Detective fiction is a particularly intriguing subgenre. As you go through a riddle with the detective, you’ll get to explore your curiosity and gradually solve a mystery until you discover the truth. It’s challenging to compile a list of top detective novels because there are so many great ones, but here, we’ve tried to determine 35 best detection fiction thrillers that have established the crime fiction subgenre.
Although some people may think the crime fiction genre is undervalued, the allure of a book about a sadistic killer, a serial killer, or other terrible villains can prove to be an intoxicating delight. Nothing keeps you flipping pages into the wee hours of the morning like a good mystery fiction book.
We have everything you need, whether you’re looking for a delicate detective narrative, a cozy crime series, historical crime fiction, or grim real-life cases that will make your heart race. The best mystery/detective books are perplexing because the plots need you to piece together psychological thrills from reality before you sleep.
Excited, aren’t we? Don’t worry. Keep scrolling down to get to know about some amazing books.
35 Must Read Best Detective Fiction Thrillers
1. The Hound of the Baskervilles
Full Title: The Hound of the Baskervilles
Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Publishing Year: 1902
Holmes is asked to look into his friend Charles Baskerville’s passing in The Hound of the Baskervilles. A ghostly hound is said to stalk the moors of the Baskerville estate. But is the murderer a real supernatural being or just a regular person with a terrible plan? The amazing red herrings and intriguing clues in this classic detective mystery test Holmes’ excellent deductive abilities.
2. The Big Sleep
Full Title: The Big Sleep
Author: Raymond Chandler
Publishing Year: 1939
An affluent young woman is being blackmailed, and private eye Philip Marlowe is trying to find out who is doing it. He starts a risky inquiry that involves kidnapping, seduction, murder, and other things. The characters in The Big Sleep, a wonderfully atmospheric crime book, are nuanced, even when they adhere to established stereotypes.
3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Full Title: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Author: Stieg Larsson
Publishing Year: 2005
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a Swedish crime book translated into English in 2008, is currently a global success. Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist, and Lisbeth Salander, a punk hacker, work together to unravel a bizarre mystery. Their research reveals a network of injustice and corruption.
The book is a fierce tale of retribution, a suspenseful mystery, and one of the most well-liked crime books released in recent years. It is the first volume in Larsson’s “Millennium” trilogy, which was completed after he passed.
4. Still Life
Full Title: Still Life
Author: Louise Penny
Publishing Year: 2015
In the sleepy Canadian village of Three Pines over the holiday weekend, a dead woman has been found in the woods. The Sûreté du Québec’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache arrives on the scene to investigate the motive behind the murder in this tranquil village.
A traditional cozy mystery, Still life explores family, honesty, and home themes. The Chief Inspector Gamache series, which comprises 20 books, begins with this book.
5. The Name of the Rose
Full Title: The Name of the Rose
Author: Umberto Eco
Publishing Year: 1980
It is the year 1327. The location is a Benedictine monastery in Northern Italy. In this abbey, strange things are happening. With the help of his sarcastic wit and a sharp mind, Friar William of Baskerville must ascertain who is responsible for the strange deaths of seven monks.
One of the most famous mysteries ever written was this historical mystery, which William Weaver translated from Italian to English.
6. The Maltese Falcon
Full Title: The Maltese Falcon
Author: Dashiell Hammett
Publishing Year: 1930
A classic of the detective fiction genre is The Maltese Falcon. Sam Spade is a tough-guy private investigator with a unique sense of honor and ethics. Many detective stories, including the following one on our list, The Big Sleep, were influenced by this book.
This book’s superb writing by Hammett is one of its standout features. With no mention of any character’s inner thoughts or feelings, the story is portrayed exclusively from an exterior third-person point of view, which brilliantly and uniquely conveys this enigma.
7. The Silence of the Lambs
Full Title: The Silence of the Lambs
Author: Thomas Harris
Publishing Year: 1988
Young FBI agent Clarice Starling is looking for Buffalo Bill, a serial killer. She goes to a psychiatric hospital to ask a cannibalistic serial killer named Hannibal Lecter for assistance in comprehending the psychology behind the murder.
The mystery becomes stranger and more horrifying as Starling pursues her inquiry. Red Dragon was the first novel in the Hannibal Lecter series, which started with this in 1981, but you don’t need to have read that one to enjoy this one entirely.
8. The Neon Rain
Full Title: The Neon Rain
Author: James Lee Burke
Publishing Year: 1987
Dave Robicheaux, a police lieutenant and sober individual comes across the body of a young prostitute floating in the water while fishing in the New Orleans swamp. In addition to facing his issues while looking for her killer, Robicheaux uncovers a shadowy underworld of ruthless criminals and corrupt police officers.
