Nothing beats a crime book late at night and diving into a mystery and trying to solve a case. Some crime novels have a simple whodunnit setup and other books have too many plot twists to count. But you know that you will be left satisfied when you turn the last page.
That made is think about the best crime books of all time and compile a list of some of the greatest crime books of all time. It includes important authors like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie as well as newer authors who have left their mark in the crime genre.
The Best Crime Books of All Time
- The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1902
- The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, 2019
- In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, 1965
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, 2005
- Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, 1934
- The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith, 1955
- In the Woods by Tana French, 2007
- Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon, 1992
- The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, 2015
- Mystic River by Dennis Lehane, 2001
- Angels and Demons by Dan Brown, 2000
- The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett, 1929
- Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi, 1974
- Dare Me by Megan Abbott, 2012
- Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead, 2021
- The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris, 1988
- The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver, 1997
- The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, 2003
- Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby, 2021
- Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, 2014
- I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara, 2018
- The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, 2020
- My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite, 2018
- Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson, 2008
- And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, 1939
- The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, 2003
- The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey, 1951
- Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow, 1986
- The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, 1886
- The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, 1939
- The Godfather by Mario Puzo, 1969
- The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain, 1934
- Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, 1907
Books and Authors that Defined the Genre
It is impossible to start this list off any other way than mentioning The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Sherlock Holmes is well regarded as the best detective ever and has become a mainstream fictional character that everyone knows by name. Doyle’s books have inspired many books and his influence is easily seen in the crime genre.
Agatha Christie’s whole discography can make the list and I wouldn’t complain. But we limited to Murder on the Orient Express and And Then There Were None, two of her most popular books. She is called the queen of mystery for a reason and her books have come to define the genre.
Other books that made the list include The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett, The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris, The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain, and The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. These books are iconic and while they may incite debate, they deserve their spot on the list in my opinion.
Lastly, some more books that need to be discussed is Dan Brown and his two novels that were inescapable in the early 2000’s. Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code are two of the best-selling books of all time and seemed to be everywhere at one point. Yes, they aren’t the best crime books but they are good and their impact was felt by almost everyone. That alone pushes them into the best crime books list.
It is impossible to make a perfect list and there are tons of books that should have made the list but didn’t. These are the books I believe deserve to be on the list and I stand by it. If you believe a book deserved to make the list, comment it down below and it may make a future list. Until then, happy reading!
11 thoughts on “The Best Crime Books of All Time”
Where is Louise Penny?
As a crime story reader for sixty years I have to agree that this list is totally appalling. Some of these books are obvious choices. But many are utterly dreadful. It’s as if they have been chosen on the basis of marketing hype rather than any real appreciation of good crime writing. When I think of the hundreds of great crime stories out there not mentioned here I would say the choices here can best be described as those of someone barely literate.
I think you are forgetting probably the best crime novel of all time: Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky.
The Thursday Murder Club….absolute rubbish
This is laughable
No James Ellroy? Seriously?
I agree that some classics cannot be missed, but two Dan Brawn and none Jo Nesbø or Pierre Lemaitre seems to me unbalanced.
Totally agree, all books with Harry Hole by Nesbø and The Colours of the Inferno by Lemaitre.
No Jim Thompson… blasphemy!