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 Books 2021. 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.
Here’s our list of the best crime novels of 2020 and 2021. 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
A Stained White Radiance (Dave Robicheaux #5) by James Lee Burke
James Lee Burke is hands down the most recognized literary stylist in the crime genre. His series of books featuring Detective Dave Robicheaux of the New Iberia Parish (Louisiana) Sheriff’s Department evokes the rural South in its lyrical beauty and suppressed violence.
A Stained White Radiance, the fifth mystery book in the series, entails Klansmen, Nazis, and Mafia wiseguys. Dave takes on the bad men with the aid of his loving family members and the former spouse within the New Orleans Police Department, Cletus Purcell.
IQ (IQ #1), by Joe Ide
This is the sole introduction detective novel among the best detective novels 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.
Retribution by C.M. Sutter
The brutal drug-related murders of two prominent lawyers have the homicide branch of the Chicago Police Department trying for replies. Still, with no signs, a rationale, or a defendant, perhaps not even the FBI could track the killer down.
Together with the press requiring an arrest and at their wits’ end, the Chicago Police Department creates an urgent call to the Washburn County Sheriff’s Office in hopes of bringing in Kate Pierce, a psychic detective, on the instance. A reluctant Kate considers just when word comes that Jesse McCord, a new buddy, and top-notch Chicago homicide detective, has gone lost.
Partnered with Detective Henry Johnson of Chicago’s homicide division, Kate goes on the search for the killer, armed with hints from her showing dreams and her dogged determination. As they inch closer to finding Jesse and studying this defendant’s identity, they realize that the killer might be a lot nearer than they believe.
BOOK REVIEWS: This novel is a fine starting point for a new series, but if you haven’t read the previous series, some of the background events and characters may be lost on the reader. Jade and Amber do not play a major role in this novel, but some of the action and players, including other law enforcement officers, actually took place in previous works. As a continuation of a previous storyline, this book works well, but as the first in a series, it seems to be starting in the middle. – Amazon Reviewer
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.
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The Templar Detective by J. Robert Kennedy
When hurt Templar knight Sir Marcus p Rancourt receives word that his sister is dying, he returns to a house he has not seen in twenty-five decades, only to discover his sister deceased, along with her kids orphaned.
Sir Marcus decides to take on the best challenge of his life and remains supportive of increasing the kids, faithful sergeant, and squires insisting on linking him to perform the property at his side.
BOOK REVIEWS: I have read a lot of books about the Templars, so I was initially unsure about yet another one, but I was so very wrong! JRK took these men and showed their motivations and humanity as no other book has ever done. He really made this time in history come alive for me, and I can’t wait for more in the series. Treat yourself to a wonderful adventure and an exciting new series. You will be glad you did! – Amazon Reviewer
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.
Broken Places by Tracy Clark
Raines was a Chicago police officer, but she discovers a life span far less stressful of a private investigator. Mostly since she had been shot in the line of duty. But as a PI, she’s the same insight into instances as a police officer. However, she has the commitment and time to dig deeper into local troubles than the authorities do.
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 (No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency #1) 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 Manor by Jessie Keane
Best Crime Fiction Book
This gripping gangland crime fiction novel is a must-read for lovers of Jessie Keane. Charlie Stone and Terry Barton grew up as close as brothers. And today, having taken within the manor in the local mob, they live the high life.
However, if Charlie’s adopted son Harlan begins causing trouble, a feud begins that spirals out of control. Has Tery’s daughter Belle got what it takes to stand up to Harlan Stone?
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.
Left You Dead by Peter James
Best Crime Books Of 2021
Left you Dead is Peter James’s latest crime fiction series starring DS Roy Grace. It is now a major TV series starring John Simm. Niall Paternoster and Eden Paternoster begin their Sundays the same way as they do every Sunday with a long drive and a stop at a country house, followed by a short stop at the supermarket on the way back.
This Sunday’s Sunday is different. Eden doesn’t return to Niall as he waits in the parking lot for him to finish his shopping. She isn’t waiting for him at his home, and neither have their families or friends. Eden has vanished without a trace.
Niall is accused of murdering her, but DS Roy Grace is summoned to investigate, and it is quickly apparent that there is more to the story than meets the eye. This may be his most intriguing case to date. . . Discover the other Roy Grace books in order.
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.
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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.
The Detective by Roderick Thorp
The Detective is a classic in mystery novels. Thorp’s work has inspired many famous movies like Die Hard. The story centers on Joe Leland, a private eye which is asked to investigate the death of his husband by a widow. Leland discovers new details about the victim as he digs into the complicated relationships between the man he knew from his time in World War II.
Freedom’s Detective: The Secret Service, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Man Who Masterminded America’s First War on Terror by Charles Lane, Jonathan Yen, et al.
