Classic Mystery Books … Authors of Classic Mysteries …

My last entry got me thinking about mystery books that can be considered “Classics.” Over the years, I have jotted down names of authors who might just be considered the great classic mystery book authors. Of course, as with all lists, I am sure there are many other authors out there who should be on it >>> So, please send a comment if you think that I have missed a few Classic Mystery Book Authors.

If you’re anything like I am, you might consider authors of yesteryear to be more “classic” than our modern-day authors. But again, if you’re anything like I am, you will be able to readjust your thinking to include some pretty great authors who are writing today, who will definitely be classic mystery book authors of “yesteryear” to future mystery book readers!

Margery Allingham… Albert Campion Mystery Series

Robert Barnard… Charlie Peace Mystery Series AND Perry Trethowan Mystery Series AND Amadeus Mozart Series

Lawrence Block… Bernie Rhodenbarr Mystery Series AND Evan Tanner Mystery Series AND Chip Harrison Series AND Matthew Scudder Series AND John Keller Mystery Series

Simon Brett… Fethering Mystery Series AND Mrs. Pargeter Series AND Charles Paris Mystery Series

Leo Bruce… Sergeant Beef Series AND Carolus Deene Series

John Dickson Carr… Gideon Fell Mystery Series AND Henri Bencolin Series

Raymond Chandler… Philip Marlowe Series

Leslie Charteris…The Saint (Simon Templar) Series

Agatha Christie… Miss Marple Series AND Hercule Poirot Series

John Creasy

Edmund Crispin… Gervase  Fen Mystery Series

Elizabeth Daly….. Henry Gamadge Mystery Series

Charles Dickens

Arthur Conan Doyle… Sherlock Holmes Series

Daphne du Maurier

Erle Stanley Gardner… Perry Mason Series

Anna Katharine Green

Dashiel Hammett

Cyril Hare… Inspector Mallett Mystery Series AND Francis Pettigrew Series

Tony Hillerman… Joe Leaphorn & Jim Chee Mystery Series

Michael Innes…Inspector Sir John Appleby Series AND Charles Honeybath Mystery Series

P. D. James… Inspector Adam Dalgliesh Mystery Series AND Cordelia Gray Series

Elizabeth Lemarchand… Pollard and Toye Mystery Series

John D. MacDonald… Travis McGee Mystery Series

Ngaio Marsh… Roderick Alleyn Mystery Series

Ed McBain… Matthew Hope Mystery Series AND 87th Precinct Series

Sharyn McCrumb… Elizabeth MacPherson Series AND Jay Omega Mystery Series AND the Ballad Series

Gladys Mitchell… Mrs. Bradley Mystery Series

Anne Morice… Tessa Crichton Series

Patricia Moyes… Henry Tibbett Mystery Series

E. Phillips Oppenheim

Stuart Palmer: Hildegarde Withers Mystery Series AND Howard Rook Series

Edgar Allan Poe

Ellery Queen… Ellery Queen Mysteries

Ruth Rendell… Inspector Wexford Mystery Series

Craig Rice… John J. Malone Mystery Series AND Bingo Riggs and Handsome Kusak Mystery Series

Mary Roberts Rineheart… Hilda Adams Mystery Series

Peter Robinson… Inspector Alan Banks Mystery Series

Dorothy L. Sayers… Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery Series

Rex Stout… Nero Wolfe Mystery Series

Edward Stratemeyer creator of: Nancy Drew (as Carolyn Keene), Hardy Boys (as Franklin W. Dixon) AND Bobbsey Twins (as Laura Lee Hope)

Josephine Tey… Alan Grant Mystery Series

Edgar Wallace

Patricia Wentworth… Miss Maud Silver Mystery Series

Sara Woods… Anthony Maitland Mystery Series AND Richard Trenton Series AND Stephen Marryat Mystery Series AND Jeremy Locke Series

Cornell Woolrich

♦ I included the series names which the authors are more commonly associated with… but, of course, many of the authors wrote Stand Alones.♦

♦ To access more Cozy Mystery themes, please click here. ♦


  1. Sue says

    If you are going to include Sharyn McCrumb (who seems to have stopped writing the “Ballad Mysteries” that I loved) you’ve got to include Nevada Barr (although at this point I would think that Anna Pigeon would be so crippled by her numerous near fatal injuries that she would be retired) and Laurie R.King.

  2. says

    Years ago, I walked into the mystery section of a large city library and began with the A’s. That is where I found Margery Allingham’s novels. I really enjoyed her stories. Although I enjoy the novels of today, there is something about the old-school mysteries that still draw my attention.

    Also, I am a huge fan of Tony Hillerman’s mysteries. I have them all, plus several of his non-fiction books.

