41 of the best crime fiction books

Few books are as satisfying as a crime fiction novel you can really sink your teeth into. Here’s our edit of the most exciting crime fiction coming in 2022, the best crime books of 2021, and the most gripping crime novels of all time.

There’s nothing better than a gripping crime fiction novel to keep you turning the pages late into the night. Whether you’re looking for a gentle detective story or cosy crime series, historical crime fiction or gritty true-to-life cases that will set your heart racing, we have the case for you. 

Here, we've shared our edit of the most exciting crime fiction to look forward to in 2022 and the best crime books of 2021. We also take a look at the must-read crime novels of all time which crime fiction fans should be sure not to miss.

If you're looking for even more gripping reads, don't miss our edit of the best thriller books of 2022. 

The best crime books of 2022

Picture You Dead

by Peter James

Book cover for Picture You Dead

In the eagerly awaited latest installment in the bestselling Roy Grace series, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace finds himself plunged into an unfamiliar and rarefied world of fine art; but beneath the veneer lurks greed, deception and violence . . .

Harry and Freya are an ordinary couple who dreamed for years of finding an overlooked treasure at a car boot sale, until the day they did. Behind the drab portrait they bought for a few pounds, they find a stunning landscape that might just be a long-lost masterpiece from 1770, and worth millions. One collector is certain it's genuine, and he'll stop at nothing to get what he wants. Soon harry and Freya's dream come true becomes a nightmare.

The Rising Tide

by Ann Cleeves

Book cover for The Rising Tide

Fifty years ago, a group of teenagers spent a weekend on Holy Island and forged a bond that would last a lifetime. Now, they still return every five years to celebrate their friendship and remember a friend they once lost to the rising waters of the causeway. But when one of them is found hanged, Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope is called in. Learning that the dead man had recently been fired after misconduct allegations, Vera knows she must discover what the friends are hiding, and whether the events of many years before could have led to murder then, and now . . .

The Rising Tide is the latest unmissable installment in the bestselling Vera Stanhope series.

Dirt Town

by Hayley Scrivenor

Book cover for Dirt Town

Detective Sergeant Sarah Michaels begins her investigation of the disappearance of twelve-year-old Esther Bianchi from her home in the small rural Australian town of Durton. For Esther's mother Constance this is the worst thing that could possibly happen. But as the investigation continues, things get worse still. Esther's best friend Ronnie is doing her own investigation. Who is the strange man Esther was seen with at the creek? And why are witnesses refusing to speak to the police?

The Sleeping and the Dead

by Ann Cleeves

Book cover for The Sleeping and the Dead

This page-turning psychological thriller is from the pen of Ann Cleeves, author of three outstanding TV series – Shetland, Vera and The Long Call. The body of a teenager has been found, and Detective Peter Porteous is called to Cranwell Lake. After studying the missing persons files, he concludes that the dead man is Michael Grey, a mysterious young man reported missing by his foster parents back in the early 70s. A news report of the crime leaves  prison officer Hannah Morton reeling. Michael had been her boyfriend, and they were together the night he disappeared . . .

The Murders at Fleat House

by Lucinda Riley

Book cover for The Murders at Fleat House

The sudden death of a pupil in Fleat House at St Stephen’s – a small private boarding school in deepest Norfolk – is a shocking event that the headmaster is very keen to call a tragic accident. But the local police cannot rule out foul play and the case prompts the return of high-flying Detective Inspector Jazmine ‘Jazz’ Hunter to the force. Jazz begins to probe the circumstances surrounding Charlie Cavendish’s tragic death, but events soon take another troubling turn when Charlie is exposed as an arrogant bully, giving those around him a motive to switch the drugs he took daily to control his epilepsy. As staff at the school close ranks, the disappearance of another young pupil and the death of an elderly Classics master provide Jazz with important leads, but as snow covers the landscape and another suspect goes missing, Jazz must also confront her personal demons . . .

Daisy Darker

by Alice Feeney

Book cover for Daisy Darker

Daisy Darker is arriving at her grandmother’s house for her eightieth birthday. It is Halloween, and Seaglass – the crumbling Cornish house perched upon its own tiny private island – is at one with the granite rocks it sits on. The Darker family haven’t all been in the same place for over a decade, and when the tide comes in they’ll be cut off from the rest of the world for eight hours. When the tide goes back out, nothing will ever be the same again, because one of them is a killer . . .