The first book of the Dave Robicheaux series, which consists of 23 books, is The Neon Rain.
9. Murder on the Orient Express
Full Title: Murder on the Orient Express
Author: Agatha Christie
Publishing Year: 1934
A snowdrift stalls the Orient Express on a dark winter night. One of the travelers, a wealthy American tycoon, is discovered dead in his compartment the following morning with twelve stab wounds. Hercule Poirot, a renowned Belgian investigator, begins his investigation and learns that other people on the train are interested in the murder.
But who was responsible for Samuel Ratchett’s death? This well-known mystery has captured readers’ attention for almost a century and has already been made into four different motion pictures.
10. In the Woods
Full Title: In the Woods
Author: Tana French
Publishing Year: 2007
Three kids go to play in the woods in a little Dublin town in the summer of 1984, but they never come home. Only one of the three kids is discovered alive, his sneakers covered in blood, and he cannot recall what happened to the other two. The survivor grew up and joined the Dublin murder squad as a detective years later. He must solve a second murder while battling his trauma in these same woods.
This book is an exciting and personal story.
11. Date With Betrayal
Full Title: Date with Betrayal
Author: Julia Chapman
Publishing Year: 2022
When a London hitman targets Samson O’Brien, owner of the Dales Detective Agency, things are not as they appear in the stunning Yorkshire Dales. Delilah Metcalfe tries to solicit favors from the locals to protect O’Brien. They require persuasion, though, as they vividly recollect the local problems O’Brien has caused.
This novel is the sixth book in Julia Chapman’s Dales Detective series, and in the meantime, the danger is getting closer and closer.
12. Altered Carbon
Full Title: Altered Carbon
Author: Richard K. Morgan
Publishing Year: 2002
Altered Carbon is a terrific illustration of how some of the best detective stories span genres. In the 25th century, when technology has made immortality a possibility, this cyberpunk science fiction book is set. When their old body breaks down, the wealthy can “sleeve” their minds into a new body.
A rich guy whose last sleeve was murdered is found dead, and Takeshi Kovacs is recruited to find the killer. While looking into the murder, Kovacs comes upon a bizarre and evil conspiracy.
13. Whose Body?
Full Title: Whose Body?
Author: Dorothy L. Sayers
Publishing Year: 1923
One morning, a guy enters his bathroom to see a naked body in the bathtub that is only wearing a pair of pince-nez spectacles. Lord Peter Wimsey, a nobleman who dabbles in criminal investigation, decides to identify the body and its killer. The first Lord Peter Wimsey book is titled Whose Body? The plot and the characters are brilliant, funny, and endearing.
14. The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Full Title: The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Author: Stuart Turton
Publishing Year: 2018
At 11 P.m., Evelyn Hardcastle is killed at a party. Every morning, on the anniversary of Evelyn’s passing, Aiden Bishop awakens in a different partygoer’s body. Bishop needs to figure out why he is caught in a time loop in addition to learning who killed Evelyn Hardcastle. In the locked-room murder mystery, The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, eight characters are the same individual at various points in the story.
This book is an original take on crime fiction that has been likened to a cross between Agatha Christie and Groundhog Day.
15. In Cold Blood
Full Title: In Cold Blood
Author: Truman Capote
Publishing Year: 1994
Four members of the Clutter family were brutally killed on November 15th, 1959. The murderer left almost no traces for the police in determining how or why this occurred. The non-fiction book by Truman Capote, In Cold Blood, is based on an actual incident. Despite knowing the murderer from the start, the reader is still gripped by the mystery’s tension.
To create this masterpiece of true-crime fiction, Capote blends his expertise as a journalist and his creative abilities.
16. Devil in a Blue Dress
Full Title: Devil in a Blue Dress
Author: Walter Mosley
Publishing Year: 1990
In the late 1940s, African-American WWII veteran Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins resided in Los Angeles. He is compelled to take a job seeking a missing young white woman who enjoys frequenting jazz bars after being fired from his construction job. He must face the racial inequities of the era while maintaining his dignity as he is sucked into a complicated web of deception.
The Easy Rawlins series, which consists of 15 mystery novels, begins with Devil in a Blue Dress. This thrilling noir book is an excellent masterpiece of the crime-fiction genre.
17. Gone Girl
Full Title: Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Publishing Year: 2012
Until Amy vanishes, Nick and Amy Dunne seem to be a contented married pair. The moment they find Amy’s diary, which depicts a more disturbing image of their marriage, the police start to suspect Nick. But as Nick rapidly learns, not everything is as it seems since he has a lot to learn about his wife.
The magnificent solo book Gone Girl features an unreliable narrator and an intriguing succession of story turns.
18. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Full Title: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Author: Mark Haddon
Publishing Year: 2003
Someone poked the neighboring dog with a pitchfork. A fifteen-year-old teenager with Asperger’s syndrome named Christopher John Francis Boone accidentally finds the crime site and decides to find out who could have committed such a terrible act. This murder mystery is an excellent illustration of how not all murder mysteries need to be grim.
This story has family and friendship-related topics and is endearing, fascinating, and moving.
19. The Murders at Fleat House
Full Title: The Murders at Fleat House
Author: Lucinda Riley
Publishing Year: 2022
The unexpected death of a student at Fleat House at St. Stephen’s, a small private boarding school in rural Norfolk, is a disturbing incident that the headmaster is eager to characterize as a tragic accident. The case inspires high-flying Detective Inspector Jazmine “Jazz” Hunter to return to the force because the neighborhood police cannot rule out foul play.
Jazz starts looking into Charlie Cavendish’s unfortunate death. Still, things quickly take a dangerous turn as Charlie is revealed to be an arrogant bully, giving everyone around him a reason to swap his medications daily to control his epilepsy. Jazz receives crucial leads from the death of an elderly Classics teacher, the abduction of a second young student, and the tightening of staff ranks at the school.
Still, she must face her demons when snow covers the ground and another suspect goes missing.
20. The Bat
Full Title: The Bat
Author: Jo Nesbø
Publishing Year: 1997
Inspector Harry Hole from the Oslo Crime Squad offers to assist in the investigation of the passing of a young Norwegian woman in Sydney. He learns this murder is just the most recent in a long line of horrific killings. Hole and his squad need to apprehend the serial killer stalking Australia.
The Bat is a thriller with serious peril and intriguing hints. It served as the first book in the 12-volume Harry Hole series.
21. The Forest of Stolen Girls
Full Title: The Forest of Stolen Girls
Author: June Hur
Publishing Year: 2021
In Joseon, Korea, in 1426, thirteen girls vanished. A young woman named Hwang is particularly interested in finding the answer to this case because she and her sister were kidnapped as youngsters in identical circumstances. Both of them have trouble recalling how they were saved or who kidnapped them, but Hwani is determined to uncover the truth.
The Forest of Stolen Girls is an exquisitely atmospheric historical mystery book featuring themes of siblinghood and family and original forensic techniques.
Full Title: IQ
Author: Joe Ide
Publishing Year: 2016
High school dropout Isaiah Quintabe, commonly known as IQ, is far brighter than you may anticipate. In exchange for whatever his community can pay, IQ takes on the crimes that the LAPD refuses to investigate. IQ isn’t well-off, famous, or professionally trained. He is limited in using his deduction skills.
IQ is the first novel in a five-volume series about an unconventional detective who cracks cases for the underdogs.
23. Anatomy of a Murder
Full Title: Anatomy of a Murder
Author: Robert Traver
Publishing Year: 1958
Since readers are aware of the killer from the start, this book is more of a courtroom drama than a murder mystery. Yet, it has earned a spot in our list of the greatest crime novels ever thanks to its brilliant portrayal of an intriguing crime. The book centers on defense attorney Paul Biegler, whose client is wrongfully charged with the murder of a nearby innkeeper.
Biegler must gather enough proof throughout the trial to persuade the district attorney to release his client. John D. Voelker, a justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, wrote this work under the alias Robert Traver.
It draws inspiration from actual incidents and how the legal system functions in the real world.
24. A is for Alibi
Full Title: A is for Alibi
Author: Sue Grafton
Publishing Year: 1982
Nikki Fife recently served time for killing her husband and pays a visit to Kinsey Millhone, a private investigator in Santa Teresa. Fife insists she didn’t commit the crime and urges Millhone to track down the natural killer so her husband can receive justice. As Millhone pursues the hints to Las Vegas, she disentangles a secretive network.
The first novel in Sue Grafton’s “Alphabet” series, which spans 25 books from A to Y, is A Is for Alibi.
25. One by One
Full Title: One by One
Author: Ruth Ware
Publishing Year: 2020
A stunning mountain cabin serves as the setting for a corporate employee retreat. The eight coworkers anticipate a few days of skiing and hot cocoa when they become snowed in. But then they begin to pass away. They must each determine who they can trust. This detective story by Ruth Ware, a talented author, has a lovely setting and a fantastic twist.
26. Picture You Dead
Full Title: Picture You Dead
Author: Peter James
Publishing Year: 2022
Harry and Freya are a regular couple who, up until that point, had only dreamed of discovering a gem at a car boot sale. They find a beautiful landscape that may be a long-lost masterwork from 1770 worth millions of dollars underneath the dull image they paid a few pounds for. One collector is adamant that it is authentic and will do anything to obtain his goal.
