Last updated: August 12, 2021

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In today's reading, we will seek to elucidate which are the best options for crime books on the market.

Crime novels have been with us for over 170 years and have become established in literature around the world, in countries such as England, the United States, Scotland, Portugal and Brazil, to name a few.

In this article, we will remember some of the characteristics of the genre, main authors, characters and what you should take into consideration before buying your copy.




Summary

  • Crime books feature a crime, the investigation of it and the revelation of who commits it, which is usually a twist.
  • The first publication of the genre occurred in 1841.
  • One of the leading names in the genre, Agatha Christie is the most published (woman) writer in any language.

The Best Crime Books: Our Picks

Buying Guide

Mysteries, twists and turns, chills down your spine. Crime books are marked by instigating the reader and leaving them stuck reading because they need to know who committed the crime that runs through the narrative.

This guide serves to help you choose the novel that will surprise and satisfy you when you open the pages of the book.

Um livro entreaberto em cima de uma mesa de madeira em um cenário de baixa iluminação.

Fear, curiosity, disquiet, investigation and amazement are some of the elements present in detective books. (Source: Ehud Neuhaus / Unsplash.com)

What are detective novels?

Detective novels have among their characteristics a crime, the investigation of it (here a detective or a policeman himself can take over) and the revelation of who the criminal is, which tends to be surprising.

Despite being a clear recipe, the best titles of the genre usually bring twists and turns, trying to escape predictability.

In detective books, elements such as mystery, curiosity, amazement, disquiet, fear and investigation are present.

The genre began with the publication of the short story The Rue Morgue Murders, by Edgar Allan Poe, in 1841, in the American magazine Graham's Magazine.

In Brazil, the first detective publication was published in the newspaper A Folha, in 1920, and was called O Mistério. The authors of the work, published in chapters, are Viriato Corrêa, Coelho Neto, Afrânio Peixoto, Medeiros e Albuquerque.

Which are the main authors of detective novels?

The detective genre has been with us for a long time and since then several names have stood out. One of them is Agatha Christie, British writer who published 82 books of the genre.

The author became the most published author in history in any language, second only to the Bible and William Shakespeare.

Other notable authors include Edgar Allan Poe, a forerunner of the movement, Arthur Conan Doyle, Dorothy L. Sayers, Dashiell Hammett and Fernando Pessoa.

Did you know that Fernando Pessoa created for himself several heteronyms, that is, fictional authors with their own personalities? Some of his personas include Ricardo Reis, Álvaro de Campos, Bernardo Soares and Alberto Caeiro.

Among Brazilians, one of the main examples is Jô Soares.

Below, we list the main detectives of these writers and which is the first work in which they appeared in literature.

Author Main character Book of origin
Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot The Mysterious Case of Styles
Edgar Allan Poe C. Auguste Dupin The Rue Morgue Murders
Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes A Study in Red
Dorothy L. Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey Whose Body?
Dashiell Hammett Sam Spade The Maltese Falcon
Fernando Pessoa Abílio Fernandes Quaresma Quaresma, Decifrador (compilation of unfinished short stories)
Jô Soares Delegado Mello Pimenta O Xangô de Baker Street

Boxed or loose?

There are a variety of compilations of great authors such as Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle. So there are many options on how to acquire their books.

Boxes are a great alternative for those who want to assemble a standardized collection, usually with a special box, differentiated cover (hard, embossed, detachable), even exclusive content.

Those who are not necessarily interested in having all the books by an author - or a good part of them - or simply prefer to buy one before they go and grab several at once, can always opt for the loose versions.

In the individual models of crime books you'll find various versions of the classics, from hardback to paperback editions.

How much do detective books cost?

Prices can vary quite a lot. Some versions with common cover cost from £15. In case you are interested, some used titles are on sale, which also decreases the value in relation to the original price.

When the version has a hard cover, the price is usually higher than the standard ones.

It is also worth buying the boxes of some authors, because it is usually financially advantageous instead of buying one by one. Some boxes cost £45, others are around £90.

If you are one of those who are not so attached to physical editions, you can then choose to acquire the police books in digital version.

There are e-books that are £50 cheaper than the physical version, so this is a good option.

Purchase Criteria: What to consider before buying crime books

Before you go out shopping, it's good to know how to weigh up when it comes to choosing the best crime book for you.

It is to help you in this task that we have listed below some items to be taken into consideration before the purchase.

  • Number of pages
  • Authors
  • Synopsis
  • Reviews

Now that we have listed the items, we will detail them. Let's go!

Um homem sentado no sofá, vestindo uma blusa preta e usando um óculos, está segundo e lendo um livro de capa vermelha.

The short story The Murders of the Rue Morgue, by Edgar Allan Poe, marks the beginning of the detective genre. (Source: StockSnap / Pixabay.com)

Number of pages

There are some people who get discouraged when they come across a brick-and-mortar style book, so it is recommended to check the number of pages of a copy before you purchase it.

You should also take into account the dimensions of the book, whether it has illustrations, pictures, and also the font used. This can make a difference.

Uma mulher está sentada, ao lado de um cachorro, em um sofá vermelho enquanto lê um livro. No lado direito da imagem, há uma planta que cai em parte sobre o sofá.

Agatha Christie published more than 80 detective books during her career. (Source: AllGo / Unsplash.com)

Authors

As with any literary genre, it's always good to follow the established names, especially if you're parachuting into one of them - as may or may not be the case with crime books.

That said, going after works by authors such as Brazilian Jô Soares, American Edgar Allan Poe and Dashiell Hammett, and British Agatha Christie greatly increases the chance of getting your choice right.

Still, be sure to consider current authors such as Robert Galbraith.

Did you know that Robert Galbraith is actually the pen name of author J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter saga?

Synopsis

It is recommended to read the synopsis before buying your detective book.

Some people prefer not to know (almost) anything before reading a book, but the investment, not always low, asks you to have the minimum notion of what you will face during several hours of reading.

That is why it is recommended to read the synopsis of the detective books, after all it is good to know what the beginning of the story you are going to invest time and money in is about.

Besides, there are several people out there who love a spoiler, so if you fit the profile of those who want to know everything they can or do not mind knowing more details of the plot, this is the tip.

Uma pessoa está sentada no banco de uma praça lendo um livro, rodeado pela paisagem verde da grama e das árvores.

The Brazilian writer Jô Soares is one of the most outstanding authors of the detective novel. (Source: StockSnap / Pixabay.com)

Reviews

Listening to the opinion of others is also valid for you to make a good choice - after all, that's why you're reading us, right?

Today there are some book social networks, such as Skoob and Goodreads, in which users give their impressions on all literary genres, including police.

On Amazon's Brazilian website, there's a lot of user interaction on the book pages, so it's worth having a look there too.

Those looking for professional reviews can find them on some sites, such as the Folha de São Paulo newspaper and Book Marks, which makes a compilation of reviews and gives an average score for each work.

(Source of the detached image: Aleksandr Ugorenkov / 123RF)

Reviews