23 Crime Thriller Authors You Must Read

Ready for a new crime novel? Check out the top 23 crime thriller authors that you should read.

If you love the thrill of a great crime novel, then you’ll want to get to know some crime thriller authors. This genre has quite a few popular names in it, delivering detective fiction and crime novels that frequently make it on the bestseller list. Many of those featured here are also popular mystery writers.

So, when picking your next crime fiction book to read, make sure you add these authors to your “must-read” list.

Popular Crime Thriller Authors

Crime thriller authors you must read

The thrill of the hunt and the anticipation of solving the case make the books written by crime writers great reading material. A quick search on Amazon will bring up many popular authors, so how can you choose the next author to explore?

If you are ready to delve into a great crime thriller, here are some writers that should be on your list:

1. Agatha Christie

Talking about crime thriller writers is nearly impossible without reference to Agatha Christie, who is perhaps one of the most famous in this genre. Known for her unique twists and “who done it” style writing, she is an easy read and quite enjoyable. She created the famous detective Hercule Poirot to serve as the main character for many of her novels.

And Then There Were None
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Christie, Agatha (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 258 Pages - 03/17/2009 (Publication Date) - William Morrow Paperbacks (Publisher)

2. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Famous for his detective Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle made the detective fiction genre mainstream. His works served as the inspiration for many TV shows and movies over the years, but no screenplay can take the place of sitting down with a book in hand.

The Sign of the Four (Sherlock Holmes Book 2)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Doyle, Arthur Conan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 110 Pages - 04/22/2014 (Publication Date) - MysteriousPress.com/Open Road (Publisher)

3. Louise Penny

Louise Penny is a modern crime writer who writes books about the adventures of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. Set in Canada, each of these novels explores the criminal world and watches as the inspector and his team members solve crimes using true detective skills.

All the Devils Are Here: A Novel (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel Book 16)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Penny, Louise (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 458 Pages - 09/01/2020 (Publication Date) - Minotaur Books (Publisher)

4. Ann Cleeves

Ann Cleeves is a New York Times bestselling author who writes crime novels. Her lead characters, Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez, solve crimes in Northumberland and the Shetland Islands. This lends an interesting setting to serve as the backdrop of the stories.

Raven Black: Book One of the Shetland Island Mysteries
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Cleeves, Ann (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 401 Pages - 06/24/2008 (Publication Date) - Minotaur Books (Publisher)

5. David Baldacci

David Baldacci has been writing since he was a child. That passion has turned into a career as a crime novelist. His first novel, Absolute Power, became a movie starring Clint Eastwood, and he continues to write crime thrillers and novels for adults and young readers alike.

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

6. Gillian Flynn

Gillian FLynn’s first novel Sharp Objects won two CWA Daggers, and her most recent psychological thriller, Gone Girl, is now a bestseller. These thrilling books read like the plot of a movie, and Gone Girl is now a major motion picture.

Sharp Objects
  • Great product!
  • Flynn, Gillian (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 254 Pages - 07/31/2007 (Publication Date) - Crown (Publisher)

7. Stephen King

Talking about crime books without mentioning Stephen King would be nearly impossible. Some of the best crime novels have come from this prolific author. His crime thrillers End of Watch and Mr. Mercedes both earned the Goodreads Choice Award for their categories.

End of Watch: A Novel (3) (The Bill Hodges Trilogy)
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 496 Pages - 03/28/2017 (Publication Date) - Pocket Books (Publisher)

8. Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben is the author of the renowned Myron Bolitar series. His detective novels are so popular they are available in 43 different languages and have many audiobooks available as well.

9. Lee Child

Lee Child is the author of the famous Jack Reacher series. Jack Reacher often finds himself in the midst of criminal investigations involving serial killers, often facing accusations against himself, leaving the reader to wonder if he is a good guy or not.

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. James Patterson

Many have called James Patterson the world’s bestselling author. He is responsible for memorable characters like Alex Cross and Michael Bennett, a character he developed with co-author Michael Ledwidge. James Patterson’s name is synonymous with the crime novel genre.

The Russian (Michael Bennett, 13)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Patterson, James (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 368 Pages - 01/25/2021 (Publication Date) - Little, Brown and Company (Publisher)

11. John Grisham

John Grisham is a prolific author of crime novels. His books fit in the legal thriller subgenre, and instead of detectives, his main characters are often lawyers.

Sooley: A Novel
  • Hardcover Book
  • Grisham, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 368 Pages - 04/27/2021 (Publication Date) - Doubleday (Publisher)

12. John le Carre

John le Carre is a historic author of spy and detective novels. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is one of his best-known tales.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: A George Smiley Novel
  • Penguin Books
  • le Carré, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages - 06/07/2011 (Publication Date) - Penguin Books (Publisher)

13. Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly draws on his knowledge as a former crime beat news reporter to write thrilling crime novels. He is most famous for his Harry Bosch and Lincoln Lawyer series.

