Unmissable 99p deals on bestselling crime fictionExplore deals

Unmissable 99p deals on bestselling crime fiction Explore deals

Our Favourite Classic Crime Novels

Here at Dead Good HQ we’re always partial to a bit of classic crime. Who isn’t?

From Arthur Conan Doyle to Agatha Christie, Georges Simenon to Margery Allingham, these are the true masters of the genre. With impossibly perplexing crimes, eccentric detectives, dark motives and the odd country house thrown in for good measure, we find classic crime irresistible.

If you’re looking to expand your crime fiction horizons, we’re here to help. Here are our favourite classic crime novels!

Our Favourite Classic Crime Novels

Lynsey DalladayThe Mystery of a Butcher’s Shop by Gladys Mitchell
Picked by Lynsey Dalladay

Mrs Beatrice Adela Lestrange Bradley is the amateur sleuth you’ve been dying to read – think a female version of Poirot with all the arrogance and eccentricities of the little Belgian detective with a mind like an iron fist. In this outing the inhabitants of Wandles Parva are all under suspicion as universally disliked Rupert Sethleigh’s body is found without its head. Who better to solve the mystery than the famed psychoanalyst who happens to be visiting, wonderfully described as ‘a hag-like pterodactyl’. If you love Christie, you’ll adore the Great Gladys.

Rhiannon GriffithsThe Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
Picked by Rhiannon Griffiths

This list wouldn’t be complete without Agatha Christie, and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is surely one of the defining novels of the Golden Age. When the book was first published it caused such a stir that many argued it changed the entire concept of detective fiction. It’s got everything – stabbing, poisoning, blackmail, suicide and one massive, massive twist. Starring everyone’s favourite Belgian detective with the egg-shaped head, this is Christie at her best. Unmissable.

Aine MulkeenThe Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham
Picked by Áine Mulkeen

Take one monstrous murderer on the loose, combine with a misfit band of musically-inclined villains, throw in a soupçon of smog…and you have one of amateur sleuth Albert Campion’s trickiest and darkest cases yet. Margery Allingham’s The Tiger in the Smoke is a bone fide classic from the Golden Age of crime writing, and it’s easy to see why: Jack ‘the Tiger’ Havoc is a terrifying baddie, post-war London has never felt so dangerous, and as an exploration of evil, it’s totally timeless.

favourite classic crime novels
classic crime
classic crime

Indira BirnieThe Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin
Picked by Indira Birnie

If you’re in the market for a liberal sprinkling of literary jokes, eccentric English characters (note: one brilliant, if somewhat mad, Professor of English Literature, Gervase Fen) and/or a dangerous car named ‘Lily Christine III’, this is the book for you. To be honest, even if that wasn’t quite what you were after, this is the book for you. It’s impossible to resist the wit and charm that abounds in this book, and it might just be one of the best novels to come out of the Golden Age of mystery writing.

Zainab JumaThe Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
Picked by Zainab Juma

If you need a dark gritty urban detective, deep in the underworld of 1920s New York, cloaked in cigar smoke and hints of his femme-fatale’s perfume, then you need Sam Spade. Played by Humphrey Bogart in the 1941 classic, this stubborn, cold and principled private eye is considered the first hard-boiled private detective, and he was a huge influence for Raymond Chandler when he invented his detective, Philip Marlowe.

Sam VoultersThe Dancer at the Gai-Moulin by Georges Simenon
Picked by Sam Voulters

Inspector Maigret has become a bit of an obsession for me over the last couple of years. There’s something about the truth and straightforwardness of his character that makes the series so compelling. He’s not mind-blowing in the same way as Sherlock Holmes but he is real in a way that detectives rarely are in fiction. The books are also incredibly well-written.

classic crime
classic crime
classic crime

nycThe Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
Picked by Sam Book

A suspicious death in an aristocratic family, a mysterious hound and Holmes and Watson romping around a Devonshire estate in the dead of night looking for clues! Need I say more about why I love this classic from one of the founding fathers of crime fiction?

Vicki WatsonMystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon
Picked by Vicki Watson

As a bit of a classic crime newbie, reading J. Jefferson Farjeon’s Mystery in White last Christmas was a wonderfully pleasant surprise. It’s part of the gorgeously re-issued British Library Crime Classics, which we’ve spoken about lots on Dead Good, and opens on board a train on a snowy Christmas eve. Put this on your reading list for this Autumn and sit back and enjoy all the blood in the snow.

classic crime
classic crime

What’s your favourite classic crime novel? Let us know in the comments below!


    I can thoroughly recommend The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie. A wonderfully funny, somewhat Wodhousian spoof on the whole detectin’ genre. I wish she’d written more like this.

    Just finished reading Murder in Stained Glass by Margaret Armstrong. This was first published in the 1930’s.
    Miss Trumbull is an American who doesn’t set out to become a detective. Without giving the story away she helps her friends and hinders the authorities. Thoroughly enjoyable

Join the discussion

Please note: Moderation is enabled and may delay your comment being posted. There is no need to resubmit your comment. By posting a comment you are agreeing to the website Terms of Use.