The Best Wartime Mystery Books, recommended by Caroline Crampton

The ‘golden age’ of detective fiction is usually considered to end suddenly with the outbreak of the Second World War. But many of the era’s leading novelists continued to write prolifically throughout, says Caroline Crampton, creator of the popular Shedunnit podcast. Here she selects five of the best wartime mysteries.

The Best Murder Mystery Books, recommended by Stuart Turton

The best murder mysteries set up their stories like a game between the reader and the writer, says Stuart Turton, bestselling author and lifelong mystery fan. Here he highlights five of his favourites, in which detectives make miraculous deductions, or doggedly chase clues until they meet with satisfying solutions.

Best Classic Japanese Mysteries, recommended by On Nomoto

Crime novels are hugely popular in Japan, but English translations of Japanese mysteries not always easy to come by. As Pushkin Vertigo publishes translations of two novels by Seishi Yokomizo, one of Japan’s most famous mystery writers, his grandson, On Nomoto, talks us through the best classic Japanese mysteries of the last century.

The Best Mystery Books, recommended by David Baldacci

The best mystery books are completely unputdownable and addictive, the entertainment they provide more portable than watching TV and so much more satisfying than looking at your phone. Bestselling author David Baldacci, one of the masters of the genre and a passionate advocate for literacy and reading, talks us through some of the best mystery books ever written—as well as the contemporary authors he most admires.

The Best Cosy Mysteries, recommended by M C Beaton

North Scotland is wonderful countryside, a marvellous setting for a murder. The wind just screams from horizon to horizon – it’s like living in a speeded-up nature film. You open up the kitchen door and catch a passing sheep…

The Best Agatha Christie Books, recommended by Mathew Prichard

Agatha Christie wrote some 80 mysteries and short story collections, nearly all designed to entertain and delight readers with their ingenious plot twists. Here, her only grandson, Mathew Prichard, who oversaw her literary estate for many decades, recommends books that give a good sense of the range of her work, from Miss Marple to Hercule Poirot to mysteries featuring neither, and including her best short story.  

The best books on Sherlock Holmes, recommended by Michael Dirda

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.

The Best Books by Wilkie Collins, recommended by Jason Hall

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.

The Best Edgar Allan Poe Books, recommended by Shawn Rosenheim

You can’t turn on a television or pass an airport bookstore without seeing the influence of America’s most generative writer, Edgar Allan Poe. He orginated true life crime and detective fiction, sci-fi and horror story tropes, and wrote unforgettable poems. Poe expert Shawn Rosenheim, a professor at Williams College, recommends where to start with Poe, as well as the best books about his influence.