BlackHat Mystery Bookstore

150 Essential Mystery Novels

Victorian-era illustration of murder discovered in a London alley           19th Century

early 20th Century

late 20th Century

21st Century

  Emily Temple regularly posts lists on the Flavorwire website, and in January 2014 she created the Fifty Essential Mystery Novels list,
herein reorganized in chronological order. Her selections may not be definitive – contrary opinions will always abound – but the list
is certainly a basis for discussion and-or for checking out those works previously unknown to you or to me.

  Then in mid-2017, Poisoned Pen Press published "The Story of Classic Crime In 100 Books" by Martin Edwards, with lots of promotion.
So that list was combined on this new page of Essential Mystery Novels.

While Ms. Temple had an American bias, and Martin Edwards is British and chose only books between 1902 and 1951, it was a surprise to discover
virtually no overlap among their choices (the exception is one Sherlock Holmes novel of 1902). So we now have 149 titles from 1841 to 2009.

The reviewer at Washington Post also suggests H.R.F. Keating’s "Crime and Mystery: The 100 Best Books" (with many more Americans)
or the unannotated "Classic Crime Fiction: The Haycraft-Queen Cornerstones" [1941 & 1952] from which we may add more choices later.

The Story of Classic Crime In 100 Books book by Martin Edwards  "The Story of Classic Crime In 100 Books" [2017]
by Martin Edwards

'the story of crime fiction during the first half of the XXth Century'
Kindle Edition from Poisoned Pen Press [8/2017] for $6.99
Poisoned Pen Press 8½x5½ pb [8/2017] for $10.96
Poisoned Pen Press 8½x5½ hardcover [8/2017] for $26.92


XIXth  Century

★     ★     ★     ★     ★

  "The Complete August Dupin Stories" [1841-44] by Edgar Allan Poe [1809-49]

  "The Woman In White" [1859] by Wilkie Collins [1824-89]


Early  XXth  Century

★     ★     ★     ★     ★

    "Hound of The Baskervilles" [1902] by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle [1859-1930]

  "The Four Just Men" [1905] by Edgar Wallace

  "The Case of Miss Elliott" [1905] by Baroness Orczy

  "Tracks in the Snow" [1906] by Baron Godfrey Rathbone Benson Charnwood

  "Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal" [1907] by Roy Horniman

  "The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale" [1907] by Joseph Conrad [1857-1924]

  "The Blotting Book" [1908] by E.F. {Edward Frederic} Benson

  "The Circular Staircase" [1908] by Mary Roberts Rinehart [1876-1958]

  "At the Villa Rose" [1910] by A.E.W. Mason

  "The Innocence of Father Brown" [stories 1911] by G.K. Chesterton [1874-1936]

  "The Eye of Osiris" (USA title "The Vanishing Man") [1911] by R. Austin Freeman

  "The Lodger" [1913] by Marie Belloc Lowndes

  "Trent’s Last Case" [1913] by E.C. Bentley

  "The Grell Mystery" [1913] by Frank Foest

  "Max Carrados" [stories 1914] by Ernest Bramah

  "The Thirty-Nine Steps" [1915] by John Buchan [1875-40]

  "In the Night" [1917] by Lord Gorell {Ronald Barnes, 3rd Baron Gorell}

  "The Middle Temple Murder" [1919] by J.S. Fletcher

  "The Skeleton Key" [1920] by Bernard Capes

  "The Cask" [1920] by Freeman Wills Crofts

  "The Mysterious Affair At Styles" - introducing Hercule Poirot [1920] by Agatha Christie [1890-1976]

  "The House By The River" [1921] by A.P. Herbert

  "The Red House Mystery" [1922] by A.A. Milne

  "The Red Redmaynes" [1922] by Eden Phillpotts

  "The Rasp" [1924] by Philip MacDonald

1 9 2 5

  "Clouds of Witness" - featuring Lord Peter Wimsey [1926] by Dorothy L. Sayers [1893-1957]

  "Payment Deferred" [1926] by C.S. Forester
made into a 1931 Broadway play and a 1932 film, both starring Charles Laughton

  "The Crime At Diana’s Pool" [1927] by Victor L. Whitechurch

  "Mr. Fortune, Please" [stories 1928] by H.C. Bailey

  "Mystery At Lynden Sands" [1928] by J. J. Connington

  "The Poisoned Chocolates Case" [1929] by Anthony Berkeley

  "The Mystery of A Butcher’s Shop" [1929] by Gladys Mitchell

  "The Medbury Fort Murder" [1929] by George Limnelius

  "The Duke of York’s Steps" [1929] by Henry Wade

  "The Perfect Murder Case" [1929] by Christopher Bush

  "The Dain Curse" [1929] by Dashiell Hammett

  "The Murder At The Vicarage" - the first Miss Marple novel [1930] by Agatha Christie [1890-1976]