    Thanks for the comprehensive list!

  3. Lucy says

    One of my favorite writers died on New Year’s Eve 2008 – Donald Westlake. I will miss his wit and wonderful plots. John Dortmunder and his gang are treasures.

  4. says

    Wilkie Collins ….. his novel “The Moonstone” is considered, by some, to be the first detective novel. Inspector Cuff is said to be based loosely on a real detective, Jonathan Whicher. (Read about the true Victorian crime: “The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher” by Kate Summerscale.) Collins’ other famous “mystery” novel is “The Woman in White”. Both true classics!!!

    • Nita R says

      Danna, I have noticed that if I have not read the book I love the movie but if I have read the book and then see the movie, I tend not to like it as much. Is it me?

      • Danna - cozy mystery list says

        Nita R, I think that happens with a lot of us. Having seen (and liked) the movie Gone with the Wind, I decided to not read the novel. Usually, I try to read the book first, and then see the movie.

  5. Peggy says

    I believe it would be good to include Ian Rankin to this list of books. I’m ready to get the new one as fast as I can. They are,of course, about the steadily dedicated and never wavier from what he sees as right policeman, and therefore not too popular with the folks on the top. We are all rebels in our hearts and he does for us what many fear to do.

  6. Ram says

    S. S. Van Dine,
    A.E.W. Mason,
    Anthony Berkely.

    I remember reading their works long time ago, and I still feel the atmospheres they created.

  7. Carin says

    I would recommend Elizabeth Daly. Her Henry Gamadge books are awesome and it does not hurt that she was Agatha Christie’s favorite America author.

  8. Val says

    I love your site so much and find it really helpful when looking for books. Can anyone tell me why I can’t find any of Donna Andrew’s books? They sound delightful.

  9. shirley says

    Val: go to your public library……….usually thats where I look.

    Then I go to AMAZON………if not there………..don’t know….grin.

  10. Heather says

    Ronald Knox wrote a few mysteries that I think would be considered classic mysteries. They also contain no profanity or anything explicit. I think one is in print, published by Dover. The others may be in the library and can also be found on used book sites.

  11. Ward says

    The Lew Archer mysteries by Ross Macdonald. Macdonald is the third in the hardboiled pantheon with Hammett and Chandler. The Paul Newman film “Harper” was based on Macdonald’s THE MOVING TARGET. Don’t miss THE CHILL.

    The John Marshall Tanner mysteries by Stephen Greenleaf.

    The Thomas Black mysteries by Earl Emerson.

    THE HANGMAN’S HANDYMAN and, especially, RIM OF THE PIT by Hake Talbot.

  12. Abbey says

    Hi: Came to your site from GoodReads (was checking out Groups and found your Cruisin’ Through The Cozies Challenge pages). Not sure if I want to sign up just yet (tend to *vastly* overreach with goals…! ) but since you’ve asked for names of classic authors you might have missed, AND that’s my major interest, here’s the list I’m currently working from for my own major on-going challenge reading (some of them you already have listed, many of them you don’t, all are definitely cozy/cosy:

    Am reading female authors who are similar to Christie, starting with her books (1920) and, originally, was only going up to 1940 but “somehow”….!

    Agatha Christie
    Dorothy L. Sayers
    Antony Gilbert (yes, female)
    Gladys Mitchell
    Patricia Wentworth
    Marjorie Allingham
    Josephine Tey
    Mignon G. Eberhart
    Phoebe Atwood Taylor
    Georgette Heyer (only her mysteries, not her historicals)
    Ngaio Marsh
    Constance and Gwyneth Little
    Helen McCloy
    Hilda Lawrence
    Frances (and Richard) Lockridge
    Charlotte Armstrong
    Christianna Brand
    Dorothy Salisbury Davis
    Margaret Millar
    E. X. Ferrars (Elizabeth)
    Ellis Peters
    Celia Fremlin
    Patricia Moyes
    Sara Woods
    Emma Lathen
    Catherine Aird
    Sarah Caudwell
    Amanda Cross
    P. D. James
    Elizabeth Peters (and as Barbara Michaels)
    Charlotte MacLeod (and as Alyssa Craig)
    Antonia Fraser
    Janet Neel
    Dorothy Simpson
    Caroline Graham
    Jill McGown
    Charlaine Harris
    Margaret Maron
    Jo Bannister (earlier books definitely cosies, later ones not so much)
    Jane Haddam
    Deborah Crombie
    Laurie King

    whew!! Hope this helps. I’ve got bibliographies of most of ’em in wordperfect documents, so if you need data…

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Thanks, Abbey. I have a lot of those authors on the Cozy Mystery site, and see that a lot of them are on the above list of Classic Mystery Authors. (I had no idea I could be found on that website, but thanks!)