Date with Betrayal

by Julia Chapman

Book cover for Date with Betrayal

All is not what it seems in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales when Samson O’Brien, proprietor of the Dales Detective Agency, is targeted by a London hitman. Delilah Metcalfe wants to protect O'Brien, and tries to call in favours from the townsfolk. But they have long memories of the troubles O'Brien has stirred up locally, and they need some convincing to get on side. In the meantime, danger draws ever closer in this, the the seventh novel in Julia Chapman’s Dales Detective series.

Dream Town

by David Baldacci

Book cover for Dream Town

Aloysius Archer, investigator and WWII veteran, returns to tackle a new case in Hollywood in this addictive thriller from bestselling author David Baldacci. The setting is LA in 1952, and PI Aloysius Archer is out dining with a friend and aspiring movie star Liberty Callahan when Eleanor Lamb approaches, looking for protection from an attacker. When Lamb vanishes, the subsequent investigation takes Archer from LA glitz to the sordid underbelly of Las Vegas, as he hunts for the missing woman and her presumed attackers.

Into the Dark

by Fiona Cummins

Book cover for Into the Dark

The kettle is still warm, all the family’s phones are charging on the worktop, but the house is deserted . . . 

In fifteen-year-old Riva Holden’s bedroom, scrawled across the mirror in blood, are three words: Make Them Stop.

In a gorgeous Art Deco home looking out to the bay of Midtown-on-Sea, a terrible crime has come to light. An entire family – Piper and Gray and their two teenage children – has vanished. Cue the arrival of DS Saul Anguish, a brilliant detective with a difficult past. As he begins to untangle the painful story of the disappearance, he must face his own demons.

The Darkest Sin

by D. V. Bishop

Book cover for The Darkest Sin

It's spring in Florence in 1537, and Cesare Aldo is investigating a report that a convent in the northern quarter has been breached. Soon Aldo finds himself immersed in a bitterly divided community. And when a man's body is found in the convent, it seems as if one of the nuns must be the murderer. Meanwhile, Constable Carlo Strocchi finds human body parts in the Arno, which turn out to be the remains of a much feared officer who went missing in the winter. Aldo and Strocchi search for the truth, in an investigation that is increasingly full of peril.

Die Twice

by Andrew Grant

Book cover for Die Twice

For fans of Bond and Bourne, don't miss this pulse-racing spy thriller by Andrew Grant, now the co-author of the Jack Reacher novels as Andrew Child, which follows his action-packed debut, Even.

Obliged to leave New York City in the aftermath of his previous mission, David Trevellyan is summoned to the British Consulate in Chicago. To the same office where, just a week before, his new handler was attacked and shot by a Royal Navy Intelligence operative gone bad. Assigned the task of finding the rogue agent, and putting an end to his treacherous scheme, Trevellyan soon finds that once again his only hope of saving countless innocent lives lies not within the system, but in his instinctive belief – you’re bound to do what’s right, whatever the personal cost may be.

The Interview

by C. M. Ewan

Book cover for The Interview

It is Friday, 5 p.m. You're being interviewed for the job you always wanted, in an office thirteen floors above the city. There's nobody else around but you and the interviewer, and their questions are getting stranger and more unsettling. Your fear is rising, and the only route out is to answer a seemingly impossible question . . . 

This nail-biting novel comes from bestselling mystery and thriller author C. M. Ewan.

The Christie Affair

by Nina de Gramont

Book cover for The Christie Affair

In 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared for eleven days. Only one person knows the truth of her disappearance – her husband's mistress. 

The world of Agatha Christie is glamourous parties full of socialites, and country house weekends. But the world of Nan O'Dea is very different. A tough London upbringing followed by a life in Ireland marred by tragedy, Nan has fought her way back to England – with her sights set on Agatha. 

Despite their differences, the two women will become the most unlikely of allies. And during the mysterious eleven days that Agatha goes missing, they will unravel a dark secret that only Nan holds the key to . . .

The Streets

by Jacqui Rose

Book cover for The Streets

A hard-hitting gangland thriller from bestselling author Jacqui Rose, The Streets follows Jo Martin ten years after her release from a life sentence in prison. Except she isn't Jo anymore – given a new appearance and new identity by the courts, Jo can pretend to be anyone. . .

Discover Cookie, Natalie and Lorni – very different women with something to hide and a lot to lose, but which of them did Jo become?

The Heron's Cry

by Ann Cleeves

Book cover for The Heron's Cry

It's an idyllic hot summer in North Devon when Detective Matthew Venn gets the call to come to the home of a group of artists – there has been a murder. Dr Nigel Yeo has been stabbed, and the weapon is one of his glassblower daughter's vases. As Matthew attempts to solve the killing of a good man, someone else in the community is slain in a similar way. The key to murders lies disturbingly close to home, in a web of lies which Matthew must attempt to untangle. The latest in the bestselling series featuring Detective Matthew Venn.

