Since the genre began nearly 200 years ago, crime novels have entrenched themselves among the classics and carved out a place on many a best-seller list. From the works of Edgar Allan Poe to Agatha Christie and Stieg Larsson, there are hundreds that deserve mention among the best of all time.
But here are just a few:
In Cold Blood, Truman Capote
With this revolutionary ‘non-fiction novel’ the eccentric American journalist/author, tells the true story of the 1959 close-range, shotgun murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas.
It begins as a crime seemingly with no meaning or motive, but through dialogue and detailed description, Capote masterfully traces the investigation to the arrest and trial of drifters Dick Hickock and Perry Smith.
It took Capote six years to complete the interviews, research and writing for this book, which would prove to be the last he ever published. “No one will ever know what In Cold Blood took out of me,” he once said. “It scraped me right down to the marrow of my bones. It nearly killed me. I think, in a way, it did kill me.”
Listen: Speaking of true crime, have you seen The Keepers? It might be the best the genre. Post continues…
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
It was called “dazzling” and “icepick sharp” by The New York Times, and “an absolute must read” by The Guardian. And read they did. This thrilling crime novel about a missing wife and her curiously bitter husband has sold more than 15 million copies since it was first released in 2012.
Dancing between the diary left by Amy Dunne and the internal monologue of her spouse, Nick, as the authorities and the media close in, Flynn expertly dismantles the picture-perfect marriage they had built for the outside world.
As The New York Times wrote in its review, “It is wily, mercurial, subtly layered and populated by characters so well imagined that they’re hard to part with.”
Strangers on a Train, Patricia Highsmith
Guy Haines and Charles Anthony Bruno are, well, see the title above. The former is a successful architect, the latter a sadistic psychopath who manipulates his fellow commuter into a deal in which they each murder an obstacle in the other’s life.
“Some people are better off dead,” Bruno says, “like your wife and my father, for instance.”
It should be a perfect crime; no motive, no reason for suspicion. But then there would be no novel…
Or no “moody and disturbing excavation of guilty paranoia,” as The Wall Street Journal described it.