Six of the Best Classic Locked-Room Mysteries

Megan Goldin lists her six favorite classic locked room mysteries! Plus, comment for a chance to win a signed copy of her new modern locked-room thriller, The Escape Room!

My thriller, The Escape Room, set in an elevator, is a 21st-century twist to the locked-room mystery genre of crime novels. The locked-room mystery novel developed in the late 19th century and the early 20th century when readers were invited to solve the murder mystery using clues in the story, and they’ve been popular ever since. Here are some of the best classic locked-room mysteries:

1. The Three Coffins

Written in 1935, this novel by John Dickson Carr, arguably the king of locked-room mysteries as he wrote several, is widely considered the greatest locked-room mystery ever written. A visitor goes into the study of another man. Shots are fired and the first man is discovered by people outside the room to be dying from a gunshot wound. The visitor has disappeared into thin air. The snow on the ground and on the roof by the room’s window is completely undisturbed. There’s not a single footprint. (Note: Three Coffins was also published as The Hollow Man.)

2. And Then There Were None

If John Dickson Carr is the king of locked-room mysteries, then Agatha Christie must certainly be the queen. She wrote several locked-room novels as well. And Then There Were None would probably vie for pole position against Carr’s Three Coffins. Christie’s popular detective Hercule Poirot does not appear in this novel, although he is involved in solving several other of Christie’s locked-room mysteries. In And Then There Were None, a group of people invited to an island get killed one by one until, you guessed it… there were none.

3. The Mystery of the Yellow Room

This French classic written by Gaston Leroux in 1907 is considered a pioneer of the genre. It’s written as a puzzle for the readers to solve. A woman is found in a lock-room injured from an apparent attack but there is nobody else in the room.

4. The King is Dead

Ellery Queen wrote a plethora of locked-room mysteries but The King is Dead should be considered the best. A man threatens to kill his father at midnight. The father locks himself in a room. The son is closely guarded by the novel’s detective protagonist. Yet still, the father dies. The novel, like many others from the era, gives the readers all the clues they need to solve the mystery… if they pay careful attention.

5. “The Speckled Band”

The world’s most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, and his honorable sidekick, Dr. Watson, had their fair share of locked-room mysteries to solve, and “The Speckled Band” is probably the most famous in Arthur Conan Doyle‘s iconic detective series. In this story, Holmes and Watson are asked to solve the mystery of a woman who died in her locked bedroom on the night before her wedding.

6. “The Adventure of the Sealed Room”

This short story was written by Adrian Conan Doyle (Arthur’s son) and appeared in The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes, a Holmes anthology co-created by Adrian and John Dickson Carr. It was written in the 1950s and the story about a couple who are found locked in a room in what was believed to be a murder-suicide attempt with the husband shooting his wife and then killing himself. But Sherlock Holmes, always the contrarian, has a quite different opinion of what happened once he gets involved.

About The Escape Room:

In Megan Goldin’s thrilling debut, The Escape Room, four young Wall Street rising stars discover the price of ambition when an escape room challenge turns into a lethal game of revenge.

Comment below for a chance to win a copy of The Escape Room by Megan Goldin!

To enter, make sure you’re a registered member of the site and simply leave a comment below.

The Escape Room Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry at beginning at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) July 23, 2019. Sweepstakes ends at 10:59 a.m. ET August 6, 2019. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271.

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  1. Joyce Benzing

    Luv the phrase “lethal game of revenge.”

  2. John Quiring

    Great post. I’ll have to check Escape Room out.

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  4. Les Blatt

    Some interesting choices. May I suggest one more: “Rim of the Pit,” by Hake Talbot, about the only book which I’d rate equal to Carr at his best. Also has one of the best first lines of any mystery I’ve read: “I came up here to make a dead man change his mind.” Lots of atmosphere similar to Carr’s “The Three Coffins”; I recommend it highly.

  5. Thomas Walker

    Would like to win the book….

  6. Daniel M

    sounds like a fun one

  7. Jana

    This list sounds great. I need to check them out.

  8. rhonda lomazow

    The title drew me right in,

  9. Karen Connor

    Agatha Christie my favourite !


    Fingers and toes crossed!! I would love to win the book! Thanks so much for this opportunity!

  11. Deborah Dumm

    Sounds like a great read.

