10 Best Authors Like Robert Crais Who Are Masters of Crime Fiction

Explore the thrilling world of crime fiction with these authors like Robert Crais who craft compelling mysteries that give a glimpse into a world where you scarcely dare to venture.

Crime fiction has intrigued readers for generations, offering an enthralling escape into the dark corners of human nature and the complexities of crime-solving. With diverse sub-genres ranging from gritty detective stories to heart-pounding thrillers, crime fiction has produced many unforgettable characters and gripping narratives. The genre’s appeal lies in its ability to showcase the delicate balance between good and evil, challenging readers to unravel mysteries alongside the protagonists, all while exploring the depths of human emotion and intrigue.

One of the best crime thriller authors is Robert Crais. Known for his vivid storytelling and character development, Crais has earned several awards throughout his career, including the Anthony and Macavity awards. Among his most popular works are the Elvis Cole and Joe Pike series, which have cemented his status as a master at writing crime fiction. With bestsellers like The Monkey’s Raincoat and L.A. Requiem, Crais has consistently delivered compelling tales that leave readers eagerly anticipating his next book release. This list of similar authors like Robert Crais will help to keep fans’ bookshelves stocked.

Best Authors Like Robert Crais Ranked

1. John Sandford, 1944 –

John Sandford
Rules of Prey book cover image

John Sandford, the pen name of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John Roswell Camp, is a well-respected author in the crime fiction genre. With more than 40 novels, Sandford is best known for his popular Prey series featuring Lucas Davenport and his Virgil Flowers novels. Critics have highly praised his novels, and he has received several accolades, including the John Creasey Memorial Dagger Award for his first novel.

One of Sandford’s most highly regarded works is the first novel in the Prey series Rules of Prey. The novel follows the story of Lucas Davenport, a Minneapolis police lieutenant who uses unconventional methods to catch a serial killer. The book is praised for its complex characters, engaging plot, and sharp dialogue. This novel set the stage for the success of the Prey series, which has become a staple of the crime fiction genre. You might also be interested in our list of authors like Quintin Jardine.

“Never kill anyone you know. Never have a motive. Never follow a discernible pattern. Never carry a weapon after it has been used.”

John Sandford, Rules of Prey

2. Robert B. Parker, 1932 – 2010

Robert B. Parker
Photo of Robert B. Parker sitting in an audience

An influential crime writer, Robert B. Parker is well-known for his Spenser series, which has captivated audiences since its debut in 1973. With over 70 novels to his name, Parker’s work has often been compared to that of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. He received many accolades throughout his career, including the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America and an Edgar Award for Best Novel.

In Parker’s novel Early Autumn, private investigator Spenser is hired to protect a teenage boy from his own family’s dangerous schemes. The novel, which won Parker the Edgar Award, showcases his ability to blend humor, pathos, and thrilling action into a compelling narrative. The Spenser series inspired the popular television show Spenser: For Hire, solidifying Parker’s place in the crime fiction pantheon. Check out our post about Anne Perry, crime author with a violet past dies.

“Mr. Spenser,” the lower lip moistened again, mouth open a little, tip of the tongue running along the inner edge of the lip. “Please. I have no one else. Please.”

Robert B. Parker, Early Autumn

3. Lawrence Block, 1938 –

Lawrence Block
Photo of Lawrence Block at an event

Lawrence Block, an accomplished crime writer, has a long and successful career with over 100 novels and short story collections. Block’s work spans various sub-genres of crime fiction, and he has received numerous accolades, including the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America and multiple Edgar Awards. His most famous creations are the characters Matthew Scudder, an alcoholic ex-cop turned private investigator, and Bernie Rhodenbarr, a lovable burglar.

Eight Million Ways to Die is one of Block’s most highly acclaimed novels, featuring Matthew Scudder as he investigates the murder of a high-end prostitute. This dark and gritty novel explores Scudder’s struggles with alcoholism and the seedy underworld of New York City. The book has been praised for its gripping plot and Block’s distinctive writing style. Check out these authors like Tess Gerritsen.

“She lit her cigarette and positioned the lighter on top of the cigarette pack.”

Lawrence Block, Eight Million Ways to Die

4. Dennis Lehane, 1965 –

Dennis Lehane
Photo of author Dennis Lehane

Dennis Lehane has made a name for himself in the world of crime fiction with his gritty, character-driven novels, often set in his hometown of Boston. Since his first novel in 1994, Lehane has written several bestsellers, including Mystic River, which won the Anthony Award for Best Novel and was adapted into an Academy Award-winning Hollywood film. Lehane’s work has been lauded for its sharp dialogue, realistic characters, and intricate plots.

Gone, Baby, Gone is one of Lehane’s most celebrated novels, featuring private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro. Tasked with finding a missing child, they navigate the treacherous underbelly of Boston’s criminal world. The novel delves into complex moral dilemmas and showcases Lehane’s ability to create a gripping, emotionally charged narrative. The book was later adapted into a critically acclaimed film directed by Ben Affleck.

“Lionel,” his wife said, “stop making excuses for Helene.”

Dennis Lehane, Gone, Baby, Gone

5. Jonathan Kellerman, 1949 –

Jonathan Kellerman
When the Bough Breaks book cover image

Psychologist and bestselling author Jonathan Kellerman is renowned for his Alex Delaware novels, which have been lauded for their realistic portrayal of the psychological aspects of crime. Kellerman has won numerous awards, including the Edgar Award for Best First Novel and the Anthony Award for Best Novel. His work has been praised for its intricate plots, well-developed characters, and authentic psychological insights.

