Writers The Best Crime Authors  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
21.1k votes 4.2k voters 220.1k views 191 items

List Rules Crime writers, including any sub-genre of crime fiction including detective, mystery or hard-boiled

Best crime authors include classic mystery authors like the brilliant Agatha Christie to detective authors like Robert B. Parker, Robert Crais, and pulp crime fiction authors like Jim Thompson. Assembling a comprehensive list of the most popular crime writers is a daunting task, but I'm taking a leap and giving it a shot. Be sure to vote for your favorite crime authors and if your personal favorite isn't on the list, at them!

Some of the best crime authors are able to combine just the right formula of psychological tension and mystery with cold, hard facts. The best crime novels offer up enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing until the very end. In a world where readers often demand instant gratification, keeping a crime book interesting until the final page is turned isn't an easy task to accomplish.

Famous crime authors I've included on this list include writers who've managed to churn out incredibly complex, entertaining mystery novels and detective books for decades, including Robert B. Parker, John le Carre and Graham Greene. Other, more contemporary crime and mystery writers have developed tremendously popular characters that readers eagerly follow through several novels (examples, you say? Jonathan Kellerman, Patricia Cornwell and Dennis Lehane come to mind immediately). Some of the best crime authors burned brightly, but didn't actually write more than a handful of brilliant crime fiction ('The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' author Steig Larsson, for instance). The number of actual novels produced doesn't always count - it's the quality of those books that make all the difference!

If you're a crime novel fan, chances are you've read most, if not all, of the top crime authors on this list. If you're just getting into the genre, hopefully this list will provide a great guide. Happy reading!


1
1,179 243
Agatha Christie is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Agatha Christie The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, The Mirror Crack'd, Evil Under the Sun

2
911 186
Arthur Conan Doyle is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Arthur Conan Doyle The Lost World, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of the Baskervilles

3
516 115
Edgar Allan Poe is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Edgar Allan Poe The Raven, Annabel Lee, The Fall of the House of Usher

4
313 90
Dashiell Hammett is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Dashiell Hammett The Maltese Falcon, Red Harvest, Watch on the Rhine

5
445 99
Raymond Chandler is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Raymond Chandler Double Indemnity, Strangers on a Train, The Big Sleep

6
762 186
Michael Connelly is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Michael Connelly A Darkness More Than Night, The Black Ice, The Black Echo

7
461 254
John Grisham is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Crime Authors
John Grisham The Firm, A Time to Kill, The Firm

8
304 124
Elmore Leonard is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Elmore Leonard 3:10 to Yuma, Joe Kidd, The Tall T

9
235 74
John le Carré is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Crime Authors
John le Carré The Tailor of Panama, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

10
328 138
Stieg Larsson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Stieg Larsson The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, The Girl Who Played with Fire

11
185 68
John D. MacDonald is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Crime Authors
John D. MacDonald Bright orange for the shroud, The Quick Red Fox, Isaac Asimov Presents

12
259 77
James Lee Burke is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Crime Authors
James Lee Burke Black Cherry Blues, Cimarron Rose, Cadillac Jukebox

13
216 52
P. D. James is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Crime Authors
P. D. James The Children of Men, Cover Her Face, The Private Patient

14
196 60
Graham Greene is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Graham Greene The Third Man, The Fallen Idol, The Power and the Glory

15
251 70
Dennis Lehane is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Dennis Lehane Shutter Island, Gone, Baby

16
202 96
Robert B. Parker is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Robert B. Parker Poodle Springs, Jesse Stone: Thin Ice, Promised Land

17
295 77
Lee Child is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Crime Authors
AndrewSutherland added Lee Child Gone Tomorrow, Bad Luck and Trouble, Without Fail

18
269 105
Harlan Coben is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Harlan Coben Hold Tight, Tell No One, Miracle Cure

19
331 240
James Patterson is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Crime Authors
James Patterson Kiss the Girls, Violets Are Blue, 7th Heaven

