Top 100+ Crime and Mystery Novels List

Top 100+ Crime and Mystery Novels List

Starting in August 2018 I spent four years working my way through the entire reading list I compiled by combining The Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time created by the British-based Crime Writers Association, published in Hatchards Crime Companion in 1990, with the Mystery Writers of America‘s  The Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time,  published in The Crown Crime Companion in 1995.

The information on this page documents this reading challenge that I completed in August 2022 and includes a summary of each author and their novels.

My reading approach changed as I worked through the list so I’ve added tips and information to this page to help others who are interested in reading books from this Top 100+ Crime and Mystery Novels List.

Crime and mystery novels are a popular literary genre but this wasn’t always so. Its popularity increased with time; the “Book Review Digest” only recorded 12 detective mysteries in 1914, 97 in 1925, and 217 in 1939. 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.

Here is the entire list sorted from oldest novel to newest for those interested in reading some or all of the books.

About My Reading List

I’ve always enjoyed reading but its importance increased while caring for my mum who had motor neurone disease (MND/ALS). During the day I would work away on my computer while she spent her last 17 months in the bedroom next to my office often with her TV turned up loud. By the end of the day, I craved peace which I found in reading. And with limited times I could leave the house as she required 24/7 care — it helped me relax.

More importantly, it gave us both shared enjoyment. Reading was her escapism. She only left her bedroom a few times in those 17 months (excluding showers). Daily we would discuss what we were reading, our likes/dislikes, or what we learnt from the books.

After growing tired of searching for new modern authors I wanted to read I set a goal in August 2018 of reading Top 100+ Crime and Mystery Novels of All Time as a way of introducing myself to new authors in a genre I enjoy reading.

The list was compiled by combining The Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time created by the British-based Crime Writers Association, published in Hatchards Crime Companion in 1990, with the Mystery Writers of America‘s  The Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time,  published in The Crown Crime Companion in 1995.

Both lists were compiled using the same approach:

  • Their members were asked to name their five favorite books in each of ten categories.  The highest vote-getter, regardless of category, made up their Top 100, and the more votes a novel received the higher on the list it was ranked.
  • Members were more likely to nominate the same novel in the lesser read categories potentially pushing the ranking of these novels higher in the list. A higher ranking in the list doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a better novel than lower-ranked novels.
  • Some novels were nominated as a result of members remembering famous movies or plays created from the novel. “Witness for the Prosecution” by Agatha Christie is an example of this. It’s a short story included in several of her different short story novels considered one of the best mystery plays ever written.
  • The reason for inclusion in the list could be the novel was unique, one of the first examples of a category, or an early example of a specific school of writing. ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd‘ and ‘And Then There Were None‘ by Agatha Christie are considered by many to be the best two novels she ever wrote. These novels are uniquely written as a result of how both are narrated but aren’t my favorite Agatha Christie novels.
  • Knowing which category a novel was included in the list is helpful for comparing within the genre.
The Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time categories used by the British-based Crime Writers Association were:The Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time categories used by Mystery Writers of America were:
  • The Founding Fathers – The Classics
  • The Golden Age (1914 – 1939)
  • Police Procedural
  • Psychological suspense
  • The Whodunnit
  • History Suspense
  • Romantic Suspense
  • Thrillers
  • Espionage Fiction
  • Hard-boiled
  • Classics
  • Suspense
  • Hard-boiled/Private Eye
  •  Police Procedural
  • Espionage/Thriller
  • Criminal
  • Cozy/traditional
  • Historical
  • Humorous
  • Legal/courtroom

Reading order:

I discovered the best way to work through the list wasn’t in order of their ranking in the list, or by category, and reorganized my list so that I read in the following order:

  • 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.

The benefit of this approach:

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

Below is my summary of the author and their novels from oldest novel to newest. The summary below is in honor of my mum who wanted my reading goal to include recording a summary of what I read.

I prefer reading physical versions of the books rather than e-books since my work is involves working on a computer so I’ve indicated which books I was able to find physical copies of the books vs those I had to read as e-books. Majority of my books I was able to purchase cheaply through charity shops. Harder-to-find books were brought from second-hand book shops, and hard-to-find were read as e-books or purchased second-hand online. I’ve included links to where a book can be read as a free e-book if it is available online.

Edgar Allan Poe (1841)

  • The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841) – Classic
  • The Mystery of Marie Roget (1842) – Classic
  • The Purloined Letter (1844) – Classic
  • The Gold Bug (1843) – Classic

Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination is a compilation of Poe’s suspenseful tales. Poe is better known for his dark tales of terror and the supernatural however many consider Edgar Allan Poe’s three Auguste Dupin short stories as the first detective stories published.

I’ve listed the four short stories to read for those who prefer to read his key short stories rather than the entire Tales of Mystery and Imagination book.

His three Auguste Dupin short stories provide insight into early detective stories and it’s helpful to be aware of these stories because some of the early 1900’s crime novels reference Dupin. His “The Gold Bug” story was heavily nominated by the Mystery Writers of America and isn’t a detective story; it’s an old-fashioned deciphering of a cryptogram in a tale without a crime.

Below are links to free ebooks that include the short stories:

Wilkie Collins (1860)

  • The Woman in White (1860) – Classic
  • The Moonstone (1868) – Classic

Wilkie Collins was an English novelist and playwright whose two novels The Woman in White (1860) and The Moonstone (1868) are considered by many as the precursors for the modern mystery novel and suspense novels.

Both novels were originally published in serial form by Charles Dickens, a close friend of Wilkie Collins, in “All the Year Round” and afterward published in book form.

I was originally reluctant to read Wilkie Collins’s novels as I was worried being written in the 1800s that they would be hard to read and include content I couldn’t relate to. I loved both novels; both use the multi-narration method where different sections of the novels are told by different characters which isn’t commonly used nowadays but was very effective in developing the stories in both novels.

The Woman in White is about the unlawful confinement of a woman in a lunatic asylum by an unscrupulous villain to falsely claim a large inheritance. The Moonstone is about a priceless stone that goes missing soon after being given as a present on a birthday and the investigation to find what happened to the stone.

Both books can be downloaded as free ebooks from Project Gutenberg. I sourced my paperback versions of both from charity shops.

Fyodor Dostoevsky (1866)

  • Crime and Punishment (1866) – Classic

Crime and Punishment was originally published in Russian in twelve monthly installments in 1866. It’s consider by some as one of the greatest novels ever written. Worth delaying reading until you’ve read some of the other novels from this list as it’s a slow, in-depth story – happy I’ve read it as it provided an interesting insight into the time it was written and definitely memorable. Some consider it as one of the first psychological thrillers.

It can be downloaded as a free ebook or or easily found in charity shops.

Charles Dickens (1870)

  • The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870) – Classic

The Mystery of Edwin Drood is the final novel written by Charles Dickens and he dies before he finished this novel. No one knows how he intended to end it and only six of the planned twelve installments were published.

An incredible novel that I really enjoyed reading. Wasn’t easy to find in charity shops and wish I had realized sooner that I could have downloaded the free ebook here.

Arthur Conan Doyle (1887)

  • The Complete Sherlock Holmes (1887-1927) – Classic

Being reluctant to read Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories after watching the different movie and TV adaptations, I now appreciate how amazing his stories are and how they’ve withstood the test of time.

Sherlock Holmes wasn’t the first fictional detective but he is the “most portrayed movie character” in history. The Sherlock Holmes stories have had a profound and lasting effect on mystery writing and popular culture.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote the Sherlock Holmes stories, has been credited as an influence on forensic science due to Holmes’ use of methods such as fingerprints, trace evidence, serology, ciphers, and footprints long before they were commonly used by the police.

You can read my detailed review of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his work here.

My hardest task was working out where to start so here’s my recommendation of order to read:

  1. A Study in Scarlet (1887) – introduces Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson.
  2. The Sign of Four (1890) – introduces Dr. Watson’s future wife Mary.
  3. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – 12 short stories published in The Strand in 1891-1892 with the most famous being “A Scandal in Bohemia” which introduces Irene Adler.
  4. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes – 11 short stories published in The Strand in 1892-1893 with the most famous being “The Final Problem” which kills off Sherlock Holmes.
  5. The Return of Sherlock Holmes – 13 short stories published in The Strand in 1903-1904 with the most famous being “The Adventures of the Empty House” where Sherlock Holmes is resurrected.
  6. The Hound of the Baskervilles – serialized in the Strand in 1901-1902. Considered by many as the best Sherlock Holmes novel.
  7. The Valley of Fear – serialized in The Strand from 1914–1915.
  8. His Last Bow: Some Later Reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes – stories published 1908–1917.
  9. The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes – stories published 1921–1927.

You can read as individual novels or you’ll find them all in The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. His books can be downloaded as free ebooks or easily found in charity shops.

Bram Stoker (1897)

  • Dracula (1897) – Classic

This ended up being the third last book I read on the reading list as I kept avoiding reading it – concerned that it would be too scary to read. The novel was very different from what I expected. Dracula is one of the most famous pieces of English literature.

