Nothing is better than a riveting crime fiction novel that will keep you reading late at night. Whether you’re looking for a gentle detective story or cozy crime series, historical crime fiction, or gritty true to life cases that will set your heart racing, we have the case for you.
The majority of us have developed our noses pushed inside Best Detective Stories Of All Time. There are numerous greats to pick from, from Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie’s detective novels.
The area of crime and the personalities (and occasionally anti-heroes) who take out society’s trash with their humor and supreme wisdom enchant every one of us in one manner or another.
Even if you’ve never read a detective book before, indeed you have seen these stories about the big screen, since these stories comprise some of the best characters ever made.
Best Detective Authors Of All Time
I’ve done the unjust and improbable job of ranking the top 10 mystery writers. Everyone naturally has their beliefs regarding mystery writers and what makes a good mystery book, so I am prepared to get a lot of backlash for compiling a comprehensive list.
But these are the writers who, in my opinion, have done more than just write entertaining mysteries; they have really improved or contributed to the mystery genre. Please don’t make me rate the 10 writers anymore; it was difficult enough to reduce the list to the top ten authors. All ten authors are included below without regard to order. Let’s begin!
- Tana French
- Natsuo Kirino
- Dorothy L. Sayers
- J.K. Rowling
- Dennis Lehane
- Carlos Ruiz Zafón
- Walter Mosley
- Parker Bilal
- Arthur Conan Doyle
- Agatha Christie
Here’s our list of the best crime novels ever written. We also look at the top crime novels that crime fiction lovers should not miss.
Top Rated Best Detective Books To Read
Detective by Arthur Hailey
A death row confession propels a homicide detective in an investigation that will tear Miami apart from #1 New York Times bestselling author Arthur Hailey’s electrifying thriller.
Detective-Sergeant Malcolm Ainslie, a former Catholic priest, will begin his holiday if a call comes in from the death row. Ahead of serial killer Elroy Doil is taken to the electric chair; he wishes to make a complete confession to the cop who put him off.
To close the crime books on other murder cases where Doil is a defendant, Ainslie compels four hundred kilometers to Florida State Prison.
Although Doil admits to ten additional homicides, he insists that he did not commit the offense he will be executed the next day: the gruesome slaying of a town commissioner and his spouse.
In his hunt to find the actual killer, Ainslie will discover the top heights of Miami’s authorities including a number of their closest colleagues are more corrupt and dangerous than he ever imagined.
BOOK REVIEWS: Hard to put down–I started the book yesterday and finished it today. Former priest and scholar Malcolm Ainslie is a homicide detective reinvestigating the serial murders attributed to a recently executed inmate. The story is fast-moving with flashbacks to Malcolm’s past and a glimpse of the future at the story’s end. That glimpse is a real bummer. – Amazon Review
IQ (IQ #1), by Joe Ide
Top detective novels of all time
This is the sole introduction detective novel among the best detective novels of all time listed here. Japanese-American screenwriter Joe Ide writes about a dazzling, self-taught young guy in East Long Beach, California, that places his exceptional deductive abilities to solve crimes involving poor people in African-American and Latino areas. IQ is Isaiah Quintabe.
In this, the first book of a series, IQ reveals the authorities by solving a situation forced on him by a wealthy rap celebrity whose life was threatened. All the time, he pursues the identity of whoever murdered his brother while IQ was at high school.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
It is a sign of a good mystery novel that it has been made into movies. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo doesn’t disappoint. The Millennium series’ first book introduces us to Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist, and Lisbeth Slander, a freelance hacker.
Two separate events lead to the characters trying to locate the man who allegedly killed Harriet Vanger, the niece of one the most wealthy men in Sweden, 40 years ago. Blomkvist is invited over to the island of the wealthy family. He meets other relatives who were there years ago and starts to wonder if they were involved.
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
You can’t talk about mystery novels and not think of Agatha Christie. There is no story that she has written quite like And Then There Were None. This is why it is one of the most popular mystery books of all time.
Ten people are brought together for different reasons to a mansion on an isolated island. Two of the ten are to take care of the housekeeping and cooking duties. The strange hosts were not there. According to a nursery rhyme, each invitee must face their pasts and accept the consequences as the days unfold. Death will soon come one by one.
