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11 epic crime series

We do love a good, long crime series. There is no better feeling than when you’ve just discovered a new one and know there are plenty more for you to dive into already. We can’t help but feel there’s something satisfying about getting to know a character, following them from book to book and seeing how they develop.

With that in mind, we’ve picked out eleven of our favourite long crime series. Which will you be diving into?

11 epic crime series

Georges Simenon’s Inspector Maigret series
long crime seriesGeorges Simenon wrote a staggering seventy-five novels and twenty-eight short stories featuring Inspector Jules Maigret – the gruff, honest, compassionate commissaire of the Paris “Brigade Criminelle”.

The good folks at Penguin Press are currently reissuing these wonderful classic crime novels, and with Rowan Atkinson taking on the character of Maigret for ITV’s new adaptations this year, now is the perfect time to discover the series.

See all Georges Simenon’s Inspector Maigret books in order here.

long crime series

Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot series
long crime seriesAgatha Christie’s first ever murder mystery featured a small, impeccably turned out Belgian detective called Hercule Poirot. A great crime institution was born and luckily for readers he had a long life.

‘He was hardly more than five feet four inches but carried himself with great dignity. His head was exactly the shape of an egg, and he always perched it a little on one side. His moustache was very stiff and military. Even if everything on his face was covered, the tips of moustache and the pink-tipped nose would be visible.’
long crime series

Donna Leon’s Brunetti series
long crime seriesThe first novel in Donna Leon’s brilliant crime series featuring the sharp, intelligent Commissario Guido Brunetti first hit the shelves in 1992, and we’ve loved being transported to the streets of Venice in novel after novel ever since.

The Waters of Eternal Youth came out this year – the twenty-fifth book in the series and Donna Leon will show us just how complex, intriguing and dark Venetian society can be once again.

See all Donna Leon’s Brunetti books in order here.

long crime series

Ruth Rendell’s Inspector Wexford series
long crime seriesKnown for her searing insight into the human condition, Ruth Rendell wrote over sixty novels under many different guises. Her most famous creation is Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford.

Wexford is an intelligent, sensitive, reliable police officer who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. He made his first appearance in Rendell’s debut novel From Doon with Death and then investigated a further twenty-three cases, mainly around his constabulary of Kingsmarkham.

See all Ruth Rendell’s Inspector Wexford books in order here.

long crime series

Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta series
long crime seriesFrom Postmortem to the forthcoming Chaos, Patricia Cornwell has kept her heroine Dr. Kay Scarpetta – a medical examiner – extremely busy.

Blonde, Italian, an incredibly hard worker and a complete perfectionist, Scarpetta was inspired by former Virginia Chief Medical Examiner Marcella Farinelli Fierro, MD. Cornwell’s novels have been hugely influential and are thought to be responsible for an increased appreciation of forensics in fiction – both in books and on TV, in shows such as CSI.
long crime series

James Patterson’s Alex Cross series
long crime seriesIt’s possible to populate an entire feature dedicated to the series characters penned by James Patterson but in this instance we’re focusing on the longest running and arguably best-loved of his characters – Alex Cross.

Also spawning two of the best Patterson big screen adaptations, Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider, you know where you are with detective-cum-FBI Agent Alex Cross.

See all James Patterson’s Alex Cross books in order here.

long crime series

Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series
long crime seriesLast month we revealed the cover for Lee Child’s twenty-first Jack Reacher novel, Night School. Reacher is something of a drifter – an ex-military policeman who roams the country settings wrongs right after his fragmented lifestyle in the military left him unable to settle into civilian society.

They say a Jack Reacher thriller is bought somewhere in the world every twenty seconds. Once you’ve read one, you’ll understand why.

See all Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books in order here.

long crime series

Ian Rankin’s John Rebus series
long crime seriesIan Rankin is something of a Scottish crime legend, often dubbed the ‘King of Tartan Noir’.

Detective Inspector John Rebus joined the Lothian and Borders Police after resigning from the SAS and suffering a nervous breakdown. Set in Edinburgh, the books show us a darker side of Scottish society. Throughout the series, Rebus battles with crime and corruption as well as internal politics within the force and his own personal problems. It’s compelling stuff.
long crime series

Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series
long crime seriesDetective Hieronymus ‘Harry’ Bosch of the LAPD first appeared in The Black Echo, published in 1992. Bosch is a hard, troubled detective with a difficult background – a quintessential anti-hero who is relentless in his pursuit for the truth.