The narration of the novel was similar to the style used by Wilkie Collins where different characters narrated different parts of the story. The key difference was the narration in Dracula was told in a timeline based on diaries or letters written by the different characters and newspaper articles.

It was initially slow-moving but picked up pace as the story evolved. An incredible novel that must have been a scary read for some when it was first published.

The book can be downloaded as a free ebook or easily found in charity shops.

Erskine Childers (1903)

  • The Riddle of the Sands (1903) – Espionage

An early example of an espionage novel and influential on the spy fiction genre. Parts were challenging to read but I learnt about the German navy’s building up, which I hadn’t been aware of until reading the novel.

You can download the free ebook here. Occasionally see it for sale in charity shops.

Edgar Wallace (1906)

  • Four Just Men (1906) – Espionage

Edgar Wallace was one of the most prolific thriller writers of the early 1900s. He was once considered second in popularity to Dickens and his popularity diminished after his death. At one stage he was producing one in every four novels sold in England.

The Four Just Man was the first novel of his I read and I really struggled reading it. It was only after reading some of his other novels that I appreciated how enjoyable his novels can be. Part of the issue may be I struggled to relate the earlier spy novels compared to crime novels.

It is common to see his books in charity shops. Some of his ebooks, including “Four Just Men”, can be downloaded for free here.

Joseph Conrad (1907)

  • The Secret Agent (1907) – Espionage

This novel defeated me. I only managed to get partway through it. I originally tried reading it as an ebook and now have a paperback copy for when I’m ready to try again.

Mary Roberts Rinehart (1908)

  • The Circular Staircase (1908) – Classic

Mary Roberts Rinehart was considered America’s Agatha Christie. The Circular Staircase is considered the pioneer of “had I but known” mystery writing.

I love reading her novels as her style is similar to Agatha Christie. In addition to The Circular Staircase I’ve read her following novels:

  • The Man in Lower Ten (1909)
  • The Window at the White Cat (1910)
  • The Case of Jennie (1913)
  • The After House (1914)
  • Kings, Queens and Pawns: An American Woman at the Front (1915)
  • The Door (1930)

Enjoyed reading her autobiography My Story (1931) and would love to read the updated version of My Story (1948) that she published in later years. Very hard to find!

All of her books I’ve read as ebooks as I’ve never seen any of her books in Australia. Some of her ebooks can be downloaded for free here.

G.K Chesterton (1911)

  • The Innocence of Father Brown (1911) – Classic

The Father Brown short stories were originally published in various magazines and later collated into five books. The first of the books published was The Innocence of Father Brown in 1911.

Can’t decide how I feel about the Father Brown stories. I’ve only managed to get so far the series of stories each time I try to read The Innocence of Father Brown! Worth reading for those that enjoy the Father Brown TV series to see how the show evolved from the stories.

I might have had more luck if I downloaded the free ebook rather than forgetting which short story I was up in my book!

E.C Bentley (1913)

  • Trent’s Last Case (1913) – Classic

Trent’s Last Case was unique for its time as it involved a detective who gets things completely wrong after painstakingly collecting all the evidence as well as falling in love with one of the primary suspects. Phillip Trent is an artist and amateur detective. Trent’s Last Case is the first book published in his series of three books that include Phillip Trent.

The book can be downloaded as a free ebook here.

John Buchan (1915)

  • The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915) – Espionage
  • Greenmantle (1916) – Espionage

John Buchan was a Scottish novelist, historian, and politician who served as Governor-General of Canada and was a prolific novelist who wrote for leisure. He is considered the father of the spy thriller.

His well-known spy thrillers feature Richard Hannay, his all-action hero, who is an ordinary person who had a knack for getting himself out of trouble and is set before, during, and after World War I.  His first Richard Hannay novel ‘The Thirty-Nine Steps’ was published in 1915 and was a great success with the men in the trenches.

His five Richard Hannay novels which include ‘The Thirty Nine Steps’ and ‘Greenmantle’ were incredibly popular and are still read today. I struggled reading these novels – maybe we don’t have the same sense of patriotism and are less able to relate to the circumstances surrounding World War I compared to World War II? I am glad I persisted as I really enjoy his mystery novels.

You can read my detailed review of John Buchan and Richard Hannay’s spy thrillers here.

A few years after reading his Richard Hannay I discovered my grandfather had loved his books and I added his collection to my library.

John Buchan’s life story is fascinating and I’ve read the following autobiography/biography:

You can download some of his books as free ebooks here and it’s fairly common to see ‘The Thirty Nine Steps’ and ‘Greenmantle’ in charity shops.

Agatha Christie (1925)

  • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) Poirot novel – The Golden Age
  • The Witness for the Prosecution (1925) stand-alone short story – The Golden Age
  • Murder on the Orient Express (1934) Poirot novel – The Golden Age
  • And Then There Were None (1935) stand-alone novel – The Golden Age
  • Death Comes At The End (1944) stand-alone novel – The Golden Age

I’m probably classified as an Agatha Christie fan based on my collection of her novels and other books related to her work and life. I read a selection of her novels when I was a teenager and initially started by reading The Murder of Roger Ackroyd from my reading list. So far I’ve read over 50 of her novels since starting my reading challenge.

I feel I would have appreciated The Murder of Roger Ackroyd if I had read the Hercule Poirot novels in order of date published. The four novels included in this list are considered the best but aren’t my favorites. At least two of these novels represent a unique or different approach to crime writing that hadn’t been done before.

My recommendation is to start with The Mysterious Affair at Styles in the Hercule Poirot series. You can download a Poirot Reading List here which includes tips on the order and which to read. Here is the Miss Marple Reading list and you’ll find the complete Agatha Christie Reading list here.

The Witness for the Prosecution is a good example being included because those that nominated it remembered it as a well-known play or movie. Witness For The Prosecution isn’t a mystery novel. It is a short story that was included in a few of Agatha Christie’s Short Story novels. Which novel it was included in varied between UK and USA. I wouldn’t even classify it as her best short story. However, it is considered one of the best mystery plays ever written.

You can download a few of her books as free ebooks here or buy them from charity shops. There is always a wide selection of her books being sold cheaply in charity shops due to their popularity. I was lucky enough to have purchased almost a complete collection of her Agatha Christie Crime Collection series at a charity shop.

Her 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.

Dorothy L Sayers (1926)

  • Cloud of Witness (1926) – The Golden Age
  • Strong Poison (1930) – The Golden Age
  • Murder Must Advertise (1933) – The Golden Age
  • The Nine Tailors (1934) – The Golden Age
  • Gaudy Night (1935) – The Golden Age

‘Gaudy Night’ was the first Dorothy L Sayers novel I read as I originally started reading through my reading challenge based on their ranking in the list and this was her highest ranking book. ‘Gaudy Night’ by Dorothy L. Sayers is the tenth novel in her Lord Wimsey series and if I had read her novels in order I think I would have appreciated it more.

I would start with ‘Whose Body?’ first as an introduction to the Lord Wimsey characters.

I found ‘Gaudy Night’ challenging to read and was frustrated the storyline was about a prankster rather than a typical crime. The most important thing I learnt from reading ‘Gaudy Night’ was an appreciation of the challenges faced by women who wanted an education during this era.

Here’s the complete list of her detective novels which were all part of the Lord Wimsey series except for one:

  • Whose Body? (1923)
  • Clouds of Witness (1926)
  • Unnatural Death (1927)
  • The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (1928)
  • Strong Poison (1930)
  • The Documents in the Case (1930) – stand alone
  • The Five Red Herrings (1931)
  • Have His Carcase (1932)
  • Murder Must Advertise (1933)
  • The Nine Tailors (1934)
  • Gaudy Night (1935)
  • Busman’s Honeymoon: A Love Story With Detective Interruptions (1937)

Whose Body?’ can be downloaded as a free ebook. Some of her books can be borrowed from the Internet Archive or downloaded as ebooks here. Most of her books I sourced from libraries or brought from second-hand shops/charity shops. I’ve read and enjoyed all her novels.

W. Somerset Maugham (1927)

  • Ashenden, or, The British Agent (1927) – Espionage

‘Ashenden, or, The British Agent’ is a series of short stories loosely based on W. Somerset Maugham’s experience in British intelligence during World War I. His works is said to have influenced Ian Fleming. He was among the most popular writers of his era and reputedly the highest-paid author during the 1930s

I never realized until reading his short story Sanatorium how many people died of TB or that people could live a long time with TB. Maugham was diagnosed with TB after his service as an ambulance driver and spent two years in a sanatorium in Scotland.

You can borrow this book from the Internet Archive or download his books as free ebooks here.

Anthony Berkeley / Frances Iles (1929)

  • The Poisoned Chocolate Case (1929) Anthony Berkeley – The Golden Age
  • Malice Aforethought (1931) Frances Iles – Psychological suspense

Anthony Berkeley Cox was an English crime writer who wrote under several pen names, including Francis Iles, Anthony Berkeley, and A. Monmouth Platts.

“The Poisoned Chocolate Case” is part of his Roger Sheringham series. It’s a classic Golden Age whodunnit set in 1920’s London in which a group of six armchair detectives each proposes a different solution as to the motive and the identity of the perpetrator.

