Locked Room Mysteries

Do you love playing the board game Clue, in which you have to solve a murder that happens while the suspects and victim are in one confined location? Or escape rooms where you must solve riddles and find clues to unlock the room before a timer goes off? Both of these fun games embody the concept of locked room mysteries!

Three tilted book covers, center image black cover with yellow text reading Agatha Christie and a rope

What is a Locked Room Mystery?

A locked room mystery, also known as an “impossible crime mystery” or simply an “impossible mystery,” is a subgenre of crime and detective fiction. The premise is simple – a crime has been committed, but there was no way for the perpetator to get in or out of the room or building. The author presents the reader with a series of clues – some helpful and others that are red herrings intended to throw you off course.

History of the Locked Room Mystery

Some credit Edgar Allan Poe as the author of the first locked room mystery, The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841), in which two murders are committed in a locked room on the fourth floor of a house in Paris. Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous characters Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson also solved a number of locked room mysteries, inclduing The Speckled Band (1892).

The locked room mystery genre rose to popularity in the 1930s, which is largely considered the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. Authors like Agatha Cristie and John Dickson Carr crafted novels that keep you guessing as you solve impossible crimes alongside the characters. While the characters aren’t generally locked in the room, they might as well be as they can’t seem to escape or solve the crime.

Almost 100 years later, these locked room mysteries remain popular, with contemporary authors like Lucy Foley embracing the genre. So whether the setting is a moving train or a remote island, put on your detective hat and pick up one of these books to see if you can solve the case!

We selected a range of classic mystery stories and new release modern locked room mystery books, making this a great primer of the best locked room mystery novels of all time! 

Locked Room Mystery Books

Text reading 15 great Locked Room Mysteries over book covers


Comments on: Locked Room Mysteries

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  1. Louise Forman says:

    You should add: Under Lock and Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian

  2. Jennifer L Price says:

    Love that you included “The Westing Game”–one of my favorites from childhood, too!