My Top 30 Mystery/Detective/Noir/Thriller/Spy List

Over the last ten years or so I’ve really gotten into mysteries and read a lot of them for the research of my novel, The Killer Detective Novelist.  What I learned is that a genre is never 100% and that mystery and thriller and noir often overlap.  If you know me, you’ll know that I love lists, and I compiled this recent one of mysteries I love with some thriller, spy and noir thrown in there (that, to me, feel like mysteries too).  No particular order of favorites.  These have all influenced me in some manner:
1) Death of a Red Heroine by Qiu Xialong

2) The Doomsters by Ross Macdonald

3) The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley

4) Time of Predators by Joe Gorres

5) Maigret and the Burglar’s Wife by Georges Simenon

6) Le Crime by Peter Steiner

7) Christine Falls by Benjamin Black

8) The Lemur by Benjamin Black

9) DeKok and the Dead Harlequin by Baantjer

10) Epitaph for a Spy by Eric Ambler

11) Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

12) The Crooked Man by Philip Davidson

13) A Mind to Murder by P.D. James

14) Ripley Under Water by Patricia Highsmith

15) Web of Murder by Harry Whittington

16) New York Trilogy by Paul Auster

17) Hopscotch by Brian Garfield

18) A Most Wanted Man by John Le Carre

19) A Is for Alibi by Sue Grafton

20) The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

21) Savage Night by Jim Thompson

22) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

23) Pick-up by Charles Willeford

24) Nightwork by Irwin Shaw

25) Star Island by Carl Hiaasen

26) Nightfall by David Goodis

27) Lethal Injection by Jim Nisbet

28) The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri

29) Death of a Hawker by Janwillem van de Wetering

30) All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

A lot of these books introduce ongoing characters, but I’ve only listed the first in the series.  I’ve loved reading all of these novels and they have fed directly into my own prose.  For a while there all I read was literary fiction, but you can find me reading at least one mystery at all times.  What I’ve found is that literary fiction is not that good these days, and the best writing is in these genres.  At the core of spy, thriller, noir is the mystery detective, in some way.


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