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Locked Room Murder Mysteries

11 riveting whodunnits you won't be able to put down!

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • March 26, 2023

Many historians consider Edgar Allen Poe's The Murders in the Rue Morgue to be the first locked-room mystery. These tales don't necessarily take place in a locked room. The trope calls for an isolated or restricted environment, like a remote cabin, a boat, or an island—a place that is cut off from the rest of the world. A limited number of suspects will be present—one of them guilty and the others, at risk. The trope involves a crime, which happens in a restricted environment. Here are eleven unputdownable locked-room murder mysteries.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Any murder mystery list should have at least one novel by the Queen of Crime. Several of Christie's novels could fall into the locked room category, but this gem is a standard bearer for the trope. Eight people, each harboring a secret, accept the invitation to an isolated mansion on Indian Island. 

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate a wedding. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves rough, but every detail has been expertly planned. As the champagne is popped, resentments begin to mingle with well wishes. And then someone turns up dead.

Shiver by Allie Reynolds  

Five friends gather in the French Alps—a reunion of the winter they spent training for an elite snowboarding competition. Yet no sooner do they arrive for the reunion than they realize something is very wrong. The resort is deserted and someone has gathered them there with dark intentions.

The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada

A wealthy artist is brutally murdered in his studio, which is locked from the inside. All of the suspects have alibis that check out. Decades later, astrologer, fortune teller, and self-styled detective Kiyoshi Mitarai sets out to solve the crime with just a week in which to do it.

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

Described as Pretty Little Liars meets The Breakfast Club, this YA page-turner tells the story of a deadly high school detention. It's a Monday afternoon at Bayview High when five very different students walk into detention together. But only four of them come out alive.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

When reclusive writer Leonora reluctantly agrees to spend a weekend with friends deep in the English countryside, she is hoping for a cozy and fun-filled weekend. But as the first night falls, things take a sinister turn as a haunting realization creeps in. They are not alone in the woods.

Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

After years of avoiding each other, Daisy Darker's entire family is assembling for Nana's 80th birthday party in her crumbling gothic house on a tiny tidal island. The family arrives, each of them guarding secrets. When the tide comes in, they will be cut off from the rest of the world for eight deadly hours.

The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill 

This 1892 novel is often given credit for being the first proper locked-roomer. A man is discovered in his lodging room with his throat cut, no trace of a weapon and no sign of forced entry in the room, locked and latched from the inside. This perfect crime leaves the detectives at Scotland Yard baffled. 

Snowblind by Ragnar Jónasson

In an idyllic fishing village in Northern Iceland where no one locks their doors, Ari is a rookie policeman on his first posting. When a young woman is found bleeding and unconscious and an esteemed elderly writer falls to his death, Ari finds himself at the center of a community where he can trust no one.

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

The tranquility of the Boston Public Library is shattered by a woman's scream. Security guards take charge, instructing everyone to stay put until the threat is identified. Four strangers make conversation as they wait. They each have their own reasons for being there—and one of those reasons is murder.

The Decagon House Murders by Yukiyo Ayatsuji

The members of a university detective-fiction club, each nicknamed for a favorite crime writer, spend a week on remote Tsunojima Island, attracted to the place, and its eerie 10-sided house, because of a spate of murders that transpired the year before. That curiosity will, of course, be their undoing.

Get ready to be gripped because the stories on this list will grab you and refuse to let go. Let us know if you have any favorites to add to the list.

Read more by Ashly Moore Sheldon

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