I loved Lesley Grant-Adamson’s comment in her Psychological suspense chapter in Hatchards Crime Companion where she says I don’t like “Malice Aforethought”. “Malice Aforethought” had 30% more votes than any of the rest in the British Crime Writers ‘Psychological suspense category’ and I also wouldn’t clarify this as his best novel. The novel was unique for its time and is credited as being the first book to tell the reader from the onset what happened and then spending the remainder of the book sharing details of how it happened. I like “Before the Fact” more than “Malice Aforethought”.

You can borrow a few of his novels from the Internet Archive. The books I’ve read have been sourced from second-hand book shops or charity shops.

Dashiell Hammett (1929)

  • Red Harvest (1929) – hard-boiled detective
  • The Maltese Falcon (1929) – hard-boiled detective
  • The Glass Key (1930) – hard-boiled detective
  • The Thin Man (1934) – hard-boiled detective

Dashiell Hammett was an American author of hard-boiled detective novels and is widely considered one of the finest mystery writers of all time.

In hard-boiled detective novels, the typical protagonist is a detective who battles the violence of organized crime while dealing with a legal system that has become as corrupt as the organized crime itself.

I’ve read all of Dashiell Hammett’s novels. My favorite is the “Maltese Falcon”.

You can borrow his novels from the Internet Archive or download his ebooks for free here. It’s fairly common to see his novels in charity shops.

William Riley Burnett (1929)

  • Little Caesar (1929) – Criminal

‘Little Caesar’ story is written during the prohibition narrated by a Mafia gangster; it is considered the first American gangster novel which was used as a template for future gangster novels. The film adaptation is considered the first of the classic American gangster movies.

The novel was considered highly innovative for the time for its social realism in depicting how a gang was run and organized, their crimes, and ongoing struggles with the law.

Wasn’t one of my favorite.

You can borrow this novel from the Internet Archive.

James M Cain (1934)

  • The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934) – criminal
  • Double Indemnity (1943) – criminal

James M Cain was an American author most commonly associated with the hardboiled American crime fiction. Both of these novels are typical of his writing style that shows the crime and its consequences from the point of view of the criminal.

“The Postman Always Rings Twice” was his first novel and is considered one of the more important crime novels of the 20th Century. Its title is a red herring as a postman doesn’t appear in the novel or is alluded to. The saying refers to “The postman used to ring twice if there was something that needed an answer or signing for.” The story is narrated by a drifter who ends up working in a diner who conspires with the beautiful young wife, operator of the dinner, to kill her older husband.

‘Double Indemnity’ was originally published in serial form in 1936, later as three long short story tales. It’s about an insurance agent who falls for a married woman and together they conspire to kill her husband for the insurance money. I managed to accidentally read this novel twice!

Both these novels were made into films and the novels can be borrowed from the Internet Archive.

John Dickson Carr (1935)

  • Three Coffins (USA) The Hollow Man (UK) (1935)– The Golden Age
  • The Devil in Velvet (1951) – Historical

John Dickson Carr is an American author who lived for years in England and most of his novels have English settings with English characters. He is considered one of the greater “Golden age mystery” writers with plot-driven stories with complex puzzles. He was considered the master of the locked room mystery where a detective solves an apparently impossible crime.

“Three Coffins” published as “The Hollow Man” in the UK is a classic example of his locked room mystery. The story revolves around how Gideon Fell solves two murders to explain how Professor Charles Grimaud received his visitor in his study and when a gunshot is heard from the study, the alarm is raised – the door is broken down and Grimaud is found, shot dead, and alone. While just as nobody could have left that room, nobody could have murdered Pierre Fley in Cagliostro Street, shot at close range in front of witnesses but with nobody in sight and again, surrounded by undisturbed snow.

He spent the last two decades of his career publishing historical stories (history was one of his passions). Some consider “The Devil in Velvet” his best historical mystery while others disagree. This was the second historical novel he published and his first of three time travel books. I found parts of this novel challenging to relate to as I didn’t have a good understanding of the time it was based on. I definitely wouldn’t recommend starting reading John Dickson Carr’s novels by reading “The Devil in Velvet”. Probably worth reading “The Devil in Velvet” while reading others that were nominated in the historical mystery category to get a better perspective of how this novel compares with the others in the same category.

“Three Coffins” published as “The Hollow Man” in the UK is part of his Dr Gideon Fell series so I started by reading his earlier Fell novels before reading this one:

  • Hag’s Nook – 1933
  • The Mad Hatter Mystery – 1933
  • The Eight of Swords – 1934
  • The Blind Barber – 1934
  • Death-Watch – 1935
  • The Hollow Man – 1935 (US title: The Three Coffins)

Many of his novels can be borrowed from the Internet Archive. It’s fairly common to see his novels in charity shops. I borrowed “The Devil in Velvet” from a local library. He also published under the pseudonyms Carter Dickson, Carr Dickson, and Roger Fairbairn.

Caryl Brahms & S.J Simon (1937)

  • A Bullet In The Ballet (1937) – Humorous

Caryl Brahms, was an English critic, novelist, and journalist specializing in the theatre and ballet who enlisted the help of a Russian friend, S. J. Simon, whom she had met at a hostel when they were both students. Together Brahms and Simon started to write comic thrillers.

Their first novel was “A Bullet in the Ballet” where Detective-Inspector Adam Quill investigates the killing when one of the star dancers in Vladimir Stroganoff’s ballet company is murdered after a performance. I enjoyed reading this comic mystery but didn’t enjoy the second novel in their series as much as “A Bullet in the Ballet”.

You can borrow this novel from the Internet Archive. I think I brought a paperback version of the novel at a second-hand book store.

Michael Innes (1937)

  • Hamlet, Revenge! (1937) – The Golden Age
  • The Journeying Boy also published as The Case of the Journeying Boy (1949) – The Golden Age

Michael Innes was a Scottish novelist and academic who published crime fiction under this pseudonym. His academic work was published under his real name J.I.M Stewart (John Innes Mackintosh Stewart). He was a lecturer in English at the University of Leeds from 1930 to 1935, then became Jury Professor of English in the University of Adelaide, South Australia. He returned to the United Kingdom in 1946 where he continued to lecture in English.

John Appleby is his best-known series and “Hamlet, Revenge!” is the second novel in this series. It centers on the investigation into the murder of the Lord Chancellor of England by Inspector John Appleby during an amateur production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

I started by reading his first John Appleby novel “Death at the President’s Lodging” (1936) (also known as Seven Suspects) before reading “Hamlet, Revenge!”

I had read 14 Michael Innes novels prior to reading “The Journeying Boy” as I had trouble finding the book and I enjoy reading his novels! The trouble was I didn’t realize it was also published as “The Case of the Journeying Boy”. Intriguing story based on a tutor being hired to travel with Humphrey Paxton, the son of one of Britain’s leading atomic boffins, to stay with relatives in Ireland that Sir Bernard Paxton hadn’t met.

Some of Michael Innes’s novels can be borrowed from the Internet Archive. It’s fairly common to see his novels in charity shops.

Daphne Du Maurier (1938)

  • Rebecca (1938) – Romantic Suspense

Daphne Du Maurier’s most famous book, ‘Rebecca’, is a gothic romantic suspense novel narrated by a young woman, whose marriage is overshadowed by the memories of her husband’s brilliant and beautiful first wife, Rebecca. It is an incredible novel, perhaps the most memorable novel on this list, which I couldn’t put down – pay attention to how the beginning and end of the novel bring the story together.

Daphne Du Maurier is often considered a romantic novelist but she often wrote dark, gothic novels with unexpected twists or suspenseful endings. She also wrote non-fiction, including several biographies like ‘Gerald’ which was about her father. “The Glass Blowers” is a fictional novel based on her French ancestry.

Her grandfather, George du Maurier, was a writer and Punch cartoonist. “The du Mauriers” (1937) is a fictionalized biography of her great-grandmother, grandparents, and her father. ” “Gerald: A Portrait” (1934) is her biography about her father, Sir Gerald du Maurier, who was a prominent actor-manager. As a child, she met many prominent theatre actors, playwrights, and writers as a result of the celebrity of her father. These connections to writers like Edgar Wallace helped establish her literary career. Edgar Wallace was one of the most prolific thriller writers of the early 1900’s and a close friend of the Du Maurier family. He was once considered second in popularity to Dickens and his popularity diminished after his death. Daphne Du Maurier’s novels, especially ‘Rebecca’, continue to be popular today because they are timeless stories.

I’ve managed to find many of her books including Rebecca and the biographies in charity shops.

Graham Greene (1938)

  • Brighton Rock (1938) – Psychological suspense
  • The Third Man (1950) – Espionage fiction
  • Our Man in Havana (1958) – Espionage fiction

Graham Greene was one of the greatest and most popular English writers of the 20th Century. His novels often dealt with moral issues. In the 1950s and ’60s he was involved in Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service and his later novels feature political intrigue.

I confess! I never finished reading “Brighton Rock”. It’s a study of psychopathology of good vs evil rather than a crime novel and is also an example of how the Catholic religion was an important element in some of his novels. It remains a popular novel today but didn’t engage me.

