The Greatest "Crime, Speculative Fiction" Books of All Time

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 313 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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The "Crime" category of books typically includes stories that revolve around criminal activities, investigations, and the pursuit of justice. These books may feature detectives, police officers, or other law enforcement officials as main characters, as well as criminals and their victims. Crime novels often involve suspenseful plot twists and turns, as well as complex character development. The genre can encompass a wide range of subgenres, including mystery, thriller, and true crime, and may explore themes such as morality, ethics, and the human condition. Overall, the "Crime" category offers readers a thrilling and engaging look into the darker side of human nature and the justice system.

Speculative Fiction

Speculative fiction is an umbrella genre encompassing narrative fiction with supernatural or futuristic elements. This includes genres such as science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history. The unifying factor of speculative fiction is its departure from the narrative constraints of reality, exploring imaginative and often profound questions that challenge our understanding of the world and our place within it. These stories often delve into themes like the human condition, social commentary, and the exploration of philosophical and ethical dilemmas through the lens of the fantastical or the yet-to-be-possible. By pushing the boundaries of the known, speculative fiction invites readers to consider the myriad possibilities of existence and the potential consequences of our actions in worlds that are, at once, vastly different from and eerily similar to our own.

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  1. 1. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

    A young woman marries a wealthy widower and moves into his large English country house. She quickly realizes that the memory of her husband's first wife, Rebecca, haunts every corner of the estate. The housekeeper's obsessive devotion to Rebecca and the mysterious circumstances of her death continue to overshadow the second wife's attempts to make a happy life with her husband. As secrets about Rebecca's life and death are revealed, the new wife must grapple with her own identity and place within the household.

    The 55th Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

    This novel follows the life of a violent young man named Alex, who is part of a youth subculture in a dystopian future England. Alex and his gang engage in a nightmarish spree of rape, assault, and robbery, until he is arrested and subjected to a psychological experiment by the government to "cure" him of his violent tendencies. The novel explores themes of free will, morality, and the nature of evil, while using a unique slang language invented by the author.

    The 110th Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe by Edgar Allan Poe

    This collection brings together all of the author's most famous works, including poems, short stories, and novellas. Known for his macabre and gothic storytelling, the author's works are filled with themes of death, love lost, and human frailty. Notable inclusions are the haunting poem "The Raven," the chilling stories "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Fall of the House of Usher," and his only complete novel, "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym."

    The 114th Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

    The novel is a disturbing and graphic exploration of the mind of a wealthy, young and handsome Wall Street investment banker who is also a psychopathic serial killer. He leads a double life, appearing to be a charming and sophisticated businessman by day, while indulging in horrific acts of violence and murder by night. The narrative provides a satirical critique of 1980s American consumer culture, vanity, and excess, while also delving into the dark underbelly of human nature.

    The 481st Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. Misery by Stephen King

    A successful novelist is rescued from a car crash by a deranged fan who is upset with the death of her favorite character from his books. Trapped in her remote home, the writer is subjected to physical and psychological torture as the fan forces him to write a new novel bringing the character back to life. As he writes for his life, he must also plan his escape before his captor's rage becomes deadly.

    The 734th Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. Uncle Silas by Sheridan Le Fanu

    "Uncle Silas" is a classic Gothic novel set in Victorian England that follows the story of a young, naive heiress who is left in the care of her mysterious and seemingly sinister Uncle Silas after her father's death. As she navigates her new life in his decrepit mansion, she uncovers dark family secrets, and begins to suspect her uncle may have ulterior motives. The novel explores themes of innocence, corruption, and the nature of evil, all set against the backdrop of a suspenseful and eerie atmosphere.

    The 827th Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. The Wasp Factory: A Novel by Iain Banks

    The novel is a dark and disturbing tale of a 16-year-old boy named Frank who lives on a secluded island with his eccentric father. Frank, who has killed three children in his past, spends his time engaging in violent rituals and maintaining his "Wasp Factory," a barbaric contraption he uses for divination. The narrative takes a turn when his older brother, who is institutionalized, escapes and heads home, leading to shocking revelations about their family's past and Frank's identity.

    The 940th Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

    A former FBI profiler, who is renowned for capturing a notorious serial killer, is lured out of retirement to track down a new killer who has a taste for families. The new killer, dubbed "The Tooth Fairy", is a complex character with a troubled past that leads him to commit his heinous crimes. As the profiler delves deeper into the investigation, he is forced to confront his own demons and the manipulative games of the serial killer he previously captured, who is now behind bars.

