10 best Murder Mystery Short Stories
One of the best genres for children to start reading or to enjoy is the genre called Murder Mystery. It provides the element of suspense mixed with the adrenaline rush of mystery and horror. So it is to no one’s surprise that there have been over a 1000 murder mystery short stories published across the last century.
In this blog we are going to focus on the top Murder Mystery short stories. Note that this list includes some by Perry Mason, Robert Barr, Roald Dahl, Nancy Drew and even the Hardy Boys. These are the stories which have had so much impact on the field of literature and have modified the genre into what it is today.
Murder Mystery Short Stories
Well without further ado, lets dive in and see what made the top list and also a few honorary mentions which have made heads turn (hopefully not all the way around)! Short story list, here we come!!!
Murder Mystery #1: A Jury of Her Peers
“A Jury of Her Peers” is a gripping murder mystery short story that makes it into our list. It was authored by Susan Glaspell that explores themes of gender inequality and the nature of justice.
The story is set in a rural farmhouse in the early 1900s, where two women, Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale, find themselves investigating a murder. As they gather evidence and unravel the events leading up to the crime, they begin to question the actions of the male investigators and their own roles as women in society.
The story highlights the injustice of a male-dominated society and the importance of solidarity between women. Glaspell’s masterful storytelling and character development create a powerful and thought-provoking narrative that continues to resonate with readers today.
“A Jury of Her Peers” is a must-read for those interested in exploring the complexities of gender roles and the search for truth and justice.
Murder Mystery #2: The Murders in the Rue Morgue
“The Murders in the Rue Morgue” is a classic short story by Edgar Allan Poe, first published in 1841. Considered to be one of the earliest examples of the detective fiction genre, the story follows the brilliant detective C. Auguste Dupin as he investigates a gruesome double murder in Paris.
The narrative is told through the perspective of an unnamed narrator, who serves as Dupin’s friend and chronicler. As Dupin uncovers clues and pieces together the events leading up to the murders, the story builds to a thrilling and unexpected conclusion.
Through its clever use of ratiocination and deduction, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” established the blueprint for many subsequent detective stories and remains a masterful example of the genre.
Murder Mystery #3: August Heat
“August Heat” is a suspenseful murder mystery short story by British author W. F. Harvey, first published in 1910. The story follows the protagonist, a painter named James Clarence Withencroft, as he experiences a series of eerie and inexplicable events on a hot August day in London.
As he works on a portrait of a man, Withencroft becomes increasingly convinced that he knows the man from somewhere, despite being unable to remember where or how. As the day progresses, the coincidences pile up, leading to a shocking conclusion.
“August Heat” is a masterful exploration of psychological horror and the ways in which our perception of reality can be distorted by the heat and the workings of the human mind.
Murder Mystery #4: Death and the Compass
“Death and the Compass” is a very thrilling murder mystery short story by Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, first published in 1942. The story follows detective Erik Lönnrot as he investigates a series of murders in a fictional city in Europe.
Lönnrot believes the murders are connected to the mystical Kabbalah, and becomes obsessed with cracking the code that will reveal the killer’s identity. The story is known for its labyrinthine plot and intricate use of symbols, themes and motifs, such as the idea of the detective as a seeker of truth and the city as a reflection of the human psyche.
“Death and the Compass” is a thrilling and thought-provoking exploration of the nature of reality and the search for meaning in a chaotic world, and has become a staple of modern literary theory and analysis.
Murder Mystery #5: The Tell-Tale Heart
“The Tell-Tale Heart” is a fantastic murder mystery short story by American writer Edgar Allan Poe, first published in 1843. The story is narrated by an unnamed man who is driven to madness by his obsession with the “vulture eye” of an old man he lives with.
After a week of surveillance, the narrator finally murders the old man and disposes of his body, but is tormented by the sound of the victim’s heartbeat, which he hears as if it were coming from the floorboards.
The story is known for its use of psychological horror and unreliable narration, as the narrator’s guilt and madness eventually leads him to confess to the murder. “The Tell-Tale Heart” is considered a masterpiece of Gothic literature and has been adapted into numerous films, plays, and other works of art.
Murder Mystery #6: Lamb to the slaughter
“Lamb to the Slaughter” is a one of the most legendary murder mystery short stories that would make it into the list of any best mystery lists online! It was authored by the British writer Roald Dahl and was first published in 1953.
The story follows Mary Maloney, a devoted wife who murders her husband Patrick with a frozen leg of lamb after he tells her he is leaving her. She then prepares the lamb and serves it to the investigating officers who come to her house.
The story is known for its dark humor and unexpected twist ending, as the officers eat the murder weapon and the evidence of the crime is destroyed. “Lamb to the Slaughter” is considered a classic of the mystery genre and has been adapted into several television and film adaptations. The story explores themes of domestic abuse, revenge, and the power of appearances.
Murder Mystery #7: Murder Mystery #8: Death and the Compass
“In a Grove” is a short story is also known by the name of “Bamboo Grove”. It was authored by a Japanese author called Ryunosuke Akutagawa and was first published in 1922. The story is structured as a series of conflicting witness accounts of the same murder case, in which a samurai is found dead in a bamboo grove and his wife is missing.
The various witnesses, including the woodcutter who found the body, the thief Tajomaru who claims to have killed the samurai, and the samurai’s wife herself, all provide different versions of the events that led to the murder.
The story is known for its exploration of the subjectivity of truth and the unreliability of eyewitness testimony. “In a Grove” has been adapted into various works of literature, film, and theatre, including the iconic Akira Kurosawa film “Rashomon“.
#8: The Monkey’s paw
This absolutely is one of my favorites and is a classic tale of suspense and horror. It obviously makes it easily into my list of 10 best Murder Mystery Short Stories. “The Monkey’s Paw” is a chilling murder mystery tale of a family who acquires a cursed talisman that grants them three wishes. After the father wishes for a sum of money, he receives it through the tragic death of his son.
The family’s second wish is to bring their son back to life, but his resurrection is accompanied by an eerie and unsettling atmosphere. The story is a commentary on the dangers of greed and the unpredictable consequences of our actions.
The supernatural elements add to the sense of foreboding and dread that pervades the narrative, making it a classic in the horror and suspense genres. The story has been adapted into various films, TV shows, and stage plays, attesting to its enduring popularity and impact.
#9 and #10: Hardy Boys Series and Nancy Drew Series
Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys are both popular book series that feature young detectives solving mysteries. While there are many books in each series, here are some murder mystery short stories which I would be remiss if I dont feature into my list of 10 best Murder Mystery Short Stories.
- “The Secret of the Old Clock” by Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew)
- “The Flickering Torch Mystery” by Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew)
- “Footprints Under the Window” by Franklin W. Dixon (Hardy Boys)
- “The Sign of the Crooked Arrow” by Franklin W. Dixon (Hardy Boys)
- “The Hidden Staircase” by Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew)
These stories are perfect for fans of murder mysteries who enjoy following along with young detectives as they solve complex crimes. The reading level for Nancy Drew books is at 9 to 12 while the reading level for hardy boys books are slightly higher at 12 – 16.
They are also great for readers who enjoy shorter stories that can be finished in one sitting. Whether you’re a fan of Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys, these murder mystery short stories are sure to captivate and entertain.