In Kellerman’s novel When the Bough Breaks, protagonist Alex Delaware, a child psychologist, is called upon to help solve a brutal double murder. Delaware’s expertise in the psychological realm adds depth and nuance to the investigation, while Kellerman’s writing keeps readers engaged with a captivating mystery. The novel, which marked the beginning of the long-running Alex Delaware series, showcases Kellerman’s unique blend of psychological insight and thrilling storytelling.

“He stood and looked out the window, gazing out over the tops of pines and eucalyptus. From where I sat I could see smoke rising in indolent swirls from a distant fireplace.”

Jonathan Kellerman, When the Bough Breaks

6. Stuart Woods, 1938 – 2022

Stuart Woods
Photo of Stuart Woods at an event

Stuart Woods was a prolific author of crime fiction, known for his Stone Barrington series and Will Lee novels. With over 80 books to his name, Woods built a reputation for creating engaging, fast-paced stories with plots driven by witty dialogue. He received several accolades throughout his career, including the Edgar Award for Best First Novel.

Chiefs, Woods’ first novel, is about three generations of police chiefs in a small Georgia town, each investigating a series of murders. The novel has been praised for its intricate plotting, memorable characters, and vivid backdrop. Chiefs was later adapted into a successful television miniseries, solidifying Woods’ status as a prominent crime writer. 

“The path turned sharply to the right, but he lunged ahead into thick brush again, hoping for safety.”

Stuart Woods, Chiefs

7. Patricia Cornwell, 1956 –

Patricia Cornwell
Photo of Patricia Cornwell in a vehicle

Bestselling author Patricia Cornwell is well known for her Kay Scarpetta series, featuring the iconic medical examiner and her investigations into complex and chilling cases. Cornwell’s work has garnered multiple awards, including the Edgar Award for Best First Novel and the Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel. Her novels have been praised for their attention to detail, strong character development, and gripping plots.

One of Cornwell’s most highly regarded novels is Postmortem, the first book in the Kay Scarpetta series. Dr. Scarpetta is confronted with a serial killer who leaves few clues and eludes capture in this novel. Cornwell’s expertise in forensic science lends authenticity to her writing, creating a suspenseful and engaging mystery that satisfies her fans’ cravings for intrigue.

“The guy’s only advantage in life is he’s big and white, so he makes himself bigger and whiter by carrying a gun and a badge.”

Patricia Cornwell, Postmortem

8. James Lee Burke, 1936 –

James Lee Burke
Book cover of The Neon Rain

James Lee Burke is known for his Dave Robicheaux novels, set in Louisiana, and his Billy Bob Holland series, set in Texas. Burke’s work has been praised for its evocative prose, vivid settings, and complex characters. He’s received multiple awards, including twice for the Edgar Award for Best Novel and once for the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. He also received the Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts in Fiction.

One of Burke’s most highly regarded works is The Neon Rain, the first novel in the Dave Robicheaux series. The story follows New Orleans detective Robicheaux as he investigates the murder of a young woman, uncovering a web of corruption and violence. With its rich atmosphere and intricate plotting, the novel showcases Burke’s talent for weaving together elements of crime fiction, Southern Gothic, and literary fiction.

“When you’ve hunted through the whole marsh for the bull ‘gator that ate your hog and you come up empty, go back where you started and commence again. You walked right over him.”

James Lee Burke, The Neon Rain

9. Ian Rankin, 1960 –

Ian Rankin
Photo of author Ian Rankin

Acclaimed Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin is best known for his Inspector Rebus series, which his fans appreciate for its gritty portrayal of Edinburgh’s dark underbelly. Rankin has received several awards and honors for his work, including the Edgar Award for Best Novel, the Gold Dagger Award, and the Diamond Dagger for Lifetime Achievement from the Crime Writers’ Association.

In Rankin’s novel Black and Blue, the eighth installment in the Inspector Rebus series, protagonist John Rebus is drawn into a deadly game with a serial killer while simultaneously investigating a cold case. The novel delves deep into the dark corners of Scottish society, while Rankin’s skillful storytelling keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Black and Blue has been hailed as one of the best entries in the series, showcasing Rankin’s mastery of the crime fiction genre. Check out our post about how Rankin’s Rebus novels receive TV adaptions.

“Minto was ready for violence until he saw who it was. Then he just snarled and strode back to the living room.”

Ian Rankin, Black and Blue

10. Jeffrey Deaver, 1950 –

James Lee Burke
Photo of Jeffrey Deaver speaking at Waterstones bookstore

Jeffrey Deaver is known for his intricate plots and meticulous research. With over 40 novels, Deaver has received several awards, including the Edgar Award for Best Short Story and the Steel Dagger Award for Best Thriller. His most famous character is the quadriplegic forensic detective Lincoln Rhyme, featured in a series of popular novels and a successful film adaptation.

The Bone Collector, the first book in the Lincoln Rhyme series, introduces readers to the brilliant, disabled forensic detective as he faces off against a twisted serial killer. The book has been praised for its engaging plot, richly developed characters, and detailed forensic science. Deaver’s ability to create suspense and weave complex narratives has earned him a place among the best crime writers of his generation.

“A sudden crack resonated through the air, and T.J. flinched. John gave a short scream.”

Jeffrey Deaver, The Bone Collector

Ready to write your own story? Check out our guide with the best writing tips for short stories!

Author

  • Kate has been writing since she was 10 years old, tapping away on an old typewriter in her childhood bedroom. Today, Kate is a seasoned freelance writer with over 10 years of experience writing for print and online media. She’s an avid reader and believes in the power of words to transport readers to new worlds, and inspire and nurture creativity. Kate is also a published author and is currently working on her next project.