Daughters of Night

by Laura Shepherd-Robinson

Book cover for Daughters of Night

This historical crime fiction novel is the second from Laura Shepherd-Robinson, following her award-winning debut Blood & Sugar. Set in London in 1782, it’s the story of Caroline Corsham, who is determined to seek justice for a string of murders of high-class prostitutes – crimes that the police are all too happy to ignore. As she delves deeper into the darkest, hidden corners of Georgian society, Caroline soon finds that much more than her reputation is at stake. . .

Sixteen Horses

by Greg Buchanan

Book cover for Sixteen Horses

Near the dying English seaside town of Ilmarsh, local police detective Alec Nichols discovers sixteen horses’ heads on a farm, each buried with a single eye facing the low winter sun. After forensic veterinarian Cooper Allen travels to the scene, the investigators soon uncover evidence of a chain of crimes in the community – disappearances, arson and mutilations – all culminating in the reveal of something deadly lurking in the ground itself.

In the dark days that follow, the town slips into panic and paranoia. Everything is not as it seems. Anyone could be a suspect. And as Cooper finds herself unable to leave town, Alec is stalked by an unseen threat. The two investigators race to uncover the truth behind these frightening and insidious mysteries – no matter the cost.

Sixteen Horses is the debut literary thriller from an extraordinary talent, Greg Buchanan. A story of enduring guilt, trauma and punishment, set in a small seaside community the rest of the world has left behind . . .

Sunset Swing

by Ray Celestin

Book cover for Sunset Swing

Christmas in LA, 1967, and a devil has been let loose in the city. 

Kerry, a young nurse who is desperately looking for her missing brother, is terrified that he has become the victim of a serial killer. Ida Young, a recently retired PI, is dragged unwillingly into a murder investigation in which her own name has been found at the crime scene. Mobster Dante Sanfelippo is doing one last job before he can retire to a Napa winery. But is it ever that easy? 

As the investigation and killings both escalate, the tangled threads of these various stories begin to bring the protagonists closer and closer together. . .


The best crime books of 2021

Left You Dead

by Peter James

Book cover for Left You Dead

Left You Dead is the latest installment in Peter James's award-winning crime fiction series starring DS Roy Grace, now a major TV series starring John Simm. Niall and Eden Paternoster start their Sunday the same way they always do – with a long drive, a visit to a country house and a quick stop at the local supermarket on the way home. But this Sunday ends differently – as while Niall waits in the car park for Eden to finish shopping, Eden never returns. She’s not waiting for him at home, and none of their family or friends have heard from her. Eden is gone without a trace.

Niall is arrested on suspicion of her murder, but when DS Roy Grace is called in to investigate it doesn’t take long to realize that nothing is quite as it seems – and this might be his most mysterious case yet . . . Discover the other Roy Grace books in order.

A Gambling Man

by David Baldacci

Book cover for A Gambling Man

Evoking the golden age of crime writing with its 1940s California-setting, David Baldacci's latest thriller is a must-read for fans of his previous books and lovers of historical crime thrillers. Set amongst the gamblers and gangsters of the seedy-underbelly of America's casinos and the second instalment in his new series starring ex-jailbird Aloysius Archer, A Gambling Man will transport you straight to the smoke-filled burlesque clubs and slot machines of Reno and Bay Town. 

Discover our guide to David Baldacci's series, here.

Riccardino

by Andrea Camilleri

Book cover for Riccardino

The twenty-eighth and final novel in the thrilling, wickedly funny Inspector Montalbano Mysteries series by bestselling author Andrea Camilleri, will be published 14 October 2021.

In the highly anticipated final instalment of Camilleri's bestselling series, Inspector Montalbano receives a strange phone call early in the morning, from a caller by the name of Riccardino who claims to be expecting Montalbano's imminent arrival. But later that day, Montalbano learns of a brutal slaying in broad daylight, and while the assassin is unknown the victim's name is Riccardino – and the Inspector's troubles are only just beginning . . . 

Exquisitely crafted by one of Europe's greatest crime fiction writers, Riccardino is a series finale that is not to be missed.


The Killing Tide

by Lin Anderson

Book cover for The Killing Tide

A cargo ship has mysteriously run aground in the Orkney Isles, and forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod is sent to discover how and why the three bodies aboard came to be there. Further south in Glasgow, a young woman has been set on fire. Links between the two tragic incidents point to a wider conspiracy, and Orcadian investigative journalist Ava Clouston gets on the case. Meanwhile the Met and Scottish police clash, as dark forces move to protect government interests and the death toll threatens to mount.

