The Greatest "Fiction, Crime" Books Since 1980

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 280 '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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Fiction

Crime

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.

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  1. 1. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

    Set in a wealthy Italian monastery in the 14th century, the novel follows a Franciscan friar and his young apprentice as they investigate a series of mysterious deaths within the monastery. As they navigate the labyrinthine library and decipher cryptic manuscripts, they uncover a complex plot involving forbidden books, secret societies, and the Inquisition. The novel is a blend of historical fiction, mystery, and philosophical exploration, delving into themes of truth, knowledge, and the power of the written word.

  2. 2. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

    A group of six classics students at a small, elite Vermont college, led by a charismatic professor, become entranced by the study of Greek culture and decide to recreate a Dionysian ritual, which ends in a tragic accident. The group, bound by their shared secret, begins to unravel as paranoia and guilt take hold. The novel explores themes of beauty and terror, the allure of the esoteric, and the destructive consequences of obsession.

  3. 3. Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe

    This novel follows the life of a successful Wall Street bond trader who, after a wrong turn in the Bronx, finds his life spiraling out of control. After a hit-and-run accident in a predominantly black neighborhood, he becomes the target of a political witch hunt, exacerbating racial tensions in the city. As the protagonist's world unravels, the story provides a satirical commentary on 1980s New York City, exploring themes of racism, classism, politics, and greed.

  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.

  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.

  6. 6. 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.

  7. 7. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

    This thriller novel follows symbologist Robert Langdon and cryptographer Sophie Neveu as they investigate a murder in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The murder leads them to a trail of clues hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci, revealing a religious mystery protected by a secret society for two thousand years. The mystery involves a conspiracy within the Catholic Church and threatens to overturn the foundations of Christianity.

  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.

  9. 9. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

    In this gripping psychological thriller, a young FBI trainee is enlisted to interview an incarcerated and manipulative cannibalistic serial killer to gain insight into the mind of another active serial murderer. The trainee must navigate a complex game of cat and mouse, using her own wits and the killer's insights to understand and anticipate the criminal's moves before he strikes again. As she delves deeper into the investigation, she confronts not only the horrors of the criminal mind but also the darkness within her own past, leading to a tense and chilling confrontation.

  10. 10. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

    This thrilling novel revolves around the sudden disappearance of a woman on her fifth wedding anniversary. As the investigation unfolds, all evidence points to her husband as the prime suspect. However, the story takes a twist as the wife's diary entries reveal a darker side to their seemingly perfect marriage. The narrative alternates between the husband's present-day perspective and the wife's diary entries, leaving readers in suspense about what truly happened. The book explores themes of deceit, media influence, and the complexities of marriage.

  11. 11. 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.

  12. 12. Smilla's Sense of Snow: A Novel by Peter Høeg

    The novel revolves around Smilla Jaspersen, a woman of Greenlandic-Inuit and Danish descent living in Copenhagen, who investigates the mysterious death of a small Inuit boy who falls from the roof of their apartment building. Despite the authorities ruling it as an accident, Smilla's understanding of the Arctic snow and ice, her intuition, and her relentless pursuit for truth lead her to uncover a much darker, dangerous conspiracy involving powerful corporations and government agencies.

  13. 13. London Fields by Martin Amis

    The novel is a darkly comic, murder mystery set in London at the end of the 20th century. The story follows three main characters: a terminally ill American writer, a petty criminal, and a beautiful but doomed woman who predicts her own murder but not the murderer. The narrative is filled with satirical social commentary, exploring themes of love, lust, greed, and deception.

  14. 14. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

    A teenage girl is brutally murdered in her small town, and from her new home in heaven, she watches over her family and friends as they struggle to cope with her loss. She also keeps an eye on her killer, hoping that he will eventually be brought to justice. Through her observations, she explores the complexities of human relationships, the ripple effects of her death, and the concept of moving on while still holding onto memories.

  15. 15. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

    A disgraced journalist is hired by a wealthy industrialist to solve a forty-year-old mystery involving the disappearance of his niece. He is assisted in his investigation by a brilliant but deeply troubled hacker. As they delve deeper into the mystery, they uncover a twisted web of family secrets, corruption, and murder. The story is a dark and gripping exploration of Swedish society, as well as a thrilling mystery.

