If you’re searching for fast-paced crime novels, you’ll love these authors like Tess Gerritsen.
Author and retired physician Tess Gerritsen is known for her medical and crime thrillers. Harvest made her a known name in the literary scene, debuting at the number thirteen spot on the New York Times bestseller list. Gerritsen decided to shift gears and move into crime writing in 2001 with her novel The Surgeon, which introduced readers to detective Jane Rizzoli, who became a key character in thirteen additional books.
To date, Gerritsen has sold more than 25 million copies around the world. If you’ve reached the end of Gerritsen’s catalog and are searching for your next crime fiction fix, check out our guide with authors who emulate her fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat writing style!
Best Authors Like Tess Gerritsen Ranked
1. Jonathan Kellerman, 1949 –
Jonathan Kellerman is a novelist and psychologist known both as a bestselling novelist and a valued contributor to the field of psychology. At the start of his career, Kellerman was practicing full-time during the day while working on his novels in the evenings. He had his big break in 1985 with When the Bough Breaks, his first published novel. Five years later, he decided to stop practicing as a psychologist to write full-time. Kellerman is known for several series starring law enforcement protagonists, including the Alex Delaware series, the Petra Connor series, the Jacob Lev series, and the Clay Edison series.
“At first, when a child meets something that scares him, the fear grows, like a wave. But when he goes into the water and swims – gets used to the water – the wave grows small. If we pull the child away when the wave is high, he never sees that, never learns how to swim and remains afraid. If he gets a chance to feel strong, in control, that’s called coping. When he copes, he feels better.”Jonathan Kellerman, Time Bomb
2. Patricia Cornwell, 1956 –
Patricia Cornwell has sold more than 100 million copies of crime novels worldwide, many starring protagonist Kay Scarpetta, a medical examiner based in Richmond, Virginia. Cornwell has firsthand knowledge of life in the world of law enforcement. In 1985, five years before publishing her first Scarpetta novel, the author began working at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Virginia as both a technical writer and a computer analyst.
Her first Scarpetta novel Postmortem was based on a series of strangling in Richmond in 1987. The book earned Cornwell the Edgar Award, the Macavity Award, the John Creasey Memorial Award, and the Anthony Award. The Scarpetta series is still strong, with nearly 30 books currently listed. Cornwell has also written several non-fiction books, including two on the story of Jack the Ripper.
“You artists think you’re the only ones who can relate to these things. Many of us have the same feelings, the same emptiness, the same loneliness. But we don’t have the tools to verbalize them. So we carry on, we struggle. Feelings are feelings. I think people’s feelings are pretty much the same all over the world.”Patricia Cornwell, Postmortem
3. Chris Carter
Chris Carter worked as a criminal psychologist before trying his hand at crime writing. He’s known for his novels starring homicide detective Robert Hunter. Carter began the series in 2009 with The Sunday Times bestseller The Crucifix Killer. The latest installment in the series, 2019’s Hunting Evil, follows Hunter. He deals with a serial killer he put behind bars being released from prison. Fans of Carter appreciate how he keeps readers on the edge of their seats, effectively portraying how criminals work.
“The nightmares were so devastating that as a self-defense mechanism his brain did all it could to keep him awake at night. Instead of falling asleep, Hunter read ferociously. Books became his refuge, his castle. A safe place where the ghastly nightmares couldn’t breach the gates.”Chris Carter, One by One
4. Dennis Lehane, 1965 –
Dennis Lehane is best known for several novels that have been adapted into feature films, including Mystic River, Shutter Island, and Gone Baby Gone. Before becoming the name behind blockbuster hits, he started with A Drink Before the War, his debut novel, which won the Shamus Award for Best First P.I. Novel. While Lehane enjoys seeing movies based on his novels, he says he has no interest in writing screenplays based on his books – he says it feels like he would be operating on his own child.
“The brain controls pain. It controls fear. Sleep. Empathy. Hunger. Everything we associate with the heart or the soul or the nervous system is actually controlled by the brain. Everything. What if you could control it?”Dennis Lehane, Shutter Island
5. Karl Braungart
Karl Braungart developed his knowledge of international affairs while working in Army security during the Cold War. Following his military service, he earned a degree in political science. His firsthand knowledge of foreign affairs allows him to create fictional stories with factual details. Readers love Braungart’s fast pace and themes of espionage and mind control. Lost Identity is the first in a series of books that follow the journeys of Paul Remmich and Eric Miller, Army officers fighting in the Middle East.
