Apples, is full of plot twists and revolves around a mysterious death. Centuries later, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle popularized the genre with his stories about the now-famous Sherlock Holmes. Eventually, of course, mystery made its way from the pages of books to the big screen. Some of the most well-known of these movies were directed by Alfred Hitchcock, who worked on several classics throughout his career, including Psycho, Vertigo, and Rear Window.

The History of Detective Fiction

In Depth

The private eye is perhaps the most iconic figure in the mystery genre. Nothing spells excitement, twists, and thrills quite like an experienced investigator on a case. In no particular order, here are eleven titles starring determined private detectives out to find the truth, even in the face of overwhelming odds.

In the #1 spot is "Gone to Dust" by Matt Goldman. When Minneapolis resident Maggie Somerville is found dead and covered in dust from vacuum cleaner bags, the police call Nils Shapiro. All DNA evidence has been erased, making the killer's identity an enigma. Nils looks through Maggie's phone records and finds a number belonging to a woman whose identity carries dark implications for Maggie's family.

At #2 is Sharon Fiffer's "Lucky Stuff." Recovering from a divorce, private detective Jane Wheel goes back to her hometown of Kankakee, Illinois, only to discover that trouble has followed her there. Small-time comedian Lucky Miller is trying to pull off a comeback tour by acting as if he's always been famous. Jane's mother Nellie hires Jane to find out why Lucky is trying to stage his success in Kankakee, but the case becomes much more serious when a driver on Lucky's crew is discovered dead.

Small-time comedian Lucky Miller is trying to pull off a comeback tour by acting as if he's always been famous.

In the #3 spot is Sara Paretsky's "Shell Game." When V.I. Warshawski hears that an old friend's nephew has been arrested in connection with a murder, she heads to Chicago to see what she can do. The murder, however, is just the beginning, and soon V.I. finds herself embroiled in a much bigger plot involving stolen artifacts, the Russian mob, and ISIS. When V.I.'s niece goes missing, the case becomes even more personal, drawing her into a dangerous game of shifting identities and shadowy powers.

Taking the #4 position is A.D. Miller's "Edge of the Knife." Detective Tom Nyman is devastated when he fails to save a young woman from a brutal murder. Searching for justice, he embarks on an investigation, but finds himself pursued by his own dark past. As he searches Los Angeles for answers, he stumbles upon a sinister conspiracy of political corruption which exposes the most unsavory parts of the city's underbelly.

At #5 is Earl Emerson's "Monica's Sister." When Thomas Black agrees to do a favor for his friend Angela Bassman, he ends up involved in the marital drama of billionaire Clark Lloyd Self and his ex-model wife Monica, who is also Angela's sister. The plot kicks into high gear when Angela dies in an apparent suicide and Monica hires Thomas to investigate her death. In the process, Thomas becomes entangled in the many mysteries of the sisters' complex pasts, and puts his own life in danger as well.

When Thomas Black agrees to do a favor for his friend Angela Bassman, he ends up involved in the marital drama of billionaire Clark Lloyd Self and his ex-model wife Monica, who is also Angela's sister.

In the #6 spot is "Deadly Spirits" by E. Michael Helms. Shortly after Mac McClellan's girlfriend persuades him to join the Palmetto Paranormal Society, he ends up investigating a pair of bewildering deaths. The fatal accident which kills the society president is quickly followed by another, which ends the life of his secretary and lover. Both tragedies occur during paranormal investigations. Mac isn't convinced that the deaths are ghostly in nature, and sets out to find the guilty party, whether they're living or dead.

At #7 is Cara Black's "Murder on the Left Bank." An accountant enters a Parisian lawyer's office, carrying a ledger. He informs the attorney that the ledger contains the records of all his dealings with a group of corrupt policemen. On the way from the lawyer's office to the chief prosecutor, however, the man is killed and his ledger is stolen. Parisian detective Aimee Leduc is hired to investigate, but she has some misgivings about the case. Her father was himself a policeman, killed by the same dirty cops exposed in the book. The problem is that she doesn't know if his name is in the ledger too.

At #8 is Murray Lee Eiland Jr.'s "The Ishtar Cup." Los Angeles sleuth Bart Northcote has a side gig as a writer, penning loosely disguised versions of his own adventures. His latest case involves an ancient and valuable artifact from Iraq called the Ishtar Cup. Bart is hired to hunt the Cup down by a mysterious woman who declines to give him her real name. Soon, he discovers that she's involved in a conspiracy to sell the Cup for vast sums of money. Unfortunately for her, and for Bart, the scheme quickly spirals into a murderous snare of backstabbing and betrayal.

Los Angeles sleuth Bart Northcote has a side gig as a writer, penning loosely disguised versions of his own adventures.

Taking the #9 spot is "Pandora's Boy" by Lindsey Davis. Set in ancient Rome, this tale follows Flavia Albia as she investigates a case given to her by her husband's ex-wife. A young girl may have been poisoned by a love potion which she was sold by the local witch, Pandora. The plot thickens as Flavia discovers that Pandora's grandson and the dead girl were friends. When one of Flavia's own friends is the victim of a violent death, she swears to expose the hidden web of bloodshed which links the two murders.

At #10 is Harry Dolan's "The Man in the Crooked Hat." Jack Pellum is a Detroit P.I. on the trail of his wife's murderer. Michael Underhill is a man with a dark past desperately trying to build a new life. When a writer commits suicide, leaving behind an inscrutable note, these two men are pulled together into an intricate plot of violence and deceit which may end up leading Pellum to the answers he seeks.

And finally, in the #11 position is "Blue Blooded" by Emma Jameson. Tony Hetheridge has stepped down from the position of Chief Superintendent of Scotland Yard to become a private investigator, and his old job is filled by his wife, Kate. Tony's first case in the private sector is the suicide of a young woman and the simultaneous disappearance of her twin brother. Through this strange tragedy, Tony and Kate are drawn into a dangerous labyrinth of sacred geometry, political killings, and murderous aristocrats.