The Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time

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The Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time is a list published in 1990 by the Crime Writers' Association (CWA).

Five years later, the Mystery Writers of America (MWA) published a similar list named The Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time. Many titles can be found in both lists.[1]

The CWA Top 100[change | change source]

No. Title Author Country Year
1 The Daughter of Time Josephine Tey Scotland 1951
2 The Big Sleep Raymond Chandler USA 1939
3 The Spy Who Came In From the Cold John le Carré England 1963
4 Gaudy Night Dorothy L. Sayers England 1935
5 The Murder of Roger Ackroyd Agatha Christie England 1926
6 Rebecca Daphne du Maurier England 1938
7 Farewell My Lovely Raymond Chandler USA 1940
8 The Moonstone Wilkie Collins England 1868
9 The IPCRESS File Len Deighton England 1962
10 The Maltese Falcon Dashiell Hammett USA 1930
11 The Franchise Affair Josephine Tey Scotland 1948
12 Last Seen Wearing ... Hillary Waugh USA 1952
13 The Name of the Rose Umberto Eco Italy 1980
14 Rogue Male Geoffrey Household England 1939
15 The Long Goodbye Raymond Chandler USA 1953
16 Malice Aforethought Francis Iles England 1931
17 The Day of the Jackal Frederick Forsyth England 1971
18 The Nine Tailors Dorothy L. Sayers England 1934
19 Ten Little Niggers (UK)
Ten Little Indians (USA)
And Then There Were None
Agatha Christie England 1939
20 The Thirty-Nine Steps John Buchan Scotland 1915
21 The Collected Sherlock Holmes Short Stories (stories) Arthur Conan Doyle Scotland 1892–1927
22 Murder Must Advertise Dorothy L. Sayers England 1933
23 Tales of Mystery & Imagination (stories) Edgar Allan Poe USA 1852
24 The Mask of Dimitrios
A Coffin for Dimitrios
Eric Ambler England 1939
25 The Moving Toyshop Edmund Crispin England 1946
26 The Tiger in the Smoke Margery Allingham England 1952
27 The False Inspector Dew Peter Lovesey England 1982
28 The Woman in White Wilkie Collins England 1860
29 A Dark-Adapted Eye Barbara Vine England 1986
30 The Postman Always Rings Twice James M. Cain USA 1934
31 The Glass Key Dashiell Hammett USA 1931
32 The Hound of the Baskervilles Arthur Conan Doyle Scotland 1901–1902
33 Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy John le Carré England 1974
34 Trent's Last Case E. C. Bentley England 1913
35 From Russia, with Love Ian Fleming England 1957
36 Cop Hater Ed McBain USA 1956
37 The Dead of Jericho Colin Dexter England 1981
38 Strangers on a Train Patricia Highsmith USA 1950
39 A Judgement in Stone Ruth Rendell England 1977
40 The Hollow Man (UK)
The Three Coffins (USA)
John Dickson Carr USA 1935
41 The Poisoned Chocolates Case Anthony Berkeley England 1929
42 A Morbid Taste for Bones Ellis Peters England 1977
43 The Leper of Saint Giles Ellis Peters England 1981
44 A Kiss Before Dying Ira Levin USA 1953
45 The Talented Mr. Ripley Patricia Highsmith USA 1955
46 Brighton Rock Graham Greene England 1938
47 The Lady in the Lake Raymond Chandler USA 1943
48 Presumed Innocent Scott Turow USA 1987
49 A Demon in My View Ruth Rendell England 1976
50 The Devil in Velvet John Dickson Carr USA 1951
51 A Fatal Inversion Barbara Vine England 1987
52 The Journeying Boy (UK)
The Case of the Journeying Boy (USA)
Michael Innes Scotland 1949
53 A Taste for Death P. D. James England 1986
54 The Eagle Has Landed Jack Higgins England
Northern Ireland
1975
55 My Brother Michael Mary Stewart England 1960
56 Bertie and the Tin Man Peter Lovesey England 1987
57 Penny Black Susan Moody England 1984
58 Game, Set & Match
(Berlin Game, Mexico Set, London Match)
Len Deighton England 1984–1986
59 The Danger Dick Francis Wales
England
1983
60 Devices and Desires P. D. James England 1989
61 Underworld Reginald Hill England 1988
62 Nine Coaches Waiting Mary Stewart England 1958
63 A Running Duck Paula Gosling USA
UK
1978
64 Smallbone Deceased Michael Gilbert England 1950
65 The Rose of Tibet Lionel Davidson England 1962
66 Innocent Blood P. D. James England 1980
67 Strong Poison Dorothy L. Sayers England 1930
68 Hamlet, Revenge! Michael Innes Scotland 1937
69 A Thief of Time Tony Hillerman USA 1989
70 A Bullet in the Ballet Caryl Brahms &
S. J. Simon
England &
England
1937
71 Dead Heads Reginald Hill England 1983
72 The Third Man Graham Greene England 1950
73 The Labyrinth Makers Anthony Price England 1974
74 The Berlin Memorandum (UK)
The Quiller Memorandum (USA)
Adam Hall England 1965
75 Beast in View Margaret Millar Canada
USA
1955
76 The Shortest Way to Hades Sarah Caudwell England 1984
77 Running Blind Desmond Bagley England 1970
78 Twice Shy Dick Francis Wales
England
1981
79 The Manchurian Candidate Richard Condon USA 1959
80 Killings at Badger's Drift (UK)
The Killings at Badger's Drift (USA)
Caroline Graham England 1987
81 The Beast Must Die Nicholas Blake Ireland (UK)
UK
1963
82 Gorky Park Martin Cruz Smith USA 1981
83 Death Comes as the End Agatha Christie England 1945
84 Green for Danger Christianna Brand Malaysia
England
1945
85 Tragedy at Law Cyril Hare England 1942
86 The Collector John Fowles England 1963
87 Gideon's Day (UK)
Gideon of Scotland Yard (USA)
J. J. Marric England 1955
88 The Sun Chemist Lionel Davidson England 1976
89 The Guns of Navarone Alistair MacLean Scotland 1957
90 The Colour of Murder Julian Symons England 1957
91 Greenmantle John Buchan Scotland 1916
92 The Riddle of the Sands Erskine Childers England
Ireland (UK)
1903
93 Wobble to Death Peter Lovesey England 1970
94 Red Harvest Dashiell Hammett USA 1929
95 The Key to Rebecca Ken Follett Wales 1980
96 Sadie When She Died Ed McBain USA 1972
97 The Murder of the Maharajah H. R. F. Keating England 1980
98 What Bloody Man Is That? Simon Brett England 1987
99 Shooting Script Gavin Lyall England 1966
100 The Four Just Men Edgar Wallace England 1906

