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List of Top Crime and Mystery Books of All Time

I've written each day about my new book The Devil and Sherlock Holmes, which contains a dozen stories about mystery and intrigue. So today I thought I would list ten of my favorite crime and mystery books of all time (both fiction and nonfiction), which I look to for inspiration.

In no particular order, they include:

Who did I leave off? Who are your favorite crime and mystery writers? Let me know.

÷ ÷ ÷

David Grann is the author of The Devil and Sherlock Holmes and The Lost City of Z, and a staff writer at the New Yorker.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales...
    Used Hardcover $12.50
  2. The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly...
    Used Trade Paper $5.95
  3. In Cold Blood: A True Account of a...
    Used Trade Paper $8.00
  4. Epitaph for a Spy Used Trade Paper $7.95
  5. Executioner's Song New Mass Market $29.09

  6. Presumed Innocent Used Trade Paper $1.95
  7. Brighton Rock (Classics Deluxe... Used Trade Paper $10.95

  8. Killshot Used Mass Market $4.95
  9. Crime and Punishment (Penguin Classics)
    Used Trade Paper $7.50
  10. The Lady in the Lake; The Little... New Hardcover $32.00

David Grann is the author of The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession

16 Responses to "List of Top Crime and Mystery Books of All Time"

    JLauderbaugh March 12th, 2010 at 8:02 am

    Black Cherry Blues---James Lee Burke
    The Zero---Jess Walters
    The Maltese Falcon---Dashielle Hammett
    Prelude to a Scream---Jim Nisbet
    Daughter of Time---Josephine Tey
    Everybody Smokes in Hell---John Ridley
    Great Expectations---Charles Dickens
    The Murder of Roger Ackroyd---Agatha Christie
    ...just to name a few.

    adrienne March 12th, 2010 at 9:01 am

    I love Dostoyevsky! Walter Mosley! Natsuo Kirino! Japan's crime fiction writer. Ngaio Marsh!
    "Lost City of Z" was my top pick of 2009. I'm a
    Powell's employee, check out my blurb for it.
    Lot's of people loved your book. You should have
    more comments on your blog. Your new book looks

    andrea March 15th, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    No women, David? C'mon -- what about Elizabeth George? The only writer I need a dictionary when reading, and it's great!

    By the way, I regularly teach Crime and Punishment at a university, and we often discuss how it's not a "who dun it" or a mystery at all ... but a "how do you live with yourself after you've done it?" book. The crime itself (as breaking the law) is negligible, except insofar as it's a *moral* misstep for which Raskolnikov must repent. Glad you have it on your list! Always happy when people foreground the Russians. :-)

    patebooks March 15th, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Good choices but all guys? Josephine Tey's Brat Farrar & The Franchise Affair; Barbara Vine's The Minotaur, A Dark-Adapted Eye, etc.; Donna Tartt's The Secret History; Tana French's In the Woods and The Likeness; Laura Lippman's What the Dead Know; Laurie King, P.D. James, Ruth Rendell.

    Looking forward to reading your new book.

    tanya March 15th, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    There's a lot of good ones out there and quite difficult to narrow down, but what about...

    Ian Fleming's From Russia, with Love
    Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird
    Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination
    Dorothy Sayers' Gaudy Night
    Francis Isles' Malice Afterthought
    and yes as mentioned by someone else as well - Dickens' Great Expectations.

    Looking forward to your new one!

    Aubrey March 15th, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    I'd go for the entire Nero Wolfe collection by Rex Stout.

    Beth March 15th, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    I second the comment about no female authors--come on! This is a good if male-focued list. I would add Case Histories by Kate Atkinson.

    Heather March 15th, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson - full title is: The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America. FABULOUS history of the Chicago Exposition, including how Disney got started, and a CHILLING tale of a gruesome and ruthless mass murderer... and ALL TRUE! I loved this book but couldn't sleep for weeks!! :D

    Miss Gretchen March 15th, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Sparkle Hayter's Robin Hudson mysteries! Most fun crime of all time!
    (Just happened to be reading "The Thin Man" by Dash when you wrote this post. *full disclosure* I don't read a lot of mysteries but I've read quite a few from this page, thanks everyone for the recommendations!)

    Jane March 15th, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    Gaudy Night and 9 Tailors--Dorothy Sayers

    Russ Cashon March 15th, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    I love mysteries and histories. I hated "The Devil in the White City." The writing was bloated and boring and I couldn't finish it. Better by far was "The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of OED" by Simon Winchester.
    Others I'd add:
    The Night Gardnener by George Pelacanos
    Count Zero by William Gibson
    Skinwalkers by Tony Hillerman
    The Galton Case by Ross Macdonald

    Ann March 15th, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    Gaudy Night - Dorothy Sayers

    Stephen March 15th, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    I like some of your choices, but how about:

    Neon Rain by James Lee Burke
    The Wrong Case by James Crumley
    When the Sacred Gin Mill Closes by Lawrence Block
    The Long Legged Fly by James Sallis
    Strange Loyalties by William McIlvanney
    The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
    The Dragon Murder Case by S.S. Van Dine
    L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy
    The Guards by Ken Bruen

    Emily Nesbitt March 16th, 2010 at 10:52 am

    How are people forgetting "The Talented Mr. Ripley" by Patricia Highsmith? Or "Strangers On a Train"?

    Angela March 23rd, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    The Four Adventures of Richard Hannay:
    The Thirty-Nine Steps/Greenmantle/Mr. Standfast/the Three Hostages by John Buchan
    John Buchan is the father of spy fiction!

    BAB June 9th, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Any crime/mystery list should include Rocambole by Poson du Terrial. It is accredited with starting the whole genre of heroic crime fiction.

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