  16. 16. Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow

    A gripping legal thriller, this novel follows the story of a chief deputy prosecutor who finds himself accused of the brutal murder of his colleague, with whom he had a passionate extramarital affair. As the evidence against him mounts, he struggles to prove his innocence while uncovering corruption and deceit within the very system he once served. The story is a riveting exploration of the complexities of the legal system, human nature, and the concept of presumed innocence.

  17. 17. Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard

    A Miami loan shark travels to Los Angeles to collect a debt from a low-budget movie producer, only to get entangled in the Hollywood scene. Through a series of events, he ends up pitching a movie idea based on his own life as a mobster. This comedic crime novel explores the similarities between the film industry and organized crime, while offering a satirical look at the behind-the-scenes workings of Hollywood.

  18. 18. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

    This novel is a gritty, raw portrayal of a group of heroin addicts living in Edinburgh, Scotland. The narrative is non-linear and told from multiple perspectives, providing a deep dive into the minds and lives of these characters. The story explores themes of poverty, addiction, friendship, and the struggle to escape one's circumstances, all set against the backdrop of a bleak urban landscape. It is known for its strong Scottish dialect, graphic content, and dark humor.

  19. 19. Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    The novel unfolds as a murder mystery, revealing the planned revenge killing of a young man named Santiago Nasar by the Vicario brothers. They believe Santiago has dishonored their sister, Angela, by taking her virginity before her marriage to another man. Despite the impending murder being common knowledge within the small Colombian town, a series of coincidences and misunderstandings prevent anyone from intervening, leading to Santiago's tragic and foretold demise. The narrative explores themes of honor, fate, and the collective responsibility of a community.

  20. 20. What a Carve Up! by Jonathan Coe

    This satirical novel follows the story of the Winshaw family, a wealthy and corrupt British family who have a significant influence on British society in fields such as politics, business, media, and the arts. The narrative is presented through the eyes of a commissioned biographer who is trying to make sense of the family's history and their impact on society. As he delves deeper into the family's affairs, he uncovers dark secrets and becomes entangled in a complex web of deceit and murder.

  21. 21. Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley

    Set in 1940s Los Angeles, the novel follows an African American war veteran who, after losing his job, becomes a private investigator to pay his mortgage. He is hired to find a white woman known to frequent African American jazz clubs, and in the process, he gets entangled in a web of political scandal and corruption. The story explores themes of race, class, and the complex social dynamics of the time.

  22. 22. True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey

    This historical novel is a fictionalized account of the life of Australian outlaw Ned Kelly, told in the form of a journal written to his daughter. The narrative explores Kelly's life from childhood, his family's struggles with poverty and the law, his involvement in horse thievery, and his eventual formation of the Kelly Gang. The story culminates with the gang's infamous standoff with the police at Glenrowan, providing a humanizing perspective on a figure often portrayed as a ruthless criminal.

  23. 23. Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith

    In the heart of Moscow, three corpses found in Gorky Park lead a dedicated Soviet police investigator on a complex and dangerous trail that entangles him in the web of the KGB and the FBI. As he delves deeper into the case, he uncovers a chilling conspiracy and faces moral dilemmas that challenge his very principles and integrity. The investigation becomes a personal quest for truth that takes him far beyond the park's snowy borders, testing his resolve and putting his life at risk in the shadowy intersections of international espionage and political intrigue.

  24. 24. No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

    This novel is a gripping tale of a cat-and-mouse chase set in the harsh landscape of 1980 Texas. After stumbling upon a drug deal gone wrong and a suitcase full of money, a Vietnam War veteran finds himself pursued by a relentless hitman. As the veteran attempts to keep himself and his wife safe, a local sheriff struggles to keep up with the increasing violence and brutality of the modern world. The narrative explores themes of fate, conscience, and circumstance, painting a bleak and riveting picture of the human condition.

  25. 25. Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell

    In this thrilling crime novel, an elderly farmer and his wife are brutally murdered and the only clue is the wife's dying word: "foreign." This sets off a series of events that involves a dedicated detective who must solve the crime while dealing with his own personal problems. The investigation becomes even more complex when the press catches wind of the dying word, sparking a wave of xenophobia in the community. The detective must navigate through the fear and prejudice to find the truth and bring the killers to justice.

Reading Statistics

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

Download

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.

Download