Crime, thrill, suspense and murder anyone? Crime fiction is that genre which deals with the theme of crime and investigation. It can be related to detectives, police officers finding evidence and proof to uncover the great mystery surrounding a person’s death in the novel.
The earliest example of a crime story can be found in One Thousand And One Nights, wherein there’s a story “The Three Apples”. Two other stories also have detective fiction elements. In the modern sense, the earliest example is E.T.A. Hoffman’s novella, Mademoiselle de Scudéri.
Crime novels have complex events and scenarios revolving around a death and lead the readers to a conclusion at the end, often gripping the psyche of a reader. According to a BMJ Journal on crime fiction, these novels also help alleviate depression through it’s strong storyline and narrative which distracts the readers.
Let us now look at some of the best crime novels which will grip your consciousness and render you speechless.
1. The Hound of Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
The author who introduced the world-famous detective Sherlock Holmes to the world, Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of Baskerville (1902) is one of the best detective crime novels ever written (at least in our opinion).
The fourth novel in the Sherlock Holmes series follows the story of how Sherlock and his companion save Sir Henry from an attempted murder. The murder is done by a demonic hound based on the old legend within the Baskerville family.
BBC News has listed the novel in the 100 most influential novels in 2019.
2. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
A twist of crime novel with mystery and romance, Rebecca (1938) by Daphne du Maurier has never been out of print. The story follows an unnamed woman as she is swept off her feet by a widower and comes to live at his large estate.
But what’s larger is the shadow of his late wife and the darkness it casts over their life. This gripping novel will spark the seeds of jealousy and is a rather “macabre” tale, as told by du Maurier herself.
The book has gone through numerous adaptations, with the 2020 Netflix movie being the latest.
3. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Published in 1934 by the famous crime and detective author Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express is a gripping murder detective story featuring detective Hercule Poirot.
When Orient Express is stopped due to heavy snowfall, en route to London, a murder is discovered. And that thwarts Poirot’s plans of going home. Starting in Istanbul and ending in Yugoslavia, the novel received a warm reception from readers and critics alike, praising Christie’s writing.
4. Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin
The first of the Inspector Rebus novels, Knots and Crosses (1987) was written when Ian was a postgraduate in the University of Edinburgh.
When Edinburgh is shaken by the disappearances and killings of two young girls, Inspector John Rebus is forced to confront his past. Not only because he is assigned to the investigation, but also because he somehow holds the keys to find the killer.
A complex detective novel from a gifted mystery writer, this novel is followed by 24 more novels in the Inspector Rebus series.
5. Déjà Dead by Kathy Reichs
Déjà Dead is Kathy’s first book featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. A mystery ensues when a dismembered body too decomposed for an autopsy, is discovered.
To solve the case, Dr. Temperance is called who herself had been researching recent disappearances. With workplace disagreements and her closest ones in danger, Temperance needs to prove that a serial killer is on the loose.
Déjà Dead won the Arthur Ellis Award for best first novel.
6. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
Establishing grounds and references for the modern detective novel genre, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins is the earliest example of a detective story. Published in 1868, it is considered to be Collins’ best work.
Rachel inherits a moonstone from her uncle, who served in India. When she wears it on her dress to her 18th birthday party, the diamond is stolen from her bedroom. Who stole the jewel, and will they get it back?
7. The Sky Is Falling by Sidney Sheldon
Anchorwoman Dana Evans is focused on finding the Winthrop family murderers. She searches across the world for clues to uncover the mysterious crimes. The story is tinged with an international conspiracy.
Her life is at risk, and so is her adoptee, Kemal, whom she adopted from Sarajevo. Kemal has his problems, living with a prosthetic arm and being a victim of bullying. When friends turn foes, how will Dana solve the mystery?
Crime detective novels are gripping and can suck you into their fictional investigation. You feel like an assistant working alongside the detective. By encountering clues and coming across important information, you might get an idea of who the murderer is. We hope you found some new stories for your TBR!