The best crime books of 2020

Few books are as satisfying as a crime fiction novel you can really sink your teeth into. Here’s our edit of the best crime books of 2020 and the most gripping crime novels of all time.

4 minutes to read

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 true crime books based on real-life events, we have the case for you! Our selection of the best crime books of 2020 and the must-read crime novels of all time is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

The best crime books of 2020

The Sicilian Method

by Andrea Camilleri

Book cover for 9781529035605

When a body is found, it is discovered to be Carmelo Catalanotti, a theatre director with a formidable reputation. He is known for the acting method he developed for his actors: digging into their complexes to unleash their talent, a traumatic experience for all. Could this death be connected to another body which was recently discovered?  Inspector Montalbano thinks so, and he thinks the answer may lie in the theatre . . . Andrea Camilleri’s Italian crime fiction series is a must for mystery fans. 

Discover all the books in the Inspector Montalbano series. 

Hidden in Plain Sight

by Jeffrey Archer

Book cover for 9781509851324

This detective novel is the second in the William Warwick series by Jeffrey Archer. When Detective Sergeant William Warwick is reassigned to the drug squad his first case is to investigate notorious drug lord the Viper. As William and the team get closer to bringing the Viper down, Wiliam is faced with an enemy from his past. Can William bring both men to justice? 

Find out more about the William Warwick series.

The System

by Ryan Gattis

Book cover for 9781509843831

This intelligent, pacy crime novel is a journey through the American criminal justice system – from the moment before the crime is committed to the aftershocks of the courtroom verdict. When a drug dealer is shot in early ‘90s LA, two local gang members are arrested. One is innocent and one guilty, but the gang tells them both to take the charges. With two of the gang off the streets, newest member Little is given the serious job of discovering if this was a frame-up.

The Manor

by Jessie Keane

Book cover for 9781509855025

This gripping gangland crime fiction book is a must-read for fans of Jessie Keane. Charlie Stone and Terry Barton grew up together, as close as brothers. And now, having taken over the manor from the local mob, they’re living the high life. But when Charlie’s adopted son Harlan starts causing trouble, a feud starts that spirals out of control. Has Tery’s daughter Belle got what it takes to stand up to Harlan Stone? 

The Darkest Evening

by Ann Cleeves

Book cover for 9781509889518

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 . . .

The Secret Life of Mr Roos

by Håkan Nesser

Book cover for 9781509892235

This is the thrilling third crime novel in Håkan Nesser’s Inspector Barbarotti crime fiction series. When fifty-nine-year-old Valdemar Roos wins the lottery, he sees the chance to escape the job he hates and the family he doesn’t get on with. Without telling anyone, he quits his job and begins spending his days at the hut he buys in the Swedish countryside. He couldn’t be happier, until recovering drug addict Anna – on the run from an abusive ex and looking for somewhere to hide – turns up. But her ex isn’t far behind . . . When a woman reports her husband missing, Inspector Barbarotti doesn’t take much notice. Until a dead body turns up near the man’s recently bought hut . . . 

Find Them Dead

by Peter James

Book cover for 9781529004304

Award-winning crime fiction writer Peter James is back with a thrilling new Roy Grace book. A Brighton gangster is on trial for conspiracy to murder, and on the first day of the trial, there is one person in the gallery observing the jurors with keen interest. The gangster’s henchmen need to influence two of the jurors if he is to be found not guilty – but which two? When Roy Grace is called to investigate a murder with links to the trial, he realises how powerful the accused really is. Peter James's Roy Grace crime series is a must for any crime-fiction fan.

Discover all the Roy Grace books here.

The Mobster's Lament

by Ray Celestin

Book cover for 9781509838967

Ray Celestin is back with the third instalment of his neo-noir City Blues Quartet crime series. It's 1947 and Private Investigator Ida Davis is called to New York to investigate the murders of four people. But it soon becomes clear that there is a greater conspiracy behind these deaths and it will take Ida right into the dark heart of New York City. Described as both 'a vividly written crime thriller' and a 'dynamic portrait of a teeming city, rife with corruption', The Mobster's Lament is one of 2020's best crime novels and not to be missed.

The Last Trial

by Scott Turow

Book cover for 9781529039085

Kindle County’s most revered courtroom advocate, Sandy Stern, has been persuaded to defend his old friend Kiril Pafko, despite being eighty-five years old and in precarious health. The former Nobel prize-winner has been charged in a federal racketeering indictment with fraud, insider trading and murder. As Stern begins to question everything he thought he knew about his friend, he finds his duty to defend his client and his belief in the judicial system facing a terrible final test. This masterful legal thriller unfolds with page-turning suspense.

One Good Deed

by David Baldacci

Book cover for 9781529027501

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.