The MWA Top 100[change | change source]

No. Title Author Country Year CWA Rank
1 The Complete Sherlock Holmes (stories and 4 novels) Arthur Conan Doyle Scotland 1887–1927 ☑Y☒N 21, 32
2 The Maltese Falcon Dashiell Hammett USA 1930 ☑Y 10
3 Tales of Mystery & Imagination (stories) Edgar Allan Poe USA 1852 ☑Y 23
4 The Daughter of Time Josephine Tey Scotland 1951 ☑Y 1
5 Presumed Innocent Scott Turow USA 1987 ☑Y 48
6 The Spy Who Came In From the Cold John le Carré England 1963 ☑Y 3
7 The Moonstone Wilkie Collins England 1868 ☑Y 8
8 The Big Sleep Raymond Chandler USA 1939 ☑Y 2
9 Rebecca Daphne du Maurier England 1938 ☑Y 6
10 Ten Little Niggers (UK)
Ten Little Indians (USA)
And Then There Were None
Agatha Christie England 1939 ☑Y 19
11 Anatomy of a Murder Robert Traver USA 1958 ☒N
12 The Murder of Roger Ackroyd Agatha Christie England 1926 ☑Y 5
13 The Long Goodbye Raymond Chandler USA 1953 ☑Y 15
14 The Postman Always Rings Twice James M. Cain USA 1934 ☑Y 30
15 The Godfather (film) Mario Puzo USA 1969 ☒N
16 The Silence of the Lambs (film) Thomas Harris USA 1988 ☒N
17 The Mask of Dimitrios
A Coffin for Dimitrios
Eric Ambler England 1939 ☑Y 24
18 Gaudy Night Dorothy L. Sayers England 1935 ☑Y 4
19 Witness for the Prosecution (play) Agatha Christie England 1948 ☒N
20 The Day of the Jackal Frederick Forsyth England 1971 ☑Y 17
21 Farewell My Lovely Raymond Chandler USA 1940 ☑Y 7
22 The Thirty-Nine Steps John Buchan Scotland 1915 ☑Y 20
23 Il nome della rosa
(The Name of the Rose)
Umberto Eco Italy 1980 ☑Y 13
24 «Преступление и наказание»
(Crime and Punishment)
Fyodor Dostoyevsky Russia 1866 ☒N
25 Storm Island (UK)
Eye of the Needle
Ken Follett Wales 1978 ☒N
26 Rumpole of the Bailey John Mortimer England 1978 ☒N
27 Red Dragon Thomas Harris USA 1981 ☒N
28 The Nine Tailors Dorothy L. Sayers England 1934 ☑Y 18
29 Fletch Gregory Mcdonald USA 1974 ☒N
30 Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy John le Carré England 1974 ☑Y 33
31 The Thin Man Dashiell Hammett USA 1934 ☒N
32 The Woman in White Wilkie Collins England 1860 ☑Y 28
33 Trent's Last Case E. C. Bentley England 1913 ☑Y 34
34 Double Indemnity James M. Cain USA 1943 ☒N
35 Gorky Park Martin Cruz Smith USA 1981 ☑Y 82
36 Strong Poison Dorothy L. Sayers England 1930 ☑Y 67
37 Dance Hall of the Dead Tony Hillerman USA 1973 ☒N
38 The Hot Rock Donald E. Westlake USA 1970 ☒N
39 Red Harvest Dashiell Hammett USA 1929 ☑Y 94
40 The Circular Staircase Mary Roberts Rinehart USA 1908 ☒N
41 Murder on the Orient Express Agatha Christie England 1934 ☒N
42 The Firm John Grisham USA 1991 ☒N
43 The IPCRESS File Len Deighton England 1962 ☑Y 9
44 Laura Vera Caspary USA 1942 ☒N
45 I, the Jury Mickey Spillane USA 1947 ☒N
46 Den skrattande polisen
(The Laughing Policeman)
Maj Sjöwall &
Per Wahlöö
Sweden 1968 ☒N
47 Bank Shot Donald E. Westlake USA 1972 ☒N
48 The Third Man Graham Greene England 1950 ☑Y 72
49 The Killer Inside Me (film) Jim Thompson USA 1952 ☒N
50 Where Are the Children? Mary Higgins Clark USA 1975 ☒N
51 "A" is for Alibi Sue Grafton USA 1982 ☒N