The Law of Innocence (A Lincoln Lawyer Novel, 6)
  • Lincoln Lawyer Mickey Haller is back on the job in this heart-stopping thriller from a renowned #1 New York Times bestselling author.
  • �One of the finest legal thrillers of the last decade� �Associated Press
  • On the night he celebrates a big win, defense attorney Mickey Haller is pulled over by police, who find the body of a former client in the trunk of his Lincoln. Haller is immediately charged with murder but can�t post the exorbitant $5 million bail slapped on him by a vindictive judge.
  • Even if he can obtain a not-guilty verdict, Mickey understands that it won�t be enough. In order to be truly exonerated, he must find out who really committed the murder and why. That is the law of innocence.

14. Tana French

Tana French has won multiple awards for her thriller novels, including the Los Angeles Times Award for Best Thriller. This Dublin-based author uses psychological suspense to drive her stories.

The Searcher: A Novel (Random House Large Print)
  • French, Tana (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 576 Pages - 10/20/2020 (Publication Date) - Random House Large Print (Publisher)

15. Val McDermid

Val McDermid has written a series of crime novels featuring Dr. Tony Hill as the main character. Her murder mysteries have ample suspense to land them in the thriller genre.

How The Dead Speak: A Tony Hill and Carol Jordan Thriller (Tony Hill Novels, 5)
  • Hardcover Book
  • McDermid, Val (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 416 Pages - 12/03/2019 (Publication Date) - Atlantic Monthly Press (Publisher)

16. Dean Koontz

With many New York Times bestsellers under his belt, Dean Koontz is well-known in the crime thriller genre. He is a master of suspense for his unique writing style driven by action and crime.

The Other Emily
  • Hardcover Book
  • Koontz, Dean (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 362 Pages - 03/23/2021 (Publication Date) - Thomas & Mercer (Publisher)

17. Dan Brown

The author of The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown combines suspense with history and just a little bit of fantasy to create novels that keep you intrigued until the very last page.

The Da Vinci Code (Robert Langdon)
  • Paris symbologist phone call murder painter
  • Brown, Dan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 597 Pages - 03/31/2009 (Publication Date) - Anchor (Publisher)

18. Dennis Lehane

Dennis Lehane has seen several books turned into motion pictures. These novels are best described as psychological thrillers with many twists and turns that keep the reader guessing.

Shutter Island: A Novel
  • Hardcover Book
  • Dennis Lehane (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages - 04/15/2003 (Publication Date) - William Morrow (Publisher)

19. Dorothy L. Sayers

With titles like Whose Body, books by Dorothy L. Sayers are clearly of the crime fiction genre. Most of her works feature Lord Peter Wimsey, a sleuth with a great track record for solving crimes.

Whose Body?
  • Sayers, Dorothy L. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 144 Pages - 11/18/2009 (Publication Date) - Dover Publications (Publisher)

20. Karin Slaughter

With books published in 120 countries, Karin Slaughter definitely deserves a spot on this list. Her Will Trent books are crime thrillers that are extremely popular among lovers of this genre.

The Last Widow: A Novel (Will Trent, 9)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Slaughter, Karin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 464 Pages - 08/20/2019 (Publication Date) - William Morrow (Publisher)

21. Martin Cruz Smith

Martin Cruz-Smith earned the Hammett Prize from the International Association of Crime Writers. He is well-known for his Arkady Renko novels.

The Siberian Dilemma (9) (The Arkady Renko Novels)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Smith, Martin Cruz (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages - 11/05/2019 (Publication Date) - Simon & Schuster (Publisher)

22. Stieg Larsson

Stieg Larsson wrote The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and several sequels. Though he did not write many works before his death in 2004, the ones he did publish are definitely thrilling and have a huge following.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Series)
  • book,The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,Stieg Larsson,Crime, mystery, thriller, Scandinavian noir
  • Larsson, Stieg (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 672 Pages - 11/22/2011 (Publication Date) - Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (Publisher)

23. Sara Paretsky

The final author on this list is Sara Paretsky who created the V.I. Warshawski detective novels. When she introduced these in the 1980s, she introduced a female investigator to the genre, which until that time had almost entirely male protagonists.

Love & Other Crimes: Stories
  • Paretsky, Sara (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 448 Pages - 06/30/2020 (Publication Date) - William Morrow Paperbacks (Publisher)

A Final Word on Crime Thriller Authors

The best crime thriller authors are those who know how to keep the reader guessing. Pick any author on this list, and you are certain to enjoy an engaging and thrilling read.

FAQs About Crime Thriller Authors

Who is the most famous crime thriller author in literary history?

Historically, Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle top the lists, like this one from Ranker.com. The top modern writers would include James Patterson and Stephen King because their books often rank among bestseller lists.

What is a crime thriller book?

A crime thriller is a subgenre that combines crime books with thriller books to create page-turning action that leaves the reader guessing “who done it” until the final words reveal all.

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  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.

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