“The Third Man” and “Our Man in Havana” are espionage fiction. Graham Greene was hired to write the “The Third Man” screenplay and wrote this short novel as preparation for the screenplay. “Our Man in Havana” is a black comedy set in Cuba and makes fun of the intelligence service, specifically MI6, and their willingness to believe reports from local informants.

Geoffrey Household (1938)

  • Rogue Male (1938) – Thriller

This was definitely an example of where I should have made time to record my thoughts of a novel immediately after reading it. My notes say “Read it but can’t remember it so not as memorable as other novels.” Reviewed the plot and I still can’t remember it!

This novel can be borrowed from Open Library.

Eric Ambler (1939)

  • A Coffin For Dimitrios (1939) – Espionage/Thriller

The novel was published as “A Coffin For Dimitrios” in the USA and “The Mask of Dimitrios” in the UK. Eric Ambler was one of the earlier spy thriller novelists that inspired other novelists like Ian Fleming and John Le Carre. His novels are always an enjoyable read.

This novel can be borrowed from Open Library. I occasionally find his novels in charity shops and second-hand book shops.

Raymond Chandler (1939)

  • The Big Sleep (1939) – Hard-boiled/Private Eye
  • Farewell, My Lovely (1940) – Hard-boiled/Private Eye
  • The Lady in The Lake (1943) – Hard-boiled/Private Eye
  • The Long Goodbye (1953) – Hard-boiled/Private Eye

I’ve read all of Raymond Chandler’s novels. “The Big Sleep” was the first hard-boiled/Private Eye novel I read and it is an absolute classic. His ability to describe and set scenes, and create the imaginary, in this novel is incredible. The ending frustrated me as someone more used to Golden Age novels. Hard-boiled incorporates the tone of realism and is more cynical, and hard-edged. Golden Age Crime fiction is based on a puzzle plot detective storyline with elements of whodunnit and fair play.

He originally published stories in the pulp magazine Black Mask and most of his novels were written by cannibalizing these short stories into his novels. The plot was less important to him than the atmosphere and the characters. When he merged the short stories together he spent most of the time on the descriptions of people and places and less time on the plot – which is why there can be gaps in his plots.

“The Long Goodbye” is one of his last novels and the hardest to read. Some reviewers consider this his best novel and others consider it the worst. My mum’s comment on reading it was it should have been called “The Painful Goodbye”. She didn’t like it whereas I enjoyed it more because of the insight into the author. It is longer than his other novels and dragged on.

You can borrow his novels from the Open Library or download his ebooks for free here. It’s fairly common to see his novels in charity shops.

Nicholas Blake (1938)

  • The Beast Must Die (1938) – The Golden Age

This was incredibly annoying 🙁 I originally used the Library Thing “Top 100 Crime Novels of all Time – UK Crime Writers’ Association” list and didn’t spot that the person who had added the list included the wrong Nicholas Blake novel. It was only when I was marking off the novels I had read in my copy of “Hatchards Crime Companion The Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time” that I realized I had read the wrong novel.

Nicholas Blake is the pseudonym of Cecil Day-Lewis, the famous poet.

“The Beast Must Die” is a clever novel about a mystery novelist investigating who was responsible for the hit and run accident that killed his son. Packed full of twists and turns – very engaging and fast moving.

I had no luck finding this novel in shops and ended up borrowing it from Open Library.

Vera Caspary (1942)

  • Laura (1942) – Suspense

Had no luck finding any Vera Caspary novels in charity shops so ended up buying as an ebook from Amazon. Laura is an enjoyable read with lots of twists and turns. Uses Wilkie Collins method of different characters to narrate different chapters.

It was originally published as a seven part serial and then later published in book form.

Cyril Hare (1942)

  • Tragedy at Law (1942) – Detective

Cyril Hare was the pseudonym for Alfred Alexander Gordon Clark who was an English judge. “Tragedy at Law” is his best-known crime novel and is considered among the best whodunnits set in the legal world. Enjoy able novel that kept me guessing.

You can borrow this novel from the Open Library or download the ebook for free here.

Christianna Brand (1943)

  • Green For Danger (1943) – Golden Age

Wasn’t easy finding a paper-based version of the novel. Finally found a copy late 2020. Murder mystery based in a wartime hospital.

You can borrow this novel from the Open Library .

Craig Rice (1944)

  • Home Sweet Homicide (1944) – Humorous

Comical murder investigation by three children of an mystery writer.

Craig Rice was the pseudonym for the American mystery writer Georgiana Ann Randolph Craig. She had a trouble life, married four times, had three children, and was an alcoholic who died from barbiturate and alcohol overdose at 49.

You can borrow this novel from the Open Library .

Edmund Crispen (1946)

  • The Moving Toyshop (1946) – Whodunnit

I’ve read most of Edmund Crispin’s novels. I find his novels less enjoyable compared to other Golden Age crime writers as characters and plot development aren’t as good.

You can borrow this novel from the Open Library .

Mickey Spillane (1947)

  • I, The Jury (1947) – Hard-boiled/Private Eye

I, the Jury was the debut novel by Mickey Spillane featuring his private investigator Mike Hammer. Enjoyable read. Took me a long time to find a paperback version of this novel.

You can borrow this novel from the Open Library.

Josephine Tey (1948)

  • The Franchise Affair (1948) – Whodunnit
  • Brat Farrar (1949) – Mystery
  • The Daughter of Time (1951) – History Mystery

Josephine Tey was a pseudonym used by Elizabeth MacKintosh, a Scottish author. She also wrote plays under the name of Gordon Daviot.

I’ve read all Josephine Tey’s novels and this is another example of where I should have read her novels in order of the series rather than reading what was considered her best novel first.

The first novel of hers that I read was “The Daughter of Time” which I am sure I would have appreciated more if I had read the earlier novels first. I encourage anyone who reads this novel to research the background behind the story and the influence this novel had. The story is entirely based on the detective stuck in a hospital bed researching the mystery of Richard III.

It took me a long time to find a paperback version of Brat Farrar. A very enjoyable novel which I couldn’t put it down.

Incredible author and I enjoyed reading the biography of her life.

I often see her books in charity shops and you can download her ebooks for free here.

Michael Gilbert (1950)

  • Smallbone Deceased (1950) – Whodunnit

Unable to find a paperback version I read it via Amazon Unlimited. A very enjoyable murder mystery set in a lawyer’s office that kept you guessing.

Patricia Highsmith (1950)

  • Strangers on a Train (1950) – Psychological suspense
  • The Talented Mr Ripley (1955) – Psychological suspense

Patricia Highsmith was an American novelist widely known for her psychological thrillers. Many of her novels have been made into popular movies but I’m not a fan of her obsessive, disturbing characters in her novels I’ve read so far.

She is considered the queen of the modern psychological thriller; her focus is more on the investigation of the human mind rather than the crime puzzle. What is interesting is Patricia Highsmith’s novels were more popular in Europe than in USA. This trend was highlighted in the two crime lists with her novels ranking higher on the UK list vs the USA crime writers list.

Frequently see her books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops. You can borrow her novel from the Open Library.

Margery Allingham (1952)

  • Tiger in the Smoke (1952) – Golden Age

Margery Allingham is another of the well-known English novelists from the “Golden Age of Detective Fiction. I’ve read 16 of her novels.

“Tiger in the Smoke” is part of her Albert Campion novel series so if you wanted to read in the order published you would read:

  • The Crime at Black Dudley (1929: US title The Black Dudley Murder)
  • Mystery Mile (1930)
  • Look to the Lady (1931: US title The Gyrth Chalice Mystery)
  • Police at the Funeral (1931)
  • Sweet Danger (1933: US title Kingdom of Death/The Fear Sign)
  • Death of a Ghost (1934)
  • Flowers for the Judge (1936: US title Legacy in Blood)
  • Dancers in Mourning (1937: US title Who Killed Chloe?)
  • Mr. Campion: Criminologist (1937: short stories)
  • The Case of the Late Pig (1937: originally appeared in Mr Campion: Criminologist)
  • The Fashion in Shrouds (1938)
  • Mr. Campion and Others (1939: short stories)
  • Traitor’s Purse (1941: US title The Sabotage Murder Mystery)
  • Coroner’s Pidgin (1945: US title Pearls Before Swine)
  • The Casebook of Mr Campion (1947: short stories)
  • More Work for the Undertaker (1948)
  • The Tiger in the Smoke (1952: serialised in US newspapers as Tiger Loose)

Frequently see her books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops. You can borrow her novel from the Open Library .

Jim Thompson (1952)

  • The Killer Inside Me (1952) – Criminal

Never found a paperback version of this book and ended up having to buy the ebook. Read the entire book within 24 hours. Fast moving first-person narrated by the killer. From the noir fiction genre, this novel is considered the most chilling depiction of a sociopath ever committed to paper.

Hillary Waugh (1952)

  • Last Seen Wearing (1952) – Police Procedural

Last Seen Wearing is generally considered the finest early example of the police procedural. Excellent novel. Unable to find an ebook or paperback ending up borrowing from the Internet Archive. Based on the disappearance of a female freshman, the search into her disappearance, the discovery of her body, the inquest, and the subsequent police investigation to find her murderer.

