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The 222 Greatest Works of Crime and Mystery

The most popular genre of writing today goes under several names, including crime, detective fiction, mystery and whodunits. It overlaps every other publishing category, including mainstream literary works, thrillers, espionage, horror, romance and speculative fiction. You could argue that all literature belongs to this genre. Doesn't every piece of creative writing involve violation of some written or unwritten moral code, or an attempt to detect and solve certain mysteries of life?

For this list, however, we are considering the works that a consensus of readers and critics place in this genre, as well as writing that was seminal in originating the genre. For convenience, we call this grouping "Crime and Mystery".

The works on this list have been selected through the same extensive research and surveys, carried out over two decades, that spawned all our lists.

The Greatest Crime and Mystery list focuses on major works—mainly novels, novellas and collections—as we have recently split off a separate list for the greatest short stories in the field.

Popular as it is, this genre developing quickly. This "greatest" list is always undergoing updates and revisions as new works are discovered and appreciation of old works evolves.

Latest update: February 9, 2024

1829
The Rector of Veilbye
Steen Steensen Blicher
Denmark, novella
1842
missing graphic
The Jews' Beech Tree
Annette von Droste-Hülshoff
Germany, novella
1860
missing graphic
The Woman in White
England, novel
1863
Les Habits Noirs
Paul Féval
France, novel
1866
Crime and Punishment
Fyodor Dostoevski
Russia, novel
1868
missing graphic
The Moonstone
England, novel
 
Monsieur Lecoq
Émile Gaboriau
France, novel
1870
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
England, novel
 
The Leavenworth Case
Anna Katherine Green
United States, novel
1888
A Study in Scarlet
England, novel
1890
The Sign of Four
England, novel
1892
missing graphic
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
England, story collection
Includes A Scandal in Bohemia, The Red-Headed League, The Adventure of the Speckled Band, and others
1894
Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
United States, story collection
 
Pudd'nhead Wilson
Mark Twain
United States, novel
1899
The Amateur Cracksman
E.W. Hornung
England, story collection
1902
missing graphic
The Hound of the Baskervilles
England, novel
1903
The Riddle of the Sands
Erskine Childers
England, novel
1905
missing graphic
The Return of Sherlock Holmes
Arthur Conan Doyle
England, story collection
Includes "The Empty House", "The Norwood Builder", "The Dancing Men", "Charles Augustus Milverton", and others
1907
missing graphic
The Secret Agent
England, novel
 
Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Thief
Maurice Leblanc
France, novel
 
The Thinking Machine
Jacques Futrelle
United States, story collection
1908
missing graphic
The Man Who Was Thursday
England, novel
 
The Circular Staircase
Mary Roberts Rinehart
United States, novel
1911
missing graphic
The Innocence of Father Brown
England, story collection
Includes "The Blue Cross", "The Invisible Man", "The Hammer of God", and others
1913
Trent's Last Case
E.C. Bentley
England, novel
1915
missing graphic
The Thirty-Nine Steps
Scotland, novel
1918
Uncle Abner: Master of Mysteries
Melville Davisson Post
United States, story collection
Includes The Doomdorf Mystery, The Wrong Hand, The House of the Dead Man, and others
1925
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
England, novel
 
The Mind of Mr. J.G. Reeder
Edgar Wallace
England, story collection
1927
The Bellamy Trial
Frances Noyes Haart
United States, novel
1928
Ashenden, or the British Agent
W. Somerset Maugham
England, story collection
1929
The Poisoned Chocolates Case
Anthony Berkeley
England, novel
 
Death of My Aunt
C.H.B. Kitchin
England, story collection
 
Little Caesar
W.R. Burnett
United States, novel
 
Red Harvest
United States, novel
1930
Strong Poison
Dorothy L. Sayers
England, novel
 
The Documents in the Case
Dorothy Sayers, Robert Eustace
England, novel
 
missing graphic
The Maltese Falcon
United States, novel
1931
The Sands of Windee
Arthur Upfield
Australia, novel
 