  "The Maltese Falcon" [1930] by Dashiell Hammett [1894-1961]

  "The Secret of High Eldersham" [1930] by Miles Burton

  "The Documents In The Case" [1930] by Dorothy L. Sayers [1893-1957] & Robert Eustace

  "No Walls of Jasper" [1930] by Joanna Cannan

  "The Floating Admiral" [1931] by The Detection Club

  "Murder of A Lady" aka "The Silver Scale Mystery" [1931] by Anthony Wynne

  "Murder In Black and White" [1931] by Evelyn Elder

  "Vantage Striker" [1931] by Helen de Guerry Simpson

  "Murder At School" aka "Was It Murder?" [1931] by Glen Trevor (James Hilton)

  "Death Walks In Eastrepps" [1931] by Francis Beeding

  "Malice Aforethought" [1931] by Francis Iles (Anthony Berkeley Cox)

  "Death To The Rescue" [1931] by Milward Kennedy

  "Six Dead Men" [1931] by Stanislas-André Steeman
filmed in 1935 & 1941

  "Pietr The Latvian" - introducing Insp. Maigret [1931] by Georges Simenon

  "Death Under Sail" [1932] by C.P. Snow

  "The Young Vanish" [1932] by Francis Everton

  "The Z Murders" [1932] by J. Jefferson Farjeon

  "Nightmare" [1932] by Lynn Brock

  "Darkness At Pemberly" [1932] by T.H. White

  "The Division Bell Mystery" [1932] by Ellen Wilkinson

  "The Body In The Silo" [1933] by Ronald Knox

  "Some Must Watch" [1933] by Ethel Lina White

  "Death By Request" [1933] by Romilly & Katherine John

  "Murder At Cambridge" aka "Murder At The 'Varsity" [1933] by Q. Patrick

  "X v. Rex" [1933] aka "Mystery of The Dead Police" [1940] by Martin Porlock (Philip MacDonald)
filmed as "The Mystery of Mr. X" [1934] and as "The Hour of 13" [1952] starring Peter Lawford

  "End of An Ancient Mariner" [1933] by G.D.H. & M. Cole

  "Murder On The Orient Express" [1934] by Agatha Christie [1890-1976]

  "The Postman Always Rings Twice" [1934] by James M. Cain [1892-1977]

  "Death At Broadcasting House" [1934] by Val Gielgud & Holt Marvell

  "Quick Curtain" [1934] by Alan Melville

  "Silence of A Purple Shirt" [1934] by R. C. Woodthrope

  "Death of An Airman" [1934] by Christopher St. John Sprigg

  "Portrait of A Murderer" [1934] by Anne Meredith

  "A Pin To See The Peepshow" [1934] by F. Tennyson Jesse
broadcast as a 4-part TV mini-series [BBC-TV 1973] /tt0420830/

  "Gaudy Night" [1935] by Dorothy L. Sayers [1893-1957]

  "The Hollow Man" [1935] by John Dickson Carr

  "The Nursing Home Murder" [1935] by Ngaio Marsh & Henry Jellett

  "Hendon’s First Case" [1935] by John Rhode (Cecil Street)

  "The Curious Mr. Tarrant" [stories 1935] by C. Daly King

  "The Sussex Downs Murder" [1936] by John Bude

  "Case For Three Detectives" [1936] by Leo Bruce

  "Death At The President’s Lodging" aka "Seven Suspects" [1936] by Michael Innes

  "The A.B.C. Murders" [1936] by Agatha Christie [1890-1976]

  "Middle Class Murder" [1936] by Bruce Hamilton

  "The Case of the Late Pig" [1937] by Margery Allingham

  "Bats In The Belfry" [1937] by E.C.R. Lorac

  "Trial and Error" [1937] by Anthony Berkeley
turned into the unusual 1941 film "Flight From Destiny" /tt0033608/

  "A.B.C. Solves Five" aka "Ephesian" [1937] by C.E. Bechhofer Roberts

  "Send For Paul Temple" [1938] by Francis Durbridge & John Thewes

  "Rebecca" [1938] by Daphne du Maurier [1907-89]

  "Sinister Crag" [1938] by Newton Gayle

  "Birthday Party" [1938] by C.H.B. Kitchin

  "The Beast Must Die" [1938] by Nicholas Blake (Cecil Day-Lewis)
filmed in 1952 in Argentina and in 1969 by Claude Chabrol

  "She Had To Have Gas" [1939] by Rupert Penny

  "A Coffin For Dimitrios" [1939] by Eric Ambler [1909-98]

  "The Big Sleep" [1939] by Raymond Chandler [1888-1959]

  "Family Matters" [1939] by Anthony Rolls (C.E. Vulliamy)

