Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
The books of
Patricia Highsmith

Crime fiction, detective fiction, suspense, mystery, and thriller - these are all genres that mix and mingle and overlap considerably. But no matter what you call it, readers can't seem to get enough of crime, criminals, and the dedicated professionals - private eyes, cops, FBI profilers, lawyers, medical examiners, psychologists, and forensic anthropologists - who tirelessly pursue justice.

Crime fiction doesn't always follow a straightforward whodunnit formula. Sometimes the identity of the perpetrator is revealed on the very first page and the rest of the story is concerned with the whydunnit, exploring the criminal's motives; the howdunnit, exploring how the crime was committed; and the howcatchem, exploring how the hero or heroine catches - or doesn't catch - the bad guy. And sometimes, the hero or heroine is the bad guy.

Crime fiction has been around since the 19th century, with stories from authors like Edgar Allan Poe in the U.S., Wilkie Collins and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the U.K, Fyodor Dostoyevski in Russia, and Paul Féval and Émile Gaboriau in France. Féval's eleven The Black Coats novels, published between 1863-1875, comprise what is considered one of the first crime fiction series, and Gaboriau's police detective Monsieur Lecoq influenced Conan Doyle's creation of Sherlock Holmes.

Despite its popular appeal, through the first half of the 20th century crime fiction was considered pulp, with novels from the likes of Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, and Mickey Spillane often seeing limited or non-existent print runs of hardcover editions, ending up as inexpensive paperbacks, with wonderfully lurid covers, filling the racks at the corner drugstore.

Even though that low opinion has changed somewhat, crime fiction today is still often dismissed by the literary elite as populist, formulaic pap. But I imagine bestselling authors like Patricia Cornwell, James Patterson, John Sandford, and Kathy Reichs would agree with their legions of fans - who cares what the critics say?

The dark underbelly of society and the twisted mind of the criminal are fascinating places to visit. This small sample of some of crime fiction's best authors, both past and present, will keep you riveted long into the night. Just be sure to lock your doors and windows.

Meet the Authors

A Coffin for Dimitrios by Eric Ambler
The books of
Eric Ambler
The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan
The books of
John Buchan
The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
The books of
James M. Cain
The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
The books of
Raymond Chandler
Killing Floor by Lee Child
The books of
Lee Child
Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
The books of
Agatha Christie
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
The books of
Wilkie Collins
The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin
The books of
Edmund Crispin
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The books of
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The books of
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
The books of
Umberto Eco
L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy
The books of
James Ellroy
One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
The books of
Janet Evanovich
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
The books of
Gillian Flynn
The Perfect Husband by Lisa Gardner
The books of
Lisa Gardner
A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton
The books of
Sue Grafton
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
The books of
Dashiell Hammett
The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
The books of
Thomas Harris
Malice Aforethought by Francis Iles
The books of
Francis Iles
When the Bough Breaks by Jonathan Kellerman
The books of
Jonathan Kellerman
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
The books of
Stieg Larsson
The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood
The books of
Alex Marwood
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
The books of
Daphne du Maurier
Edgar Allen Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination
The books of
Edgar Allan Poe
Knots & Crosses by Ian Rankin
The books of
Ian Rankin
In the Teeth of the Evidence by Dorothy L. Sayers
The books of
Dorothy L. Sayers
Kiss Me, Deadly by Mickey Spillane
The books of
Mickey Spillane
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
The books of
Josephine Tey
The Burden of Proof by Scott Turow
The books of
Scott Turow
Last Seen Wearing by Hillary Waugh
The books of
Hillary Waugh

Who's your favorite author of crime fiction?


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