The Greatest "Police" 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 273 '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 "Police" category of books typically refers to stories that revolve around law enforcement officers and their work in solving crimes and maintaining order in society. These books may feature detectives, police officers, or other law enforcement professionals as main characters, and often involve investigations, interrogations, and other police procedures. The genre may include both fiction and non-fiction works, and can range from gritty crime thrillers to more lighthearted police procedurals. Overall, the "Police" category offers readers a glimpse into the world of law enforcement and the challenges faced by those who work to uphold the law.

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  1. 1. 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.

  2. 2. Resurrection: A Novel by Leo Tolstoy

    "Resurrection: A Novel" is a profound exploration of moral responsibility and the possibility of redemption. The story revolves around a nobleman who, in his youth, seduces and abandons a young servant girl. Years later, he encounters her as a prostitute on trial for murder. Overwhelmed by guilt for his role in her downfall, he decides to atone for his sins by dedicating himself to her defense and rehabilitation. The novel grapples with themes of morality, justice, and the human capacity for change.

  3. 3. The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy

    This noir crime novel is set in 1940s Los Angeles and follows two LAPD officers, Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard, as they investigate the brutal murder of a young woman, dubbed the Black Dahlia by the press. As they delve deeper into the gruesome crime, they are drawn into a dark world of corruption, obsession, and madness. The case becomes personal for both men, testing their friendship and sanity, and leading them down a path of self-destruction.

  4. 4. The Leavenworth Case by Anna Katharine Green

    "The Leavenworth Case" is a gripping detective novel that follows the investigation of a wealthy man's murder. When the head of the Leavenworth family is found dead in his locked study, suspicion falls on his niece, who stands to inherit his fortune. As the evidence against her mounts, a brilliant young lawyer is determined to uncover the truth and prove her innocence. With twists and turns at every corner, this thrilling mystery keeps readers guessing until the final page.

  5. 5. Last Seen Wearing ... by Hillary Waugh

    In this gripping police procedural, a young college girl vanishes without a trace, leaving behind a campus riddled with secrets and a police force grasping at straws. As the investigation unfolds, the meticulous and relentless detective in charge must sift through a myriad of misleading clues, false leads, and dead ends. With the pressure mounting and the public's anxiety at a fever pitch, the detective's dogged pursuit of the truth leads to a chilling and unexpected conclusion, showcasing the tenacity required in the search for justice when all that remains of a victim is the memory of what they were last seen wearing.

  6. 6. Last Seen Wearing by Colin Dexter

    "Last Seen Wearing" is a gripping crime novel that follows Inspector Morse as he investigates the mysterious disappearance of a young girl named Valerie Taylor. With little evidence and a trail that has gone cold, Morse must navigate through a web of secrets and lies to uncover the truth behind Valerie's vanishing, all while battling his own personal demons. As the investigation deepens, Morse's determination and sharp intuition lead him closer to a shocking revelation that will leave readers on the edge of their seats.

  7. 7. L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy

    Set in 1950s Los Angeles, the novel follows three LAPD officers with different personalities and methods, who find themselves entwined in a web of corruption, sex, and murder. As they navigate the city's seedy underbelly, each officer faces his own moral dilemmas and personal demons, all while trying to solve a series of gruesome murders. The narrative explores themes of crime, power, and the thin line between right and wrong in a noir-style setting.

  8. 8. The First Deadly Sin by Lawrence Sanders

    In this gripping crime novel, a seasoned New York City detective is on the brink of retirement when he's drawn into a challenging and high-stakes investigation. The city is terrorized by a series of brutal murders, each victim found with a small, mysterious token left by the killer. As the detective delves deeper into the case, he must navigate a complex web of clues and confront his own personal demons, all while racing against time to stop the methodical murderer before they strike again. The novel combines a gritty police procedural with psychological depth, exploring the nature of obsession and the cost of justice.