Ira Levin (1953)

  • A Kiss Before Dying (1953) – Psychological suspense

Took a long time to find this book and ended up having to buy it as a new paperback. This was the first novel written by Ira Levin, an American novelist, and won the 1954 Edgar Award for Best First Novel. Nowadays he is better known for his novel ‘Rosemary’s Baby’. ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ is tied for Number 100 book with “A Morbid Taste of Bones” on the Mystery Writers of America Top 100 Mystery Novels of all Time but I couldn’t face reading the novel as the movie was scary enough.

The book has been adapted into a movie twice. Excellent read and kept me engaged throughout.

J.J. Marric (1955)

  • Gideon’s Day (1955) – Police Procedural

Another book I was unable to find as a paperback and ended up buying the ebook. Written under the pseudonym J.J Marric by John Creasy, the Gideon series is considered his best known. Police procedural based on telling the story of the main character Gideon with a glimpse into his personal life while juggling overseeing a series of different crimes. Quick and easy read – read within 24 hours.

Margaret Millar (1955)

  • Beast in View (1955) – Psychological suspense

Margaret Millar was one of the leading American ladies of crime writing and this is considered her best work. It won the Edgar Award in 1956 and was adapted into an episode in Alfred Hitchock Hour. Margaret Millar published under her married name. Her husband Kenneth Millar was also a crime novelist better known under the pen name Ross MacDonald.

An enjoyable fast-reading novel that I completed within a day. I found a copy in a second-hand book shop and it can be borrowed as a free ebook from Open Library.

Ed McBain (1956)

  • Cop Hater (1956) – Police Procedural
  • Sadie When She Died (1972) – Police Procedural

Ed McBain was considered the author who perfected the police procedural sub-genre – where the crime is solved by an entire police department as opposed to a single detective.

Cop Hater was his first novel in the 87th Precinct series. I read numerous Ed McBain novels when I was younger. Cop Hater didn’t engage me until almost the end of the novel; maybe the ones I read in my younger years had evolved more or my tastes changed?

Frequently see his books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Ian Flemming (1957)

  • From Russia With Love (1957) – Thriller/Espionage

The fifth novel written by Ian Flemming and he had become disenchanted with his novels. This novel was very popular when it was first published.

I enjoy watching James Bond movies but Ian Flemming’s novels are better than the movies. I’ve read all his novels. The movies are a farce compared to the novels.

Frequently see his books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Alistair MacLean (1957)

  • The Guns of Navarone (1957) – Thriller

I read most of Alastair Maclean’s novels when I was young and had forgotten how talented he was as a writer until I read this novel again recently.

The novel is based on an Allied commando team sent to destroy a seemingly impregnable German fortress in the Second World War.

Frequently see his books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Julian Symons (1957)

  • The Color of Murder (1957)

Julian Symons was a British crime writer and this book was a Gold Dagger winner. I failed to add any notes about my thoughts on ‘The Color of Murder‘ after reading it. I’ve checked some reviews of the book and still can’t remember anything about the book – which is an indication that it wasn’t memorable enough for me to remember even reading it. From the reviews I read narration is broken into parts: the first half is narrated in the first person as a psychologist’s record the second part is watching the prosecution and defense trial the case.

Mary Stewart (1958)

  • Nine Coaches Waiting (1958) – Romantic Suspense
  • My Brother Michael (1960) – Romantic Suspense

Mary Stewart was a British novelist who developed the romantic mystery genre, featuring smart, adventurous heroines who could hold their own in dangerous situations.

Both are very enjoyable fast-moving novels. Took me time to find her books in the second-hand bookshops as her books are often in the romance rather than crime section.

Robert Travers (1958)

  • Anatomy of a Murder (1958) – Legal/Courtroom

Considered one of the early legal novels. A novel I enjoyed reading but felt the storyline couldn’t happen until I research the novel after reading to discover the story was actually based on one of his cases! It ended up being one of the most memorable novels on the list as a result of being adapted from a true story.

I recommend reading the novel and then reading about the murder case that it is based on.

I managed to find a paperback version of the novel in a second-hand bookshop.

Richard Condon (1959)

  • The Manchurian Candidate (1959) – Psychological thriller
  • Pizzi’s Honor (1982) – Criminal

Richard Condon was an American thriller novelist who is well remembered for “The Manchurian Candidate” and the Pizzi novel series which were adapted into movies.

Really enjoyed reading “Prizzi’s Honour”. Very fast-moving and different from “The Manchurian Candidate”. Ended up reading “The Manchurian Candidate” via Amazon Unlimited. Reluctant to read as I had watched the movie.

Frequently see his books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Harper Lee (1960)

  • To Kill A Mockingbird (1960) – Legal/Courtroom

“To Kill a Mockingbird” is a classic of modern American Literature. The story is narrated by Jean Louise Finch, a child, and takes place from 1933-1935 during the Great Depression. It includes her father Atticus Finch’s defense of a black man accused of raping a white woman.

This was the last book I read on my 100+ Crime list. Incredible to think Harper Lee only published this novel until “Go Set A Watchman” was published in 2015 which was an earlier draft of “To Kill a Mockingbird”.

Harper Lee was a close childhood friend of Truman Capote and worked as his assistant researcher on “In Cold Blood”. She periodically returned to Kansas with Truman over the next six years as they researched the story. The character Dill is modeled on her childhood relationship with Truman Capote.

Still widely read today and can easily find a copy in a charity shop.

Lionel Davidson (1962)

  • The Rose of Tibet (1962) – Spy Thriller
  • The Sun Chemist (1976) – Spy Thriller

Lionel Davidson was an English Novelist that wrote spy thrillers.

I found “The Rose of Tibet” an interesting novel to read but it dragged in parts.

“The Sun Chemist” was a challenging novel to read. The story is based on the research of Chaim Weizmann’s work on the belief that he had worked out how to create oil from sweet potatoes. Chaim Weizemann was the first President of Israel and founded the Weizmann Institute of Science. As a biochemist, Weizmann is considered to be the ‘father’ of industrial fermentation. He developed the acetone–butanol–ethanol fermentation process, which produces acetone, n-Butanol, and ethanol through bacterial fermentation. His acetone production method was of great importance in the manufacture of cordite explosive propellants for the British war industry during World War I. 

I found it hard to work out the story in the initial chapters. In the 1970’s when this novel was published, there were concerns of oil running out.

It took me awhile to find a paperback version of these novels in charity shops or second-hand books shops.

Len Deighton (1962)

  • The Ipcress File (1962) – Spy thriller
  • Game, Set & Match (Berlin Game; Mexico Set; London Match) (1963) – Spy thriller

“The Ipcress File” was the first novel he published and I didn’t enjoy reading it. . Perhaps my mind was distracted but I found it hard to engage and kept losing track of the story. I spent more time reading reviews of why others struggled reading it than actually reading. I can struggle more with spy novels compared to other types of crime or mystery novels. And yet there are spy novels I really love.

“Game, Set & Match” is considered his most important work and comprised of his three trilogy novels – Berlin Game; Mexico Set; London Match. Reluctant to read after struggling with “The Ipcress File”, and the sheer size of “Game, Set & Match” (it’s huge!) – I absolutely love the trilogy and couldn’t put it down.

Frequently see his books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

John Fowles (1963)

The Collector (1963) – Psychological Suspense

John Fowles was an English novelist and his novel “The Collector” is based on a person kidnapping a woman and keeping her captive in the basement. At the time it was published this was a rare event compared to recent times.

Frequently see this book in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

John Le Carre (1963)

  • The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1963) – Espionage
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974) – Espionage
  • Smiley’s People (1979) – Espionage
  • Little Drummer Girl (1983) – Espionage

John Le Carre was a British author best known for his espionage novels. His third novel “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold” was an internal best seller and remains one of his best-known works. Many of his novels have been adapted into movies or TV series.

I find his novels hit and miss. Some I really love and others I struggle to read. For example, I liked “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy ” and “Smiley’s People” but struggled reading “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold” and “Little Drummer Girl”.

I grew up in the Cold War Era and wonder if those who didn’t grow up during the cold war era would find the storyline of “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold” harder to relate to than those that can remember this time period. I feel it would be hard to appreciate what the Berlin wall was like unless you grew up in those times.

Common to see his books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops. His novels are still widely read today.

Ross Macdonald (1964)

  • The Chill (1964) – Hardboiled Detective

Ross Macdonald was the main pseudonym used by the American-Canadian writer of crime fiction Kenneth Millar known for his hardboiled novels set in Southern California. He was married to Margaret Millar who was one of the leading American ladies of crime writing.

Unable to find a paperback version so ended up buying the ebook. An excellent novel with lots of twists and turns as private detective Lee Archer hunts to find the truth behind Dolly’s mother’s death and a series of other deaths.

Truman Capote (1965)

  • In Cold Blood (1965) – Criminal

Truman Capote, an American novelist, was well-known for “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “In Cold Blood”.

