10 Best Social Mystery Books Addressing Social Issues
Looking to dive into the world of social mysteries? Perfect, you're in the right place! We've scoured libraries, independent bookstores, and endless threads from passionate readers online to gather a collection of novels that isn't just about chilling murders and blindsiding plot twists. This list of ten books uniquely combines the thrill of a mystery novel with the insightful depth of social issues. Why stick to the mainstream when you can explore a genre that's off the beaten path?
These books are not your average whodunits. They tease your brain, yes, but also tug at your heartstrings, making you think deeply about social reality. They feature complex characters who are tossed into social situations that are, at times, arguably more perplexing and scary than the crimes themselves. They take you through the murk of discrimination, the labyrinth of inequality, and the fog surrounding mental health. While they keep you on the edge of your seat trying to decipher cryptic clues, they will also introduce you to a side of society you might not have delved into.
So, buckle up! Get ready for a reading experience that is as exciting as it is enlightening with these top ten social mystery novels.
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER Edgar Award-winning author William Kent Krueger delivers another heart-pounding thriller filled with “dynamic action scenes” (The New York Times) as Cork O’Connor and his son Stephen work together to uncover the truth behind the death of a senator on Desolation Mountain and the mysterious disappearances of several first responders. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. To Stephen O’Connor, Hamlet’s dour observation is more than just words. All his life, he has had visions of tragedies to come. When he experiences the vision of a great bird shot from the sky, he knows something terrible is about to happen. The crash of a private plane on Desolation Mountain in a remote part of the Iron Lake Reservation, which kills a United States senator and most of her family, confirms Stephen’s worst fears. Stephen joins his father, Cork O’Connor and a few Ojibwe men from the nearby Iron Lake reservation to sift through the smoldering wreckage when the FBI arrives and quickly assumes control of the situation. As he initiates his own probe, Cork stumbles upon a familiar face in Bo Thorson, a private security consultant whose unnamed clients have hired him to look quietly into the cause of the crash. The men agree to join forces in their investigation, but soon Cork begins to wonder if Thorson’s loyalties lie elsewhere. Roadblocked by lies from the highest levels of government, uncertain who to trust, and facing growing threats the deeper they dig for answers, Cork, Stephen, and Bo finally understand that to get to the truth, they will have to face the great menace, a beast of true evil lurking in the woods—a beast with a murderous intent of unimaginable scale. Krueger delivers yet another “punch-to-the-gut blend of detective story and investigative fiction” (Booklist, starred review).
|Author||William Kent Krueger|
|Release Date||Apr 16, 2019|
『The Hate U Give』
8 starred reviews · Goodreads Choice Awards Best of the Best · William C. Morris Award Winner · National Book Award Longlist · Printz Honor Book · Coretta Scott King Honor Book · #1 New York Times Bestseller! "Absolutely riveting!" —Jason Reynolds "Stunning." —John Green "This story is necessary. This story is important." —Kirkus (starred review) "Heartbreakingly topical." —Publishers Weekly (starred review) "A marvel of verisimilitude." —Booklist (starred review) "A powerful, in-your-face novel." —Horn Book (starred review) Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life. Want more of Garden Heights? Catch Maverick and Seven’s story in Concrete Rose, Angie Thomas's powerful prequel to The Hate U Give.
