The Best 100 Mysteries of All Time

I’m finally half way through the reviews of each mystery on my Best 100 Mysteries of All Time list! I’ve become less worried about the worthiness of each title after talking with an expert book collector and reader. Each individual’s taste is so different, that no matter what titles I include, someone will believe I’ve left off the best ones, and others will think my list is the crappiest of all time, lol. So, there you go. I am still going to play with the titles on the list, if I find some thing I’ve read is stunningly great and better than another title on the list. But even though a title may fall off, it remains up here, as a runner up.

PAST thoughts:

I don’t think I’ve worried and thought about and scrutinized any decisions, the way I have this never ending list! LOL. I’m almost thinking it a mistake to re-read those I can’t precisely put my finger on why they were so great. Because practically none of them measure up to the initial wow factor I remember them having when first read. So, because of this and the agonies I am suffering in dread of making the wrong choices, this list will be a living one–meaning–if I re-read something, and don’t think it’s as fabtastic as originally thought, I will relegate it as a RUNNER UP. Below the official list. And in the missing slot will be a title I read and had forgotten how splendiferous it was, or a brand new unbelievably good book,  etc etc–you get the picture. This way, I won’t feel I made myself the scorn of the crime fiction community for choosing a title that’s downright bad.

I’ll still only have them in alphabetical order until completely filled in, then I will number them.

Older explanation:

I can’t seem to pin the best down–honestly. Each time I write up a new book, I find I’ve left something out, or shouldn’t have put a book in a particular slot, or rethink–No. 100 should be in a better position than last, or number whatever should be next to last–y0u see my dilemma? I should have begun with the entire 100 out in the open–but I was trying for sustained interest–which clearly didn’t happen, I couldn’t keep my own interest going, so why would someone else’s be engaged? And partially the problem was I’d read so many of the titles eons ago–and although KNOW they were fantastic, can’t remember why. At first, I was just going to list, give a teeny synopsis, at best, and call it a day. I started delving into each title deeper and deeper, and was finding in order to do each book justice, I’d need to dig up every single one.

Well, I’m OK with that–but I decided I’m going to put up the 100 titles, now–not in order. I’ll list them alphabetically.

I hope this works better for readers, and for me.

So. Eek. Here are 100 mysteries that are the very very best, according to me in alphabetical order.