  9. 9. Postmortem by Patricia Daniels Cornwell

    In this gripping crime thriller, a forensic pathologist named Kay Scarpetta finds herself in the midst of a serial killer investigation. As she delves into the brutal murders of several young women, Scarpetta must use her expertise to unravel the clues left behind by the sadistic murderer. With her own life in danger, Scarpetta races against time to catch the killer before he strikes again, leading to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.

  10. 10. Blind Man with a Pistol by Chester Himes

    In the heart of Harlem, a blind man shoots his pistol aimlessly, setting off a series of chaotic events. Two detectives are tasked with investigating the resulting crimes, which include a restaurant bombing and a murder. The narrative is filled with dark humor, social commentary, and vivid descriptions of Harlem life, as the detectives navigate the complexities of their community and the absurdity of their situation.

  11. 11. Night Watch by Terry Pratchett

    "Night Watch" is a satirical fantasy novel that follows the story of Sam Vimes, a city watch commander who is transported back in time. He must navigate the complexities of the past, assume the identity of his old mentor, and prevent a violent revolution, all while trying to find a way back to his own time. The book is filled with humor, social commentary, and a detailed fantasy world.

  12. 12. Death of a Lake by Arthur William Upfield

    In "Death of a Lake", a young woman goes missing in the Australian Outback, causing a detective to suspect foul play when a local lake begins to dry up and reveal disturbing secrets. The detective has to navigate treacherous environmental conditions, local superstitions, and a cast of eccentric characters to solve the mystery. As the water levels continue to drop, the tension rises, culminating in a dramatic climax that reveals the truth about the missing woman and the secrets hidden beneath the lake's surface.

  13. 13. The Bone is Pointed: An Inspector Bonaparte Mystery #6 by Arthur William Upfield

    This mystery novel centers around Inspector Bonaparte, who investigates the disappearance of stockman Jack Anderson from a cattle station in the Australian Outback. As he delves into the case, Bonaparte faces a unique challenge: he's been cursed by an Aboriginal wizard. As his health declines, he must solve the mystery before the curse takes its toll. The narrative weaves elements of detective fiction with insights into Aboriginal culture and the harsh realities of life in the Australian Outback.

  14. 14. 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.

  15. 15. A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh

    "A Man Lay Dead" is a captivating murder mystery set in a country house, where a group of guests gather for a weekend of games and entertainment. When a harmless game of murder turns into a real-life crime, Inspector Alleyn is called in to solve the case. As he delves into the lives and secrets of the eccentric characters, he uncovers a web of deceit, jealousy, and hidden motives. With a clever plot, intriguing characters, and a touch of humor, this book keeps readers guessing until the final twist.

  16. 16. Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

    In a 1950s Soviet Union gripped by fear and paranoia, Leo Demidov, a dedicated officer of the state security agency, is faced with a chilling reality: a series of brutal child murders that the government refuses to acknowledge. As Leo defies his superiors and embarks on a dangerous investigation, he becomes entangled in a web of political intrigue and personal danger, risking everything to uncover the truth and protect those he loves. "Child 44" is a gripping thriller that explores the dark underbelly of a repressive regime and the resilience of one man determined to bring justice to a society plagued by secrets.

  17. 17. The Late-night News by Petros Markaris

    In "The Late-night News," a seasoned journalist is found murdered in his office. The investigation of the crime falls to a grizzled detective, who uncovers a web of corruption and deceit within the world of Greek media. As he delves deeper into the case, he finds that the journalist was working on a story that could have significant political implications, making the list of suspects long and dangerous. The detective must navigate through this complex world to find the killer, all while dealing with his own personal demons.

