Mystery, Spy and Crime Classics Crime books have been around for a long time, and this list features some of the best...
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. One of the most popular of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries...
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. This classic mystery takes place on a train where a murder is committed during the night.
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Considered one of the earliest and greatest crime novels.
The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad. Anarchy and espionage in the streets of London...classic crime tale.
The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe. Poe’s detective, Auguste Dupin, solves murders in these three tales...as captivating today as when written over 150 years ago.
The Three Coffins by John Dickson Carr. This "locked-room" mystery is a classic.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This classic book explores race issues in the American south.
The Woman in White by Wilke Collins. An art teacher smitten by one of his students...heads out to rescue her and stumbles upon a mysterious woman in white.
The Innocence of Father Brown by GK Chesterton. Father Brown has an uncanny ability to see through situations to solve what the professionals cannot.
Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier. A young bride arrives at her husband’s coastal home only to discover that the husband is haunted by the death of his first wife, Rebecca.
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. This landmark true crime story details the senseless killing of the Clutter family and the story behind the two men who committed the murders.
Green River, Running Red by Ann Rule. Learn about the serial killer known as the Green River Killer, considered one of the most prolific killers in America.
Serpico by Peter Maas. Frank Serpico was a New York City policeman who wouldn’t play the game of corruption within the system, so he fought back.
Fatal Vision by Joe McGinniss. McGinniss tells the story of the murder of Former Green Beret Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald’s pregnant wife and two daughters. Started as a project to prove MacDonald’s innocence...
Crime of the Century: The Lindbergh Kidnapping Hoax by Gregory Ahlgren and Stephen Monier. This book takes a look at the circumstances surrounding the infamous Lindbergh kidnapping hoax and death of the boy.
The Lives and Times of Bonnie and Clyde by ER Milner. Learn about this infamous couple and their crime spree, early 20th century.
Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker. Take a look at the elite group of crime solvers for the FBI that specializes in understanding the mind of serial killers.
Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry. Take a look at the disturbed vision of Charles Manson that drove a group of middle-class young people to commit a violent massacre.
The Night Stalker: The Life and Crimes of Richard Ramirez by Philip Carlo. Read about Richard Ramirez’s serial killing that held Los Angeles in terror...
Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia by Joseph D Pistone. FBI agent Joe Pistone details his 6 years working undercover in the Mafia in this captivating memoir.
The Onion Field by Joseph Wambaugh. This haunting true story is about two policemen who pull over two men in a traffic stop, only to find themselves at the wrong end of their own guns.
SPIES and ESPIONAGE
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carre. Drawing on his own experience as a British intelligence officer, John le Carre spins a riveting tale of an agent who wants to leave the business.
From Russia with Love by Ian Fleming. This James Bond novel is one of Fleming’s finest.
Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene. Part spy novel, part comedy, set in Cuba, revolves around a spy who isn’t really spying on anything.
The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth. The Jackal is a hired political killer so secret no one can trace him. Can he be stopped before killing the president of France?
The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon. Brainwashing and political intrigue...has been made into two movies by the same name.
Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett. Espionage and romance meet in this popular book.
A Coffin for Dimitrios by Eric Ambler. A mystery writer on vacation in Istanbul becomes embroiled in a complex situation involving espionage, assassination, and drugs.
The Miernik Dossier by Charles McCarry. This is the first in a series of stories about CIA agent Paul Christopher...features spies, a princess, scientist, and travel.
Berlin Game by Len Deighton. Set in the Cold War, a valued British spy living in East Berlin wants to defect to the West in this suspenseful tale.
The Great Impersonation by Edward Phillips Oppenheim. This spy novel is a page-turner that will keep you going to the very last chapter.
The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy. Cold War espionage drives this suspenseful story about a secret Russian nuclear submarine.
Six Days of the Condor by James Grady. ...a spy novel-loving CIA operative must work quickly to solve a mystery in order to save himself.
Proof by Dick Francis. As with most of Francis’ mysteries, this one is set against the backdrop of horse racing, the world of wine...one of the best of Francis’ many bestsellers.
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. Symbologist Robert Langdon must solve the mystery surrounding the death of a high-ranking official in an ancient secret society.
The Ritual Bath by Faye Kellerman. This book is the first of a popular series featuring detective Peter Decker, this one taking him into a yeshiva to solve a murder.
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. Ten strangers are mysteriously invited to an island for a weekend where they begin to die, one by one.
Catch Me: Kill Me by William Hallahan. Story of a kidnapped Russian poet and a missing nuclear scientist that will keep you guessing...1978 winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award.