  1. The Affair of the Blood Stained Egg Cosy-James Anderson–1975-used
  2. The Affair At Royalties–George Baxt-1971-used**Review here
  3. After Life–Rhian Ellis-2000-available**Review here
  4. The Almost Moon–-Alice Sebold–2007–IP**Review here
  5. Asta’s Book–Ruth Rendell (US title–Anna’s Book)-1994-IP
  6. Beast in View–Margaret Millar-1956-IP
  7. On Belulah Height–Reginald Hill–1999-IP
  8. The Big Sleep–Raymond Chandler-1939-IP**Review here
  9. Big Trouble–Dave Barry-1999-IP**Review here
  10. Billy Dead–Lisa Reardon-1998-available**Review here
  11. The Black Alibi-Cornell Woolrich-1942-used**Review here
  12. Black Echo–Michael Connelly-1992-IP
  13. The Black Paw–Constance and Gwenyth Little-1941-IP**Review here
  14. Booked to Die–John Dunning-1993-IP
  15. Breakheart Hill–Thomas H. Cook-1996-IP
  16. They Buried a Man–Mildred Davis 1953 –used**Review here
  17. Calamity Town–Ellery Queen-1942-used
  18. A Child of Silence–Abigail Padgett-IP
  19. The Chill–Ross MacDonald–1963**Review here
  20. Composition for Four Hands–Hilda Lawrence–1947–OOP**Review here
  21. A Dark Adapted Eye–Ruth Rendell-1985-IP
  22. Daughter of Time–Josephine Tey-1951-IP**Review here
  23. Dead Ringer–Fredric Brown-1948-used
  24. The Debt To Pleasure-John Lancaster-1996-IP
  25. Dead Water–Ngaio Marsh-1945-used
  26. The Deadly Percheron-John Franklin Bardin-1946-IP**Review here
  27. The Desert Moon Mystery–by Kay Cleaver Strahan-1928-OOP**Review here
  28. The Doorbell Rang-Rex Stout-1965-IP**Review here
  29. A Dram of Posion-Charlotte Armstrong-1957-used
  30. Dreaming of the Bones–Deborah Crombie–1996-IP
  31. An Embarrassment of Corpses–Alan Beechey-1997-Available**Review here
  32. The End is Known-Geoffrey Holiday Hall-1949-used
  33. Every Secret Thing–Laura Lipmann-2003-IP
  34. The Face of a Stranger–Anne Perry-1990-IP
  35. The False Inspector Dew–Peter Lovesey-1982-IP
  36. A Fine Dark Line–Joe R. Lansdale-2003-IP
  37. Fright–George Hopley–(Cornell Woolrich)-1950-IP**Review here
  38. Great Black Kanba-Constance and Gwenyth Little-1944-used–**Review here
  39. A Great Deliverance–Elizabeth George-1988-IP
  40. The Headless Lady–Clayton Rawson-1940-used
  41. Haunt of the Nightingale–John R. Riggs–1988–Used**Review here
  42. Hide in the Dark , An All Hallow’s Eve Mystery-Frances Noyes Hart-1929-OOP**Review here
  43. In a Dry Season–Peter Robinson-1999-IP
  44. The Innocent Mrs. Duff-Elizabeth Sanxay Holding–1946–used**Review here
  45. The January Corpse–Neil Albert1991–Walker Publishing–used**Review here
  46. The Jealous One–Celia Fremlin–used**Review here
  47. A Judgement in Stone–Ruth Rendell-IP
  48. The Lady in the Lake–Raymond Chandler-1943-IP
  49. Last Seen Wearing–Hillary Waugh–1950–used**Review here
  50. The Last Will and Testament of Constance Cobble–Stanton Forbes–1980–OOP**Review here
  51. Laura-Vera Caspary-1942-used**Review here
  52. Liars and Tyrants and People Who Turn Blue–Barbara Paul–1980-OOP**Review here
  53. A Likeness in Stone–J. Wallis Martin-1997-available
  54. The Maltese Falcon–Dashiell Hammett-1930-IP-**Review Here
  55. I  Married a Dead Man–William Irish (Cornell Woolrich)-1948-IP**Review here
  56. Meet the Tiger–Leslie Chateris-1928-used**Review here
  57. The Moving Toyshop –Edmund Crispin-1946-IP
  58. Mr. Smith’s Hat–Helen Reilly–1936-used**Review here
  59. Mr. White’s Confession–Robert Clark–1999-IP
  60. Murder a la Richelieu–Anita Blackmon-1937-OOP**Review here
  61. Murder Between the Covers— Elaine Viets-2003-IP**Review here
  62. Murder Within Murder-and Richard Lockridge-1946-used** Review here
  63. My Ride With GusCharles Carillo-1996-available**Review here
  64. Mystic River–Dennis Lehane-2001**Review here
  65. The Night Has a Thousand Eyes–Cornell Woolrich-1948-used••Review here
  66. Night of the Jabberwock–Fredric Brown-1950-IP
  67. Panama–Eric Zency–1995–IP**Review here
  68. Pest Control– Bill Fitzhugh-1997-IP
  69. The Phantom Lady–William Irish-(Cornell Woolrich)-1942-used**Review here
  70. Pick Your Victim-Pat McGeer-1946-used
  71. Pictures of Perfection–Reginald Hill, 1994–Delacorte Press– IP**Review here
  72. A Place of Execution–Val McDermid-2000-IP
  73. The Playroom–Frances Hegarty-1991-used
  74. The Ice House–Minette Walters-1993-IP
  75. Rebecca–Daphne duMaurier-1938-IP**Review here
  76. The Red Right Hand-Joel Townsley Rogers-1945-used** Review here
  77. Rendezvous in Black–Cornell Woolrich-1948-used
  78. Repeat Performance –William O’Farrell-used
  79. The So Blue Marble–Dorothy B. Hughes-1947-used**  Review here
  80. Roll Over and Play Dead-Joan Hess-1991-IP**Review here
  81. The Scent of Rain and Lightening–Nancy Pickard–2009-IP
  82. The Secret Beyond the Door(original title: Museum Piece No.14)–Rufus King-1946,1947-OOP**Review here
  83. Serial Killer DaysDavid Prill1996–available**Review here
  84. Simple Way of Poison–Leslie Ford (Zenith Jones Brown)-used
  85. Snow Angels–Stewart O’Nan-1994-IP–** Review here
  86. Strawberry Sunday-Stephen Greenleaf-1999-Available
  87. Shadow of a Lady–Holly Roth–1957–used**Review Here
  88. The Suspect-L. R. Wright-1985-used
  89. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie–Alan Bradley-2009-IP**Review here
  90. A Test of Wills-Charles Todd-1996-IP
  91. The Thin Man–Dashiell Hammett-1934-IP**Review here
  92. Through a Glass, DarklyHelen McCloy-1950-used
  93. Time and Again–Jack Finney-1970-IP
  94. Traitor’s Purse–(British Title: The Sabotage Murder Mystery)-Margery Allingham-1941-IP–**Review here
  95. A Trick of the Eye–Jane Stanton Hitchcock-1993-IP
  96. The Vanished Child–Sarah Smith-1992-available
  97. A Wasteland of Strangers–Bill Pronzini-1999-available
  98. We Have Always Lived in the Castle–Shirley Jackson-1962- IP
  99. Widow’s Web–Ursula Curtis–1968-used
  100. Wilders Walk Away–Herbert Brean-1948-used