|Release Date||Feb 28, 2017|
Winner of the 2018 Edgar Award for Best Novel One of CrimeReads's Best Novels of the Decade A "heartbreakingly resonant" (USA Today) thriller about the explosive intersection of love, race, and justice from the author of Heaven, My Home When it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules--a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about growing up black in the lone star state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him home. When his allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he travels up Highway 59 to the small town of Lark, where two murders--a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman--have stirred up a hornet's nest of resentment. Darren must solve the crimes--and save himself in the process--before Lark's long-simmering racial fault lines erupt. From a writer and producer of the Emmy winning Fox TV show Empire, Bluebird, Bluebird is a rural noir suffused with the unique music, color, and nuance of East Texas. "In Bluebird, Bluebird Attica Locke has both mastered the thriller and exceeded it." --Ann Patchett
|Release Date||Sep 12, 2017|
『Your House Will Pay』
WINNER OF THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE “[A] suspense-filled page-turner.” —Viet Thanh Nguyen, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Sympathizer "A touching portrait of two families bound together by a split-second decision.” —Attica Locke, Edgar-Award winning author of Bluebird, Bluebird A Best Book of the Year Wall Street Journal * Chicago Tribune * Buzzfeed * South Florida Sun-Sentinel * Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel * Book Riot * LitHub A powerful and taut novel about racial tensions in Los Angeles, following two families—one Korean-American, one African-American—grappling with the effects of a decades-old crime In the wake of the police shooting of a black teenager, Los Angeles is as tense as it’s been since the unrest of the early 1990s. But Grace Park and Shawn Matthews have their own problems. Grace is sheltered and largely oblivious, living in the Valley with her Korean-immigrant parents, working long hours at the family pharmacy. She’s distraught that her sister hasn’t spoken to their mother in two years, for reasons beyond Grace’s understanding. Shawn has already had enough of politics and protest after an act of violence shattered his family years ago. He just wants to be left alone to enjoy his quiet life in Palmdale. But when another shocking crime hits LA, both the Park and Matthews families are forced to face down their history while navigating the tumult of a city on the brink of more violence.
|Release Date||Oct 15, 2019|
『When No One Is Watching』
An instant NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY BESTSELLER! "I was knocked over by the momentum of an intense psychological thriller that doesn’t let go until the final page. This is a terrific read." – Alafair Burke, New York Times bestselling author *Marie Claire's September Book Club Pick* Rear Window meets Get Out in this gripping thriller from a critically acclaimed and New York Times Notable author, in which the gentrification of a Brooklyn neighborhood takes on a sinister new meaning… Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo. But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised. When does coincidence become conspiracy? Where do people go when gentrification pushes them out? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other—or themselves—long enough to find out before they too disappear? Featured in Parade, Essence, Bustle, Popsugar, Elle, Shondaland, Marie Claire, Buzzfeed, Entertainment Weekly, Good Housekeeping, Brit + Co, Real Simple, Lit Hub, Crime Reads, Blavity, Ms. Magazine, Hello Giggles, The New York Times, Town & Country, Newsweek, New York Post, Refinery29, Woman's World, Washington Post, the Skimm, Book Riot, Bookish, Huffington Post, and more!
|Release Date||Sep 01, 2020|
“American Spy updates the espionage thriller with blazing originality.”—Entertainment Weekly “There has never been anything like it.”—Marlon James, GQ “So much fun . . . Like the best of John le Carré, it’s extremely tough to put down.”—NPR NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY CHICAGO TRIBUNE AND ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • Time • NPR • Entertainment Weekly • Esquire • BuzzFeed • Vulture • Real Simple • Good Housekeeping • The New York Public Library What if your sense of duty required you to betray the man you love? It’s 1986, the heart of the Cold War, and Marie Mitchell is an intelligence officer with the FBI. She’s brilliant, but she’s also a young black woman working in an old boys’ club. Her career has stalled out, she’s overlooked for every high-profile squad, and her days are filled with monotonous paperwork. So when she’s given the opportunity to join a shadowy task force aimed at undermining Thomas Sankara, the charismatic revolutionary president of Burkina Faso whose Communist ideology has made him a target for American intervention, she says yes. Yes, even though she secretly admires the work Sankara is doing for his country. Yes, even though she is still grieving the mysterious death of her sister, whose example led Marie to this career path in the