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Hound of the Baskervilles, one of the best mystery books ever written, is classic millions are still reading that. Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle’s famous detective, returns to the land where the living to reveal the terrible death of Charles Baskerville.
The Baskerville family estate, situated on the Devon moors, is where legend says there’s a demonic beast. Although sinister supernatural forces seem to be the only explanation, Sherrinford, a supremely rational man, isn’t giving up his quest for the truth.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Among the most critically acclaimed suspense authors of the time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn requires that announcement to its darkest location within this unputdownable masterpiece of a marriage gone wrong.
The Chicago Tribune proclaimed her performance brings you in and keeps you reading together with all the power of pure but horrible addiction.
How well can you ever get to know your loved one? Nick Dunne is forced to ask this question on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary when Amy mysteriously vanishes. Police immediately suspect Nick. Amy’s friends revealed that Nick was fearful of her and that she kept his secrets.
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander Mccall Smith
Precious Ramotswe has only set up shop as Botswana’s No.1 (and just ) woman detective if she’s hired to track down a missing husband, uncover a con man, and follow a wayward daughter.
On the other hand, the case that tugs at her heart, and lands her in danger, is a missing eleven-year-old boy who might have been snatched by witch doctors.
Book Reviews: I DO love ‘The Number 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series’ by Alexander McCall Smith. While the author is ‘white’ (and so am I), his stories show deep love for Africa and an appreciation for the dignity of ins indigenous people. Well…at least the people of Botswana. I recommend starting with this book since it is the first in the series. – Amazon Reviewer
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Because it is based on real life, you might assume that Truman Capotes In Cold Blood have resolved all the mystery. One of the most famous crime stories ever written, this nonfiction novel could not be more wrong.
Four members of the Clutter family were brutally killed by shots from a shotgun just inches from their faces on November 15, a small town in 1959, in Holcomb, Kansas. The motive for the crime was not apparent, and there were very few clues.
Capote was closely following the case of the quadruple Kansas murder and was performing some interviews before the killers were caught. His book is full of twists and turns that you wouldn’t expect.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie proves that not all the best mystery books of all time must leave you feeling anxious. A postage stamp strangely pinned to the beak of a dead bird is discovered on the doorstep.
Then, it happened hours later, Flavia, an 11-year old intuitive girl whose father is being accused of murder, is the detective that saves the day. The family has lost a stranger who was seen fighting with Flavia’s father days earlier.
Flavia decides to prove her innocence and tour the town in search of her father, a stamp loving man who was heartbroken by the loss of his wife. Although it sounds lighthearted, the novel’s puzzle is exceptionally well crafted. The classic mystery style of this novel, which is reminiscent of Josephine Tey and Agatha Christie, makes it easy for one person to complete the volume.
The Big Sleep (Philip Marlowe #1) by Raymond Chandler
Down these mean streets, a man must go who isn’t himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid…He is your hero; he’s everything. He has to be a complete man and a frequent man and yet an unusual man.
Here is the Code of the Private Eye as characterized by Raymond Chandler in his 1944 article’s Simple Act of Murder.
Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson
Best Crime Books To Read
After her first novel, Blood & Sugar, this historical crime fiction novel by Laura Shepherd-Robinson is her second. It’s set in London in 1782 and tells the story of Caroline Corsham, who is determined to get justice for the string of murders that took place to high class prostitutes.
The police are not investigating these crimes. Caroline discovers that there is more to the story than her reputation as she digs deeper into Georgian society’s darkest corners. . .
In the Woods by Tana French
The Woods by Tana French takes readers into the woody outskirts of Ireland, where a 12-year old girl is found dead. Cassie and Rob are assigned the case. The case forcefully reminds Cassie of the mystery that haunted him in his childhood, which occurred in the same woods.
They make their way through the crime scene, interrogating dysfunctional parents and close friends. Rob’s past keeps coming back, prompting him to wonder if it is connected to this tragic event.
