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By Subject Holidays

Best Crime Novels to Read for Easter

For the last hundred years, Norway has celebrated Påskekrim, or “Easter Crime.” It started in 1923 when two authors, Nordahl Grieg and Nils Lie, published a book about a train robbery on Easter. The novel’s advertisement on the newspaper’s front page convinced people the story of the train robbery had actually occurred. When the public realized the trick, they bought the book in droves. The Easter holiday quickly became one where people brought crime novels on their extended ski trips to the mountains. 

We fully endorse this holiday (really, any holiday that revolves around reading we are completely down with). To help you observe, we’ve put together a list of some favorite crime reads. These books are pulled from our ‘Collecting Mystery Books by the Year‘ series, starting from the year Påskekris began in 1923 and continuing with a pick from each decade since. 


Whose Body? by Dorothy Sayers

Considered one of the Queens of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction and a founder and first president of the Detection Club, Dorothy Sayers was born in England in 1893. Whose Body? is the first of sixteen detective novels by Sayers that feature Lord Peter Wimsey, an English aristocrat, and amateur sleuth. In this novel, published in 1923, Wimsey searches for the mysterious identity of a naked victim found in a bathtub. 

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

In The Maltese Falcon (1930), author Dashiell Hammett sets the tone for hard-boiled detective novels with his feature character, Sam Spade. Set in San Francisco in the 1920s, Spade is roped into a web of crime by the treacherous Brigid O’Shaughnessy as he searches for a valuable jewel-encrusted bird.

The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler

The Lady in the Lake (1943) is author Raymond Chandler‘s fourth novel (his breakout hit, The Big Sleep, was published in 1939). In this novel, a wealthy businessman hires detective Philip Marlowe to find his wife. As Marlowe searches for her, he finds other wives missing and dead. 

Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith

Author Patricia Highsmith became known for her psychological thrillers, including The Talented Mr. Ripley (1955). Strangers on a Train (1950) is her first novel and was released as a Hitchcock film just a year after its publication. The strangers on the train are Guy, a successful architect, and Bruno, a charming playboy who also happens to be a psychopath. Guy proposes the ‘strangers’ trade murders to evade suspicion of the police. While Guy doesn’t take Bruno seriously, he is, and Guy’s wife ends up murdered. 

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold by John le Carré

John le Carré‘s The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (1963) is considered by many to be the pinnacle in mystery novels. Alec Leamas, a British Agent, returns to London after serving in Berlin during the Cold War and the erection of the Berlin Wall, hoping to be done with espionage for good. But he is sent back on a final assignment, determined to bring down the head of East German intelligence. 

The Blessing Way by Tony Hillerman

The Blessing Way (1970) was American detective author Tony Hillerman‘s first book, published in 1970. Hillerman later became known for his novels featuring Navajo Tribal Police Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. In The Blessing Way, Leaphorn searches for what he believes to be a supernatural killer dubbed the “Wolf-Witch.” 

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

An ‘intellectual mystery,’ The Name of the Rose (1983) by Umberto Eco is full of secret messages and coded manuscripts. Set in an Italian Abbey in 1327, the character Brother William of Baskerville provides an eye-witness account as he investigates several murders. First published in Italian in 1980 under the title Il nome della rosa, the book has sold over 50 million copies, making it one of the best-selling books of all time. 

Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell

Patricia Cornwell started her best-selling Kay Scarpetta series with Postmortem, published in 1990. After a series of murders in Richmond, Virginia, Dr. Scarpetta is called in to investigate and finds herself the target of an inside job. Cornwell has written twenty-five books in the Kay Scarpetta series, the last Autopsy, released in 2021. She has also written multiple other police procedurals, nonfiction, and even a children’s book. 

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Swedish journalist Stieg Larsson died in 2004, leaving behind a trilogy of crime novels. Those novels, known as the “Millennium Trilogy,” were published posthumously, starting with  Män som hatar kvinnor  (‘Men Who Hate Women’) in 2005. In 2008 this novel was released in English as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. To redeem himself from a libel suit, journalist Mikael Blomkvist begins investigating a forty-year-old cold case of a missing girl. His investigation opens up more crimes, and he enlists the help of Lisbeth Salander, a formidable computer hacker, to help with the case. 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl (2012), a crime thriller written by Gillian Flynn, is a best-seller published in 2012. On the day of their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne, a perfect daughter and wife, disappears. All eyes turn to her husband, Nick, who fumbles around, claiming innocence. The novel interweaves Amy’s diary with Nick’s first-person account to portray a not-so-perfect marriage and dark thriller. 