  13. Ginna says

    For modern writers, you might try Louis Penny’s Three Pines mysteries, or Charles Todd’s Ian Rutledge series. Time is not on their sides, but well on their way to becoming classics, if not quite there yet.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Thank you, Ginna, we always enjoy hearing from other mystery readers about authors who they really enjoy.

  14. Pauline says

    Just to suggest you might like to add Gladys Mitchell and Edmund Crispin to this list. Only just found this site and absolutely love it!

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Thanks, Chell. He was already on the list, but for some crazy reason, I put Edmund Crispin above AND below Charles Dickens. My mistake! Thank you for bringing it to my attention. (I have corrected it.)

  15. BB says

    What about Daphne du Maurier? She was given the Grand Master Award from Mystery Writers of America and Rebecca was named Anthony Award for Mystery of the Century.

  16. Julia says

    They just released a number of Ellery Queen’s as Kindle e-books last month. I’m still waiting for them to release more Phoebe Atwood Taylor’, or ANY Patricia Moyes’.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Julia, thanks for telling us about Ellery Queen’s books being released as Kindle e-books. I’m always happy to see the older mystery books become available in Kindle format.

  17. Ron says

    Can’t help but think that Stuart M Kaminsky should be included. His trio of sleuths, Toby Peters, Abe Lieberman, and Lou Fonesca, never fail to amuse and delight.

  18. Tara says

    I was thinking that perhaps Craig Rice should be added to the Classic Mystery section. She wrote during the 40s I think, and in her hey day she was considered the Queen of Screwball Mystery. I believe she was the first mystery author to appear on the cover of Time Magazine and was really successful though her books are a bit harder to find these days. If you haven’t tried her stories I highly recommend them!

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Thank you, Tara, I’ll go add Craig Rice to the Classic Mystery Books page. I just looked her up and see that she was very famous +/- fifty years ago. What a shame that her books didn’t withstand the hands of time. (It’s fortunate that her books are at least available in Kindle format.)

  19. Tara says

    SS Van Dine might be a good one to add to the list. He was extremely popular during the 1930s and during that time many of his books were made into films. I think actor William Powell played Van Dine’s main character a few times on the big screen as well as Basil Rathbone.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Tara, thanks for the suggestion. I have enjoyed watching the Philo Vance movies with William Powell. (I have S.S. Van Dine on the Cozy Mystery site, but I thought that his last name was Van Dine, so I put him under the “V”s, not the “D”s. Those Van… last names are tough for me…)

  20. Lenna W says

    This is probably impossible to find and long before anyone above’s time but when I was in the hospital having my 5th child (over 50 yrs ago) I read a book I was loving and didn’t get to finish it. It was about a woman in England who had an herb garden and people would come to her for healing and somehow she also solved murder mysteries. I vaguely remember something about the title as The White Witch. Every book I’ve looked up with that title was not it. Does anyone know what I’m talking about? It’s old, and probably long gone by now. Thanks.

  21. Susan* says

    Just browsing (Looking for something else) and nobody on this page has mentioned John Creasey or Edgar Wallace.
    Both prolific – and ‘classic’ – British mystery writers! :)
    E. Phillips Oppenheim, too, though he’s a little more obscure these days.

  22. Koko says

    Dear Readers,

    First, I LOVE this website. Thank you for it. This is coming from a person who regards computers with a deep hatred and is quite a compliment.

    I wonder — have you read Elizabeth Daly and her Henry Gamadge Mystery Series? They are superb. I would classify them as classics. I read once that Elizabeth Daly was Agatha Christie’s favorite. If you haven’t read them, you don’t know what you are missing. I hope you will consider adding Elizabeth Daly to your list. Thank you! Koko

    • says

      Koko, thanks for telling us how much you enjoy Elizabeth Daly‘s mysteries. I have that Agatha Christie tidbit next to her page on my “D” page: “It is said that Agatha Christie was actually a fan of Elizabeth Daly’s novels… It doesn’t get much better than that!” And, I don’t think it does get any better than that! I read her many years ago, but obviously I should re-read her.

      Also, I’m so glad you enjoy the Cozy Mystery website!

  23. Anne says

    I’m suprised no-one has mentioned Dostoevsky. His “Crime and Punishment” is generally reckoned to be the 1st, or one of the 1st, psychological murder mysteries.
    I’d also add Robert Godard as a modern day “classic” mystery writer, (or is that a contradiction in terms?)
    Whilst I’m here, browsing around, (one of the pleasures of this site,) could I recommend Clare Francis? She writes stand-alone novels that are hard to define, sometimes mysteries, sometimes thrillers, always a really good read. She is a born story teller, and never resorts to gratuitous violence, guts and gore etc.

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