Here are ten classic mystery novels that are recognized as some of the best in the genre. How many have you read? Would you consider #5 a classic?
- The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett – A hard-boiled detective novel featuring Sam Spade and the search for a valuable statue.
- Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie – Hercule Poirot investigates the murder of a wealthy American on a train traveling through Europe.
- The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler – Private detective Philip Marlowe gets caught up in a complex case involving blackmail, murder, and corruption.
- The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle – Sherlock Holmes investigates the legend of a ghostly hound that terrorizes a wealthy family in the English countryside.
- In the Woods by Tana French – A murder investigation in a small Irish town uncovers a dark past and personal demons for the lead detective.
- Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier – A psychological thriller featuring an unnamed narrator who becomes embroiled in the mysterious past of her new husband’s first wife.
- The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco – A historical mystery set in a medieval monastery, featuring a Franciscan friar investigating a series of murders.
- The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown – A thriller that follows symbologist Robert Langdon as he uncovers a conspiracy involving the Catholic Church and the search for the Holy Grail.
- The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle – A collection of short stories featuring the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes and his assistant, Dr. John Watson.
- And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie – Ten strangers are lured to a remote island where they are systematically killed off one by one, in this classic locked-room mystery.
Being a writer myself, I sometimes read reviews of older novels to see what modern readers think of them. Rebecca, one of my favorites, is not standing up well with readers these days. Modern readers often overlay their modern day thinking on less modern characters and criticize them for their behavior—which isn’t really fair to the author or the character. But what can you do? I still think du Maurier was brilliant.
Agatha Christie’s type of mystery, however, never goes out of style. Case in point, Onion, the series starring Daniel Craig.