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.

Quick Summary: Our Top Picks For Crime Thriller Authors
Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None
Agatha Christie'sAnd Then There Were None
  • Top 100 PBS Great American Reads Selection
  • Among the most well-known and cherished mysteries
  • Sold almost 100 million copies
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Sign of the Four (Sherlock Holmes Book 2)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle'sThe Sign of the Four (Sherlock Holmes Book 2)
  • Published in 1890
  • Loaded with enjoyable mystery-solving
  • 110 pages
Louise Penny's All the Devils Are Here: A Novel (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel Book 16)
Louise Penny'sAll the Devils Are Here: A Novel (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel Book 16)
  • Year's top 100 books in globe and mail
  • One of the year's best traditional mysteries in crimereads
  • One of the most exciting books for fall in parade magazine
Ann Cleeves's Raven Black Book One of the Shetland Island Mysteries
Ann Cleeves'sRaven Black: Book One of the Shetland Island Mysteries
  • The source material for the popular PBS television show "Shetland"
  • Winner of the prestigious Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award in Britain
  • 401 pages
David Baldacci's Absolute Power
David Baldacci'sAbsolute Power
  • It was turned into a movie in 1997
  • #1 thriller in the New York Times bestsellers
  • Language: English
Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects (Sharp Objects: A Novel)
Gillian Flynn'sSharp Objects (Sharp Objects: A Novel)
  • Now a limited HBO® series
  • Bestseller in the New York Times
  • A psychological thriller that you can't put down
Stephen King's End of Watch: A Novel (3) (The Bill Hodges Trilogy)
Stephen King'sEnd of Watch: A Novel (3) (The Bill Hodges Trilogy)
  • The series is now an AT&T Audience Original
  • From the Finders Keepers and Mr. Mercedes #1 New York Times bestselling author
  • Language: English
Harlan Coben's Harlan Coben Myron Bolitar Series Collection 1-10 Books Set
Harlan Coben'sHarlan Coben Myron Bolitar Series Collection 1-10 Books Set
  • First published in 2020
  • From the top-selling author in the New York Times
  • Available in 45 different languages
Lee Child's Killing Floor (Jack Reacher)
Lee Child'sKilling Floor (Jack Reacher)
  • The first book in Lee Child's independently bestseller Jack Reacher series
  • Now on prime video, an original series
  • 576 pages
James Patterson's The Russian (A Michael Bennett Thriller, 13)
James Patterson'sThe Russian (A Michael Bennett Thriller, 13)
  • From the author who sold over 375 million copies of his books worldwide
  • 368 pages
  • Published January 25th, 2021

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 belong on your list:

1. Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Talking about crime thriller writers is nearly impossible without reference to English writer Agatha Christie, who is perhaps one of the most famous in this genre. Known for her unique twists and “who done it” style of 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

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

Famous for his detective Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle helped turn 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)
  • 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
A portrait of 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
Ann Cleeves via Wikipedia, Public Domain

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
David Baldacci via Wikipedia, Public Domain

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. If you like David Baldacci’s writings, check out our David Baldacci Masterclass review.

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

6. Gillian Flynn

Gillian Flynn
Gillian Flynn via Wikipedia, Public Domain

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

7. Stephen King

Stephen King
Stephen King via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Writing 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. Check out our roundup of the best-selling Stephen King books.

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

Authors like Harlan Coben
A portrait of 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. He has sold over 73 million books worldwide.

9. Lee Child

Lee Child
A portrait of 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

James Patterson
James Patterson via Wikipedia, Public Domain

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. If you like James Patterson’s writings, check out our James Patterson Masterclass review.

The Russian (A Michael Bennett Thriller, 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
A portrait of John Grisham

John Grisham is a prolific author of crime novels. His books fit in the legal thriller sub-genre, and instead of detectives, his main characters are often lawyers. Grisham’s first book, A Painted House, wasn’t a success upon publication but over the years Grisham carved out. niche and then a name for himself.

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
John le Carre via Wikipedia, Public Domain

British author John le Carre is a historic author of spy and detective novels. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is one of his best-known tales and was turned into a film of the same name. Sadly, Le Carre passed away in 2020.

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

13. Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly
A portrait of Michael Connelly

American author 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)
  • Connelly, Michael (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 432 Pages - 04/27/2021 (Publication Date) - Grand Central Publishing (Publisher)

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
Val McDermid via Wikipedia, Public Domain

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

Dean Koontz
Dean Koontz is well-known in the crime thriller genre

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

Dan Brown
Dan Brown via Wikipedia, Public Domain

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. If you like Brown’s writings, check out our guide to the best Dan Brown books.

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
A portrait of 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. Mystic River, a 2003 film based on his book, won two Oscars.

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

Dorothy L. Sayers
Dorothy L. Sayers via Wikipedia, Public Domain

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

Karin Slaughter
Karin Slaughter via Wikipedia, Public Domain

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 Will Trent Thriller (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
Martin Cruz Smith via Wikipedia, Public Domain

American writer Martin Cruz-Smith earned the Hammett Prize from the International Association of Crime Writers. He first hit the best-seller lists in 1996 with Rose and 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 sudden death in 2004, the ones he did publish are thrilling and have a huge following. The film version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo met with less success.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: A Lisbeth Salander Novel (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 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

Sara Paretsky
Sara Paretsky via Wikipedia, Public Domain

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. Some of their written works were turned into films too, meaning you can enjoy their work in a variety of formats.

FAQs About Crime Thriller Authors

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

Historically, Agatha Christie tops the list of best crime writers, but the top modern writers would include James Patterson and Stephen King.

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.

Which authors paved the way for legal thriller novelists such as John Grisham?

Other writers within the legal thriller genre include Harper Lee, John Sandford and Stephen Becker. John Grisham’s first book, A Time To Kill, sold less than 5,000 copies when it was first published in 1989. 

Who is the best crime author of all time?

Although it is impossible to decide who is the best crime writer of all time, it is difficult to look beyond the influence of Agatha Christie’s work. 

The “Who done it?” style, with plenty of twists and tu4rns, still dominates contemporary crime writing. She wrote over 70 novels and many plays and short stories, many of which were adapted for stage and screen. 

Who is the youngest crime thriller author?

Although it is virtually impossible to say who the youngest crime thriller author is, there are plenty of new writers injecting excitement into this genre. Erik Story is the perfect example of this, with his Clyde Barr novels. 

Who is the author of Born a Crime?

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood is a collection of personal stories by Comedian and writer, Trevor Noah. 

First published in 2016, the book discusses what it was like to grow up in South Africa during a time when the country was preparing itself for a different future while still wrestling with its troublesome past and present. 

Who is the author of Crime & Punishment?

Crime & Punishment is a novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky. 

It was published in twelve monthly installments in 1866 in a publication called The Russian Messenger. The story follows Rodion Raskolnikov, an ex-student who considers whether an awful crime can ever be justifiable for the greater good. 

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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.