Like any devoted armchair sleuth, I love a good mystery novel that will have me combing back through its chapters for missed clues. Weighing witness credibility, zeroing in on suspects, and ruling out red herrings are all part of the fun of reading mysteries. Sometimes, though, the tracking down of who, what, where, when, and why starts to feel a little too routine. That’s when I turn to paranormal mystery books. It is harder to guess the killer when suspects are among the living and the undead.
Paranormal mysteries books combine the thrill of the hunt with the escapism of the supernatural. Sometimes the mystery unfolds like a procedural where supernatural detectives and amateur sleuths pursue leads from ghosts, werewolves, goddesses, and djinn, taking the reader into a magical underworld along the way. Other paranormal mysteries have their protagonists unravel clues about how the paranormal itself works. And often, at least part of the paranormal mystery is understanding how a character fits into a world far stranger than they had imagined.
Here are 15 paranormal mystery books to add some fantastical intrigue to your to- read shelf. There’s a paranormal mystery for every taste, with picks that run the gamut from quippy genre send-ups to chilling suspense. As a bonus, many of these are first books in a series, so if you find one you like, there are many more paranormal mystery plots to keep you up at night.
Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch
A young London cop, Peter Grant, is trying to make the most of a dull beat when he takes a witness statement from a ghost. The case draws him into a special investigative branch of the Metropolitan Police run by wizards with a penchant for protocol. Part police procedural, part magic, the novel introduces a London filled with ghosts, fairies, wizards, and river goddesses, all delivered with a jolt of snark. Midnight Riot is the first in the Rivers of London series.
Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw
Dr. Greta Helsing (of those Helsings) is trying to have a quiet life, serving as personal physician to the vampires, demons, and other ghouls that inhabit modern London. When someone murders humans and creatures, she teams up with her supernatural friends to stop them. The novel has many classic monsters updated for the modern day. Strange Practice is the first novel in the Greta Helsing series.
Fated by Benedict Jacka
Like Jim Butcher’s Storm Front, but more British. Alex Versus makes his living running a London magic shop. He also happens to be a mage who can foresee probable futures, a nifty skill that helps in fist fights and hacking enchanted objects. When a shadowy group ropes him and his special sight into a heist, he’s drawn into conflict with warring factions of the wizard world. Fated is the first in the Alex Versus series.
Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older
In Half-Resurrection Blues, the undead of New York have their own bureaucracy: the New York Council of the Dead, which oversees the affairs of the city’s less-than-living population. One of the Council’s more unusual agents, Carlos Delacruz, is half-resurrected and able to deal with both the living and the dead. When imp-like beings go after the Council, Delacruz must find their master before they can open the Underworld to destroy the careful balance of power between the living and the undead. This is the first in the Bone Street Rumba series.
The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss
The famous monsters of lore are mostly men, even those dreamt up by women (shout out to Mary Shelley). The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter gives the female perspective on some of literature’s famous creatures. Cash-strapped Mary Jekyll hopes that finding her father’s friend Edward Hyde will bring her reward money and answers about her father. She soon meets Hyde’s daughter and other women with monstrous surnames: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein. As the women take on a diabolical secret society, the novel explores both mystery and what it means to be a monstrous female in a gendered society. This novel is the first in The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club series.
Spellbound by Allie Therin
Spellbound offers paranormal mystery with a heavy dose of romance and historical fantasy. In 1925 New York, Arthur Kenzie devotes himself to protecting the world from powerful supernatural relics. To defeat a powerful amulet, he needs to team up with Rory, a reclusive psychometric. As they fight to save the city, feelings between the two men blossom just as the danger escalates. Spellbound is the first in the Magic in Manhattan series.
The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
The Dark Days Club is an entertaining romp for those wishing for more well-dressed demons in their Regency fiction. When Lady Helen Wrexhall’s maid disappears, the search to find her takes Lady Helen to a group of demons infiltrating London high society. She must decide if she’s willing to risk everything to fight them as she discovers more about herself. The novel kicks off the Lady Helen series.
Soulless by Gail Carriger
Gail Carriger’s Soulless is another must-read for readers who prefer their werewolves with parasols. The heroine, Victorian spinster Alexia Tarabotti, is somewhat inconvenienced by the fact that she lacks a soul. However, she has the good fortune of being able to negate the supernatural powers of vampires and werewolves that overstep etiquette. When vampires go missing, Alexia must find out who’s behind the disappearances. Souless is the first novel in the Parasol Protectorate series.
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
Set in a near-future post-apocalyptic world where the Navajo reservation has become the Dinetah, Trail of Lightning follows monster slayer Maggie Hoskie as she searches for a missing girl. This supernatural mystery offers gods, monsters, medicine men, and answers in ancient lore. The novel is the first in the Sixth World Series.
Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon
If you’re looking for a cozy mystery with a supernatural twist, Murder in G Major fits the bill. Gethsemane Brown, a violin virtuoso, finds herself stranded in Ireland, having left her life in the United States for a job that fell through. When she’s offered a gig that comes with housing, she discovers it also comes with a ghost. Can she clear his name so he can rest in peace? The novel is the first in the Gethsemane Brown mystery series.
The Rook by Daniel O’Malley
The Rook is urban fantasy with dry wit and a heroine questing for answers. A woman wakes up in a London park with no idea who she is or how she got there. When she finds out she’s part of a secret organization that fights supernatural forces, she must figure out who in the organization has betrayed her and grapple with her own supernatural abilities. If you enjoy this one, looks for the sequel, Stiletto.
Loose Ends by Terri Reid
There’s a lot of men in the paranormal PI game. Loose Ends offers a tenacious female lead who tracks down a serial killer with the help of ghosts. A former Chicago cop, Mary O’Reilly was shot in the line of duty. When she’s revived, she discovers she has the ability to communicate with ghosts. She takes her skills private to work as an investigator in a small town. When she’s hired to solve a 24-year-old cold case, she uses her new-found talent to uncover connections between other murders. She’ll need more than ghosts’ tales to track the murderer down. This is the first novel in the Mary O’Reilly series of paranormal mystery books.
Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler
How could Octavia Butler’s take on vampires not be intriguing? In Fledgling, a young girl with unsettling abilities comes to the startling realization that she’s a 53-year old, genetically modified vampire. The novel unfolds as she investigates who and what she is. She must discover who wants to destroy her before they can succeed.
Borderline by Mishell Baker
Borderline offers a noir version of Hollywood with fantastic creatures. A failed suicide attempt made aspiring filmmaker Millie a double amputee. As she adjusts to her new physical condition and living with borderline personality disorder, she gets involved with the Arcadia Project, a secret organization that polices that flow of creatures to and from a parallel world. When she is tasked with finding one of those creatures, who also happens to be a Hollywood movie star, she must find him before war breaks out between the two worlds.
The Restorer by Amanda Stevens
If you’re looking for a chillingly ghoulish mystery, a murder in a cemetery is a promising place to start. Set in a haunted Charleston, The Restorer introduces Amelia, a cemetery restorer who repairs headstones and avoids eye contact with ghosts. She’s careful to follow her father’s advice to keep both ghosts and the humans they haunt at a distance. When a young woman is found murdered in a historic cemetery, Amelia becomes part of the murder investigation. To find the woman’s killer, she must draw closer to a haunted detective and the otherworldly spirits she’s been trained to avoid. This novel is the first in the Graveyard Queen series.
For more paranormal mystery books, check out our roundup of paranormal cozies.