I’ve Completed My Top 100+ Crime and Mystery Novels of All Time Reading Challenge!

I’ve Completed My Top 100+ Crime and Mystery Novels of All Time Reading Challenge!

Four years later, over 300 books were read, and scavenger hunting to find over 150 books in charity shops and second-hand stores — I’ve now completed reading all the books from my Top 100+ Crime and Mystery Novels list.

The books were all bundled up and given away! 🙁

This post is my celebration of persistence, determination, and achieving my goal.

You can read the background behind my reading challenge, check out the reading list with my tips and a summary of each author and their novels on my Top 100+ Crime and Mystery Novels list page, and find additional information in the following posts:

My Top 100+ Crime and Mystery Novels Reading List

What started as a journey to read a greater variety of authors in a genre I enjoy reading ended up becoming an adventure in discovering how the genre evolved.

The list includes books that were published from 1860 through to 1991; and the books are categorized as classics, golden age, suspense, hard-boiled/private eye, police procedural, espionage/thriller, criminal, cozy/traditional/whodunnit, historical, humorous, romantic suspense or psychological suspense.

My list was created by combining The Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time published by the British Crime Writers Association in 1990 with The Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time published by the Mystery Writers of America in 1995 into one list.

Initially, I started reading the books in the order of their ranking on the list which I quickly discovered wasn’t the best approach and changed to:

  • Read the novels in order of their year published; from oldest to newest.
  • Start with earlier novels by the author and work through their novels to the novel on the list. For example, I read John Dickson Carr’s Dr Gideon Fell series in the following order before reading The Three Coffins:
    1. Hag’s Nook – 1933
    2. The Mad Hatter Mystery – 1933
    3. The Eight of Swords – 1934
    4. The Blind Barber – 1934
    5. Death-Watch – 1935
    6. The Hollow Man – 1935 (US title: The Three Coffins)

Benefits of this approach:

  • Some of the authors from the early to mid 1900’s refer to novels or characters published by some of the more famous earlier authors.
  • A better understanding of how writing in each category, and writing style, evolved.
  • Greater appreciation of the author’s work.

Favorites Novels, Authors, and Categories

My favorite categories were classics and the Golden Age. I prefer The Golden Age mystery stories to the hard-boiled crime pioneers of Dashiel Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and James M Cain.  However, Raymond Chandler had an incredible ability to build atmosphere, and describe places and people as highlighted in ‘The Big Sleep.’ After reading over 50 Agatha Christie novels since starting my reading challenge – it’s easy to understand why the Guinness World Records lists her as the best-selling fiction author of all time. Agatha Christie’s An Autobiography is the best autobiography I’ve read written by an author and well worth reading once you’ve read some of her novels.

My favorite novels were ‘The Woman in White‘ (1860) and ‘The Moonstone‘ (1868) by Wilkie Collins.  Originally serialized in Charles Dicken’s magazine before being published as novels.  Both novels use the “multi-narration’ method where a series of characters narrate different chapters. Another favorite novel is Rebecca (1938) by Daphne Du Maurier – an incredible best-selling novel that has never gone out of print.

Wilkie Collins

Most of the novels read transcends time and feel as current today as when the novel was first published.

An exception is the espionage novels.  I feel like ones like John Buchan’s espionage novels and John Le Carre’s ‘The Spy Who Came In From The Cold’ is easier to relate to if you had a sense of the time period they were set. Would those who were born after the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall relate to the story as well as myself who was born a few years after the building of the Berlin War?

Finding the Novels

Part of the challenge, and fun, was finding the novels to read.

My preference is reading physical copies of the books because my work day is spent working on a computer — reading the physical book is more relaxing for me. Here is my post on how to find and read free ebooks for those that prefer ebooks.

Here is the orders of where I source the novels from:

  1. Charity book sales.  In Perth Save the Children holds several large book sales and ParaQuad’s Book Bazaar has a monthly sale (their contract with the State Library of Western Australia whereby all discarded library books are donated is why their shops have a diverse range of books).
  2. Charity shops (Thrift Shops). My favorite shops in Perth are ParaQuad Industries Op Shop & Book Bazaar, Willetton, and Balcatta.  Both shops have a large section of second-hand books sorted in alphabetical order.
  3. Second-hand bookshops.
  4. Online second-hand booksellers like WOB.
  5. Search Google using the title of the novel, and the author combined with the keywords ebook or PDF.  First I search ebook and if that doesn’t work I repeat the search using PDF.  Copyright on older novels has expired and you can download ebooks or PDFs for free from Faded Pages, Project Gutenberg, Project Gutenberg Australia, Open Library, and a range of other websites.  The source of the ebook determines which app is used for reading on an iPad:
  6. Harder to source books I’ve purchased as ebooks from Amazon. I’ve just subscribed to Kindle Unlimited as some of the books I wanted to read are free on Kindle Unlimited.

I still dream of getting a copy of My Story; a New Edition and Seventeen New Years by Mary Roberts Rinehart 1948 –  but it is challenging to source in Australia 🙁

What’s Next?

I’m not very good at letting go! I’m very goal orientated – goals help me focus and give me a sense of achievement. Having a goal combined with a reading challenge provides a mindful practice that helps me with sleep and managing stress when I’ve faced challenging periods in my life.

So I’ve started on my next reading challenge – H.R.F Keating’s 100 Best Crime & Mystery Books.

H.R.F. Keating was an author and reviewer of crime fiction who published a book on what he considered to be the best 100 Best Crime & Mystery Books in 1987.

One thought on “I’ve Completed My Top 100+ Crime and Mystery Novels of All Time Reading Challenge!

  1. Another list of great books can be found in Henry Miller’s favorites in his book called The Books in My Life. The English version metions 100 books. The French edition mentions 1000 books.

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