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Crime fiction’s earliest appearances in stories in which crime solving is an essential part of the story can be traced back to works like Oedipus Rex and Gong’an fiction in China. Some of the most popular categories in crime fiction are detective fiction, forensic crime fiction, spy novel, psychological thriller, and much more.
Through the years, there have been many prolific and defining crime writers, some of which we’ve added to our list below.
Dame Agatha Christie
Well-known Agatha Christie has to be on our list. With 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, Christie is the most translated author in the world. The Guinness World Records also lists her as the best-selling author of all time. She created the famous characters Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, who have seen many film and TV adaptations.
Thomas Harris, or William Thomas Harris III, is best known for creating Hannibal Lecter. Most of his works have been adapted into films, such as The Silence of the Lambs. The film is the third to win Oscars in major categories in all of the Academy Awards history, including Anthony Hopkins’ win as Best Actor in a Leading Role.
Ruth Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, has received a wide number of awards and honours for her work. Her famous and best-known character, Chief Inspector Wexford, featured in many police stories with some being adapted for TV. She also wrote novels under the pseudonym Barbara Vine, stories which ventured deep into criminals and victims’ psychological background.
Famous for his crime thrillers, Stuart MacBride is a Scottish writer known for his Logan McRae work due to complex police procedurals. Cold Granite, his debut novel, has won the Barry Award for Best First Novel. He was also awarded the Dagger in the Library in 2007 by the Crime Writers’ Association.
P. D. James
English crime writer P D. James, or Phyllis Dorothy James, Baroness James of Holland Park, is best known for her detective novel series starring Adam Dalgliesh, poet, and police commander.
P. D. James is also known for her other novels Children of Men and Death Comes to Pemberley. She received a wide range of awards, honours, honorary doctorates, and honorary fellowships her work.
Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin has published novels such as Hide and Seek, Knots and Crosses, and his Inspector Rebus series. The latter is mainly set in Edinburgh and considered to be great contributions in the tartan noir genre. He’s also co-written a play, Drak Road, which premiered at the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh in 2013.
With a large number of awards and honours, Rankin has published 25 novels, two short story collections, a non-fiction book, a novella, and an original graphic novel.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Famous for his Sherlock Holmes stories, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is one of the biggest names in crime fiction. He has a wide range of works from science fiction to fantasy, non-fiction, plays, and more. A Study in Scarlet, his first novel featuring both Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, was written at 27 years old in just three weeks. He received £25 for this novel, the equivalent of approximately £3,222 in 2019.
James Patterson has achieved both the New York Times and the Guinness World Record for the most best-selling hardcover fiction title by just a single author. He’s sold more than 300 million copies of his novels and had 19 consecutive number one New York Times bestselling works.
British crime writer Martina Cole, born Eilidh Martina Cole, has released 22 crime novels, four of which have been adapted into TV dramas. The Take was adapted into a Sky1 series in 2009 with Tom Hardy starring as Freddie. Cole is also occasionally a TV presenter and businesswoman, with awards such as the Crime Writers’ Association Diamond Dagger.
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