As spring breaks and Easter approaches, tell us about your favorite chillers, thrillers, mysteries, or cozy murder novels to dive into!

Comment here to enter for a chance to win $20 in BiblioBucks, or visit our giveaway posts on Instagram or Twitter and enter there.

This giveaway is open worldwide and will close on Friday, April 15, at noon EDT. The winner will be chosen at random and will be notified within 24h of the giveaway closing. The prize is $20US worth of BiblioBucks, our store credit that can be used for any purchase on Biblio. The winner must have a free Biblio account in order to use BiblioBucks. 

40 Comments

  • Vintage mystery writer begging for reprint publication : Ruth Fenisong. Current brilliant-best in the field: Mick Herron.

  • Even though I am an adult – and the books I am about to recommend are generally considered teenager’s mysteries – to this day I still render anything in this genre from John Bellairs in the highest esteem and regard. Thank you and happy reading!

  • All the books listed are great, but somehow I’d rather be reading a “cozier” mystery on Easter. Something like Richard Osman’s “The Thursday Murder Club” or Ellie Alexander’s “Meet Your Baker.”

  • I don’t often read fiction but when I do, I admit I’m more for witty writing craft than story development itself. As such, I believe my favorites have been ‘Tishomingo Blues’ by Elmore Leonard, ‘Mr. Mercedes’ by Stephen King, ‘I, Robot’ by Isaac Asimov, and ‘London Fields’ by Martin Amis.

  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
    Is this a true “crime” novel? I probably think it is not. But it embeds so many twists and secrets it has to at least stroke the periphery of a good criminal mystery. In any case, it it so very much worthy of your attention. The character development is brilliant and the plot does not waver in intensity.

  • Some of us collect mysteries almost as much for the covers and dust jackets as for the stories. Mysteries seem to be the most common target of this obsession. There are collectors for all the covers on different editions of The Maltese Falcon, any mystery with a key on the cover or any cover illustrations by their favorite illustrator who may be unknown to the rest of us. Please let sellers know that we favor sellers who show us a photo of the book that we’ll be buying. It used to be standard practice for sellers to tell us if the book had a dust jacket but it seems like that has fallen by the wayside. When I asked for that information, one seller told me “I sell books, not dust jackets.”

  • Slightly disappointed that the Queen of Mystery, Agatha Christie couldn’t find a spot here, but Gone Girl and Le Carre’s The Spy who came in from the cold are excellent modern classics! In fact, all of le Carre’s work is excellent, The Looking Glass War (the book published immediately after Spy .. Cold being my personal favourite (I know it’s technically not a detective story), for it’s tragic, satirical plotline.

    My most favourite crime thriller would definitely be one of Christie’s books, probably The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Ms Christie had the whole set of tricks at her disposal, but this was best evidenced in Ackroyd, and as a member of the profession (I’m a dentist) I could entirely appreciate it! No, I did not catch the hint the author was kind enough to give us near the beginning, but that made the reveal that much more special. (Revealing any more would be a major spoiler, so if you haven’t, please go give it a shot). I wish I could say I still had the paperback to read through again, but in a fit of lovelorn instinct, I ended up “lending” my only copy to my then crush, and have yet to see it returned, 5 years after the fact. I can only hope they enjoyed the twist. (Maybe I can get the reward and buy a replacement copy?)

    The modern crime fiction listed here is pretty much on point as well, with most of these excellent! Gone Girl, in particular is probably a title someone like Agatha Christie would be proud of. I feel like the film failed to capture the nuance of the book (I am a massive book over film person), but Rosamund Pike was a perfect fit for Amy, I had mentally pictured someone similar when I read, nay experienced the book (the fact that I watched Die Another Day around then might have been a cause)

    Raymond Chandler, imo, also wrote some outstanding novels, for someone so critical of the genre! I also appreciate that that fact was parodied, with Mrs Marple clutching a copy of Chandler’s The Simple Art of Murder, while commenting that murder isn’t as easy as all that! Of course, this is from a recent series..

