12 Best Detective Novels Series To Keep You On The Edge of Your Seat

Ready for a mystery that keeps you on the edge of your seat while you root for the hero to solve a crime? We’ve got the best detective novels series below.

Suppose you’re interested in stories that keep you engaged and wondering what will happen next, it’s a good idea to check out crime thriller authors who will have you hanging on their every word. Detective fiction – also known as a whodunit, a private eye series, or a murder mystery – allows readers to follow along with their favorite fictional detectives as they uncover clues to solve a crime. This type of mystery book allows readers to feel like they’re right there with their favorite detective, moving from a cold case to a case that’s rife with clues that lead them to the culprit.

If you’re a budding author, it’s smart to read works from the top mystery writers, no matter your writing genre of choice. Mystery writers employ interesting literary techniques across several writing styles to keep readers engaged and interested.

Picking up on cues from foreshadowing can help you learn how to keep your readers on edge, ready to turn the pages of your stories to find out what happens next. Mystery stories can be an exciting way to engage your brain and flex your mind’s muscles. Here, we’ve compiled a list of the best detective series to add to your reading list.

1. Sherlock Holmes series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Sherlock Holmes is known as the quintessential detective that helped modern-day mystery novels get started. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s protagonist first appeared in 1887 in the story A Study in Scarlet. Holmes quickly gained popularity and appeared in 60 stories. Readers are familiar with Homles’ trusty sidekick, Watson, and love reading along as the two work to discover clues and solve mysteries. While Holmes was not the first literary detective, he’s widely regarded as the most well-known.

“Life is infinitely stranger than anything which man’s mind could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are mere commonplaces of existence.”

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

2. Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly
Michael Connelly via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Harry Bosch is a fictional character brought to life in such a compelling way that many wonder whether Connelly created the detective from real-life inspiration. The author has stated that Bosch is purely fictional, despite his relatability and seemingly realness to readers. Bosch works with the Los Angeles Police Department as a homicide detective. Readers love watching how the detective overcame a rough-and-tumble upbringing to become a respected veteran and fighter for justice.

“That’s justice,” she said, nodding at the statue. “She doesn’t hear you. She doesn’t see you. Ella she can’t feel you and she won’t speak to you. Justice, Detective Bosch, is just a concrete blonde.”

Michael Connelly, The Concrete Blonde
The Black Echo: Harry Bosch Series, Book 1
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Michael Connelly (Author) - Dick Hill (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 06/17/2008 (Publication Date) - Brilliance Audio (Publisher)

3. Dublin Murder Squad series by Tana French

The Dublin Murder Squad series follows different detectives as they solve crimes in Ireland. While the protagonists of the books change throughout the series, characters reappear, allowing readers to revisit their previous heroes as they work to help a new protagonist solve a mystery.

Readers love seeing the world of crime through different sets of eyes as the conflicting worldviews of the detectives interact with one another. While each of the books can be read as stand-alone novels, many Tana French fans find that it’s more fun to read the books as a series, following along as the detectives play on their unique strengths to help one another solve crimes. Looking for more thriller books to add to your reading list? Check out and enjoy our list of best legal thriller novels. You can also search for thriller authors using our search bar at the top right of the post.

“Over time, the ghosts of things that happened start to turn distant; once they’ve cut you a couple of million times, their edges blunt on your scar tissue, they wear thin. The ones that slice like razors forever are the ghosts of things that never got the chance to happen.”

Tana French, Broken Harbour

4. Inspector Rebus series by Sir Ian Rankin

Sir Ian Rankin
Sir Ian Rankin via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Inspector Rebus follows its protagonist around Scotland as he works to solve crimes. Most books are set in Edinburgh, and many readers argue that the city is a character within the novels. Readers may take issue with how Rebus solves crimes, and in some of the stories, may find the inspector’s actions to be just as criminal as the people he’s working to investigate. The series includes novels and short stories and has been adapted for television and radio.

“Witches never existed, except in people’s minds. All there was in the olden days was women and some men who believed in herbal cures and in folklore and in the wish to fly. Witches? We’re all witches in one way or another. Witches was the invention of mankind, son. We’re all witches beneath the skin.”