In Cold Blood is considered by many to be the first work of the True Crime genre. Truman referred to it as factficton or ‘non fiction’ where the novel is based on true story with fictionized accounts of the characters. It’s a great novel but I struggled with should a true crime novel be included on this list?

On reflection, I decided that “An Anatomy of a Murder” by Robert Travers was also a True Crime novel except he changed the names of the people in his book.

You can read more about “In Cold Blood” here.

Common to see his books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops. “In Cold Blood” is still widely read today.

Adam Hall (1965)

  • The Quiller Memorandum (1965) – Espionage

Adam Hall was the pseudonym of Elleston Trevor, a British novelist, and playwright, who wrote under several pseudonyms.

I had no luck finding a paperback version so had to buy the ebook. The first novel in the Quiller series and winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Best New Novel.

Classic spy story from the cold war era written in the first person based on a plot of former Nazi’s to rise back into power.

Rex Stout (1965)

  • The Doorbell Rang (1965) – Hardboiled /Private Eye

Rex Stout was an American writer whose best-known books are based on the detective Nero Wolfe.

“The Doorbell Rang” is his 41st novel in the Nero Wolfe series based on the eccentric NY detective Nero Wolfe going up against J.Edgar Hoover’s FBI for wiretapping, tailing, and harassing a rich widow who sent a book critical of the FBI to a large number of important people.

His aim in writing the novel was to tell a good story and decided to choose the FBI as the opposition. He hadn’t intended to make a political statement however the novel received a lot of attention as a result of being about the FBI.

Some consider it his best novel. Ended up buying the ebook version as I couldn’t find a second-hand shop.

Gavin Lyall (1966)

  • Shooting Script (1966) – Espionage

Gavin Lyall was an English author who wrote espionage thrillers.

Pretty sure I read this book when I was young. The novel is about a former air force pilot who now owns his own business flying his plane for commercial charter. Tricked into flying a plane as part of a group trying to overthrow a dictator.

Common to see his books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Fredrick Forsyth (1967)

  • The Day of The Jackal (1967) – thriller

Fredrick Forsyth was an English novelist and “The Day of The Jackal” is one of his best-known novels.

I read most of his novels when I was younger but can’t remember exactly how many. Enjoyed reading “Day of the Jackal” again. Great adventure thriller novel.

Common to see his books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Donald E Westlake (1967)

  • God Save The Mark (1967) – Humorous
  • The Hot Rock (1970) – Humorous
  • Bank Shot (1972) – Humorous

Donal E Westlake was an American writer who specialized in crime fiction, especially comic capers.

“God Save The Mark” is a classic Donald Westlake comic crime novel and Edgar award winner for best novel;. The main character is a person who is often taken advantage of by cons. He inherits money from an Uncle he never knew, who was a well-known conman, and ends up being entwined in murders and being harassed as people try to recover the money he has inherited.

“The Hot Rock” is an enjoyable read about a team of criminals trying to steal an emerald and having trouble constantly losing it. Multiple heists to finally steal it. “Bank Shot” is a hilarious comic caper of a group of thieves stealing a bank. These two novels are part of his well known Dortmunder series.

Common to see his books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö (1968)

  • The Laughing Policeman (1968) – Police Procedural

Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö were Swedish authors, and partners, who are best known for their series based on police detective Martin Beck. Their novels are an example of nordic noir, a genre of crime fiction usually written from a police point of view and set in Scandinavia or Nordic countries.

They wrote 10 novels in the Martin Beck series and Per Wahloo died just before the last book in the series was published:

  1. Roseanna (1965)
  2. The Man Who Went Up in Smoke (1966)
  3. The Man on the Balcony (1967)
  4. The Laughing Policeman (1968)
  5. The Fire Engine That Disappeared (1969)
  6. Murder at the Savoy (1970)
  7. The Abominable Man (1972)
  8. The Locked Room (1973)
  9. Cop Killer (1975)
  10. The Terrorists (1976)

The Laughing Policeman” won the Edgar Award in 1971 for Best Mystery Novel.

I occasionally see their books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Mario Puzio (1969)

  • The Godfather (1969) – Criminal

Mario Puzio was an American author best known for his crime novels based on the Italian-American Mafia and Sicilian Mafia.

I had been reluctant to read “The Godfather” but really enjoyed reading it. Very enjoyable read and couldn’t put it down.

Common to see his books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Desmond Bagley (1970)

  • Running Blind (1970) – Espionage Fiction

Desmond Bagley was an English novelist known for his bestselling thrillers.

“Running Blind” is an enjoyable, fast moving, action pack espionage fiction where a former secret agent is convinced to deliver a package to Iceland and ends up being hunted across the country by different spy agencies.

Common to see his books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Jack Finney (1970)

Time and Again (1970) – Historical Suspense

Jack Finney was an American author and his best-known works are science fiction thrillers. “Time and Again” is considered a cult classic. It’s part science fiction, part historical, part crime, and part romance – tells the story of an advertising executive, Simon Morley, who travel back in time in New York in 1882 as part of a secret Government project. It took me weeks to read this novel as it is slow-moving in parts and very detailed, highlighting the differences between 1882 vs modern times; speeds up towards the end.

Took me a while to find a physical copy of this novel as I had looked in the general and crime sections, and it was located in the Science fiction section.

George V Higgins (1970)

  • The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1970) – Criminal

George V Higgins was an American author and lawyer best known for his crime novels that established the Boston noir genre of gangster tales.

“The Friends of Eddie Coyle” was his debut novel published when he as an Assistant United States Attorney in Boston.

Think I might have brought the ebook from Amazon after being unsuccessful in finding a physical copy of the novel.

Peter Lovesey (1970)

  • Wobble to Death (1970) – Historical
  • The False Detective Dew (1982) – Historical
  • Bertie and The Tinman (1987) – Historical

Peter Lovesey is a British writer known for his historical and contemporary detective novels.

Took me a long time to find a paper based version of “Wobble to Death”. This was his first novel and was an interesting read about the early walking races that were popular in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Clever twist for a first novel.

“The False Detective Dew” was the Gold Dagger award by the Crime Writers’ Association in 1982. It’s a very clever story with multiple unexpected twists. For those intereted in history Inspector Dew was the detective who apprehended at sea American dentist Dr. Crippen and his mistress who murdered his wife in 1910 and escaped by ship on the S.S. Mauritania.

“Bertie and the Tinman” is written as a secret memoir by Prince Albert in 1800’s based on his investigation of the suicide of a jockey that the memoirs would be kept and opened in 100 years. The story follows his exploits and adventures into his belief that the jockey felt he had no choice but to commit suicide.

I occasionally see their books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Anthony Price (1970)

  • The Ladyrith Maker (1970) – espionage thriller

Anthony Price was an English writer know for espionage thrillers.

“The Ladyrith Makers” was his first novel and a Silver Dagger Award winner. Excellent fast moving spy espionage story that follows Dr Audrey’s investigation as to why Russians are still interested in the cargo stolen by the pilot of a crashed Air Force plane after World War II.

Think I might have brought the ebook from Amazon after being unsuccessful in finding a physical copy of the novel.

P.D James (1971)

  • Shroud For a Nightingale (1971) – The Whodunnit
  • Innocent Blood (1980) – The Whodunnit
  • A Taste of Death (1986) – The Whodunnit
  • Devices and Desires (1989) – The Whodunnit

P.D James was an English novelist know from her detective novels featuring Adam Dalgliesh, a police commander and poet.

To the best of my knowledge I read all the P.D James novels when I was younger. Always enjoyable reads. “Shroud for a Nightingale”, “A Taste of Death” and “Devices and Desires” are all from her Adam Dalgliesh series.

Her Adam Dalgliesh series in order is:

  • Cover Her Face (1962)
  • A Mind to Murder (1963)
  • Unnatural Causes (1967)
  • Shroud for a Nightingale (1971)
  • The Black Tower (1975)
  • Death of an Expert Witness (1977)
  • A Taste for Death (1986)
  • Devices and Desires (1989)
  • Original Sin (1994)
  • A Certain Justice (1997)
  • Death in Holy Orders (2001)
  • The Murder Room (2003)
  • The Lighthouse (2005)
  • The Private Patient (2008)

Common to see her books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

James McClure (1971)

  • The Steam Pig (1971) – police procedural

James McClure was a British author best known for his Kramer and Zondi mysteries set in South Africa. “The Steam Pig” was his first novel from his Kramer and Zondi series and was a CWA Gold Dagger winner.

Think I might have brought the ebook.

Tony Hillerman (1973)

  • Dance Hall of the Dead (1972) – Police Procedural
  • A Thief of Time (1988) – Police Procedural

Tony Hillerman was an American author best known for his detective series featuring Navajo Tribal Police Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee.

“Dance Hall of the Dead” was his second novel and featured only Joe Leaphorn. Leaphorn and Chee only began working together in his seventh novel and “A Thief of Time” was his eight novel.

There was no ebook version of these two novels and I think I brought them online as secondhand books.