**–Denotes a synopsis of the title is already up on this site.

Tied  The Beast Must Die–Nicholas Blake-1938-used-

Here  is the list of RUNNER UPS –some will have dropped down from the above list, some will have recently been added/

Before The FactFrancis Iles-(Anthony Berkeley)-1931-used

The Spider Orchid–Celia Fremlin-1977-used**Review here

The criteria for selection:

One of the 100 best mystery books of all time–according to me.

I must have read all 100. Funny as that sounds, there are many who will vote for something they have been told is the ‘best’, without having read said book. I’ve read a great many crime novels in my life, some people read less, some more.

I choose to ignore the obvious suspects, or some, at least. No Agatha Christie, no Dorothy L. Sayers, no Sherlock Holmes. Reason? I don’t like Christie, so have read very little; I’ve read all of Sayers and though enjoyed them, nothing stood out for *me*. Sherlock? He bores me. OK, Sherlockians, don’t have a cow. I’m not denying the importance of these three writers within the literary world, nor that they are considered the best of the best. I researched, dated, determined print status, and found images for this list, therefore it bears my choices, and as appalling it may be to some to leave out the royalty of soft boiled, it makes sense to me.

The most important criteria for this list:

The selection must be one or a combination of  the following–unusual, intriguing, thought provoking, fascinating, extraordinary, puzzling, charming, gritty, humorous, astonishing, perplexing, surprising, rich characterizations, creepy, frightening, and/or gobsmacking!

And no, not all crime fiction have the above. Few come close. That’s why the list. The titles stretch from the 20s to last year. I added, deleted, remembered some after I’d numbered. I switched their ratings over and over–in short, I took this very seriously. Many will be givens. Many will be familiar. Some will be recognized but not familiar. Some may never been heard of. And a few are totally obscure.

Mystery is a broad term including all the sub-genres of crime fiction, not just puzzles or private eyes.

I’ve included the date first published, the best to my ability. I may be off a year at worst. I’ve also added a guide as to how easy it is to locate any particular title.

IP–in print

available–recently out of print but new copies still available

used–plenty of paperbacks available although the titles have been out of print

OOP–out of print–these are the toughest to find–yet there are copies out there, perhaps not as cheap or a plentiful as others.









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