52 The First Deadly Sin Lawrence Sanders USA 1973 ☒N
53 A Thief of Time Tony Hillerman USA 1989 ☑Y 69
54 In Cold Blood Truman Capote USA 1966 ☒N
55 Rogue Male Geoffrey Household England 1939 ☑Y 14
56 Murder Must Advertise Dorothy L. Sayers England 1933 ☑Y 22
57 The Innocence of Father Brown (stories) G. K. Chesterton England 1911 ☒N
58 Smiley's People John le Carré England 1979 ☒N
59 The Lady in the Lake Raymond Chandler USA 1943 ☑Y 47
60 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee USA 1960 ☒N
61 Our Man in Havana Graham Greene England 1958 ☒N
62 The Mystery of Edwin Drood Charles Dickens England 1870 ☒N
63 Wobble to Death Peter Lovesey England 1970 ☑Y 93
64 Ashenden (stories) W. Somerset Maugham England 1928 ☒N
65 The Seven Per-Cent Solution Nicholas Meyer USA 1974 ☒N
66 The Doorbell Rang Rex Stout USA 1965 ☒N
67 Stick Elmore Leonard USA 1983 ☒N
68 The Little Drummer Girl John le Carré England 1983 ☒N
69 Brighton Rock Graham Greene England 1938 ☑Y 46
70 Dracula Bram Stoker Ireland (UK) 1897 ☒N
71 The Talented Mr. Ripley Patricia Highsmith USA 1955 ☑Y 45
72 The Moving Toyshop Edmund Crispin England 1946 ☑Y 25
73 A Time to Kill John Grisham USA 1989 ☒N
74 Last Seen Wearing ... Hillary Waugh USA 1952 ☑Y 12
75 Little Caesar W. R. Burnett USA 1929 ☒N
76 The Friends of Eddie Coyle George V. Higgins USA 1972 ☒N
77 Clouds of Witness Dorothy L. Sayers England 1927 ☒N
78 From Russia, with Love Ian Fleming England 1957 ☑Y 35
79 Beast in View Margaret Millar Canada
USA
1955 ☑Y 75
80 Smallbone Deceased Michael Gilbert England 1950 ☑Y 64
81 The Franchise Affair Josephine Tey Scotland 1948 ☑Y 11
82 Crocodile on the Sandbank Elizabeth Peters USA 1975 ☒N
83 Shroud for a Nightingale P. D. James England 1971 ☒N
84 The Hunt for Red October Tom Clancy USA 1984 ☒N
85 Chinaman's Chance Ross Thomas USA 1978 ☒N
86 The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad Ukraine (Russian Empire)
UK
1907 ☒N
87 The Dreadful Lemon Sky John D. MacDonald USA 1975 ☒N
88 The Glass Key Dashiell Hammett USA 1931 ☑Y 31
89 A Judgement in Stone Ruth Rendell England 1977 ☑Y 39
90 Brat Farrar
Come and Kill Me
Josephine Tey Scotland 1950 ☒N
91 The Chill Ross Macdonald USA
Canada
1963 ☒N
92 Devil in a Blue Dress Walter Mosley USA 1990 ☒N
93 The Choirboys Joseph Wambaugh USA 1975 ☒N
94 God Save the Mark Donald E. Westlake USA 1967 ☒N
95 Home Sweet Homicide Craig Rice USA 1944 ☒N
96 The Hollow Man (UK)
The Three Coffins (USA)
John Dickson Carr USA 1935 ☑Y 40
97 Prizzi's Honour (UK)
Prizzi's Honor (USA)
Richard Condon USA 1982 ☒N
98 The Steam Pig James McClure South Africa
UK
1974 ☒N
99 Time and Again Jack Finney USA 1970 ☒N
100 A Morbid Taste for Bones Ellis Peters England 1977 ☑Y 42
Rosemary's Baby Ira Levin USA 1967 ☒N

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. The Crown Crime Companion "The Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time Selected by the Mystery Writers of America", annotated by Otto Penzler and compiled by Mickey Friedman New York, (1995) ISBN 0-517-88115-2

Other websites[change | change source]