18 Murder Mysteries Set in Ireland: Cozy, Dark, Thrilling and Ghostly

Updated on

| by

These Irish mysteries are kind of like Ireland’s weather; stormy, moody and murderous. Who knew that such a lovely location with fantastic music and a warm pub culture could harbor so many dark family secrets, ghosts, corruption, unreliable memories, and storm-tossed islands.

Well, I did and I feel it’s my duty to expose you to the Emerald Isle’s dark underbelly with these mysteries set in Ireland. I’ve curated a list that ranges from cozy Irish mysteries to dark thrillers, so get ready to load up your TBR list.

If you’re on an Irish reading kick, we’ve also got articles featuring (non-mystery) Irish fiction and and books set in Northern Ireland.

Mysteries set in Ireland, with book covers.

Irish Mystery Series

What’s great about this batch of Irish mysteries is that they all have multiple books in the series. So if you get hooked (looking at you Tana French), you’ve got a whole pile more for your nightstand.

In the Woods, Tana French, book cover.

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad #1), Tana French

French is one of the most well-known Irish mystery writers and and my opinion, one of the best. She manages to produce a Irish literary hat trick with books that’re cracking good page turners featuring complex and sympathetic main characters, and a liberal dose of dark Irish family dynamics.

In the Woods is the first in the Dublin Murder Squad series. In it, a young girl is found murdered in the woods. When detective Rob Ryan is called to the scene, he realizes that it’s the same woods where he experienced a terrifying crime as a child. As he works to solve the murder, he must come to terms with his own long-buried memories.

The Ghosts of Belfast, book cover.

The Ghosts of Belfast (The Belfast Novels #1), Stuart Neville

If you were wondering why The Troubles still haunt Northern Ireland, reading this book will give you some answers…and the shivers. The main character, Fegan, is (literally) haunted by those he killed during his time as an IRA hit man and he’s attempting to appease those ghosts by making it right.

This series is great for fans of dark noir.

Northern Spy, book cover.

Northern Spy, Flynn Berry

This spy thriller is also set in Northern Ireland.

It’s been 20 years since the the Good Friday agreement put an end to The Troubles. Or did it? BBC producer Tessa is shocked to learn that her sister Marian has been accused of participated in an IRA raid. She wants to believe in her sister’s innocence, and is recruited by British Intelligence to find out what’s going on.

This page turner builds a lot of tension with its family drama, spy craft and betrayals.

Read this one for book club and use our Northern Spy discussion guide.

The Rage, Gene Kerrigan, book cover.

The Rage, Gene Kerrigan

Bob Tidey is an honest cop doing his best to solve crimes while also trying (and failing) to dodge corruption in his department. While looking into a crooked banker, his investigation is diverted when he gets a tip on an old murder case.

This book could have been a typical Irish mystery police procedural but Kerrigan gives it a very contemporary edge by exploring Ireland’s financial crisis and the Catholic Church’s child abuse scandal.

Christine Falls, book cover.

Christine Falls (Quirk #1) Benjamin Black

Benjamin Black is a pen name for author John Banville. Banville’s not really known as an Irish mystery writer. He’s more known for a wide range of awarding winning contemporary and historical fiction. But he went deep and dark with this “quirky” series.

The series is set in both Boston and Dublin in the 1950’s and it features Quirk, a pathologist. Quirk catches his brother-in-law Malachy Griffin tampering with both a corpse and a death report. Quirk’s a moody widower, a black sheep and a bit of a crank, but his curious mind forces him to start asking questions.

The answers reach up to the high reaches of Catholic Ireland. And while Quirk appears to be chasing the perpetrators of crime. He’s really poking at a pious, corrupt power structure.

The series is a great read for people who prefer whisky-soaked crime-solvers to cozy cat detectives.

The Ruin, book cover.

The Ruin (Cormac Reilly #1), Dervla McTiernan

This tangled web starts with Cormac’s early days as a cop when he had to investigate the death of Hilaria Blake. Fast forward to today and Hilaria’s son Jack is found drowned. It appears to be a suicide but sister Maude isn’t buying it.

Carmac has taken a new position and he’s bumping up against a thick wall of mistrust. And, in addition to whatever political shenanigans are going on at the station, Carmac once again finds himself embroiled with Maude and Jack, as well as their mother’s cold case.

The Mountains Wild, book cover.

The Mountains Wild (Maggie D’Arcy #1), Sarah Stewart Taylor

Maggie is a police detective based in Long Island, New York. 23 years ago, her cousin Erin went missing in Ireland. Maggie spent weeks trying to find her and the process inspired her to become a police officer.

Now, Erin’s blood-stained scarf has turned up at a spot where another young woman, Niamh, has gone missing. And while Erin may have been the first woman to go missing in the mountains near Glenmalure and Niamh the most recent, but there have been several other women who’ve disappeared in the area. So, Maggie heads to Ireland once again to solve the case.

The book is atmospheric and twisty, but it still packs a lot of heart. There are more books in the series which toggle between New York and Ireland.

No Strangers Here, book cover.

No Strangers Here (County Kerry Mystery, #1), Carlene O’Connor

Well dressed Jimmy O’Reilly looks like he’s ready for a dance party…except for the part where he dead. He’s found propped up on a boulder facing the sea, with a hypo of veterinary drugs and a cryptic message found nearby.