  18. 18. Monsieur Lecoq by Émile Gaboriau

    The book is a classic detective novel that follows the young, ambitious French detective Monsieur Lecoq as he investigates a mysterious double murder at a Parisian inn. Initially appearing to be a simple case of a quarrel gone wrong, Lecoq's keen observation and deductive skills uncover a much more complex plot involving disguise, mistaken identity, and a criminal mastermind. As he delves deeper into the investigation, Lecoq must navigate a web of deceit and betrayal, using his intelligence and resourcefulness to solve the case and prove his worth within the police force. The novel is a seminal work in the detective genre, showcasing the use of scientific methods in crime solving and the archetype of the brilliant detective.

  19. 19. The Choirboys by Joseph Wambaugh

    The book is a gritty, darkly humorous novel that delves into the lives of a group of Los Angeles police officers who regularly meet in MacArthur Park after hours to decompress from the stresses of their job. These informal gatherings, known as "choir practice," serve as a backdrop for the exploration of the officers' personal and professional challenges, revealing the psychological toll that policing takes on them. The narrative weaves together various incidents, from the mundane to the tragic, painting a complex picture of the men behind the badges as they grapple with the moral ambiguities and emotional burdens of law enforcement.

  20. 20. Chiefs by Stuart Woods

    "Chiefs" by Stuart Woods is a gripping novel that spans several generations, exploring the dark secrets and mysteries of a small southern town. Set against the backdrop of racial tensions and political corruption, the story follows three ambitious and determined law enforcement officers as they strive to uncover the truth behind a series of unsolved murders that have plagued the town for decades. With compelling characters and a suspenseful plot, this book delves into the complexities of power, justice, and the enduring impact of the past on the present.

  21. 21. Frost At Christmas by R.D. Wingfield

    "Frost At Christmas" is a crime novel that follows Detective Inspector Jack Frost as he investigates the disappearance of a young boy. Set in a small English town during the Christmas season, Frost navigates through a web of secrets and suspects, uncovering a disturbing truth that shakes the community to its core. With his unconventional methods and sharp wit, Frost must race against time to find the missing child and bring the culprit to justice.

  22. 22. Jar City by Arnaldur Indriðason

    In this gripping Icelandic crime novel, a seasoned detective investigates the murder of an elderly man, only to uncover a web of long-buried secrets. As the detective delves deeper into the case, he discovers a connection to a decades-old unsolved rape, a mysterious genetic condition, and a hidden "jar city" of preserved human tissue samples. The investigation challenges the detective to confront ethical dilemmas surrounding genetic privacy and the ghosts of the past, while navigating the complexities of his own personal life. The novel intertwines a compelling mystery with the stark atmosphere of Iceland, creating a dark and thought-provoking narrative that keeps the reader engaged until the very end.

  23. 23. Clockers by Richard Price

    This novel is a gritty examination of urban decay in America, focusing on the intertwined lives of a young drug dealer and a burnt-out homicide detective in a fictional New Jersey city. The story provides a stark depiction of the drug trade, exploring the desperation, violence, and moral complexities that come with it. The narrative alternates between the perspectives of the two main characters, offering a nuanced view of the challenges they face in their respective roles within the community.

  24. 24. White Jazz by James Ellroy

    "White Jazz" by James Ellroy is a gritty crime novel set in 1950s Los Angeles, following the life of corrupt police officer Dave Klein. As he navigates the treacherous world of organized crime, racial tensions, and personal demons, Klein becomes entangled in a web of deceit and violence that threatens to consume him. With its dark and atmospheric prose, this gripping tale explores the blurred lines between law and corruption, ultimately questioning the nature of justice in a city consumed by power and greed.

  25. 25. Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama

    In this gripping crime thriller, a former detective turned press officer is haunted by a cold case from 14 years ago, the unsolved abduction of a young girl. As he navigates the complex world of police bureaucracy and media pressure, he becomes entangled in a web of secrets and corruption that threatens to unravel his career and personal life. With meticulous attention to detail and a deep exploration of the human psyche, this novel delves into the complexities of crime, guilt, and the lengths one will go to protect their reputation.

Reading Statistics

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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.