Edge of the Grave

by Robbie Morrison

Book cover for Edge of the Grave

Perfect for fans of Peaky Blinders, Robbie Morrison’s debut is a dark historical crime novel set in a Glasgow still recovering from the war, split by religious division and swarming with razor gangs. When the son-in-law of one of the city’s wealthiest shipbuilders is found murdered, Inspector Jimmy Dreghorn is assigned to the case. But his troubled history with the victim’s widow may cause problems . . . Meanwhile, a sadistic murderer stalks the city’s streets, leaving a trail of dead bodies behind.

The Darkest Evening

by Ann Cleeves

Book cover for The Darkest Evening

Vera is back in the ninth crime novel in Ann Cleeves’s detective fiction series. When she comes across a car slewed off the road while driving home during a terrible blizzard Vera is shocked to find the driver's seat empty but a toddler strapped in the back seat. Vera takes the child to the first house she comes to, a stately home where her own father grew up. Inside a Christmas party is in full swing, but outside a woman – possibly the child's mother – lies dead . . .

Discover all the Vera Stanhope books in order.

The Cook of the Halcyon

by Andrea Camilleri

Book cover for The Cook of the Halcyon

In the twenty-seventh book in Andrea Camilleri’s crime fiction series, Inspector Montalbano is called on to investigate a murder and a suicide which leads him to the Halcyon, a mysterious ship that visits Vigàta’s port each day. On board, he finds very few crewmen, no passengers and a stern large enough to land a helicopter . . . 

Meanwhile, a rare trip to visit Livia may put the inspector’s position as the head of the commissariat in jeopardy.

The Hiding Place

by Jenny Quintana

Book cover for The Hiding Place

This tense mystery from Jenny Quintana is a must-read for crime fiction fans. Marina was adopted as a baby after she was found wrapped in a blue shawl in a shared house in London. The press nicknamed her Baby Blue, but the circumstances around her birth are still unknown.  Marina longs to uncover the truth about her birth, so when a flat in the house where she was found is put up for rent, she seizes her chance.  But what if it's not just the house hiding secrets? What if someone knows what happened that day,  and wants to make sure the truth never comes to light?

Witness

by Mandasue Heller

Book cover for Witness

Holly Evans is constantly on the move with her over-protective mum. When they move into an illegal sub-let in Manchester, Holly feels settled for the first time in her life, but why is she forbidden to go out, or even open the door when her mum's not there?

This gritty crime novel paints a dark picture of Manchester's underworld, and will have you gripped until the last page.


The best crime books of all time

Memory Man

by David Baldacci

Book cover for Memory Man

Amos Decker returned home eighteen months ago to find the bodies of his wife and daughter. He didn’t think he could go on living, but when his former police partner tells him someone has confessed to the murders he knows he must seek justice for his family. When thirteen teenagers are gunned down at the local school it seems there is a link between the murders, and Amos must use his incredible memory – a remarkable result of a serious brain injury – to solve the case. 

Explore more of David Baldacci’s books here.

The Mother

by Yvvette Edwards

Book cover for The Mother

Marcia Williams thought she knew her son. She thought he was safe. She was wrong.

Marcia is heading to the Old Bailey. She's going there to do something no mother should ever have to do: to attend the trial of the boy accused of her son's murder.

She's not meant to be that woman; Ryan, her son, wasn't that kind of boy. But Tyson Manley is that kind of a boy and, as his trial unfolds, it becomes clear that it's his girlfriend Sweetie who has the answers Marcia so badly needs and who can - perhaps - offer Marcia some kind of hope for the future. But Sweetie is as scared of Tyson as Ryan should have been and, as Marcia's learned the hard way, nothing's certain.

The Decagon House Murders

by Yukito Ayatsuji

Book cover for The Decagon House Murders

A Japanese cult classic, Ayatsuji's murder mystery puzzle will delight fans of classic whodunnits.

Tsunojima is a desolate, rocky island known for a series of gruesome and unsolved murders – the perfect choice for the K-University Mystery Club's annual trip. But after a club member turns up dead, the Mystery Club realise they might have taken on more than their amateur sleuthing skills can handle. . .

Will any of the survivors deduce the murderer's horrific plan before it's too late?

Last Bus to Woodstock

by Colin Dexter

Book cover for Last Bus to Woodstock

Last Bus to Woodstock is the first novel in Colin Dexter's gripping Inspector Morse crime fiction series. The death of Sylvia Kaye figured dramatically in Thursday afternoon's edition of the Oxford Mail. By Friday evening Inspector Morse had informed the nation that the police were looking for a dangerous man – facing charges of wilful murder, sexual assault and rape.

