12 Famous Mystery Authors and Their Must-Read Novels

Mystery novels have captivated readers for decades with thrilling plots, complex characters, and unexpected twists and turns. Plus, mystery fiction has given rise to countless famous mystery authors who have made a name for themselves through their incredible storytelling abilities.

From the classic works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to the modern thrillers of Gillian Flynn, there is no shortage of talent in the world of mystery writing. Whether you are a die-hard mystery fan or simply looking for your next great read, this list of the best mystery writers will satisfy your cravings.

Agatha Christie

The first person on our list of famous mystery writers is Agatha Christie. Born in 1890, Christie began writing as a young woman and published over 80 novels, plays, and short story collections throughout her illustrious career. Her career as an author spanned over five decades, during which she created some of the most iconic characters in the genre, as narrated in her autobiography.

With an estimated 2 billion copies of her books sold worldwide, it’s no wonder she’s considered one of the most famous mystery authors of all time. And the cherry on top? Christie’s works have been translated into many languages, spreading her riveting tales of mystery and suspense across the globe.

Must-Read Agatha Christie Book: The Hercule Poirot

The Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, is the story’s hero in this fascinating collection. From “Murder on a Train” to “Theft at a Country Estate,” Poirot’s deductive skills are on full display as he unravels each mystery with precision and flair.If you are looking for another Agatha Christie, make sure to check out “And Then There Were None.”

You can read The Hercule Poirot books in order.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles Hercule Poirot

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Stephen King

Also, one of the most famous mystery authors is Stephen King. Born in Portland, Maine, in 1947, King began writing at a young age and published his first novel, “Carrie,” in 1974. Since then, he has published over 60 books and countless short stories, selling millions of copies worldwide.

His novels have been adapted into films, television shows, and broadway plays. His work has won him numerous awards and recognition globally. To top it up, he got inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Must-Read Stephen King Book: Mr. Mercedes

The book is a must-read novel that will captivate and terrify in equal measure. The story introduces us to retired detective Bill Hodges, who is haunted by a past case he could not solve. When the killer taunts Hodges with disturbing messages, the retired detective is pulled back into the investigation.

Mr. Mercedes is the first book in The Bill Hodges Trilogy.

Mr. Mercedes

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Truman Capote

Capote’s unique writing style combined fiction and nonfiction elements and set him apart as a true master of his craft. However, his famous work, “In Cold Blood,” cemented his reputation. The book, published in 1966, is a true crime masterpiece that tells the story of the brutal murder of a Kansas family.

Having his work adapted into more than 20 films remains one of his most outstanding achievements. Posthumously, his work continued inspiring and captivating his readers even in death. 

Make sure to read Truman Capote’s books in order to truly appreciate his storytelling prowess.

Must-Read Truman Capote Book: In Cold Blood

Based on a true crime story, the book follows the brutal murder of the Clutter family in their small town in Kansas. The haunting journey through the investigation, trial, and aftermath of the crime offers a unique perspective on a horrific event that shook a community.

In Cold Blood

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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Synonymous with the character Sherlock Holmes, Doyle is one of the world’s most famous mystery authors. His first novel, “A Study in Scarlet,” introduced readers to detective Sherlock Holmes and his trusted sidekick Dr. Watson.

A string of Sherlock Holmes tales followed, bringing Doyle to legendary status. He published four novels and 56 short stories featuring the detective and his adventures.

Sherlock Holmes’s character remains his most significant achievement, having been adapted countless times for film, television, and other media.

Must-Read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Book: The Sherlock Holmes Series

From the intricate plots to the fascinating characters, the Sherlock Holmes stories are a masterclass in the art of storytelling. From “A Study in Scarlet” to “The Hound of the Baskerville,” each publication is a masterclass in detective fiction.

Not sure which Sherlock Holmes book you should read first? Check out this Sherlock Holmes books in order list.

The Sherlock Holmes Series

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Dashiell Hammett

In the annals of famous detective novelists, few figures loom as large as Dashiell Hammett. His first short story, “The Road Home,” was published in The Smart Set magazine. He continued to author short stories, many of which featured the character of the Continental Op.

In 1929, Hammett published his first novel, Red Harvest, which introduced more readers to the character of the Continental Op, a hard-drinking and tough-talking private eye. The book was an immediate success and established Hammett as a significant figure in the crime fiction genre.

Must-Read Dashiell Hammett’s Book: The Maltese Falcon

The story follows detective Sam Spade as he gets drawn into a nexus of intrigue and danger surrounding a priceless statuette, the Maltese Falcon. When Archer and Thursby are killed the same night, Spade finds himself at the center of a deadly game with ruthless criminals who will stop at nothing to retrieve the figurine.

The Maltese Falcon

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Edgar Allan Poe

picture of Edgar Allan Poe, a well-known poet.

Best known for his haunting and macabre tales of mystery and horror, Poe was an expert on the written word. His works are notable for their exploration of the darker aspects of human nature, from madness and obsession to death and despair.

More than a century after his death, Poe’s work remains relevant as it was in the 19th century. His work made him a household name globally. In European countries, he is adored in equal measure.

