100 Good Detective Novels
by Mike Grost

   These are all real detective stories: tales in which a mystery is solved by a detective. Real detective fiction tends to go invisible in modern society, in which many people prefer crime fiction without mystery.

   The list is in chronological order but unfortunately omits many major short story writers: G. K. Chesterton, Jacques Futrelle, H. C. Bailey, Edward D. Hoch, and other greats.

Émile Gaboriau, Le Crime d’Orcival (1866)
Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone (1868)
Israel Zangwill, The Big Bow Mystery (1891)
Anna Katherine Green, The Circular Study (1900)
Edgar Wallace, The Four Just Men (1905)
Cleveland Moffett, Through the Wall (1909)
John T. McIntyre, Ashton-Kirk, Investigator (1910)
R. Austin Freeman, The Eye of Osiris (1911)
E. C. Bentley, Trent’s Last Case (1913)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Valley of Fear (1914)
Clinton H. Stagg, Silver Sandals (1914)
Johnston McCulley, Who Killed William Drew? (1917)
Octavus Roy Cohen, Six Seconds of Darkness (1918)
Mary Roberts Rinehart & Avery Hopwood, The Bat (1920)
Donald McGibeny, 32 Caliber (1920)
Carolyn Wells, Raspberry Jam (1920)
Freeman Wills Crofts, The Cask (1920)
A. A. Milne, The Red House Mystery (1922)
G. D. H. Cole, The Brooklyn Murders (1923)
Carroll John Daly, The Snarl of the Beast (1927)
Dashiell Hammett, Red Harvest (1927)
Horatio Winslow and Leslie Quirk, Into Thin Air (1929)
Samuel Spewack, Murder in the Gilded Cage (1929)
Thomas Kindon, Murder in the Moor (1929)
Mignon G. Eberhart, While the Patient Slept (1930)
Victor L. Whitechurch, Murder at the College / Murder at Exbridge (1932)
Ellery Queen, The Greek Coffin Mystery (1932)
Anthony Abbot, About the Murder of the Circus Queen (1932)
S. S. Van Dine, The Dragon Murder Case (1933)
Helen Reilly, McKee of Centre Street (1933)
Dermot Morrah, The Mummy Case (1933)
Dorothy L. Sayers, The Nine Tailors (1934)
Milton M. Propper, The Divorce Court Murder (1934)
John Dickson Carr, The Three Coffins / The Hollow Man (1935)
Georgette Heyer, Merely Murder / Death in the Stocks (1935)
David Frome, Mr. Pinkerton Has the Clue (1936)
Nigel Morland, The Case of the Rusted Room (1937)
Cyril Hare, Tenant for Death (1937)
Baynard Kendrick, The Whistling Hangman (1937)
Ngaio Marsh, Death in a White Tie (1938)
R. A. J. Walling, The Corpse With the Blue Cravat / The Coroner Doubts
Dorothy Cameron Disney, Strawstacks / The Strawstack Murders (1938-1939)
Rex Stout, Some Buried Caesar (1938-1939)
Rufus King, Murder Masks Miami (1939)
Theodora Du Bois, Death Dines Out (1939)
Erle Stanley Gardner, The D.A. Draws a Circle (1939)
Agatha Christie, One Two, Buckle My Shoe / An Overdose of Death (1940)
J. J. Connington, The Four Defences (1940)
Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely (1940)
Frank Gruber, The Laughing Fox (1940)
Anthony Boucher, The Case of the Solid Key (1941)
Stuart Palmer, The Puzzle of the Happy Hooligan (1941)
Kelley Roos, The Frightened Stiff (1942)
Cornell Woolrich, Phantom Lady (1942)
Frances K. Judd, The Mansion of Secrets (1942)
Helen McCloy, The Goblin Market (1943)
Anne Nash, Said With Flowers (1943)
Mabel Seeley, Eleven Came Back (1943)
Norbert Davis, The Mouse in the Mountain (1943)
Robert Reeves, Cellini Smith: Detective (1943)
Hake Talbot, The Rim of the Pit (1944)
John Rhode, The Shadow on the Cliff / The Four-Ply Yarn (1944)
Allan Vaughan Elston & Maurice Beam, Murder by Mandate (1945)
Walter Gibson, Crime Over Casco (1946)
George Harmon Coxe, The Hollow Needle (1948)
Wade Miller, Fatal Step (1948)
Alan Green, What a Body! (1949)
Hal Clement, Needle (1949)
Bruno Fischer, The Angels Fell (1950)
Jack Iams, What Rhymes With Murder? (1950)
Richard Starnes, The Other Body in Grant’s Tomb (1951)
Richard Ellington, Exit for a Dame (1951)
Lawrence G. Blochman, Recipe For Homicide (1952)
Day Keene, Wake Up to Murder (1952)
Isaac Asimov, The Caves of Steel (1953)
Henry Winterfeld, Caius ist ein Dummkopf / Detectives in Togas (1953)
Craig Rice, My Kingdom For a Hearse (1956)
Frances and Richard Lockridge, Voyage into Violence (1956)
Harold Q. Masur, Tall, Dark and Deadly (1956)
James Warren, The Disappearing Corpse (1957)
Seicho Matsumoto, Ten to sen (Point and Lines) (1957)
Michael Avallone, The Crazy Mixed-Up Corpse (1957)
Ed Lacy, Shakedown for Murder (1958)
Lenore Glen Offord, Walking Shadow (1959)
Allen Richards, To Market, To Market (1961)
Christopher Bush, The Case of the Good Employer (1966)
Randall Garrett, Too Many Magicians (1967)
Michael Collins, A Dark Power (1968)
Merle Constiner, The Four from Gila Bend (1968)
Bill Pronzini, Undercurrent (1973)
Nicholas Meyer, The West End Horror (1976)
Thomas Chastain, Vital Statistics (1977)
William L. DeAndrea, Killed in the Ratings (1978)
Clifford B. Hicks, Alvin Fernald, TV Anchorman (1980)
Donald J. Sobol, Angie’s First Case (1981)
Kyotaro Nishimura, Misuteri ressha ga kieta (The Mystery Train
Disappears) (1982)
K. K. Beck, Murder in a Mummy Case (1986)
Jon L. Breen, Touch of the Past (1988)
Stephen Paul Cohen, Island of Steel (1988)
Earl W. Emerson, Black Hearts and Slow Dancing (1988)

Editorial Comment: This will do it for today, but I do have one more list to post. David Vineyard sent it to me this morning. It’s a followup to his previous list, consisting of what he calls “100 Important Books From Before the Golden Age.” The cutoff date for these is 1913, which is where his earlier list began. While not all of the books on this new list may be crime fiction, they’re all important to the field. Look for it soon!