Murder, mystery, cool detectives and chilling psychopaths…crime fiction.
The genre is almost an obsession to many, and for a good reason. There’s nothing like a good crime fiction novel to keep the blues away. However, the tragedy of being in love with this genre is that in most mediocre plots, you figure out who did it by the third chapter (and there are too many mediocre plots!). Then you start to feel like you may have a hidden talent for detective work, and soon you’re comparing yourself to the likes of M. Poirot or the great Sherlock Holmes.
But, although mediocre plots may feed your ego, they won’t suffice as stimulating reads. You don’t feel that suspense while reading. You don’t stay up all night finishing it because eh, I know who did it. Eventually, you get tired of the same, recycled plots and lose hope in finding that wide-eyed, nail-biting thrill ride that drew you to the genre in the first place.
So, for all you unsatisfied crime fiction lovers, here is a solution to your tragic problem.
I am going to list the greatest crime fiction authors that I have had the pleasure of reading.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The man who created possibly the most brilliant fictional character ever. Yes, I speak of the brilliant Sherlock Holmes. These novels and short stories created a new pathway for crime fiction, setting the bar high for all crime writers. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created alluring mysteries that spun into incredible plots. He even created Moriarty, one of the greatest literary villains to ever walk through the pages of a book. A villain so incredibly vile that you thank the Gods that he has been penned.
A brilliant detective with a witty sense of humour, a positively adorable partner, and an equally brilliant nemesis. What more could a crime fiction junkie ask for?
Bow down to Sir Arthur.
Start with A Study in Scarlet.
Mostly set in the early 1900s, these novels give the reader an urge to live then, witness such crimes and use incredible logic and brilliant guesswork to solve them.
One of Christie’s most popular characters is M. Hercule Poirot. Famous for his epic crime solving skills, this character is called on to solve incredible, and extremely complicated crimes.
Christie penned classic whodunnits with unprecedented plot twists and unorthodox criminals.
What’s not to love?
My personal recommendation is Murder on the Orient Express.
Robert Galbraith AKA J.K. Rowling
Robert Galbraith is, in fact, a pseudonym used by J. K. Rowling. So naturally, you can expect an intricate, consuming plot and brilliant characters.
The Cormoran Strike series follows the one legged, war veteran Cormoran Strike who works as a Private Investigator and his partner, the wickedly intelligent and beautiful Robin Ellacott.
Since it is written by J. K. Rowling, brilliance should be expected. The details are astounding, and the plot sucks you in after just the first page. I read each book in one sitting and was absolutely enthralled. Clear your schedule before picking up one of these books because you won’t put it down.
Start with The Cuckoo’s Calling — the first book in the series. The fourth installment, titled Lethal White is set to release very soon.
Tess Gerritsen is an author of the modern world. So the crimes are more relatable to the present, and honestly, some of them are downright terrifying!
Gerritsen’s criminals range from the simple killer to bone chilling psychopaths. Her novels incorporate the medical world, as she herself is a retired physician. The precision and detail in these novels leave the reader stunned, and more knowledgeable on the ways of murder, crime solving and lifesaving.
The Rizzoli and Isles series follows the brash, brilliant and hardcore Detective Jane Rizzoli, and the cool, regal, incredibly intelligent medical examiner, Maura Isles. Her other novels have a range of characters, from doctors to musicians.
I suggest starting with The Surgeon and thereafter, The Apprentice. Another recommendation, although not exactly a murder mystery, is Playing With Fire. Gerritsen’s new novel, I Know a Secret, releases this August!
These books are for those who love hardcore crime fiction, and brilliant characters. Not for the feint hearted!
(Check out my interview with Tess Gerritsen here)
Eleanor Taylor Bland
Bland is known for writing thrilling novels with her inspiring heroine — Detective Marti MacAlister. The Marti MacAlister Mysteries follow the hard-boiled detective working her way through solving intricate crimes. When I first read a Bland novel, I was delighted to see an African American woman as the main character. In a genre dominated by both plot and character stereotypes, this was extremely refreshing.
Each novel is a spine-tingling ride, with no chance of anyone putting it down. My personal favourite is Scream in Silence.
Do not read a Karin Slaughter novel at night, and do not read a Karin Slaughter novel alone.
Slaughter wrote both the Grant County series and the Will Trent series. Slaughter does not write one-dimensional characters. No, every character seems almost too real.
The murders that occur within the pages of a Slaughter novel will find their way into your nightmares. They are simply sick, gory, and horrific. Slaughter is known for touching on sensitive issues, such as racial tension, sexism, and homophobia.
She also has several standalone novels.
I recommend the Grant County series and the standalone novel Coptown.
Once again, I bring you an author who can give you nightmares.
Montanari uses the dark side of human nature to pen his terrifying murders. Although terrifying, these books are equally enticing. It is easy to bend over a Montanari novel for hours, but be warned…once you look up, you may never think the same way again.
If you haven’t read Montanari, you’re missing out. My personal favourite is The Killing Room.
Quartey introduced the brilliant Inspector Darko Dawson, who investigates crimes in Ghana. Dawson is real and extremely captivating- one of the best detectives of recent times. Like Eleanor Taylor Bland, Quartey’s books are a refreshing break from the stereotypes of crime fiction. Reading these novels introduced me to an entirely new world of crime fiction.
Start with Wife of the Gods and read your way through the other Inspector Darko Dawson books.
Mary Higgins Clark
If you start reading Mary Higgins Clark now, you won’t be without a book for a while! The author has penned over fifty novels and continues to write. Each novel introduces new characters, new crimes, and entirely new plots. You’ll never be bored with these books.
I recommend The Cradle Will Fall.
Other writers to look into are:
- Raymond Chandler
- David Baldacci
- Ian Rankin
- James Patterson
- Kathy Reichs
- Stephen King
- Deon Meyer
- Patricia Cornwell
- Karen Rose