Malice Aforethought
Francis Iles
England, novel
 
The Glass Key
United States, novel
 
Guys and Dolls
Damon Runyon
United States, story collection
1932
Before the Fact
Francis Iles
England, novel
 
The Madman of Bergerac
Georges Simenon
Belgium, novel
1933
Murder Must Advertise
Dorothy L. Sayers
England, novel
 
The Case of the Sulky Girl
Erle Stanley Gardner
United States, novel
 
The Case of the Velvet Claws
Erle Stanley Gardner
United States, novel
1934
Death of a Ghost
Margery Allingham
England, novel
 
missing graphic
Murder on the Orient Express
England, novel
 
The Nine Tailors
Dorothy L. Sayers
England, novel
 
missing graphic
The Postman Always Rings Twice
United States, novella
 
missing graphic
The Thin Man
United States, novel
1935
missing graphic
Gaudy Night
Dorothy L. Sayers
England, novel
 
The Three Coffins
John Dickson Carr
United States, novel
 
The League of the Frightened Men
Rex Stout
United States, novel
1936
The Wheel Spins
Ethel Lina White
England, novel
1938
Rebecca
Daphne du Maurier
England, novel
 
Brighton Rock
Graham Greene
England, novel
 
The Beast Must Die
Nicholas Blake
Ireland, novel
 
Death from a Top Hat
Clayton Lawson
United States, novel
1939
The Mask of Dimitrios
Eric Ambler
England, novel
 
missing graphic
And Then There Were None
England, novel
 
Rogue Male
Geoffrey Household
England, novel
 
missing graphic
The Big Sleep
United States, novel
1940
Farewell, My Lovely
United States, novel
 
The Bride Wore Black
Cornell Woolrich
United States, novel
1941
The Case of the Abominable Snowman
Nicholas Blake
Ireland, novel
 
Surfeit of Lampreys
Ngaio Marsh
New Zealand, novel
1942
Tragedy at Law
Cyril Hare
England, novel
 
The High Window
United States, novel
 
Calamity Town
Ellery Queen
United States, novel
1943
Double Indemnity
United States, novel
 
Laura
Vera Caspary
United States, novel
 
The Lady in the Lake
United States, novel
 
A Kiss Before Dying
Ira Levin
United States, novel
1944
Green for Danger
Christianna Brand
England, novel
 
Home Sweet Homicide
Craig Rice
United States, novel
1945
Appleby's End
Michael Innes
Scotland, novel
 
The Shadow of the Wind
Carlos Luiz Zafón
Spain, novel
 
The Continental Op
United States, story collection
1946
The Moving Toyshop
Edmund Crispin
England, novel
 
The Honshin Murders
Seisha Yokomizo
Japan, novel
 
Murder Among Friends
Elizabeth Ferrars
United States, novel
 
Horizontal Man
Helen Eustis
United States, novel
1947
A Case to Answer
Edgar Lustgarten
England, novel
 
The Fabulous Clipjoint
Fredric Brown
United States, novel
 
I, the Jury
Mickey Spillane
United States, novel
1948
More Work for the Undertaker
Margery Allingham
England, novella
 
The Franchise Affair
Josephine Tey
Scotland, novella
 
Devil Take the Blue-Tale Fly
John Franklin Bardin
United States, novel
1949
The Third Man
Graham Greene
England, novella
 
missing graphic
My Friend Maigret
George Simenon
Belgium, novel
 
The Journeying Boy
Michael Innes
Scotland, novel
 
The Asphalt Jungle
W.R. Burnett
United States, novel
1950
Smallbone Deceased
Michael Gilbert
England, novel
 
Strangers on a Train
Patricia Highsmith
United States, novel
1951
The Daughter of Time
Josephine Tey
Scotland, novel
 
The Devil in Velvet
John Dickson Carr
United States, novel
1952
Beat Not the Bones
Charlotte Jay
Australia, novel
 
