11 Best Authors Like Harlan Coben: Best-Selling Crime Fiction Writers You’ll Love!

Discover your new favorite legal thriller novelists with our list of authors like Harlan Coben.

Among modern crime writers, Harlan Coben is a popular one. Coben is the New York Times best-selling author of 34 suspense novels with over 80 million books in print with 45 language translations around the globe. His books often feature unresolved crimes and are known for their many plot twists. Winning an Edgar Award, a Shamus Award, and an Anthony Award, Corban was the first author to receive all three accolades.

The author was born to a Jewish family in New Jersey, worked in the travel industry for many years, and published his first book, Play Dead, at 26 in 1990. This launched his successful writing career. There’s a reason why Coben is one of the best-known authors! So, stock your bookshelf with works by the authors in our guide to feeling like you’ve got a front-row seat in the courtroom.

Here Are The Best Authors Like Harlan Coben

1. David Baldacci, 1960 –

David Baldacci
David Baldacci smiling at the camera

David Baldacci is an American author who earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law. Before writing full-time, Baldacci practiced law for nine years. While practicing, he spent three years writing his first novel, 1996’s Absolute Power, which told the story of a president and Secret Service agents who work to cover up a murder. 

The novel quickly became an international bestseller and was made into a film starring Clint Eastwood. The author’s works have been published in over 80 countries and sold over 130 million copies worldwide. “It’s my experience that most folk who ride trains could care less where they’re going. For them it’s the journey itself and the people they meet along the way. You see, at every stop this train makes, a little bit of America, a little bit of your country, gets on and says hello.”

David Baldacci, The Christmas Train
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Absolute Power
  • Baldacci, David (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 704 Pages - 01/01/2010 (Publication Date) - Vision (Publisher)

2. Linwood Barclay, 1955 –

Linwood Barclay
Photo of author Linwood Barclay speaking into a microphone

Linwood Barclay is a novelist, columnist, and humorist who started writing detective fiction in 2007’s No Time for Goodbye. The book sold over a million copies quickly. The author planned on returning to his job as a newspaper columnist after a year-long sabbatical but found that the success of his novel allowed him to focus on his writing full-time. In 2008, he wrote a goodbye column, signing off at the Toronto Star.

His career continued to soar with his novel Trust Your Eyes becoming a finalist for the Crime Thriller Book Club Best Read from the UK Specsavers Crime Thriller Award. Barclay gained fast notoriety for Trust Your Eyes. He was featured on the cover of Variety Magazine following a bidding war between Warner Bros. and Universal Studios for rights to the story. 

In addition to his crime novels, Barclay is also known for his humorous writing. He’s published three collections of his humor articles: This House Is Nuts!, Father Knows Zilch: A Guide for Dumbfounded Dads, and Mike Harris Made Me Eat My Dog. You might also be interested in our list of authors like Quintin Jardine.

“I don’t subscribe much to the belief that things happen for a reason, that there’s some higher power at the controls, directing all of us like we’re in some cosmic summer stock production. Shit just happens is more or less my philosophy.”

Linwood Barclay, Too Close to Home

3. Michael Connelly, 1956 –

Michael Connelly
Photo of author Michael Connell

Michael Connelly is known for his crime novels, specifically those featuring LAPD detective Harry Bosch. Connelly has published 31 novels and sold more than 74 million copies worldwide. Connelly’s first novel, The Black Echo, won the 1992 Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award and introduced readers to Bosch. Connelly’s big break came shortly after, in 1994, when President Bill Clinton was seen carrying the author’s novel, The Concrete Blond. Many are familiar with Connelly’s 2005 novel The Lincoln Lawyer, which was made into a 2011 blockbuster hit starring Matthew McConaughey. 

“There were a billion lights out there on the horizon and I knew that all of them put together weren’t enough to light the darkness in the hearts of some men.”

Michael Connelly, The Scarecrow

4. Dan Brown, 1964 –

Dan Brown
Photo of author Dan Brown smiling at the camera

Dan Brown is known worldwide for his novels featuring protagonist Robert Langdon as he roams the globe to solve mysteries. The writer began his professional teaching career and quit in 1996 to focus on writing full-time. Brown’s most popular books include Angels and Demons, The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol, Inferno, and Origin

Many of Brown’s novels touch on themes of religion and cryptography. Brown credits his upbringing for much of his interest in writing mysteries – for Christmas, his parents would create a treasure map to lead Brown and his siblings to their gifts. 

“Faith is universal. Our specific methods for understanding it are arbitrary. Some of us pray to Jesus, some of us go to Mecca, some of us study subatomic particles. In the end we are all just searching for truth, that which is greater than ourselves.”

Dan Brown, Angels & Demons

5. Dennis Lehane, 1965 –

Dennis Lehane
Photo of author Dennis Lehane

Dennis Lehane fans are familiar with his Boston upbringing, as he sets most of his books in the area. The author has published twelve novels, four of which have been made into feature films, Mystic River, Shutter Island, Gone Baby Gone, and Live by Night. Before he was a well-known name in Hollywood, Lehane got his start with 1994’s A Drink Before the War

Lehane introduced Angela Gennaro and Patrick Kenzie in this novel, who would become recurring characters throughout his writing. In addition to his work as an author, Lehane has taught fiction writing at several schools, including Harvard University. Many writers have gotten to know Lehane through his role as a co-director of the Writers in Paradise conference.