Date with Danger

by Julia Chapman

Book cover for 9781529006827

The Dales Detective Agency is about to face its biggest challenge after a fatal accident at Bruncliffe's livestock auction. Detective duo Samson O’Brien and Delilah Metcalfe are called in for a simple health and safety investigation, but things take a dark turn when they discover evidence that points to murder. If you love cosy crime books set in spectacular landscapes, you'll love this intriguing murder mystery.

The Long Call

by Ann Cleeves

Book cover for 9781509889600

From the author of the Vera and Shetland series comes The Long Call, the first novel in Ann Cleeve’s new Two Rivers 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.

A Nearly Normal Family

by M. T. Edvardsson

Book cover for 9781529008142

A stunning legal thriller told from three differing viewpoints – father, mother and daughter – which asks the question: ‘what would you do if your child was accused of murder?’ A Nearly Normal Family is the crime novel that got everyone talking.

Read an exclusive extract from A Nearly Normal Family here.

The Safety Net

by Andrea Camilleri

Book cover for 9781529035551

Vigàta is bustling in the twenty-fifth novel in the Inspector Montalbano series. A new Swedish television series set in the 1950s is being filmed in the town, and the director has asked the locals to find any photos and video taken in that decade. When Ernesto Sabatello finds film taken by his father, always the same shot of a country house on the same day between 1958 and 1963, Montalbano is intrigued and starts to investigate . . . The Inspector Montalbano novels are crime fiction at its most enthralling.

Discover all the Inspector Montalbano books here.

Time for the Dead

by Lin Anderson

Book cover for 9781509866243

The sixth gripping book in Lin Anderson’s Rhona MacLeod crime series sees Rhona return to the Isle of Skye, where she stumbles across what appears to be a crime scene, but without a victim. When a body is found at the bottom of the cliffs two days later, Rhona begins to search for a link between these events and a group of missing army medics on leave from Afghanistan.


by Mandasue Heller

Book cover for 9781529024265

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.

Babes in the Wood

by Graham Bartlett

Book cover for 9781529025569

On 10 October 1986, the bodies of two young girls were found in a Brighton park. The girls were nine-year-olds Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway who had gone out to play the day before and not returned home. Evidence mounted against a local man Russell Bishop, but a shock trial result saw him walk free.

Three years later, Graham Bartlett was working for Brighton CID when a seven-year-old was abducted and left to die. She survived, and connections were made to Russell Bishop. Will the police put him away this time? With unique access to the officers involved in the investigation, former senior detective Graham Bartlett and bestselling author Peter James tell the fascinating inside story of a thirty-two year fight for justice in this true crime book.

The Innocent Dead

by Lin Anderson

Book cover for 9781529033649

When Mary McIntyre disappeared, it tore the local community apart. When a child’s remains are found in a peat bog decades later, it seems that the mystery may finally be solved. Karen Marshall had been devastated by her friend’s disappearance, but did Karen have a part to play in what happened? Rhona MacLeod must use all her skills to determine what happened all those years ago . . . and who was really responsible.

The Knock

by Jessie Keane

Book cover for 9781509854998

Dora O’Brien’s life started to go bad when she began to mix with the wrong company. Pregnant, homeless and under the power of corrupt policeman Donny Maguire, Dora struggles with drink and drugs. Her daughter Angel grows up in the shadow of her mother’s abusive relationship, but when things turn murderous, she’s forced to grow up fast. Survival is the only thing that matters, and sometimes being on the wrong side of the law is the safest place to be . . . This is crime fiction at its most gritty.

The best crime books of all time

Last Bus to Woodstock

by Colin Dexter

Book cover for 9781447299073

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 . . .

Little Deaths

by Emma Flint

Book cover for 9781509826582

Inspired by a true story, Little Deaths is the story of Ruth, a single mother of two who wakes up to find her kids missing and no clue what happened to them . . . until both turn up dead.

With all evidence pointing to Ruth and the town having made up its mind over her guilt, it’s a story of discovering what really happened and if this mother-of-two could really kill her own children.

Long Road to Mercy

by David Baldacci

Book cover for 9781509874361

It is thirty years since FBI special agent Atlee Pine’s twin sister, Mercy, was taken from the room they shared as young children. Notorious serial killer Daniel James Tor, was caught and convicted of other murders, and while there’s no proof, Atlee believes she knows what happened to Mercy.

Now, Atlee is called in to investigate a case in the Grand Canyon when a mule is found dead with strange carvings on its body, and its rider missing. She knows about killers and perhaps understands them better than any profiler in the FBI, but it soon becomes clear that she will need to put her skills to the ultimate test in this investigation.

Discover more about David's inspiration behind FBI special agent Atlee Pine here.

See all of David Baldacci's books in order here.