Washington’s power brokers sought help to stop the growing Klan movement after the first assassination of a political leader. Hiram C. Whitley was the one they found. The Secret Service, previously focused on counterfeiters, was then led by Whitley. Whitley and his agents led a covert war against the KKK’s nascent members. They were also the first to employ undercover work in mass criminality, now called terrorism investigations.
BOOK REVIEWS: I really enjoyed this book. I had never thought much about the Secret Service other than that they protect the president and other people, and I was interested to learn so much about what they did during this period just after the Civil War. – Amazon Review.
Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #1) by Louise Penny
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his colleagues from Surete du Québec discover a dead body in the woods this Thanksgiving Weekend. They then travel to the Eastern Townships village of a small village. Gamache can’t understand why anyone would deliberately kill Jane Neal, a well-loved artist. This is especially true for Three Pines, which has no police force.
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 Murders In The Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe’s short story The Murders at the Rue Morgue was published in Graham’s Magazine 1841. It is considered the first modern detective story. Poe called it one of his “tales de ratiocination.”
Rivers Of London (Rivers Of London #1) by Ben Aaronovitch
Peter Grant, a Probationary Constable, dreams of becoming a detective with the Metropolitan Police in London. His superiors wanted to send him to the Case Progression Unit, where a paper cut is the greatest threat to his life. Peter’s prospects improve after a mysterious murder. He gains information from an eyewitness, who turns out to be a ghost.
Witness by Mandasue Heller
Holly Evans and her mum, who is overprotective, are constantly on the go. Holly Evans feels at home in Manchester when she moves into an illegal sublet. But why can’t Holly go outside or open the door when her mom isn’t there? This crime novel portrays Manchester’s dark underworld in a gritty and gripping way until the last page.
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Dan Brown is a master at writing riddles. Just read The Da Vinci Code to see. This volume features Professor Robert Langdon, who is taken to Paris to investigate a strange murder at the Louvre. Along with Neveu, cryptologist Dan Brown tries to unravel the artistic puzzles left at the scene. They are all related to Leonardo da Vinci’s works.
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.
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
Case Histories is an excellent book for domestic thrillers. Three gruesome backyard stories await you: The disappearance of a child from one house, the killing of a husband in another, and the murder of a daughter of a solicitor. Kate Atkinson not only explored the pain and loss in each of these families but also expertly linked them all together. You’ll have to see how.
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Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Gothic mystery Rebecca is a classic in telling bone-chilling stories inside a grand old mansion. The unnamed story becomes Mrs. de Winter, a wealthy widower, and moves into his Manderly stately home. The grand house does not promise a happy and peaceful marriage. Instead, it holds the shadows of the first Mrs. de Winter and threatens her happiness as well as her life.
The System by Ryan Gattis
This intelligent, easy-to-read crime novel takes you on tour through America’s criminal justice system. It starts with the moment the crime is committed and ends with the aftermath of the courtroom verdict. Two local gang members are arrested after a drug dealer is killed in LA’s early ’90s. The gang says that one is innocent, and the other is guilty. Little, the newest member of the gang, is taken off the streets with two other members. He must now determine if this was a frame-up.
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.
The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
The remarkable, highly acclaimed series of interconnected detective novels by the author of 4 2 1: A Novel
The New York Review of Books praised Paul Auster’s novel as “one of the most distinctive niches in contemporary literature.” This trilogy of detective novels is uniquely stylized and begins with the City of Glass. Quinn, a mystery author, gets a disturbing phone call at night.
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 best-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.
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
The Maltese Falcon is Sam Spade’s story about his quest to find his client’s sister and unwelcome partner. Spade and Miles Archer follow each other when things get out of control, and Archer is found dead. Spade continues to investigate the mystery surrounding the sisters and becomes a suspect in the death of his business partner, Miles Archer.
Spade’s intelligence and sleuthing open his eyes, as well as yours, to a global system that he never imagined he would find himself in. This is a fascinating story that leaves you wondering, even though it doesn’t contain a single sentence about the thoughts of any characters.
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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.
The Crossing by Michael Connelly
In among the latest entries in the bestselling series of Michael Connelly featuring LAPD Detective Harry Bosch, the now-retired investigator teams up with his half-brother, Mickey Haller, the protagonist of Connelly’s long-running collection of detective novels.
Within this hybrid a police procedural and a court drama rolled into one-Harry has “crossed over” into the defense to operate with Mickey on an intriguing capital murder case.
Bluebird Bluebird by Attica Locke
Two figures have turned up in rapid succession in a little city in hardscrabble East Texas. The sheriff will treat them. But maybe not Darren Matthews, a Texas Ranger that has come to town at the urging of a friend in the FBI who is budding more significant forces in the office.
An African-American, Darren worries about a relationship with the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT), a violent bisexual gang improved by drug smuggling.
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-Selling Crime Stories Of All Time 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 2021-10-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API