Detective Inspector Cormac O’Brien is sent from Killarney to Dingle to investigate. O’Reilly didn’t appear to have any enemies, but Dingle’s a small enough town to harbor some secrets. Added to the mix is Dr. Dimpna Wilde, a veterinarian who washed up home in Dingle after a divorce. She becomes involved in the investigation after her parents (who are also vets) become implicated.

Stand Alone Irish Mysteries

The Guest List, Lucy Foley, book cover.

The Guest List, Lucy Foley

Storm tossed moody island…check. Bridezilla and Groomzilla…check. Wedding guests with secrets…check. A dead body…check. What more do you need from a thriller? The mystery is not only a whodunnit, but a whogotdone during a wedding set on a remote Irish island.

It’s a twisty page turner with an Agatha Christie style locked room mystery at its center.

Read it for book club and use our reading guide for The Guest List to get you started.

All Her Fault, book cover.

All Her Fault, Andrea Mara

When Marissa arrives to pick up her son from his first play date, he’s not there…and neither is the woman he was left with. The woman who answers the door is a stranger and it’s unclear what happened to Marissa’s son.

Is it one of the moms? Is it the nanny? Is it a kidnapping?

This mystery has a lot of layers with plenty of red herrings, and a slow drip of secrets.

Skippy Dies, paul murry book cover.

Skippy Dies, Paul Murray

Murray is an excellent writer of contemporary Irish Fiction, in fact The Bee Sting was long listed for the Booker and was on a ton of ‘best of 2023’ lists. But in Skippy Dies, he turns his pen to the “whydunnit” of the death of poor Skippy.

Because there’s no burying the lead in this book, Skippy does indeed die. The story follows the fourteen year old, super-awkward Skippy on his bumbling exploits through prep school. The book explores how and why he dies and what happens next. It’s terribly funny, but in a terribly tragic way.

Kala book cover.

Kala, Colin Walsh

Kala Lanann was just 15 years years old when she disappeared from Kinlough, leaving her friends Joe, Helen, and Mush in shock. 15 years later Helen is in town for her father’s wedding, Joe has arrived for a drying out, and Mush never left.

When Kala’s remains are found in the local woods, and two more girls go missing, the three friends decide that they have to get past their trauma and find out what happened.

This gripping literary thriller is a slow burn with a big payoff.

Old God's Time, book cover.

Old God’s Time, Sebastian Berry

Berry has won the Irish Book Awards and has been long listed for the Booker 5 times. So you know you’re in for some good writing with this one.

The main protagonist is Tom Kettle. He’s a retired policeman, chilling out in a secluded house near the Irish Sea. His reverie is broken when two former colleagues show up asking him about an old cold case. Reflecting upon the case stirs old memories, bringing up his own shattered personal history and losses.

The reader is taking on a painful journey through Tom’s own unreliable memories.

After the Silence, book cover.

After the Silence, Louise O’Neill

Like The Guest List, this Irish mystery is also set on a storm-tossed island with a puzzling locked-room style death at the center.

10 years ago Nessa Crawley died at a house party hosted by by the Kinsellas…and the tight knit community blames Henry Kinsella. 10 years later, an Australian documentary crew turns up hoping to get to the bottom of the death. As they interview everyone on the island, long buried secrets begin to surface.

Fenian Street, book cover.

Fenian Street, Ann Emery

The book is set in 1970’s and it follows Shay, a young man who grew up in a Dublin tenement. Motivated to investigate the death of a friend, Shay join the police’s Garda Siochana unit. The unit doesn’t welcome a kid from the slums, but he persists.

He moves on to larger cases, including some that include local politicians. While this is indeed a murder mystery set in Dublin, it also presents an interesting time capsule of Dublin’s culture and the time of The Troubles.

Cozy Murder Mysteries Set in Ireland

Looking for a bit less blood and a bit more brown bread and tea? These cozy Irish mystery series fit that bill perfectly!

Murder in an Irish Village, book cover.

Murder in an Irish Village (Irish Village Murder #1), Carlene O’Connor

Siobhán O’Sullivan and her five siblings run the family’s cozy bistro in Kilbane, County Cork. But after a man who was attempting to blackmail Siobhán is found stabbed in the cafe, they run the risk of losing everything. Siobhán is having none of that and she sets out to investigate for yourself.

The book delivers with a quaint village vibe, quirky characters and a mighty determined amateur sleuth.

Dead in Dublin, book cover.

Dead in Dublin (The Dublin Driver Mysteries, #1), Catie Murphy

Megan Malone is retired from the military and she enjoys her life driving for the Leprechaun Limo Service. Until that is until Megan’s client, restaurant critic Elizabeth Darr, drops dead while dining. Megan’s friend is the chef of the restaurant so she chips in to try to find out what happened.

Bonus points for a ginger-haired police detective and two puppies.

Death in Heels, book cover.

Death in Heels (Dublin Drag Mysteries #1), Kitty Murphy

If a bistro owners and limo driver can become amateur detectives, why not a drag performer?

Fi is excited when her friend Robyn (aka Mae B) has her big debut. But another performer lampooned Mae B, ruining the performance. When that other performer is found dead, the cops rule it an accident, but Fi isn’t convinced. The drag community wants her to leave it alone, but she risks their ire and her own safety to figure out what happened.

More Reading Destinations

You can have more armchair travel with our book lists set around the world. Try these books set in JordanAustraliaParisSri LankaScotlandIcelandColombiaIreland, Cuba and in Spain.

Share these murder mysteries set in Ireland with your friends:

Meet our Writers:

Leave a Comment