25 Best Crime Novels Of All Time
If you think whether your favorite crime books make this list or not, then let me give a disclaimer beforehand. We have been blessed with exquisite literature in the last 200 years. If I forget to mention some of them in the list, then that does not qualify as crime. Crime stories have been one of the most preferred genres by the readers. There are thousands of books on crime. In general, they all start with the onset of the crime. Then follows a list of events, a cat, and mouse chase till the time when the criminal is hunted down by the investigator. Authors have primarily used the good guy as the protagonist. Although some very successful crime novels like “The Godfather” had multiple central characters and they were not necessarily the right guys.
Now let’s get down to business with the list.
Tales of Mystery & Imagination (1852), Edgar Allan Poe.
It is a collection of 11 fictions published after the author’s death. They deal with mystery, murder and conviction.
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
This cult fiction stars legendary detective Sherlock Holmes solving the case for the Baskervilles. The story line involves murder, multiple twists followed by the analysis at the end by the detective.
Rebecca (1938), Daphne du Maurier
It’s the story of the life of a newly married woman, who faces difficulties to replace her husband’s former wife, Rebecca. The death of Rebecca was mysterious, and that is what the main revelation is about, at the end of the story.
The Godfather (1969), Mario Puzo
The story is about the physiological war fought between the five mafia families in New York. The rise and fall of one particular family to which the protagonist belongs.
A Study in Scarlet (1886), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The investigation of a murder by the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes.
The Woman in White (1859), Wilkie Collins
A mysterious woman in white gets some help by the hero. He learns later that she is an asylum escapee.
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926), Agatha Christie
A suicide, followed by murder, and a household full of suspects. The plot unfolds with a surprising ending.
The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915), John Buchan
The mystery of the 39 steps and the murder of a secret agent, all culminates at the end, where the truth is revealed.
The Day of the Jackal (1971), Frederick Forsyth
The story is about the preparation for the assassination of a French president. It has the perspective of both the killer as well as the police officer.
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934), James Mallahan Cain
An extramarital relationship leading to an almost perfect murder. It makes for a perfect recipe of the crime novel.
The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1972), George V. Higgins
An aging gunrunner, his conviction and agreement with the police to supply information puts his life on the edge.
The Silence of the Lambs (1988), Thomas Harris
A serial killer with a history of cannibalism service his sentence is being asked by the police to help in a similar case.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1975), John Le Carré
It is based on identifying the mole inside the British intelligence by an MI6 agent.
The A.B.C. Murders (1936), Agatha Christie
A series of murders seemingly unrelated except the chronology followed “A, B, C” Detective Hercule Poirot solves the case.
The Name Of The Rose (1980), Umberto Eco
A series of murders in an abbey is being solved by a Franciscan monk, with help from his apprentice.
The Spy, Who Came In From The Cold (1963), John Le Carré
The final job taken by a spy becomes more complicated than it initially seemed to. Caught in a series of mind-bending puzzles he has to find out his way.
Devil in a Blue Dress (1990), Walter Mosley
The investigation into the disappearance of a woman goes terribly wrong. The investigator gets into things he never anticipated.
The Firm (1991), John Grisham
A law student recruited by a law firm. Murders and mysterious clients sum up for some terrific suspense.
The Long Goodbye (1953), Raymond Chandler
A detective gets involved in the murder of his friend’s wife. He has to find the murderer to prove himself innocent.
The Moonstone (1868), Wilkie Collins
Based on the theft of a large diamond, its’ religious significance and its’ recovery.
The Maltese Falcon (1930), Dashiell Hammett
The web of mystery and lie to recover the bejeweled Maltese Falcon offer a thrilling reading.
Eye of the Needle (1978), Ken Follett
The plot is set during WWII. A German spy with secrets acquired about the D-day has to return to Germany. However, he meets a very charming lady and the story unfolds.
The Laughing Policeman (1968), Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö
The suspect and the detective both are killed. In comes a new detective and his assistant to dig out the truth. A very unusual take on conventional crime thrillers.
The Moving Toyshop (1946), Edmund Crispin
An entirely different take on conventional crime novels, this book, merges comedy with the crime.
Time and Again (1970), Jack Finney
The storyline has an artist go back past in time to find answers to his personal life. What he comes to know is much more.
A Judgment in Stone (1977), Ruth Rendell
The story of an illiterate housekeeper and the extent to which she goes to conceal her illiteracy.