20
121 59
Erle Stanley Gardner is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Erle Stanley Gardner The case of the gilded lily, Top of the Heap, Gold Comes in Bricks

21
249 103
Stephen King is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Stephen King Pet Sematary, Creepshow, Salem's Lot

22
219 73
David Baldacci is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Crime Authors
David Baldacci The Christmas Train, Last Man Standing, Wish You Well

23
213 69
Robert Crais is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Robert Crais Cross of Fire, L.A. Requiem, Hostage

24
176 44
James Ellroy is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Crime Authors
James Ellroy Street Kings, The Black Dahlia, L.A. Confidential

25
171 36
Jo Nesbø is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Jo Nesbø Jackpot, The Redbreast, Nemesis

26
163 55
Dorothy L. Sayers is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Dorothy L. Sayers The Nine Tailors, Murder Must Advertise, Gaudy Night

27
98 48
Mickey Spillane is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Mickey Spillane I, the Jury, The Long Wait

28
243 42
Ian Rankin is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Ian Rankin Let it Bleed, Dead Souls, Fleshmarket Close

29
236 129
Patricia Cornwell is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Patricia Cornwell Cause of Death, Unnatural Exposure, Blow Fly

30
144 59
Lawrence Block is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Lawrence Block The Funhouse, My Blueberry Nights, The Eyes Still Have It

31
140 50
Rex Stout is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Rex Stout A Right to Die, The Mother Hunt, Mountain Cat

32
173 64
Jeffery Deaver is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Jeffery Deaver The Bone Collector, The Empty Chair, The Cold Moon

33
153 45
Ross Macdonald is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Ross Macdonald Sleeping Beauty: A Lew Archer Novel, The Way Some People Die, The Drowning Pool

34
147 52
Ruth Rendell is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Ruth Rendell A Dark-Adapted Eye, To Fear a Painted Devil, A Judgement in Stone

35
135 37
Daphne du Maurier is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Daphne du Maurier Rebecca, Mary Anne, The Birds II: Land's End

36
86 26
Sue Grafton is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Robert Pinolehto added Sue Grafton Agatha Christie Classic Mystery Collection: A Caribbean Mystery, "F" Is for Fugitive, "E" Is for Evidence

37
240 55
John Sandford is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Crime Authors
John Sandford The sword and the ploughshare, Bellringing, The Eye and the Heart: Watercolors of John Stuart Ingle

38
126 39
Thomas Harris is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Thomas Harris Hannibal Rising, The Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon

39
124 58
Kathy Reichs is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Kathy Reichs Bare bones, Cross bones, Bones to Ashes

40
111 46
Jim Thompson is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Jim Thompson Paths of Glory, The Killing, The Killer Inside Me

41
150 46
Henning Mankell is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Henning Mankell The Dogs of Riga, Before the Frost, The Return of the Dancing Master

42
113 33
Ed Mcbain is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Ed Mcbain

43
147 67
Jonathan Kellerman is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Jonathan Kellerman The Murder Book, Gone, Savage spawn

44
114 48
Michael Crichton is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Crime Authors
BillUnderwood added Michael Crichton Jurassic Park, Twister, Westworld

45
92 35
Tony Hillerman is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Tony Hillerman Dance Hall of the Dead, Listening Woman, Finding Moon

46
105 50
Elizabeth George is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Elizabeth George In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner, Deception On His Mind, Well-Schooled in Murder

47
79 40
John Dickson Carr is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Crime Authors
John Dickson Carr The Hollow Man, The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes, The Black Spectacles

48
86 43
Joseph Wambaugh is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Joseph Wambaugh The Onion Field, The Choirboys, The Black Marble

49
127 54
Tess Gerritsen is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Tess Gerritsen The Apprentice, Harvest, The Surgeon

50
93 49
Dick Francis is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Dick Francis Dead Cert, Under Orders, A jockey's life