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top-100 in crime fiction

1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50 | 51-60 | 61-70 | 71-80 | 81-90 | 91-100
 

Truman Capote (1994) In Cold Blood.

A masterpiece. Capote invented a new genre.

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Ken Follett (1990) The Pillars of the Earth.

This story of intrigue, power, revenge and betrayal chronicles the ups and downs in the life of a prior, his master builder, and their community as they struggle to build a Gothic cathedral in 12th century England. It is a time of tumultuous political and social change. Follett weaves human brutality, steamy sex scenes, deep religious faith, agony and glorious success into his epic historical novel.

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Dashiell Hammett (1989) The Maltese Falcon. (Reprint Ed.)

Archetypal tough guy, detective Sam Spade, risks his reputation by trying to help a beautiful young lady. As his partner gets killed Spade is suspected for murder. The story is a complex web of betrayal and deception, in which everyone tries to get the gold statuette of a falcon. Sam's masculine strength is refreshing in today's world of male insecurity. Also an excellent movie with Humphrey Bogart - but the book is better.

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Patricia Highsmith (2001) Strangers on a Train. (First published 1950)

In her first novel published in 1950, Patricia Highsmith introduced the character of a subtle, murderous, sociopath who lives unsuspected for years. Highsmith's psycho-thriller was the source of a famous Alfred Hitchcock film in 1953. The book is one of the great classics of psychological crime fiction.

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Patricia Highsmith (1992) The Talented Mr. Ripley. (First published 1955)

Patricia Highsmith wrote stories in which you almost physically feel the coming of a catastrophe. It is so unnerving that you might just want to throw away the book, because you can no longer stand the tension. But then you read on through the night. Don't get confused by the silly title or lousy cover. This is one of the best psycho-thrillers - ever!

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Stieg Larsson (2008) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Publisher Mikael Blomkvist ran a story accusing a prominent Swedish business leader of corruption. But the story is exposed as fraud and Blomkvist faces jail. He temporarily retreats to a small island supposedly for writing another industry leader's biography, but is actually hired to solve a family mystery. This multi-layered mystery is one of the smartest thrillers in recent years.

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James M. Cain (1989) The Postman Always Rings Twice. (Reprint Ed.)

In 1934, Cain started a new genre: American noir fiction. It may be full of despair, sweltering greed, dark violence and raw sex, but the no-nonsense description of humanity heading towards destruction is impossible to resist. In his laconic style Cain tells the story of Frank, a tramp, who his attracted to Cora, the young wife of brutally violent Nick. When Frank and Cora start an affair behind her older man's back, the story is heading for disaster.

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Agatha Christie (2001) And Then There Were None: A Novel. (First published in 1939)

Agatha Christie's version of the nursery rhyme is often considered the best mystery novel ever written. 10 strangers are trapped in an Indian island, where the sinister Mr. Owen is accusing them of murder. One by one is found dead, until ... (the resolution of the novel is very different from that of the movie versions).

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Graham Greene (1991) Our Man in Havana: An Entertainment. (First published in 1958)

Mr. Wormold, a vacuum cleaner salesman in a city of power brokers becomes a spy to earn extra income. This crisply written novel will drag you down with unbearable tension, while at the same time make you giggle with its satirical parodies and absurd plot. A masterpiece!

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Stieg Larsson (2010) The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.

Complex, satisfying, intelligent, extraordinary! Stieg Larsson's last thriller before his early death.

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This list of The Top-100 Crime Novels of All Time is a work in progress. The ranking may change during the next few weeks. Comments and suggestions are welcome (claudia.heilig@chello.at)

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