  12. Patricia Barraclough

    The current popularity of escape rooms makes them a perfect setting for a contemporary “locked room” mystery. Thank you for the list of stories above. I have read a few of them and look forward to finding the others and reading them. I love a good mystery that challenges my crime solving reasoning.

  13. Charriess

    I loved Sherlock Holmes, “The Speckled Band” too! One of my favorite mysteries of all time. I am excited to read “The Escape Room.” Revenge on Wall Street always has a price.

  14. Rena

    Locked room mysteries are great. I’d love to win this book.

  15. Karen Mikusak

    Sounds great! Would love to win.

  16. John Davis

    Our group of Sherlockians share anything we get, especially something which so much reminds us of Conan Doyle.


    I always love a good mystery book. This list looks awesome!

  18. Mary Hoffman

    Sounds fabulously delicious (rubbing my hands together in delight)

  19. jane

    always want to win a new book

  20. Kimberly

    I love locked-room mysteries and this one sounds fantastic.

  21. Trina

    All these books sound like a good, late night read.

  22. Marjorie Manharth

    I’ve read great things about the book. Would love to read it.

  23. Nancy

    Gripping & unforgettable works for me. Fantastic cover.

  24. Annette OMullan

    I loved reading a ARC of The Escape Room. I absolutely loved it!

  25. Karen H

    Some of my favorites are on the list! That’s a sign that I definitely need to read the rest along with the new book.

  26. Diana Hardt

    It sounds like a very interesting book. Thank you for the chance!

  27. Jeannine

    Plan on reading some of these again, also some new ones.

  28. Abbienormal

    Lead me to the locked room!

  29. Bodman55

    – thanks for the chance to win….

  30. Rebecca Joy Mensinga

    I am so excited for this book! I have added it to my TBR self. It sounds so good!

  31. Lisa Murray

    Escape Room sounds awesome

  32. Trisa @ Absolute Bookishness

    Excellent post! I LOVE watching locked-room mysteries, and now I have a great list of them to read!
    I’ve also been dying to get my hands on a copy of The Escape Room! From what I’ve heard about it, I’m sure I’ll love it! ^_^

  33. Trisarey

    Excellent post! I LOVE watching locked-room mysteries, and now I have a great list of them to read!
    I’ve also been dying to get my hands on a copy of The Escape Room! From what I’ve heard about it, I’m sure I’ll love it! ^_^

  34. Melissa Dials

    And Then There Were None was my first mystery, first locked room, and first Dame Agatha! Always has been and will be my favorite mystery and mystery author!

  35. Desmond Warzel

    Count me in, please!

  36. BlasR

    I recently heard of a real life locked room murder mystery, unsolved since it occurred in 1929 in New York City. Google “Isidor Fink”. A chance to solve one yourself.

  37. Tiffany

    Can’t wait for this one

  38. Big D

    I love locked room mysteries.

  39. Michael Carter

    I’d love to win.
    Please enter me in this sweepstakes.
    Thanks —

  40. Kay Z

    Sounds like a great summer read!

  41. Saundra K. Warren

    And another good one!!

  42. Jean Boe

    Sounds like a book I would really enjoy!

  43. Susan Morris

    Who doesn’t fear being trapped in a room or house with no way out? Sounds extremely suspenseful!

  44. carloshmarlo

    I read And Then There Were None when I was very young. It made a big impression at the time and I’m still very fond of the story and the author. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of The Escape Room.

  45. Carolyn

    Locked Room Mysteries are great to read. I’m looking forward to reading The Escape Room!

  46. Diane Furst

    I love And Then There Were None. Thanks for giving me a few more to add to my long lengthy TBR. I am saving this list. The Carr one especially sounds great.

  47. Jim Cabaj

    I love that Agatha Christie was included in the best above. She got me hooked on reading murder fiction.

  48. sandra burns

    Sounds awesome. Will this be a signed copy,if I win? TY

  49. sandra burns

    That sounds so good, I also read, The Hollow Man.Ty for the chance.

  50. Karen Hester

    sounds like a fascinating puzzle

  51. Debra Wood

    I really enjoy locked room mysteries even though I’m not very good at solving them. I always miss an important clue. But I’m always up for the challenge. This one sounds particularly daunting.

  52. Marisa Young

    Good article. Would like to read the book.

  53. Daniel M

    sounds interesting

  54. Leland Lee

    Fingers crossed

  55. John Smith

    I love a locked room mystery!

Comments are closed.