24 Best Detective Novel Series for Fans of Crime Books

Explore the best detective novel series for crime book enthusiasts, from classic whodunits to modern thrillers. Get ready for some edge-of-your-seat action!

Detective series have been a staple of the literary world for decades, providing readers with thrilling tales of mystery and suspense. The best detective characters know when to empathize and when to seek truth and justice. Novels involving these protagonists are evidence of the human ability to decipher clues and point out deception to crack various cases.

These stimulating best detective series books offer something for everyone. Check out the best Mickey Spillane books for a crime-thriller fix!

1. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

A Study In Scarlet
A photo cover of A Study in Scarlet

We start our list with the quintessential best detective series books, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes is the most famous consulting detective character, who debuted in Arthur Conan Doyle’s first crime novel of the series, A Study in Scarlet. Holmes is a logical detective who can deduce a murder scene at first glance.

For instance, his first case in the installment is the murder of Enoch Drebber, where Holmes solves the crime by analyzing footprints, words in blood, and other evidence. The series has 16 books adapted into a TV show starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes.

“What you do in this world is a matter of no consequence. The question is what can you make people believe you have done.”

Arthur Conan DoyleA Study in Scarlet
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02/18/2024 04:37 am GMT

2. Harry Hole Crime Series

The Bat
A photo of the first book cover of The Bat in Norway, 1997

Harry Hole is a troubled police officer in Jo Nesbo’s novel series, which first appeared in 1997 when The Bat was published. Hole is a smoker and an alcoholic who usually argues with his lover, Rakel.

Things changed when he connected with a local detective to work on the murder case of a young woman. Hole got too involved with the witnesses, unaware he was hunting a psychopathic serial killer. This series is a classic novel story highlighting the significance of ideology in search of the truth. You might also be interested in our list of essays about the death penalty.

“People are afraid of what they don’t understand. And hate what they’re afraid of.”

Jo Nesbo, The Bat
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02/18/2024 03:56 pm GMT

3. The Dublin Murder Squad Series

In The Woods
A photo of the front cover art of In the Woods, 2007

Dublin Murder Squad has six books written by Tana French. The first novel, In the Woods, tells the story of Rob Ryan, the only one among three children who returned from the small town of Dublin in 1984. Ryan becomes a detective 20 years later and solves the murder case of a 12-year-old girl in the same woods.

“What I am telling you, before you begin my story, this is two things: I crave truth. And I lie.”

Tana French, In the Woods
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02/18/2024 05:56 pm GMT

4. The 12-book Sequel of Miss Marple

The Murder at the Vicarage
A photo of the first UK book cover of The Murder at the Vicarage

Agatha Christie wrote 12 novels featuring the character Miss Jane Marple, a famous spinster sleuth in St. Mary Mead village. Miss Marple solved her first crime in The Murder at the Vicarage, where the local magistrate and land owner, Colonel Protheroe, was shot in the head.

The story circles a group of suspected murderers and Miss Marple, who’s often underestimated because of her old age. She uses this supposed weakness to lure the murderers and crack the case before anyone knows it. You might also be interested in these essays about gun control.

“I often wonder why the whole world is so prone to generalize. Generalizations are seldom if ever true and are usually utterly inaccurate.”

Agatha Christie, The Murder at the Vicarage
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02/19/2024 12:36 am GMT

5. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache

Still Life
A photo of the cover art for Still Life

Louise Penny became a New York Times bestselling author for her Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series. The first book, Still Life, was cited by Deadly Pleasures Magazine in 2010 as one of the five Mystery Novels of the Decade.

The killings started when the villagers in south Montreal, a crime-free place, discovered the artist Jane Neal’s murder during a Thanksgiving Weekend. This series shows how Chief Inspectors, like Armand Gamache, command their forces in the search for justice and truth.

“Life is change. If you aren’t growing and evolving, you’re standing still, and the rest of the world is surging ahead.”

Louise Penny, Still Life
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02/18/2024 03:40 pm GMT

6. Harry Bosch: A Novel Series

The Black Echo
A photo of the first edition cover of The Black Echo, 1992

Michael Connelly wrote 23 crime books with his character Harry Bosch, an LAPD homicide detective who debuted in The Black Echo. He teamed up with the FBI to solve the crime at Mulholland Dam.

The victim was more than just a man; he fought with Bosch during an underground war. And now, it’s Bosch’s responsibility to follow the maze of blind alleys and bring light against the criminals in the city. Witness an extraordinary talent of detective instincts in this series and a shocking turn of events as Harry Bosch unfolds the killer’s identity.

“You can’t patch a wounded soul with a Band-Aid.”

Michael Connelly, The Black Echo
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7. The Inquiry of Kinsey Millhone

A is for Alibi
A photo of the book cover of A is for Alibi

Kinsey Millhone is a detective in murder mystery novels written by Sue Grafton, a New York Times bestselling author. The series has 25 books, which started in 1982 when A is for Alibi was published. “A” is just the tip of the iceberg, as Detective Inspector Millhone brings her aces to investigate previous convictions and find the real killers. The series is not only about analyzing the murder scenes and pinning the murderers but also bringing justice for the wrongly accused individuals who went behind bars.