    In truth, there are so many exciting mystery novelists, each with their own style, that it’s almost impossible to list them all, but I applaud the author for doing a wonderful job, these are all excellent! I would only add one of Christie’s many books, and maybe Shutter Island, but hey, this is a very, very subjective thing! (The author has done a great job trying to take everyone’s tastes into account, and this is possibly a list I’d use if someone wants to try reading (or watching, ew) mysteries. Thanks, Ms Manikowski, and sorry to everyone else for my text wall!

  • For really literate, re-readable mysteries, many of them old, I recommend, above all: Reginald Hill (Dalziel/Pascoe), Peter Dickinson, Nicholas Kilmer (wonderful, often funny, art-related novels), and Ruth Rendell (Wexford). But also, very warmly, Kate Atkinson (Jackson Brodie), Gwendoline Butler (who is also Jennie Melville), Edward Candy (a woman, I think), Gianrico Carofiglio, Sarah Caudwell, Liza Cody, Dick Francis, Celia Fremlin, Fruttero and Lucentini (their wonderful “The Sunday Woman,” translated from the Italian), Michael Gilbert, Kenneth Giles (aka Charles Drummond and Edmund McGirr, odd but funny), Michael Gruber, Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, Elizabeth Ironside, P.D. James, Mary Kelly (old, but very good), Katherine Lasky Knight, Donna Leon, John Mortimer, Janet Neel (who, unfortunately, gave up writing mysteries to sit in the House of Lords), George Sims, Sjowall & Wahloo, Robert Tanenbaum (the earlier ones that Michael Gruber ghost-wrote), Josephine Tey, and Colin Watson.

  • Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler are two of my favorite mystery writers and Biblio has already included books by both but one book stands out for me: Chandler’s last completed novel, The Long Goodbye. If it weren’t simply pigeonholed as a mystery novel, I think it rises to the level of Huckleberry Finn and The Great Gatsby as one of those “great American novels”. The Long Goodbye is a novel of friendship and betrayal, love and loss that reaches into the sublime.

  • I was kind of surprised to find that I have read almost half of the books on this list. (I mostly read horror/fiction)

    What a great list, and thank you for the suggestions for future reads!

  • It seems to me a glaring omission that no works by Margery Allingham are included in the list. To my mind she is a better writer than either Dorothy Sayers or Agatha Christie, the other leading writers of the ‘Golden Age of Crime’. I would suggest “Traitor’s Purse” as being probably the best of Margery Allingham’s works. Firstly for her farsighted plot based on an attempt to undermine the value of the pound sterling with fake money in WW II. (The book was written in 1941 so Margery Allingham was not to know that the Nazis would actually try this). Secondly for her convincing interpretation of the disorientation that comes from having lost, at least partially, one’s memory. Margery Allingham is extremely perceptive about how frustrating, and indeed terrifying, it must feel when one’s memory is only working fitfully, yet you know something tremendously important depends on your memory working properly. A brilliant book.

  • Andrea Camilleri’s Montalbano series, although the English translations are nowhere near the quality of the German translations.

  • These are all good books. I would add Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to the list. Sherlock Holmes murder mysteries are good as well. But my favorite mysteries have always been the heroine mysteries by authors like Phyllis Whitney, Mary Stewart, and Victoria Holt.

  • From “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” by Poe to “Before I Go to Sleep” by S.J. Watson, I find much joy in trying to solve the mystery. The twists and turns each author takes, only draws me in more. Thank for for the great list of mystery books.

  • I shall certainly put my other chores aside on Easter Sunday, and curl up with a good mystery. I’ve read a lot of the ones listed here, but happily there are new ones coming out all the time!

  • I know that Agatha Christie’s Poirot is very well-known, but really, Murder on the Orient Express is such an incredible tale probing the very depths of the human person. We are left wondering so many different things and contemplating good, evil, and the very meaning and purpose of the human being. More Poirot, for sure! But I love Dorothy Sayers! Glad to see her on top! I love the banter of Lord Peter and Harriet in Gaudy Night. Another gem!!