Peregrine by William Bayer. A peregrine falcon is used as a murder weapon in this award-winning story.
Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell. The first of the popular Kay Scarpetta mysteries, Postmortem tells of a chief medical examiner who uses her CSI-like skills to solve the case of a serial killer.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. A financial journalist who must redeem himself by solving a 40 year-old case joins forces with a brilliant, street-wise young woman in this captivating tale.
The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L Sayers. Murder, jewel theft, and church bells all figure prominently in this beloved detective novel.
Bones by Jan Burke. Journalist Irene Kelly helps solve the mystery of a serial killer in this seventh of a series written by Burke.
POLICE and DETECTIVE STORIES
Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith. A Russian homicide inspector must solve the murders of three men found in a Moscow amusement centre...page-turner.
The First Deadly Sin by Lawrence Sanders. The outstanding characterization and the engaging plot make this detective story a must-read.
The Steam Pig by James McClure. A mix-up uncovers a murder thought to be a death of natural causes and sends a South African policeman on the trail of the killer.
Last Seen Wearing… by Hillary Waugh. The disappearance of a college co-ed...based on a true incident.
In the Heat of the Night by John Ball. A black man is wrongfully arrested for a murder in a small southern town, but is brought in to help solve the case when the police discover he is a skilled detective.
Shroud for a Nightingale by PD James. Adam Dalgliesh from Scotland Yard is put on the case of murders at a nursing school with a long history of violence.
The Laughing Policeman by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. Investigator Martin Beck is working to solve the case of a massacre on a city bus in Stockholm...
Because of the Cats by Nicolas Freeling. Set in Amsterdam, Chief Inspector Van der Valk who must put a stop to a remarkably talented group of teenage criminals.
Inspector Ghote Breaks an Egg by HRF Keating. Inspector Ghote must solve a 15 year-old crime...set in rural India.
Small Crimes by Dave Zeltserman. A corrupt policeman who is trying to clean up his act finds himself in a situation that leaves little hope for reform.
A Time to Kill by John Grisham. This first novel recounts the story of a young lawyer defending a black Vietnam veteran accused of killing the white, drug-addicted rapist of his daughter.
The Firm by John Grisham. Another great legal thriller comes from Grisham, this one delving into the illegal workings of a law firm that takes over its employees’ lives.
Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow. Murder, corruption, and a look inside the legal world...captivating story.
Degree of Guilt by Richard North Patterson. Explore the ethics lawyers face in this page-turning novel.
Compelling Evidence by Steve Martini. Murder, gripping trial scenes, love, infidelity, and politics.
Special Circumstances by Sheldon Siegel. Mike Dailey is an ex-priest and a lawyer who has been fired from a top law firm...Siegel’s debut in the genre.
Primal Fear by William Diehl. In what seems to be an open-and-shut case, a savvy defense attorney digs for the truth about a brutal murder.
Hear No Evil by James Grippando. One of the Jack Swyteck series, this novel details an intense criminal trial that Jack has taken on at the risk of a personal loss.
The Seven Minutes by Irving Wallace. Acclaimed for its realistic court scenes, this book details a trial in which a defense attorney works to clear a book at question that has supposedly contributed to the violent rape of a woman.
The Last Innocent Man by Phillip Margolin. The trial of an innocent man accused of raping and killing a prostitute who was actually an undercover policewoman is at the heart of this gripping novel.
The Adventures of Satan Hall by Carroll John Daly. Daly is recognized as the first hard-boiled fiction writer and this story features the renegade detective, Satan Hall, who became the basis for many other similar characters, including Dirty Harry.
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. Considered the best of Chandler’s books, The Big Sleep explores the blackmail of a wealthy family through a complex plot. This book was made into a popular movie by the same name starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett. Hammett is one of the most popular authors from this genre and his story of the hunt for the Maltese falcon ranks among one of the greatest.
Double Indemnity by James M Cain. Insurance agent Walter Huff allows himself to get dragged into a murder in this classic crime novel that was later made into at least two different movie versions.
The Case of the Velvet Claws by Earl Stanley Gardner. This is the first in a series of over 80 novels by Gardner that revolves around the character of Perry Mason. This first novel is definitely worth a read if your image of Perry Mason is that of an ethically-upstanding lawyer.
I, the Jury by Mickey Spillane. This novel by Spillane introduced Detective Mike Hammer in a series of novels that were more full of sex and violence than most crime novels of its time.
The Executioners by John D MacDonald. Before MacDonald went on to create his popular Travis McGee character, he first wrote a captivating novel called The Executioners that tells the story of Max Cady, a man released from prison who is determined to stalk and terrorize the witness who sent him to jail. The novel was later made into the movie Cape Fear.
