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13 Mystery & Thriller Book Excerpts That Will Have You on the Edge of Your Seat

Creepy reads await.


Mystery and thriller books are guaranteed to get our hearts racing. The sheer terror of a murderer on the loose, a frightening police chase, or someone close to you harboring dark secrets is enough to make you double lock your doors.

These mystery and thriller books will have you on the edge of your seat, bracing for what comes next. Read about these mysteries and thrillers, and then click to read book excerpts from these frightening stories.

Cage of Bones, by Tania Carver

cage of bones nightmare fuel

When Detective Inspector Phil Brennan and psychologist Marina Esposito make a horrifying discovery in the basement, they don’t realize they’ve disturbed a killer who’s hidden in plain sight for thirty years. They rescued a frightened little boy, but now the killer wants him back.

Read an excerpt of Cage of Bones here.

The Murder Bird, by Joanna Hines

mystery thriller book excerpts murder bird

When Sam Waller’s mother turns up dead in her own bathtub, she can’t believe it’s a suicide and decides to take matters into her own hands—investigating to find the truth, no matter what dangers lie ahead.

Read an excerpt of The Murder Bird here.

Harriet Said, by Beryl Bainbridge

harriet said mystery thriller excerpts

Inspired by the 1954 murder of Honorah Parker by her daughter, Pauline, and her daughter’s friend, Juliet, Harriet Said follows a 13-year-old, unnamed narrator as she and her best friend Harriet attempt to humiliate a local man in their English coastal town. But as the narrator’s crush on this man develops, it leads the girls into frightening territory they’re not prepared for.

Read an excerpt of Harriet Said here.

Night Passage, by Carol Davis Luce

night passage mystery thriller excerpts

When the brutal death of her mentor Caroline Holt is ruled a suicide, investigative reporter Roni Mayfield is certain of foul play—especially after receiving a message of distress from Caroline hours earlier. But shadowy secrets lurk below the surface of this eerie Nevada town, secrets that may cost Caroline her life.

Read an excerpt of Night Passage here.

The Other Side of Silence, by Bill Pronzini

the other side of silence mystery thriller excerpts

After the death of his son, Rick Fallon’s wife leaves him. So he heads for Death Valley, in search of a new life of peace and tranquility. But when he comes across a woman on the brink of death, he learns that the woman’s ex-husband has kidnapped her son. Rick soon makes it his mission to help her get him back, even if it means risking his own life.

Read an excerpt of The Other Side of Silence here.

The Creeper, by Tania Carver

the creeper mystery thriller excerpts

Suzanne Perry is having a nightmare that someone is in her bedroom. But when she wakes up, she realizes it wasn’t just a dream. Detective Inspector Phil Brennan is investigating a killer who stalks young women, torturing them by inserting himself into their lives. But he comes to realize that this serial killer is more horrific than he could have ever imagined.

Read an excerpt of The Creeper here.

Copycat, by Gillian White

copycat mystery thriller excerpts

In Copycat, new neighbors Martha and Jennie develop a strong connection that escalates from friendship to obsession … to murder. In the beginning, Jennie would have done anything for Martha’s attention—even hurt her own child. But as time goes on, the roles reverse; Jennie starts putting her life back together, and it’s Martha who can’t handle losing her biggest admirer.

Read an excerpt of Copycat here.

The Room, by Hubert Selby Jr.

the room mystery thriller excerpts

Author Hubert Selby, Jr. fell down a dark rabbit hole when he wrote his 1971 novel The Room, imagining what the mind of a criminal, locked away in a jail cell, looks like. The finished book disturbed Selby so greatly that he couldn’t read it himself for 20 years.

Read an excerpt of The Room here.

Beautiful Death, by Fiona McIntosh

beautiful death mystery thriller excerpts

Jack Farnsworth sees brutal violence every day in his job as an investigator. But when he’s called to identify a victim, whose face has been removed, he vows to hunt down this vicious killer. Little does he know that the murderer already has a new target … someone Jack cares for.

Read an excerpt of Beautiful Death here (no longer available).

A Wasteland of Strangers, by Bill Pronzini

wasteland of strangers mystery thriller books

This book throws you into the epicenter of small-town fear—setting you inside the minds of the people of Pomo, California. When a strange man moves into town, no one trusts him. And when a woman is found murdered, suspicion immediately falls on him in this Edgar Award-nominated and truly frightening thriller.

Read an excerpt of A Wasteland of Strangers here.

The Headsman, by James Neal Harvey

headsman mystery and thriller excerpts

The people of Braddock, New York are haunted by a terrifying legend: A local executioner, who vanished two centuries ago, is said to periodically return to the town … for blood. And when Marcy Dickens hears footsteps on the stairs outside her bedroom, she can’t convince herself it’s a dream anymore.

Read an excerpt of The Headsman here.

Watson’s Apology, by Beryl Bainbridge

watsons apology mystery thriller excerpts

What really happened between John Selby Watson and his wife? In a note left with the body of his wife, he claimed to have killed her in “a fit of rage to which she provoked me,” but then stood trial under a plea of insanity. Bainbridge’s speculative historical book reimagines the events leading up to the murder.

Read an excerpt of Watson’s Apology here.

Miss Lizzie, by Walter Satterthwait

miss lizzie mystery thriller excerpts

When Amanda Burton’s stepmother is murdered, she calls upon her new neighbor, Lizzie Borden, to help her find the killer. Though people have warned Amanda to stay away from Lizzie, who was acquitted of murder two decades ago, she knows she’s the only one who can help.

Read an excerpt of Miss Lizzie here.

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