We’re sure that there are plenty of other “best detective novels” lists in existence (well, of course we know there are because we look at them, too), yet each one is so unique. That’s because each reader is unique.
What we like, you might hate. What you like, we might hate.
Some of us are literature pros and snobs, some of us have a Masters in English and some of us are English teachers, some of us want more romance and some of us want more blood and guts. We all want different things when we read a book
As you approach our list, remember to be open-minded. We’ve tried to spice it up a bit by including a mixture of titles and authors. Enjoy! Hopefully you haven’t read all of them yet.
Putting ourselves in a neutral position, we approached the crime and detective novel selection process by thinking about the books from both sides: as if we were first-time crime novel readers and as experienced crime novel readers.
Here are the suggestions we came up with:
Stand-Alone or Series. There are plenty of excellent detective books out there, and then there are plenty of excellent detective book series. Which do you prefer?
Sometimes the stand-alone books leave you feeling disappointed because you know that there won’t be a continuation of the story. Sometimes authors will write a sequel years later or decide to elaborate on everything with an entire series. You never know!
Era. Do you have a particular time period that you would like the book to be set in? Some books don’t specify, but others tell you specifics so that you’re set up for the entire novel.
We love the 1930’s mobster books, for example, but we try to mix it up with a few other decades so that we don’t get bored. We suggest you do the same!
Character or Writer. While many of you may be searching for a book whose main character is a detective, what about opting for a book written by a detective?
Many great detective novels are written by detectives, but others are written by authors who rely on a lot of research in order to write from a detective’s point of view.
If you want something written by an actual detective, check out People Who Eat Darkness or The Maltese Falcon (both on our list).
We shared some tips above that will help you choose a book and now we’d like to highlight what we consider to be the three best detective novels that we’ve read.
There are thousands and thousands of books out there, but we only have room for 10 on our list.
If you’ve already read the books below, you don’t care for the authors or they just don’t sound very appealing to you, we have seven other books above that you can check out. True Detective was a good one. Mobsters! Chicago! The Great Depression!
In case you didn’t know, it was written by the same author as Road to Perdition, which just happens to be an excellent movie that stars Tom Hanks.
As fans of Louise Penny (just like many of you out there), she had to top our list with How The Light Gets In.
This is book number 9 in the inspector Armand Gamache series and definitely our favorite of all of them (there are 12). We just love Louise’s detailed descriptions of places and people, her ability to flawlessly tie together a large number of characters and plots, and she’s a fun writer to follow along with on social media. You’ll gain a lot of insight into her daily life and interests.
We must admit that if you haven’t read the other books, this one can be confusing, so if we’ve succeeded in doing anything today it is convincing you to pick up book number one as soon as possible and start reading so you can work your way up to this one.
The Night Stalker is volume 2 of the detective Erika Foster novels and we definitely feel it should be on your “must read” list. That is, if you’ve already read volume 1, The Girl in the Ice.
If you like getting goosebumps and staying up way too late even though your alarm is set for 5:00 a.m., then we know you’ll like this. It is well written, well edited and it is clear that Robert Bryndza has done his research. His descriptions of a psychopath killer are creepily accurate. We also love the main character, Erika, and that we begin to get a more detailed picture of her past.
Should you read it? Yes. But make sure you read The Girl in the Ice first!
Mac McRyan is the main character in this thriller by Roger Stelljes. This is book number two (technically number three) in a series of five books.
This is definitely a page-turner. It grabs you right from the get-go and is pretty fast paced. He provides the reader with very (very) detailed descriptions, which some find to be extremely helpful so they can picture everything in their mind, but some of you might prefer a more to-the-point approach without all the fluff. Preferences!
One thing to check on is when your version was printed. Earlier copies had a major amount of typos that were very distracting.
Newer versions have been edited, so hopefully you’ll get your hands on a clean copy!