The Deep Blue Good by by John D. MacDonald
The Deep Blue Good by, MacDonald’s first novel about a private investigator Travis McGee, is the first in his series. We are introduced to this charming, righteous, tall character. He is soon on a mission to find Junior Allen, a serial killer, and rapist. Allen also found a hidden treasure in Florida and is using it to finance his evil plans.
McGee is the only person who has the patience and methodological ability to find Allen. Too often, detective stories portray the protagonist as rational and cold hearted. It might be worth your time to try Travis McGee’s search for goodness.
Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #1) by Louise Penny
In the sleepy Canadian village of Three Pines, a dead lady was found in the woods during the holiday weekend.
The Sûreté du Québec’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache comes on the scene to investigate the motive behind the murder in this tranquil village.
A traditional cozy mystery, Still Life explores family, honesty, and home themes. The Chief Inspector Gamache series, which comprises 20 volumes, begins with this book.
Going Underground: British Detective (Jonathan Roper investigates Book 1) by Michael Leese
Sir James Taylor is a billionaire and philanthropist. He also has dark secrets. After stepping out of his Rolls Royce, he vanished in London. Scotland Yard is also in trouble. There are no signs. There are no witnesses. No ransom. Nothing. The Met must summon Jonathan Roper, Brian Hooley, and other people under pressure. They will make many vital people unhappy by what they find.
Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
The late Victorian novel by Wilkie Collins is one of the most enduring psychological thrillers ever written. It tells the story of what appears to be a straightforward tale about two star crossed lovers, Walter Hartright (and Laura Fairlie), who were not meant to be together.
Laura was married to Sir Percival, but she was mysteriously told not to continue with the marriage. The story of a white clad woman wandering through the city’s streets has the city in a trance.
As the title suggests, this final character is the key to unlocking the mystery that will surround these characters. The Woman in White, set in dimly lit streets, is both Gothic horror and mystery book. That’s why you will find the solution so satisfying.
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
We will be looking at the history of King Richard III in The Daughter of Time. Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant is off duty for a while to heal from an injury. However, he still searches for puzzles to entertain himself.
He stumbles upon King Richard III, a monarch Grant believes is a murderer, but Grant only perceives him as wise and kind. Grant uses his unusual physiognomic intuition to unravel a complicated case that took place decades ago.
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
Marshal Teddy Daniels and his partner are called to assist Rachel Solando, a prisoner at Ashecliffe Hospital for Criminally Insane, who vanishes from the facility. The two detectives arrived at the island where the hospital is situated to find clues that Solando had left about the institution’s ill fated operations.
After several twists and turns, the truth of the conspiracy was finally revealed. Shutter Island creates a Gothic like atmosphere by isolating this case from technology and combining it with modern age psychology to make it difficult to put down.
The Alienist by Caleb Carr
The Alienist is a Netflix original that takes viewers back to 1890s New York. John Moore, a crime reporter, investigates the horrific and bizarre serial killings of teenage boys. Moore reported on the case of Moore’s first victim, dressed as a girl and shockingly mutilated.
Moore suspects that there is a mentally ill person behind this crime. Moore calls on his friend, a famous psychologist (then known as an alienist), to help him solve the mystery and find the serial killer. This mystery book contains everything, from psychological analysis to thrilling chases through New York’s grim streets.
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
This is a coolly sparkling gem of detective fiction, which has haunted three generations. It was written by one of the most renowned mystery writers of all time.
This treasure is worth the price of admission. Sam Spade is a somewhat shopworn private eye who adheres to his code of ethics. Joel Cairo, a perfumed grafter, is accompanied by Gutman, a fat man named Gutman, and Brigid, a beautiful, treacherous woman whose loyalty shifts at the drop of an ounce.
The Leopard (Harry Hole #8), by Jo Nesbø
Detective Harry Hole of the Oslo Police Department is the protagonist of a lengthy and continuing series of best selling detective novels by Jo Nesbø. Harry is an alcoholic who often descends into a deep melancholy, occasionally over his hard personal life, occasionally within the puzzles, he’s investigating.
The Leopard portrays the conflicted homicide cop at the thickness of his sophistication, chasing a cruel serial killer out of Norway into the Congo.
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The lavish train is surprisingly complete for this year, but it’s one passenger fewer from the morning. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside.