“He wanted to ask her what sound a heart made when it broke from pleasure, when just the sight of someone filled you the way food, blood, and air never could, when you felt as if you’d been born for only one moment and this, for whatever reason, was it.”

Dennis Lehane, Shutter Island

6. John Grisham, 1955 –

John Grisham
Black-and-white photo of John Grisham

John Grisham is a trained attorney, and his legal know-how is clear in his 28 consecutive bestsellers. Around the world, Grisham has sold more than 300 million copies, and his name is synonymous with excellence in the legal thriller genre. A Time to Kill, Grisham’s first book, was published in 1989. Grisham was still working as a lawyer while he wrote his debut novel. The author’s second novel, The Firm (1991), held a spot on The New York Times bestseller list for nearly a year. In 1993, The Firm became a major motion picture starring Tom Cruise.

Several of Grisham’s other novels have also been made into feature films, including The Pelican Brief and The Client. In addition to his work writing legal thrillers, Grisham has shown success in comedy and sports writing–he wrote the screenplay for 2004’s Mickey, a baseball film starring Harry Connick Jr. The author has also written several children’s legal thrillers, in which a 13-year-old boy provides his classmates with legal advice.

“Shame was an emotion he had abandoned years earlier. Addicts know no shame. You disgrace yourself so many times you become immune to it.”

John Grisham, The Testament

7. Lisa Gardner, 1972 –

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner writes psychological thrillers. The prolific author was born in 1972 in Oregon. She started working in food service but found she tended to catch her hair on fire. This turned her to writing. She won the Best Hardcover Novel from the International Thriller Writers for The Neighbor and received a Silver Bullet award from the same organization for her charity work.

“There are things that once done can’t be undone, things that once said can’t be unsaid.”

Lisa Gardner, The Neighbor

8. John Sandford, 1944 –

John Sandford is the pen name for John Roswell Camp – a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who writes novels. Many have been on the New York Times bestseller list, including several that took the number one spot. He has 54 published novels and two non-fiction books. 

Sandford was born in Iowa and attended the University of Iowa, also serving in the military. His Prey series, which began with Rules of Prey in 1989, tells of Lucas Davenport, a detective from Minneapolis who must track down criminals in each novel. You might also be interested in our guide on authors like Robert Crais.

“Her Pan-Cake makeup was cracking like a dried-out Dakota lake bed.”

John Sandford, Rules of Prey
Rules of Prey (Lucas Davenport, No. 1)
  • Sandford, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 512 Pages - 08/02/2005 (Publication Date) - G.P. Putnam's Sons (Publisher)

9. Lee Child, 1954 –

Lee Child
Photo of author Lee Child

Lee Child is the pen name of James Dover Grant, a British author of thriller novels that stars Jack Reacher, a former military policeman who travels throughout the United States and solves crimes. Since the first Jack Reacher novel, Killing Floor, in 1997, Child has released a new book in the series every year, except for 2010, when he released two. He has won several awards, including the Barry, Nero, and Anthony awards. Child was born in England and attended the University of Sheffield.

“I’d never believed in luck. Never had any cause to. Never relied on it, because I never could.”

Lee Child, Killing Floor
Killing Floor (Jack Reacher)
  • didn't kill no convincing anyone.
  • Child, Lee (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 576 Pages - 10/30/2012 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

10. Stephen King, 1947 –

Stephen King
Photo of Stephen King

Born in Maine and a graduate of the University of Maine, Stephen King is a best-selling author known for his horror and supernatural novels, but he also writes crime and suspense fiction. His nickname, “King of Horror,” solidifies that his crime fiction and thriller books are on par with Harlan Coben’s. 

His first book, Carrie, was in the horror category, but in 2014 he entered the detective novel category with a new release, Mr. Mercedes. It told of a retired detective who must track down a killer who used a Mercedes to kill eight people. This started a trilogy that followed the serial killer until he was caught. You might also enjoy these authors like Peter James.

“Creepy as hell. You ever see that TV movie about the clown in the sewer?”

Stephen King, Mr. Mercedes
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Mr. Mercedes: A Novel (1) (The Bill Hodges Trilogy)
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 448 Pages - 01/06/2015 (Publication Date) - Scribner (Publisher)

11. Gillian Flynn, 1971 –

Gillian Flynn
Photo of author Gillian Flynn

Gillian Flynn is an American author known for her thrillers and mystery books. One of them, Gone Girl, which she published in 2012, became a major motion picture for which she wrote the screenplay. She was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and studied English and journalism at the University of Kansas. Her 2015 book The Grownup won an Edgar Award.

“There’s a difference between really loving someone and loving the idea of her.”

Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
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Gone Girl
  • Great product!
  • Flynn, Gillian (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 422 Pages - 04/22/2014 (Publication Date) - Random House Publishing Group (Publisher)
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