Paula Gosling (1974)

  • A Running Duck (1974) – Thriller

’A Running Duck’ was Paula Gosling, an American-born British-based crime author, debut novel. The novel is about a woman who accidentally helps a passing stranger who is a contract killer. Realizing she could identify him leads to a series of attempts to kill her. After being placed under police protection she and one of the detectives guarding her go into hiding pursued by the killer. It’s a fast-moving enjoyable novel.

I ended up buying the ebook from Amazon after being unsuccessful in finding a physical copy of the novel.

John D MacDonald (1974)

  • The Dreadful Lemon Sky (1974) – Hardboiled/ Private Eye

John D MacDonald was one of the most successful novels of his time.

“The Dreadful Lemon Sky” is the 16th novel in his Travis McGee series. Enjoyable read like reading a Sue Grafton novel. Former friend Carrie asks Travis to safe keep some money and when she dies 2 weeks later he and his friend Meyer investigate her death and where the money came from.

I occasionally see his books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Gregory Mcdonald (1974)

  • Fletch (1974) – Humorous

Gregory Mcdonald was an American mystery writer best known for his comic investigative reporter Irwin Maurice “Fletch” Fletcher.

“Fletch” is a fast moving enjoyable novel and was Edgar Awards winner for Best First Novel.

Think I might have brought the ebook.

Nicholas Meyer (1974)

Nicholas Meyer was an American writer who wrote the selling novel “The Seven-Per-Cent Solution”. “The Seven-Per-Cent Solution” is written as a pastiche, where it celebrates the work it imitates, of a Sherlock Holmes adventure.

Can’t remember where I brought the book as there was no ebook available.

Jack Higgins (1975)

  • The Eagle has Landed (1974) – Espionage thriller

Jack Higgins was a British author who wrote popular thrillers and espionage novels.

“The Eagle has Landed” is one of his most popular novels set during World War II.

Common to see this book and his other books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Mary Higgins Clark (1975)

  • Where Are My Children (1975) – Suspense

Mary Higgins Clark was an American suspense author.

“Where are My Children” was her debut suspense novel which was an immediate success.

Common to see her books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Joseph Wambaugh (1975)

  • The Choirboys (1975) – Police Procedural

Joseph Wambaugh is an American writer best known for writing about police work in the United States.

Joseph Wambaugh is considered the father of modern day police novels and started writing while working as a policeman for the LAPD. Reason he left he said was “I knew that when I wrote “The Choirboys,” it would be very hard to maintain my job, because “The Choirboys” was absolutely outrageous black comedy. Dark, dark comedy that ends up as a tragedy. I knew that I couldn’t write that book I envisioned and stay a cop with the LAPD.”

I struggled reading “The Choirboys”.

Common to see his books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Elizabeth Peters (1975)

  • Crocodile on the Sandbank (1975) – Historical

Elizabeth Peters was one of the pseudonyms of Barbara Louise Mertz, an American crime author, who had a PhD in Egyptology. ‘Crocodile on the Sandbank’ was her first novel in the Amelia Peabody series. Set in 1884 Amelia Peabody, a spinster heiress who has an interest In archeology embarks on an adventure along the Nile and during the process becomes targeted by a mystery mummy.

I ended up buying the ebook from Amazon after being unsuccessful in finding a physical copy of the novel.

Ruth Rendell / Barbara Vine (1976)

  • Demon in My View (1976) Ruth Rendell – Psychological thriller
  • A Judgement in Stone (1977) Ruth Rendell – Psychological thriller
  • A Dark Adapted Mind (1986) Barbara Vine – Psychological thriller
  • A Fatal Inversion (1987) Barbara Vine – Psychological thriller

Ruth Rendelll was an English author of thrillers and psychological murder mysteries. I read most of her and PD James novels when I was younger.

She published her novels that explored the psychological background of criminals and their victims under the pseudonym Barbara Vine.

“Demon in My View” is a psychological suspense based on two tenants in the same building with the same last name and initial of first name both tormented by their demons. One a murderer and the other tangled in a romance with a married woman. “A Judgement in Stone” is a fast moving suspense thriller where you know the killers at the start and the plot is about the events that lead to the murders and the eventual capture of the killers.

Common to see her books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Ellis Peters (1977)

  • A Morbid Taste for Bones (1977) – Historical
  • The Leper of Saint Giles (1981) – Historical

Ellis Peters is the pseudonym of Edith Mary Pargeter and English author who wrote history non-fiction and historical fiction. She was best known for her medieval detective series about the Benedictine monk Brother Cadfael.

“A Morbid Taste of Bones” is the first novel in the Brother Cadfael series and “The Leper of Saint Giles” was the first novel in the series. I enjoyed both novels and liked “The Leper of Saint Giles” more because it made me reflect on what it would have been like living in those times.

Here is her Brother Cadfael series in order of date published for those interested in reading the series:

  • A Morbid Taste for Bones (published in August 1977, set in 1137)
  • One Corpse Too Many (July 1979, set in August 1138)
  • Monk’s Hood (August 1980, set in December 1138)
  • Saint Peter’s Fair (May 1981, set in July 1139)
  • The Leper of Saint Giles (August 1981, set in October 1139)
  • The Virgin in the Ice (April 1982, set in November 1139)
  • The Sanctuary Sparrow (January 1983 set in the Spring of 1140)[17][note 1]
  • The Devil’s Novice (August 1983, set in September 1140)
  • Dead Man’s Ransom (April 1984, set in February 1141)
  • The Pilgrim of Hate (September 1984, set in May 1141)
  • An Excellent Mystery (June 1985, set in August 1141)
  • The Raven in the Foregate (February 1986, set in December 1141)
  • The Rose Rent (October 1986, set in June 1142)
  • The Hermit of Eyton Forest (June 1987, set in October 1142)[19]
  • The Confession of Brother Haluin (March 1988, set in December 1142)
  • A Rare Benedictine: The Advent of Brother Cadfael (September 1988, set in 1120)
  • The Heretic’s Apprentice (February 1989, set in June 1143)
  • The Potter’s Field (September 1989, set in August 1143)
  • The Summer of the Danes (April 1991, set in April 1144)
  • The Holy Thief (August 1992, set in February 1145)
  • Brother Cadfael’s Penance (May 1994, set in November 1145)

Common to see her books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Ken Follett (1978)

  • Eye of the Needle (1978) – Espionage/Thriller
  • The Key To Rebecca (1980) – Espionage fiction

Ken Follet is a best selling British author of thrillers and historical thrillers.

“Eye of The Needle” won the Edgar Award for Best Novel and it was his first successful best seller as a novelist. Rebecca in the title of “The Key To Rebecca” is an intended throwback from Follett to Daphne du Maurier’s famed suspense novel Rebecca.

Common to see his books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

John Mortimer (1978)

  • “Rumpole of the Bailey” (1978) – Legal/Courtroom

John Moritmer was a British screenwriter and author best known for his series based on a barrister known as Horace Rumpole which was inspired by his father Clifford who specialized in defending accused in London’s Old Bailer.

Many of the authors in this Top 100+ Crime list had their novels later adapted into movies or TV series. John Moritmer was the opposite. He created the Rumpole character for a play in 1975 which was developed into a TV series. Later he adapted his television scripts into a series of short stories which were published as novels.

Rumpole of the Bailey was the first novel in the series and consider of the six stories in the first season of the TV series:

  • “Rumpole and the Younger Generation”
  • “Rumpole and the Alternative Society”
  • “Rumpole and the Honourable Member”
  • “Rumpole and the Married Lady”
  • “Rumpole and the Learned Friends”
  • “Rumpole and the Heavy Brigade”

Common to see his books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Ross Thomas (1978)

  • Chinaman’s Chance (1978)

Ross Thomas was an America writer of crime fiction.

“Chinaman’s Chance” is the first novel in his Arthur Case Wu series:

  1. Chinaman’s Chance (1978)
  2. Out On the Rim (1987)
  3. Voodoo, Ltd. (1992)

Fast moving enjoyable novel with clever twists.

There isn’t an ebook version of the book and I had to buy online second-hand.

Umberto Eco (1980)

  • The Name of The Rose (1980) – Historical

Umberto Eco was an Italian medievalist, philosopher, semiotician, novelist, cultural critic and political and social commentator.

“The Name of The Rose” was his debut historical mystery novel set in an Italian monastery in the year 1327 and is one of the best selling books ever published.

Common to see this book in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

H.R.F Keating (1980)

  • The Murder of the Maharajah (1980) – historical

H.R.F Keating was an English crime fiction writer most notable for his series of novels featuring Inspector Ghote of the Bombay CID. He was also a crime books reviewer for The Times of fifteen years and published a book of his 100 Best Crime & Mystery books in 1987.

“The Murder of the Maharajah” is a historical crime novel based on 1930 murder in India. Clever, enjoyable whodunnit.

Occasionally see his books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Walter Mosley (1990)

  • Devil In the Blue Dress (1990) – Hard-boiled

The ‘Devil In A Blue Dress’ was Walter Mosley, an American author, debut novel. Set in Los Angelos in 1948 it introduces Ezekiel ‘Easy’ Rawlins, a black war veteran who is recently unemployed and is hired to find Daphne Monet. He ends up being caught in a web of lies and murder. Fast-moving enjoyable novel reminiscent of the classic hard-boiled novels but with the representation of multiple inequalities between race, money, and power.