Bosch is an amalgamation of several real police officers Connelly knew as a police reporter, as well as aspects of fictional detectives that he has loved – including Philip Marlowe, Lew Archer, Dirty Harry Callahan and Frank Bullit.

See all Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch books in order here.

long crime series

Margery Allingham’s Albert Campion series
long crime seriesThere’s no doubt about it – Albert Campion is a Dead Good favourite. Allegedly first created as a parody of Dorothy L. Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey, he features in nineteen novels and six short story collections by classic crime author Margery Allingham.

Campion is an amusing, peculiar and strangely endearing character. He is a resourceful, clever man of authority and action who hides behind a screen of idiocy and unintelligence. Leading to many a regretful criminal underestimating him.
long crime series

Kathy Reichs’s Temperance Brennan series
long crime seriesForensic anthropologist Dr Temperance Brennan features in eighteen novels and four short stories, and is the main character in Bones, the TV show inspired by Kathy Reichs’s books.

As a forensic anthropologist herself, you can guarantee Reichs has got the science dead right. In fact she has previously stated that she has undertaken many of Tempe’s experiments herself. They make for fascinating reading.

See all Kathy Reichs’s Temperance Brennan books in order here.

long crime series

Found a crime series here to love? Or have one you prefer? Let us know in the comments below!


    I love the Rizzoli and Isles series by Tess Gerritsen, There are 12 books in total now.

    Lisa Gardner (D.D. Warren), Peter James (Roy Grace), Stuart MacBride (Logan McRae) and Jeffery Deaver (Lincoln Rhyme).

    Lars Kepler crime series featuring the Finnish detective Joona Linna : Superb.

    I have really enjoyed Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak series – 21 books I think, so long enough for this list – and the Anna Pigeon series by Nevada Barr.

    And I know it’s not yet long enough for this purpose, but Harry Bingham’s Fiona Griffiths series is just brilliant. I’ve read them all three times already!

    A crying shame that two of the best US PI series are missing; Sara Paretsky’s V. I Warshawski and Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone.

    We were going on length of series – but always good to have new suggestions to add on to a new list of the ‘best crime series’!

    Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. The best.

    I love the Inspector Lynley series by Elisabeth George!

    I love the : Bryant & May series by Christopher Fowler (13) Inspector Montalbano by Andrea Camilleri (21) and Inspector Gamache by Louise Penny (12) – long may they run.

    Linwood Barclay`s books are great crime thrillers. Each one better than the other..

    Do they come in kindle version, as I have arthritis and cannot hold heavy books any longer.

    ‘Miss Fisher Mysteries’ by Kerry Greenwood
    Steven Saylor’s Gordianus the Finder
    Lindsay Davis’ Falco
    Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole series
    I could go on ……..

    Too many of the books you recommend are only available in the UK. Very frustrating!

    In addition to the authors already mentioned, some others that I think are excellent are James Oswald (The Inspector McLean series), David Mark (DS Aector McAvoy), Peter James (Roy Grace) Stuart MacBride (Logan Mcrae) Luke Delaney (DI Sean Corrigan) and Peter May (Enzio files, China thrillers and The Lewis Trilogy).

    Denise Mina’s Alex Morrow, Sharon Bolton’s Lacey Flint, Harry Bingham’s Fiona Griffiths, Adrian McKinty’s Sean Duffy, Graham Hurley’s Jo Faraday/Jimmy Suttle, To name but a few.

    Try Louise Ross, Robin Roughley and his DS Lasser Series, Oliver tidy with his Romney and Marsh,,Denzil Meyrick, R J Mitchell, Ed James.. Some of these are better than the ones named above.

    I think the Inspector Lynley series by Eliabeth George should have made it to the list. I have always loved that series and she has written 19 of them!

    Has to be Ian Rankin’s Rebus series. Shows a side the Festival goers never see.

    Val Mcdermid, Simon Kernick, Lee Child’s, James Patterson, Kathy Reich’s , etc etc etc xx

    I agree with Val McDermid,, could mention Elly Griffiths and Lynda LaPlante

    My absolute favorite are Donald E. Westlake’s Dortmunder (the gang that couldn’t shoot straight) series – fantastic characters! Then there is his harboiled Parker series.

    Since I am from New England and spent some time in Boston, I have to mention Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series as well.

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