“You kill people you hate or you kill in rage or you kill to get even, but you don’t kill someone you’re indifferent to.”

Sue Grafton, A is for Alibi
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02/19/2024 03:51 pm GMT

8. The Thrilling Stories of Cormoran Strike

The Cuckoo's Calling
A photo of the front cover of the first edition of The Cuckoo’s Calling, 2013

The Cormoran Strike series is a collection of whodunit crime fiction books by Robert Galbraith. The first novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, relays the story of Strike, a private eye hired by John Bristow to investigate his sister’s death. The police said it was a suicide, but the evidence says otherwise.

“The dead could only speak through the mouths of those left behind, and through the signs they left scattered behind them.”

Robert Galbraith, The Cuckoo’s Calling
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02/19/2024 03:53 pm GMT

9. The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency
A photo of a book cover showing Detective Ramotswe in front of her shop

Alexander McCall Smith is a recipient of two Booker Judges’ Special Recommendations for her excellent works in The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency Series. It features Botswana’s lady private investigator Precious Ramotswe and her different cases.

One of her crucial cases is a missing 11-year-old boy who was believed to be kidnapped by witch doctors. Interestingly, this series exposes the state of women in Africa and how race is a significant factor in violence and injustice.

“I am just a tiny person in Africa, but there is a place for me, and for everybody, to sit down on earth and touch it and call it their own.”

Alexander McCall Smith, The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency
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02/18/2024 05:01 am GMT

10. Inspector Maigret Series

Pietr the Latvian
A photo of the first edition of The Strange Case of Peter the Lett

The Inspector Maigret series has 75 crime fiction books authored by George Simenon, one of the world’s well-known crime writers. The first novel to feature Jules Maigret is Pietr the Latvian, where he traced multiple murders committed by a single man. Maigret knows the descriptions of the killer, but the thrill comes from chasing after a mysterious and careful killer.

“The poor are used to stifling any expression of their despair, because they must get on with life, with work, with the demands made of them day after day, hour after hour.”

Georges Simenon, Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets
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02/19/2024 03:53 pm GMT

11. Hercule Poirot: A 33-Novel Series

Murder on the Orient Express
A photo of the front cover of the book Murder on the Orient Express

Hercule Poirot is one of Agatha Christie’s most loved detective fiction, who appeared in 33 novels. One of this series’s most notable standalone books is Murder on the Orient Express, where Detective Poirot tries to crack the death case of a millionaire who died in his compartment. Without evidence, he must track the killer among the passengers before they strike again.

“The impossible cannot have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances.”

Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express
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02/18/2024 06:52 pm GMT

12. The Mystery Encounters of Easy Rawlins

Devil in a Blue Dress
A photo of the front cover art for Devil in a Blue Dress

Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins series embodies brave and realistic cold cases of police procedural and hardboiled crimes. The Devil in a Blue Dress was published in 1990, about a black World War veteran, Easy Rawlins. He was offered a job to locate a thief named Daphne Monet. The series is full of blackmail and plot twists making it a must-read novel.

“A man once told me that you step out of your door in the morning, and are already in trouble. The only question is, are you on top of that trouble or not?”

Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express
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13. Rizzoli and Isles Novel Series

The Surgeon
A photo of the book cover of The Surgeon, 2004

The Surgeon is Rizzoli and Isles’ first murder case book. Instead of saving lives, a supposed surgeon uses his skills to torture women and perform rituals before ending their lives. Detective Rizzoli works at the Boston Police Department, while Dr. Isles is a Chief Medical Examiner. Can they surpass the unfortunate events as they set foot in their investigation? An international bestselling author, Tess Gerritsen fascinates her readers with unending criminal cases involving a psychopath.

“The most intimate feeling people can share is neither love nor hate, but pain.”

Tess Gerritsen, The Surgeon
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02/19/2024 01:28 am GMT

14. The Whodunit Detective Agency

The Whodunit Detective Agency
A photo of the cover art for The Whodunit Detective Agency

The Diamond Mystery is a classic novel by Martin Widmark about finding the thief among the employees of a jewelry shop. The owner, Mohammed Carat, hired Jerry and Maya from a detective agency to investigate the case. As you go along the books in the series, you’ll notice that more than stealing and committing crimes, analyzing the gap between the wealthy and the poor means understanding the nature of people and the consequences that follow.

“Even a tiny clue is worth its weight in gold.”

Martin Widmark, The Diamond Mystery
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02/19/2024 01:26 am GMT

15. The Detective Works of Stephanie Plum

One for the Money
A photo of the cover art for One for the Money

Stephanie Plum is the protagonist of Janet Evanovich’s mystery series. The first published novel, One for the Money, is a roller coaster ride for Plum, as she’s broke, and the only way she can pay her rent is to go against big-time cases. Her most challenging decision is to investigate a former vice cop, Joe Morelli, who would rather kill than get caught.

“I make lots of mistakes. I try hard not to make the same mistake more than three or four times.”