    The 1099th Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. The Adventures of Caleb Williams by William Godwin

    The novel revolves around a young man named Caleb Williams who becomes a secretary for a nobleman named Ferdinando Falkland. He soon discovers that his employer is hiding a terrible secret, and when he's wrongfully accused of a crime, he's thrown into prison. The rest of the story follows his escape from prison and his subsequent life on the run, all while trying to prove his innocence and expose the truth about Falkland. The book is a critique of aristocratic privilege, the abuse of power, and the injustices of the legal system.

    The 1350th Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. The Collector by John Fowles

    The book revolves around a socially awkward and reclusive young man who wins a substantial amount of money in a lottery, which he uses to execute a long-held, sinister fantasy: to "collect" the object of his obsession, a beautiful and unattainable art student. He kidnaps her and holds her captive in the cellar of his rural farmhouse, convinced that she will grow to love him over time. The narrative delves into the psychological complexities of both captor and captive, exploring themes of power, possession, and the nature of love, ultimately revealing the chilling and tragic consequences of his delusional pursuit.

    The 1853rd Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. Home Sweet Homicide by Craig Rice

    "Home Sweet Homicide" follows three precocious siblings who become amateur detectives when a murder takes place in their apartment building. With their mother being a famous mystery writer, the children are well-versed in crime-solving techniques and eagerly take on the challenge. As they uncover clues and interrogate suspects, the siblings find themselves entangled in a web of secrets and danger, ultimately leading them to the shocking truth behind the murder. This witty and fast-paced mystery novel showcases the unique perspective of young sleuths, blending humor and suspense into an entertaining read.

    The 1913th Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd

    "Hawksmoor" is a novel that alternates between the 18th century and the 1980s, focusing on two characters both named Nicholas Dyer and Nicholas Hawksmoor. Dyer, an architect in the 18th century, constructs seven churches in London, each with a dark and sinister secret. In the 1980s, Hawksmoor, a detective, investigates a series of murders that occur in the same churches. The narrative explores themes of history, time, architecture, and supernatural elements, creating an eerie and atmospheric tale.

    The 1923rd Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

    This humorous science fiction novel follows the eccentric detective Dirk Gently, who operates based on the fundamental interconnectedness of all things. His cases involve time travel, ghosts, and an Electric Monk, a labor-saving device that believes things for you. Dirk's current investigation revolves around the disappearance of a cat, a multimillionaire, and a horse in a bathroom, all seemingly unrelated events, but in Dirk's holistic world, everything is connected.

    The 1953rd Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

    A 12-year-old genius and criminal mastermind, Artemis Fowl, kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short, for a large ransom of gold with the help of his bodyguard, Butler, to restore his family's fortune. In the process, he discovers an underground world of armed and dangerous fairies. The fairies fight back with magic, cunning, and technological weapons leading to a high-stakes battle of wits.

    The 2196th Greatest Book of All Time
  15. 15. The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester

    In a future society where telepaths, known as Espers, are integrated into all levels of society, a powerful businessman plots the perfect murder, believing he can outwit the telepathic police. His cat-and-mouse game with a determined Esper detective unfolds in a world where mental privacy is nearly extinct, and the concept of crime has taken on new meaning. The businessman's struggle against the pervasive telepathic surveillance and his own conscience leads to a suspenseful and philosophical exploration of free will, guilt, and the possibility of redemption.

    The 3428th Greatest Book of All Time
  16. 16. The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon

    In an alternate reality where Jewish refugees found sanctuary in Alaska during World War II, the book follows a homicide detective in the Yiddish-speaking metropolis of Sitka as he investigates the murder of a former chess prodigy. The detective's quest takes him from the city's seedy underbelly to the highest echelons of power, and he uncovers a vast conspiracy that threatens the very existence of the Jewish homeland in Alaska. The novel is a blend of detective fiction, alternate history, and Jewish humor.

    The 3462nd Greatest Book of All Time
  17. 17. The Zone by Sergei Dovlatov

    "The Zone" is a semi-autobiographical novel that follows the life of a writer who is confined to a Soviet labor camp. Through a series of vignettes, the protagonist reflects on his experiences in the camp, the absurdities of the Soviet system, and the struggles of maintaining his identity and integrity in the face of oppression. With dark humor and sharp observations, the book offers a poignant and satirical portrayal of life in the Soviet Union.