Aside from being one of the most famous mystery authors, Edgar Allan Poe is also one of the best poets of all time.

Must-Read Edgar Allan Poe: The Fall of the House of Usher

Published in 1839 by Burton’s Magazine, the short story follows an unnamed narrator visiting an old Usher mansion to visit his friend Roderick Usher. The character became enmeshed in the Usher family’s dark and twisted world. A true classic of horror literature, the story continues to unsettle and fascinate readers and give some sleepless nights.

The Fall of the House of Usher

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Lee Child

photo of author Lee Child

With more than 20 novels and numerous short stories, Child has become one of the most recognizable names in crime and thriller fiction. He initially pursued journalism before trying his hand at writing. “Killing Floor,” published in 1997, was his first novel which introduced the world to the character of Jack Reacher. 

In a past interview, he credits Margaret Atwood as the author who inspired and changed his mind.

Make sure to read Lee Child’s books in order to appreciate Child’s Jack Reacher adventure.

Must-Read Lee Child Book: Killing Floor

The novel opens with Reacher being arrested in a small Georgia town for a murder he did not commit. What follows is a gripping and fast-paced thriller that takes the reader through the town’s seedy underbelly. Reacher must navigate a web of corruption, murder, and deceit to clear his name and uncover the truth.

Killing Floor

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Dan Brown

Photo of Dan Brown, one of the highest paid author.

Brown grew up in a family of academics, with his father being a mathematics professor and his mother a professional organist. His love of solving complex puzzles and codes that solved a mystery inspired his writing career.

Though he started writing in the 1990s, his most significant break came in 2003 with his bestselling novel, The Da Vinci Code. If you already read this book, there are ten other books like The Da Vinci Code you should add to your to-be-read list.

Must-Read Dan Brown’s Book: The Da Vinci Code

The book centers around Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, who is summoned to the Louvre Museum in Paris after the curator is found murdered. The curator has left a cryptic message for Langdon, which sets him on the trail of clues that leads him to the heart of a centuries-old conspiracy involving the Holy Grail and the true identity of Jesus Christ.

The Da Vinci Code

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John Grisham

Black and white photo of John Grisham

Born in 1955 in Arkansas, Grisham grew up in a small town and went on to study law. He practiced law for nearly a decade before turning to literature, where he found his true calling.

Since then, Grisham has authored numerous novels, many of which have been adapted into movies and TV shows. His legal thrillers often tackle complex social and political issues, such as the death penalty, corruption, and the power of the legal system.

A career that was inspired by his legal profession, his books have sold over 300 million copies worldwide, making him one of the most famous mystery authors of all time.

Not a fan of Grisham? Make sure to check these authors like Grisham.

Must-Read John Grisham’s Book: The Pelican Brief

First published in 1992, this book is a page-turner from beginning to end, full of twists and turns that keep readers on the edge of their seats. The plot centers around a young law student, Darby Shaw, who stumbles upon a secret conspiracy involving two Supreme Court justices.

The Pelican Brief

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Dennis Lehane

Lehane was born and raised in a working-class family in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Since his first publication, he has written a dozen more novels that have sold millions of copies worldwide.

Dennis is celebrated for his ability to weave articulate stories and create vivid and complex characters. His works have been adapted into several films, and he has received multiple awards for his contributions to the world of literature. These awards include; Two Edgar Awards and a WGA Award in the Outstanding Dramatic Series category.

Must-Read Dennis Lehane’s Book: Shutter Island

The novel follows U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels as he investigates the disappearance of a patient from a mental institution for criminals. However, as Teddy delves deeper into the case, he begins to question everything he knows and the reality of the situation.

Shutter Island: A Novel

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Gillian Flynn

Growing up, All Flynn wanted was to become a journalist, which she attributes to shaping her career as an author. As a journalist, she began writing her first novel, “Sharp Objects,” published in 2006.

Her second novel, “Dark Places,” was published in 2009. It is about a woman who survived a massacre that killed her family. Her mystery novels have so far been published in 40 different languages. Flynn has won an Edgar Award in the Best Short Story category.

Must-Read Gillian Flynn’s Book: Gone Girl

Published in 2012 by Crown Publishing Group, the novel follows Nick and Amy Dunne, a couple from New York City who moves to a small town in Missouri after losing their jobs. Solving the mystery of who killed Amy becomes a psychological thriller as details unfold.

Gone Girl

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Raymond Chandler

The last person on our list of famous mystery authors is Raymond Chandler. His job loss in 1944 was a blessing in disguise as it rekindled his passion for literary work. Today, he is regarded as a progenitor of the detective fiction genre. Chandler also significantly impacted the development of American popular literature’s aesthetic.

He is an expert in misdirection, and his twists and turns are so expertly crafted that they often take the reader by surprise.

Must-Read Raymond Chandler: The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep is a crime novel featuring detective Marlowe hired to handle a blackmailer of a young wild girl whose father is ready to do anything to protect his daughter. A simple blackmail investigation turns into a thriller full of suspense and surprises.

The Big Sleep

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