But as the obvious leads fade into twilight and darkness, Morse becomes more and more convinced that passion holds the key . . .

Discover all the books in the Inspector Morse series. 

The Long Call

by Ann Cleeves

Book cover for The Long Call

From the author of the Vera and Shetland series comes The Long Call, the first novel in Ann Cleeve’s latest crime fiction series. Detective Matthew Venn has returned to North Devon where he grew up in, and ultimately turned his back on, a strict evangelical community, losing his family in the process. He’s returned, not only because he is mourning the death of his father, but because he is taking on his first case in the Two Rivers region. A man has been found stabbed to death on the beach, and Venn’s investigation will take him straight to the heart of the community he left behind.

Find out more about Ann Cleeves's Two Rivers series.

Blanche on the Lam

by Barbara Neely

Book cover for Blanche on the Lam

Blanche White is middle-aged African-American housekeeper, working in the homes of the decorous rich in North Carolina. But after one employer refuses to pay her, she goes on the lam and begins to work at a summer home for a wealthy family. It's a great plan, until she finds herself as the prime suspect of a murder investigation.

Using all of her quick wit and years of experience as a domestic made, she must uncover the truth and clear her name. 

Revealing the quirks of southern society with a biting irony, Barbara Neely's Blanche White has quickly become one of the most original and well-loved characters to appear in crime fiction – with Neely winning an Agatha Award for Blanche on the Lam

One Good Deed

by David Baldacci

Book cover for One Good Deed

Murder, secrets, revenge, and just a touch of romance combine in this noir-inspired crime thriller with a twist which is sure to keep you gripped until the very last page. Aloysius Archer wants to start a new, peaceful life in Poca City after serving a prison sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. But he takes on more than he bargained for when he starts work as a debt collector for local business tycoon Hank Pittleman and becomes involved with some of the town's most dangerous residents.

Explore more of David Baldacci’s books here.

The Honjin Murders

by Seishi Yokomizo

Book cover for The Honjin Murders

Hailed as Japan's greatest classic murder mystery, Seishi Yokomizo's story has been translated into English for the first time.

In the depths of winter, 1937, excitement grows throughout the rural Japanese village of Okamura as the wedding of a son of the famous Ichiyanagi family approaches, despite the worrying presence of a masked man lurking in the village. 

But on the night of the wedding, a terrible death upends the Ichiyanagi household – with the only clue being a bloody samurai sword left in the snow outside the house. 

Can amateur detective Kosuke Kindaichi find the killer, and unravel what is appears to be an impossible crime?

My Sister, the Serial Killer

by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Book cover for My Sister, the Serial Killer

Korede has always been a good big sister, stepping in to help her little sibling clean up her messes. Unfortunately, Ayoola’s messes tend to be lethal.  In fact, she’s dispatched her last three boyfriends in ‘self-defence’. Family comes first, until Ayoola starts dating the doctor at the surgery where Korede works . . . 

Tell Me Your Secret

by Dorothy Koomson

Book cover for Tell Me Your Secret

Ten years ago, Pieta survived a weekend with a serial killer. She never told anyone what happened, but now he’s back – and staying alive might mean revealing her darkest secret. Fifteen years ago, Jody, a policewoman, made a mistake that resulted in the killer going free. When she discovers Pieta’s story, she realises she now has a way to catch him. 

Cover Her Face

by P. D. James

Book cover for Cover Her Face

Cover Her Face is the first crime novel in P. D. James’s much-loved crime fiction Adam Dalgliesh series. A parlour maid is found dead at Martingale manor house and Detective Chief-Inspector Adam Dalgliesh is called in to investigate, but he qickly becomes embroiled in the passions that run strong in this seemingly quiet English village. 

Black Water Rising

by Attica Locke

Book cover for Black Water Rising

After saving a woman from drowning in the Houston bayou, lawyer Jay Porter finds himself entangled in a murder investigation that could cost him his practice – or even his life. But as he attempts to make sense of a dark mystery that threatens the hierarchies of corporate power, while confronting his own banished demons of the past.

Shortlisted for the Orange Prize, Black Water Rising was Attica Locke's incredible debut onto the crime fiction scene. 

The Mysterious Affair at Styles

by Agatha Christie

Book cover for The Mysterious Affair at Styles

Hercule Poirot is one of crime fiction's most famous detectives, and Agatha Christie’s hero gets his first outing in this, the first in Agatha Christie’s Poirot crime book series. When Captain Arthur Hastings was invited to the Styles country estate to recuperate from the injuries he sustained in the war, he didn’t expect to stumble across a murder. Luckily, he knows a former detective who has grown bored of retirement . . .