27. Killing Floor
Full Title: Killing Floor
Author: Lee Child
Publishing Year: 1997
Former police officer Jack Reacher is detained for a murder he didn’t commit while passing through Georgia. Reacher needs to identify the true culprit of the mystery to demonstrate his innocence of the crime. The first novel in the 26-part Jack Reacher series, Killing Floor, has sold more than 100 million copies globally.
28. Shutter Island
Full Title: Shutter Island
Author: Dennis Lehane
Publishing Year: 2003
On a distant island stands the Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane. US Marshal Edward “Teddy” Daniels is called to the island to investigate the disappearance of a female hospital patient. Daniels begins to uncover odd hints as he spends more time in Ashecliffe Hospital, leading him to doubt what is true.
Dennis Lehane creates a spooky, unsettling read by fusing Gothic horror and pulp fiction. In 2010, Leonardo DiCaprio starred in the critically acclaimed cinematic adaptation of the book Shutter Island.
29. The Rising Tide
Full Title: The Rising Tide
Author: Ann Cleeves
Publishing Year: 2021
A group of adolescents who spent a weekend on Holy Island fifty years ago developed a friendship that would last a lifetime. They still go back every five years to commemorate a friend they once lost to the causeway’s rising floods and to celebrate their friendship. However, Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope is called in after one of them is discovered hanging.
Vera believes she needs to find out what the buddies are hiding after learning that the dead man had just been sacked due to charges of misconduct.
Full Title: Pleasantville
Author: Attica Locke
Publishing Year: 2015
A teenage girl vanishes on election night in 1996 in Pleasantville, a neighborhood on Houston’s north side comprised of African Americans. The individual detained in connection with her abduction must have a defense lawyer, and that lawyer is a man by the name of Jay Porter, battling issues in his personal life.
The case involves well-known contenders for office and reveals the murkier side of authority. A gripping legal thriller, Pleasantville deals with racial injustices and underhanded politics.
31. The Guest List
Full Title: The Guest List
Author: Lucy Foley
Publishing Year: 2020
On a distant Irish island, a wedding takes place. The only drawback is that many wedding guests want the groom to die. The Guest List is a great puzzle with unique clues recounted from the perspectives of many wedding guests and staff members.
32. The Eyre Affair
Full Title: The Eyre Affair
Author: Jasper Fforde
Publishing Year: 2001
People commit crimes considerably different from those we are accustomed to in an alternate reality where literature is valued highly and time travel is commonplace. Thursday Next works for Special Operations in England’s Literary Detective Division.
As she investigates the theft of a first-edition Charles Dickens book, she learns about a far more comprehensive range of mysteries. The Eyre Affair mixes the most suitable time travel clichés with the hard-boiled detective subgenre.
33. Dirt Town
Full Title: Dirt Town
Author: Hayley Scrivenor
Publishing Year: 2022
Detective Sergeant Sarah Michaels begins her investigation of the disappearance of 12-year-old Esther Bianchi from her home in the small rural Australian town of Durton. For Esther’s mother, Constance, this is the worst thing that could happen. But as the investigation continues, things get worse still. Esther’s best friend Ronnie is doing her investigation. Who is the strange man Esther was seen with at the creek? And why are witnesses refusing to speak to the police?
34. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
Full Title: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
Author: Alexander McCall Smith
Publishing Year: 1998
Precious Ramotswe uses the money she received from her father to launch a detective service. She now holds the title of Botswana’s top and sole female detective. Precious takes on the difficult case to find an eleven-year-old boy who has gone missing and may have been abducted by witch doctors.
This book is the first series of 22 mystery books with the same name. Mma Ramotswe solves cases for grieving husbands, bereaved school instructors, dishonest twin brothers, and even herself throughout the series. Loveable characters and subtle wisdom abound throughout the series.
35. Motherless Brooklyn
Full Title: Motherless Brooklyn
Author: Jonathan Lethem
Publishing Year: 1999
Tourette’s syndrome-afflicted Lionel Essrog is an orphan who experiences frightening tics. He works as a driver and detective for a small-time mobster in Brooklyn. Essrog is forced to conduct his own inquiry after his gangster boss is killed.
The novel Motherless Brooklyn is smart and distinctive. It received the Gold Dagger from the Crime Writers Association and the National Book Award.
These books are literal gems, I’m sure you wouldn’t deny this after reading these. There aren’t many things better than curling up with a good book, and a thriller is the best kind for keeping you up late reading. The best thrillers and crime books are action-packed, suspenseful, and have satisfying conclusions.
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