There are a lot of great crime drama novels. There are also a lot of awful ones, so that might be another list.
But there are too many good ones to narrow it down to ten, but I’ve tried. I’m sure I’m missing many. Several will probably haunt me for their lack of position on the list.
As usual, in no particular order:
Birthdays for the Dead – Stuart McBride
Crime novels are dark by nature, but this one is very, very dark. It never lets up on the reader. Ever.
Dark Places – Gillian Flynn
Another very dark story. Like any good mystery protagonist, you both feel for, and can’t understand the actions of, the main character.
The Bone House – Brian Freeman
Just one of Freeman’s excellent crime novels. Dead teens, sketchy people, fire. It’s got everything it needs. And it’s a stand alone.
The Body Farm – Patricia Cornwall
Cornwall’s writing has lost a lot of its spark over the last decade , but the early Scarpetta novels were excellent. This was where I learned about the actual body farm in Virginia. If only I’d been better at biology, I’d have a different career.
The Keeper of Lost Causes – Jussi Adler-Olsen
The scene with the tooth abscess is awful enough to make the book worth reading, but the whole book is amazing. It’s the beginning of a great series – as long as you allow for some errors in the translation syntax.
The Millennium Trilogy – Stieg Larsson
Yes, I’m cheating on this one and pulling the entire trilogy. But, the books are so closely linked it’s hard to separate them – especially the last two. And since Larsson is now dead, these are all his books we’ll ever get and they all deserve respect.
Interred With Their Bones – Jennifer Lee Carrell
In the theme of academic mysteries, this one was extremely entertaining. It includes a lost Shakespeare manuscript, a treasure hunt, and a lot of intrique.
And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie
This novel spawned dozens of homages and created a genre trope – I think, I should probably do more research. But this is a great classic read.
The Murder Book – Jonathan Kellerman
This is the 16th in a series, but it’s really the only one that needs reading.
The Death Pit – Tony Strong
One of the books I got when I was part of one of those book of the month clubs and I forgot to say no to the monthly book. Pleasant mistake.