The Axeman's Jazz

by Ray Celestin

Book cover for 9781447258889

A serial killer stalks New Orleans in 1919 and issues an ultimatum: play jazz or risk becoming the next victim.
As the fearful city complies with his demands, three individuals are set on unmasking the killer’s identity. The Axeman’s Jazz features gruesome murders, a mystery and is based on true events.

The Dead Girls

by Jorge Ibargüengoitia

Book cover for 9781509870172

Opening with a crime of passion after a years-long love affair has soured, The Dead Girls soon plunges into an investigation of something even darker: Serafina Baladro and her sister run a successful brothel business in a small town, so successful that they begin to expand. But when business starts to falter, life in the brothel turns ugly, and slowly, girls start disappearing . . .
Based on real events, the story of serial-killing brothel owners Delfina and María de Jésus González, whose crimes were uncovered in 1964, The Dead Girls is a deliciously satirical black comedy - a potent blend of sex and mayhem. Written in the laconic tones of a police report, it cleverly uncovers the hopeless pedantry of a broken justice system, and the dark world of prostitution.

The Moonstone

by Wilkie Collins

Book cover for 9781509850907

Widely considered to be the first full length detective novel in English literature, The Moonstone is still one of the most popular in the genre.

The action centers around Lady Verinder who inherits an Indian diamond from her unclue on her eighteenth birthday . . . though it may not be the generous gift it seems. Acquired by bloody and sinister means, legend says the diamond’s guardians will stop at nothing to get it back, and when the diamond is stolen, a complex narrative of dark mystery and suspense unravels.

A classic by all definitions, The Moonstone was one of the very first detective stories ever written.

Wild Fire

by Ann Cleeves

Book cover for 9781447278269

Drawn in by the reputation of the islands, an English family move to the area, eager to give their autistic son a better life.

But when a young nanny’s body is found hanging in the barn of their home, rumours of her affair with the husband begin to spread like wildfire.

With suspicion raining down on the family, DI Jimmy Perez is called in to investigate, knowing that it will mean the return to the islands of his on-off lover and boss Willow Reeves, who will run the case.

Perez is facing the most disturbing investigation of his career. Is he ready for what is to come?


by Fiona Cummins

Book cover for 9781509812271

Featuring a serial killer that collects the bones of his victims, Rattle by Fiona Cummins is a thriller that will keep you page turning until the very end - and make you want to leave the light on.

The Collector has set his sights upon his next victims: two children named Jakey Frith and Clara Foyle: two different children but desirable for similar reasons.

Will the police find them before it’s too late?

The Pyramid of Mud

by Andrea Camilleri

Book cover for 9781447298366

It’s been raining for days in Vigàta, and the persistent downpours have led to violent floods overtaking the Inspector’s beloved hometown, sweeping across the land and leaving only a sea of mud behind. It is on one of these endless grey days that a man – a Mr Giuglù Nicotra – is found dead. His body discovered in a large sewage tunnel, half naked and with a bullet in his back.

The investigation is slow and slippery to start with, but when Montalbano realizes that every clue he uncovers and every person he interviews is leading to the same place: the world of public spending – and with it, the Mafia – the case begins to pick up pace.

See all the books in the Inspector Montalbano series here.

The Missing Girl

by Jenny Quintana

Book cover for 9781509839520

When Anna Flores’ adored older sister goes missing as a teenager, Anna copes by disappearing too and building a life for herself abroad.

Thirty years later, the death of her mother finally forces Anna to return home. Tasked with sorting through her mother’s possessions, she begins to confront not just her mother’s death, but also the huge hole Gabriella’s disappearance left in her life. But is it too late for Anna to uncover the truth about Gabriella’s disappearance?

Dead If You Don't

by Peter James

Book cover for 9781509816378

Kipp Brown, successful businessman and compulsive gambler, is having the worst run of luck of his life. He’s beginning to lose big style. However, taking his teenage son, Mungo, to their club’s big Saturday afternoon football match should have given him a welcome respite, if only for a few hours. But it’s at the stadium where his nightmare begins.
Within minutes of arriving at the game, Kipp bumps into a client. He takes his eye of Mungo for a few moments, and in that time, the boy is gone. Then he gets the terrifying message that someone has his child, and to get him back alive, Kipp will have to pay.

The Other End of the Line

by Andrea Camilleri

Book cover for 9781529001815

The Other End of the Line is the twenty-fourth book in Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano crime fiction series and sees the inspector investigating the murder of local dressmaker Elena while the police are at the heart of efforts to help an influx of migrants who have arrived in the town.

Dead at First Sight

by Peter James

Book cover for 9781509816415

Roy Grace is on the case in this gripping crime novel from best-selling author Peter James. Across the globe people are being tricked by the same internet scam - the person they met online, who they loved dearly, does not exist. But this scam comes with a deadly price for anyone who tries to expose it.