What makes for a good gothic mystery suspense book? Dark, atmospheric settings. Unsettling and often supernatural storylines. A sense of horrifying dread that leaves the reader wondering who they can trust. Gothic mystery books and suspense books have been around for centuries, and writers and readers alike continue to love gothic sensibilities in their fiction. These are seven gothic mystery suspense novels—both new and classics—that you absolutely have to read if you’re one of the many who love this genre.
Bloodless marks the 20th book in Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's Pendergast series, following FBI agent Aloysius X. L. Pendergast. When bloodless bodies start appearing in Savannah, Georgia, panic explodes across the city, and people begin wondering if there's a vampire in their midst. And so Pendergast and his partner, Agent Coldmoon, are on the case, exploring the truth behind the infamous Savannah Vampire and its connection to the only unsolved skyjacking in American history.
The neighbors all whisper about the two sisters who live on the hill: It’s Blanche Hudson who lives in that house, you know. The Blanche Hudson, who starred in big Hollywood films all those years ago. Such a shame her career ended so early, all because of that accident. They say it was her sister, Jane, who did it–that she crashed the car because she was drunk. They say that’s why she looks after Blanche now, because of the guilt. That’s what they say, at least.
Nobody remembers that Jane was once a star herself. A fixture of early vaudeville, Baby Jane Hudson performed her song and dance routines for adoring crowds until a move to Hollywood thrust her sister into the spotlight. Even now, years later, Jane dreams of reviving her act. But as the lines begin to blur between fantasy and reality, past resentments become dangerous–and the sisters’ long-kept secrets threaten to destroy them.
Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca is an enduring gothic romance mystery classic that was recently adapted into a film for Netflix, starring Lily James. In this novel, a nameless narrator falls in love with the dashing and mysterious widower Maxim de Winter. Their whirlwind romance ends in a quick marriage, and then our narrator is whisked off the Manderley, Maxim's large country estate that's haunted by the memories of his previous wife, Rebecca. But the echoes of Rebecca all over Manderley threaten to destroy this new marriage from beyond the grave.
If you're looking for a contemporary gothic suspense novel that's got an atmospheric, dark setting similar to Du Maurier's Rebecca, check out The Woman in the Mirror by Rebecca James. This novel is set in Winterbourne Hall, a manor that stands on the top of a bluff that looks over the English countryside of Cornwall. This story follows two timelines. In 1947, Alice Miller takes on a job as governess for Captain Jonathan de Grey’s twin children. But Alice finds the manor to be an unwelcoming place, and there seems to be a presence in the home that resents her presence. Meanwhile, in present-day New York, art gallery curator Rachel Wright has learned she is the heir to Winterbourne. And the more Rachel learns about her lineage, the closer she gets to uncovering the secrets of the manor.
Swedish Lapland, 1717. Maija, her husband Paavo and her daughters Frederika and Dorotea arrive from their native Finland, hoping to forget the traumas of their past and put down new roots in this harsh but beautiful land. Above them looms BlackÃ¥n, a mountain whose foreboding presence looms over the valley and whose dark history seems to haunt the lives of those who live in its shadow.
While herding the family’s goats on the mountain, Frederika happens upon the mutilated body of one of their neighbors, Eriksson. The death is dismissed as a wolf attack, but Maija feels certain that the wounds could only have been inflicted by another man. Compelled to investigate despite her neighbors’ strange disinterest in the death and the fate of Eriksson’s widow, Maija is drawn into the dark history of tragedies and betrayals that have taken place on BlackÃ¥n. Young Frederika finds herself pulled towards the mountain as well, feeling something none of the adults around her seem to notice.
As the seasons change, and the “wolf winter,” the harshest winter in memory, descends upon the settlers, Paavo travels to find work, and Maija finds herself struggling for her family’s survival in this land of winter-long darkness. As the snow gathers, the settlers’ secrets are increasingly laid bare. Scarce resources and the never-ending darkness force them to come together, but Maija, not knowing who to trust and who may betray her, is determined to find the answers for herself. Soon, Maija discovers the true cost of survival under the mountain, and what it will take to make it to spring.
The Dark Room by Jonathan Moore is a moody, intense suspense novel that's been described as contemporary Edgar Allen Poe. When the mayor is being blackmailed, FPD homicide inspector Gavin Cain is called in to track down the blackmailer. The letter the mayor has received is chilling. Four images have been included in the letter, and the blackmailer says more devastating revelations will be revealed if the mayor doesn't take his own life first.
Inspector of the Dead is the second novel in David Morrell's Thomas De Quincey series. The novel follows Thomas De Quincey, a real-life historical figure who was a writer, essayist, and literary critic in England in the 19th century. Morrell's novels imagine De Quincey was also a detective, exploring some of the darkest mysteries in Victorian England. Inspector of the Dead is set in 1855 during the Crimean War, and the story sees De Quincey facing off against a killer who is plotting to assassinate Queen Victoria.