Ian Rankin, The Flood
Knots and Crosses: Inspector Rebus, Book 1
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Ian Rankin (Author) - Michael Page (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 08/28/2013 (Publication Date) - Brilliance Audio (Publisher)

5. Cormoran Strike series by J.K. Rowling (under the pen name Robert Galbraith)

J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Cormoran Strike novels are a series of detective stories written by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. The novels follow partners Robin Ellacott and Cormoran Strike as they work to solve crimes together. Thus far, six novels have been published in the series, and Rowling has revealed that she will release at least ten more.

In addition to enjoying the process of Ellacott and Strike’s crime-solving sprees, readers also love learning more about Strike’s personal life. Throughout the book, Strike separates from his long-term girlfriend and becomes closer to Ellacott. Readers find themselves rooting for the two to get together throughout the novels.

“Women liked Strike—she had come to realize that over the months they had worked together. She had not understood the appeal when she had started working for him. He was so very different from Matthew.”

Robert Galbraith, Career of Evil
Cormoran Strike Series Robert Galbraith 5 Books Collection Set (The Cuckoo's Calling, The Silkworm, Career of Evil, Lethal White, Troubled Blood)
  • Robert Galbraith (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 03/22/2023 (Publication Date) - Sphere; 01 Edition (Publisher)

6. Kinsey Millhone by Sue Grafton

Sue Grafton
Sue Grafton via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone series debuted in 1982 and quickly became known as the “alphabet mysteries,” with titles like “A” is for Alibi, and “B” is for Burglar. Like many detectives in novels, Millhone had to overcome a difficult upbringing to succeed. As a young adult, Kinsey became a police officer and eventually transitioned to working as an investigator for an insurance company.

Over time, she honed her investigative skills and began working as a private investigator to solve murders. Readers love watching Kinsey navigate her relationships and interesting family dynamics as she also stays tough as nails in her professional world.

“I know there are people who believe you should forgive and forget. For the record, I’d like to say I’m a big fan of forgiveness as long as I’m given the opportunity to get even first.”

Sue Grafton, V is for Vengeance
E is for Evidence: A Kinsey Millhone Mystery
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Sue Grafton (Author) - Mary Peiffer (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 10/31/2005 (Publication Date) - Random House Audio (Publisher)

7. Easy Rawlins Mysteries by Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley
Walter Mosley via Wikipedia, Public Domain

The Easy Rawlins Mysteries are set in Los Angeles in post-World War II America, and the series quickly moves forward to become set in the present-day United States. Mosley is known for creating grisly stories that keep readers on edge. Readers follow along as Rawlins fights his way to the bottom of crimes in California, finding clues alongside the detective as he deals with business tycoons, sociopaths, law enforcement officials, and more.

“Librarians are wonderful people, partly because they are, on the whole, unaware of how dangerous knowledge is. Karl Marx upended the political landscape of the twentieth century sitting at a library table. Still, modern librarians are more afraid of ignorance than they are of the potential devastation that knowledge can bring.”

Walter Mosley, The Long Fall
Devil in a Blue Dress: An Easy Rawlins Mystery
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Walter Mosley (Author) - Michael Boatman (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 10/28/2009 (Publication Date) - Audible Studios (Publisher)

8. Detective Inspector Tom Thorne series by Mark Billingham

Mark Billingham
Mark Billingham via Wikipedia, Public Domain

The Detective Inspector Tom Thorne series takes place in Great Britain and follows Thorne as he works to stop murderers in their tracks, finding mistakes they didn’t know they made to lead him to solve crimes.

Readers watch as Thorne uses all the resources at his disposal, whether working closely with healthcare professionals to learn more about the circumstances surrounding a victim’s death or digging into a victim’s life history to figure out what could have made them the target of a crime. Throughout the novels, readers get to watch as Thorne stops being obsessed with simply solving crimes and begins to care for his victims deeply. If you’re searching for more thriller books to binge on a weekend, check out our list of the best authors like Mark Edwards. You can also search for thriller authors using our search bar at the top right of the post.

“The old station on Edgware Road had been earmarked for closure months ago and was now all but deserted, but the vacant offices above had been perfect for an operation like Backhand. Perfect for the lucky buggers who didn’t have to work there every day. An open-plan monstrosity – one enormous fishtank for the minnows with a few smaller bowls around the edges for the bigger fish.”

