The Best Mystery Books - Top 100


In 1941, Howard Haycraft compiled a list of detective stories for a book entitled Murder for Pleasure: The Life and Times of the Detective Story. The list was prepared for “unpretentious detective story fans who may care to assemble for their own pleasure ‘cornerstone’ libraries of the best and most influential writing in the medium.” Ellery Queen (the writing team of Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee) revised the Haycraft list several times expanding it to include a broader range of crime and mystery fiction. The list below is the final revision and includes books from 1748 to 1952. Any entry followed by an * indicates it was added by Ellery Queen.

The Little Tales Of Smethers

Lord Dunsany 1952
A Gentle Murderer

Dorothy Salisbury Davis 1951

Charlotte Armstrong 1950
The Simple Art Of Murder

Raymond Chandler 1950
The People Against Ohara

Eleazar Lipsky 1950
Through A Glass Darkly

Helen McCloy 1950
The Motive

Evelyn Piper 1950
Blues For The Prince

Bart Spicer 1950
Nightmare In Manhattan

Thomas Walsh 1950
The Department Of Dead Ends

Roy Vickers 1949
The Moving Target

Ross Macdonald Lew Archer novels 1949
Love Lies Bleeding

Edmund Crispin novel 1948
Dreadful Summit

Stanley Ellin 1948
The Franchise Affair

Josephine Tey novels 1948
Intruder In The Dust

William Faulkner 1948
A Case To Answer

Edgar Lustgarten 1947
The Moving Toyshop

Edmund Crispin novel 1946
The Horizontal Man

Helen Eustis 1946
The Unsuspected

Charlotte Armstrong 1946
Dr Sam Johnson Detector

Lilian De la Torre 1946
The Curse of the Bronze Lamp (UK Title: Lord of the Sorcerers)

John Dickson Carr Sir Henry Merrivale novel as carter dickson 1946
Blood Upon The Snow

Hilda Lawrence 1944
The Adventures Of Sam Spade

Dashiell Hammett 1944
Payment Deferred

C.S. Forester 1942
Rocket To The Morgue

Anthony Boucher 1942
The Just And The Unjust

James Gould Cozzens 1942

Vera Gaspary 1942
Calamity Town

Ellery Queen Ellery Queen novel 1942
A Taste For Honey

H.F.A. Heard 1941
Farewell, My Lovely

Raymond Chandler Philip Marlowe novel 1940
Drink To Yesterday

Manning Coles 1940
Pray Silence

Manning Coles 1940
The So Blue Marble

Dorothy Hughes 1940
The Norths Meet Murder

Richard & Francis Lockridge 1940
Verdict Of Twelve

Raymond Postgate 1940
The Patience Of Maigret

Georges Simenon 1940
The Bride Wore Black

Cornell Woolrich novel 1940
The Mask of Dimitrios

Eric Ambler novel 1939
The Big Sleep

Raymond Chandler Philip Marlowe novel 1939
The Mysterious Mickey Finn

Eliot Paul 1939
The Beast Must Die

Nicholas Blake 1938
The Crooked Hinge

John Dickson Carr Dr. Gideon Fell' novel 1938
The Judas Window (Also published as: The Crossbow Murder)

John Dickson Carr Sir Henry Merrivale novel as carter dickson 1938

Michael Innes novel 1938
The Listening House

Mabel Seely 1938
Brighton Rock

Graham Greene 1938
The Nursemaid Who Disappeared

Philip MacDonald 1938
Death From A Top Hat

Clayton Rawson 1938
Trial and Error

Anthony Berkeley novels 1937
Overture To Death

Ngaio Marsh 1936
The Murder Of My Aunt

Richard Hull 1935
No Hero

John P Marquand 1935
The League Of Frightened Men

Rex Stout 1935
Death of a Ghost

Margery Allingham novels 1934
The Nine Tailors

Dorothy Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey novel 1934

Rex Stout Nero Wolfe novel 1934
The Case of the Sulky Girl

Erle Stanley Gardner novel 1933
The Case of the Velvet Claws

Erle Stanley Gardner novel 1933
The Red Castle

H. C. Bailey Joshua Clunk novel & shorts 1932

Clemence and Helen Simpson Dane 1932
Before The Fact

Francis Iles 1932
The Fatal Five Minutes

RAJ Walling 1932
The Tragedy Of X

Ellery Queen Ellery Queen novels witten under the name barnaby ross 1932
The Tragedy Of Y

Ellery Queen Ellery Queen novels witten under the name barnaby ross 1932
The Penguin Pool Murder

Stuart Palmer novel 1931
The Cape Cod Mystery

Phoebe Atwood Taylor 1931
Death Walks in Eastrepps

Francis Beeding novel 1931
The Glass Key

Dashiell Hammett novel 1931
Guys And Dolls

Damon Runyon 1931
Murder At School

James Hilton 1931
The Book Of Murder

Irving Anderson, Frederick 1930
The Hammersmith Murders

David Frome 1930
The Maltese Falcon

Dashiell Hammett novel 1930
The Documents in the Case

Dorothy Sayers shorts 1930
The Poisoned Chocolates Case

Anthony Berkeley Roger Sheringham novels 1929
The Patient In Room 18

Mignon G Eberhart 1929
The Roman Hat Murder

Ellery Queen 1929
Little Caesar

W. R. Burnett 1929
Murder By The Clock

Rufus King 1929
Detective Duff Unravels It

Harvey J O’Higgins 1929
Clues Of The Caribbees

TS Stribling 1929
Meet The Tiger

Leslie Charteris 1928
Ashenden Or The British Agent

W. Somerset Maugham 1928
The Murders In Praed Street

John Rhode 1928
The Bellamy Trial

Frances Noyes Hart 1927
The Canary Murder Case

S. S. Van Dine Philo Vance novel 1927
The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes

Arthur Conan Doyle collections 1927
The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd

Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot Novel 1926
The Benson Murder Case

S. S. Van Dine Philo Vance novel 1926
The House Without A Key

Earl Derr Biggers 1925
The Viaduct Murder

Ronald Knox novel 1925
The Paddington Mystery

John Rhode 1925
The Mind Of J G Reeder

Edgar Wallace 1925
An American Tragedy

Theodore Dreiser 1925
The Informer

Liam O’Flaherty 1925
Inspector French's Greatest Case

Freeman Wills Crofts novel 1924
The Rasp

Philip MacDonald 1924
The House Of The Arrow

AEW Mason 1924
The Brooklyn Murders

GDH and M Cole 1923
Whose Body?

Dorothy Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey novel 1923
The Eight Strokes of the Clock

Maurice Leblanc series 1922
The Red House Mystery

A.A. Milne 1922
The Grey Room

Eden Phillpotts 1921
Call Mr. Fortune

H. C. Bailey Reggie Fortune shorts 1920
The Cask

Freeman Wills Crofts novel 1920
The Mysterious Affair At Styles

Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot Novel 1920

Sapper 1920
Tutt And Mr Tutt

Arthur Train 1920
The Great Impersonation

E. Phillips Oppenheim novels 1920
The Middle Temple Murder

JS Fletcher 1918
Uncle Abner

Melville Davisson Post 1918
His Last Bow

Arthur Conan Doyle collections 1917
Limehouse Nights

Thomas Burke 1916
The Thirtynine Steps

John Buchan 1915
Max Carrados

Ernest Bramah 1914
The Lone Wolf

Louis Joseph Vance 1914
The Valley of Fear

Arthur Conan Doyle novels 1914
Trent's Last Case

E. C. Bentley novel 1913
The Lodger

Marie Belloc Lowndes 1913
The Singing Bone

R. Austin Freeman short stories 1912
The Silent Bullet

Arthur B Reeve 1912
The Innocence Of Father Brown

G. K. Chesterton collections 1911
The Eye of Osiris

R. Austin Freeman novels 1911
The Extraordinary Adventures of Arsene Lupin Gentleman Burglar

Maurice Leblanc series 1910

Maurice Leblanc series 1910
At The Villa Rose

AEW Mason 1910
The Achievements Of Luther Trant

William & Edwin Balmer MacHarg 1910
The Old Man In The Corner

Baroness Orczy 1909
The Clue

Carolyn Wells 1909
John Thorndyke's Cases

R. Austin Freeman novels 1909
Through The Wall

Cleveland Moffett 1909
The Mystery Of Dr Fu

Sax Rohmer 1908
The Gentle Grafter

O Henry 1908
The Perfume Of The Woman In Black

Gaston Leroux 1908
The Red Thumb Mark

R. Austin Freeman novels 1907
The Thinking Machine

Jacques Futrelle 1907
The Secret Agent

Joseph Conrad 1907
The Circular Staircase

Mary Roberts Rinehart Miss Cornelia Van Gorder 1907
The Man Who Was Thursday

G. K. Chesterton novels 1907
The Mystery of the Yellow Room

Gaston Leroux novels 1907
The Triumphs Of Eugene Valmont

Robert Barr 1906
Tracks In The Snow

GR Benson 1906
The Scarlet Pimpernell

Baroness Orczy 1905
The Return of Sherlock Holmes

Arthur Conan Doyle collections 1905
The Riddle Of The Sands

Erskine Childers 1903
The Hound of the Baskervilles

Arthur Conan Doyle novels 1902
The Amateur Cracksman

E. W. Hornung 1899

Bram Stoker 1897
Prince Zaleski

MP Shiel 1895
Martin Hewitt Investigator

Arthur Morrison 1894
The Tragedy Of Puddnhead Wilson

Mark Twain 1894
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

Arthur Conan Doyle collections 1893
The Big Bow Mystery

Israel Zangwill 1892
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Arthur Conan Doyle collections 1892
The Sign Of The Four

Arthur Conan Doyle 1890
The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde

Robert Louis Stevenson 1886
The Mystery Of A Hansom Cab

Fergus Hume 1886
New Arabian Nights

Robert Louis Stevenson 1882
The Leavenworth Case

Anna Katharine Green novel 1878
The Expressman And The Detective

Allan Pinkerton 1874
Old Sleuth The Detective

Harlan Page Halsey 1872
The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Charles Dickens :Novels 1870
Monsieur Lecoq

Emile Gaboriau novel 1868

Wilkie Collins novels 1868
Le crime d'Orcival - The Mystery of Orcival / Crime at Orcival

Emile Gaboriau novel 1867 (tr. by M. Villiers)
File No 13

Emile Gaboriau 1867
The Widow Lerouge

Emile Gaboriau 1866
The Dead Letter

Regester Seeley 1866
Crime And Punishment

Fyodor Dostoevsky 1866
The Dead Letter

Regester Seeley 1866
Les Miserables

Victor Hugo 1862

Wilkie Collins novels 1860
Recollections Of A Detective Police Officer

William Russell Waters 1856
Bleak House

Charles Dickens 1853

Edgar Allan Poe 1845
Memoirs De Vidocq

Francois Eugene Vidocq 1828
The Adventures Of Caleb Williams

William Godwin 1794

Voltaire 1748
The Postman Always Rings Twice

James M. Cain 0

Daphne DuMaurier 0
Wisteria Cottage 1948

Robert M. Coates 0
Trial by Fury (1941)

Craig Rice John J. Malone novel