first place. Yes, even though a furious part of her suspects she’s being offered the job because of her appearance and not her talent. In the year that follows, Marie will observe Sankara, seduce him, and ultimately have a hand in the coup that will bring him down. But doing so will change everything she believes about what it means to be a spy, a lover, a sister, and a good American. Inspired by true events—Thomas Sankara is known as “Africa’s Che Guevara”—American Spy knits together a gripping spy thriller, a heartbreaking family drama, and a passionate romance. This is a face of the Cold War you’ve never seen before, and it introduces a powerful new literary voice. NOMINATED FOR THE NAACP IMAGE AWARD • Shortlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize “Spy fiction plus allegory, and a splash of pan-Africanism. What could go wrong? As it happens, very little. Clever, bracing, darkly funny, and really, really good.”—Ta-Nehisi Coates “Inspired by real events, this espionage thriller ticks all the right boxes, delivering a sexually charged interrogation of both politics and race.”—Esquire “Echoing the stoic cynicism of Hurston and Ellison, and the verve of Conan Doyle, American Spy lays our complicities—political, racial, and sexual—bare. Packed with unforgettable characters, it’s a stunning book, timely as it is timeless.”—Paul Beatty, Man Booker Prizewinning author of The Sellout
|Publisher||Random House Trade Paperbacks|
|Release Date||Mar 17, 2020|
*INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER* One of Barack Obama's Recommended Reads for Summer • New York Times Notable Book • NPR’s Best Books of 2021 • Washington Post’s Best Thriller and Mystery Books of the Year • TIME Magazine’s 100 Must-Read Books of 2021 • New York Public Library’s Best Books of the Year • Goodreads Choice Award Nominee • Book of the Month’s Book of the Year Finalist “Provocative, violent — beautiful and moving, too.” —Washington Post “Superb...Cuts right to the heart of the most important questions of our times.” —Michael Connelly “A tour de force – poignant, action-packed, and profound.” —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel A Black father. A white father. Two murdered sons. A quest for vengeance. Ike Randolph has been out of jail for fifteen years, with not so much as a speeding ticket in all that time. But a Black man with cops at the door knows to be afraid. The last thing he expects to hear is that his son Isiah has been murdered, along with Isiah’s white husband, Derek. Ike had never fully accepted his son but is devastated by his loss. Derek’s father Buddy Lee was almost as ashamed of Derek for being gay as Derek was ashamed of his father's criminal record. Buddy Lee still has contacts in the underworld, though, and he wants to know who killed his boy. Ike and Buddy Lee, two ex-cons with little else in common other than a criminal past and a love for their dead sons, band together in their desperate desire for revenge. In their quest to do better for their sons in death than they did in life, hardened men Ike and Buddy Lee will confront their own prejudices about their sons and each other, as they rain down vengeance upon those who hurt their boys. Provocative and fast-paced, S. A. Cosby's Razorblade Tears is a story of bloody retribution, heartfelt change - and maybe even redemption. “A visceral full-body experience, a sharp jolt to the heart, and a treat for the senses...Cosby's moody southern thriller marries the skillful action and plotting of Lee Child with the atmosphere and insight of Attica Locke.” —NPR
|Author||S. A. Cosby|
|Release Date||Jul 06, 2021|
『The Other Black Girl』
"Get Out meets The Devil Wears Prada in this electric debut about the tension that unfurls when two young Black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of New York City book publishing. Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she's thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They've only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust. Then the notes begin to appear on Nella's desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW. It's hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there's a lot more at stake than just her career. A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary that is perfect for anyone who has ever felt manipulated, threatened, or overlooked in the workplace, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist"--
|Author||Zakiya Dalila Harris|
|Publisher||Simon and Schuster|
|Release Date||Jun 07, 2022|
『Notes on an Execution』