Mark Billingham, Sleepyhead

9. Dalziel and Pascoe series by Reginald Hill

The Dalziel and Pascoe series follows Detective Inspector Peter Pascoe and Detective Superintendent Andrew Dalziel as they work together to solve crimes in Yorkshire. The two are known for their opposite personalities, as Pascoe is reserved, and Dalziel comes off as harsh.

In most detective novels, the protagonists are eventually able to solve the crime, but it doesn’t always work this way with Dalziel and Pascoe. Once readers realize that the pair don’t always come to a neatly-tied ending, many find that the other books in the series become more exciting to read, as they’re not sure whether the detectives will be able to find their culprit.

“Twelve strangers,” he interrupted, “twelve citizens picked off the street. In this world we’re unfortunate to live in, and especially in this septic isle we live on,where squalid politicians conspire with the squalid press to feed a half-educated and wholly complacent public on a diet of meretricious trivia, I’m sure it would be possible to concoct enough evidence to persuade twelve strangers that Nelson Mandela was a cannibal.”

Reginald Hill, The Woodcutter
Child's Play: Dalziel and Pascoe Series, Book 9
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Reginald Hill (Author) - Colin Buchanan (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 03/25/2005 (Publication Date) - Audible Studios (Publisher)

10. Claire DeWitt series by Sara Gran

Sara Gran’s Claire DeWitt mystery series is set in New Orleans, Louisiana, and follows the brave and bold detective as she works to get to the bottom of mysteries in the area. DeWitt brands herself as the world’s best private investigator, and readers watch her navigate the tough city streets of New Orleans as she works to solve murder cases. As readers get to know DeWitt, they also get to know her assistant, Claude, who supports her in her quest for justice.

“It doesn’t matter what people want to hear. It doesn’t matter if people like you. It doesn’t matter if the whole world thinks you’re crazy. It doesn’t matter whose heart you break. What matters is the truth.”

Sara Gran, Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead
Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Sara Gran (Author) - Carol Monda (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 06/02/2011 (Publication Date) - HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books (Publisher)

11. The Gray Man series by Mark Greaney

Mark Greaney
Mark Greaney via Wikipedia, Public Domain

The Gray Man series looks at Court Gentry who started as a CIA operative, but now, he’s a hitman available for hire. Greaney takes Gentry on jo gurneys around the world where he’s working on getting his jobs done — before he’s found out. Greaney’s reflective style allows readers to get to know Gentry behind his tough-guy exterior. 

“All the things you’ve done, all the things in the past you thought were dead and buried—you think you’ve put them behind you, but you haven’t. You’ve just stored them away. Stored for the time when there is only you and a quiet room and your memories and the goddamned demons of those you killed.”

Mark Greaney, The Gray Man
The Gray Man Series, 8-book set
  • Mark Greaney (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 03/22/2023 (Publication Date) - Generic (Publisher)

12. Will Robie series by David Baldacci

David Baldacci
David Baldacci via Wikipedia, Public Domain

This Baldacci series follows Will Robi as he works to solve the mysteries and stop the criminals that the government can’t quite capture. Robie is known for following government orders without questions. The hitman quickly becomes known as one of the world’s greatest assassins, and his challenges get continually tougher throughout the series.

“That’s what civilization sometimes did to threats, real or perceived. They walled them off. Us against them. Survival of the fittest. You die so I can live.”

David Baldacci, The Innocent

FAQs About The Best Detective Novels Series

Who is the best literary detective?

Not sure which literary detective is best to add to your bookshelf? Many critics recommend starting with Sherlock Holmes to develop your appreciation of classic mystery stories before moving on to current literary detectives.

Who is the best detective novel writer?

It’s a matter of personal opinion, but many believe that Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, P.D. James, and Thomas Harris are the best detective novel writers of all time. Some of these writers are not listed above as they aren’t known for writing multiple books starring the same detective.

Who is the best crime novelist?

Many writers who enjoy crafting detective stories are also known as some of the best crime writers. According to critics, the best crime writers include Agatha Christie, Louise Penny, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Ann Cleeves.

Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best Alistair MacLean books!

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