The Moving Target by Ross Macdonald. Macdonald introduced Lew Archer, who later became a popular fiction detective, in this first of a series of 18 books featuring Lew Archer.
A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes. One of the few black detective writers of his time, Himes wrote riveting novels with memorable characters such as Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed. A Rage in Harlem was the first of these detective novels and provides an complex plot with rich characters.
"A" is for Alibi by Sue Grafton. While Grafton is the only modern writer from this list, her work is heavily influenced by several of the heavy-hitters from hard-boiled fiction. Her alphabet series has gained quite a following and was started with this novel, "A" is for Alibi, featuring a female detective.
SUSPENCE and PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLERS
Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris. This novel was made into the now-famous movie by the same name, but don’t rely on your viewing of the movie to substitute for this psychological thriller that will have you hanging on every page.
Intent to Kill by James Grippando. Baseball, murder, intrigue, law, politics, and a mystery to solve all feature in this gripping tale.
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane. The investigation at a prison for the criminally insane has even the sanest questioning their grip on reality.
The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. This novel deftly maneuvers the reader into a place of empathy for a charming sociopath.
Self-Defense by Jonathan Kellerman. One of the many Alex Delaware novels Kellerman has written, this psychological thriller is full of layers and a surprising ending.
Misery by Stephen King. When an author wrecks his car during a snow storm, his "number one fan" finds him, brings him to her home to nurse him back to health, and reveals the inner darkness of her devotion to the author.
Land of the Living by Nicci French. A young woman awakens to find herself bound and hooded, with days of torture to follow. When she then reawakens, she is in a hospital where no one believes her story of capture and torture. Read this suspenseful thriller to find out how it turns out.
Where Are the Children? by Mary Higgins Clark. The first in a long line of suspense thrillers, this novel follows a woman, with a sketchy history of alleged murder, who seeks her kidnapped children.
Every Secret Thing by Laura Lipmann. Two 11 year-old girls are imprisoned for the death of a child. Seven years later, when the girls are released, another child is killed and the true circumstances of the first crime come under scrutiny.
Every Dead Thing by John Connolly. Follow this detective as he goes from New York to New Orleans tracking down a missing woman and struggling to find the killer who devastated his personal life.
A Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin. Charming overachiever Bud Corliss will let nothing stand in his way to achieve the wealth he desires–including his pregnant girlfriend.
Coma by Robin Cook. Going to the hospital for surgery has never been as risky as it is in this novel.
The Godfather by Mario Puzo. Perhaps one of the most famous crime novels, be sure to read this if you haven’t already.
Prizzi’s Honor by Richard Condon. Read this book to find out what happens when two Mafia assassins fall in love.
Gangster by Lorenzo Carcaterra. An orphan is taken in and groomed by a mob boss to eventually take over the business. Later in life, he is faced with the reality of a life chosen for him.
The First Rule by Robert Crais. Russian organized crime is at the heart of this second novel in the Joe Pike series.
Hot Springs by Stephen Hunter. Set in 1940s Arkansas, this story has the DA recruiting Earl Swagger to bring down the organized crime ring running the town.
The Last Don by Mario Puzo. Written 25 years after Puzo’s mega-hit The Godfather, The Last Don takes readers once again into the world of Mafia family business.
American Gangster by Max Allan Collins. In an unusual twist, this book was based on a movie instead of the other way around. Follow Frank Lucas as he works to take control of heroin distribution from the Mafia.
L.A. Times by Stuart Woods. Leaving the Mafia behind in New York, Vincente Michaele Callabrese changes his name, moves to LA, and makes in big in the movie industry–but just can’t leave the habits developed in his other life.
Vinnie’s Head. After accidentally fishing a head out of the river, a small-time criminal suddenly finds himself the target of the Mafia, bounty hunters, and the dead man’s girlfriend.
The Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight by Jimmy Breslin. This comedy portrays the Mafia in a less romantic view, but is as entertaining as the other versions.
Rain Gods: A Novel by James Lee Burke. Gang wars in South Texas are at the heart of this stunning novel.
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three by John Godey. Four men hijack a subway train in an effort to get $1 million in this suspenseful caper novel.
The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton. Read about the planning and execution of a train robbery in Victorian-era England.
The Asphalt Jungle by WR Burnett. One of the first crime caper novels, this one explores the planning and execution of a jewelry heist and the interplay between the ambitious gangsters.
The Hot Rock by Donald E Westlake. John Dortmunder is commissioned to steal a famed emerald, but the task proves more difficult than expected.
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