    The 3694th Greatest Book of All Time
  18. 18. Night Has A Thousand Eyes by George Hopley

    "Night Has A Thousand Eyes" is a gripping psychological thriller that follows the life of a troubled man named John, who possesses an uncanny ability to foresee tragic events before they occur. Plagued by his gift, John becomes increasingly isolated and tormented, as he struggles to prevent the impending disasters that haunt his visions. As the line between reality and premonition blurs, John embarks on a desperate quest to understand the origins of his power and find a way to break free from its relentless grip.

    The 3803rd Greatest Book of All Time
  19. 19. The City & the City by China Miéville

    In a unique blend of noir detective fiction and speculative fantasy, the book explores the coexistence of two distinct cities occupying the same geographical space, yet remaining invisible to each other due to a strict set of societal rules and the mysterious force of "Breach" that enforces them. When a young woman is found murdered, a seasoned inspector must navigate the complex and often perilous overlap of these two cities to solve the crime. His investigation challenges the rigid separation of the cities, uncovering a conspiracy that blurs the lines between the two and threatens the very fabric of their existence.

    The 3942nd Greatest Book of All Time
  20. 20. I Spit On Your Graves by Boris Vian

    The book in question is a controversial revenge novel centered around an African-American man who passes for white in a small American town. Seeking vengeance for his brother's lynching, he systematically targets and seduces white women, leading to a series of violent and sexually explicit encounters. The narrative unfolds as a brutal critique of racism and the American justice system, culminating in a shocking and grim conclusion that reflects the deep-seated racial tensions of the era. The book's graphic content and exploration of racial identity have sparked significant debate and censorship since its publication.

    The 4862nd Greatest Book of All Time
  21. 21. City of Bohane by Kevin Barry

    Set in the year 2053, the book is a dystopian tale about the city of Bohane, a place filled with vice, violence, and tribal warfare. The city is controlled by a gangster named Logan Hartnett, who is challenged by his estranged wife Macu and her lover, a rival gang leader. The narrative is filled with colorful characters, rich language, and a unique blend of futuristic and archaic elements, creating a vivid, darkly comic vision of a future Ireland.

    The 5599th Greatest Book of All Time
  22. 22. Jade City by Fonda Lee

    In a bustling city ruled by powerful crime families, the Kauls, who possess the rare ability to harness the magical powers of jade, struggle to maintain their control amidst rising tensions and rivalries. As the city teeters on the brink of chaos, the Kaul siblings find themselves caught in a dangerous web of betrayal, loyalty, and ambition, where the fate of their family and their city hangs in the balance. With vivid world-building and intricate character dynamics, "Jade City" is a gripping tale of power, honor, and the price of maintaining control.

    The 6089th Greatest Book of All Time
  23. 23. Koko by Peter Straub

    This psychological horror novel centers around four Vietnam War veterans who reunite to confront a series of gruesome murders that eerily resemble war crimes they witnessed. The story delves into the complexities of trauma and the bonds of military brotherhood as the men embark on a harrowing journey to track down the enigmatic figure known only as "Koko," whose identity is as mysterious as the motives behind the killings. As they traverse the globe from the urban landscapes of the United States to the bustling streets of Southeast Asia, the veterans must grapple with their own inner demons and the possibility that the killer they seek may be one of their own.

    The 6174th Greatest Book of All Time
  24. 24. Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg

    In this gripping mystery novel, a down-on-his-luck private investigator is hired to find a missing person, only to uncover a web of dark secrets and supernatural forces. Set in 1950s New York City, the protagonist delves into the city's seedy underbelly, encountering eccentric characters and facing his own demons along the way. As he gets closer to the truth, the line between reality and fantasy becomes blurred, leading to a shocking and unexpected climax. With its atmospheric setting and intricate plot, this book keeps readers on the edge of their seats until the very end.

    The 7269th Greatest Book of All Time
  25. 25. Rivers Of London by Ben Aaronovitch

    In this urban fantasy novel, a young London police constable discovers he has a unique talent for magic after encountering a ghostly crime witness. Recruited into a secretive unit that deals with supernatural threats, he finds himself navigating a world where magic is real, and the city's rich history comes alive in dangerous ways. As he learns to master his newfound abilities, he must solve a puzzling murder case that intertwines with dark magical forces, all while trying to maintain peace between the mundane and the magical realms that coexist within the vibrant and historic landscape of London.

    The 7880th Greatest Book of All Time

Reading Statistics

Click the button below to see how many of these books you've read!


If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.