Looking for the best crime books ever written? Look no further. We've searched far and wide to make reading lists of the best classic thrillers, along with old crime novel favourites like the best Sherlock Holmes books and the best of Wilkie Collins.
We also have country-specific recommendations, including the best Italian crime fiction, the best Australian crime and the best Norwegian crime writing. Don't know quite what you're looking for? That's fine, too: there are expert interviews recommending the best human drama books, and the best whodunnits. Our experts include many of the best crime novelists writing today, including Simon Brett, Lucy Atkins, Michael Dirda, Massimo Carlotto and even leading academics who study crime novels like Jason Hall.
We have a separate section for those of you looking for the best true crime books.
If you’re looking for escapism, crime novels can be a good way to go. Which is strange, given that nearly all of them revolve around murder. Sophie Roell, editor of Five Books and an avid consumer of the genre, picks her personal favourites published in 2020.
Australian crime fiction—sometimes dubbed ‘Outback Noir’—is enjoying a boom, and its authors are rapturously received overseas. Emma Viskic, the award-winning crime writer, selects five of the best crime novels by her compatriots: outstanding books that blur the line between ‘literary’ and ‘genre’ fiction.
It’s been a great year for crime fiction – with soaring sales and global bestsellers emerging from writers all over the world. Crime writing is rightly in the ascendancy, says the celebrated Scottish novelist Val McDermid as she selects the best crime fiction of 2019: five books that stand as great novels in their own right.
Journalists are no longer able to properly investigate organised crime in modern Italy — leaving it to crime fiction writers to pick up the slack, says the acclaimed Italian novelist, Massimo Carlotto. Here he chooses five noir novels that explore the reality of Italian corruption in highly original ways.
Wilkie Collins, the sensationalist author and inventor of the detective novel, knew precisely how to “make ’em laugh, make ’em cry, make ’em wait”. Jason Hall, Victorian literature expert and editor of a new edition of Jezebel’s Daughter, chooses the five best books from Collins’s extensive oeuvre – and considers the voracious appetites and unorthodox lifestyle of this intriguing Englishman.
Arthur Conan Doyle wrote 56 short stories and four novels starring his fictional sleuth. Michael Dirda – Pulitzer Prize-winning critic, writer and lifelong Sherlockian – gives us his personal choice of the best Sherlock Holmes books and tells us more about their creator.