writers The Best Crime Authors  

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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!


list ordered by

1
1,004 192
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
784 152
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
424 92
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
386 84
Raymond Chandler is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Raymond Chandler Double Indemnity, Strangers on a Train, The Big Sleep

5
680 158
Michael Connelly is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Michael Connelly A Darkness More Than Night, The Black Ice, The Black Echo

6
264 82
Dashiell Hammett is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Dashiell Hammett The Maltese Falcon, Red Harvest, Watch on the Rhine

7
397 210
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
260 94
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
205 65
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
293 128
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
159 58
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
224 69
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
180 82
Robert B. Parker is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Robert B. Parker Poodle Springs, Jesse Stone: Thin Ice, Promised Land

14
175 52
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

Writers Who Killed People

15
224 61
Dennis Lehane is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Dennis Lehane Shutter Island, Gone, Baby

16
263 65
Lee Child is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Crime Authors
AndrewSutherland added Lee Child Gone Tomorrow, Bad Luck and Trouble, Without Fail

17
189 45
P. D. James is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Crime Authors
P. D. James The Children of Men, Cover Her Face, The Private Patient

18
244 96
Harlan Coben is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Harlan Coben Hold Tight, Tell No One, Miracle Cure

19
195 57
Robert Crais is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Robert Crais Cross of Fire, L.A. Requiem, Hostage

20
288 213
James Patterson is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Crime Authors
James Patterson Kiss the Girls, Violets Are Blue, 7th Heaven

21
158 51
Jeffery Deaver is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Jeffery Deaver The Bone Collector, The Empty Chair, The Cold Moon

The All-Time Greatest Horror Writers

22
189 63
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
103 53
Erle Stanley Gardner is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Erle Stanley Gardner The case of the gilded lily, Top of the Heap, Gold Comes in Bricks

24
192 78
Stephen King is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Stephen King Pet Sematary, Creepshow, Salem's Lot

25
133 54
Lawrence Block is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Lawrence Block The Funhouse, My Blueberry Nights, The Eyes Still Have It

26
143 28
Jo Nesbø is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Jo Nesbø Jackpot, The Redbreast, Nemesis

27
153 41
James Ellroy is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Crime Authors
James Ellroy Street Kings, The Black Dahlia, L.A. Confidential

28
208 114
Patricia Cornwell is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Patricia Cornwell Cause of Death, Unnatural Exposure, Blow Fly

Writers or Filmmakers Who Were Murdered as a Direct Result of Their Art

29
143 50
Dorothy L. Sayers is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Dorothy L. Sayers The Nine Tailors, Murder Must Advertise, Gaudy Night

30
84 42
Mickey Spillane is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Mickey Spillane I, the Jury, The Long Wait

31
220 40
Ian Rankin is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Ian Rankin Let it Bleed, Dead Souls, Fleshmarket Close

32
132 46
Ruth Rendell is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Ruth Rendell A Dark-Adapted Eye, To Fear a Painted Devil, A Judgement in Stone

33
135 42
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
122 48
Rex Stout is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Rex Stout A Right to Die, The Mother Hunt, Mountain Cat

35
124 33
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

The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written

36
214 48
John Sandford is listed (or ranked) 36 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

37
70 22
Sue Grafton is listed (or ranked) 37 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

38
100 41
Jim Thompson is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Jim Thompson Paths of Glory, The Killing, The Killer Inside Me

39
108 37
Thomas Harris is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Thomas Harris Hannibal Rising, The Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon

40
111 55
Kathy Reichs is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Kathy Reichs Bare bones, Cross bones, Bones to Ashes

41
133 42
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
102 28
Ed Mcbain is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Ed Mcbain

The Greatest Crime Movies Ever Made

43
130 59
Jonathan Kellerman is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Jonathan Kellerman The Murder Book, Gone, Savage spawn

44
96 37
Michael Crichton is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Crime Authors
BillUnderwood added Michael Crichton Jurassic Park, Twister, Westworld

45
82 31
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
95 46
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 39
Joseph Wambaugh is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Joseph Wambaugh The Onion Field, The Choirboys, The Black Marble

48
71 37
John Dickson Carr is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Crime Authors
John Dickson Carr The Hollow Man, The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes, The Black Spectacles

49
84 45
Dick Francis is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Dick Francis Dead Cert, Under Orders, A jockey's life

50
111 48
Tess Gerritsen is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Crime Authors
Tess Gerritsen The Apprentice, Harvest, The Surgeon