  • This list is spot on. I have not read all of them, but they are all on my list. I am an avid mystery/psychological thriller buff, but recently found a box of older books and have been enjoying authors from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. An author I am rereading now is Mary Roberts Rinehart and am enjoying her writing all over again. Your site has a great variety of books and I am always satisfied when I purchase something from BWB. Thanks for keeping your shelves well stocked for us.

  • Ngaio Marsh, and the Bryant and May Peculiar Crimes Unit mysteries by Christopher Fowler. Ngaio Marsh can be hard to find but so worth the hunt. Bryant and May series are funny, very informative about London and wonderful mysteries to boot. I also like James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux, Louise Penny, and Michael Connolly.

  • Right now I am thoroughly enjoying Helene Tursten’s “An Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good.” She followed it up with “An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed.” Note: Before becoming an author, Tursten was a nurse and a dentist!! I’ve also enjoyed the Otto Penzler “Bibliomysteries” anthologies. And I am a diehard (no pun intended) Christie fan, also enamored with the Hercule Poirot books written by Sophie Hannah, chosen by the Christie family to continue the series.

  • my favorite author for mysteries ,is Agatha Christie…I have just finished reading,A book by T.Jefferson Parker”Where Serpents Lie” very interesting and plot twisting..serial killer novel…
    and finishing a novel by Tess Gerritson ..”Ice Cold” from the series” Rissoli and Isles”..very good read

  • My vote goes to Daphne Du Maurier’s 1969 novel The House on the Strand. It’s an intricate and intriguing mix of historical, scientific and psychological mystery set in a vividly described part of her beloved Cornwall. The Wikipedia entry says “Like many of du Maurier’s novels, The House on the Strand has a supernatural element, exploring the ability to mentally travel back in time and experience historical events at first hand – but not to influence them. It has been called a Gothic tale, ‘influenced by writers as diverse as Robert Louis Stevenson, Dante, and the psychologist Carl Jung’.” It remained in my mind for years after my first reading and on second reading was just as gripping and thought-provoking. Highly recommended. If I’m allowed more than one recommendation, I would add these, in a similar vein: John Buchan’s The Dancing Floor and John Fowles’ The Magus.

  • Bearing in mind the weather forecast for Easter, I will enjoy going through the list of books recommended. Cheers and Happy Easter!

  • I have read most of these and agree they are worthy to be here. My favorite author in the here & now is Lisa Gardner. It is very hard to her books down and keeps you guessing til the end.

  • ‘Murder at a Police Station’ by Anthony Swift (published under the author’s own name J Jefferson Farjeon in the USA). The book contains all of Farjeon’s human warmth, combined with wit, invention and a couple of great characters. Sadly the sequel ‘Interrupted Honeymoon’ is so rare as to be essentially unobtainable.
    ‘Murder at Midyears’ by Marion Mainwaring. A classical whodunnit which is completely different to her better known ‘Murder In Pastiche’

  • Over the years, I’ve enjoyed reading the Mrs. Pollifax series by Dorothy Gilman, Elizabeth Peters’ Emily Peabody series, many of Agatha Christie’s works, and, more recently, the High Society Lady Detective series by Sara Rosett, and Dianne Freeman’s Countess of Harleigh Mystery series. Also not to be missed from my list of favorites are Waverly Curtis’s Barking Detective Mysteries, and JJ Murphy’s Algonquin Round Table mysteries, of which there are sadly too few!
    Authors Anna Lee Huber, Rhys Bowen, and Laurie Cass also have contributed to my reading enjoyment.
    And I always can’t wait for the next Maggie Sullivan book by M. Ruth Myers!
    (As you can probably tell, I really enjoy cozy or historical-cozy mysteries, and cannot seem to contain my enthusiasm on the topic of books/reading.)

  • Definitely Agatha Christie for classic mysteries. As for modern mysteries, I loved Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series as historical mystery thrillers, such as Angels and Demons, The DaVinci Code, etc. And i cannot forget the adventure thriller mysteries by Matthew Reilly’s thrill ride in the Seven Ancient Wonders series.

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