  "Earth To Ashes" [1939] by Alan Brock

  "Verdict of Twelve" [1940] by Raymond Postgate

  "My Own Murderer" [1941] by Richard Hull (Richard Henry Sampson)

  "Death On The Down Beat" [1941] by Sebastian Farr

  "Laura" [1942] by Vera Caspary [1899-1987]

  "Tragedy At Law" [1942] by Cyril Hare

  "Calamity Town" [1942] by Ellery Queen

  "Six Problems For Don Isidro Parodi" [stories 1942] by H. Bustos Domecq

  "Background For Murder" [1942] by Shelley Smith (Nancy Bodington)

  "The Killer and The Slain" [1942] by Sir Hugh Seymour Walpole

  "Green For Danger" [1944] by Christianna Brand

  "The Red Right Hand" [1945] by Joel Townsley Rogers

  "The Moving Toyshop: A Comedy of Murder" [1946] by Edmund Crispin

  "What Beckoning Ghost?" [1947] by Douglas G. Browne

  "I, The Jury" [1947] by Mickey Spillane [1918-2006]

  "The Franchise Affair" [1948] by Josephine Tey
filmed in 1951, broadcast on TV in 1962 & 1988, and on radio in 2005

  "The Third Man" [1949] by Graham Greene [1904-91]

  "The Department of Dead Ends" [1949] by Roy Vickers

  "Smallbone Deceased" [1950] by Michael Gilbert

  "Strangers On A Train" [1950 classic] by Patricia Highsmith
filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1951, also filmed in 1969, 1971, 1987 & 1990, and broadcast on TV in 1958 & 1996


Late  XXth  Century

★     ★     ★     ★     ★

  "The Daughter of Time" [1951] by Josephine Tey [1896-1952]

  "The 31st of February" [1951] by Julian Symons
filmed as episode of Alfred Hitchcock's TV show in 1963

  "The Talented Mr. Ripley" [1955] by Patricia Highsmith [1921-95] - book won Grand Prix in France

  "Beast In View" [1956] by Margaret Millar [1915-94] - book won Edgar Award

  "From Russia, With Love" Agent 007 James Bond book #5 [1957] by Ian Fleming [1908-64]

  "A Rage In Harlem" [1958] by Chester Himes [1909-84]

  "Anatomy of A Murder" [1958] by Robert Traver [1903-91]

  "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold" [1963] by John le Carré
'possibly the best spy novel ever written'

  "Fadeout" [1970] by Joseph Hansen [1923-2004]

  "The Day of The Jackal" [1971] by Frederick Forsyth

  "An Unsuitable Job For A Woman" [1972] by P.D. James [1920-2014]

1 9 7 5

  "Sneaky People" [1975] by Thomas Berger

  "The Blue Hammer" [1976] by Ross Macdonald [1915-83]

  "True Confessions" [1977] by John Gregory Dunne [1932-2003]
based on the real-life 1947 Black Dahlia murder case

  "Eye of The Needle" [1979] by Ken Follett - book won Edgar Award

  "The Name of The Rose" [1980] by Umberto Eco

  "La Brava" [1983] by Elmore Leonard [1925-2013] - book won Edgar Award

  "A Dark-Adapted Eye" [1986] by Ruth Rendell {writing as Barbara Vine}

  "The Black Dahlia" [1987] by James Ellroy
based on the real-life 1947 Black Dahlia murder case

  "The New York Trilogy" [1987] by Paul Auster + NYtravel
Originally published as "City of Glass" [1985], "Ghosts" [1986], and "The Locked Room" [1986]; collected into a single volume in 1987.

  "Presumed Innocent" [1987] by Scott Turow

  "Devil In A Blue Dress" [1990] by Walter Mosley

  "Blanche On The Lam" [1992] by Barbara Neely - won Edgar & Anthony & Macavity awards

  "Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow" [1992] by Peter Høeg

  "The Alienist" [1994] by Caleb Carr

  "The Intuitionist" [1999] by MacArthur laureate Colson Whitehead

  "The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency" [1999] by Alexander McCall Smith

  "When We Were Orphans" [2000] by Kazuo Ishiguro


XXIst  Century

★     ★     ★     ★     ★

  "Mystic River" [2001] by Dennis Lehane

  "Arthur & George" [2005] by Julian Barnes

  "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" [2005] by Stieg Larsson [1954-2004]

  "In The Woods" [2007] by Tana French - Ireland
won the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity & Barry awards for best first novel

  "The Snowman" [2007] by Jo Nesbø
English-language feature film set for release in October 2017 /tt1758810/

  "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" [2007] by Michael Chabon
book won Hugo, Sidewise, Nebula & Ignotus awards

  "Dust and Shadow" [2009] by Lyndsay Faye - Holmes solves Jack the Ripper



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