The Tiger in the Smoke
Margery Allingham
England, novel
 
The Mousetrap
England, play
 
Killer Inside Me
Jim Thompson
United States, novel
 
Last Seen Wearing…
Hilary Waugh
United States, novel
1953
Five Roundabouts to Heaven
John Bingham
England, novel
 
Post Mortem
Guy Cullingford
England, novel
 
missing graphic
The Long Goodbye
United States, novel
1954
missing graphic
The Caves of Steel
United States, novel
 
Twelve Angry Men
Reginald Rose
United States, play
1955
The Talented Mr. Ripley
Patricia Highsmith
United States, novel
 
Beast in View
Margaret Millar
United States, novel
1956
Gideon's Week
J.J. Marric (John Creasey)
England, novel
 
A Dram of Poison
Charlotte Armstrong
United States, novel
 
Mystery Stories
Stanley Ellin
United States, story collection
 
Cop Hater
Ed McBain
United States, novel
1957
From Russia With Love
Ian Fleming
England, novel
1958
Nine Coaches Waiting
Mary Stewart
England, novel
 
Anatomy of a Murder
Robert Traver
United States, novel
1959
My Brother Michael
Mary Stewart
England, novel
 
missing graphic
The Galton Case
United States, novel
 
Plot It Yourself
Rex Stout
United States, novel
1960
Maigret in Court
Georges Simenon
Belgium, novel
 
The New Sonia Wayward
Michael Innes
Scotland, novel
1962
The Rose of Tibet
Lionel Davidson
England, novel
 
We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Shirley Jackson
United States, novel
1963
Gun Before Butter
Nicolas Freeling
England, novel
 
The Expendable Man
Dorothy B. Hughes
United States, novel
1964
The Cellar at No. 5
Shelley Smith
England, novel
 
Pop. 1280
Jim Thompson
United States, novel
1965
The Berlin Memorandum
Brian Hall
England, novel
 
Roseanna
Maj Sjöwall, Per Wahlöö
Sweden, novel
 
RSVP Murder
Mignon G. Eberhart
United States, novel
 
The Doorbell Rang
Rex Stout
United States, novel
1966
In Cold Blood
Truman Capote
United States, Non-fiction novel
1967
The Man Who Killed Himself
Julian Symons
England, novel
 
Murder Against the Grain
Emma Lathen
United States, novel
 
God Save the Mark
Donal E. Westlake
United States, novel
1968
To Each His Own
Leonardo Sciascia
Sweden, novel
 
The Laughing Policeman
Maj Sjöwall, Per Wahlöö
Sweden, novel
1969
Blind Man with a Pistol
Chester Himes
United States, novel
 
The Godfather
Mario Puzo
United States, novel
1970
Wobble to Death
Peter Lovesey
England, novel
 
The Friends of Eddie Coyle
George V. Higgins
United States, novel
 
The Hot Rock
Donald E. Westlake
United States, novel
1971
The Day of the Jackal
Frederick Forsyth
England, novel
 
Shroud for a Nightingale
P.D. James
England, novel
1972
Mirror Mirror on the Wall
Stanley Ellin
United States, novel
 
Sadie When She Died
Ed McBain
United States, novel
1973
Dance Hall of the Dead
Tony Hillerman
United States, novel
1974
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
John Le Carré
England, novel
 
A Running Duck
Paula Gosling
United States, novel
 
Fletch
Gregory Mcdonald
United States, novel
 
The Seven-Per-Cent Solution
Nicholas Meyer
United States, novel
1975
The Eagle Has Landed
Jack Higgins
England, novel
 
Where Are the Children?
Mary Higgins Clark
United States, novel
 
missing graphic
The Dreadful Lemon Sky
John D. MacDonald
United States, novel
1976
A Demon in My View
Ruth Rendell
England, novel
 
The Blue Hammer
Ros Macdonald
United States, novel
1977
A Morbid Taste for Bones
Ellis Peters
England, novel
 
A Judgement in Stone
Ruth Rendell
England, novel
1978
missing graphic
Eye of the Needle
Ken Follett
England, novel
 