NATIONAL BESTSELLER “Defiantly populated with living women . . . beautifully drawn, dense with detail and specificity . . . Notes on an Execution is nuanced, ambitious and compelling.” —Katie Kitamura, NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW (Editors' Choice) "A searing portrait of the complicated women caught in the orbit of a serial killer. . . . Compassionate and thought-provoking." –BRIT BENNETT, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Half Recommended by New York Times Book Review • Los Angeles Times • Washington Post • Entertainment Weekly • Esquire • Good Housekeeping • USA Today • Buzzfeed • Goodreads • Real Simple • Marie Claire • Rolling Stone • Business Insider • Bustle • PopSugar • The Millions • The Guardian • and many more! In the tradition of Long Bright River and The Mars Room, a gripping and atmospheric work of literary suspense that deconstructs the story of a serial killer on death row, told primarily through the eyes of the women in his life—from the bestselling author of Girl in Snow. Ansel Packer is scheduled to die in twelve hours. He knows what he’s done, and now awaits execution, the same chilling fate he forced on those girls, years ago. But Ansel doesn’t want to die; he wants to be celebrated, understood. Through a kaleidoscope of women—a mother, a sister, a homicide detective—we learn the story of Ansel’s life. We meet his mother, Lavender, a seventeen-year-old girl pushed to desperation; Hazel, twin sister to Ansel’s wife, inseparable since birth, forced to watch helplessly as her sister’s relationship threatens to devour them all; and finally, Saffy, the detective hot on his trail, who has devoted herself to bringing bad men to justice but struggles to see her own life clearly. As the clock ticks down, these three women sift through the choices that culminate in tragedy, exploring the rippling fissures that such destruction inevitably leaves in its wake. Blending breathtaking suspense with astonishing empathy, Notes on an Execution presents a chilling portrait of womanhood as it simultaneously unravels the familiar narrative of the American serial killer, interrogating our system of justice and our cultural obsession with crime stories, asking readers to consider the false promise of looking for meaning in the psyches of violent men. "Poetic and mesmerizing . . . Powerful, important, intensely human, and filled with a unique examination of tragedy, one where the reader is left with a curious emotion: hope." —USA TODAY “A profound and staggering experience of empathy that challenges us to confront what it means to be human in our darkest moments. . . . I relished every page of this brilliant and gripping masterpiece."—ASHLEY AUDRAIN, New York Times bestselling author of The Push
|Release Date||Jan 25, 2022|
The New York Times bestselling author of Ordinary Grace weaves a vivid and pulse-pounding thriller that follows Cork O’Connor’s search for a missing man amid the fraught tensions at the border between Arizona and Mexico. On the Fourth of July, just as fireworks are about to go off in Aurora, Minnesota, Cork O’Connor and his new bride Rainy Bisonette receive a desperate phone call from Rainy’s son, Peter. The connection is terrible but before the line goes dead, they hear Peter confess to the murder of someone named Rodriquez. The following morning, Cork and Rainy fly to southern Arizona, where Peter has been working as a counselor in a well-known drug rehab center. When they arrive, they learn that Peter was fired six months earlier and hasn’t been heard from since. So they head to the little desert town of Sulfur Springs where Peter has been receiving his mail. But no one in Sulfur Springs seems to know him. They do, however, seem to recognize the name Rodriguez. Apparently, the Rodriguez family is one of the cartels controlling everything illegal that crosses the border from Mexico. As they gather scraps of information about Peter, Cork and Rainy are warned time and again that there is a war going on along the border. “Trust no one in Coronado County,” is the most common piece of advice they receive, and Cork doesn’t have to be told twice. To him, Arizona is alien country. The relentless heat, the absence of water and big trees and shade all feel nightmarish to him, as does his growing sense that Rainy might know more about what’s going on than she’s willing to admit in this fresh, exhilarating, and white-knuckle mystery starring one of the greatest heroes of fiction.
|Author||William Kent Krueger|
|Publisher||Simon and Schuster|
|Release Date||Aug 22, 2017|
Wrapping it up, just bear in mind that the best social mystery novels aren’t merely about captivating plots and unexpected twists. They pull back the curtains on the world, deep dive into societal problems, and at times, offer potential solutions. Through this genre, we gain a broader understanding, a kind of empathy we can bring into our daily lives. It's true that reality doesn't always provide us with the neatly tied up conclusions we often find in novels; but these books, with their profound narratives, can certainly facilitate a gripping exploration of reality, skillfully intertwined with suspense and mystery. The stories listed above masterfully dissect various social issues while keeping you on the edge of your seat with their thrilling narratives. Whether you're a seasoned fan of the genre or a newcomer, each one of these books can leave you captivated, stirred, and enlightened all at the same time. So take your pick, and dive into the intriguing world of social mystery novels. Happy reading!
The articles on this site are solely intended to create opportunities for encountering new books, and we do not guarantee the accuracy of the information. Therefore, we kindly ask that you thoroughly research the product information and details of each work on your own before making a purchase. We have no connection to the services provided by each e-commerce site, so please use them at your own responsibility.