Took me a while to find a physical copy of this novel.

Lawrence Sanders (1980)

  • The First Deadly Sin (1980) – Psychological thriller

Lawrence Sanders was an American novelist who published over twenty two best sellers.

The First Deadly Sin” is part of his Edward X Delaney series:

  1. The Anderson Tapes (1969)
  2. The First Deadly Sin (1973)
  3. The Second Deadly Sin (1977)
  4. The Third Deadly Sin (1981)
  5. The Fourth Deadly Sin (1985)

The First Deadly Sin” was the only one of his books I didn’t spot at charity shops or bookstores and I ended up having to buy as an ebook. Enjoyed reading the sections where the detective were hunting the serial killer but not the parts narrated by the serial killer.

Martin Cruz Smith (1981)

  • Gorky Park (1981) – Police Procedural

Martin Cruz Smith is an American novelist best known for his Arkady Renko series. “Gorky Park”was the first novel in the series and a Gold Dagger winner.

“Gorky Park” is a police procedural with a Russian police detective, Arkady Renko, being the lead character while providing insight of Russian life during the period the story is set. The story is based on his investigations into the death of three people found in the snow in Moscow’s Gorky Park. The original plot outline was the story be based in Russia with an American detective as the key character. Martin Cruz Smith decided to change the plot and base on a Russian detective.

He was originally commissioned in the early 70’s to write a book about an American policeman solving a case in Russia and decided to change the focus to be on a Russian police detective, Arkady Renko. The publishers didn’t like the idea and he eventually brought his book back after almost a decade of dispute and was able to finally publish it.

Common to see his books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Colin Dexter (1981)

  • The Dead of Jericho (1981) – Police Procedural

Colin Dexter was an English crime writer know for his Inspector Morse series. “The Dead of Jericho” was the fifth novel in the series:

  1. Last Bus to Woodstock (1975)
  2. Last Seen Wearing (1976)
  3. The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn (1977)
  4. Service of All the Dead (1979)
  5. The Dead of Jericho (1981)
  6. The Riddle of the Third Mile (1983)
  7. The Secret of Annexe 3 (1986)
  8. The Wench is Dead (1989)
  9. The Jewel That Was Ours (1991)
  10. The Way Through the Woods (1992)
  11. The Daughters of Cain (1994)
  12. Death Is Now My Neighbour (1996)
  13. The Remorseful Day (1999)

“The Dead of Jericho” is an enjoyable, classic Inceptor Morse novel.

Common to see his books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Dick Francis (1981)

  • Twice Shy (1981) – Whodunnit
  • The Danger (1983) – Whodunnit

Dick Francis was a British steeplechase jockey and crime novelist whose novels were based on English horse racing. I read most of his novels when I was younger. Always fast moving enjoyable reads.

Enjoyed reading both these novels again.

Common to see his books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Thomas Harris (1981)

  • Red Dragon (1981) – Suspense
  • The Silence of The Lambs (1988) -Suspense

Thomas Harris is an American writer best known for his series based on Hannibal Lecter:

  • Hannibal Rising (2006)
  • Red Dragon (1981)
  • The Silence of the Lambs (1988)
  • Hannibal (1999)

“Red Dragon” introduces the character Dr Hannibal Lecter and “The Silence of The Lambs” is his best known novel.

Common to see his books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Sue Grafton (1982)

  • A is For Alibi (1982) – Hardboiled/Private Detective

Sue Grafton was an American author best known for her alphabet series based on private investigator Linsey Millhone The titles of her books follow the alphabet and her series ends at Y because she died before she could write the final novel.

Sue Grafton’s father also wrote detective novels and she said her strongest influence was the author Ross Macdonald which you feel reading her novels.

I’ve read all her novels and enjoyed reading “A is For Alibi” again – great to return to the book that started the series.

Common to see her books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Reginal Hill (1983)

  • Deadheads (1983) – Police Procedural
  • Under World (1988) – Police Procedural

Reginal Hill was an English crime writer best known for his Dalziel and Pascoe series.

I read most or all of his Dalziel and Pascoe novels when I was younger. I also loved watching the TV series but was annoyed that the TV story lines didn’t follow the novels.

Here is his series in order of date published for those interested in reading the series:

  1. A Clubbable Woman (1970)
  2. An Advancement of Learning (1971)
  3. Ruling Passion (1973)
  4. An April Shroud (1975)
  5. A Pinch of Snuff (1978)
  6. A Killing Kindness (1980)
  7. Deadheads (1983)
  8. Exit Lines (1984)
  9. Child’s Play (1987)
  10. Underworld (1988)
  11. Bones and Silence (1990)
  12. One Small Step (1990), novella
  13. Recalled to Life (1992)
  14. Pictures of Perfection (1994)
  15. The Wood Beyond (1995)
  16. Asking for the Moon (1996), short stories
    • “The Last National Service Man”
    • “Pascoe’s Ghost”
    • “Dalziel’s Ghost”
    • “One Small Step”
  17. On Beulah Height (1998)
  18. Arms and the Women (1999)
  19. Dialogues of the Dead (2002)
  20. Death’s Jest-Book (2003)
  21. Good Morning, Midnight (2004)
  22. The Death of Dalziel (2007), Canada and US Title: Death Comes for the Fat Man
  23. A Cure for All Diseases (Canada and US title: The Price of Butcher’s Meat) (2008)
  24. Midnight Fugue (2009)

Common to see his books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Elmore Leonard (1983)

  • Stick (1983) – Criminal

Elmore Leonard was an American novelist and screenwriter known for crime and suspense thrillers. One of his best known works is “Get Shorty”.

“Stick” is about Ernest Stickley who is fresh out of jail trying to go legit lying low as a chauffeur while collecting the $5,000 he is owed. Ernest Stickley first appeared in his novel “Swag”.

Common to see his books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Sarah Caudwell (1984)

  • The Shortest Way To Hades (1984) – Legal/Courtroom

Sarah Caudwell was the pseudonym of Sarah Cockburn, a British barrister and writer known for her murder stories that center on the lives of a group of young barristers practicing in Lincoln’s Inn and narrated by a Hilary Tamar, a professor of medieval law, who acts as a detective.

The order of this series is:

  1. Thus Was Adonis Murdered (1981)
  2. The Shortest Way to Hades (1985)
  3. The Sirens Sang of Murder (1989)
  4. The Sibyl in Her Grave (2000)

I ended up buying ebook of “The Shortest Way To Hades” as I was unable to find in bookstores. Struggled initially reading novel but once story developed was fast moving and enjoyable. This was probably a good example of where reading the first book in the series might have helped.

Never seen any of her books in charity shops or second-hand bookshops.

Common to see his books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Tom Clancy (1984)

  • Hunt For Red October (1984) – Espionage thriller

Tom Clancy was an American novelist best known for his espionage and military storyline novels.

I read most of his novels when I was younger. I stopped reading them when he started writing them with other authors.

Hunt For Red October” was his first novel that started his writing career. Enjoyed revisiting the fist novel that started his career. Fast moving action packed novel like all his early novels. Couldn’t put it down.

Susan Moody (1984)

  • Penny Black (1984) – Whodunnit

Susan Moody is an English novelist best known for her suspense novels.

“Penny Black” is the fist novel in her Penny series. Penny is an amateur detective, 6ft tall and daughter of a UN Ambassador. It’s a fast moving female detective story.

Think I might have brought the ebook.

Scott Turow (1986)

  • Presumed Innocent (1986) – Legal /courtroom

Scott Turow is an American author and lawyer known for his best selling legal thrillers.

“Presumed Innocent” was his first novel about a prosecutor charged with the murder of his colleague. I struggled reading this novel perhaps because I am less into legal courtroom storylines.

Common to see his books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Simon Brett (1987)

  • What Bloody Man is That? (1987) – Golden Age

Simon Brett is a British author of detective fiction, a playwright, and a producer-writer for television and radio.

“What Bloody Man is That?” is the 12 novel in part of his Charles Paris amateur detective series. Ended up buying ebook. Very fast moving enjoyable cosy crime mystery based on a murder of an actor during rehearsal for MacBeth.

Occasionally see his books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

Caroline Graham (1987)

  • The Killings at Badger’s Drift (1987) – Police Procedural

Caroline Graham is an English playwright, screenwriter and novelist best known for her Chief Inspector Barnaby series (Midsomer Murders TV series).

“The Killings at Badger’s Drift” is the first novel in her Chief Inspector Barnaby series. Had no luck finding a physical copy of this book so ended up buying the ebook.

John Grisham (1989)

  • A Time To Kill (1989) – Legal/Criminal
  • The Firm (1991) – Legal/Criminal

John Grisham is an American Novelist and lawyer best known for his best selling legal thriller.

“A time to Kill” was his first novel which was published four years after he started writing it. The story is about the trial of a father who kills the two men that raped his young daughter. I thought I had read “The Firm” when I was younger but I think maybe I only saw the movie several times. Enjoyed reading the novel – fast moving enjoyable story.

Common to see his books in charity shops and second-hand bookshops.

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