Rumpole of the Bailey
John Mortimer
England, story collection
1979
The Southern Seas
Manuel Vázquez Montalbán
Spain, novel
 
The Executioner's Song
United States, novel
1980
The Murder of the Maharajah
H.R.F. Keating
England, novel
 
The Name of the Rose
Umberto Eco
Italy, novel
1981
The Dead of Jericho
Colin Dexter
England, novel
 
Leper of Saint Giles
Ellis Peters
England, novel
 
The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard
Anatole France
France, novel
 
Red Dragon
Thomas Harris
United States, novel
 
The First Deadly Sin
Lawrence Sanders
United States, novel
 
missing graphic
Gorky Park
Martin Cruz Smith
United States, novel
1982
The False Inspector Dew
Peter Lovesey
England, novel
 
A Is for Alibi
Sue Grafton
United States, novel
 
Bank Shot
Donald E. Westlake
United States, novel
1983
The Danger
Dick Francis
England, novel
 
The Little Drummer Girl
John le Carré
England, novel
 
LaBrava
Elmore Leonard
United States, novel
1984
Penny Black
Susan Moody
England, novel
1985
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Patricvk Suskind
Germany, novel
1985–1986
The New York Trilogy
Paul Auster
United States, novel series
1986
A Taste for Death
P.D. James
England, novel
 
A Dark-Adapted Eye
Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell)
England, novel
 
Who Killed Palomiono Molero?
Mario Vargas Llosa
Peru, novel
1987
The Killings at Badger's Drift
Caroline Graham
England, novel
 
Bertie and the Tin Man
Peter Lovesey
England, novel
 
A Fatal Inversion
Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell)
England, novel
 
The Deacon House Murders
Yukito Ayatsuji
Japan, novel
 
The Black Dahlia
James Ellroy
United States, novel
 
Misery
Stephen King
United States, novel
 
Presumed Innocent
Scott Turow
United States, novel
1988
Under World
Reginald Hill
England, novel
 
Black Cherry Blues
James Lee Burke
United States, novel
 
The Silence of the Lambs
Thomas Harris
United States, novel
 
A Thief of Time
Tony Hillerman
United States, novel
1989
Devices and Desires
P.D. James
England, novel
1990
L.A. Confidential
James Ellroy
United States, novel
 
Get Shorty
Elmore Leonard
United States, novel
 
Devil in a Blue Dress
Walter Mosley
United States, novel
1991
Faceless Killers
Henning Mankell
Sweden, novel
 
The Firm
John Grisham
United States, novel
1992
Smilla's Sense of Snow
Peter Hoeg
Denmark, novel
 
Fatherland
Robert Harris
England, novel
 
The Secret History
Donna Tartt
United States, novel
1994
The Shape of Water
Andrea Camilleri
Italy, novel
1998
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
Alexander McCall Smith
Scotland, novel
 
My Name Is Red
Orhan Pamuk
Turkey, novel
2001
True History of the Kelly Gang
Peter Carey
Australia, novel
2002
Fingersmith
Sarah Waters
Wales, novel
2003
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Mark Haddon
England, novel
 
The Ice Princess
Camilla Läckberg
Sweden, novel
2005
missing graphic
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Stieg Larsson
Sweden, novel
2006
The Thirteenth Tale
Diane Setterfield
England, novel
 
missing graphic
The Girl Who Played With Fire
Steig Larsson
Sweden, novel
2007
In the Woods
Tana French
Ireland, novel
 
The Yiddish Policemen's Union
Michael Chabon
United States, novel
2008
The Suspicions of Mr Whicher
Kate Summerscale
England, nonfiction novel
2009
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
Olga Tokarczuk
Poland, novel
2012
Gone Girl
Gillian Flynn
United States, novel
2014
Mr. Mercedes
Stephen King
United States, novel
2015
The Girl on the Train
Paula Hawkins
England, novel
2017
Bluebird, Bluebird
Attica Locke
United States, novel
2020
Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line
Deepa Anaparra
India, novel