35 Best Detective Fiction Thrillers

detective in the cover image | Best Detective Fiction Thrillers

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

The Hound of the Baskervilles | Best Detective Fiction Thrillers

Full Title: The Hound of the Baskervilles

Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Genre: Thriller

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

The Big Sleep | Best Detective Fiction Thrillers

Full Title: The Big Sleep

Author: Raymond Chandler

Genre: Thriller

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

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo | Best Detective Fiction Thrillers

Full Title: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Author: Stieg Larsson

Genre: Thriller

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

Still Life | Best Detective Fiction Thrillers

Full Title: Still Life

Author: Louise Penny

Genre: Thriller

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

The Name of the Rose | Best Detective Fiction Thrillers

Full Title: The Name of the Rose

Author: Umberto Eco

Genre: Thriller

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

The Maltese Falcon | Best Detective Fiction Thrillers

Full Title: The Maltese Falcon

Author: Dashiell Hammett

Genre: Thriller

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

The Silence of the Lambs | Best Detective Fiction Thrillers

Full Title: The Silence of the Lambs

Author: Thomas Harris

Genre: Thriller

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

The Neon Rain | Best Detective Fiction Thrillers

Full Title: The Neon Rain

Author: James Lee Burke

Genre: Thriller

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

Murder on the Orient Express | Best Detective Fiction Thrillers

Full Title: Murder on the Orient Express

Author: Agatha Christie

Genre: Thriller

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

In the Woods | Best Detective Fiction Thrillers

Full Title: In the Woods

Author: Tana French

Genre: Thriller

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

Date with Betrayal | Best Detective Fiction Thrillers

Full Title: Date with Betrayal

Author: Julia Chapman

Genre: Thriller

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

Altered Carbon | Best Detective Fiction Thrillers

Full Title: Altered Carbon

Author: Richard K. Morgan

Genre: Thriller

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?

Whose Body | Best Detective Fiction Thrillers

Full Title: Whose Body?

Author: Dorothy L. Sayers

Genre: Thriller

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

The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle | Best Detective Fiction Thrillers

Full Title: The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Author: Stuart Turton

Genre: Thriller

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

In Cold Blood | Best Detective Fiction Thrillers

Full Title: In Cold Blood

Author: Truman Capote

Genre: Thriller

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

Devil in a Blue Dress | Best Detective Fiction Thrillers

Full Title: Devil in a Blue Dress

Author: Walter Mosley

Genre: Thriller

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

Gone Girl | Best Detective Fiction Thrillers

Full Title: Gone Girl

Author: Gillian Flynn

Genre: Thriller

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

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time | Best Detective Fiction Thrillers

Full Title: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Author: Mark Haddon

Genre: Thriller

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

The Murders at Fleat House | Best Detective Fiction Thrillers

Full Title: The Murders at Fleat House

Author: Lucinda Riley

Genre: Thriller

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

The Bat | Best Detective Fiction Thrillers

Full Title: The Bat

Author: Jo Nesbø

Genre: Thriller

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

The Forest of Stolen Girls

Full Title: The Forest of Stolen Girls

Author: June Hur

Genre: Thriller

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.

22. IQ


Full Title: IQ

Author: Joe Ide

Genre: Thriller

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

Anatomy of a Murder

Full Title: Anatomy of a Murder

Author: Robert Traver

Genre: Thriller

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

A is for Alib

Full Title: A is for Alibi

Author: Sue Grafton

Genre: Thriller

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

One by One

Full Title: One by One

Author: Ruth Ware

Genre: Thriller

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

Picture You Dead

Full Title: Picture You Dead

Author: Peter James

Genre: Thriller

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

Killing Floor

Full Title: Killing Floor

Author: Lee Child

Genre: Thriller

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

Shutter Island

Full Title: Shutter Island

Author: Dennis Lehane

Genre: Thriller

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

The Rising Tide

Full Title: The Rising Tide

Author: Ann Cleeves

Genre: Thriller

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.

30. Pleasantville


Full Title: Pleasantville

Author: Attica Locke

Genre: Thriller

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

The Guest List

Full Title: The Guest List

Author: Lucy Foley

Genre: Thriller

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

The Eyre Affair

Full Title: The Eyre Affair

Author: Jasper Fforde

Genre: Thriller

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

Dirt Town

Full Title: Dirt Town

Author: Hayley Scrivenor

Genre: Thriller

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

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Full Title: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Author: Alexander McCall Smith

Genre: Thriller

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

Motherless Brooklyn

Full Title: Motherless Brooklyn

Author: Jonathan Lethem

Genre: Thriller

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.

Final Words

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.

Feel free to check out more book recommendations:

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