Isolated and using a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot has to determine the murderer if he or she decides to strike.
Killing Floor by Lee Child
Ex-military policeman Jack Reacher is a drifter. He is only passing through Margrave, Georgia, and in under one hour, he is arrested for murder. Not much welcome. All Jack knows is that he did not kill anyone. At least not here. Not recently. However, he does not stand a chance of convincing anybody. Maybe not NotMargrave, Georgia…
Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers
Though others may elect for Gaudy Night or Murder Must Advertise (motivated by Sayers’ time working in advertisements ), we urge this fifth novel to feature her well known generation, the detective Lord Peter Wimsey, printed in 1930.
The puzzle writer Harriet Vane is on trial for the murder of her husband, whom she’s suspected of poisoning. However, Wimsey believes she’s innocent and sets out to prove it.
How It Happened by Michael Koryta
As this standalone mystery book opens, a young girl named Kimberly (Kimmy) Crepeaux is confessing to participating in a set of gruesome murders. Rob Barrett, the FBI agent, was sent to Maine to meet her and eventually found his patience.
Now, after two months of interrogating Kimmy, he knows at last what occurred. Or does he? After Rob and his regional partner, Lieutenant Don Johansson of the Maine State Police, visit a nearby pond to uncover the figures, there are no bodies available.
Vanishing Girls by Lisa Regan
When Isabelle Coleman, a blond, beautiful young woman, goes missing, everybody from Denton’s little town combines the hunt. They could discover no hint of this city’s darling, but Detective Josie Quinn finds the other woman they did not even know was missing.
Mute and unresponsive, it is clear this mysterious woman was ruined beyond repair. Josie can get out of her is the title of a third woman plus a flash of a neon tongue piercing that matches Isabelle.
The race is on to locate Isabelle living, and Josie worries other women might be in terrible danger. After the trail leads her into a cold case branded a hoax by police, Josie begins to wonder if anybody left she could trust?
BOOK REVIEWS: I enjoyed this detective fiction book, kept me very interested until the end and I finished it rather quickly. I feel this was a fast-paced, well-written read. Josie is a strong character and I liked her, I really could care less about her sex life though! When I read a thriller, I want just that, a thriller! I really don’t care to have the sex/romance part of it. That is just me, don’t hate me! – Amazon review.
Anatomy of a Murder by Robert Traver (1958)
Since readers know the murderer from the start, Anatomy of a Murder is more of a courtroom drama than a murder mystery. Yet, it has earned a spot on our list of the greatest crime novels ever thanks to its brilliant representation of an intriguing crime.
The narrative centers on defense attorney Paul Biegler, whose client is wrongfully charged with the murder of a nearby innkeeper. Biegler has to gather enough proof throughout the trial to persuade the district attorney to release his client.
John D. Voelker, a justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, wrote this work under the alias Robert Traver. It draws inspiration from actual incidents and how the legal system functions in the real world.
The Sherlock Holmes Series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
One of the most recognizable figures in detective fiction is Sherlock Holmes. He is a very skilled private consultant investigator who often collaborates with Scotland Yard.
Starting with A Study in Scarlet, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published four complete novels and 56 short stories using this well-known detective (1887).
The Black Dahlia (L.A. Quartet #1) by James Ellroy
The tortured body of a beautiful young woman is discovered in a vacant lot on January 15, 1947. The Black Dahlia is the name given to the victim, and so begins the most extensive search in California history. Bucky Bleichert, Lee Blanchard, Warrants Squad cops, and friends were all involved in the investigation. They are also rivals who fell in love with the victim.
Other Best Books About Detectives Considered:
- The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
- Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
- The Monkey’s Raincoat (Elvis Cole and Joe Pike #1) by Robert Crais
- Devil in a Blue Dress (Easy Rawlins #1) by Walter Mosley
- The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
- Triptych (Will Trent #1) by Karin Slaughter (2006) — Karin Slaughter’s Will Trent: the first book
What do you consider our listing of best suspense books? In case you’ve got another genre that you would instead read, Penn Book has probably compiled a listing of our favorites to get this genre too. So, you are searching for something aside from the very best detective series books, you’ll be able to discover different genres.
Last update on 2022-09-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API