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12 of the Best Crime Fiction Authors

It’s no secret that if you want to write a good book, you should spend some time reading the work of other authors. The more books you read, the more you can understand how other writers build a story or structure their plots. In the case of crime stories, there is no shortage of books and writers to choose from, but if you need some inspiration, here are some writers, in no particular order, that are famous for their crime fiction novels. 

1. Lee Child

A name that has become much more familiar in recent years is that of Lee Child. His well-known character, Jack Reacher, is an intelligent and insightful ex-Army major turned detective who seeks out the perpetrators of crimes. Lee Child has won many awards for his books, including being elected President of American Mystery Writers. His books featuring Jack Reacher have been turned into major movies and, more recently, into an Amazon Prime Series of the same name. 

2. Chris Carter

Originally from Brazil, Chris Carter is an ex-criminal psychologist turned writer who focuses on some graphic and chilling cases. Using his experience, education, and in-depth understanding of criminal behavior, he uses Robert Hunter’s character to solve cases and weed out wrongdoers in his books. 

3. Patricia Cornwell

A more recognizable name on this list is Patricia Cornwell. Also, with a history of working closely with the police as a medical examiner, Patricia uses her knowledge and insights to weave her own crime stories. The level of detail and forensic information has given her the reputation of bringing medical science into crime writing, and she has been highly awarded as an author, winning many of the most coveted awards in the industry. 

4. Peter James

If you are interested in crime fiction, you have most likely read or heard of Peter James. Holder of seven consecutive Sunday Times Awards, his books have been adapted for TV, theatre, and movies.  Known for mysteriously dark storytelling, often with a supernatural twist, Peter is best known for his Roy Grace novels and has won international acclaim for his work. 

5. Val McDermid

A notable author of Scottish heritage, Val McDermid has captured the minds of many with her dark, graphic crime stories. She is well known for her grim stories and investigative characters in a realistic portrayal of crime with a stunningly chilling accuracy of detail. Her books have been used to create popular TV series, and Val is the co-founder of one of the world’s largest crime fiction festivals. 

6. James Patterson

No crime author list would be complete without the inclusion of James Patterson. His books have sold copies well into the hundreds of millions, and he holds the record for most bestselling fiction titles by a single author. He has amassed no less than 19 number 1 bestselling novels on the New York Times list, and he has racked up dozens of awards. He is recognized most frequently for his popular Alex Cross series, and he frequently collaborates with other authors on their work.

7. Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie has written over 60 detective novels and is most well known for creating the sleuthing characters of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Although her books were published some decades ago, she has been credited with inventing some of the themes commonly used in modern-day crime novels. She is listed as the all-time bestselling novelist by the Guinness Book of Records and has received a CBE and a DBE. Based on the astounding success of her novels, it is no wonder she is known as the Queen of Crime Fiction.

8. Tess Gerritsen

Possibly known best for her characters Rizzoli and Isles, a female buddy cop and detective duo, Tess is famous for writing crime thrillers. With a background in medicine, Tess first began writing romantic novels before turning to medical and then crime thrillers. Her first attempt at a medical thriller hit the New York Times Bestseller List, and she has gone from strength to strength ever since. Receiving awards and commendations from the likes of Stephen King and James Patterson. 

9. Ruth Rendell

Known for her character Chief Inspector Wexford and with a string of awards to her name, Ruth Rendell first brought psychological details of crimes and victims into the mainstream. She has published books both under her name and a pseudonym and has won awards from the Crime Writers Association and no less than three Edgar Awards during her successful career. A number of her books have been used for film and TV adaptations, and she has been awarded a CBE.

10. Thomas Harris

Thomas Harris is most famous for creating the highly intelligent, sadistic, and cannibalistic Dr Hannibal Lecter, brought to life by Anthony Hopkins in the film Silence of the Lambs. His books have been adapted for both film and TV and are unique because the villain is more famous than the detective pursuing him. Clarice Starling is the book’s protagonist but Hannibal Lecter is the name remembered by most readers. 

11. P. D. James

Before becoming a writer, P.D. James worked both for the police and the NHS, she has used her experiences combined with extensive research to shape her writing career and characters with unmatched authenticity. She is the winner of an OBE and a Baroness who has won much critical acclaim. Most famous for her character Adam Dalgliesh, the well-known detective, is featured in 14 of her books. 

12. R.C Bridgestock

Actually, not a single author but the combined writing name of Robert and Carol Bridgestock. The husband and wife team both worked for the police force, Robert most notably on murder cases that included the investigation into the Yorkshire Ripper, and Carol spent many years working in administration. They write crime fiction with their combined knowledge and experience, creating characters with an authentic and relatable edge that includes a touch of humor.