Janet Evanovich, Three to Get Deadly
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02/19/2024 03:54 pm GMT

16. In Death Series

Witness In Death
A photo cover of Witness In Death

The In Death mystery book series deals with complex murders associated with fame and corruption. J.D. Robb debuts Eve Dallas in the first novel, Witness in Death, and follows her journey as she becomes the homicide detective of a high-profile celebrity killed onstage during a theater play. How can Dallas distinguish the truth from a lie if she’s dealing with people who are good at acting?

“I hate patience. Slows everything down.”

J.D. Robb, Witness in Death
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02/19/2024 01:28 am GMT

17. Lord Peter Wimsey: A Crime Operative Series

Whose Body?
A photo of 2nd edition Whose Body?, 1936

Lord Peter Wimsey is one of the most famous detective characters in mystery novels written by Dorothy Sayers. Whose Body? is the first book that Peter appeared in, where he untangled the mystery of a dead body in a bath in London. This series deliberately exposes the sick personality of individuals involved in the murder, that they would rather commit suicide than get caught.

“Even idiots occasionally speak the truth accidentally.”

Dorothy L. Sayers, Whose Body?
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02/19/2024 03:51 pm GMT

18. Inspector Lynley Series: Unravel the History

A Great Deliverance
A photo of the first printed cover photo of A Great Deliverance

A Great Deliverance is the first Inspector Lynley novel authored by Elizabeth George. Lynley has to investigate a savage murder in an English Valley connected to secrets of the past. The author’s writing style is stunning, letting the readers put themselves in the shoes of the Inspector to uncover the revelations of a historical mystery.

“One sin, I know, another doth provoke. Murders as near to lust as flame to smoke.”

Elizabeth George, A Great Deliverance
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02/19/2024 03:57 pm GMT

19. The Unpredictable Moves of Lucas Davenport

Rules of Prey
A photo of the front cover of Rules of Prey

Have you ever encountered a murderer who only kills for pleasure? And then purposely leaving a messy crime scene to confuse the police? Well, that’s the case on the Lucas Davenport series debuting with Rules of Prey. Witness how Police Detective Davenport became the nightmare of an insane and genius killer.

“If you ever get in a situation where you need to shoot somebody, point the gun and keep pulling the trigger until it stops shooting. Forget about rules or excessive violence or any of that.”

John Sandford, Rules of Prey
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02/19/2024 02:32 pm GMT

20. The Murder Cases of Philip Marlowe

The Big Sleep
A photo of the front cover of The Big Sleep, 1939

The earliest appearance of Private Detective Philip Marlowe is in Raymond Chandler’s short stories in Los Angeles. He later had more focus when the first novel, The Big Sleep, was released in 1939. The book series is famous for narrating complex secrets, beginning with the case of a blackmailed General’s daughter. Loved this? Check out our round-up of the best true crime books!

“What did it matter where you lay once you were dead?. You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell.”

Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep
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02/19/2024 01:33 am GMT

21. Inspector Rebus series by Sir Ian Rankin

Knots and Crosses
A photo of the front cover of Knots and Crosses

Inspector Rebus follows its protagonist around Scotland as he works to solve crimes. Most of the books are set in Edinburgh, and many readers argue that the city itself 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 both 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 were the invention of mankind, son. We’re all witches beneath the skin.”

Sir Ian Rankin, Inspector Rebus
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02/19/2024 03:56 pm GMT

22. Detective Inspector Tom Thorne series by Mark Billingham

A photo of the front cover of Tom Thorne Book 1

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 that they didn’t know they made to lead him to solve crimes. Readers enjoy watching Thorne use all the resources at his disposal, whether that means 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. Over the course of the novels, readers get to watch as Thorne stops becoming obsessed with simply solving crimes and begins to deeply care for his victims.

“The old station on Edgware Road had been earmarked for closure months ago and was now all but deserted, bu tthe vacant offices above had been perfect for an operation like Backhand. Perfect for th elucky 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
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02/19/2024 06:55 am GMT

23. Claire DeWitt series by Sara Gran

Claire Dewitt and the City of the Dead
A photo of the front cover of Claire Dewitt and the City of the Dead

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 quests 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
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24. Dalziel and Pascoe series by Reginald Hill

A photo of the front cover of Childs Play, 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. Hill’s storytelling style veers from typical detective novels, and often uses literary devices such as telling a story in non-chronological order and switching narrators to keep readers guessing.

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
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02/19/2024 01:30 am GMT

How I Picked the Best Detective Novel Series

My journey to unearth the finest detective novels began on Goodreads, where I poured over top-rated titles and insightful reader reviews. I sought guidance from bestseller lists and engaged with literature aficionados to ensure a selection that embraced diverse themes, styles, and backgrounds.

As I dove into each book, I wasn’t just looking for a captivating plot, but also for stories that resonated deeply with readers. I considered the cultural relevance, the enduring legacy of certain tales, and even the sales figures as an indication of their popularity. The list you see now is not just a reflection of my reading spree extensive research and passion for the detective genre.


  • Amanda has an M.S.Ed degree from the University of Pennsylvania in School and Mental Health Counseling and is a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer. She has experience writing magazine articles, newspaper articles, SEO-friendly web copy, and blog posts.