Learning from the best mystery book covers of 2023 provides a great advantage for writers aspiring to even a fraction of the success of your favorite mystery novelists. If you love the work of James Patterson, Rebecca Makkai, or Stephen King, chances are you love mystery and thriller books.
Writing in this genre takes quite a bit of planning. Even if you are a pantser (someone who writes the story as it comes to mind), with mystery books, ensuring there are no plot holes takes several rounds of edits. The same is true for the best mystery book covers of 2023:
- The best covers reveal just enough about the plot to entice readers
- They only include elements actually included in the story
- The cover is free of plot holes
How can a book cover have plot holes? I’ll dive into this as we wade into a discussion of the best mystery book covers of 2023. These beloved titles are known for their intrigue, edge-of-your seat plots, and literary prowess. Their covers simply invite you in. Let’s see how they do so.
Here are some of the best mystery book covers of 2023:
This literary mystery novel by Rebecca Makkai boasts standout reviews. People says it is “A twisty, immersive whodunit perfect for fans of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.”
Herein lies the ingenuity of the cover: with such an immersive plot, the cover comes alive with a dimensional title. The minimalistic font offsets the almost dripping black shadows of the lettering.
Red, blue, and black are the key colors used. However, white lettering makes the title and author name stand out. The shadow effect used with the font gives a sense of foreboding that matches the title.
“I have some questions for you,” is a phrase most people feel a little off putting and works as a perfect title for this literary mystery.
This novel became an instant New York Times bestselling thriller. While marketing and author brand play a large role in the success of books, so do their covers. So why are we including this one in the best mystery book covers of 2023?
Similar to the above title, The House In The Pines takes on a dimensional look once you give it a closer viewing. A modern key rests as the focal point of the cover, but it blends into the background.
The title includes “the pines” and to reiterate this importance, pine trees take up about three-fourths of the cover. A small house sits in these desolate pines with one window lit.
The yellow lighting in the window matches the font color of the author name, writer of the blurb, and New York Times bestseller copy. This creates a cohesive whole that’s clean yet enticing and earns it a place in the ranks of the best mystery book covers of 2023.
A historical mystery, Who Cries For The Lost maintains an integrated branding with the color palette of its cover: Muted, rusty gold, brown, and black. An old bridge spans a wide river. In the foreground, a man in an overcoat and tophat stands, mid-stride, clothes blown by the wind.
The movement in the cover hints that you just entered the middle of an exciting scene and need to open to page one to find out what’s happening.
This story, set in 1815, covers the events of Waterloo with a gruesome crime vying for attention. In fact, Amazon described one key plot point as follows:
“When the mutilated corpse of Major Miles Sedgewick surfaces from the murky waters of the Thames, Sebastian is drawn into the investigation of a murder that threatens one of his oldest and dearest friends.”
The designer of this best mystery book cover of 2023 did it so well, featuring the Thames as well as a figure who appears to be Sebastian.
If you look closely, you notice a dilapidated boat to the left of the figure. This is where coming full-circle with your plot and with your cover comes into play. Readers can’t know the importance of this boat by strictly reading the back cover copy, as it’s not referenced.
The fact that it’s included on the cover foreshadows that this boat will play an important role in the story. Read the novel to find out if the designer did this on purpose or if it’s reminiscent of a plot hole that should’ve been excluded.
This unsettling, psychological suspense cover takes a unique point of view. While many of the best mystery book covers of 2023 focus on a scene from an outside-looking-in perspective (as if you are viewing a photo or piece of art), this one draws you in as if you are an outsider.
The designer created this cover with the viewer peering over a rippling pool into a dark house with a silhouette framed in golden light. The sky is dark and everything feels still. Amazon’s description starts with “Kit Darling is a maid with a snooping problem.”
This cover makes you feel as if you are the snoop, peering over the pool, into a darkened house.
The cover of this book gives all the vibes of a cozy crime mystery, as it should. The protagonist, Vera Wong, pulls her blinds down to sneak a peek at the goings on outside.
Her nails are painted a bright red, she wears green earrings, and her glasses sit down her nose, as if she’s poking into others’ business. Which, based on the title, she must be.
These details, plus a fun font, make readers feel intrigued and ready to cozy up on the couch with a warm drink.
I don’t know about you, but my jaw literally dropped when I saw the bottom half of James Patterson’s cover. I read a bit of the excerpt and focused on the twinkling lights of the skyline.
But then my gaze drifted to the bottom half of this book where a victim floats underwater. Bubbles swirl around her as if suggesting she has just been thrown into the water. This cover appears subtle with its muted tones until you look below the service, literally, to see someone abandoned underwater. Enough said?
To top off our seven best mystery book covers of 2023 we must take a look at Stacy Willingham’s thriller. It centers on a mother in search of her son. What immediately struck me about this title was how it’s floating in a lake and out of focus. The clean font appears refracted, bent with the light rays in the water.
If the title itself is impacted by the outside circumstances, what must the rest of the story be like?
There also appears to be a brief nod to Willingham’s bestseller, A Flicker In The Dark as the moon creates a flicker in the dark water of her new novel.
Best Mystery Book Covers Of 2023: Your Next Step
Now that you’ve looked through seven of the best mystery book covers of 2023 it’s time to get to work on your own!
Choose your top takeaways from three of the above titles, then focus on using your favorite of the three to inspire your next cover design.
Enjoy crafting your cover, and don’t forget to only include elements you include in the story itself!