Mystery Trope: Covered In Blood, With No Memory…

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Jamie Canaves

Contributing Editor

Jamie Canavés is the Tailored Book Recommendations coordinator and Unusual Suspects mystery newsletter writer–in case you’re wondering what you do with a Liberal Arts degree. She’s never met a beach she didn’t like, always says yes to dessert, loves ‘80s nostalgia, all forms of entertainment, and can hold a conversation using only gifs. You can definitely talk books with her on Litsy and Goodreads. Depending on social media’s stability maybe also Twitter and Bluesky.

A version of this amnesia murder mysteries post was originally published in the Unusual Suspects mystery newsletter. Sign up for reviews, adaptations, news, new releases, and much more mystery & thrillers!

I realized I love the mystery trope wakes-up-covered-in-blood-with-no-memory. It gives me a few mysteries at once: Did they or didn’t they? Who is the victim? Why did this happen? Basically, I am always in when a book has this element so if you agree, or are curious, here are some I’ve enjoyed.

Amnesia murder mysteries: where someone wakes up covered in blood, with no memory of how it happened. book lists | mystery books | thriller books | murder mysteries | mystery tropes

Controversial Blogger Found Covered in Blood and Holding a Knife!

The Last Days of Emily Lindsey by Nic Joseph cover imageThe Last Day of Emily Lindsey by Nic Joseph

This was a good mystery that I don’t feel got the attention it deserved. Not only does detective Steven Paul get the case of a controversial blogger covered in blood holding a knife, but she’s drawn a symbol that is straight from his night terrors. Literally! That was enough “Whaaaaat?!” to keep me turning the page on this novel with alternating storylines. One is Paul with his kind-of-in-shambles life (divorce, work incident has his colleagues doubting his capabilities, his lifelong night terrors) and the other is a group of kids who are communally parented and are trying to solve a mystery of their own. This one works well for fans of past and present, detectives, and novels that mix adult and child point of view.

If You Wake Up Next to a Murdered Man Did You Do It?!

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian cover imageThe Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

This is the predicament flight attendant Cassie Bowden finds herself in. She knows she drinks too much and she knows she uses casual sex to escape but now she needs to find out if she’s a murderer…Another story that is told in alternating point of view with suspense that had me glued to the audiobook. And, yes, that’s all I’m giving you, because I liked how this unfolded and why would I ruin that for you?


When You Have To Solve If Your Sister Is A Murderer?!

White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig cover imageWhite Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig

Rufus’s half sister wakes up to an empty house, murdered boyfriend, and all signs point to her being the killer. Hoping to clear her name she offers to pay Rufus, desperately in need of money to help his mom out, to figure out what really happened. Except Rufus is not a Veronica Mars type teenager and this night has gotten him stuck with his ex-boyfriend—who broke his heart and he’s still not over. A good mystery with a horror body count, that has a great main character to follow as he struggles through family, relationship, and anger issues.

Twisty Slow Burn Psychological Whydunnit!

The Good Son by You-jeong Jeong cover imageThe Good Son by You-jeong Jeong, Chi-Young Kim (Translator)

Yu-jin wakes up in his house covered in blood and finds his mother dead. He has no idea what could have possibly happened. Slowly the novel begins to reveal Yu-jin’s struggles with seizures, his relationship with his mother, and his childhood. The audiobook has a great narrator that really puts you inside Yu-jin’s mind as he tries to piece together as much as he can to fill in the gaps in his memory. Perfect for fans of “the secrets are gonna all come out” novels.

And next on my list to read for this trope, thanks to Rioters’ recommendations, are The Blood Whisperer by Zoë Sharp and Strange Sight (Essex Witch Museum Mystery #2) by Syd Moore. If you have a favorite, let me know!

And if you’re looking for some genre specific Trope Bingo Cards (mystery included!), Jenn has got you covered!