“This assignment is my duty to perform for the US Army. My job is outside your command, my friend. You know my security clearance level remains the same. Copying the SCI is a safety measure, in case there is an electrical glitch. So, I believe we’ve talked enough about this subject. Agree?”Karl Braungart, Lost Identity
6. Lisa Scottoline, 1955 –
Legal thriller author Lisa Scottoline spent her early career as a lawyer and didn’t try her hand at writing until she became a mother and decided to leave the office. She started with Everywhere That Mary Went, the first novel in her Rosato & Associates series, which follows the female partners of a law firm. Scottoline followed Mary with 1994’s Final Appeal, which won the Best Paperback Original Mystery Edgar Award. To date, Scottoline has written more than 40 novels and sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.
“I fool you. I fool everyone.”Lisa Scottoline, Every Fifteen Minutes
7. Tana French, 1973-
American-Irish writer and actor Tana French is known as “the First Lady of Irish Crime.” Her first novel, In the Woods, was a part of her Dublin Murder Squad series, which introduced readers to detectives Rob Ryan and Cassie Maddox. The novel received international acclaim, and French won best debut crime novel from the Edgar, Barry, Macavity, and Anthony awards. The Dublin Murder Squad series is praised for delving deep into the power of friendship and exploring whether dedication to a friend could be enough to push someone to become a murderer.
“If you are perfectly happy with what you got, especially if what you got isn’t even all that spectacular then you’re dangerous. You’re breaking all the rules. You’re undermining the sacred economy. You’re challenging every assumption that society is built on.”Tana French, The Likeness
8. Karin Slaughter, 1971 –
With 21 novels that have sold more than 40 million copies worldwide, Karin Slaughter is one of the best-known crime writers in today’s literary scene. Readers first became acquainted with Slaughter’s work with her Grant County series, which followed a pediatrician, coroner, chief of police, and detective as they worked to solve crime in the fictional town of Heartsdale, Georgia. Slaughter’s 2018 novel Pieces of Her hit number two on the New York Times bestseller list and was made into an eight-episode Netflix series starring Toni Collette. In 2019, Slaughter was named the Georgia Author of the Year, and in 2020, she won the Ned Kelly Award.
“Your mother and I had always been secretly pleased that you were so headstrong and passionate about your causes. Once you were gone, we understood that these were the qualities that painted young men as smart and ambitious and young women as trouble.”Karin Slaughter, Pretty Girls
9. Lisa Gardner, 1972 –
Lisa Gardner is a number one New York Times bestselling author known for her psychological thriller and suspense novels. Many of the author’s novels star Detective D.D. Warren, a detective who works the homicide beat in the Boston Police Department. Readers first met Warren in Gardner’s 2004 novel Alone, where she was forced to investigate a fellow member of the police department. Warren’s story has taken readers on a wild ride. Most recently, Never Tell brought fans along as Warren joined forces with Flora Dane, a Boston vigilante.
“You try as a parent. You love beyond reason. You fight beyond endurance. You hope beyond despair. You never think, until the very last moment, that it still might not be enough.”Lisa Gardner, Live to Tell
10. Kathy Reichs, 1948 –
Kathy Reichs is a crime writer, academic, and anthropologist. Her crime writing is best known for inspiring the hit TV series Bones. Throughout her career, Reichs has written 21 novels, 20 of which star forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (known to many as the star of the Bones series). In addition to her Temperance Brennan series, Reichs is well-known for her first novel, Déjà Dead, which earned the author the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel in 1997. The 2011 Casey Anthony murder trial brought Reichs to the public eye, as she was asked to serve as an expert witness.
“We spoke some, moving our mouths, forming words, saying nothing. Mostly we sat. It wasn’t the comfortable silence of old friends accustomed to each other, but a dialogue of uneasiness.”Kathy Reichs, Déjà Dead
Looking for more? Check out our round-up of PD James best books!